The Wishing Tree project aims to revolutionise the support mechanisms throughout Scotland by creating a gift economy between Start-ups (Trading less than 3 years, known as Wishers) and established business who are keen to support entrepreneurial spirit and innovation (known as granters) with enough support perhaps expanding to the rest of the UK within 5 years from launch. We aim to do this through our innovative website and local events operated in partnership with independent business network operators.
The Wishing Tree project is currently comprised of a group of organisations who are members of Aberdeen Business Network which is one of the largest business networks in Aberdeen.
These organisations have backgrounds in a variety of specialisms from accountancy and finance to signage and social media. We have agreed to work together to better support small businesses in the local area and we are keen to expand the scope of the project online as well as better support and promote our offline events.
These organisations all donate time and resources when capacity allows and this has been on a limited basis we are now looking to be able to overcome these capacity issues so that we can have a full time team to dedicate to the project. This will create jobs, support the growth of the website and help startups succeed.
We have entered into a strategic partnership with the local software development house Intellicore Ltd who have agreed to help assist with the websites development if we can raise the necessary funds to reduce the production costs by hiring an additional developer who would be responsible for assisting with the growth.
Whats Your Idea?
Have you ever struggled with a business problem that you have no idea how to solve? Chances are your not the first one and your local business community can help.
The Wishing Tree, will be a non-profit community interest company, unique business support service proposition via our website and offline events. It will enable pre-startup and startup businesses under 3 years old (known as Wishers) to connect with experienced business owners and their staff (known as Granters) to get the support and help they need with their projects for free. This is based on the premise of Gift Economics whereby experts in a field contribute their skills, expertise and passion for the greater good and advancement of society as a whole. Through this process everyone benefits, as money is no longer a barrier to innovation. Connect. Give. Receive. Grow.
“In a gift economy, the more you give, the richer you are…” – Charles Eisenstein
For both wishers and granters this brings many unique opportunities:
• Overcome business challenges and gain support from experts in their field without an invoice at the end of the process.
• Raise your profile, build relationships and connect with other local businesses in your area.
• Stay up to date with the latest news and insights in your industry.
• Offline events such as our drop in business clinic and our online secure private messaging platform offer the opportunity to speak privately and confidentially about your business challenges.
• The opportunity to shape business support in Scotland by taking standing for election to The Wishing Tree Supervisory Board of Network Representatives.
• Access to exclusive startup benefits negotiated with various organisations to help your new venture get off the ground.
• Raise your profile and show your support for entrepreneurial spirit in the local economy.
• Build relationships with startups by completing projects for free to show them what you can do that can lead to easy wins on paid work later as they grow and flourish because of your help.
• Build relationships and connect with other local businesses in your area.
• Stay up to date with the latest news and insights in your industry.
• PR opportunities: The bigger the grant the bigger the potential story for the press.
• Chance to get your brand featured on The Wishing Tree website homepage at no cost other than granting a wish for a startup.
• Sponsor Wishing Tree events and categories on the Wishing Tree website and build your brand.
• The bigger the grant, the bigger the long term rewards! - Givers Gain.
In addition where we have the necessary resources to do so we intend to provide support for local economies via strategic projects:
• An annual pitch competition which awards an Ultimate Startup package put together by sponsors of the event.
• Business hubs and incubators offering face support and advice in a co-working environment with entrepreneurs in residence.
• The Wishing Tree awards, a national startup awards ceremony, the "Oscars" of Scottish business.
• The Special Wishes and Grants team. Fulfils challenging wishes that have not received offers for startups using money donated or generated through the company's commercial activities. Done on the basis of commercial potential, business plan and job creation. Also matches grants that have not been taken up after 3 months to start-ups looking for these services.
Why are you Crowdfunding?
The irony isn’t lost on us that in order to start a gift economy that we need money. It is an unfortunate reality of the world in which we currently live that not everyone is motivated purely by the advancement of society as a whole. Whilst volunteers to the project thus far have all largely shared the same vision; it is proving very difficult to source the skills we need. This is particularly true in the field of Bespoke Web Development and Design because of the fulltime commitment required to take things forward and the high demand for people with these skills. Although the economics of the future may we somewhat different we have to for the moment deal with the economics of the here and now. A balance has to be struck between vision and the environment in which the project operates.
We hope that people at large will see this an a unique opportunity to become part of a pioneering solution for reform in the business support mechanisms of Scotland to support innovation, encourage generosity and rebuild the sense of community that was once such a big part of daily life that has somehow been lost to a “What’s in it for me?” culture driven by 1s and 0s on bank’s computer system.
We hope that the project will reinstill a sense of community values that have somehow become lost over the years to Profits, GDP, Inflation and Recession. Economics in our view, that continue to feed into what is in effect a system that benefits only a very small portion of society at large and is doing untold damage to the environment and welfare of the most vulnerable.
Given the disruptive nature of the project we believe that non-traditional sources of financing are the best road to go down, as we don’t want the project being lumbered by debt or giving away equity which will reduce the investment available to strategic projects to support start-ups and to fulfil challenging wishes.
