Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Even in his 200th year, Darwin has never been so relevant

As anyone that hasn’t been living in a cave is aware, it is 200 years since the birth of one of mankind’s favourite sons, Charles Darwin.

Any self respecting scientist/atheist/human being will agree that his theories have completely changed the way we view the world and ourselves, but I think sometimes we forget how survival of the fittest really does apply to almost everything we do.

The simple mathematics that anything that is not good enough dies out, and therefore brings about constantly improving standards and fresh competition, has never been more evident than in today’s credit crunch.

For a long time, businesses have been getting away with poor bookkeeping and financial management, keeping themselves afloat by revaluing their property or topping up their loans. This basically cheated the ‘survival of the fittest’ system and it has now come up and bitten back in a big way.

To survive in the new climate, companies need to adapt to the situation and use the crisis to their benefit.

As an example, my family has been selling their milk (we’re farmers) to a company that was top heavy in management and basically inefficient in how they balanced their books resulting in them charging over inflated prices to cover their backs, leaving a huge amount of disgruntled farmers in their wake.

Here’s where evolution comes in.

A few months ago, a representative of a new dairy turned up on our doorstep. The dairy saved money by having an efficient staff model and not spending money on expensive chemical tests (that search for harmless bacteria and butterfat) and could therefore offer more money for our milk as well as an effective sales transfer and good customer service. Needless to say where my family now takes its business. The said dairy is currently cleaning up with business and set to make an absolute fortune over the next few years, by adapting to the situation and, more importantly, DOING IT QUICKLY.

Businesses have got away with inefficiency for too long in the world of easy credit and now only the sharpest and easily adaptable businesses are going to survive the crisis.

With respect to everyone that has suffered as a result of the crisis (all of us), there is a slight silver lining that industry standards and practice are sure to improve, because if they don’t, they’ll be gone before you can say ‘0% interest’.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

The Big Cat blog has now moved

Please visit to read more insightful and generally lovely blog posts.

Mining for internet gold

The UK’s social media industry is like the goldmines of the USA 200 years ago. Basically, online is the future; for how long we don’t know, but it is about to arrive in a big wave and engulf everything that came before it.

As with early American prospectors, the first one to find the first rich seam and sell it is likely to become a very rich person indeed.

Although the web has been a prominent part in our lives for over 15 years, we still haven’t answered the age old question of how do people make money from it? Obviously Google, Yahoo etc have been making money for donkeys, as have website designers and such like, but how does the common agency use social media to make money?

Twitter, Stumble, Wordpress, Friendfeed, Digg and Flickr are almost days away from being the new marketing tools for businesses and a playground for marketing and PR agencies. For as long as we can remember, PR and Marketing agencies have used newspapers, magazines, radio and television to position clients in the public eye. Editorial and adverts would be placed within these domains and the better the domain, the more horses would be brought to the water, so to speak. The internet has now overtaken newspapers and radio, second now only to TV as the most popular way to access news. The ‘apps’ above have the potential to be highly effective marketing tools to reach large target markets and individuals, linking them to a chosen blog, website or platform.

In short, there is currently a huge race on to find the best way to market companies in the online space and whoever can reach (or build) the biggest number of fans/followers/advocates/customers through these apps and sell their services to clients first will be the modern day equivalent to the 19th century American prospectors.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Where next for the Custard Factory and other independent venues

In the last month or so, The Custard Factory or more specifically Space 2 has hosted acts such as Sugarhill Gang, Public Enemy, Fleet Foxes, Pendulum and Amanda Palmer , bascially world reknowned performers. There only lies one problem, Fleet Foxes and Pendulum aside, all the major acts are either past their prime(Sugarhill Gang, Public Enemy) or in a different guise to where they made their name (Amanda Palmer). A 1800 capacity venue like Space 2, put simply, will never be able to attract the chart topping acts simply because the venue can't house the amount of people needed to cover the cost required to aquire such a band.

Maybe that's not such a bad thing.

Sure the Custard Factory could never compete with the NIA or Carling in terms of footfall and therefore artist size but on the other hand it opens a market for alternative acts that are gaining more credibility and popularity due to the new downloading phenomenon. Smaller alternative acts that previously only has a small hardcore group of followers now attract wider audiences due to the internet giving them greater exposure and accessabilty. The Custard Factory and other independent venues offer the perfect stage for such acts and hold the neccessary kudos to attract bands such as the Fleet Foxes and others.

So where from here for a venue that is reaching its terminal velocity in terms of ability to attract artists that consistently fill up the venue. Does it host developing bands at the risk of poor ticket sales or does it aim to in greater bands past their peak, cashing in on the onslaught of newly reformed legends (Stone Roses, Blur etc)? Can Space 2 open out into the North Yard, or open Gibb Street into an open air venue? Does it move away from music hosting? Basically how can the Custard Factory continue to grow despite its physical limitations.

Answers on a postcard to the Big Cat offices.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Custard factory’s Old Library is officially the 10th best venue in the UK

Rejoicing on the streets of Digbeth, ticker tap parades across Eastside and Birmingham comes to a stand still to salute the Old Library’s welcome surprise entry at #10 in a list of the best venues in the UK, compiled by Event magazine, the Qur’an of the events and hospitality industry.

The poll was voted for by people within the events industry and the high placing is a testament to the high regard that Birmingham is now held in, particularly with regards to its events industry.

The Old Library has come a long way in the last 15 years, considering its picturesque vaults and gothic architecture were tragically set to be bulldozed until it was saved in the early90’s by the Custard Factory Quarter in partnership with ERDF and English Heritage. Its rise to a respected and widely known conference, exhibition and wedding venue is representative of Birmingham’s events and creative industry growth since the early 9o’s. The 19th century building now has 3 phase electricity, lighting bars and ISDN connections capabilities making the vintage surrounds a very modern venue.

The Custard Factroy itself is grrowing in iconic status with everyday that passes, with more and more people viewing it as the flagship for the new found creativity that is becoming the outstanding feature of modern Birmingham.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Creative City Awards

The roaring success that was last weeks Creative City Awards has now been posted on The link is below, enjoy.