At the beginning of September 35 socials descended on Brixton - a place some of them rarely visit - to find out about Livity and the unique approach they have to communications. The evening was a total delight and in the spirit of sharing the love, here is what we found out...
Alex Goat, Livity's MD, kicked off the evening by introducing Livity and what they are about - which is in itself is a challenge. Livity are not a charity and they don't really do marketing as only a small % of their output could be called traditional. Instead they provide insight, consultancy, products, services and in 2014 won the Queens Award for Innovation and Enterprise.
So perhaps it is better to focus on why they do it. Livity exists to improve young peoples lives and thereby to drive societal change. And they achieve this by involving young people in every aspect of what they do as they share their work, space and time with young people. Which delivers both a micro impact - they get 100s of young people into work every year - and a macro impact as a deep understanding of young people is transferred into society.
A few examples of what Livity has done... Stepping back 8 years Livity were working with both pupil referral units and ex offenders and were struck by the similarities between the formal and informal economy. Someone who is working within the black market economy is, if you reduce things to the singular, a very good salesman indeed.
This led to an idea to work with Google to sponsor a project around enterprise. Which then morphed into a focus on the skills gap and developed into Advantage which then morphed into Livity's own apprenticeship scheme. Today Livity has taken the learnings from all of these experiences and worked with the Google SA team to launch Digify.
Livity is a perfect example of purpose, naivety and a desire to solve business problems that are worth solving. As Alex said "Often that sweet spot of solving a business and a social problem is what gives the best results.".
Alex then introduced us to Bejay - one of the young adults Livity has worked with for 7 years, since Bejay was 13. Suffice to say Bejay was one of the most inspirational speakers many of us have ever seen. To properly understand Bejay's story you should read his blog as it's Bejays explanation of what he has done over the past 7 years and why. It's called 'What happens when the penny drops' and everything you think you have achieved is probably nothing compared to Bejay.
Bejay first met Livity when they had a magazine called Live where Bejay worked as a journalist. In 2010 the magazine's East London outpost had to closed due to a lack of funding so Bejay would commute after school to Livity in Brixton where he sold advertising space for the magazine learning, as he puts it, to hustle. You can see an example of the magazine here.
Bejay got interested in the world of business and did a Business Studies degree but was frustrated by the lack of real work experience given as part of the course. So he set-up Supa Tuck, a Tuck shop enterprise programme for GCSE students, inspired by his first Tuck Shop. Supa Tuck is IMMENSE and you can watch the overview video here and hear Bejay talk about it at the conservative party conference here.
Next came SupaAcademy - one hugely ambitious project. SupaAcademy was the UK's first youth run pop-up market, in partnership with Lifeskills created wth Barclays, River Island, Pepsi Max, Accenture, Facebook and EE. Bejay's team worked with 400 teenagers to run live music, food stalls, auction and pop up shops in a 50,000 sq ft warehouse ( The Old Truman brewery). To really get a sense of the scale of what Bejay and his team achieved watch this.
So what next for Bejay? His 'Supa' brand is one I am excited to see develop, grow and succeed. And he has had his 'penny drop' moment which in Bejay's words "is the moment when you figure out what you want to do or what you’re really interested in pursuing and you start to take actions around that buzz you have initiated.".
Last to talk was Sam, the co-founder of Livity, who talked about what he is currently really interested in pursuing and creating a buzz about - The Chief Purpose Officer. A role which ensures a business has a purpose as, as Sam outlined, businesses with a purpose make more profit. I can't do justice to Sam's talk in this blog - and instead I recommend you check out his presentation here. Suffice to say all three speakers from Livity got the loudest applause of any Innovation Social night.
At 8.30 we wrapped up and headed off for some Brixton Sushi which was kindly sponsored by Source, Innovation Socials special and only sponsors. Far too much red wine was drunk and my favourite moment of the meal was one attendee going on about how much they hated the Innovation title to a room full of Innovation Directors at an Innovation Social event....
Our next event will be our annual Christmas Curry and by day, by night talks...can't wait.