As a general rule, here at Startacus, we only feature good ideas (and more often than not only GREAT ideas) which is why the title of this piece may have struck you as somewhat odd.
Bad Idea, is a Social enterprise based in Glasgow, that tasks itself with encouraging the personal development of the city's young folk through a range of enterprise centred activities. Naturally, this is something that we at Startacus find rather intriguing, and given that July is our Glasgow startup month, it seemed the perfect time to catch up with founder Anthony Gerrard about the project, his opinions of Glasgow and how he found setting up a social enterprise in the city!
So Anthony, We love Bad Idea (Ironically we reckon it's a great idea!) Can you give is us a general overview of what you guys do and how this benefits those young people who take part?
We all have imaginations. We all have ideas. Every single day we find solutions to problems because its our human nature. What we often lack is self-belief. We have such a fear-of-failure attitude in the UK, and a lot of truly gifted people don't realise that they are. Bad Idea is a programme that uses enterprise as a vehicle for personal development. The most important development we work on is the confidence of young people. The confidence in themselves to take action and create their own opportunities, and to inspire those around them. And all they need to get started is an idea. We run a series of workshops as part of a youth enterprise competition and each workshop helps the young people develop their ideas another stage closer to becoming reality. Ultimately launching their own crowdfunding campaigns where they raise real money, and seek real support, to make their idea happen. The programme and learning framework has been developed with the support of the University of Glasgow, and we certify the entrepreneurial and employability skills that the young people develop throughout the course. So at the end, even if they're not going to go on and be the next Alan Sugar, they at least have a new set of skills and the confidence to realise their ambitions, whatever they may be.
Can you tell us where the idea came from it and what drove you to establish it as a social enterprise?
I think we (Scotland) have a fantastic range of support, but it is so extensive that it actually creates more obstacles than solutions. It can be very confusing, and with many agencies fighting for the same clients and pots of money, the clients can often be left disorientated and disillusioned.
Something I found common throughout, from Business Gateway to the Prince's Trust, was one of the first things they ask for is a Business Plan. The reality is, at those early stages, you have an idea, not a business. I believe that there needs to be more time spent nurturing the idea and building what may eventually become a business, that you would then put a plan around. So i developed Bad Idea to provide that service.
I decided to focus it on young people, still at secondary school, because I believe that there needs to be much more focus on enterprise and enterprising skills from a younger age. We have a crisis throughout the world with record numbers of young people falling into the NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) category, or so-called 'Lost Generation'. The problem we have is that there are not enough opportunities for many young people who are not transitioning to a positive destination after high school. And even those that go on to college or university are often delaying the inevitable unemployment heap anyway. Young people, more than ever before, need to create their own opportunities. And i believe entrepreneurship is that solution, so i designed Bad Idea to be more accessible and inclusive than anything else available on the market. We don't positively discriminate, but we have managed to find an approach that works for the most disadvantaged and marginalised young people in our society which is why i made it a social enterprise.
We are going to play devil's advocate here and suggest that there are, in fact, at least some bad ideas (a chocolate fireplace for example)- how would you respond?
Haha! Good question! There were a group of young people who applied to our competition that had taken 'bad idea' literally. We had ideas like "a door with no handle" etc. But our approach to nurturing ideas works exactly the same way. We ask, who would want a door with no handles? A prison. So we can continue on that path. Its about taking your idea to the market as quickly as possible, and finding out what they do and do not like/want about your idea. Then iterate. And if you keep doing that you will eventually have a marketable product or service. Your example is a tough one, but if your market demand a chocolate fireplace, then lets find a way to make it work because its an opportunity. You will need to research a flame resistant chocolate mixture and solve some more problems along the way, but just imagine what you might discover when at least trying. Its definitely thinking outside the box, but thats exactly what Bad Idea is designed for. If you went to one of the support agencies with that idea it would be laughed out of the room. But young people, especially, have fantastic imaginations and wonderful capacities for divergent thinking, and we need to be more innovative and inventive as a society, so its those crazy ideas that will move us forward. So there's really no such thing as a Bad Idea.
As you know it's Glasgow startup month - Can you tell us a little about your experience of Glasgow as a city, particularly in relation to starting a business?
I love Glasgow. I feel very lucky to live here. We have some of the world's top universities in our city. We have a very diverse economy. The people, the businesses, and the services are some of the best you'll find anywhere on the planet and the city is not too big that it makes it unlivable, like London can be for many people there. It's unbelievable just how friendly and supportive the people are in Glasgow. I think the city has a checkered history, but today it is such a positive place to live. And if you make the decision to start up a business, there is definitely not a lack of support and enthusiasm for it. The people really do make Glasgow!
What would you say are the best 3 thing about Glasgow, and the worst 3 things about Glasgow?
The 3 best things are the people, the access to support, and the social life. The 3 worst things are the city's negative reputation, and the problems we still face with poverty and poor health in some areas.
Thanks for the great chat Anthony and best of luck with Bad Idea !
If you've got something you would like to say about Glasgow, its people, its startup events or creative goings-on then check out Glasgow Startup Month and drop us an email to [email protected] !
Or if you just fancy reading a bit more about the city's startup scene, have a look at our recent Glasgow themed posts.