After a few weeks of putting the word out, here is a summary of my experiences of the angel investment situation here in Scotland.
first there were ten
Of the ten or so contacted, it has been relatively easy to arrange meetings, once I learned that I have to talk about level of investment and equity, nominally £30k for 16%. Of the few who request written info before even contemplating a meeting, they all respond with a negative, saying it does not match their criteria. I usually have to reply with a rather forceful email requesting what criteria exactly, and on two occasions this has led to a meeting.
from five to two
Of the five I have met, one did not have a clue what I was talking about. I am on point, and I do explain how the gifting mechanic works. This can be overwhelming. For all but two so far, the app-server combo does not conform to the criteria they use to evaluate and subsequently pass on to their syndicate of funders. Most of these syndicates consist of reasonably well off professionals who are looking for different investment opportunities. In comparison to ISAs or playing on the stockmarket, investment in any kind of company or startup is a high-risk. They are not looking for innovative. They are looking for a niche product, something which fits the current market and makes a reasonable case for growth. Most are physical companies, many biologically orientated for some reason, and only a few in app development, eg controlling household boilers or lights with a mobile app, that kind of thing.
Of the three that said it was not suitable for their syndicate, they did offer to pass on my proposal to specific individuals they thought might be interested. None have honoured their word. The quality of response of individuals I have met here in Scotland is higher — where what they say and what they do match more closely than business people I have met south of the border. It is a tiny sample, for sure, but I suspect there is more hardness in the Scottish businessman. He doesn’t want to promise anything he can’t deliver. But still, I find the gap between word and action is still wide enough that I mistakingly take a barge of bullshit for a trustworthy relationship. I am learning. I am now entirely skeptical. It doesn’t matter what anyone says they will do now, it means less than the vapour from their tongues, insufficient to moisten a stamp let alone a letter of intent, or anything resembling useful action.
Why this behaviour? Because there is no moneyflow. I have dabbled with the notion of introducing MTTP into the initial engagement, but I have found that it appears to be too much of a gimmick at the moment. Only when I have sufficient funds and a body of practice behind me, will it operate well. Indeed, operate for anyone on the planet. Point is, we need to have moneyflow from the initial conditions. The current system has all this hot-air, talk, preparation — which could go on for months! — until eventually ‘gold’ is struck. And course, the investment has to be worth the time and effort that everyone has put into make the decision. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that upward of 25% of money funded goes to pay the time and effort before funding is released. Absurd, and also makes for a distrusting business environment. The alternative? Money flow from the start.
I am tracking people’s contributions through the app, of course. So, when moneyflow does arise, I can distribute it to those who have have actually been helpful. I tell people this, but because this is early days, they can’t ‘compute’ the significance of this. When I end up distributing £1,000,000 to these critical first-steps, the world will be a different place — it will pay to be sensitive and helpful.
two interested — why?
Through this relatively painless procedure, two have shone through. Despite the obvious challenge of comprehending the app in the first place, they were open-minded enough to listen. This indicates a qualitatively different mind-set. Both were quite unlike the others. First, they were investors themselves. Second, they were not simply going through a checklist, establishing what other products our app is like. They were genuinely looking for newness.
One began to relate ecosquared to trust networks already out there. For example a child-sitting service which was growing slowly in the US west coast (where else?). He talked of the importance of sharpening the pitch so that it was super-clear what was being offered, giving me examples of mechanical buzzards, of all things. Of course, the problem I have is that the tool has potentially ubiquitous use, but what I need to do is pin-point some specific potential user-cases. Specific problems solved, so the ‘market’ will find the offering obvious. And this chap offered to do just this.
Another had direct experience of equity investment and he was specifically interested in the gifting mechanism of our app. He recognised what I call the ‘fractal seed’ of the gifting mechanism, and revealed that another company was pitching this for £500,000. Good news to know there is a competitor, so I don’t feel so bad when I meet someone who has no idea what I am talking about, their response being more a reflection of what they don’t know or haven’t come across. The bad news is, they are putting together a professional bid with plenty of commercial bells and whistles. Another bad thing is that it was intimated they are using a traditional business model and will not be using the gifting mechanic themselves on their own product. That is, those who are tinkering with the gifting mechanism may be first to market, appropriating our one last great chance to escape the capitalist system (or thing-ownership strange-attractor).
