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!

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.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Choo Choo on This...

We’re coming up to our 5th anniversary!

Yes, it was five years ago that the smart navy blue Javelin – the fastest train in the world – arrived from Japan to zoom locals to London at 140 mph. Hornby made their models for children to play with the latest in high-tech transport. Canterbury house prices shot up as the town suddenly became an hour’s commute from London. The train would take the strain from the motorways and transform lives.
So who’d have thought that five years on, a coach company would find a gap in the market to launch a brand new commuter service – by road.
The London Commuter runs from Deal and weaves its way through Sandwich, Littlebourne and Wingham to Canterbury and on to the Brenley Corner to London.
Journey time? 1 hour and 52 minutes.
For Canterbury dwellers, the train is certainly the faster option. So how can the company hope to attract commuters?

For one thing, if you’re traveling from towns beyond the main stations of Canterbury, Faversham or Ashford it’s likely that you’re not getting the massive reduction in journey time.
But the real pull is the price. We’re being charged a fortune of thousands of pounds to travel on the new trains while the old train service is becoming slower.
The government should be asking, where did we go wrong. 

Have you used this coach?

By Jules Sekin

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