We primarily plan this funding to be used to fund 3 positions for 1 year each whilst we get the project off the ground. These positions are an experienced Web and Mobile App Developer, a marketing and events assistant, and a Graphic Designer. Beyond that we hope that the project will be self-sustaining through revenue generated through sponsorship and advertising.
“This is a GREAT plan! Can't wait to see the good things that come from this!” Victoria Withy – Communications Manager, Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre
“There's huge potential within ABNCommunity for this…”. – Andrew Smith, Director, Aberdeen Business Network
All our rewards have been donated by the local businesses here in Aberdeen that we support and that have contributed to the project. All rewards will be delivered to backers no later than end of April 2015 . All rewards and in particular those that are unique are subject to availability.
Some of the Amazing rewards include:
- 2 Season Tickets which are good for 2 people per ticket for the famous Breakneck Comedy Club here in Aberdeen that has hosted comics such as Jason Manford, Paul Pirie and Gary Little.
- Tickets to a champagne reception hosted exclusive for backers and participants of the project.
- For every pledge we will donate £5 to the Princes Trust
- Copies of Charles Eisenstein's book "Sacred Economics" which was the inspiration for the project.
- A personalised bespoke Radio program by Northsound 1 DJ John Mellis for you, a friend or family member.
- A Unique one of a kind iPad engraved by Apple, with customised decals, in a special gift package signed by Project Lead, Ross Dundas, Digital Development Director, Barry Booth and founding business network leader Andrew Smith.
- Premium whisky or Gin tasting and appreciation class run by an award winning expert in the Scottish Whisky Industry
- Celebrate the release of the new Star Wars movie early in 2015 with Ross's special Wishing Tree Star Wars R2/D2 C3PO Hybrid Print
- Knowing that every pound donated to this project helps bring us a step closer to ending economic inequality forever through gift economics.
Q. What Is A Gift Economy?
A gift economy is a mode of exchange where services, products and other resources are not sold, but rather given without an explicit agreement for immediate or future rewards. It is not a barter economy where in contrast there is an explicit exchange of goods or services for money or some other commodity.
Gift economies work on the basis of relationships and an agreement to work for the benefit of society and our local communities as a whole rather than for personal gain. This creates a level playing field and equal opportunities for everyone on the basis of their determination to contribute to society regardless of their socio-economic background or other factors.
The Wishing Tree project aims to apply this principle to small businesses which in turn become larger businesses to try and encourage companies to advance gift economy principles policies as a core component of their business on an evolutionary basis so that as society adopts gift economics over a long period of time money is no longer the primary consideration in innovative projects but the benefit that it brings everyone not just businesses. Our mission in short is to eliminate the statement “But we can’t afford to” from all discussions surrounding the advancement of science, medicine, the arts, engineering, technology and humanities and other noble pursuits.
Q. What Is The Wishing Tree project’s legal status? Are you a charity? How do I know you'll use the money for what you've said?
The Wishing Tree project is a social enterprise. We are currently supported by partner organisations that are also members of Aberdeen Business Network.
The Wishing Tree is a CIC (Community Interest Company) limited by guarantee registered in Scotland. Our registration number is SC490707.
A social enterprise unlike an ordinary limited company operates primarily for the benefit of the communities it serves instead of its shareholders. In our case this will mean each of the 32 local business networks and their constituent members that we will eventually support throughout Scotland. (ABN Included!). A legal mechanism known as an “asset lock” further protects these principles.
Every November we have to prove to the Community Interest Companies regulator that we are doing what we said we were going to do: Develop a Peer-to-Peer support network for start-ups in independent business networks throughout Scotland. In effect this makes YOU as a member a partner, albeit on an informal basis.
We are not a charity in the legal sense since charities are prohibited from generating revenue through trading activity and are wholly reliant on funders and donations from the public. You can still claim tax relief on your donations though by following this guidance from HMRC. We'd recommend you speak to your accountant about this as some of the information is quite technical.
Q. Is there anything else I can do to support the project in addition to donating to your crowdfunding project?
We accept of donations time and resources big and small both to the project itself and to the Start-ups we aim to support. Call us on 0333 6000 550 to discuss how you can help support Scotland’s game changers and innovators. Some of the most invaluable support involves skills donation and volunteering.
Q. What Is the relationship between Aberdeen Business Network and The Wishing Tree project?
A. ABN is our networking partner organisation for the Aberdeen City and Shire region of Scotland. The relationship is informal in nature and in the spirit of a gift economy no money is involved. We just firmly believe that ABN is a model of what a regional business network should be and therefore is the perfect location to operate the pilot of the project. A pilot program allows us to find out if the offline event based components of the project work properly and if so what can we do to further enhance it.
In the long run we will support ABN in growing its membership in the start-up community and The Wishing Tree eventually will provide the rights to utilise the Wishing Tree events format on a licensed basis along with marketing assets and resources and eventually an optional powerful technology platform that could be used to improve services.
Q. If you’re creating a Gift Economy, how come you still plan to charge for services and products that you will supply businesses?
The current business model for the Wishing Tree is transitional by design, it takes into account where we are just now in terms of economics and balances it with the vision of what ultimate success will look like: Money no longer being a barrier to entrepreneurship, innovation and one of the key factors in our everyday relationships with others outwith our families.