In both cases, these individuals were genuinely engaging. Genuine potential here.
a final surprise
My nephew did something unusual, in fact doubly so. Firstly, it is unusual for (my) family members to mix business with blood, and secondly, it is unusual for someone to recommend something when they do not understand it. Both, I believe, are natural to the human state and once ecosquared has some validity, people will find it is healthy to trust friends and family first, whilst also developing the courage to explore things they do no understand or feel is right. That is, genuine trust network, and thus a strong enough existence to explore new experiences. Strong roots, strong branches.
So, my nephew showed a few slides to a neighbour of his who is a successful entrepreneur, and his response was positive. From what I heard, very positive. It looks like the most positive response has occurred indirectly, ie not through me directly — which is a good sign. It indicates that whatever is presented is reflecting what the viewer already knows. That is, they have observed the elements in society themselves, and my composition brings these elements together in a rather pleasant composition. Thus, resonance and acknowledgement, followed by appreciation and excitement. I am only speculating at this stage, since I haven’t met the gentleman. But I do know how the psychology of discovery works based on my experience with young adults.
I am, in fact, envious, that my nephew witnessed the buzz. Had I been present though, I am sure I would have white-washed whatever their excitement was with my own. This is a major problem with inventors or creators, at least for some. Without recognition, the creator internalises the lack of response, and so whenever even a glimmer of appreciation appears, it can often lead to an incandescent explosion of delight from the creator, which all too often snuffs out the joy of the receiver. I don’t make this mistake with kids. Or rather, when I see a kid start to light up with a discovery, I add my passion like fuel to their flame not just for having a new enlightening perspective on fractions say, but expanding it out to the joy of mathematics in general, and the ability of any one of us to learn! I have found that this genuine learning flame is weak in adults and can get easily snuffed out, whereas with young adults it has the radiance of nuclear fission, all-at-once intellectual, emotional and indeed spiritual.
So, who is to know what may emerge? It is slow progress. I am certainly not excited about a positive response any more, because I have had people say ecosquared is genius before and very little came of it. In fact, the opposite — I trusted their perception and their direction and risked too much, losing my family in their enthusiastic promises. I won’t make that mistake, indeed I can not.
I have also begun the route through the public funding maze. Very nice engagement with managers at Business Gateway and Scottish Enterprise so far, with potential matched funding or 70% funding, but it is going to be 12 weeks putting together the proposal and then a further 12 weeks getting a decision. We’ll see how far I get along that path before I run out of steam, though perhaps some business-minded people may be attracted to complete that journey. Again, the method justifies the accretion of more ‘business folk’. The more money involved, the more people, and the more it costs to get anything to happen. Something which our app has the chance of cutting completely.
Meanwhile, Colin continues to develop the back-end engine and I fund the front-end app, which can be found on Google Play, ‘ecosquared’. I’ll write about user-cases in another post — feel free to submit your interest in the comments, via the app itself, or from the ecosquared.co.uk website.
So, to recap. Early this year, Colin Kilburn went ahead and coded a back-end financial engine on a server. He also coded a web-app. Meanwhile, I taught maths in order to make some money. This autumn, I paid a chap called Abhinav to code a front-end android app, some cash and some %-equity.
Here we have a working prototype.
It allows a user to choose a project (touching the title at the top, in this case ‘peek at app’), choose the name of someone (eg Tim), and choose a score (eg 6). Users can see their relative values they give for each person, thus getting a gauge of the priorities they think are important, and the SQ, the Social-Quotient, the result once everyones relative values are relativised themselves using our algorithm. It can be sorted by the tabs (in this case, SQ).
We’re looking for interest from various partners:
- user-cases to test in the field — reasonable density, people who interact relatively regularly over a week or two, so a group of people can evaluate the effectiveness of the algorithm to capture ‘intangibles’
- angel-investors — around £30k to make the engine more robust, secure, and scalable on a virtual server so that anyone on the planet can use it
- coders — to develop the other modules (Colin has run out of money and is now working for money, poor man)
- business folk — to flesh out some commercial potentials, business plans, etc
- contributors — landing-page designers, designers, philosophers
I’ve had plenty of people who want to commercialise it. Either by tracking value in a building renovation setting, licensing the code to enable people to value emails, gift buttons — all of which are under licence, using our back-end financial engine. Still, nobody as yet has seen the commercial potential in the app itself. So, I am especially interested in people who have the vision to see how this can be applied ubiquitously. Basically, anyone anywhere who is doing anything, can use the app to track the contributions people make to whatever they are doing.
