Next week, we have our first Be The Change dinner, for people interested in making a career shift into more meaningful work. We wanted to find out more about one of the hosts, Rosie Walford.

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What’s the elevator pitch for your business?

There are hundreds of bright and able people stuck in unsatisfying ‘velvet rut’ jobs. Meanwhile, what the world needs is more people shifting into meaningful work that makes a difference and brings them alive. 

Be the Change Journey is a life-changing eight days in India.  You visit pioneering changemakers who are blending business acumen with social purpose, witness the major entrepreneurial models for making an impact in the world and use specialised career-shift coaching to help you figure out where you can best apply you professional powers. So far, it’s been catalytic – sending people home focused and ready for meaningful work.

What were you doing before this?

 I’ve been taking groups of people up the spanish  mountains to think creatively about their lives and then make bold moves on a coaching trip called The Big Stretch for the past eleven years. At the same time I’ve been supporting leaders in large corporates to consider their ripples of influence in the wider world, and leaders of environmental campaigning organisations to be more impactful. And before any of that I was a strategic planner in a London advertising agency, where i cofounded an innovation unit. It was fascinating, but I couldn’t keep promoting cars and soap powder forever. 

Introduce your team.

We’re a remote team, living and working around the globe in a thoroughly modern way. I spend most of my time living on an island off New Zealand. My partner in crime is Richard Alderson, a serial entrepreneur who has set up an incubator in Mumbai which helps social innovators create businesses that change peoples’ lives. He connects us to hundreds of inspiring  pioneers in organisations both large and small across India. He’s also the founder of the brilliant website Careershifters here in the UK, so he knows a lot about helping people make career moves. Hannah Smith in Edinburgh reminds us to tell the world what we’re up to, and helps people navigate their path into social impact work here in the UK when they return from India. Heading up our India team, Naomi scouts out some incredible behind-the-scenes experiences  and an array of heritage hotels for us to stay in, so that whilst our journeys are challenging by day, they are truly restful at night.  

What’s your biggest ‘hindsight’ moment with the business?

It’s almost impossible to pinpoint our pathway into new, meaningful work while we’re stuck in our old career context. But when we get out and see an array of different organisations in action, some will really move us – and some won’t resonate at all. Those unique reactions are what we can draw on to clarify the cause that will get us out of bed in the mornings,  the kind of role we might play, what type of organisation and business model will fit our talents best.  

What will 2014 bring?

Growth in the expanding field of social enterprise worldwide and an ever-increasing trend towards social and environmental responsibility amongst more traditional corporates. All of which means opportunity for those seeking to make a difference through their work. (for example, almost 1 million green jobs were created in 2013 worldwide). 

1 piece of advice for someone starting a business in your sector?

Don’t expect traditional recruitment or business advisors to help you much in finding a conscious, impact career. These emerging areas of work require different patterns of thinking and searching. 

Convince someone to use your product/service in under 50 words.

When your work meets the needs of the world as you see them, it will be meaningful. When it uses your talents, it will be joyful. Discover the sweet spot between your passions, the skills you bring, and innovative funding models, and you’ll never do another day’s work. 

What’s your favourite startup in the sector (not including your own)?

Reality Tours. It takes visitors into Asia’s largest slum, using residents as the guides who explain the unexpected maze of businesses, and horrid working conditions within. Profits from these tours fund education projects and computer rooms. People see their own European waste being recycled by hand, and get a powerful, visceral sense of the interconnectedness of humanity worldwide.

What’s your favourite London restaurant?

The Three Crowns at Old Street. Imaginative, exquisite british cooking in a quietly stylish room. 

There are spaces left at next week’s dinner, where you can come and meet Rosie in person as well as other Be The Change alumni.

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We dined with Jessal Shah at our last FinTech dinner. He is co-founder of Mayfair FX. We wanted to find out more about him and his business.

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What’s the elevator pitch for your startup?

Mayfair FX is the result of a vision by two brothers to change the Foreign Exchange industry and tackle the issue of price, transparency and quality of service.

For generations FX margins have been hidden from businesses and personal clients resulting in higher transaction fees. We believe this is not fair!

Using technology Mayfair FX is able to offer low, competitive and fair FX margins. Most important, we are transparent with our pricing. We treat businesses the same i.e. the same FX margin will be applied to businesses that transact the same amount of currency, unlike banks or brokers that usually decide the FX margin individually for each client.

Currently, in the UK alone there are over 110,000 importing and exporting SMEs with over $100bn daily average FX turnover by non-financial UK companies. We believe we are in the perfect position to assist this market by helping reduce their costs thus enabling them to grow further.

