THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Innovation and enterprise blog

3 posts from December 2017

23 December 2017

A little bit of Christmas cheese: an interview with the owner of Chalton Street cheesemongers and café, Cheezelo

For many people, Christmas simply isn’t Christmas without the traditional festive cheeseboard. So what better time to catch up with Eleonore Deneuve, owner of the British Library’s local neighbourhood cheesemonger, delicatessen and café situated on Chalton Street?

Over the last year, Eleonore has worked with the Library’s Business & IP Centre to start and grow the business, and joined us to tell us how she’s benefitted from the Centre’s services, as well as to share some of her hints and tips for the perfect Christmas cheeseboard.

Tell us a little more about the Cheezelo business.

Cheezelo is a cheese retailer offering products to end consumers and catering services to small and medium businesses. The business officially started trading in December 2016 when it was renting renting a commercial kitchen in East London and focusing on online sales, both via our own website) and online delivery platforms. We also had a regular presence at weekends markets such as Roan Road, Brick Lance and Columbia Road. We really wanted the business to have its own physical presence and I acquired a shop lease in April 2017 which allowed me to offer my products and services face-to-face to end consumers in the Kings Cross area (on Chalton Street). The shop itself has now been open since mid June 2017. We offer a wide range of 70+ artisan cheeses from all over Europe, British, French, Spanish, Italian, Swiss, ad are constantly increasing our range to satisfy the multiculturality of London. Cheezelo also specialises in regional and bespoke ready-to-eat cheese platters, composed of a variety of cheeses, seasonal fruits, chutney and crackers. Those are available to consume at the shop, take away or for online delivery.

 

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Eleonore Deneuve, owner of Cheezelo cheesemongers and deli

What inspired the creation of the business? Did you have a ‘Eureka’ moment that convinced you that this was a good idea?

Well really, like all good business ideas it started with a personal passion, that being my own love of cheeses and wine and hosting dinner parties with friends, just generally preparing cheese platters and sharing a good time and quality food with the people I love. I had also observed that tapas, aperitivo and shared food platters were more and more popular in the UK, and I wanted Ceezelo to respond to those trends by specialising in ready to eat cheese platters.

Did you use the resources and training available through the Business & IP Centre to research and launch the business? If so, how have you benefitted from this?

Indeed, I actually prepared the business plan and did all my market research with the help of the amazing resources at the Business & IP Centre. I alsa participated in various workshops and classes too which really helped me understand my market, develop my idea, structure my research and write my business plan, and ultimately to launch of my company. The amount of resources available in the Library for businesses to use is incredible, and I benefited a lot speaking to experts and entrepreneurs at the Centre and gaining their insight. Once I had actually opened the shop, I was also really lucky to be selected to have a business mentor for 6-month period which has been really key to the recent development and growth of the company. I am so grateful at the amount of resources and support available at the Centre. Aside from gaining practical information, coming to workshop also allowed me to network with various other small business owners and really increased my confidence to start the shop.

You recently took part in a Christmas market at the British Library – tell us more about that?

I was glad to be part of this year Christmas Market at the British Library, It is where it all started in some ways, being there and presenting a range of my cheeses and delicatessens products was ideal, also given that my shop is located only 2 min walk away, It was also a way to promote my shop and products to the members of the british library and their visitors.

What makes your business unique from other cheese retailers in London?

 

I think I am different from the competition in the sense that I offer a really wide range of European cheeses, so there’s always something to meet your tastes. Whereas a lot of other cheese retailers are focused specifically on specializing in either British French cheeses, I source Spanish, Italian, Swiss and Dutch cheeses so the range is really diverse. The shop currently offers about 75 different cheeses from all over Europe and I am aiming to extend the range even further in the new year. I also offer a very popular range of homemade vegan cheeses to serve the dairy free community, and am passionate about sourcing locally made products such as fresh bread made on Caledonian Road, vegan crackers and houmous made locally in Hackney and so on. My little shop is on a quiet street in a central location but still with quite a residential atmosphere. It was really important to me to be remain close to the community and offer fresh, excellent quality and affordable food to people from all walks of life, and I think that community engagement is something that also sets the business apart from other competitors.

Being close to the community is obviously very important to you, but what factors affected your decision to base the business in the Somers Town / St Pancras area?

