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    Wednesday
    Jan252012

    'Inspiring yound minds' Wednesday 25th January

    Emily Kerr is the co-founder of Unlocked Guide Books for Kids. No poxy little 'family' sections here - these guides are based entirely around children. The guides cover all corners of the UK from London to Edinburgh to Devon and Cornwall. They are written in a bouncy tone and littered with fun facts and illustrations ('Originally Big Ben was really the name of the big bongtastic bell inside the tower'). They've got stickers, and are beautifully laid-out. 'Don't  be boring, go exploring!' they implore. Unlocked has had a great beginning. In the first year, it launched 6 titles and sold 10,000 copies. The books are distributed by Amazon, Waterstone's and WHSmith among others.

    Emily's love of kids, travelling and books come together into 'the perfect job'; she often works from a laptop and travels the world scaling peaks and treading untrodden white sands.

    Business woman? Well, emphatically 'yes'! Emily worked in Financial PR for 3 years at Brunswick before doing an MBA at INSEAD Business School. Thereafter, she spent two years at Bain as a consultant, project-managing in UK, South Africa and Brazil. One day, when volunteering for a children's camping charity, she and her friend Josh Perry had the idea for Unlocked. Now, Emily balances contractual consultancy work with running the business. We're wondering what she's bad at...

    Joe Craig is already bracketed alongside Anthony Horowitz (Alex Rider) and Charlie Higson (Young Bond) as one of "the best spy kids authors… outstanding at both writing and plotting" (The Times). His creation is Jimmy Coates, who appears to be a quite normal boy, but is in fact genetically engineered to grow into a ruthless government assassin. Free will comes in somewhere though, as Jimmy is the protagonist of a series of eponymous spy novels. So far there are six, and children can look forward to Jimmy Coates: Blackout and Jimmy Coates: Genesis in the near future. The books have been highly acclaimed: on the one hand, they have been called a good preparation 'for Orwell and Huxley', on the other, a force to combat computer games. They're aimed at everyone aged 8-13. Joe's grasp of what engages kids stretches beyond the stories to the covers, which feature bold, dynamic silhouettes.

    Joe is a very communicative writer, and the Jimmy Coates website shares his plans and craft with fans. He publishes his notebooks to show how the plots and ideas came into being. The site also offers points for teachers to discuss.

    Charlie Astor & George Whitefield aka ‘Sharky & George’ are big kids doing what many kids dream of doing; they are their own boss and run their own business. They met in the same house in Eton where they spent plenty of time playing 40-40 and designing inventions, one of which was a pod that could travel through the earth, which they named the ‘Virgin-sponsored Nodule.’

    While they were both at Bristol University, they put on their first few children’s parties at the weekends to make some extra cash. Although it struck them that this might be scalable, they sensibly finished their studies and headed for the city to get an intuition for business.

    After several years of George working as a financial headhunter and Charlie doing marketing for Volkswagen, they decided to give the parties a proper go. Despite identifying a gap in the market, they kept things simple with a thorough business plan and no overheads until their third year as a Ltd company, when they moved into their first office. Slow and steady (like ToMax).

    Soon, Sharky & George were booked up at least 3 months ahead. Now they run parties from £300 and up. They also run more unusual kids events, such as 'home holidays' where they arrange a week of activities in and around children's houses.

    More recently, they have teamed up with Hart brothers of Quo Vadis Soho, where parents can enjoy a delicious Sunday Lunch while their kids are entertained in the upstairs room. They have also been working on a handbook about how to find fun in everything and are in the early stages of working on a TV series aimed at inspiring kids to do stuff for themselves.

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