About Me

The guy who designs and administers the websites for Kent Business Tweetups, Sittingbourne Swords Fencing Club, Expresso Mechanic's Workshop and Young Sounds. Anyone wanting to add a post to the blog, should contact me by email. No adverts, please!

Friday, 19 December 2014

Turkeys voting for Xmas...

Like turkeys voting against Christmas

Like turkeys voting against Christmas, the Marine Parade Residents Association decided it was fine to let a fine piece of our Tankerton heritage be demolished.

No doubt the nod for plans to remove the quirky Peggotty House with its spacious gardens will send home prices rocketing as another slice of green turns to concrete.

I don't expect much dissent from the council - after all this development is good for the tax revenue. 
All of the people who might stop, admire, pass the time of the day over Peggotty - well we’re the disenfranchised, unrepresented.

And so it is with Manston Airport. All of the people and businesses that used the airport - and would have liked to do so a lot more with a constructive operator - are struggling to be heard.

According to reports sent to me, Thanet council released a paper that infers it already decided against the bid to revive the airport. Its report calls the Compulsory Purchase Order a “high risk option” and questions whether the American company behind the bid, RiverOak, has enough money to ensure Manston as a “viable” airport.

Stephen DeNardo, the chief executive of RiverOak, was rightly furious, complaining that the council report doesn't provide a fair analysis of the information presented.

It seems in local democracy, the turkeys rule the roost.

Jules Serkin.

What do you think?  Tweet me @julesserkin .Tune in to my shows @SCOFFQUAFF food & drink show for Kent every Tuesday live 11-12 & 1pm @businessbunker with me & @vanillaweb  on www.channelradio.co.uk
Attend free business networking : www.kentbusinesstweetup.co.uk 

Friday, 12 December 2014

Supermarket Sweep...

Just as Whitstable is welcoming Morrisons to the High Street and planning a third supermarket for the Thanet Way, we consumers are apparently turning our backs on the weekly trolley dash.

Waitrose Chief Executive Mark Price told the Sunday Telegraph that a change as fundamental as supermarkets coming to the UK in the 1950s is sweeping the nation as people are increasingly buying their food for today. The notion of people going and pushing a trolley around for the week for a huge shop is a thing of the past, he said.

While we appear to be cramming more and more supermarkets into our own community, Sainsbury’s and Tesco have been pulling larger supermarket plans, including one in Margate, according to the Mail Online.

It must be said that Tesco is doing its level best locally to keep with the times and create a homely, community feel. For the re-launch of the store off Millstrood Road it’s created a community room where charities and local groups can meet for free and it donated welcome funds to the Whitstable RNLI on reopening.

As they say, every little helps. But to my mind no amount of catering to the community by the supermarkets can replace the feeling of wholeness that shopping locally gives. Going to my local butcher, (Surmans of Tankerton) knowing where the meat is sourced, having a good natter with Brian,(the dishy one) getting cooking times for the beef and then popping to the market for my eggs from lovely June, who always asks how my Mum is doing, and coming home to my home-delivered Riverford organic veg box & my Herne Bay Hudson's Fish certainly for me beats pushing a trolley around for an hour and then feeling miserable at the price, the queues & the experience.

Jules Serkin

Tell me your favourite local shop & why?  Tweet me @julesserkin Tune in to my shows @SCOFFQUAFF food & drink show for Kent every Tuesday live 11-12 & 1pm @businessbunker with me & @vanillaweb  on www.channelradio.co.uk
Attend free business networking : www.kentbusinesstweetup.co.uk 

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Louise Pepper Mentioned in The Times!

Just a quick post to say that Kent Business Tweetups, Louise Pepper, has been mentioned in The Times newspaper. She has been ranked among the UK's top financial advisers. Sincere congratulations, Louise!

A photo of the article relating to the above, can be found here:


Friday, 21 November 2014

A Lidl More Democracy

I’ve been entertained – and at times irritated – by the comedian Russell Brand’s campaign for direct democracy through his “Revolution” YouTube channel. Entertained because he’s incredibly funny but irritated because the issues are more complex than presented. A “Big Brother” or “X Factor” style popular vote on the NHS would clearly have everyone demanding more nurses and better equipped hospitals, & let's not even get started on the food, but who would take the decision on whether to take the money from schools, the army, train service or wind farms?

