An evening with three challenger start-ups

On Thursday 8th September we hosted our 5th Challenger Project Live at the eatbigfish offices in London. This time, we invited three London-based brand owners to shed some light on how they are challenging the conventions of charitable giving, modern dating and female representation. 

First up, we heard from Scarlett, co-founder of Crack + Cider, the not-for-profit that is aiming to help London's 7,000+ rough sleepers by 'selling' essential items such as jackets and hats through an online shop, and then distributing them direct to shelters across the city.

Having received widespread press coverage at launch due to their controversial and memorable name, 'Crack + Cider' are challenging the traditional charity model, where people can feel disconnected from their donation, while also offering a real alternative to giving cash on the street. Their strategy is to build a brand that grabs attention and creates intrigue by using the design cues of a lifestyle brand and rejecting certain conventions of the charity sector - for instance, they have a rule that they'd never use an image of a rough sleeper in communications. 

We didn’t look at other charities, we thought of ourselves more as a retailer.
— Scarlett Montanaro

It’s early days for Crack + Cider having launched in only November, but with two ad-women at the helm, and a plan to launch in San Francisco later in the year, we look forward to seeing where they take the concept next.

Next up was Mo Saha, co-founder of Antidate, the 'dating app for people who don’t like dating apps'.

Antidate first appeared in 2014 as an app that flipped the conventions of dating by letting women make the first move. However, only a few months after launch the US brand Bumble entered the market with a very similar product and positioning, and lots more money.

The small team took the big decision to pivot, and returned in 2016 with a revamped app centred around 'shared hang-outs'. This new app allows other 'Antidaters' to know where you like to socialise and lets you know who else is nearby in local pubs and restaurants in real time. 

If you can marry the real world and the tech world, that’s the opportunity
— Mo Saha

Antidate are bringing the old rules of dating back into society, Mo said, and rejecting the convention that you have to swipe right to be able to meet your match. The team are busy trialling events for their 'Antidaters' in Hackney with plans to spread across London in 2017. 

Last, but not least, we heard from Sophie Slater, founder of new fashion brand, Birdsong who are on a mission to lead an ethical fashion revolution.

After years of working as both a model and a shop assistant at American Apparel, Sophie became fed up with both the treatment of women within the modelling industry and the sexualised representation of women in advertising. Along with her co-founder Sarah Beckett, they set out to build a brand that portrays women in a positive and natural way - body hair and all - while also making clothes that are fair for the entire supply chain. Their strapline: ‘No sweatshops. No photoshop.’ says it all.

We’re in the social sector but we wanted to build something robust, we had to build a business
— Sophie Slater

Birdsong are currently raising investment on Crowdcube. So if you'd like to drop some hard earned cash and support their growth, you can find out more here. 

A special thanks to Scarlett, Mo and Sophie for sharing their journeys so far and thanks to Karma Cola & Beavertown for the refreshments.

Our next Challenger Project Live will be on Thursday 24th November. Places are limited and we usually sell out within a couple of hours, so make sure you are on the mailing list to be the first to hear about tickets.