So we got in touch with the founders, Richard and Cemal, who graciously agreed to do an interview with us. Read on to find out about the reasons why they started Old Spike and their motivations towards social entrepreneurship, as well as their take on how to start a business like theirs!
OS: It was Richard's idea to start a coffee Roastery, after living in New York and seeing a range of coffee roasteries in New York and seeing the launch of locally made products in Peckham combined with being very passionate about coffee we decided it was something we wanted to do. The name "old spike" originated while we were painting the front of the shop. After months of deliberation on the roasteries name, two ladies we're passing the shop and we explained how we were going to be helping local homeless. They explained that there used to be a local workhouse around the corner from the shop, which provided jobs and housing for homeless people and in order to earn their wages they had to break stones on an old spike, so it earned the name "Old Spike" and it was closed down around 25 years ago and turned into flats. So felt this was a sign to name the roastery after the old spike that did a lot for the local homeless before being closed down.
OS: On the whole we don't feel all social enterprises are set up to deal with any personal guilt, but we believe that even if that was the original motivation for supporting their community or beneficiary then as long as they are providing support and people's lives are being changed for the positive then in some instances we do not see an issue with this.
OS: We hope so, as we believe social enterprises are a way of business helping solve or support some of the issues in our society, no matter how small or large. We are a not for profit but Cemal when speaking at conferences or events encourages other social enterprises to take a profit so they can continue to be sustainable and ideally the model attracts other individuals or groups to start helping some of the problems in our society, and to earn a profit or wage themselves in a way that cannot be done in a charity.
OS: Initially it was very difficult, grants or funding for startups or social enterprises are hard to come by, we have self-funded the start up with our savings and a bank loan, but now we have set up the business and there is a track record it is far easier to gather funds.
OS: It has been surprisingly busy. We wanted to focus on the quality of our coffee first and foremost so people come back for the coffee and not for the social mission, and this had led to repeat customers and people buying our coffee on a subscription basis from around the UK.
OS: As we are not taking any profit out of the business and reinvesting all of the surplus back into buying the highest level of coffee beans from around the world we can have the luxury of picking the best coffees without having to charge this back to our customers. Also we have had some support from some of the best coffee roasters in Europe ensuring the quality of our roasts are apt the highest possible level. Finally, our partner Rob Dunne has been instrumental in making sure the quality of our coffee is world class, it is a privilege to have him working with us and he ensures quality control is always at a high level. Even though we are a social enterprise we feel it is very important to compete against the market first otherwise we cannot expect our customers to keep coming back.
OS: We have been so lucky to find Lucy, she can't speak English, but her effort, dedication, motivation, reliability and honesty is just fantastic. Rob has taught her how to make speciality coffee and the Google translate app has really helped us to do this, without it we would not have been able to help her. But the success of Lucy's story is down to her personality and we just gave her the chance and the rest has come from her. We are very proud of her and what she has achieved so far.
Read more about Lucy's story here.
OS: Treat the enterprise as a business and believe in your project and just start. Liam Black (one of the UK's best known social entrepreneurs) once gave a speech and said JUMP and it just gave us the confidence to start moving and it really helped to start the business, instead of waiting for everything to be perfect.
Find out more about them on their website or on Facebook and Twitter.