On a local level, however, a bit more democracy could go a long way. The council right now is changing the face of Whitstable, for example, beyond recognition. The town loved for its unkempt seafront and quirky shops is suddenly being stormed by an influx of big chains: the latest newcomer to the High Street being Morrisons, bang opposite Budgens. At Estuary View, we’re getting a Lidl store and another big retail chain. Gone but not forgotten, The Bear & Key, now a Prezzo, The Tankerton Arms, now flats.

But it’s not just the shops. Along the seafront in Tankerton, houses are being rapidly replaced with identikit blocks of flats. The turreted Valentie's house, now flats. The once rural idyll boating lake off the golf course by West Beach now an estate of terraces. 

The beautifully quaint Peggotty House on Marine Parade is the latest insult to residents. The much-admired home was declared as without architectural merit by the council. Granted it doesn’t follow any traditional style of architecture – but that’s the point. Whitstabilians have always done things differently.

It’s not beyond the realms of possibility to imagine a system where people can lodge their vote on decisions of whether a chain store should be allowed in our high street and whether treasured local assets like Peggotty House should be cast in the dustbin of development. But really, politicians with their ears to the ground should already be hearing loud and clear what their electorate are saying.

Jules Serkin.
 Tweet me @julesserkin Tune in to my shows @SCOFFQUAFF food & drink show for Kent every Tuesday live 11-12 & 1pm @businessbunker  on www.channelradio.co.uk
Attend free business networking : www.kentbusinesstweetup.co.uk 

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

A Framing Success!

       I had the privilege of framing a signed One Direction T-shirt for a rather special youngster and was amazed at how easy it is to have a positive effect on a young person, which in turn had a profound effect on me. Here’s the link to the article. http://tmblr.co/ZCsI8u1UiXNX0

·         I'm really proud to have been accepted by “Just Got Made”, an organisation putting together a trustworthy directory of designer/makers. 
To read more visit Just Got Made website: http://www.justgotmade.com/supplier/edge-picture-framing/

·         Being 11 November, and because Kent had such a significant involvement in both World Wars, you might be interested in my article included on page 24 of the first issue of the Hythe Life Magazine. http://issuu.com/hythelifemagazine/docs/hythe_life_magazine_-_issue_1__flip

Bev Saunders

Thursday, 9 October 2014

No More Planes at Manston...

And so it is.

A century of aviation ends at Manston.

All their huffing and puffing makes our political leaders look more like the domestic servants fussing about Downton Abbey while Lady Grantham purses her lips and does just as she damn well pleases.

Ann Gloag has made buffoons of the politicians and fools of us all.

Small wonder she declines media interviews. Who would want to be reminded of promises on purchasing an airport when they’ve just turned a pound into 24 million. Thanet council’s inquiry into a compulsory purchase order of the airport and the MPs’ assurances of the prime minister’s support looks laughable.

Only this is serious. And lessons must be learned.

Once again, we’re hearing vague promises. Along with a multitude of houses to be built on the vast site, there’s talk of a business park, creating 4,000 jobs. This has helped to soothe opposition to the plans. The airport employed a mere 150 people.

But here we go again. Where’s the business plan? Where are the details? Where’s the stress test for an economic downturn?

While the developers are still fighting the vague threat of a compulsory purchase order, the politicians have scope to demand the full disclosure they should have insisted on with when the airport was sold. Let’s not be made fools of again.

 Tweet me @julesserkin, Tune in to my shows @SCOFFQUAFF food & drink show for Kent every Tuesday live 11-12 & 1pm @businessbunker  on www.channelradio.co.uk   Listen anytime: www.SCOFFQUAFF.co.uk 

Jules Serkin
Attend free business networking : www.kentbusinesstweetup.co.uk 
Follow @kenttweetups for info.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Computers 4 Africa

My husband recently returned from Nigeria, where he’s been researching a book about investing in Africa and other “frontier markets.”

Among the most moving accounts is his visit to a slum in Lagos, where he met a young man whose father died in ethnic fighting and whose mother travelled seven hours to work as a nurse. The lad, left with his two brothers during the week, was determined not only to better himself and his family but also the slum around him by studying for a degree in zoology, focusing on pollution control to eradicate the deadly scourge of malaria, typhoid and diarrhea. Amid the poverty surrounding him, he worked on a broken laptop barely able to read on the cracked screen.

Coming back to England and going to the rubbish tip brought home the huge waste between our world and Africa’s. We throw away old technology every day – especially as businesses - that could easily be of massive benefit to those who can’t yet afford the latest gadgets. We undertook to make sure the lad in Lagos would get a working laptop.