Since officially launching in April 2014 we have been growing, helped by our online marketing and strengthening our referral network. Some of our current clients include clothing manufacturers, pharmaceutical wholesalers, recruitment consultants, travel agents and a range of UK start-ups.

What were you doing before you launched your startup?

Jessal spent over 5 years at HSBC in the FX Sales looking after Corporate & Commercial clients. Miraj was studying Mathematics with Engineering at the University of Nottingham and then went on to achieve a Masters at Cass Business School in Mathematical Trading and Finance.

Where did you meet your co-founders?

We’re brothers, so I guess when we were born!

What’s your biggest ‘hindsight’ moment?

Realising we should have started earlier, we could have begun helping businesses sooner.

What will 2014 bring?

We are looking to continue spreading the word and maintain the rapid grow. We are already planning phase 2 of the platform with more tools for businesses.

1 piece of advice for someone starting a business in the sector?

Believe in your idea and do not be scared of the competition

Convince someone to use your product/service in under 50 words.

We offer low, consistent and fair pricing on your currency transfers and international payments. We display our pricing on our website which banks and FX brokers traditionally have not done so. So you know how competitive we are, we openly display the mid-market rate when you make a transfer.

What’s your favourite startup in the sector (not including your own)?

Transferwise – Althought they concentrate on the personal remittance market they have had an explosive growth, built great momentum and raised huge sums of money from the likes of Richard Branson.

What’s your favourite London restaurant?

YauatchaGreat food and great restaurant

Mayfair FX - LogoIf you want to find out more about TableCrowd dinners, go here.

We had a great time at the Clerkenwell Kitchen for our #MeetandEat with Simon Menashy, our after dinner speaker from MMC Ventures.

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We were joined by some amazing startups, entrepreneurs and businesses including Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium, Scarlett of Soho, DataSurgery, Heartcore Fitness, Fynder, Localoids, Double Double Studio, StepUp, SenseLab, Story Terrace, Hired By Me, Style Yard, ASF, StratexSystems, Adoreboard and more.

Simon Menashy is a member of the investment team at MMC Ventures, a London-based venture capital firm. They invest in early stage businesses in sectors where the UK is a world leader, including e-commerce, digital media, fintech and software/SaaS. He did over 24 deals in under 24 months in 2012-13!

Simon talked about the different stages of funding (from “Starbucks” to series A!). From the “friends, family and fools” round, through to seed, through to series A and onward to growth. Although in reality the rounds are not that clear cut. There was way too much content from Simon to share here, so just a few key pointers regarding seed and series A.

At the point a company is raising series A finance, they would be well on the way to proving their business model, they would be providing their customers with value, they would be successfully filling out the senior roles in the company and the economics would be working. It wouldn’t be unusual for them to be at £1-2m in annual revenues by this stage. This round would be raised from a VC and although hard to generalise, MMC would look for valuations of £1m+, for a stake of between 5% and 25%, with an exit of 5-10x investment.

Comparatively at seed round, there would be much left to prove but there would be a spark worth exploring. The company would need finance to provide runway to reach the point of being ready for a series A –  they would need to “professionalise’. A seed round would be funded by seed VCs or angels and (good news) the last 3 years has seen an increase in the availability of this level of funding. Although (bad news), angels still aren’t easy to find. There are some established networks you can approach (Cambridge Angels has a good rep) but it otherwise comes down to networking and selling yourself and your business (… I know a great site for doing this over dinner…)

Here are some pictures for you to enjoy:

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Thanks to everyone that joined the dinner and shared food and thoughts. See what’s coming up soon here.

Thanks to our sponsor Rackspace for their ongoing support and thanks to Simon and MMC Ventures for the valuable insights.

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Last night we had our third dinner of the week at The Green. We teamed up with Leo Wood of Winkley Studios and Richard Brownsdon of Inspiring Adventures and Impact Hub, to arrange the first #MeetandEat for managers and founders of coworking spaces.

Represented at the dinner in addition to Winkley Studios and Impact Hubs, were Level39, East One StudiosForward Partners, 90 Main Yard, Head Space Group, @Work Hubs, Desk Lodge, Ugli Campus, Rainmaking Loft, TechCityNewsMonkFeet, Propelia and more.

Our after dinner speaker was Adam Price, a former Member of Parliament, now working at Nesta and co-founder of fin-tech startup, Ideoba. He talked about his work on designing spaces for innovation and creativity. The ten commandments, including – colour (green, blue or flashing green), furniture shape (round rather than square), open vs closed plan, break out spaces, lighting (dim!), music you don’t like, clothes you feel comfortable in and non rigid work hours can all influence levels of creativity! Some unexpected insights.

