Create you own future. Pitch at LEF5The Local Entrepreneur Forum is a powerful catalyst for a new kind of economy in the Totnes area – vibrant, bustling, abundant. Every year for one jam-packed productive day, we bring entrepreneurs, investors, and other change makers together to learn from each other, form new relationships, and hopefully, to begin working together on new enterprises. It’s at the heart of what we call ‘community supported entrepreneurism’.

What kind of enterprises? Social, sustainable, regenerative, resilient – new companies that create meaningful livelihoods and contribute to the community in positive ways.

All in favour of citizen-led local economic change, raise your hand!
All in favour of citizen-led local economic change, raise your hand!

Everyone has a stake in their local economy and everyone can be an investor, too. Entrepreneurs need all kinds of support. Yes, financial capital is important, but so are other forms of support, from office space to child care. Entrepreneurs supported by the community do better. The economy does better, too. Everybody wins.

Want a more in-depth view on the Local Entrepreneur Forum, where it came from, and how it fits into the broader strategy behind the Totnes REconomy Project?  Check out these blog posts: “The LEF – REconomy’s Killer App?”; “How to transform your local economy in one day”; “A Taste of the Future in the Community of Dragons”.

And check out this short film about the LEF in 2014, from Emilio Mula and Nu-Project – and interviews with past LEF pitchers, here:

2016 Local Entrepreneur Forum – LEF5

** LEF5 May 12th 2016, Totnes Civic Hall ** for a re-cap of what happened, check out this article:  “Community of Dragons Spreads the Wealth”.


2pm the day begins…

  • Rhodri Samuel, ceo of Dartington Trust will help us get the day started with an interesting and
    Rhodri Samuel

    inspiring talk – perhaps offering a glimpse into the emerging new vision for Dartington. Four of our past Community of Dragons pitcher are enterprises located on the estate – GroCycle, School Farm CSA, The Living Projects, and Green Funeral Company. Who’s next?

  • Be Like a Bee – Super fun and super productive. Share needs and offers. Meet people you need to meet. Learn what you need to learn. A most important part of the day.  It’s ‘open space’ but a few pre-organised sessions will be announced, soon.
  • Delicious local supper included, prepared by The Kitchen Table. And through the afternoon, they’ll have the cafe running, offering a variety of baked morsels, tea and coffee.  Meanwhile, the über green Bean Bug will be serving espresso drinks from their pedal-powered mobile cafe. And our favourite craft brewer, New Lion Brewery will open the taps.  Will Circular Stout make a comeback? The Oat Mild?  You’ll have to come and find out.
  • Our evening keynote – we are really pleased to welcome activist and entrepreneur, Jonny Gordon-Farleigh.
    Jonny Gordon-Farleigh

    He founded Stir To Action, a Bridport-based enterprise, while in his 20s. It runs workshops and short courses on the new economy, and supports new start-ups through crowdfunding, project planning and legal registration. He is also founding editor of STIR magazine, a quarterly promoting community-led change. He speaks on the new economy and is a founding member of the Young Co-operators Network.

  • The Community of Dragons – Everyone is welcome to become a community dragon. Everyone can be an investor. Regular people – just like you and me – can invest their financial resources, skills, time, connections and caring to support the kinds of enterprises we want to see in our community. It’s that simple. And who’s pitching for local support and investment?
  • – a start up led by Iola Weir in the theatre arts space with a vision to create local livelihoods and be catalyst for a flourishing regional arts and culture scene.
  • The Kitchen – an expanding sustainable catering company led by Sima Cutting, supporting local producers and raising awareness of important food system issues.
  • Horse and Franco leads this expanding horsemanship training practice offering a range of services supporting the use of horses in agriculture and health & care.
  • – an expanding farm and educational project led by Jack Skuse, producing organic food and serving the land-based educational needs of young people.

Jack Skuse Iola WeirSima Cutting  marie

  • LEF5 After Party – we’re really pleased to have New Lion Brewery offering their craft brew again, this year.  And a very special treat – Sea Change Festival DJ Set by Drift Records. The Sea Change is an amazing new Totnes event launching in August – films, literature, talks and plenty of music across five venues.

… 10pm and we’re outta here, a littler wealthier, a little wiser.

A huge thank you to Reconnect Magazine, who has been generously supporting the LEF and local entrepreneurs since 2012.


LEF testimonials

Rob Hopkins calls it one of the ten innovations coming out the Transition Movement that could begin to turn the crisis around.  Ways With Words, July 13, 2013

What attendees have been saying:

 “people lead such atomised lives. It’s a wonderful way of bringing people together.”

“Its not just about money. you get a double return from investing in our community”

“small acorns…you never know where things are going to lead”

“we are all investors”

What past pitchers have said about the experience (video):

Pitching to the Community of Dragons – Criteria

Each year, we have slots for 4 or 5 entrepreneurs to pitch their projects to the Community of Dragons. This is a great opportunity to raise the profile of your venture, as well as to gain financial and or/non-financial investment and support. Our criteria for choosing which ventures pitch:

  • enterprise is ethical, sustainable and appropriately local
  • demonstrates competence through business plan and/or track record
  • business model does not rely on donations or grant funding
  • ‘investment’ required would allow venture to ‘get to the next level’ – investment could be financial and/or non-financial.
  • ideally would operate in one or more of the sectors identified in the Local Economic Blueprint – food, renewable energy, housing, health & care
  • contributes to the long-term resilience of the community
  • one slot is reserved for a youth-led enterprise.

Whether projects get to pitch or don’t, the day is designed so that everyone benefits.