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, 30 April 2015

Massive Pool of Creative Talent in our Midst

My husband, Gavin Serkin, has just published his first book, Frontier: Exploring the Top Ten Emerging Markets of Tomorrow.

It’s a travelogue-style diary of his journey across four continents with some of the world’s top performing investors. As a journalist by profession, he also probed the darker side of the countries he visited. He encountered violent police corruption in Nigeria, was detained by police for taking a photo of a man lying motionless on the ground by a security checkpoint in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, and he witnessed a beheading in the middle of the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

Among the book’s rave reviews, the Financial Times said “Serkin certainly set the standard with Frontier” – a “must read.”

The book - and the praise it received - has opened my eyes to the huge pool of literary and artistic talent in our midst.

Among Whitstable’s eclectic cocktail of artistic events is the WhitLit series of interviews – one featuring the veteran war correspondent Kate Adie. This is a group of incredibly gifted writers, meeting to share their ideas and experiences.

Kate, the BBC’s chief news correspondent for 14 years, was shot twice – once Tiananmen Square in her elbow and once in her collarbone by a Libyan. Her talk ties in with an art exhibition at the Horsebridge by fellow correspondents Triona Holden and Susan Stein looking at women on the frontline – a statement of the feminine response to war.

My introduction to the group came from a friend and fitness instructor, Whitstable’s Ted Bassett-Myers, whose wife, Sue, just happens to also be a burgeoning author. At the Phoenix Tavern in Faversham, the publican doubles as the organizer of the London Press Club. Even the man selling coffee at Whitstable station doubles as a hugely impressive literary agent.
            Jules Serkin

This is the mix that makes Whitstable such a unique creative hub. 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, 6 March 2015

Major WiFi Project for Local Business

My lovely 84-year-old mum does her best. But try as she might, she confessed she couldn't make her nor tail of my recent column on internet domain names.
Well, mum, here I go again…
You see, I had a small problem with my wi-fi and it brought me into contact with the future.
As usual, I called on Billy Dean of SOS Computer.

It turns out beyond fixing my little issues, Faversham-based Billy has been busy pulling off one of the most ambitious wi-fi projects.

Stirling University commissioned his company to install a seamless wireless network throughout whole campus, so no matter where a student walks, they wouldn't lose signal.
The applications go beyond enabling students to stay yapping on Facetime or pulling on Tinder as they walk about, it also allows them to access their work files wherever their lectures are.

Stirling is only the third university in the UK to have the Ekahau Wireless Planning system, the only one of its kind to serve a large scale area like a campus. The software company enables institutions to make a plan of the building, check for interference from electrical points and work out how many access points are needed.
Beyond universities, the applications are endless. A similar job Billy got was for a motel that wanted a constant connection throughout for room services, and for staff to order purchases as needed. For guests, it would allow a Sonos music system in every room, all connected wirelessly.
"It was nice to be involved with something so big and unique," says Billy. "It gives satisfaction to know things like this are possible.
Another system, called Meraki, enables full control over your wireless, to be able to see the websites being used.
"All of that data is valuable," says Billy. "You might see Facebook being used too much and stop that - or try to take advantage of it commercially."
A pub with Maraki can invite people to download their app to get a free drink next time they're passing, or push a 2 for 1 special meal offer. It can even be used as a sat-nav device.

Jules Serkin.

 More info from:
Twitter @billydeankent

  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  Faversham, Whitstable, Canterbury 

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Doing Business in Your Local Community...

Doing business in the community where you live can be emotionally rewarding. Seeing your clients going about their daily lives outside of a work context lends an extra satisfaction to the business relationship. Conversations flip from business to social. Your families become friends.
There’s a downside too. When an ongoing business relationship comes to an abrupt end, the social connection often doesn’t. This makes it doubly important to maintain boundaries. Business must be business. Like good fences, good contracts also make good neighbours. 
But there’s another side too. Competitors aren’t some anonymous company moving in with a better price. Often they’re people you know. Ground rules are essential.
We may be a small community but there’s still plenty enough people for us to avoid treading on each other’s toes. With my PR hat on, I make a point when approaching a company for business to ensure that they don’t have any current PR provider. It might limit my field a little, but it means that I’m introducing an entirely new concept to their business. That has a satisfaction of its own. More importantly though, I can sleep at night knowing I haven’t just poked my elbow in the face of a friend.

Of course, not all businesses have the luxury of such an open playing field. But you can still be principled. Think about who the current provider is. Do you know them? Is there any way they might think you’ve abused their trust, taken their ideas, encroached on their client base. The business world is a jungle and we all swing our way through it as best we can, but no one likes a poacher.
Business networking:
Friday 27th of February at the Spitfire Ground St Lawrence. 10am to 4pm Tweet @CantBizShow, Facebook: CanterburyBusinessShow 
Attend free business networking : www.kentbusinesstweetup.co.uk  Faversham, Whitstable, Canterbury 

Friday, 13 February 2015

Sceptical: No. Cynical: Yes!

It appears I’ve been labeled a Manston “sceptic.”

When I offered my support to locals making the trek to the House of Commons for a select committee inquiry, I was told “thanks” but “I seem to remember you are a sceptic where Manston is concerned!”

Listening to the House of Commons inquiry, it’s a pity there weren’t more sceptics.

To be clear, I have always been 200% supportive of Manston.

