So long Social Innovation Camp
After three-and-a-half years, today is my final day at Social Innovation Camp.
It all started as a three-month project I took on because I couldn’t pay my rent in January 2008.
The original idea was just to run a one-off experiment to see what would happen if we brought together a group of people with different skills and experience to work on an idea that used the internet to solve a social problem.
What we’ve designed – pretty much accidentally – has become a tool for people to start their own social ventures that use technology to tackle something that matters.
We’ve run five Social Innovation Camps in the UK, had over 450 people submit a back-of-the-envelope idea to us, helped prototype over 30 social ventures (Enabled by Design, The Good Gym, MyPolice, HomeslessSMS to name but a few) and, by the end of August, we’ll have supported other people to run the Social Innovation Camp model for the tenth time across eight countries. We’ve also set up Bethnal Green Ventures, a follow-on accelerator programme to help teams get that little bit further along the path of launching their service and helped a whole range of organisations think about how they can get the communities they work with involved in solving problems for themselves.
It’s been a phenomenal ride.
We’ve had some amazing opportunities, made a thousand mistakes and I’m really proud to have been involved in what we’ve created.
I’m hugely grateful to the wonderful team of people I’ve had the privilege of working with:
My co-founders Paul Miller, Dan McQuillan and Christian Ahlert, without whom none of this would exist.
My greatest co-conspirator Katee Hui who came on board when we had no idea what we were doing and has to be one of the best people you could possibly ever want to work with.
Simon Tucker and Melanie Hayes who’ve recently joined our Board to help guide us through our next phase and who’ve been so supportive (and repeatedly very wise) over the last few months.
And last but by no means least, Glen Mehn, who’s going to be running the show from here on in and who’s done an absolutely fantastic job with me hanging around for the last six months.
We’ve also been a constant thorn in the side of the School of Everything office and for that, we’re very sorry.
Finally, we’ve been lucky enough to have some fantastic support from the Young Foundation along the way, and we’ll always owe Roland Harwood and Rohan Gunatillake for being the first people to give us some cash to help get things going when they worked at Nesta.
Thank you. You are all great.
I’ve also been floored by how generous many, many people have been with their time in getting involved with Social Innovation Camp – from those who’ve come to every single weekend to mentor a team; to people who’ve helped guide me through setting up and growing something from scratch. I won’t embarrass you here, but you know who they are – and I’m more grateful than you’ll ever know.
As for me, thanks to the Fulbright Commission, I’m moving to California to be a student again – this time at the Haas School of Business at Berkeley. I’m planning to do a bit more start-up stuff, some more writing, a bit of figuring out what I’m going to do next – maybe even a bit of studying.
And to anyone thinking about setting up their own thing or working for yourself: do it.
It’ll be both miserably hard at times and the best decision you’ve ever made.