Quodo: we want Londoners to unleash their creativity

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Quodo.com believes that everyone with a passion and a talent should teach, and that everyone else should have an easy and affordable way to pursue their creative interests and also discover new ones. Their peer-to-peer platform is subsequently bringing together London's leading artists and artisans, affording people the opportunity to learn directly from them. #VillageLondon sat down with Quodo's co-founder, Jack Sheldon, to discuss his unique and engaging digital platform, and how this growing online community can have a positive impact on London's creative output.

Tell us a little bit about what you d
Quodo is an online market place for creative classes. We believe there is value in meeting people in the real world and getting your hands dirty with experts rather than watching a tutorial video. We'd all like to be pursuing our creative interests more but it's something that gets pushed to one side. We're all at work; death by PowerPoint is no way to live.

How did it all start?
The idea originated last year. I was looking to do a creative writing course but a lot of the classes I was interested in tended to be quite expensive, with nameless academic institutions. You didn't know who was teaching you, how good that teaching was, and there were no reviews on the classes from students. So my business partner Rob [Stone] and I started working together on an idea to change that in earnest.

What's your process?
We screen all the teachers which is really important; we want people to know what they're booking. It's one of the main advantages of using something like Quodo. We meet all the teachers in person or have Skype calls and we're working with them very closely. Maintaining a high quality is hugely important; we want to be a trust mark that people can be assured that yes, these teachers have been carefully selected, but you'll also be able to see previous reviews from students. From a teachers' perspective it's really hard for them to market themselves online. There's an opportunity to bring it online, make people easily discoverable, give teachers beautiful profiles and handle all the bookings online. I think there are a load of people who should be teaching that aren't, and that's very much part of our vision. The creative arts don't tend to pay very well and people are often struggling between commissions; it's feast or famine. We hope Quodo will not only be a fantastic platform for students to learn new things, but also a means for teachers to have a secondary income stream whilst sharing their passion with others.

How's business?
It's good. We are very new so the primary thing has been making people aware of us. But it's been amazing the amount of people we've had visit the site. We now have teachers coming to us rather than the other way round, which is fantastic. It means we're being seen by creative people who want to teach and to share their knowledge and experience.

Why London?
Although we're an online business, and could therefore work from anywhere, I think it's really important for any market place to start somewhere and to have real utility in one geography. Our classes are face-to-face; this is real life learning. It's important to be within easy reach of the teacher. We decided to start in London because it's our hometown and it's full of interesting, creative people who want to exercise their creative interests. In this digital age it's still really important to be near people and that's why cities are still growing, it's the conglomeration of cities; everyone wanting to be near each other, share ideas and do business. I can actually meet these teachers, attend the classes in order to meet the students, and be very hands on in order to see how the platform needs to work for our users.

Are you hoping to bring a certain sense of character to the area?
Our hope is it won't just be one area of London but all of London. We hope to have a busy community of teachers and students doing interesting creative classes all over London. More importantly we want to help artists and artisans make more money doing what they love, in their own neighbourhood. The venue is up to the teacher and obviously some of these teachers have professional spaces, like a photography studio, which is a great space to get the full experience from the class. We have other lessons whereby cooking teachers come to your home to teach you how to cook the perfect dinner party menu. Then there might be other teachers doing drawing classes in the park. The venues are wide and varied, and I really like that flexibility; teachers can express themselves on their terms.

How do you feel about gentrification?
Like anything it's a double-edged sword. There's no doubt that disadvantaged areas that were struggling economically with high crime levels have benefitted from some elements of gentrification. As with everything, moderation is key. Too much gentrification could be hugely negative on somewhere like London – who is really benefitting? The worry is that zones one and two have the potential to become elitist and sterile. Property prices push people out. One of the reasons people are attracted to London is not just because it is a business entity but it's also a cultural powerhouse, that's why people enjoy living here. If it becomes harder for younger, creative people to find space within the vicinity of this city to practice their art form then that will have a negative influence. Culture is not just about the Tate Modern, it's about the small studio around the corner where new, young artists are doing something new and revolutionary. We want to help those people who have creative talents find a way to share their talent with others and make money out of it. If that helps sustain them in the city they live in, it can only be positive for London.

To find out how to book a class or become a teacher with Quodo, visit www.quodo.com.
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