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How The Happy Startup initiative has become a worldwide movement in 10 months

Thomas PichonThomas Pichon
9 upvotes by Quora User, Quora User, Prashanth Reddy, Tan Ing Siang, Brendan Baggot, (more)

Laurence launched the The Happy Startup School in early 2013. He is helping a new breed of entrepreneur to realize their dreams. Startups that put people first and measure success in happiness, as well as profits. Think sustainability above short–term. He believes happy teams, storytelling and customer experience are key to delivering on vision & purpose. Laurence explains in this article how he has grown the Happy Startup community, along with the successes and plans for the future.
 

OUR EXPERIMENTS TO GROW THE COMMUNITY

We’ve run a number of activities since we launched at the tail end of last year.

Our first step (other than setting up our website) was to set up a Meetup group. This is a great way to find out if people are interested in your mission. We started to get a few signups which gave us confidence to put on our first event where we talked about our vision. For us, design and branding has been key to building up trust with our audience. It has given us credibility and meant our message has got across with clarity. To some extent, we’re fortunate that we have our own in-house design studio, which has meant that we’ve been able to turn our ideas into reality pretty quickly.

Due to the success of our first event, we started to run these monthly to help build the community and create awareness about what we were doing. In tandem we were also busy creating lots of content to inspire and educate our audience (mainly budding entrepreneurs), both on our own blog and through partners aligned with our philosophy such as Action for Happiness, a movement for positive social change.

We also participated in the first UN International Day of Happiness back in April and spread some happiness to workers in the London’s financial district.

We’ve been keen to experiment and test out ideas where possible. We ran a number of workshops as part of the annual Brighton Digital Festival which went down really well and have helped to boost our profile in our hometown of Brighton. We’re also working closely with Brighton’s first startup hub the Fusebox, following a successful pilot program last month. We’re keen to work with existing startup ecosystems to extend our reach and make an impact with as many startup teams as possible so will be talking to more accelerators in London over the coming months.
 

OUR SUCCESSES SO FAR

Slideshare has been a great platform for us to get our name out there. Our 10 steps to happiness in business deck has now had more than 70,000 views. Generating lots of well-designed content is a great way to build awareness. We also created an e-book and happy startup toolkit that has now been downloaded more than 5000 times since we released it in June. This has really helped to grow our community and enabled more people to really understand our startup philosophy. We’ve even had tons of people all over the world download the canvas and share their efforts with us.

We created our own framework for early-stage startups to define their DNA, The Happy Startup Canvas, which I first posted on Medium and has now had more than 40,000 views (including almost 20,000 on Quora surprisingly) and been re-tweeted hundreds of times. This has helped to bring the debate about having a higher purpose in business to a much wider audience. Even highly successful entrepreneurs such as Tim O’Reilly have tweeted it out.

We also hosted our first conference in September, which was a great success and very well received. All of the speakers are people we’ve come in contact with since we launched and really believe in the work we’re doing. It’s amazing how if you approach your dream speaker list, how many of them say yes. It’s all about building relationships and rallying people around your cause. We’ve had tons of positive feedback since and we’re hoping that the videos of the talks will help to increase our reach further once these are live. (Read our write-up of the day including some great photos.)

And we ended up selling our own t-shirts by accident.
 

OUR PLANS FOR THE NEXT MONTHS

Plans are already underway for another Summercamp next year. We’ll also continue to run affordable monthly meetups at Hub Westminster, as well as more hands-on workshops and one-to-one consultancy to coach founders on how to build a happy startup. We’re also looking to work with some larger corporates as well as Universities and Schools. We’re passionate about the value that a positive, entrepreneurial mindset can bring and so are open to any way that we can introduce this to a wider audience.

Other initiatives in the pipeline include online classes/webinars, a ‘Happy Startup in a box’ toolkit, an online platform and a pilot 10 week night-school program, as well as lots more that we can’t talk about :) We’ll also be looking to develop our range of merchandise.

And if I get my way, a Happy Startup bus tour in 2014 (inspired by Zappos)!


To follow the progress of the Happy Startup School, visit their website, join their Google+ community or follow @happystartups on Twitter.
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