Here are some pictures of the night for you to enjoy:

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Thanks to our two great hosts, Richard Brownsdon (Inspiring Adventures & Impact Hub) & Leo Wood (Winkley Studios) for bringing the evening together. Many thanks also to our sponsor Rackspace for their ongoing support.

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Last night we turned Central Working in Google Campus into an after-hours restaurant to host our #MeetandEat for FashionTech startups, journalists & bloggers. This dinner was co-hosted by SilkFred and Grabble and we welcomed a tremendous line-up of businesses, each with a journalist guest.

SilkFred and Grabble were joined by Kovert Designs, Streethub, Rechannel, Cortexica, Virtusize and Bespoky. And their guests dining with us were Instyle, Brand + Commercial, Drapers, Vogue, Strategy Eye, Lela London, Wired, Tech City News and more.

Some photos from the evening for you to enjoy:

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To find out more about our upcoming dinners, please have a look here.

Thanks to our two amazing hosts for bringing the evening together and to our sponsor Blick Rothenberg for their ongoing support.

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We started the week with a bang last night, with our inaugural sport and recreation networking dinner. We partnered with Sport on Spec and OpenPlay to host dinner at The Green in Clerkenwell.

Sport on Spec is the No.1 guide to spectator sport in Scotland, bringing you the best news of ticket availability for all sports, together with promotions, competitions and exclusives.

OpenPlay is a unique sports marketplace to connect sports facilities to individuals. You can easily find, book or list your sports facilities.

SportRecreation dinnerAs well as Sport on Spec and Open Play, we were joined by some great companies and players in the space including Vactivity, Action on Disability, ASF, Responsive Sports, Ten Health & FitnessSport and Recreation Alliance, Sport England, i-workout and more.

Here are some pictures for you to enjoy:

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If you want to learn more about our upcoming tables, go here.

Thanks to Rackspace for their ongoing support.

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We met David Orman at our inaugural Corporate Innovation Dinner, to provide insights to startups on how to connect with established brands. We wanted to find out more about him and his startup Hatch.

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What’s the elevator pitch for your startup?

Hatch is a new advisory firm set up help shape start-ups for success. We provide access to the right skills, experience and contact to accelerate business growth when time and resources are scarce.

What were you doing before you launched your startup?

Having spent years working in media and sport, including at some high profile start-ups, I was suddenly offered the opportunity to become an investor. I have spent the last 4-5 years raising an early stage investment fund, investing in start-ups and supporting start-ups across two separate portfolios.

Where did you meet your co-founders?

My partner, Alex Gowar, was at Betfair when I was at QPR. I spent many months trying to get Betfair to sponsor QPR – but it turned out Alex was only there to enjoy the QPR hospitality…. Something I found out years later.

Earlier this year, during a conversation about the work we were both offering to start-ups as independent consultants, we decided to come together and launch Hatch.

What’s your biggest ‘hindsight’ moment?

As an investor coming from an operational background, you realise that you can’t always get as involved as you would want to. Its not your company and founders will build out their proposition in their vision.

What will 2014 bring?

Hopefully a enjoyable year in building out the Hatch proposition, and working with up to 10 great start-ups in the UK, helping them to succeed.

1 piece of advice for someone starting a business in the sector?

Recognise early on what you don’t know and bring together the right team to give you the best chance of success.

Convince someone to use your product/service in under 50 words.

Hatch has been set up to help start-ups succeed. We work with high-potential technology businesses in the Media, Sport, Gaming, Betting and Fintech sectors. Hatch is an operationally-focused advisory firm helping small companies accelerate growth by focusing on brand, communication and commercialisation strategies, leading into fundraising.

What’s your favourite startup in the sector (not including your own)?

FrameBlast – best video app out there!

What’s your favourite London restaurant?

The Dishroom … Yum

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Thanks for joining us David. Hope to see you around our table again soon!

To learn more abour our upcoming tables, go here.

We met the wonderful Emma Cerrone at our last Education startups dinner. She’s the founder of Free:Formers. We found out more about Emma and her startup.

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What’s the elevator pitch for your startup?

Free:Formers delivers business transformation, teaching relevant and practical digital skills to everyone from frontline staff to senior leadership teams.

Our ONE:FOR1 model transforms creative passions into workplace digital skills.  For every business person we train,a 16-25 year old gets a free workshop. This helps young people into work and creates a digital talent pool for businesses.

