Rebecca Gregory, Brand Amplifier alum and founder of thinking bob, shares the experiences that led to the creation of her company and how it’s benefited most recently from BA bootcamp.
I’ve never done anything by halves. I studied Maths in Pennsylvania, organised the Brixton Oxjam festival and, after the 2012 London riots, created the #SomethingNiceForAshraf Twitter campaign, which raised over £23k in three days for a young Malaysian man who’d been attacked and robbed during those events. When it comes to my business, just as with my previous endeavours, I seek out opportunities to fully see something through, and that’s what led me to apply for – and happily be selected as a finalist in – Brand Amplifier and its Art of Branding bootcamp.
Helping Ashraf demonstrated that, even though we’re more connected than ever through social media, it’s becoming harder to connect with other people offline because real-life communities are becoming more fragmented. After a year of living in London, I was still finding it hard to meet new people and my social life felt stale. I tried online social clubs and dating nights but still couldn’t find anyone I clicked with. I wanted to use my brain and meet people on my wavelength, but there was nothing out there that really delivered. So I decided to do something about it – I started thinking bob!
That was two years ago. In Summer 2013 we had enough backing to launch our own website at thinkingbob.co.uk, which now has over 2,000 subscribers. Our members can just turn up on their own and they have up to 100 potential new friends waiting for them. The nature of our events means there’s no pressure to think of something to say – we give people something to talk about!
We fit our events around different personality types. On top of our murder mystery nights, treasure hunts and debates, we also throw one-off parties or just go to the pub. In the summer, we do things like our infamous retro sports day and barbeques. The power of what we have achieved so far is astounding – we’ve united thousands of people with new friends and even started relationships. I recently received an email from a member who met his girlfriend at his first thinking bob social, and it’s going so well that they’re moving to Australia together!
Our socials are never centred around dating but it’s natural for relationships to start if you put like-minded people together. Now all we need is a thinking bob wedding… As a start-up we’ve seen the incredible amount of support available for small businesses in London. Among the highlights of the past two years was winning the public vote on the Tech City Elevator Pitch. It was hard work but incredibly rewarding to feel that amount of praise for our idea.
But what’s social networking without social media? And what’s a company without effective branding? Before getting involved with Brand Amplifier, I had kind of given up on social media. We had no budget to promote posts, and I didn’t think we could compete with what the big brands were doing.
Brand Amplifier showed me how much we could achieve on a shoestring if we thought creatively. Their advice pushed me to build more partnerships and we’re now partnering with SouthBank Centre from May 2014 onwards – a really exciting venture for us.
BA also helped us develop a stronger online presence through a more strategic use of Twitter and Instagram, and will help us grow our fantastic community offline, too.
Like Brand Amplifier, thinking bob blends the impact of in-person networking, online community-building, and creating genuine, lasting relationships with like-minded people. Through the course of the programme, thinking bob’s network grew to include a number of my talented fellow participants, and we’ll certainly remain in touch in the future.
Our Brand Amplifier experience wrapped up with a final pitch to a panel of judges, followed by the Awards Night, where thinking bob took home the joint-Gold Award for Best Business Vision, along with a cheque for seed funding. Moving forward, thinking bob will be able to use our prize money, along with the strong relationships established through the course of the programme, as we look to become the next Brand Amplifier success story.