B&Q worker Aseri Katanga had the same thought but on a far bigger scale. As he watched his employer fill up a skip with unwanted computers he thought about how useful they would be back home in Tanzania. Aseri approached B&Q for permission to store the computers in his garage. He put the word out and soon his garage was chockablock with computers. Next, he arranged for a shipping crate and lots of neighbours to help him load the computers on their way to Africa.

From that first shipment an entire charity was spawned called Computers 4 Africa. The charity, based in Aylesford, takes computers from across Kent, cleans the data, loads up-to-date software such as Microsoft Windows 7, and ships them out to schools and non-governmental organisations.

Speaking on the Business Bunker radio show, marketing manager Sharon Roberts told us that the charity is looking for computers, monitors, keyboards and laptops, but not printers as it’s harder to get the ink.

All of the equipment it sends has an expected useful remaining life of at least five years. Any donations that don’t make the grade are split up and used for parts. Best of all, the charity’s connections on the ground make sure the people receive the equipment know how to use it. Having computers at school can make a world of difference, giving a better education and real earning potential to children and their future families. One day, Aseri says he wants African children to know the difference between a mouse and a mouse.

Jules Serkin.

For details on how to donate computers go to www.computersforafrica.org.uk. If your company has ten working computers, the charity will pick up free of charge.
 For advance copies of Frontier, go to @frontierfunds    www.frontierfunds.org 
 Tweet me @julesserkin Tune in to my shows @SCOFFQUAFF food & drink show for Kent every Tuesday live 11-12 & 1pm @businessbunker  on www.channelradio.co.uk
Attend free business networking : www.kentbusinesstweetup.co.uk 

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Mini Snail Farm Trail...


Mini Snail Farm Trail is about providing free mini snail farms to 50 selected UK schools where the children would benefit most from contact with living things. Each one has 6 baby snails and everything you need to look after them: food, housing, bedding and care instructions,

Perks for donations:
A thank you on our campaign page and: hand magnifiers, snail greeting cards, Meet the Snails days, signed copies Molluscs and Me, and lots more must-have goodies

I am Helen Howard, and H&RH Escargots is one of the few UK snail farms growing edible snails and helping other people to grow their own snails at home.  As a teacher I believe that it is vital for young children to learn about living things through practical experience not just by reading about them in books. I am keen to support schools in helping children to learn in an engaging way. The National Curriculum is so demanding that it is easy for other important learning to get lost in the time pressure. A mini snail farm sitting at the side of the classroom so children can take turns to care for the snails extends their learning and is a reminder of the importance of the living world.
My snail farm came to public attention through TV appearances on Countryfile, the Alan Titchmarsh show, Great British Menu and Easter Eggs Live. Last year Molluscs and Me was published, which is the story about setting up and running the snail farm. Press articles include the local Press as well as the Guardian, the Independent, Amateur Gardener, Smallholder Review and Metropolitan magazine. http://www.ink-live.com/emagazines/eurostar-metropolitan/1692/july-2014/#44 More recently I appeared on BBC Breakfast on a Sunday morning: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-29031027
Please help spread the campaign Mini Snail Farm Trail. Even if you can't give a contribution, spreading this page via all social media platforms and through family and friends will help us a lot! We plan to take mini snail farms into 50 selected UK schools to help teachers provide opportunities for children to learn about living things. We want to promote science education in primary schools so that the next generation understands more about the world around them.

Helen Howard.
 twitter @minisnailfarm


Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Another Techno Hit Parade...

In modern-day business, with success determined by tweets and web hits, geeks are the rock gods.  You can glean a lot from studying their tricks of the trade. 
After my column a couple of months ago on the top apps for small businesses, here’s another techno hit parade: some top tools recommended by Edouard Rosenblum from the geek jobs website Breaz.
1. Slack
Forget Skype. Use Slack. Slack is the most modern communication tool for teams with an incredible design that allows you to integrate all of the services you’re using and get instant notifications

2. mention
This powerful application helps you track what’s being said about your brand and your competitors in real time. It works for blog posts, forum mentions, news and web references, as well as social media posts.
3. Buffer
Want to publish on multiple social networks in one click and track your reach? Use Buffer. It’s an extremely simple application to manage your social media presence on almost every channel. Buffer also provides great tips for startups on their blog.

