Now in its 11th big year in Totnes, the Local Entrepreneur Forum is a powerful catalyst for a vibrant, bustling, and abundant new economy in the Totnes area. Just what we need now! Every year, we bring the community together – 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.
If you’d like to get involved in helping to organise this year’s activities, please get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
2023 Local Entrepreneur Forum –
At Royal Seven Stars Hotel Ballroom, Totnes
Thursday 6pm – 9:30pm
June 8th, 2023
It’s the 11th one! We’ve been running this amazing community gathering aimed at bringing into being a resilient, ecological, just, convivial local economy since 2012. To date, 44 projects have pitched! Over 250 people have played the role of ‘community dragon’ and have made over 1000 ‘investments’. Join us on June 8th and participate in this annual gathering full of solidarity, reciprocity, and positive change. We’ll have lots of opportunity for new entrepreneurs – and old – to connect, build relationships with peers, supporters, investors. And then 4 entrepreneurs will pitch to the Community of Dragons!
Look who’s pitching…
Jacqi Perks and Bambi Skye
EMPOWERING YOUNG PEOPLE THROUGH MUSIC. Jamming Station is a hub where artists can connect and grow creatively through crafting ideas, making music and performing. Exciting projects support young people to strengthen their voice and expression, helping them to step up in their lives with greater confidence and resilience.
Matt Bailey, Jesse Watson-Brown, Jamey Rhind-Tutt
Re-establishing a symbiotic relationship with nature’s resources. Our ultimate goal is to promote a life that provides a greater symbiosis with our natural surroundings, working along side nature, encouraging growth rather than decay. To do so, we have mastered the art of traditional tanning, nature provides us with all the materials to do so, using oak bark and deer skins, we can sustainably create practical hard wearing leather.
James Shorten and Harry Barton
Bowden Pillars Future
The Vision. Bowden Pillars Farm is a special place – most of its hedges and woods remain intact, and its fields are small. The farmland reaches all the way down to the southern edge of Totnes. The farm will be transformed with regenerative agriculture including agroforestry, grains for the local mill, a grass-fed cattle herd, chickens, a market garden and new orchards, all under the expert eye of the Apricot Centre. Alongside this we will foster nature recovery at whole-farm scale including bringing the farm’s woodland back into management, new woodland planting, and returning some of the land to nature.
Judy Clark and Heidi Rose
Circlewise is a community interest company committed to supporting individuals, groups, schools, organisations and the community by building life skills in communication and empathy through circle practices. “I wish I had council as part of my school curriculum when I was younger…”.
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? Check out these blog posts: “The LEF – REconomy’s Killer App?”; “Citizen-led Economic Transition”; “A Taste of the Future in the Community of Dragons”.
Watch this short film about the LEF in 2014, from Emilio Mula and Nu-Frame – https://youtu.be/EnDiDxYFRX
You can also download the full 32-page 2017 Impact Report detailing some of the outcomes from the LEF, REconomy Centre and Local Economic Blueprint projects:
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):
- Holly Tiffen, Grown in Totnes
- Zav Bowden, Dart Valley Timber
- Doug King-Smith, HillyField CIC
- Fraser Durham, Argand Solutions
- Adam Sayner and Eric Jong, GroCycle
- Rob Hopkins, New Lion Brewery
- Mark Burton, Plough & Share Credit Union
- Chris Bird, Transition Homes
- Laura Creen, School Farm CSA
Please help us cover the costs!
This year’s event is coming together through the generously invested time and knowhow of a small group of people. Yay! We’ll have some expenses amounting to about £500. Please help us cover the costs and continue to organise these amazing gatherings.