La necesidad: ¿Cuál es el problema que tratas de solucionar?
Feelings of isolation are not limited to a certain class, or to “lonely people”, but can be felt by us all, whether it be on the morning commute or sitting down to lunch alone. However, these feelings of isolation are most evident in large cities such as London, where the fast pace of life and pressures of living in a city of 12 million people means that it comes as no surprise that the city has been at the top of the UK loneliness index for the last 40 years and rates as the second most unfriendly city in the world. The most obvious symptom of this persisting social malaise is that Londoners don’t talk to each other, mainly because it is deemed as unacceptable to do so, and people are therefore scared of how others may respond when a conversation is initiated.
La solución: ¿Cuál es tu solución? Sé específico.
We believe that the act of talking has positive value in that it creates a greater sense of wellbeing, community and opportunity, which in turn results in happier, more connected people and a greater sense of community. We therefore aim to break down barriers to conversation. To do so, we must make it acceptable for people to talk to those they don’t know by facilitating these conversations. In the short term, we are launching “Talk to me London”, a campaign encouraging Londoners to wear a badge reading “Talk to me London”, which acts as a conversation catalyst. Launching on a large-scale in the run up to the Olympics, the campaign will hopefully gain mainstream coverage, thanks to our team of pro bono advertising, events, media & PR agencies. We are hoping that off the back of the campaign we can generate a longer-term solution, which would be to create a specific space in which people feel able to converse, hence the idea of a ‘Talk to me’ restaurant.
El Modelo: Muéstranos a través de un ejemplo específico cómo tu solución hace una diferencia, incluye tus actividades primarias
Mandy is a copy editor. She doesn’t really get along with the people she works with. So although she gets an hour for her lunch break but tends to take it on her own in Pret A Manger, reading a book.
Tom works for a charity in Oxford but often comes down to London for meetings – but there are often gaps between them, during which he struggles to fill the time wandering the city or drinking tea on his own.
Paul is setting up his own freelance design company. He really likes what he’s doing but is now working from home, whereas he used to work in a big office. He misses the human contact, so often works in cafes in his area, but a lot of the time, he finds this even more isolating as he still doesn’t get to talk to anyone.
All three of them discover the ‘Talk to me’ restaurant, and decide to try it out. They end up sitting at a table together and spend an hour talking and laughing. For Mandy, it’s a welcome escape from Pret A Manger, for Tom, it’s great to know that there’s somewhere to go to fill the time, for Paul it’s a great way to get out of the house.
They might meet up again, they might not. They might become friends, they might not. They might become business partners, they might not. But that little bit of human contact they get during their lunchtime chat means that they go back to their work and their lives more refreshed, happier and better connected.
In this way, ‘Talk to me’ restaurant is a completely new concept for a restaurant, in which talking to people you don’t know is encouraged. This would be achieved through the fostering of a welcoming atmosphere as well as the layout of the space – a seating arrangement that brings people together (long tables, like Wagamamas). There would also be daily conversation menus on the tables which would feature topics to inspire conversation, ranging from current affairs to trivia. The restaurant's success would be helped by its self-selecting nature, as it would be patronised by people who want to talk.
Of course, food is the great social binder in human social relations – sitting down for a meal creates a joint experience that can aid conversation. The high quality of the food, and the fact that it would be ethically sourced and modestly priced would also be a major attraction.
If successful, the concept could be easily franchisable both in London and in other cities in the UK. The restaurant could be run as a CIC (Community Interest Company), in which all profits will be reinvested in the business or in supplementary activities around the area of talking.
El mercado: ¿Quiénes son tus pares y competidores? Identifica a otros que también estén trabajando para dar respuesta a las necesidades que tú abordas y en qué te diferencias de ellos. ¿Cuáles son los desafíos que estos jugadores podrían representar para tu éxito o crecimiento?
There are obviously many ethically minded restaurants. One of our key inspirations is the Turl Street kitchen in Oxford, which serves ethical, locally sourced food to the community. FoodCycle, meanwhile, has emerged as an innovative project that serves food that would otherwise be thrown away the local community. Yet unlike FoodCycle, ‘Talk to me’ restaurant would not focus specifically on serving a low income demographic. Moreover, neither of these projects are directed at encouraging people who don’t know each other to talk; in fact, as far as we know, we have no direct competitors in the restaurant sector. Supper clubs are a predecessor indicating a demand in this area, but as these are not fixed businesses, they do not pose any threat to our growth.