• May 8, 2019

The Melting Pot was created to support social innovators and provide them with all the things they need to make impact. As Scotland’s Centre for Social Innovation we have developed a variety of methodologies and services to fill gaps, create connections and maximise the impact of Scotland’s social innovation community. 

The Melting Pot now has 3 divisions: collaborate through coworking at our 5 Rose St HQ, incubate ideas that make change with Good Ideas and accelerate with the Coworking Accelerator, a faster and safe route to coworking success. Let’s have a look at the impact we’ve made over the past 10+ years…

Collaborate – The Melting Pot

Let’s start with coworking at The Melting Pot, our bread and butter and the mumma of our 3 divisions. When we started over a decade ago, no one had heard of coworking. Work spaces designed to meet the needs of people from a spectrum of organisations, sectors and disciplines were a new phenomenon. We were the first coworking space in Scotland and one of the first in the world. Coworking spaces like The Melting Pot were born out of the need for community felt by people in non-traditional employment. We opened our space to provide a place for these people to find focus and a diverse, supportive community.

It was never really about work space, but about increasing social impact and keeping people happy and healthy along the way. If coworking hadn’t taken off we would have tried something new. But, as it turns out, coworking has gone from strength to strength transforming from grassroots movement into fully fledged industry.

Deskmag have just published their predictions for the future of coworking, extrapolating from the 2019 Global Coworking Survey. They learnt that just last year the number of coworking spaces grew by a fifth, by the end of 2019 more than 2.2 million people are expected to be working in 22,000 coworking spaces worldwide. It seems the coworking “trend” is here to stay with 60% of members indicating that they are planning on sticking with their space.

Last year we spent some time investigating the social impact of coworking by asking our Members about their experience of The Melting Pot. You can find the full report on the resources section of our website but here we share some of the key insights.

Coworking at The Melting Pot leads to:

  • Inclusivity and equality which will lead to a more equal economy. We have equal numbers of men and women and of the third of our Members that founded their organisation 42% are women; this is double the UK average of female founders.
  • Improved well-being through reducing isolation and building confidence. Almost 80% of our Members are self-employed or working for microbusinesses and 95% feel they belong to our community. Almost 80% of members gained confidence professionally and 75% have been supported by other Members.
  • Greater impact – Around 90% said being a Member helped them feel inspired and find motivation and almost 100% said being a Member helps them deliver their work. 80% of our Members would rather collaborate with another Member rather than looking elsewhere. 40% have already been part of a collaboration formed at TMP, with nearly every single one of them happy with the results of the collaboration!

Incubate – Good Ideas

In 2012 The Melting Pot decided to share the insight we’d gained while building a successful social business with other aspiring change makers. Good Ideas is our incubation programme for social entrepreneurs, the vision is a network of movement makers who collaborate to create systemic change in Scotland and beyond. Good Ideas takes participants through a variety of processes that help them hone an idea into impact, always creating a place for social entrepreneurs to connect and support each other.

We have developed the Incubation Canvas which outlines the areas that must be covered by an incubation programme to ensure people are supported holistically. You can’t pour from an empty cup so the human side of start-up ventures can’t be overlooked, particularly when there is a social purpose behind the work. The challenges of social business models are unique and social entrepreneurs tend to have a strong personal connection to the outcomes of their work. These factors are considered at the heart of the Good Ideas methodology.

Good Ideas Canvas

  • Since 2012 our Good Ideas programme has inspired and supported 340 people to turn their good ideas into 79 new social enterprises, charities and campaigns.
  • 43% are still operating today (as compared to the UK average of 2/3 startups failing in their first few years).
  • On average for each Good Idea supported, 3 new jobs are created, 10 volunteers are recruited and 1300 people benefit from their services – all within the first few years of their new venture starting trading.

None of these stats include this year’s Good Ideas Class – who you can meet here – but we’ll make sure to keep you updated on their progress once they’ve flown the coop too. The stats do include Celia Hodson Founder of Hey Girls, the buy one give one sanitary product social enterprise tackling period poverty that was named Virgin Start-up Scottish Business of the Year 2018, and Chris Hellawell Founder of Edinburgh Tool Library, the UK’s first tool library. After completing the programme Chris said,

“Setting up a new business or social enterprise is often quite isolating. Good Ideas has been really important because it’s a place where you’re with other like-minded people, learning together.”

The Edinburgh Tool Library has gone on to facilitate over 8000 tool loans saving members over £400,000 and counting. Not only that but their members’ carbon footprint has been reduced by 50t in the last 18 months!

So far our Good Ideas programmes have run in the Scottish Central Belt. We are now looking for the right partners to build on this work, taking the initiative forwards across the UK and beyond.

Accelerate – Coworking Accelerator

It’s 2017, The Melting Pot has a gorgeous coworking community supported by a tried and tested coworking model. We have experience supporting other social businesses through start-up stages increasing their chances for success and significant impact. What do we do next? Well, we founded the Coworking Acclerator to help coworking business leaders find a safer route to coworking success drawing on the experience gathered during over a decade of running The Melting Pot.

The Coworking Accelerator is taking coworking from global to local again, helping independent spaces build their coworking business based on the needs of their community.

Take Osbert, founder of community development trust Sustaining Dunbar who are hoping to bring coworking to Dunbar. National Rail data collected in 2001 showed that 83% of train travel from Dunbar was to Edinburgh, and travel was increasing at a rate of 8% per year. Nearly a third of people who work or study in Edinburgh don’t live there, in fact Scotland wide over 57% of people travel for work or study. But in a world of remote working why should people travel to work? Coworking spaces allow people to stay closer to home during the work day, closer to their children’s schools, and it increases their ability to participate in their local community, socially and economically. Last year’s Global Coworking Survey showed that a coworking space injects £10 per day into local businesses, per member!

We think every town should have one and we’re helping communities realise that vision for themselves. Since starting up in 2017 the Coworking Accelerator has:

  • Welcomed 118 members from 69 countries to the global CONNECT Network
  • Run 16 events reaching 1,300 people
  • Supported 81 coworking business leaders to EXPLORE their idea
  • Helped 5 organisations ACCELERATE their space by giving them our proven systems

Our Coworking Canvas helps practitioners understand the areas they need to develop within their own business in order to support their community. We have run workshops for teams and international conferences across the globe using this framework. Coworking is a piece of the puzzle – both in terms of community and the world of work. Our vision is of an effective coworking ecosystem that helps individuals reach their potential, supports resilience within communities and enables people to engage with meaningful work, particularly those living in communities currently limited by geography.

Above: The Coworking Canvas worksheet

We’re very proud of our impact and all of the people and organisations we support each day. Looking forward we’re hoping to see all three divisions of The Melting Pot grow while continuing to collaborate, incubate and accelerate!

Want to find your coworking community? Make change with a Good Idea? Start a coworking business? We’re here for you – get in touch [email protected]