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The leap of faith too far

StreetPin Crowdfunding

The StreetPin team has spent years understanding what ‘local’ means. We’ve literally got the t-shirt, and worn it to all kinds of community events, fairs, pubs, parks, retailers, churches, you name it…

We have brought out various iterations of our beta (test) product, ridden the ‘must have an app!’ wave and compiled plans and applications in every conceivable format. We recently ummm’d and arrr’d long and hard about asking ‘the community’ we are aiming to serve, to help us fund the progress of a product that is currently in a beta (test) state. Yes!, we thought, let’s test the water. We’d put ourselves on a reward-based crowdfunding site, Twitter was the first port of call. We went with a few initial product/service tweets such as:

Enticing, huh?

These were obviously also echoed on Facebook and LinkedIn in the appropriate language and style. We even had some big Twitter users post or Retweet us.

<caveat>My personal feeling is that those with hundreds of thousands of followers, or post hundreds of tweets a day are pretty ‘excitingly diluted’ and are actually the equivalent of a scatter gun approach. My ethos (and the direction of StreetPin) is that 10 local, relevant contacts are worth 1,000 random views from the likes of ‘Mike123′ in Kansas seeing a tweet whilst playing a shoot ’em up on his X-box. Tweets from them always brings a smile though</caveat>

We wrote/contributed to a number of blogs, sent mails to subscribers, buttered up friends and family, went networking but the cold harsh truth is that StreetPin in beta, is still a little too vague and less tangible than is needed for people to part with cash. The crowd funding approach was partly about the money, partly the desire to have several advocates with a small vested interest in our success. We did of course look at equity rewards to provide a larger incentive, but we actually need a comparatively small amount of money to prove something that could be great. As the equity crowd funders make a percentage of funds raised, they just aren’t interested in these smaller raises. We will be considering this option to grow exponentially once we have ticked off a few boxes including revenue stream and rising membership, so potential shareholders, watch this space!

Badger verb, gerund or present participle: badgering:repeatedly and annoyingly ask (someone) to do something.

We thought that the crowd fund option was worth a try, gave it a good shot over the course of a week, but essentially we are not going badgering or alienating those that we want nurture and be our trailblazers in the new digital community world. Having run 3 marathons, climbed the 3 peaks, trekked to Everest base camp etc – I recognise ‘giving fatigue’ where the same people are asked for money time and time again. I don’t want this to be the case for StreetPin. I’m looking for familiarity, followed by real examples of how our concept could really work for customers. We of course hope this will lead to sales due to StreetPin being the best solution at the best price

The Edison effect

We’ve been on another little journey, no doubt about that, and someday I’ll write a book – just need to succeed big time first 😉 Attempting a small, reward-based fund raise was another in a long line of learning experiences. We haven’t failed, we’ve found another way not to move StreetPin forward. As a super-driven guy, struggling to contain the ‘big picture’, as long as we are learning and improving the end product, I will continue to push with all my might.

Build it and they will come

In the perhaps deranged mind of founder, Tim Buick, StreetPin will enjoy enviable global usage numbers, perhaps rivalling LinkedIn. The StreetPin concept and tool itself is rapidly scalable and we will aim to prove its virality and reseller value in a host of different community, managed service and commercial areas. South East London first, then the world! We are aiming to provide an inclusive and supportive network like no other – I guess it takes a bit more evidence and tangible examples to move forwards – so that’s just what we’ll do!

What now?

We are about to go dark for a couple of months whilst we work with some new developers to give YOU the community product you deserve, if for nothing else other than making it to the bottom of my blog :)

StreetPin is going to come back early in the New Year with a viable alternative to online shopping for the High Street.

  • We are also progressing discussions with sales and community partners large and small, so if this is of interest, drop us a note.



We ran our trial on, who are currently doing their great work for free. Tarkan and team are super helpful and I would heartily recommend them if you are considering a raise yourself – just make sure it’s a bit more tangible 😉

3, 2, 1… D’oh

StreetPin at the Whitgift Centre The startup world is a roller-coaster ride of highs and lows – elation and frustration often go hand-in-hand as the precious hours of the day tick by. Here at StreetPin, we’re no strangers to ‘nearly there’ and the occasional ‘D’oh’ but we fully intend to keep getting out there, meeting our potential future customers and fine tuning the service to ensure that when we are given a clean bill of health, the demonstrations can progress in earnest.

