16 marathons down, 15 to go and still time for an interview with Crowdfunder’s CEO

The eagerly awaited chapter of 2021 is here! With 2020 resigned to the index of history books, Eddie Izzard is turning the page into our new year, one with an easier plot to follow and a happier ending, we hope.

As expressed in her current crowdfunding campaign:

“I will attempt to run (on a treadmill) 31 marathons, and then perform 31 stand-up shows, in 31 days, raising funds for charity as I go”

Similar statements made in moments of great passion and conviction, are often met the following morning with absolute dread and repentance. But not this one.

Eddie Izzard is an incredible human being. After several helpings of bad and worrying news, she happily stands up to share the truth that she believes in, ‘that there is more goodwill than ill-will in this world’ and that it is through our unity instead of division that we can truly see the power of humanity.

While making her way through virtual cities around the world joined by fellow joggers and well-wishers, she’s been live streamed on YouTube and in constant conversation. One familiar voice usually heard echoing through the corridors of Crowdfunder, is that of the aptly named Mr Love, or just Rob if you like, the CEO of Crowdfunder.

Instead of the string of seedy motels that the name might suggest, Rob Love is one of the founding directors of Crowdfunder, our online platform for social good that facilitated the raising of over 120 million pounds last year.


The live stream pictured above from Eddie’s crowdfunding campaign page, should give you quite a good idea of how such an unconventional project has been pieced together. With Eddie Izzard on a treadmill figuratively making her way through the Polish capital of Warsaw, the avatars of her virtual running companions on the right of the screen and Rob Love, her current subject from a long list of interviewees, who are joining her from around the world.

Eddie, in between gulps of energy drinks and gasps for air, interviews Rob Love about his entrepreneurial story so far. 

E: How’s it all going with the fundraising?

R: You’re coming up to the halfway stage and I think you are well on your way to hitting your initial target of £100,000 and we want to get you there really quickly. It’s at one of those really exciting times in crowdfunding where we can say ‘great, we’ve hit the initial target, let’s bump it up and try and get to £150,000’.

E: Tell us about yourself. You’re a natural disruptor, changing not only the TV, Food and Energy sectors but now the Financial sector too?

R: I’m very happy to be a disruptor!

R: It’s the lack of a proper career really Eddie, that’s what it is. Doing stuff that I want to do and that friends want to do, working together to make a difference and make a change in life.

E: Tell us a bit about what you’ve done in these sectors to change them?

Television

R: When I was young, I was quite lucky and had the chance to work on a TV show called Big Brother, which as you know became a bit of a phenomenon. In fact, it started off with quite a worthy concept,

‘if you put human beings into a space and lock them in, what would they actually do?’

R: I think it was fairly high brow in its origination but immediately it turned into one of TVs trashiest shows. But that’s its popularity.

R: I was involved with a few others in the bit which was about raising the money.

R: In the early days of Big Brother it took enormous amounts of cash over the telephone lines from people calling in to do the voting. So we were the first place in the UK and in the world to do the voting and raising a million pounds in a day, sort of changed the face of TV. We got our 15 minutes of fame and delivered the concept around the world which was very exciting.

R: It was probably the day that television changed forever because if you can make TV shows and then that sort of money from voting… well we know what that went on to do. 

R: That was the starting point, then I had what I like to call an ethical swing and went on to try and do something a bit more worthy than trashy TV.

Food

R: I set up a company called River Cottage, working with Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall. We tried to take some of what we had learnt from Big Brother to see how we could change behaviour in a better way. This was trying to get people together and change the way in which we think about food and where it comes from.

E: Instead of money I’ve decided to be entrepreneurial with my confidence. Having come out back in 1985, it was tough but it was good! I started my career as a street performer doing sketch comedy and that wasn’t working. And well, I thought let’s analyse it and make it work. I kept building on things and moved into stand up, drama, activism and then politics. So I’m constantly taking the confidence and moving it on. Maybe you did the same?

R: When you’re lucky enough to win some recognition for a little bit of success, however that might be judged, then that’s really good for you to take into different things.

R: It’s great to be able to change your track. I was doing things online and big digital projects back in the early days but with Hugh and River Cottage I was buying sheep and tractors and we built a farm, cookery school and restaurant. To challenge yourself to move into other areas is one of the great things you can do in life. Hopefully at some point, you find out what you like to do most. That’s been a really great journey for me and I’d never swap it for any other career than this one.