4. Followerwonk
This is a great resource when it comes to finding influencers in your sector. For instance, you can sort out a list of all of the most followed people for any keyword or expression.
5. Dashlane
With all of the apps you’re using, you should use a password manager to protect your security. Dashlane will connect you automatically to all of your apps and prevent you from losing any passwords.

Jules Serkin

 Tweet me @julesserkin, Tune in to my shows @SCOFFQUAFF food & drink show for Kent every Tuesday live 11-12 & 1pm @businessbunker  on www.channelradio.co.uk
Attend free business networking : www.kentbusinesstweetup.co.uk 

Friday, 29 August 2014


I often think of all the great music out there humming in the heads of people without the musical ability to record it, and the funny things people think without being able to express them as jokes.

It’s the same thing in business. You think of the amount of people who say they’ve got a great idea, but they don’t have the money or other tools to put it into action.

That’s where grants come in. It can be more straight-forward than you think. I had one email from a particularly inspiring example.

Darren Hollands had some bright ideas for making audio speakers and amplifiers. He wanted to base the company locally rather than going to the cheaper manufacturing bases of the world.

“We were looking for factory units in the county that had an area that we could use for design, as well as manufacturing bays,” said Darren “I was finding it frustrating.”

Darren turned to an associate he knew, Chris Broom from Locate in Kent, who suggested he apply for a grant from the South East Urban Coast Creative Enterprise Support Scheme (SUCCESS). This body supports new or expanding creative SME’s who want to create jobs in the district and have match funding.

SUCCESS provided a £150,000 grant, funded from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund covering Thanet.

“If it wasn’t for Chris, I wouldn’t have known about the scheme and we wouldn’t have been able to start up the business,” said Darren. 

“I was able to match the £150,000 grant with my own money and loans from family, and that has allowed us to start developing products and to buy a company called O’hEocha which, although technically still trading, had been dormant for a couple of years.

“That has been important, as having an established brand name with a history and product range has opened doors to specialist suppliers and potential high street retailers and has given us a really positive start.”

Locate in Kent also helped identify the Rowe’s Yard unit where the start-up team is busy developing new products, updating those bought from O’hEocha, and developing a range including a streaming unit that allows for downloaded music to be streamed directly to speakers.

“The premises are perfect,” said Darren. “They are new, very clean and smart and ideal for the image we are looking to project to suppliers and customers. We are really keen to identify local suppliers as I am a huge advocate of keeping business as local as possible.”

Paul Wookey, Chief Executive of Locate in Kent, said the range of financial support schemes across the county had made it an even more attractive location for businesses looking to launch or expand.

“All the statistics and feedback we have show that businesses from the UK and beyond are increasingly aware that much of Kent and Medway is covered by Regional Growth Fund support. There are various schemes that support companies of all sizes and at all stages of their development and which are looking to grow and create jobs,” he said.

“Sonic Concept is a prime example of a company whose start-up has been made possible by one of those schemes, launching in an area where investment and growth is helping transform the economic landscape.”

With six months of design and development work ahead before releasing its products to market, the company has a team of four, including Darren, with a fifth joining at the end of August and plans to expand to 20 over the next three years.
                       Jules Serkin.

To find out how Locate in Kent can help you grow or set up in Kent, visit www.locateinkent.com

To find out more about SUCCESS visit www.success-creative-fund.biz

Friday, 22 August 2014

Local Airports

Schlepping to Gatwick, Stansted or Heathrow for the summer holidays? Spare a thought for more local airports.
Thanet council has been appealing for expressions of interest in running Manston airport. The search is part of the local authority’s consideration as to whether the compulsory purchase of the airport would be a viable option.
We should know the level of interest soon enough following the Aug. 20 deadline. The final stage will involve meetings set to take place in mid-September, depending on the level of response.
Any acquisition of the site would rely on significant investment with a minimum twenty-year business plan.
What a pity such robust qualifications didn’t form part of the sale process last time around!
To add insult to injury, the local business community is also being asked to consider the Boris Island plan to devastate the Thames estuary with an airport on the Isle of Grain.

Sir Howard Davies – yes the one who was meant to be regulating banks five years before they blew up – is now chairing the Airports Commission. He’s considering the locations best placed to add much needed airport capacity for the South East and UK.

So far, he has taken forward proposals for expansion at both Gatwick and Heathrow for further consideration. He will be announcing next month whether a new hub airport on the Isle of Grain will also be included in his review.

The Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce hasn’t publicly supported any particular scheme for Sir Howard's review but is now considering the views of the business community.

Personally, I’m against building new airports when we have several that can be enlarged to cope with increased travel needs at a lower environmental and financial cost. For a start, there’s Southend Airport, which I used only last month. It was an absolute breeze to fly from there. A transport link, say from Ebbsfleet to Essex, would improve the connection even more.

Better still, Sir Howard should get together with Kent County Council to consider Manston. 
          Jules Serkin. 
The Chamber’s closing date for comments is Friday 22nd August 2014 at 5.00pm. Download a form at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/SNM29T3
Tweet me @julesserkin, Tune in to my shows @SCOFFQUAFF food & drink show for Kent every Tuesday live 11-12 & 1pm @businessbunker  on www.channelradio.co.uk

Friday, 15 August 2014

Anyone Fighting for Canterbury?

In the 1800s, Canterbury was the centre of the universe for public infrastructure, with the world’s first regular steam passenger train, the Crab & Winkle. So how is it that this great city has been cast aside in the battle for resources today?

Last weekend, I had to call an ambulance to the scene of an accident in Whitstable. At 9pm on a Saturday night there were none. It turned up an hour later. We then drove for another hour to Ashford. When we arrived, the hospital was bedlam with 30 ambulances bringing in patients in the space of about an hour. The medics were completely overrun. Despite a serious incident involving a head injury and concussion, we were made to sit in the waiting room six long hours to be seen, with no beds available or even a trolley to make the wait more comfortable. My concussed patient, (told not to move by the ambulance, was shuffled from scans to nurses etc all on his feet whilst bleeding from a head wound.)

But it’s not just the health service. Call the police and you’re through to an operator in Maidstone. It takes triple the time to explain an incident when the person you’re speaking to has no knowledge of the area, (Whitstable Alleyways !)

Our shops in Canterbury are fast disappearing, replaced with a multitude of cafés. Yet the council seems to feel no obligation to address this. One member told me: we must be doing something right as the cafes are all full. It isn’t the point. A city thrives on a variety of retail outlets.

I took the park-and-ride recently and was horrified at the jump in fares to £3, I visit Canterbury twice a week on average & my parking costs me approximately £14 a week, at £56 a month that's an expense I'll need to cut.

The population of Canterbury and the surrounding area isn’t getting any smaller. In fact, more housing is going up all the time along with the universities expanding, 3 private schools, 2 Grammars, Herne Bay High, & lots of primary schools and growing numbers of commuters.

So I’m wondering, who is fighting Canterbury’s corner? Anyone?

Jules Serkin

Tweet me @julesserkin listen to my radio shows live Tuesdays 11-12 @SCOFFQUAFF & 1pm @businessbunker  on www.channelradio.co.uk    @KentTweetups

Dates: Free Microsoft Word Training Talk  F-Keys : August 28th 10am: @lenleys Roper Road Canterbury, free parking.  Details: www.KentBusinessTweetup.co.uk

Saturday, 9 August 2014

An Inspiring Story...

On last week's Business Bunker, as we sweltered in our studio in sunny Dymchurch, our guests Steve & Anny Lowe provided an inspiring story of a great Kent business starting up.

They met working for a  textile company. Anny was in Bangladesh, Steve in the UK,

Steve  as sales manager travelled out after four months of emailing on work business. Anny watched him trawling through the offices in Bangladesh saying to each lady worker, "Are you Anny? until finally they met.
 "We never saw each others' faces before, just emails, said Anny. "Youre much younger than you seem on email, he told me!"

The couple have been together 10 years now and have 2 children,

Steve travelled around the world previously and had good connections,

The pair started Elsatex in Strood as a business five years ago, supplying the full range of budget hotel needs along with hospital bed sheets. They  bought a small factory that was struggling in Bangladesh, importing 30% of their product from there.

Last year was a pinnacle moment. "We actually gave back the factory to our workers," says Steve. ``So all of our workers get the benefit and a share of all the profits."
The workers come from very humble beginnings.
“It was great to know we saved the factory from liquidation, and that were making a difference to those workers."
The company is now looking at competing with Turkish producers, traditionally a leader in textiles quality, and importing Egyptian cotton and then making the materials in the factory in Bangladesh. They're making higher percale cotton count and better quality towels.

"Youll see most of our textiles in town centre shops in the UK," said Steve.

