Between 2002 and 2010 I was co-founder of a design agency called Raw Nerve. We were inspired by the wealth of talent in our local area, and amazed at how little communication and knowledge sharing was actually going. Once we had identified the problem, we set ourselves to design a solution, The result social network for the creative industries called RSVP London.
As a team, we mapped out the creative community in our surrounding area of Deptford, London. We quickly established a series of regular events to bring creative people together in a relaxed setting with exhibitions of local talents, live music and food.
The diverse membership consists of local freelancers, businesses and organisations that span the creative industries spectrum; from animation to architecture, design to drama, fashion to film and typography to textiles. In the true spirit of community, access to the platform was free and it is used to promote professional services and events, showcase new products, source work opportunities and exchange ideas.
The research and development involved in this project enabled me to cut my teeth in user experience design, information architecture and communication strategies for online communities of practice. Over the years I managed the evolution of the website from a simple custom build directory to an open source platform built with Drupal.
RSVP London was recognised as being a significant factor in strengthening the competitive advantage of local creative services because it helped:
- Connect local creative services and resources
- Bridge the skills gap with a skills matchmaking service
- Sign-posting to business development advice.
The project received funding from London Development Agency who commissioned us to deliver a pilot business support network under the title 'Creative Clusters'. The Mayor of London also referenced RSVP London as a shining example in his cultural strategy report.
Our attention on the platform began to wain as the recession kicked in and eventually we decided to call it a day. However, the experience we gained during the process has been second to none and has informed the strategy behind many other projects such as the London Design Festival. You may see some similarities in our concept to the Behance Network, which sprang up around the time in the USA. Congratulations to Scott Belsky and his team, they have really built a truly incredible platform which as grown at a phenomenal rate.