Since I moved to London, I always lived in Kings Cross and Camden area and I have seen this part of London developed and improve significantly over the past 6 years. When started my research for setting up Cheezelo, I realised that a cheese monger was a service that was currently missing in the area, and with the continuous development of the area bringing in diverse new groups of people who live and work nearby, I decided this market gap was the perfect opportunity to start my company. When it came to choosing a location, I visited many vacant retail units and ultimately settled on the Chalton Street location for two reasons.  Firstly, the location is directly between King’s Cross and Euston stations and so there is lots of passing traffic. But secondly, being located in Somers Town meant that the rent was more affordable than being on the High Street, so it was a more feasible location for a start-up business like mine.

What is the vision for the future of the company? Where will Cheezelo be five years from now?

Well the first priority of course is to concentrate on making Cheezelo on Chalton Street a great success. After that, I would eventually like to open another shop in East Lonodn and possibly also in another UK city one day too, so watch this space!

Finally, we all love a nice bit of cheese at Christmas, but what are your expert tips for creating the perfect festive cheeseboard?

Ohhhh my favourite question – I could talk about cheese all day! For the perfect cheeseboard you need a good variety of textures and flavor intensity. I would recommend the following: start with a soft cheese like brie de meaux, camembert or pont l'eveque. Then add a semi-soft cheese with some strong flavours like a cornish yarg, Saint Nectaire or a cider Normandy cheese (la bonne cauchoise is a cider cheese which I import directly from Upper Normandy that’s always very popular!) Of course a blue cheese is also essential: stilton is traditional at Christmas, but bleu d auvergne or Roquefort also work really well. You then need a good strong hard cheese to complete the board, something like manchego curado, farmhouse cheddar like Wookey Cave aged, comté mature or gruyere alpage 24 months. You could finalise the perfect platter some goat cheese like a rosary goat, or selles sur cher type soft goat, and if you want to really be extravagant maybe something with some flavours of truffle for extra Christmas indulgence. I think it is important to have a minimum of 3 cheeses for enough variety, and also garnish with some seasonal fruits like grapes, apples, pears, strawberries, chutney. Don’t forget some good quality fresh bread and mixed crackers too. My final big tip is to say don’t hesitate to mix the cheeses from different countries. There is so much variety to choose from and mixing up cheese from British, French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch or Swiss producers really adds some diversity to your selection and ensures that you’ll be getting a great mix of flavor profiles and textures to enjoy with friends and family over the festive season.

Cheezelo is open at 46 Chalton right up until Christmas Eve to meet all your last minute festive cheese needs.

And don’t forget, if your New Year’s resolution is to finally take the plunge and set up your own business, the Innovating for Growth: Start-ups programme can give you all the essential information you need to get started on your business journey in 2018.

19 December 2017

Smartify: an image recognition app that's changing the art world

Smartify user scanning Paul Emsley’s portrait of HRH The Duchess of Cambridge (2012)
Smartify user scanning Paul Emsley’s portrait of HRH The Duchess of Cambridge (2012)

 

Whether you're an art aficionado, or just an occasional culture buff, we have just the app for you. Smartify is a free gallery guide that launched earlier this year at the Royal Academy of Arts in London and is already in use in over 30 major galleries and museums around the world. It lets you scan a work of art with your smartphone and uncover the story behind it, revealing the title, artist and background to the piece you're looking at. You can save a digital copy of the painting and create your own library, just like you would on Spotify for your favourite songs. The app will also recommend similar works at a nearby venue. 

The company hope their product will turn the perception of smartphones in galleries as an object of disruption on its head, and enable users to engage with artwork in a more meaningful way instead.

We caught up with Anna Lowe, Director of Partnerships and co-founder of Smartify, to find out a bit more about their journey and hear how the Innovating for Growth programme helped Smartify scale up.

 

How did the idea for Smartify come about and did it take long to develop the app?

The Smartify co-founders have always loved visiting museums and seeing art. We also found that we developed a much deeper understanding and connection with an artwork when we learned about its context while looking at it. Imagine having an enthusiastic and knowledgeable friend telling you more about a work of art, and the extra enjoyment or connection that it brings. Finally, we were aware that there is disagreement around the etiquette of using digital devices in art galleries and wanted to reframe the use of mobile phones as engagement rather than distraction.

