The social enterprise library that stocks everything from clothing to tools, plus airfare price projections.
Why buy when you can borrow? That’s the question posed by Library of Things, a new social enterprise in south London aiming to help people reduce waste, save money and cut down on crowded storage space. “People know how a library works,” says co-director Sophia Wyatt, who runs the project along with Rebecca Trevalyan and Emma Shaw. The difference: instead of a library you visit a jazzed-up shipping container; instead of books you borrow anything from a garden fork to a power drill.
After a successful pilot scheme in 2014, the trio raised £15,000 (€17,000) through crowdfunding and convinced the likes of outdoor brands Berghaus and Patagonia to donate stock. “The physical space is key,” says Wyatt. As well as lending high-quality items, Library of Things hosts workshops that teach people how to use them.
The project is rooted in the community but the ambition is for the concept to be taken on by new teams and slotted into other contexts, be that a post office or a library. Oh, and the lendable objects aren’t all practical. Ukulele, anyone?
“I remember getting my dad a turntable for Christmas and walking into a record store, wanting to buy everything,” says Matt Fiedler, co-founder and CEO of the Denver-based company Vinyl Me, Please. “That’s how we got the idea for launching a record club. We saw people getting into vinyl and we liked the idea of helping them discover new music.”
Established in 2013, the business quickly became profitable and now has 15,000 members worldwide. The club sends its members a monthly package, which includes an exclusively pressed album with an original artwork on the sleeve, along with a cocktail recipe.
Airlines reflect the global political and financial climate and they too are feeling the repercussions of the rise of terrorism, particularly flag-carriers in the Middle East including Emirates-rival Turkish Airlines. US airlines on the other hand are becoming profitable players following a decade of struggles since 9/11.
Next to terrorism, Brexit has taken its toll. Delta and Virgin Atlantic have announced route reductions to the UK; whether other airlines will follow depends on how Theresa May manoeuvres the nation’s departure from the EU. The good news: “Air travel remains historically extremely cheap,” says Murdo Morrison, head of strategic content at online aviation platform Flightglobal. “Liberalisation has been the biggest factor in this, with competition from low-cost carriers from 2000 onwards forcing legacy carriers to completely reinvent their business model.”
A survey by GfK Marktforschung Nuremberg found that in Germany, two out of three employees and managers don’t want to be addressed by their first name – and they prefer the formal sie to the familiar du.
Since its beginnings as an entrepreneurs’ get-together in 2008, Slush has become a global champion of start-up culture. Last year’s Helsinki conference attracted 15,000 people from more than 100 countries, with other conferences in Tokyo and Beijing. The rise of Marianne Vikkula has been similarly rapid: she joined Slush as a volunteer in 2012 and was appointed CEO in June this year.
What is Finland’s place in Europe’s start-up hierarchy?
Ten years ago there was very little start-up culture here but now there is a strong sense of community – people genuinely want to help each other. Access to venture capital is much better too but improving the talent pool still needs work.
Slush Singapore: how did it come about?
Singapore has lots of great entrepreneurs and it has venture capital. Slush gets young people to help create a start-up movement from the ground up. That’s why we were approached by Singapore’s National Research Foundation.
What are investors looking for heading into 2017?
There is a lot of interest in virtual reality, artificial intelligence and innovation in food production. But most venture capitalists are simply looking for great teams to invest in.