Brainstorming in Barcelona
A few months ago, Matt and I took a long weekend in Barcelona, one of our very favourite cities. We have always found that holidays are the best time to come up with business ideas and brand new plans. Something about the change of perspective - and of course, the long hours spent over delicious meals in the sunshine - is conducive to thinking clearly about what we do, and letting the imagination roam. I suppose this is one advantage of being married business partners. Maybe more unmarried business colleagues should book the odd joint trip too!
Barcelona is a particularly perfect setting for such conversations because it is has an incredible vibrancy. The people there seem able to marry a totally chilled-out vibe with a real sense of possibility and and determination. The tens of exciting new restaurants that have sprung up in the Born area since our last visit are a sure sign of a place that’s totally bursting with entrepreneurship and energy.
In one such restaurant, Matt and I discussed our vision for Griffin + Bell's future. For some time we have been talking about achieving three key aims: to bring people together in an inspiring space for learning; to access a more international market with our tuition; and to find a way for private tuition to reach more people and feel more inclusive. During our chat we landed on the idea that our dream 'space for learning' didn't have to be a physical space. From that moment on, we developed the idea of Griffin + Bell TV - a website packed full with video tutorials that will allow kids around the world to get support and guidance from the best tutors in the world.
Over tapas, we discussed three cornerstones of this idea. Firstly, we knew the tutors in our videos needed to be cool and charismatic. One of the main selling points of our business over the last five years has been the way that kids admire and look up to their tutors, simply because the tutors we choose to work with are passionate, funny and friendly. Secondly, we wanted our videos to harness the power of private tuition: as a result, we decided that they shouldn't be animated or full of re-enactments and costumes like educational videos of old, but should embrace the simple charm of an intelligent, enthusiastic person talking about an interesting topic. Thirdly, we agreed that Griffin + Bell TV must have a slick, beautiful, functional, design in line with top apps such as Spotify, Evernote or Instagram. Millennial kids know a good website when they see one.
Rested, excited and back in London, we set to work. While the project suits our skill sets - Matt is great at designing websites, and my background in acting has given me at least a little experience of film production - it was, like all new ideas, a learning curve. In collaboration with our web-builders, video graphic designer and film-maker we've learnt a whole host of new things about editing, pacing, idents, sound recording and user-testing. It's been exhilarating, and we hope the final product will allow kids worldwide to access genuinely inspiring and effective tuition when it comes to English skills, from TEFL, to metaphors, to generating story ideas or understanding iambic pentameter.
Watch this space for news of the launch of Griffin + Bell TV in the next few months.
And for those planning a trip to Barcelona, I highly recommend...
Tantarantana - http://www.tantarantana.es
A cool, cosy restaurant in Born: perfect traditional tapas and a lovely dining area out on the spacious street opposite.
Tapas 24 - http://www.carlesabellan.com/mis-restaurantes/tapas-24/
This place is always buzzing, with queues down the street. The food is quick, experimental and completely delicious. I think I could live on their croquetas for a long time. It’s also always empty at breakfast time and serves a great coffee and pain-au-chocolat.
Bar Mut - http://www.barmut.com
This bar has a chic, wood-panelled interior, an excellent wine-list and the freshest seafood squirming on the counter. No menu here - the manager asks you what sorts of dishes you like and then invents your meal especially for you.