The Next Bigger Better Society is the brainchild of Matt Bamford-Bowes, and aims to get UK teens and their ideas off the ground with the help of an incubator-style fund.
I’ve been asking Matt about the thinking behind the project, how he intends to achieve its aims, and its first conference this month.
What is the Next Bigger Better Society?
The Next Bigger Better Society started really as a thought about doing things differently. I guess you could call it a bit of a response to David Cameron’s notion of The Big Society. We wanted to do things better and in a more open way, by collaborating with some really interesting people to make changes to the way we work and live.
The Society is split into three areas:
- Nextbiggerbetter.com which is an attempt to raise interesting questions about technology, media, brands and business through content.
- Get Together, a conference aimed at collaboration and creativity for the curious of mind.
- The Get Together Fund, which is our way of uniting friends, mentors and investors behind the UK’s teenagers.
Why did you launch the Get Together Fund?
A few years ago I proposed the idea of doing a campaign that supported the teenage market by investing in social clubs, music training, lifestyle coaching, but the client I proposed it to said it was too narrow an idea.
The idea of The Get Together Fund is something that, since that point, I have been playing around with in my head. We launched on a soft-launch a couple of months ago so that we could talk to mentors and investors, but have really wanted to start accelerating towards Christmas so that we start 2012 with some interesting people and projects on board.
What inspired the project?
Two things inspired me to actually do this. The most obvious one was the impact that I felt after the London Riots. How could society ignore such a large cross section of our future? Why were people not prepared to do anything for teenagers?
I believed there was an economic way out of the London Riots and a smart way of getting teens and their ideas off the ground. The Get Together Fund is about giving teens a chance, when there are fewer and fewer available opportunities for them.
The second was the future. My eldest son is three, a long way off being a teenager, but I thought about how I would feel as his father if there was this abyss in front of him where there were no jobs, there was no support and he felt the only way to react was to revolt.
It woke my mind up to what was really important and I think The Get Together Fund is important to all of us.
What were the major challenges in setting it up?
There are so many challenges to setting it up that I’d love to but couldn’t list them all. The challenges though have been positive in what I am learning as I go.
The truth is what I have learnt is that you simply can’t rely on an idea. The old adage of 1% idea, 99% perspiration is amplified even more so when it is your business. The getting past the “and so what?” has been a bit of a challenge, but I think we are starting to make inroads.
Fortunately, The Brooklyn Brothers have been incredibly supportive.
What practical outcomes would you like to see from the fund?
I’d love it if we could shift teenage sentiment about their futures from pretty scared and negative, to positive. However, on a more practical note, we are aiming to get ten teenagers a year into the project.
These could be through a combination of mentoring, micropayments, or microfunding. But if we could simply help one teenager get their project or themselves off the ground, I think I’d be happy with that.
Why is collaboration important to this conference, and society in general?
I think we are becoming a society that lives and breathes collaboration. We live in a world governed by a collation government for instance.
However, I think through my job in advertising I have seen more value in projects that involve genuine collaboration, than in any other project I have worked on. There is something about the debate, the different points of view, and the spark that comes from people collaborating together which just seems to work.
This is what we wanted to apply to the conference. So rather than just being one person talking about their product, it is two people talking about a modern challenge and having a different perspective on it.
It should be exhilarating for the speakers and the audience, otherwise it simply won’t work.
What will the conference look like? Who is speaking?
The conference will be a burst of ideas and imagination. There will be some fundamental takeouts that the audience will be able to apply to their brands, their products, or their clients. The speakers are from varied backgrounds, but all have a great personal stance on technology, creativity and culture.
So John Bielenberg from Common will be talking with Stefan Bardega of Ubinow about how creativity and technology should be used for social good, something that all brands should be interested in thinking about.
Tom Uglow and Matt Locke will be discussing how brands can use technology to tell better stories about themselves. All of the talks will be delivered to drive interesting debate and I’m sure it will stimulate even more curiosity.
What are your plans post-conference?
Once this conference is over we will start to plan the next two conferences. There will be a teen conference each year which will be about inviting UK teens down to hear both motivational and inspirational stories from entrepreneurs, those in education, and editors of relevant titles.
The conference will be free for teens and we are hoping to garner brand support to drive it forward. Rather than being a traditional conference we will be looking at a much sparkier, more energetic type of talk so it should be pretty exciting.
The second conference already has some interesting speakers lined up and so it will be pretty much go once November 18th is out of the way.
The first Get Together Conference takes place on November 18. Tickets are currently £50, but Econsultancy members can get 12% discount on all ticket prices using the code: econsult12.