When I started out saying ecological economics, I didn’t mean as a category. I meant it as a description. It is an alternative economic. A gifting economic. A network economic. An instant economic. And this app is the first working tool that enables it. We are coding the other functions later this autumn into winter.
So, FTP has been rolling around my head since the beginning of the year. I haven’t finished the math, or the website invitation, but after speaking with Patrick Anderson, I pulled together this provisional video. From even the briefest perusal of Patrick’s G+ About page, it’s clear he is insightful and working towards bettering the world.
In terms of the system, I already have a Stripe submission in play, though will be looking at alternatives for moneyflow for content, eg for this site, which constitute ‘Surplus’ which is divided in the ratio of SEA. That is, the system is minimally operational!
the triggering dialogue
You want me to pay you?
readability of this post — the turning point of understanding and information
Editing a Google Hangout Chat has been a real pain. I hope it is readable. How well you penetrate this, how deep your reading, will determine the depth of our engagement, and the speed by which this protocol takes shape in 2014. Your temporal co-ordinates as you read (early January? Spring 2014, Summer? Perhaps 2015), compared to the current saturation of this (FTP) protocol in the current marketplace, will determine your importance in this process. You know, early adopters and all that.
So it comes down to understanding. I have explained complex math to kids. I am a professional communicator. And yet, with ecosquared, the resounding response from the beginning has been lack of understanding — and get this — a demand for more explanation. Just look at this site — it is two years worth of explanation! I have risked my wellbeing, my family’s wellbeing, on ecosquared. I believe ecosquared holds the kernal of a global solution, and this FTP may be the actual turning point — it enables a means of moneyflow that helps us learn how to operate a completely alternative economics, an ecological and ethical one, one based on giving.
Is there enough information, through the video, this post, the other posts on this video — is there enough INFORMATION, that it warrants engagement? It is through the process of engagement that understanding will emerge. That is, is there enough INFORMATION that you are willing to conduct an EXPERIMENT? Not just theorise, discuss, chat, etc, but actually conduct a financial experiment?
But where does the money go?
Yes, that’s the trick, isn’t it? Where indeed…
You’d like to know where it goes, but as we know from our current situation, the money end up in the pockets of those who have it. Capital. Money attract money.
Ecosquared protocols perform two hacks on money, namely MTTP and SEA. FTP performs the equivalent function of ‘capital’, though it operates more like ‘insurance’.
For now, suffice to say, you will get a say in where the money goes if it ever has to leave the network. That is, FTP is merely the decision to give money forward to a future date where you and others decide what to do with it. What power you will have in where it goes, depends on the quality of engagement you have, the value you co-create, and so on. The money doesn’t really ‘go’ anywhere. It is like a standing wave of collective intention; the accumulated FTP indicates the health of the network, the level of trust we have in one another.
Perhaps faith. Once our engagement occurs, our initial faith in one another will be honoured by trust. With small amount of money, small periods of engagement, and small projects, and over time this grows — based on results. Just like any enterprise or company or government or any social organisation in recorded history. It’s results driven. But to have results, one needs experimentation.
It’s up to you. Right now.
So, are you willing to gift £x forward to an engagement? You don’t have to pay that up after the engagement if you didn’t think it valuable. Of course not. But if you do think it is valuable, you will be happy to, and indeed, perhaps give more money forwards as your confidence in what we are doing is proven. Yes, in what we are doing. FTP is the financial protocol for collective co-creation. It is the process by which teams form in a network. And it operates from the get go.
Perhaps you will need some more information, so read on. Perhaps you need someone social validation, an article in some trusted source gets written at some point, or someone you know invites you to FTP later in the year, and after a few invitations, your trust of your friend or colleague overcomes the need for ‘understanding’ and you give it a go. And then, you will have experiential evidence of the experiment: how money-trust-time operate in ecosquared. Then it is for you to decide what to do next. Lovely.