The development of the app is a constant process of user-centered design and improvement.

 

Smartify app demonstration
Smartify app demonstration

  

Smartify is now with some major galleries around the world. How easy (or hard) was it to have them buy into the concept?

Working with museums can be slow moving as it is a notoriously conservative sector with lots of internal stakeholders. However, as a social enterprise, part of Smartify's  mission is to support public arts organisations with audience reach and financial resilience. Our ambition therefore, is to build the platform in collaboration with museums and to evolve the arts sector for our digital economy and new cultural consumers.

 

What has been the businesses biggest achievement so far?

Apollo International Art Magazine selected Smartify as winner of the Digital Innovation Award 2017. After a really busy year it was a massive honour for the team and an indication of the impact we are starting to have in the sector.

 

Visitor scanning Rembrandt’s portrait of Herman Doomer (c.1595) with Open Access at The Met  NYC  2017
Visitor scanning Rembrandt’s portrait of Herman Doomer (c.1595) with Open Access at The Met, New York

 

What are your future plans for growth?

We are working to scale up our team to meet demand, to include more and more museums on the app, and to build new product features our users want!

When thinking of innovation in any sector, it is useful to consider the entire value chain and all the services, teams, people that might be impacted by the disruption. This approach has lead to what is called full-stack startups that look across all the different parts of the industry's/organisation's value chain and collaborate with partners and clients to identify solutions together.

Smartify user scanning Frans Hals’s The Laughing Cavalier (1624) at The Wallace Collection, London
Smartify user scanning Frans Hals’s The Laughing Cavalier (1624) at The Wallace Collection, London

 

How did Innovating for Growth help with Smartify?

The programme helped in lots of ways! It gave us the space to think about our company purpose and how to translate that into a sustainable business model. For example, when bringing ‘positive disruption’ into any sector is useful to consider the entire value chain and all the services, teams, people that might be impacted by the disruption. This approach has lead to what is called full-stack startups that look across all the different parts of the industry's/organisation's value chain and collaborate with partners and clients to identify solutions together. This model helps reframe some common obstacles as opportunities to differentiate yourself.

It was also brilliant to have access to the British Library’s extensive Business and IP library. It is an amazing resource for market research and ideas!

Finally, we made a few good friends on the Innovating for Growth* programme who are going through the same scale up challenges and who have been great people to bounce ideas off.

 

Innovating for Growth is a free three-month programme to help you turn your growth idea into a reality. Find out more here.

ERDF

This programme is fully-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the British Library.

01 December 2017

The Five Step Facebook Marketing Strategy

Some companies seem to run their Facebook pages with so much ease. You know the ones; thousands of likes, fans tripping over themselves to be a part of the hot conversation…

… it makes you wonder what they are doing right, and what you are doing so terribly wrong!

Certain businesses are simply lazy when it comes to Facebook marketing. Perhaps they try a few posts, maybe no one replies and then they just give up.

Some business pages go totally the other way. Often sharing post after post with little thought as to what their audience is actually looking for. 

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Perhaps it’s the familiarity of Facebook that makes it difficult to grasp. Many business owners use Facebook personally so it can be tempting to try the same approach on your business page that you use for your personal page.

Whatever the problem may be, we see countless examples of businesses with bad Facebook marketing strategies.

Despite Facebook feeling like second nature to some, there is still a large knowledge gap for small business owners when it comes to Facebook marketing. Often, they simply aren't aware of how much they could achieve with the platform - or how to use it effectively.

With 1.32 billion daily active users, Facebook is a channel you simply cannot afford to miss.

We’re going to talk you through some simple steps to get you up to speed with using Facebook for business. If you don’t already have a Facebook page, you will want to set one up first. 

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1. It all starts with a plan

You may have already adopted a haphazard approach when it comes to managing your business page: we’re here to put an end to this. By defining what you want to achieve, you have a greater chance of achieving success.

Goals

For someone who is new to Facebook marketing, it’s easy to get caught up in collecting likes and focusing on this as the primary measurement of your success. As exciting as it may be to gain new followers, this alone will not do a great deal for your business.