We try and focus our currently necessary revenue generation activities on those most able to do so, established businesses and business networking operators. I would again stress that The Wishing Tree is a non-profit organisation. Our revenue generating activities serve to cover the costs we incur and also further our goals.
Q. What charities does The Wishing Tree Project Support?
The Wishing Tree’s nominated charities are Epilepsy Scotland and The Princes Trust.
This is enshrined in our constitution that we support these organisations and indeed should anything happen to the project in the future it would be a legal requirement that any surplus assets are donated to these organisations.
Q. Why do you think people will help each other? If granters do one thing for "Free" won't they just expect it all the time?
This question kind of misses the point of a gift economy. The whole point is to support one another with our projects without expectation of monetary payment. Everyone in a community has inherent gifts and talents and things they enjoy contributing and sharing. You still have the choice of whom you share those talents with. The more however you contribute to your community, the more the community will recognise that contribution and want to help you in your endeavours. People who are selfish and fail to take a long term strategic view with their business relationships will find themselves isolated in the long run and will ultimately fail. The more you give therefore in a gift economy, the richer you'll be. Remember. Money is an agreement. It only has value because we agree it does. One of the primary consequences of that agreement is that it requires the monetisation of relationships into services and the consumption of natural resources into goods. This has wider consequences than we realise in the narrow context of that particular transaction, particularly for the innovators in society.
Q. Why should be bother with a Gift Economy? Money has worked fine for thousands of years, what makes you think it needs to change?
I'm realistic that the Wishing Tree project alone, even if my vision is fully realised it is an electron-microscopic step forward in a transition that is inevitable from the "Me" economy to the "We" economy. That is that we do things for the common good that is based on the advancement of Science, Medicine, Social Welfare, The Arts, Technology and other noble pursuits instead of short-term personal gain. The current system is unsustainable as its based on perpetual growth which in turn is based on perpetual debt that creates intolerable societal inequality and dangerous levels of consumption that are environmentally dangerous with the levels of population growth we are experiencing in a wider context.
There are 1426 billionaires, on this planet of 7.2 billion people. Nearly 1/2 of the world's population — more than 3 billion people — live on less than £1.25 a day. More than 1.3 billion live in extreme poverty, that's less than 60p a day. 1 billion of that 3 billion living in poverty are children. Those 3 billion people suffer because they don't have the right binary values in a banks computer system or enough cotton paper in their pocket.
It all seems kind of ridiculous that we have allowed such levels of inequality to be tolerated. Greed is not good. 1980s style trickle down economics is a spectacular failure. We're just not ready to accept it yet.
I wish I was wrong but it’s highly unlikely that any of us will see capitalism and our obsession with money die within our lifetimes. People will not change course unless something painful forces them to.
That aside I think it’s important to attempt to prove the concept of Gift Economics. Hopefully with the benefit of future hindsight, we can learn from what we're doing now. Change has to come from the start-up entrepreneurs of today which will become the large businesses of tomorrow that impact upon the wider population. I hope in the interim the project will encourage people to engage in more caring and compassionate capitalism which considers the impact our activities and levels of community engagement have until we can fully realise the transition from "Me" to "We".
We'd highly recommend that you watch this short film if you get time.
Q. Why are you only initially having events in Aberdeen City and Shire?
We can’t wait to bring The Wishing Tree Events to other cities and regions in Scotland. However the project is still in its infancy and we only have very limited resources at present. Thus the crowdfunding campaign! We are focused on getting the Gift Economy started, the website launched and building momentum and awareness in our goals. Here in Aberdeen we have a wide variety of contributors and supporters of the project, which is why we decided to have the pilot for the project here.
Assuming the pilot goes well we have a social franchise-planning project on our roadmap for late 2015. We plan on offering franchises on an upfront setup fee basis along with a monthly retainer model. The first franchises should go on sale in late Q1 2016 with Glasgow and Edinburgh being our first targets however all the council regions in Scotland will be available. We have no current plans to host The Wishing Tree events in England and Wales however this may be possible if the campaign reaches its stretch target of £65,000.
Q. What’s up with the sucky one page website?
We know The Wishing Tree website is to be blunt terrible in its current form. Which is why we're running this crowdfunding campaign! It’s just in effect a holding page at the moment so that you don’t get a nasty server error. We have reached an agreement with a local Software development company, Intellicore Ltd but the website is a incredibly complex undertaking and we are unable to provide an estimate as to when it will be completed at this time. We do however have a legal obligation to launch a beta of the website no later than November 2015 however we are confident that we should be able to launch it much sooner.
Q. Will people be charged to register on the Wishing Tree Website?
Absolutely not. Registration will always be free for both Wishers and Granters regardless of the length of time you have been trading. This is regardless of the size of your organisation. We want to encourage people and the companies they work to engage in random acts of kindness, in particular the national listed organisations and banks who have years of making up to do for the damage that they’ve done to our communities. Imposing a charge to participate would be counter productive.
Got a question that isn't covered here? Send us an e-mail.