Member of The Week - Tasha Butcher

Meet Tasha, 15Gifts Scrum Leader, dog lover, and former Stars in Their Eyes Shakira hopeful!

Hi Tasha! You're part of 15Gifts, who use psychology to improve customers online experience. Could you tell us a bit about how that works?

15Gifts develop decision engine software which is used online and in stores, mainly for phone and media companies like O2, EE, Sky and Virgin Media. Our decision engines sit on a partner’s website and aim to take the conversation you’d have with a sales assistant in store and digitise it. Using machine learning, the engines ask users tailored questions and recommends them a personalised product at the end. Like a store assistant would do. The engines learn and improve over time and using psychology influenced UX, we help users make confident decisions in what they’re buying.


What's your role is in the process?

My job title is ‘Scrum Project Manager’, which means I have two roles. One is the project management side, so when we build an engine for a new partner, I oversee the project from conception to delivery. I liaise with the partner, make sure it’s within the agreed timeline and that it’s built to the agreed scope. The other side of my job, is the Scrum side. Scrum is a framework we use to manage the workload within our development team. We plan and agree to a chunk of work with our developers, which is added to a ‘sprint’. My involvement is ensuring that the process runs smoothly, so people know what they’re working on and they’re not blocked by anyone else. I help to continually improve that process by facilitating retrospectives every two weeks, where we look back on how well we did in each sprint.

How did 15Gifts start?

It’s really Tom’s starting story! He had the initial idea to create a gift recommendation engine. The idea was, if you were struggling to think of a gift for a partner of a friend, this engine would work out and recommend what the best gift would be for this person. Which is why we’re called 15Gifts, because the original engine would recommend 15 gifts to users. It’s continually evolved from there bringing us to where we are now.

There are quite a few of you now, who’s been there from the beginning?

Tom, obviously, and Simon, our Chairman. Sergey, our Technical Director who moved here from Russia back in the early days of the company. Pete, our Senior Data Scientist, the man behind the recommender. And Steve, who’s our Lead Designer and has been making things look amazing from the beginning. We’re still growing, I think there’s 32 of us now, with more new starters coming along in the next few months!

You’ve had some clients with big names, like EE and Sky but what’s been your most enjoyable project?

AT&T! They're one of the biggest [TELCO][1] companies in the US. They were our first US partner, and our first partner outside of Europe. It was our most exciting and complex project to date, but also our quickest delivery ever - which I was chuffed about! We all learnt a lot of valuable lessons from that project. Our point of contact was also amazing, we still chat and he occasionally sends me pictures of his dogs. Tom and I went to the project kick off with him in Atlanta and we had the best night out. We went to a Christian themed ping pong bar!

How are you finding PLATF9RM life?

I really like it here, we launched the AT&T project after we’d just moved here and we celebrated with champagne and cake in one of the meeting rooms. There’s a really chilled vibe here, it’s nice to walk around and see new and friendly faces every day. I’ve spoken to and met people I wouldn’t have usually had the opportunity to. There’s also lots of room to stretch your legs, which I really enjoy. And I love all the dogs, they make me so happy!

Have you guys attended any PLATF9RM events?

A couple of the guys went to the retro gaming night, and they had a great time. I haven’t, but I’m planning on going to the next Cereal Filler, they look really interesting.

Karaoke night, what song do you choose?

When one of our partners came down for a review, we took him to Lucky Voice. I’m not one for singing but he made me sing Shakira because I applied to be Shakira on Stars In Their Eyes when I was a kid. They never came back to me though, I sent a tape and everything.

If 15Gifts was a family, who plays what role?

That’s a really hard question, we’re already like a family! Tom would definitely be the Father and Sue would be the mum, as she looks after us and keeps us afloat at the same time! Pete would be the crazy uncle who forces the rest of us to listen to jazz. Katie would be the sassy Auntie that teaches the kids how to wear makeup, and Martin and Josh would be the unruly teenagers.

Thanks Tasha, we hope you manage to dig up that Stars In Your Eyes video one day!

A Beginner’s Guide To Safe Sea-Swimming

Sea-swimming is one of the great benefits of coastal living but the ocean can be deadly. The National Water Safety Forum states that 255 people died last year from accidental drowning in the UK, whilst any Brightoner will be familiar with the Argus headlines that arrive sporadically throughout the year about a person – often tragically young – who has died swimming off Brighton beach

Andy White is an open water swimming coach, lifeguard, and one of the founders of Sea Lanes who – we hope – will open a 25m open air pool and national open water swimming centre on Madeira Terrace in 2019. He’s a veteran who’ll regularly swim from the Palace Pier to Hove Lagoon, so well placed to give his ultimate tips for staying safe in the waves.


Respect the Water and Respect Your Ability

This is the most important thing! People will dive in and swim far out without knowing enough about currents, riptides, coldness of the water or their ability in open water swimming. If you’re not sure about your ability, always err on the side of caution.


The Lifeguards Are There To Help. Speak To Them!

Lifeguards are dotted along the beach and on-hand to answer any questions. It’s always worth getting guidance about how the sea is behaving before you go in. Also, tell them if you’re going to do a longer swim around the buoys. Their job is to keep you safe so don’t be shy of helping them do that.


If You Get In Trouble, Roll Onto Your Back

If you get into trouble roll  onto your back and put your hand in the air. If you’re close to shore don’t wave as the lifeguard may think you're just waving to someone on the shore. If you’re further out, wave: you need to raise attention.