What were you doing before you launched your startup?

I was Chief Operating Officer at UK’s leading independent public affairs and communications agency, before that I was working on corporate communications at Sainsbury’s.

In both of these roles I was meeting business people and often hearing the same thing: they wanted to use digital but didn’t know where to get started and they all struggled to find digital talent.

Where did you meet co-founders?

Gi Fernando and I have been friends for years, I actually met him when I lived with his wife at university.  Gi is a tech genius and an amazing entrepreneur, I’m pretty sure he was born coding.  Over the years I have seen his investment decisions, business successes and his hands-on attitude take ideas into rapidly growing, million-pound companies.  

Like me Gi sees potential in young people and the importance of nurturing talent.  He is a really positive person, so I jumped at the chance to start Free:Formers with him.

What’s your biggest ‘hindsight’ moment?

I tend not to have regrets because I’m quite adventurous and feel comfortable to take risks.  If there is something I would have done differently, maybe I would have started Free:Formers earlier because of the impact we now have.  In a few years time I’m sure our impact will be even greater, particularly for the ONE:FOR1 workshops with young people.

What will 2014 bring?

Free:Formers is going from strength to strength this year.  There are twice as many trainers delivering digital workshops as when we began.  We are set to train over 3,000 people in our business workshops, which means there will be over 3,000 young people getting digital training places for free.

1 piece of advice for someone starting a business in the sector?

Move fast and don’t be afraid to make mistakes, try different things in the early days even if it’s not perfect, get your product out there to test it. But always take the time and perspective to learn from those mistakes.

Convince someone to use your product/service in under 50 words.

If you think digital skills are out of your reach, think again because Free:Formers makes digital easy. No matter your background or education you’ll leave with a better understanding of how the digital world works, the practical tools and confidence to use digital from the very next day.

What’s your favourite startup in the sector (not including your own)?

I really like what Apps for Good are doing to help school kids get creative with digital. They enthuse young people from early years with a very different style of teaching and mentoring, getting groups to work together to identify a problem and create an app idea to solve it.  

Some of the apps the school teams create are seriously good, definitely good enough to compete with the apps we buy from the App Store or Play Store.

What’s your favourite London restaurant?

I’m a little bit hooked on the teriyaki salmon salad from Prêt.  If I’m going out for a nice meal or some after work drinks with friends I love going to Mew of Mayfair.

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Thanks Emma for being part of the evening and to our sponsors Taylor Wessing and Propel London for supporting us.

You can check out our upcoming tables here.

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What a lively (and slightly unruly!) table last night at the Green for our HealthTech dinner in partnership with Outcomes Based Healthcare.

An amazing group startups shared delicious pie, including Mastodon C, Holding your Hand, Pace 4 Life, Klappo, Geneix, Eclipse Experience, Umotif, Digital Clipboard, TictracMy Clinical Outcomes, Informa, Ginger.ioToothpickWells Park Communication, ZestyApplied Nanodetectors and more.

Our after dinner speaker was Kate Newhouse, MD at Doctor Care Anywhere. In the 10 years before Doctor Care Anywhere, Kate was a public sector strategy consultant advising local government and their partners and prior to that, worked at Roland Berger Strategy Consultants. Kate specialised in improving how customers access and receive services from public sector bodies, digital delivery of services, service redesign and behaviour change. It was great to hear her story.

Here are some pictures for you to enjoy:

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Thanks to our two wonderful sponsors for their support.

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Check out our upcoming tables here.

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We had a blast last night at The Clerk & Well, a new TableCrowd restaurant, for our FinTech #MeetandEat.

We had a really nice group, many interesting businesses including Yoyo5K, Mayfair FX, PlayMob, Talented Group, Pure Search, New Amsterdam Capital, Taylor Wessing, Blick Rothenberg plus investors and more.

Our after dinner speaker was Michael Rolph, founder and CCO at London-based mobile payment and loyalty app Yoyo, who recently raised $5m seed funding. Michael has spent his career in payments having had senior roles at Barclaycard, First Data and PayPal. Prior to founding Yoyo, Michael was EiR at Anthemis Group and was an NED at Mopowered. Both commercial and creatively minded he advised Skrill, Regus, Hibu, Vocalink plus many others on strategy, innovation and M&A. Michael talked about his journey and certainly inspired the room!

Here are some photos for you to enjoy:

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Thank you to everyone that joined the evening and please keep up to date with upcoming dinners that might be relevant for you here.

Thanks to our sponsors Taylor Wessing and Blick Rothenberg for their ongoing support.

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