Energy

R: My work in energy was a bit of a segway from River Cottage to Crowdfunder because a great belief of mine working there was that we were empowering communities to come together, to do things maybe better than the status quo; the big organisations, the governments and the corporates. One of those things was community and I’m a big fan of community energy. I think we should all be generating energy for each other, in communities around the world. 

R: We needed to raise some money, which is where crowdfunding came in. We wanted to create wind and solar farms where the money made was going back into it. Clean energy that was financed locally and where they would be the ones benefiting from it. And we’re still doing that today.

Crowdfunder

R: The ultimate entrepreneurs tool is having your own crowdfunding website and we built Crowdfunder to be the platform that championed the people who had fantastic ideas and the solutions to some of our society’s greatest challenges.

R: Phil Geraghty was the start of it, we came out of television thinking that crowdfunding would be a great way to tell stories. So we were still in TV mode. Phil wrote to us, one of those brilliant moments, where he said, ‘I love what you do, can I come and run it?’

R: He takes his pick of the projects and gets to work with some incredible people. I’m doing more of the boring stuff unfortunately.

E: Hopefully as you get bigger and bigger you can come onto the fun level and someone else will come in to do the boring stuff?

R: Yes, hopefully I can get back to spending more time with projects. 

R: It’s all about hope but we’re coming out of last year into another lockdown here in the UK. It’s very difficult to focus on that hope.

R: We are raising a lot of money for people in need at the moment – we started to come into the new year with a concept where we would be able to think more about startups, innovations and opportunities, because out of the adversity of a crisis often come great ideas. 

R: But again we’ve been thrown back a little bit, where it’s more about survival at the moment. We’re dealing everyday with food poverty, kids that can’t get online and do their schooling, a whole load of businesses that are collapsing and all sorts of mental health issues. And it’s great that we can do that but it’s very difficult for us to get onto that positive start of what great things we could do. We are getting there!

E: One would think from a very objective point of view, shouldn’t the government be there first to help them? It’s wonderful having charities but the government shouldn’t abrogate their responsibility. 

In regards to what’s happening with food poverty here in the UK, it’s Marcus Rashford that keeps on having to say what is going on? What do you think about that?

R: I’ve got a very strong view about that. In fact it is one of our most frequent criticisms, if we’re trying to do something with the crowd, then it’s real people putting their hands in their pockets to solve a problem. Then people come along who say that ‘we’re not joining in because the government should be doing this’. And I find that really tricky, really tricky because I believe that’s true to some extent but someone’s got to go first and we have never seen it as much as we have recently. 

R: You know we’ve been working with Marcus Rashford and Fareshare. We, the people, are driving it more than ever and that’s what I believe in, I’m not saying the government shouldn’t be helping but it’s about the order of events and I’m absolutely certain that when the government doesn’t do it, people step in. 

R: In the early days within the lockdown last year, when hospitality businesses were collapsing, they were all struggling for their own incomes. And then we find out that people are not being fed and then it is those same people who were struggling in the restaurants, who are then putting on food to try and help other people out. 

And for me that’s really inspiring and then it’s the government that plays catch up. So it’s the order of events, I think that we should be honest about it, that it is real genuine people that are the ones that are really leading and then actually when you get to someone like Marcus, he’s dictating the policy and he’s holding them to account. 

R: In my mind at least, he’s (Marcus) the leader of the opposition right now in this country, isn’t he?

E: There are people that vote for you and people who vote against you in an election, there’s a number of people floating in the middle who might vote either way and if you’re seen to be taking advantage of COVID, to just load things up against the government, then that’s not seen as a good thing. You have to choose your battles and Marcus is way ahead on this one, so keep going Marcus! Kier Starmer has to deal with the balance of everything else that is happening in the country and that means sometimes supporting it and sometimes saying, ‘this isn’t good enough’.

E: I would really like to see our governmental systems working with these charities to support them. I think Crowdfunder is doing a wonderful job, so just keep doing it, keep experimenting and I’ll do that too on this side.

With £80,642 raised so far from 1615 supporters Eddie is well on her way to her target of £150,000. Everything that’s raised, ‘will be allocated to charities making a real difference to disadvantaged and vulnerable people at this difficult time including some of those dealing with the wider effects of the Covid 19 pandemic. 

The first five to benefit are Fareshare, Walking With the Wounded, Care International, United to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases and Covenant House New York City. 

If you’d like to give to Eddie Izzard’s ‘Run for Hope’ crowdfunding campaign and help spread the positivity needed to make a better 2021 for everyone, please donate here.