When you think about goals, extend your thoughts beyond Facebook. After all, the purpose of having a platform is to generate more interest in your business and drive traffic back to your website.

Here are some common goals for Facebook business pages:

  • Generating Leads
  • Increasing blog or website traffic
  • Building brand awareness
  • Providing customer service

Audience

Once you know what you want to achieve, begin getting to know your audience better. It’s important to know your audience; what excites them, what makes them share posts, what encourages them to get involved?

If you already have a business page, your Facebook analytics will help you get a good idea of which types of posts perform best. If you are new to Facebook, take a look at your competitor’s pages. What areas are they having success in? Find out what posts resonate with your chosen audience and you are already one step ahead.

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2. Share great content

Once you’ve set some solid goals and defined your audience, you can start planning what exactly you are going to share.

If your goal is to increase product sales, you may think that you’re Facebook page is going to be full of lovely product photos. Wrong. This kind of sales oriented page isn’t going to cut it on Facebook.

Yes, you want your audience to be wowed by your amazing products but you also need to give them a reason to follow you and trust you. Think about what else you have you got to offer them besides a great product?

Creating a broad mix of content is the best way to do this, mix your own content with other peoples, share a range of photos and videos as well as just blogs. This way you can then look at what works and what doesn’t and create a strategy that is targeted specifically at your audience.

 You want to be seen as an expert in your industry, someone who keeps their finger on the pulse.

And don’t forget: everything shared on your page should show your brand personality. (If you haven’t already set the tone for your brand, you should get that together immediately.)

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3. Get talking

It’s a good idea to focus on increasing engagement as part your Facebook strategy.

Engagement constitutes the number of individuals sharing, liking and commenting on your posts. Their doing so vastly increases the visibility of your posts and the visibility of your business on Facebook, as the platform prioritises valuable and engaging content.

Putting your content out there is only half the work. It’s a social network, the whole point is to get people talking. People need to be prompted and you may need to draw attention to yourself in order to be heard.

Ask questions about trending topics, share photos that spark a conversation, share customer stories and make sure that when people do engage with you, they get a reply. The buzz will soon die down if people’s comments are ignored.

This may be a slow process at first, but working out what does and doesn’t work for your audience, is the only way you will create that buzz and keep people engaged.

This leads me on to my next point.

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4. Track it, measure it, tweak it.

A lot of the initial work with Facebook is trial and error. Your audience is unique to your brand and as such, you need to work out what works for you.

Facebook makes it easy for us marketers to analyse what is working and what isn’t with its own dedicated analytics suite, Facebook Audience Insights.

Here, you can see exactly what is working on Facebook and what isn't. Are people getting fed up with all those news updates you thought were interesting? Do you receive a higher engagement with your blog shares than your product images?

Facebook Insights also gives you a breakdown of the specific times at which you get the most activity, this can help you figure out the optimal time to post for your audience.

When you work out what people are looking for, you can tweak what you share to increase engagement and increase the number of people taking actions.

This is an iterative process which can be made simpler by following the earlier steps. Defining what works early on can ensure you find your perfect content mix quickly

5.Give it a boost!

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Following the previous steps will help you get everything right in terms of what to share and how to encourage engagement. This gives you a better chance of getting seen - but it's by no means foolproof.

The problem we all face is a lack of visibility. Facebook estimates that only 16% of your fans see any one of your posts organically.

So how can you further increase your chances of being spotted? Paid promotion is the key.

You don't need a huge budget to start promoting your posts. A modest outlay can ensure your important posts are being given greater visibility.  Facebook even allows you to target certain demographics, set your daily budget and length of a campaign.

Promoted posts are a quick, targeted and effective way to reach more of your target audience.

However, if you want promoted posts you work, you will need to keep on top of them. Tracking and tweaking are vital to success.

If you follow the steps above and dedicate the time to tweaking and testing, it will help you increase traffic to your website and help to achieve your other goals, whether that be the sale of a product or even just collecting emails addresses for your mailing list.

If, like many, you are new to Facebook marketing following this simple and effective plan will get you started on your first campaign. Good luck and remember to keep at it!

Alasdair is a top marketing consultant who also runs workshops at The British Library.  For more advice, why not come along to one of Grow’s workshops at The British Library Business & IP Centre?