Pink no more. At least for now.

Modeling hat by Made of Moxie - a Startup School participant

It has been a while since my last newsletter. Mainly I was hoping that I was going to be able to share the overwhelming good news. I even stopped dying my hair pink in the faint hope that this small act of rebellion might be the very thing that was preventing me from being accepted by the establishment.

In between watching Ozark, Bosch, The Crown, Suits, Homeland (again), and now Jessica Jones, I’ve been working stupidly hard.

Making Lists

I get great satisfaction out of making lists, creating a box next to each task, and then ticking each off when complete. On Thursday evening, while watching the final episode of The Crown, I created three pages of tasks.

They include writing a keynote speech for the University of South Wales on storytelling, curating testimonials for the currently being rebranded and rebuilt Silver Sharers website, and applying for an accelerator programme in Toronto that comes with $130k in funding. I figure the Canadians might have a different perspective on home-sharing than the privacy craving British.

My back is permanently hunched over my 5-year-old 13” MacBook, huffing and puffing (the laptop, not me) quite literally as I fill in endless applications for grant or equity funding.

The good news is that it’s starting to pay off.

Some Good News

Startup School for Seniors, the 8-week course funded at the start of the pandemic in response to the many over 50s that have lost or are at risk of losing their job, had its last Zoom session on 25th November.

Over the past six months, my colleague Mark and I created nearly 50 videos covering everything from Branding to Business Planning, Marketing to Money Matters. We interviewed business owners and specialists, all over 50, who generously shared their time and knowledge with us. Fifty-seven people registered for the course from all walks of life. Every video was transcribed and captioned to ensure that all the material was fully accessible.

One participant said, “Even though I have run businesses in the past I have learned something new in every session especially about business structures and marketing. Despite being delivered over Zoom I was impressed with how Suzanne and Mark managed to create a genuine sense of community. Their knowledge and guidance were clear and always supportive.”

On the final session, Mark and I were teary-eyed from a combination of sheer exhaustion and the sense that we’d actually made a difference to the lives of so many.

Since then, we’ve been funded to deliver two more courses to both Hammersmith & Fulham and Camden residents (and whoever else wants to join us). If you know anyone, aged over 50, who could benefit, please send them here:

The Disadvantages of Age

At the same time, Silver Sharers has been going through a complete rebrand and rebuild and soon we’ll be launching as nestful (thanks to my mum who came up with the new name). Empty Nest. Nest Full. Well, nearly.

I’ve been hawking our wares around to early-stage investors, armed with a very slick looking ‘pitch-deck’ and a set of financials. A bit like childbirth, I’d forgotten just how painful fundraising of this type is when you don’t fit the stereotype of a ‘tech entrepreneur.’ Honestly, one guy we pitched to, was unable to contain his WTF look when meeting us (on Zoom), sitting so far back in his lounge chair at home I thought he might fall over. Never have I felt more strongly that my co-founder and I, having a collective age that exceeds 100, could be less of an advantage. There are some (dis)advantages to age. We soldier on.

Like everyone else I imagine, my world feels ever so small. I’m lucky to be doing something I love for which I get paid. Here’s to 2021 and (fingers crossed) the chance to (finally) galavant with other humans.

Until then, have a great Xmas and a Happy New Year. I can say that in nearly mid-December, can’t I?