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Live Fruitful: The Story of GOODFRUIT

Anthony Ogunbowale-Thomas and Dee Atkins are both involved in running GOODFRUIT and are the CEO and Communications Manager, respectively. We caught up with them to find out a bit about GOODFRUIT; the story so far, their hopes for the future, and how they are seeking to make a contribution to the flourishing of our city. 

Tell us about GOODFRUIT: What’s it all about? 

GOODFRUIT is a community where dreamers become doers; an online platform where projects with integrity and purpose are brought to fruition by people contributing funds or skills in exchange for rewards. Our goal is to see what we’ve coined ‘a modern renaissance’ take place, a time where people, culture and society are enriched and flourish. We believe this will happen when ‘good fruit’ is cultivated.

Where did the idea come from?

Anthony: I had an idea I wanted to develop and was faced with the challenge of raising the money needed to start and building a team with the skills to do it. There was nowhere to get both in one go, there were other crowdfunding platforms that existed but they were mainly for raising funds for your ideas. So the idea to build GOODFRUIT came partly from that. The idea was shaped by faith, a great admiration for the renaissance period and a desire to see culture advanced.

So what was your background, before starting GOODFRUIT? 

Anthony: I studied entrepreneurship and management at Kingston University and just finished a successful year with the entrepreneurs society championing entrepreneurship on campus. I started a magazine, which I put on the backburner as things didn’t work out. I remember being at a crossroad with the magazine and GOODFRUIT at that time and on a night out a friend shared some words that changed my life

Dee: I studied Pharmacy at Bath University before working for a year in a London hospital to qualify as a Pharmacist. I knew this wasn’t what I was meant to do so I went for a stint at a medical journal before settling in a healthcare communications job! One day Anthony emailed the Connect: Social Change group and asked if there was anyone who’d be interested in getting involved in the comms for a startup called GOODFRUIT. It all ‘grew’ from then on!

When choosing projects to include, what are you particularly looking for?

Dee: We look for projects that will create value in culture or society. Projects inspired by a sense of integrity or values, story, character or provenance; something that exists for a purpose. This could be an educational toy that helps children develop their sense of responsibility in the world, to a beverage bringing the best from our bodies, to a book that takes readers on a journey to expand their horizons.

Can you give us an idea of the kinds of projects you’ve included so far? 

Anthony: We launched with five projects; An organic soap product made by a husband and wife from Sheffield, which started as a result of having allergic reactions to chemicals found in ordinary soap. A cold brew coffee drink sourced responsibly from farms in Ethiopia, Costa Rica and Rwanda, which is then brewed for 18 hours and triple filtered with water. A children’s choir and recording of Evensong sung with the choristers at St. Pauls Cathedral. A free summer dance festival for the public, and a magazine discovering people and creatives around the world preserving traditional ways of approaching their work and doing life.

Goodbeans

Where is GOODFRUIT at now?

Anthony: We just completed the launch projects, which saw three out of five projects funded and brought to life, which is great! We’re following the stories of the projects and constantly building relationships that add value to the community. We’ve just finished a four-day long festival at Selfridges Hotel participating in the MakeGood Festival of culture, creativity and entrepreneurship. Also, we’re currently working on small adjustments to the website before we launch the next round of projects.

What are the particular challenges you’ve faced so far in establishing GOODFRUIT?  

Anthony: I would say adding to the team in the right places has been one of the biggest challenges, we don’t just want talented folk; we want people who believe in the vision. We’re learning how to work with great people who have varying levels of involvement, which can sometimes be tricky to juggle. They teach us a lot though, so it’s worth it. Learning to manage a highly collaborative team has been one of the main challenges for me.

What has been the biggest lesson you’ve learnt so far? 

Dee: Being adaptable – for example we were delayed in launching the site due to technical issues outside of our control. This slightly set us on the back foot especially when you’ve told everyone about the launch date and you feel like all eyes are on you. Trusting and being adaptable when the issue seems so significant in the midst of it has taught us a lot about managing difficult situations well and making wise decisions under pressure.

Anthony: It’s better to be wronged than to wrong. Nearer the end of development of the website there were discrepancies that arose around detail and timeliness. This led to strong conversations and emotions, which was a bit messy, but I think things are sorted now. When you’ve been done wrong it’s best to take the punch rather than try and dodge and jab. Be strong and fair but remember a good reputation is better than winning an argument.

And what have you been most proud of? 

Dee: Three projects out of five reaching their funding goal is an amazing start for us and reminds us why we are doing all this. It’s inspiring to work with these kinds of people. We’re so proud of all the dreamers and projects that have come through GOODFRUIT because they have turned their passion and ideas into action!

Anthony: A lot of things, but in particular launching and letting people see what had been in the works! It was such a journey getting there, with so many people anticipating it. It meant that extra bit more to be able to send an email saying, “hey, thanks for your support all this time; we’ve finally launched” It was a milestone moment.

Does your faith inform the way you run GOODFRUIT, and if so, how? 

Anthony: Yeah definitely, it acts like a compass for the kind of culture we want to see. Good fruit in scripture refers to good works and good character and we hope that GOODFRUIT will be able to facilitate that. A space where good work is brought to life and people are inspired to live fruitful lives.

Dee: Faith and reliance on God has shaped where we are today. It’s shaped our attitude in tough situations; it’s helped us make important business decisions; it’s helped us grow closer as a team. Right now we believe GOODFRUIT is part of the calling in our lives, so we’re just trying to do the best we can to make sure we’re honouring Him in it fully.

goodsoap

I understand you also give a percentage of your monthly revenue away: why do you do that, and how do you choose who to support? 

Anthony: We believe it’s important to keep the cycle of giving going, so we wanted to embed this in our model from the get go. We’re still smoothing out the process but at the moment we take submissions from smaller not-for-profits, cultural initiatives doing great work who need the funds as a little boost – we also take nominations from the people who have projects on GOODFRUIT. This is one of the ways we can bear good fruit as a company too. It keeps us connected to the community.

What are your dreams for the future of GOODFRUIT? 

Anthony: Our dream is to see people and culture genuinely advanced. We want to bring a conversation around what it means to pursue dreams fruitfully and create work that betters people. Our vision is a modern renaissance – much like the first renaissance which represented a time of cultural innovation and progress, we want GOODFRUIT to spark and be a part of a renaissance that sees culture and people flourish.

Where can people find out more?

Dee: The main place would be the website goodfruit.co

If you’re looking for funding or skills to bring your dream project or idea to life you can Start a project or email us at

You can also follow us on instagram, twitter or facebook.

If you’re in communications and want to get involved as a creative, or in tech drop us a line at

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Check out some of our other interviews, including ones with Opera Singer Samantha CrawfordNovelist Joanna RossiterSocial Entrepreneur Kelvin CheungActress Elizabeth Carter,  Freelance Film Editor Jonny Elwyn and Singer-Songwriter Niké Jemiyo

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