This is a win-win-win solution. It’s just a matter of time. It’s a matter of who reads this: those who already resonates with it, and those who are willing to risk their word-action to test it. And of those who participate, those who can iterate a better version of engagement than this first, rather crude, iteration of video and blog post.
I look forward to meeting with you!
benefits of light-touch co-design of a specific instance
- we have something to show eg reddit or quora which is along Doug’s lines
- we’ll be able to tighten up an experiential tube to fulfil Mani’s method
- we have experienced a way of working which is light, and yet fulfils our objective
That is, we have something concrete to take forwards, as well as the experience of trying to integrate our thinking in a specific instance. A second iteration may emerge as a consequential result, either directly through the ha-ha’s if they turn out to be successful, or as a separate trajectory if not.
this week’s co-design focus
So, let’s apply ourselves to the co-design for this week: creating the ‘Invitational-Protocol’. The default is running much like a crowd-funding site. Can we include a loop that binds people through trust? Can we include a financial movement when we invite friends? If we manage it, this increases the chance that the ha-ha’s will work. By binding value, trust, and moneyflow at the dyadic relationship, in the ‘Invitational-Protocol’, we create an ecological economics equivalent to ‘marketing’ and ‘sales’. Check out the MTTP animation, since the IP is a version of MTTP.
Remember, though, it is not sales or marketing, since what we are inviting people to is ‘not-known’. It is a genuine invitation to co-create. Amazing potential — let’s see if we can apply ourselves this week and crack it!
I tried to create a financial projection like you’d find in a business plan, expected revenue, for the ecosquared entity last year, based on a starting fund of £30,000. Silly thing to do since the entity is not a business, however I’ve gone back and stuck in a column called health. It may be a useful thought-experiment. ‘Health’ indicates how many week’s ahead the entity would live without growth and simply honouring MTTP contracts. That is, if no more people were invited, how long would the MTTP contracts be honoured (and this is without considering any money attracted to the value co-produced). Ignore all the other numbers, just the coloured columns have meaning, and the addition left hand ‘health’ column.
steve jobs and apple’s responsiveness
The initial boundary of engagement is very important indeed. If someone is personally invited to attend, it is advised that they go through the following procedure. The objective is that they leave with a greater understanding of where they are in terms of business practice, build some network relationships, clarify what they offer and their aims, and perhaps have actually demonstrated their skills. For the entity, which consists of the other people who are currently there, it is about accessing the resources of that new individual as quickly as possible, their skills, awareness, assets, get them connected and useful, producing value.
It is essential to realise that the filter is a direct confrontation of internal value and external institutional thinking and practice. Money might be the primary motivation that attracts people to the economic entity, with the guarantee of “double your money” when invited. This motivation interfaces directly with the internal culture of the co-creation of value. It is not an understatement to restate: this engagement is very important indeed. Even for those who are approaching the entity without interest in money, they may find the boundary offensive, and such an attitude could prejudice their awareness and contribution, blinding them to the opportunity to manifest social value.
Depending on the context, the filter contains the following elements. Ideally, there will be a regular cycle of up to ten people. These are conducted by “experts”, people who have self-selected to lead the processes, invited to do so by other members of the entity. The role of the person conducting the filter is very important, because they have the ability to spot “talent” and provide personal recommendations to other members directly. I need to know if particular people turn up, those with a fine sensitivity of mind, and are willing to play, capable of improvising given challenging circumstances.
The filtering process is self-selecting. There is no judgement made by anyone, and it is not compulsory. It is about self-determination. But this is less to do with willfulness and individual efforts which give rise to ego and competition, and more to do with open-mindedness and collective effort which give rise to community and collaboration.
Although the diagram shows an arrow entering the entity, if the filtering works, the entity will grow into the social world of the individual. It is less about people joining, learning what the rules are etc within the “group”. If conducted well, people will feel listened to and valuable, and thus the entity will have grown into the social space of the individual. The community will have grown. And even the notion of “invitation” may be reversed, and it is the new person who is inviting everyone within the entity into their lives, to help them out with work issues and their local community.