The company won the Medway Business award last November and was joint Kent winner of the HSBC Global Connections & KEIBA SME Business of the Year award.

This company epitomizes the ability of a small business to compete globally," said Paul Andrews, my co-presenter. "A small operation with a relatively small number of staff probably 30 years ago would have found it almost impossible without a huge amount of money to back it. Nowadays with hard work its easier. It's about collaboration , its about partnerships and it's about empowering the people that work for you."
           Jules Serkin

 Do you know an inspiring story? Tweet me @julesserkin ; listen to my radio shows live Tuesdays 11-12 @SCOFFQUAFF &1pm @businessbunker  on www.channelradio.co.uk 

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Shop Local...

While I was strolling around Canterbury on some business one sunny Thursday, son number one texted me. 

"Mum, what's the name of that Steve guy you use, that delivers your electrical stuff?"

Excited that son No. 1 had actually listened to Mummy, I texted the number of Steve Marley of Advance Electricals in Oxford Street, sunny Whitstable.

Thinking no more of it, I continued my business, and as I left the car park behind the cinema I saw the Advance delivery van. In the space of an hour he was already delivering my son's fridge freezer in Canterbury.

My son's call actually inspired me to get my own fridge freezer upgraded -- any hot summer is bound to coincide with a year of the dodgy fridge freezers, mine always packs up on bank holidays & in a heatwave. I find that Steve is out within an hour removing my old cranky one,  the new one plugged in and the guarantee all sorted and kept on record courtesy of Steve. 

Many of us think of the big chains - especially when we're in a hurry, thinking the local shops will be too slow. It just goes to show that isn't necessarily the case. Steve Marley, 42 Oxford Street , 01227 274359

Do you have a local supplier you'd recommend? Tell me about it.
          Jules Serkin 

This weeks Tweetup is @lenleys 10am with a presentation by Alison Parmar of Federation of Small Businesses. Details: www.KentBusinessTweetup.co.uk
Tweet me @julesserkin listen to my radio shows live Tuesdays 11-12 @SCOFFQUAFF & 1pm @businessbunker  on www.channelradio.co.uk    @KentTweetups

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Computer says: No.

I have spent the past two weeks banging my head against the brick wall of a major UK  company  that hoodwinked me into buying something on the pretence it was a freebie.

As I was fobbed off repeatedly by call centre automatons reading scripted apologies and blanket procedures, and calls, I was reminded of Little Britain’s “computer says No” sketch, where the operator insists the person she’s dealing with is deceased. Too often it does seem the bigger the company, the more it dehumanizes its customers into one commodity that’s just there to make them money.

Amidst my frustration, it was a real delight to hear of a company supplying in our region that’s growing more human as it gets bigger.

Riverford Organic, with sisters Liz and Caroline Asteraki running the local franchise delivering vegboxes to the door, has just been named Best Retailer at the Observer Ethical Awards 2014.

It collaborated on a two-year study with the University of Exeter to ensure every aspect of the business is as sustainable as possible, from the tomatoes it sells to the packaging it uses.
  “We pride ourselves on being a fair-thinking business that makes considered decisions about how to do business with minimum impact on the environment and wider community,” said Liz Asteraki, of Old Wives Lees, Canterbury. “Our policies include supporting small-scale British farmers and producers as much as possible, and never air-freighting produce from overseas. To have won such a prestigious award that shows you can do well in business without being unethical.”

Riverford began in 1987, delivering organic vegetables to 30 local homes. Word spread, and with it came the challenge of how to meet demand without compromising a commitment to local growing and employment, supporting local farmers and keeping a close link between grower and consumer. The solution was to team up with sister farms who share the same ethos, growing and delivering to their local areas.

Now the Riverford 
veg boxes are delivered to more than 47,000 homes every week.

As well as vegetables, each delivery contains locally sourced organic meat, fish, dairy and dry goods, along with step-by-step cooking instructions. Not only will every recipe take less than 45 minutes to cook, but it guarantees prices will be 20% cheaper than organic produce bought from the supermarket.

The company has won many awards including Best Retailer at the Observer Ethical Awards in 2013, 2011, 2010 and 2009, Best Independent Retailer in the RSPCA Good Business Awards and numerous Compassion in World Farming Awards. Guy Watson has been named BBC Farmer of the Year twice, in 2006 and again in 2013. In addition, its restaurant the Riverford Field Kitchen won Best Ethical Restaurant 2010 and 2009 in the Observer Food Monthly Awards. Riverford’s first book, the Riverford Farm Cook Book, won Best First Book and Best Work on British Food at the Guild of Food Writers Awards 2009. This was followed by a second book in 2011, Everyday and Sunday, Recipes from Riverford Farm.

