LEF6 Twice as goodThe Local Entrepreneur Forum is a powerful catalyst for a vibrant, bustling, and abundant new economy in the Totnes area. Every year, we bring entrepreneurs, investors, and other change makers together to learn from each other, form new relationships, and begin enterprising collaborations. Social, sustainable, regenerative, resilient, innovative – new enterprises creating meaningful livelihoods and contributing to the community in positive ways. This is the beating heart of what we call ‘community supported entrepreneurism’.

Everyone has a stake in their local economy and everyone can be an investor, too. Entrepreneurs need all kinds of support. Financial capital is important, but so are other forms of support, from expert mentoring to child care. Entrepreneurs supported by the community do better. The economy does better, too. It’s part of what make this place a nice place to live and raise a family.

What’s up for this year’s Local Entrepreneur Forum?

Community of Dragons, May 11Community of Dragons


Thursday, Seven Stars Hotel
6pm networking
7pm presentations
Cost – sliding scale on the door


Have you seen Dragons’ Den on TV? The Totnes version is different – everyone’s a dragon! Come along and ‘invest’ money, expertise, neighbourliness and hugs to support your favourite local enterprise. Last year, over 60 offers of support were promised to 4 enterprises. This year…?

We’ve just selected the five projects that are going to pitch to the Community of Dragons! They are launching, growing, looking for financial and/or non-financial ‘investment’. And they are awesome!

The Woodland Presents – Al Tempest – We’re here to make small British woodlands thrive, by connecting people with trees and timber in new and meaningful ways. We run a maker-space, courses, events and a community woodland group in Dartington, South Devon.

Black Bee Coombe – Emily Read – Re-establishing locally adapted “black” native honeybees in South Devon. Offering bees a natural lifestyle in free-living tree-inspired hives.

Yew Media – Jay Jacoby – We help people create beautiful legacy stories for the ones they will leave behind. We do this by creating safe spaces for people to tall their stories, which we turn into video and audio.

Studio 45 a Creative Pottery Hub – Richenda Macgregor – Studio 45 is an interactive learning facility with a full programme of courses and workshops and offering places for 15 budding potters wanting to further their practice.  The facility will have 8 wheels and three kilns and will have a research arm, investigating the clays and materials found on or near to the Dartington Estate.

Huxham’s Cross Biodynamic Farm – Bob Mehew – We’re innovative food producers, pushing the boundaries of what is possible on a small scale. Using permaculture, biodynamics and agroforestry. We grow wheat for flour, dried beans for Grown in Totnes, unusual (and usual) fruit and vegetables, eggs that are selling out every week, supplying our Local Round customers, The Almond Thief, Dartington’s new Green Table Cafe and Schumacher College. And we offer a Wellbeing Programme!

We’ll have the witty and wonderful Katie Tokus hosting an evening full of laughs, love and celebration as we all come togther as friendly ‘Dragons’ to invest our support with our local entrepreneurs.  There will be lots of productive networking, too, so local enterprisers, consultants, experts, investors – don’t miss this opportunity to get to know one another in a relaxed and fun atmosphere. 

** The Totnes Pound announces it’s first annual grant t£100 to project that best exemplifies ‘Totnes innovation’

** Post to the ‘Needs & Offers’ wall

** more to be announced…


april8Project Design Hack-a-thon

Saturday, 10am-4pm, Totnes Methodist Hall,
Cost – sliding scale on the door

Present your project idea to a small group of friendly faces. Teams of local designers, business heads and creative problem solvers apply their collective genius, working with you to make it real. Maybe even get it ready to pitch to the Community of Dragons! It’s that simple.

Projects getting ‘hacked’:

  • beer bottle reuse scheme
  • play-based consultancy
  • health and care service
  • community composting and biochar
  • parents and kid-friendly hub

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 LEF is designed so that everyone benefits.

LEF in depth

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?  Read our new Totnes REconomy Project Impact Report.  And 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 – https://youtu.be/EnDiDxYFRXo

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):