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Beards and bikes boost Britain

Wednesday, April 22, 2015 - 02:15

East London's culture of ''hipsterism'' with tattooed bearded men sipping flat whites and riding fixed-gear bicycles may have been mocked in the UK, but some think it could be the saviour of the British economy, as Joel Flynn reports.

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It's a meal that's been around for centuries. But in a small temporary cafe in East London, porridge is very 'now'. The menu here is exclusively oats, but the pop-up concept is just one of scores in this part of the British capital. Elly Harrington is the Porridge Cafe's co-founder. SOUNDBITE: Porridge Cafe co-founder, Elly Harrington, saying (English): "East London is a place where new ideas can be broken, it's a very receptive market, and it also gains attention in the press naturally, we felt, because they're looking to this area for new inspiration, new ideas, and it's naturally associated with that." The British stereotype for those ideas is, for many, characterised by beards, bikes and tattoos. But while the so-called Hoxton Heroes might be culturally maligned, economically they're being praised. SOUNDBITE: Reuters Reporter, Joel Flynn, saying (English): "It's not just breakfast that's booming here in East London. The area's has also become a hub for start up companies congregating around not just culture but also commerce." One economist has called it the "Flat White economy" - taking its name from the coffee ubiquitously seen on the streets. But it's online that business here is making its mark. Jason Goodman is an entrepreneur based in East London. SOUNDBITE: Albion CEO and serial entrepreneur, Jason Goodman, saying (English): "There's access to capital like there never was, there's access to talent like there never was, and what you can do with the web now is getting more and more interesting, mobile and all the advances in technology. So I don't think we're going to see any slowness in this area - if anything I think it's going to accelerate." Between March 2012 and March 2014, 32,000 business were registered in a just one East London postcode. Some estimates put the contribution of it at 7.6 percent in 2012 - and it's projected to rise. Will Hobbs is from Barclay's. SOUNDBITE: Barclays Market Analyst, Will Hobbs, saying (English): "What you need is to create an environment where a) your social safety net is sufficient, because your economy and its educational needs and training needs are ever changing, but also where businesses deserving of capital get it in decent quantities, and I think that's something the UK, in parts, possesses." Elly and her partner are only serving porridge for a few weeks. But the business model they're using and customers they're serving look likely to stay for some time yet.

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Beards and bikes boost Britain

Wednesday, April 22, 2015 - 02:15