In 2010 Riverford launched their ‘Riverford Cooks’ campaign to inspire people to cook from scratch using a vegbox. Riverford Cooks work up and down the country in their local communities on activities from cooking lunches in people’s homes through to public cookery workshops and demos. The business also launched a ‘veg machine’ app in 2011, to make it easy to find creative recipes for using up their veg.

“It has got bigger,” says Founder Guy Watson. “But getting bigger has enabled us to do many things. We look after our suppliers well, we look after the fields and nature. It is a very human business.”

Tweet me @julesserkin listen to my radio shows live Tuesdays 11-12 @SCOFFQUAFF & 1pm @businessbunker  on www.channelradio.co.uk    Tweetup: free networking;  www.KentBusinessTweetup.co.uk 

Jules Serkin.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

The Construction Expo 2014

Ever wondered who gets to compete for all those lucrative development projects doled out by the councils and government?

Well there's a good chance to find out. The Construction Expo 2014 is the forum for companies to find out just what's coming up and how to get involved in the bidding process.

London and the South East are expected to account for over 35% of the UK’s total construction output, with proposed developments as diverse as the Paramount theme park at  Swanscombe, Ebbsfleet’s new Garden City and Earls Court’s £8 billion ‘Urban Villages’ development.

The Expo will provide updates on all the major projects, with the largest concentration of the key players under one roof.

The forum will also include demonstration areas both for traditional trades and new innovative technology, with free 'meet the buyer' sessions and more than 120 businesses showcasing their expertise.

The event is on Wednesday, October 8, from 9.00am to 4.30pm, at the Kent Event Centre, Detling, near Maidstone.

Contact Penny on 01732 758530 or email bookings@kentinvictachamber.co.uk

Tweet me @julesserkin listen to my radio shows live Tuesdays 11-12 @SCOFFQUAFF & 1pm @businessbunker  on www.channelradio.co.uk    Tweetup: free networking;  www.KentBusinessTweetup.co.uk 

Jules Serkin.

Business Column: Apps

While just about every adult with an Ipad seems to find slicing digital strawberries and oranges endlessly entertaining, there is more to life online beyond Fruit Ninja.
New geek about town, Christian Jackson of Get IT Qualified, lets us in on a few of his favourite business apps. christianjackson.co.uk
1.   Evernote One that I'm particularly fond of.
Evernote is an easy-to-use, free app that helps you remember everything across all of the devices you use. You can take notes, snap photos, create to-do lists, scan business cards, record voice reminders--and it makes everything searchable, whether you are at home or at work.

2.   Skitch
See something that sparks an idea? Use Skitch to snap it, mark it up with simple tools, and send it on in an instant. People use Skitch to help them visually share their thoughts with others.
3.   Penultimate
The most natural digital handwriting experience on iPad, Penultimate gives you the convenience and feel of writing on paper with the added power and availability of Evernote.
4.   Wunderlist
Wunderlist is the easiest way to manage and share your daily to-do lists. Whether you’re running your own business, planning an overseas adventure or sharing a shopping list. Great for the local shopping trip.
5.   Dropbox
Dropbox lets you bring all your photos, docs, and videos anywhere and share them easily. Access any file you save to your Dropbox from all your computers, iPhone, iPad, and the web.I use this to share my MP3's of the Scoff & Quaff shows.
6.   Feedly
Feedly is a new way to browse and share the content of your favorite news sites, feeds, blogs and Youtube channels. Instead of having to hunt down for news, feedly uses RSS to aggregate the contents of the news sites and blogs you like
7.   1Password
1Password creates strong, unique passwords for every site, remembers them all for you, and logs you in with a single tap. It’s the best way to stay secure and the fastest way to use the web. Everything in your 1Password vault is protected by a Master Password. 
 Do you have a tool that works for you & saves time? Tweet me @julesserkin listen to my radio shows live Tuesdays 11-12 @SCOFFQUAFF & 1pm @businessbunker  on www.channelradio.co.uk    Tweetup: free networking;  www.KentBusinessTweetup.co.uk 

Jules Serkin.