Monday, 7 April 2008

Three Bodies Boiled for the Price of Two

In any place and time, the customs surrounding death say a lot about people's shared beliefs. Do I mean 'beliefs'? What I have in mind is not the consciously-chosen or stubbornly-clung-to position which that word may suggest. Rather, these customs reveal the deeper fabric of assumptions, usually taken for granted, which make up our understanding of reality.

What prompted this thought was a report in yesterday's Independent on Sunday that the British government is "considering radical solutions for disposing of the dead":

With options shrinking, the Government has turned its attention to the possibility of "boiling" bodies down to a handful of dust.

What I found most revealing was a comment from the company promoting this technique. Sandy Sullivan, managing director of Water Resomation Ltd, told the paper:

Cremation takes up to two hours to dispose of one body. We think we can do it in two hours, but we are telling people we can do it in three hours. Anything better than that will be a bonus – it would amount to three for the price of two.

What times we live in.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Money for Everything

A year ago, School of Everything was still basically a group of friends kicking an idea around. Today, we took an important step closer to making that idea a reality, as we announced that we've succeeded in raising the angel investment we've been looking for. As Paul (who's led our fundraising) says, it's been quite an adventure:

There are all kinds of funny stories associated with our hunt for the right investors. 10 Downing Street, wearing the wrong kind of trousers, facebook stalking and a tank just for starters. I can’t begin to tell you how much we’ve learned. The overall lesson for me though is that if you have a good idea, a good team and can show you’re serious about making the idea reality, there’s no shortage of people willing to back you.

We're all really excited, not just about the money, but about the people and organisations who have chosen to invest. It feels like we've found a group of backers who share the values behind what we're doing. JP Rangaswami, one of our investors and our new chairman, writes:

Since 1987, the only stakes I’ve held have been in the companies I worked for, and they’ve been acquired while I worked for them. That’s been a Rule for me.

Rules, however, are proven by exception. And I’ve made an exception.

School of Everything...

I have a passion for education, in many forms and shapes. One of my goals in life has always been to set up a school, from scratch...

I met the founders many months ago, and they have a passion about them, an excitement about them, an excitement that bodes well for the future.

The other investors are Esther Dyson, Rocco Pelligrenelli, and the educational wing of UK broadcaster Channel 4 - as well as the Young Foundation, who've supported us from the earliest stages.

I never planned on being an entrepreneur. I was writing a book about my own and other people's attempts to change the world - or at least avoid getting a proper job. Then one of those attempts took on a life of its own. I still can't quite take it seriously when I see myself listed as a "Chief Strategy Officer" - but I'm convinced that School of Everything matters and that I've got an important part to play in making it happen.

Now we have to get on with spreading the word and developing the community of people learning and teaching through the site.

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This blog was my online home between 2006 and 2009. Today, you'll find me scattered across the internet. To start looking, go to my personal website: http://dougald.co.uk/

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