Forays into crowdfunding

Until recently, I hadn’t done any crowdfunding. I was aware of it, but there was too much other stuff keeping me busy. Then, one evening on the One Show, I heard all about a project called Chicken Town – a not for profit social enterprise designed to help local people in Tottenham by providing a healthier (and tastier) alternative to fried chicken and chips, subsidising lunch time offerings to local children and providing training and employment (paying local living wage) to locals.

It sounded brilliant so after a few google searches, I managed to find it on Kickstarter and made my pledge. The target was £50k and I must admit, I was doubtful at times if they were going to make it or not. The publicity on the One show was brilliant, but, the One show didn’t give any links or a definite “call to action”. I’m sure a lot of people watched and thought “that sounds great”, but as they weren’t given a website link or an emphatic call of “please pledge your support”, they did nothing about it. A bit of a missed opportunity.

Getting closer! If you’ve not yet pledged support for @CHICKENT0WN now is the time!

One of the features of the Kickstarter website is that you can set reminders so you are emailed when a project has 2 days to go – this means a lot of projects will see a rush of donations in those last two days as people are notified and (finally) get their wallets out.

They made it, with 700 backers pledging a total of £55,000 (their goal was £50,000). It was exciting and I followed them closely as the deadline came and I became more nervous that they wouldn’t make it. Phew. I am really excited about Chicken Town and can’t wait to hear about its progress. I shall also be making a detour to Tottenham next time I am in London!

Card games

As I had by now set up a Kickstarter account etc, i thought I would look and see what other stuff there was that I could get involved in. I was interested in physical board/card games, based in the UK (so I wouldn’t get stung on postage and most pledges say “ships to USA only”). I stumbled across this – Lords of War game:

It looked fun, professional (lots of funny videos on how to play the game), they had had previous success and I could get a game for a pledge of £13 as well as any extras that were unlocked, whatever those may be ( there were a lot!). The Kickstarter was to hep them raise money to get a new expansion deck printed, but you didn’t need this to play the game and I decided to do without it this time (maybe if they do a KS for Templar & Undead expansion pack, I will jump in!).

I tweeted about this a lot and there are now a few people I follow because they responded and joined in with me on the tweeting. Kickstarter also has a comments section (that only those who have pledged can post on) which was very busy, giving a real sense of community – and you could also spot people from twitter on there.

The Lords of War staff themselves also gave frequent updates as emails and as tweets for fans to retweet and spread the word:

It was all very exciting and really fun. LoW had set up numerous stretch goals (the funding asked for for the project to go ahead was £8,000) at £9k, £10k, £11k, £12k etc as well as at numbers of backers (250 and 500 – didn’t think we’d get to 500!). As well as providing more bounty for faithful backers (and getting people like me to up their pledges as I realised I was getting free booster cards for sets I didn’t have!), this provided opportunities for them to tweet, get publicity and reinforce the message. LoW also had numerous card game shows and conventions and stuff going on at the same time which of course all helped spread the word.

The campaign ended with £22,845 of the £8k target raised with 559 backers pledging support. Made me feel excited and part of something – which is what Crowdfunding is all about really.  I am now sitting by the postbox, awaiting my cards….


I posted a comment on LoW hoping that they would be doing a through analysis of stats (depending on what they get from Kickstarter) to work out what worked and when the big jumps in pledges came in. Someone posted me to a site called kicktraq which basically shows you stats and pledges over time. A really useful, fun site. So lets have a look.

Lords of War stats
Lords of War: Fantasy Battles -- Kicktraq Mini
They averaged 18 backers and 17 comments a day, with an average £ of £737.
148 people pledged on day 1 and then the next highest jump was 2 days (71) and 1 day (60) before the close (it actually closed at 8:45am on May 10th which is probably why there weren’t many on the 10th itself). I love that it shows you data on comments too.

Chicken Town stats
Chicken Town - Tottenham -- Kicktraq Mini
They averaged 24 backers, 1 comment and £1,855 a day. Nearly £10,000 came in on the penultimate day (April 22nd) – told you it was a bit nerve-wracking at the end there!
Chicken Town appeared on the One Show on April 10th – but this day only saw 14 backers and just over £1000 and the 11th was just 6 and £120. I think the One show definitely could have done more to help.


But what a fantastic adventure for me.


Calling it quits?

After my second worst ever marathon at Milton Keynes last bank holiday Monday, which came out of nowhere (I had done two fantastic 20 mile races in March including one in 2:58:44 pace, so a sub4 marathon should have been possible), I am now wondering if it is time to call time on marathons.

My 8 marathon medals in chronological order

My 8 marathon medals in chronological order

I struggled from about 5, so it was a long long trek to the finish line. I did keep one promise to myself though; I crossed the line smiling thanks to a girl I picked up at mile 15 similarly struggling and we chatted and ran/walked the rest of the way.

Why did it go so wrong? I got overheated and despite tipping water over myself at water stations was unable to cool myself back down (I wonder now if I even had heat stroke). I also got my taper wrong, pretty much giving up with runs of any real length after my successful 20 mile race; 5 weeks out from the marathon – I knew it was a mistake at the time but with Easter, visiting relatives and frankly celebrating a brilliant 20 mile race (which I mentally labelled as my “A” race), it was what I wanted to do at the time.

It sucks though – all that training and a 4:50:48 finish. Interestingly, it seems that there were a lot less finishers than last year (especially females). I also seemed to claw back a few places in the last 6 miles – which is interesting because I was mostly walking then!
Ugh. Still; to get round was an achievement considering how terrible I felt for so many miles. And the medal is lovely, but; I’m not sure I can handle such a long build-up to disappointment again (my 2014 MK marathon was similarly disappointing, going well until mile 18 and then falling apart and coming in at 4:21). My age graded results are always much better for the shorter distances too, which always get neglected in pursuit of a marathon.

Am I calling quits on the marathon?  Watch this space…

Business cards

For I don’t even know how long, I have wanted my own business cards, so with my bonus from work I got some printed (and designed) by the printhouse I work with at work. I also treated myself to a lovely holder from Pylones


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Live Tweeting

I have been having some fun on Twitter this last week (you can tell as I have also gained 20 followers this week) and have even got involved with a couple of Live chats.

The first was a Thursday night (well, 10pm GMT) #DataTalk discussion which I found out about via Klout – which is another thing I have been playing about with too (more on that later).  The topic was “What is a data scientist?”

Here is my tweet which retweets a Storify of the chat.

It was good fun, though as I was participating on my phone tucked up in bed (it was late ok), the refresh rate wasn’t very speedy and I seemed to be always a few tweets behind.  I found some new people to follow and have boosted my followers too, great stuff.  #DataTalk live tweets happen every other Thursday (I have set up a recurring appointment in my calendar, sad I know) – the next one is on Trends in Big Data and Challenges on Thursday May 7th; no questions up yet, but they do tend to list them in advance which is extremely helpful. I will definitely be participating in the future (bedtime permitting); hopefully more people will get involved in the future but wow, the hour just flew by!

Then on Friday 12pm-1pm I participated in #FRTweets – tweeting about fundraising; this time the topic was careers advice. A colleague of mine often participates in FRTweets so, after my Thursday night success thought I would give it a go.  One person had very similar views to me and I ended up following her and we got into a bit of banter after the London Marathon about cycling V running gear, which was pretty funny.


Thrilled to receive a Recognition award at work for my “Acting up” and our success in the telethons and direct mails.

award certificate

My certificate

It was also wonderfully timed at the staff meeting where I presented on the outstanding success of our recent annual appeal (using my new slide clicker toy complete with laser pointer) which featured a Star Wars theme and some odd slides like these.