Long before Ms. Gloag landed on the scene, I was jetting off with EU Jet as much as my decidedly non-jet set lifestyle would allow. When Ms. Gloag took over and ran the airport into the ground with a paltry marketing effort and impractical schedules that made flying to Rome a long-haul venture with prices to match, I began to question how the business could survive. I asked why there wasn’t an effort to cater the airport to the needs of the people who would use it.

More to the point, I questioned why such an amateurish effort was coming from one of our nation’s most successful businesswomen – the founder of Stagecoach - after purchasing this vast tract of land for £1, and then refusing to give any media interviews?

Yes, I grew sceptical.

The airport was opened and closed faster than even I could have imagined. And now, Thanet MP, Sir Roger Gale, is questioning Ms. Gloag’s true intentions.

It’s Mr. Gale’s belief, he told MPs last week, that the company had “every intention of turning it into an asset-stripping company.”

With the notoriously reserved Ms. Gloag failing to grace MPs with her presence, it was left to a co-director to defend how the company had really really tried very very hard you know, but the airport was losing £10,000 to £12,000 a day.

All told, the losses amounted to £4.5 million before the site was shut, she told parliamentarians.

It’s more than £1 – but even £4.5 million isn’t bad for a mass of prime real estate set to become a £1 billion redevelopment.

Sceptical? No I’m downright cynical! 

Jules Serkin.

 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
Business networking:
Friday 27th of February at the Spitfire Ground St Lawrence. 10am to 4pm Tweet @CantBizShow, Facebook: CanterburyBusinessShow 
Attend free business networking : www.kentbusinesstweetup.co.uk  Faversham, Whitstable, Canterbury 

A Ghost Beneath His Station?

I was tickled last week by the story of Joseph, the ghost of old Whitstable Station.

It turns out the old station master and his son frequent the Moroccan restaurant that now stands in its place under the railway bridge.

What amused me most was the way Alimo’s owners, Ali Ouachou and Mo Elassri, conscripted the old fellow to help spice up Halloween with a suitably ghoulish theme.

Alimo started up nearly two years ago, taking over The Whistlestop restaurant. They began by making the most of the existing loyal customer base - fusing their own Mediterranean cuisine with Sunday roast. Gradually they managed to win over the regulars to take a tagine or a paella, and finally dispensed with the traditional British fayre a year into the venture.

Now the business is branching out further with a Christmas parties, social events and even plans for a pop-up Moroccan souk.

Good business is all about taking a long look at your surroundings, listening to your customers, being brave, – and adapting to seize opportunities that are under your nose.

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   Listen anytime: www.SCOFFQUAFF.co.uk 
Attend free business networking : www.kentbusinesstweetup.co.uk 
Follow @kenttweetups for info.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Kent Excellence in Business Awards

It's coming up to that time of year when we flip pancakes, get all lovey dovey for a day and start thinking about the Kent Excellence in Business Awards.

KEiBA aims to recognise and reward excellence in Kent and Medway businesses of all sizes and across every sector - as well as individuals.
For inspiration, here's a reminder of last year's winner of the ‘Outstanding Contribution to the Kent Business Community,’ Nadra Ahmed:

The former owner of a care home was recognised for her focus on making life better for vulnerable people.

She juggles roles chairing the Kent Care Homes Association and the National Care Association, sits on the board of Parkinson’s UK, and is a trustee of the Royal British Legion, learning disability charity MCCH and Alzheimer’s and Dementia Support Services in Gravesend. As if this is not enough, she's also the founder of Kent Care Training Associates and president of deaf charity HiKent.
Nadra was made an OBE and a Deputy Lieutenant of Kent, but KEiBA was a different type of accolade.

“Recognition by KEiBA is special because it comes from the people you live and work around," she said. "It represents the value that Kent places on the care sector and it gives every care business in the county a big slice of encouragement that excellence in this sector does win recognition from our business peers.
"There is an important balance to be struck in every care business. The care sector has to be seen as a business, but with a caring heart because it’s also a vocation. From my point of view, it has to be about finding the right combination of enterprise and ethics."

For full details of how to enter this year’s awards, entry criteria for each category and a run-down of what the judges are looking for, go to www.keiba.co.uk. Entries must be submitted by 27 February 2015.

Jules Serkin

  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  Faversham, Whitstable, Canterbury 

Friday, 23 January 2015

Causing a Political Stir...

Canterbury has had its fair share of national media attention of late. First the reality TV stars of Geordie Shore revelling in the town had the paps out in force. Next a bunch of 18-year-old student entrepreneurs came up with an app that caused a political stir.

The phone game, called Ukik, features a character called Nicholas Fromage kicking immigrants as far as possible off the white cliffs of Dover to gain the highest "racism" rating.

UKIP leader called the Fon Games app "risible and pathetic." But the Canterbury Academy and Ambition House, which bring young entrepreneurs together, defended the youngsters.

The principal of Canterbury Academy Phil Karnavas told the Telegraph his technology class project was "just a bit of fun". The student developers say the game aims to "make a mockery of extremist views." It features Nicholas Fromage, Ukik leader, saying: "If you are feeling irrational and want to live in a right wing hell hole then vote UKIK this May."

The game drew attention beyond the UK in the Huffington Post and International Business Times.

While Ukik may have been a bit of fun, there is some serious innovation going on at the academy, with other teams launching several new apps in the next couple of months, and planning a new game to follow this one up.

As Ambition House says, not bad for a group of 18 year olds! 

          Jules Serkin.

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