(from original eco^2 document)
Second iteration has gone relatively well. Though connection to Gerald Walker at Bloomberg Ventures has been lost (and he was the first person I met after 25th April’s birthing), and Robert Bennet at Haringey Adult Education seems to be a little lacklustre, I have had a series of engagements with people which have been rather exciting. Consequently I feel I am getting better at articulating what I am up to across a range of sectors and framing the particular aspects of ecological economics.
high quality engagements
The primary vector is in the marketing and advertising industry. Spoke to The Future Factory, who appear to be playing around with similar business methodologies — they broker the relationship between agencies and new clients. They approach new clients to find out more accurately what problems they face, and they then translate this to their agency in order to produce a bespoke campaign. That is, they occupy the boundary between these companies. Dan at the Future Factory couldn’t quite see what ecological economics was, and did not see the benefit of my observation that they should not be attached to particular agencies, but instead broker relationships between clients and agencies, suiting up appropriate parties responsively — that is, strategically occupying the middle ground rather than as an extension of a specific agency. The reason for their current set-up, of course, is that they are paid by the agency thus deriving financial security.
Had two points of contact with Z/Yen, a financial sector think tank and consultancy. Michael Mainelli was generous and warm, and we mostly focussed on his book The Price of Fish which had some remarkable insights around the financial mensuration of environmental responsibility, something they call Long Finance, and many interesting if not awkward questions eg how government should start thinking about deriving tax from internet traffic, ie tax? In the end, I was only able to hint at ecological economics, and I really wanted to pass on Pam’s observation of mttp as a time-machine — what happens to relationships and money at the “top end” of mttp when we are dealing with eg £100m for a millennium — surely this was Long Finance at its finest? But I am not practiced with standard freelance work practices, which essentially boils down to “look out for your own”, and so his offer to keep me in the loop by inviting me to events is nice but does not further things directly. One day I shall be faced with the problem Michael faced with me, which manifests as a reluctance to actually examine new things; this takes time and effort, and essentially, is a complex task if done responsibly.
The conversation with Nick from Z/Yen was totally different, with an argument ensuing towards the end. It came down to a straight confrontation — what do you do when faced with something you do not understand? Dismiss it, or examine it? I said I required people to seriously engage with it, for the first people who do will be ahead of the game. They will be trend-setters, the first in a new field of economics. Nick said he would look at it in August with the potential — should the subjective-enumeration-
In Edinburgh, I had a second engagement with Ken Dixon from Newhaven, a creative agency, and it went very well. We talked a little about where I was with ecological economics, more specifically about the state of virals, and then offered a specific idea which he liked a lot. We talked about money and he said he would talk to his partners the following day. If the idea generates significant moneyflow, it shall be the first, and how appropriate since the idea emerged between Harriet and myself when we were considering Amber — the inspiration for ecological economics in the first place! One can’t write this material — it’s got to be lived! But… he has not got back to me over the following week, but I put this down to crap virtual engagement — our real world engagement is strong. I also spoke to a couple of other agencies, one of whom was willing to meet without even an email or site visit; the words that caught him were “shifting from company push to client pull”. Another very interesting, high quality engagement, even though I admit I am only a visitor to their industry and I do not wish to take over a position in their company or compete against them as another creative company. I feel confident I can do this with London ad agencies in September, if there is a need.
Also had a very high quality engagement with Sarah Deas, chairperson of Co-operative Development Scotland. Framing this conversation was quite a trick, and I think we did pretty well. I made it plain that the problem with the entrepreneurial scene is noise, and the tendency for the money to follow the “talkers” and those who can fit the tender-commissioning process best. All that I asked for was that what I presented and who I was had enough quality to justify further engagement, specifically an invitation to meet with others to test the protocols and algorithms. I feel confident about speaking to executives, individuals in positions elevated enough to be able to see the bigger picture. Usually such people can not bring themselves to look at small scale investments and projects, because they are essentially employed to make decisions about the whole organisation, which involves millions of pounds. The scalability of traditional business is built into the hierarchical structure which is static (at least people hold positions for years, and roles often last for decades), which means that sensitivity to present conditions, receptivity and responsivity is sluggish.