Bugs: 2, StreetPin: 1

We’ve had a couple of Croydon events recently, where we don the StreetPin colours and meet/present to the people of Croydon in various guises. The first of which was the Tech City Roadshow (@TCRoadshow), where we set up shop next to 9 other startups in the Whitgift Centre for a show-and-tell of technology and creativity. As I set up my banner, splayed my leaflets, readied the lap top and the iPad, I caught my breath and looked at my neighbouring stands. My static banner was looking pretty flimsy next to a 10ft wide, interactive movie wall featuring Will Smith and the 3D scanning machine knocking out realistic plaster casts of the fascinated shoppers. Mental note to self: Go Big or Go Home. It was far from a competitive arena however, and was a pleasure sharing the startled shoppers with such fine startups and small businesses. The issues came when the updates and fixes (which were receiving band aids as I set up the stall), started to come away at the seams. I am a huge advocate of testing, testing, testing, but also in the startup world there has to be an element of ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ in order not to miss an opportunity. We were also somewhat scuppered at the Croydon Heritage Festival, with our presentation in Matthew’s Yard. You may remember an evening when Germany were playing a game of football or something and we were treated to some absolutely sheet rain from about 5pm. This, together with other talks in the grand Fairfield halls and alike meant I was very grateful not to be spending time catching up with my shadow. Those of you who made it down are real superstars, thank you! I like to think of the event as ‘cosy’.

Tomorrow’s a new day

We’re nearly there now and the beta demos will be coming out thick and fast as of next week – fingers crossed, with a good wind. If you would like to check out the before and after, you can see the Croydon Tech City demo, which will get a bit of TLC in the responsive areas (so to speak). As ever, if you have any thoughts or feedback please get in touch

The digital High Street

Croydon's digital High Street

This article was written for the Croydon Citizen in October 2013

It’s no secret; high streets around the country are being squeezed by online sites and superstores delivering shopping to the door, making it simple and affordable to order from your armchair. This ‘Amazon effect’ has dramatically impacted the state of the high street, with 14% vacancy rates and an influx of pound shops and charity shops. Once started, this is a vicious circle that is very hard to reverse – retailers are replaced by short-term, reduced-rent occupants such as charity shops, which make the high street less and less attractive to customers, meaning less footfall, and further closures. Indeed, the bulk of our investigation has centred around Orpington High Street, which has been mocked by many, including a Honda advert and recently the Mail, in an article called ‘Charity Shop High Street’.

It’s not anyone’s fault, and ‘digital’ has descended upon us all with stealth and vigour in a matter of a few years. The fact is that many retailers and small businesses were taken by surprise and whilst busy with stock takes, shop windows and good old fashioned customer service, their footfall was steadily declining. It’s a huge ask for a ‘butcher of thirty years’, for example, to suddenly embark on online advertising and social media, particularly using these new fangled mobile type things. The fact is that the ‘common household’ will often be pressed for both cash and time, and so will tend to favour a single superstore, or get things delivered to their home, whilst catching up on Downton Abbey. Where does that leave Mr Butcher, with his fantastic advice for how to cook the perfect steak and his end-of-day clearance of a few pork chops? Could he sell these to the busy commuter passing by on their way home? Probably, but how would they ever know that these few pork chops are going for a song?

They may have 300 followers, or a selection of likes for the image of a cat eating a cake, but are these people popping in to the store and making a purchase?

On our year-long journey around high streets and small businesses, we’ve also encountered a resistance to social media and plain blank looks when the subject is raised. Then there are the have-a-go retailers with their Twitter and Facebook accounts which proudly give them a window to the online world, but very rarely do they provide return on investment of either time or money. They may have 300 followers, or a selection of likes for the image of a cat eating a cake, but are these people popping in to the store and making a purchase? This approach works well for big brands and national chains – relate to the enticing melted cheese on a sumptuous burger, and you’re probably minutes away from your heart’s desire, wherever you are. Local businesses like the restaurantsbeauty parlours, andconvenience stores that we’ve seen so far on Kake’s London Road series are reliant on bringing in those people already on their doorstep – something that has been notoriously difficult to do, even for the likes of Mr Zuckerberg.

On our travels, we have witnessed an ever-increasing gulf in local marketing activity, designed to combat the reducing footfall. On one hand there are leaflets, posters, directories and circulars, and on the other there are pay-per-click and deal aggregators. Few of these options, however, effectively engages the potential customer here and now, and none give the freedom to actually advertise a deal for a local Croydon Zumba class as no-one has booked today, or the five plates of salmon at one of Croydon’s fine drinking establishments that is going out of date tomorrow.

The Croydon High Street retailer will know where their ideal customer is, but currently has limited ways to build up a rapport and start a dialogue with them

One more gripe/observation if I may? The current options for social media, local deals, community building etc, usually focus on a one-size-fits-all, and advertising is offered by location or if you are tech savvy, by interest and profile. We believe that ‘local knows local’ – the Croydon High Street retailer will know where their ideal customer is, but currently has limited ways to build up a rapport and start a dialogue with them. As an example, the sports shop in the high street knows that the optimum audience is the running club that meets on the nearby field. Short of standing by the lamppost on Tuesday nights handing out leaflets, there aren’t many options, until now…