Had useful engagements with Dug, a lawyer who is diving into the entrepreneurial world after just conducting an mba, Lynne and her friend’s children who are graduates, and Sofia and Mamading of London Creative Labs — who actually use action cycles in their programme. The potential for graduate “training” in ecological economics, generating revenue as they go along, is high. A good way forwards is to anchor it to some council service, eg Haringey or Lambeth, offer a scalable accreditation system of collaborative entrepreneurialism, employing Mozilla Open Badges technology. The money comes not from the council, but from the companies we produce value for, which results in greater revenue for them. I’ve touched base with Darius of the Spring Project, and we hope to connect at the end of August.
five strategic fronts
So, there are five fronts to ecological economics right now. First and foremost is the engagement with the ad and marketing industry by way of selling ideas or “adverts”, the potential methodology of aligning to genuine social viral movements to be mutually beneficial for social artists, companies, and social services, and leading to macropatronage, a real game changer. This hangs on my engagement with Ken, Craig, and any other ad agency guru that can make use of my services. Objective: sell a couple of ideas, see them being implemented, and accumulating value in terms of the agency itself, specifically quality product/service improvement and new revenue generation; this translates as mttp contract of £100-day per week or £1k-week per season.
Second is the grounding of the financial protocols by professionals, especially getting the stamp of approval from Michael with respect to his Long Finance enterprise. This mostly hangs on my engagement with Nick and Michael and their connections. I have also started to connect with Michael from Nesta. Objective: serious examination, feasibility funding, introduction to high level players; this translates as mttp contract of £100-day per week or £1k-week per season.
Third is the graduate program, which involves attracting switched on people to actively pick up the ecological economics business methodology and implementing it directly. That is, a few people coallesce around specific gems, and turn them into revenue in ludicrously short periods of time. This hangs on Lynne, a genuine entrepreneur rather than a book-read or theory-driven one, and London Creative Labs, and perhaps Robert at Harringey, and Darius of the Spring graduate programme. I’ve tentatively named this the “Up-Grad”. Objective: scalable accreditation program implemented in council and at entrepreneurial hubs, attracting graduates and otherwise who are trying to find jobs; this translates as £100-day per week depending on third party investment.
Fourth is executive engagement. It is important I get meetings with individuals with high enough elevation to get the ideas and myself on the radar; as far as I can tell, they are in a position of being able to see the global landscape currently and over the next decade or so. Thinking of chairs of organisations like Nesta, Unltd, Boris the Mayor, Richard Branson, Jamie Oliver, Tesco Head, etc. Objective: initial meeting facilitated by results in the field, followed up by high level action cycle with a final long term objective of seeing sea and mttp implemented by google; this translates as £100-day per week by locating the various ecological economics initiatives in their respective geolocations.
Fifth, is the actual network, which we can call confluence collective, of everyone participating to generate moneyflow. This includes the graduates, unemployed, self-employed, adult-learners, hub-members, and everyone who is starting to adopt mttp and dmp financial protocols as a collective. This means that the tracking of money flow must be sorted out, something a little better than the google docs I have set up so far. Objective: revenue generation from converting ecosquared gems ploughed into people who can improve the actual logistics of ecological economics; translated as dmp in the order of £100 per week.
I need to secure moneyflow. From any one of the fronts mentioned above. This is imperative. The value is obvious now, money should start to flow, which means a corresponding increase in implementation so we can make some headway towards some of the more lofty ecological economics mechanisms such as macropatronage — which promises to be a real game changer in social media and business. But we need evidence now.
These current iterations follow from the birthing event on the 25th April 2012, since I am working on ecosquared full time. I can see a third iteration which needs to generate moneyflow and palpable value during september. Whether this works or not, I do intend to write up ecological economics as a book. I had hoped to write up a descriptive account during August but an environment with children is not conducive to considered thinking and contemplative writing. I then wanted to embark upon a more narrative account, a partial fictionalisation of what has happened and projecting the ideas as they may manifest over the next few years. I am setting myself a year to write this.
And a parting thought. I met Gerald from ball of dirt during the birthing period of ecosquared back in April, and he re-entered my mind recently. I had created a website in 2009 called takingthestand.org which was an attempt to seed the idea of going to eg Maldives and offering our futurist processes — if there is a need for solutions anywhere in the world, it is on islands which are threatened by flooding due to global glacial melt. It is the first time I have revisited the idea, and now equipped with financial protocols, I’d like to see if Gerald can see the potential for this. Anyone fancy a working holiday on the Maldives for a year…?