The buoys are further out than you think

The swimming area buoys might look very close from the shore but they’re further away than you think! The closest are around 100m. If you’re not a confident swimmer it can be easy to get out there, panic at the distance and get into trouble. If you’re not sure swim out with someone else, or on a paddleboard.


Get To Know The Tides

Tides just don’t go in and out to shore, but also left to right and right to left.  You could find yourself 200m to the left of where you thought you were. Download these apps to get up-to-date information on the tides: My Tide Times and Magic Seaweed.


Get Wise To Your Warmth

The endorphin rush you get from a sea-swim in cold water is incredible but get to know your warmth limit. The sea can go from 20°C in September, then slowly starting decreasing. December it will be around 12°C degrees and once you get to March it’’s 6°C"or 7°C". If your fingers or toes start getting cold, that’s the start of mild hypothermia and you need to get out immediately.


Go Swim Against The Rip Current

Brighton beach is famous for its rip current and it can be hugely dangerous. When you’re stuck in a rip current you’ll feel like you’re just treading water and not moving towards the shore. People get into trouble when they keep fighting against a rip current, panic and tire themselves out,

To get out the rip current, swim horizontally against it: parallel to the shore, towards the marina or lagoon. This will take you out of the current that’s pulling you towards the sea and back towards the shore.


Novices - Swim When It's Low Tide

The best time to swim for novice swimmers is lower tide. (When the tide is pushing in.) With a low tide it will be shallower for longer and you can walk out maybe 50m til you are chest deep.


Don't Drink and Dip

This is so important, especially in Brighton where intoxicated people die every year in the sea Drinking alcohol will impair your decision-making and could lead to you getting into trouble. Don’t do it.

Member of The Week - Tim Fitzgerald

Introducing Travel Counsellor Tim Fitzgerald, here to share ideal travel destinations, fashion regrets and absinthe-fuelled anecdotes.

Hey Tim! How long have you worked as a travel counsellor and what were you doing beforehand?

I’ve been working at Travel Counsellors for nearly 8 years. Prior to that I was working in sales for Flight Centre in Brighton. I was also doing a lot of travelling and lived in Portugal and Australia. So I’ve been involved with travel for 18 years; it’s my passion.

Which place is next on your travel agenda?

Well with the kids it’s nowhere too glamorous; we’re going for 10 days to Spain in August. But I’m really excited about going to Portugal in October where I used to live. I lived in a little village in the hills, a place called Luso. Whilst the South of Portugal is a popular destination for English expats, living in the North I barely saw English people.


What is your worst form of procrastination?

The form of procrastination I dislike in others is dithering, like when you get to the front of a really long queue and someone still hasn’t decided what they want to order.

What is the best piece of advice you've ever recieved?

I always think of Baz Luhrmann's tune ‘Wear Sunscreen’ (the words are actually taken from an essay written by columnist Mary Schmich) “Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how”. Actually, I am pretty good at forgetting insults over time, depends how thick skinned you are.

If you had to give something up today what would you find the hardest?

I always ask people a version of this question; “What would you rather give up - cheese or bacon?” (assuming they’re not vegetarian of course) For me the answer to this changes on a daily basis. I remember asking one of my friends this and she said ‘That’s the hardest question I’ve ever been asked!’ My answer today would be cheese would be hardest to give up.

What is something that seemed like a great idea at the time but looking back on it you think ‘What was I doing?’

I would imagine, as a kid, wearing shell suits on a non-school uniform day. As a 13 year old, I feel I can let myself off, but even so. In a more modern era (although I don’t personally wear them) - onesies - what the hell are they all about? I can’t fathom that either.

A very silly thing I did once in Prague was having three shots of Absinthe on the trot. I woke up 5 hours later walking along a tram-line at 4 in the morning, missing a shoe. Apparently I ran out of the bar - I actually ran into the glass door and bounced off it. Luckily I had enough money in my pockets to get a cab and enough sense to ask in czech to go to the place we were staying. When I arrived I kept saying to the boys ‘I’ve lost my leg’ - obviously I meant my shoe. I didn't drink for 3 weeks after.

Who are you closest to here at PLATF9RM?

Dan Benoy is a another travel counsellor. I've been subsidising his desk since he started! And there’s Jamie who is now working with me. There’s also Andy Broughton and Fi and El from Markettiers. We have a nice group going on in Dedicated Desks. The 18 months I've been here I've never felt like I don’t like anyone here. Everyone gets on really nicely. It's all very relaxed.

What, in your opinion, sets PLATF9RM apart from other co-working spaces?

I've never worked in another space so it’s difficult to say but just the general atmosphere. Everyone's friendly and welcoming. No one dominates, everyone realises it’s space for other people not just themselves. People have respect for each other and it's been fantastically done.

If you could add something crazy and radical to PLATF9RM, what addition would you make?

I would get an outdoor swimming pool on the top floor. Swimming pool, sauna and a bar - maybe even a games room with a pool table and pinball machine. We could pay to use them but the money would go to charity.

Thanks for the suggestions Tim!

If you want to be a member at our space, get in touch for a tour and trial.

9 Things To Remember About Pride

“Darling, I want my gay rights now!” - Martha P Johnson

Pride is just around the corner and, when it comes to celebrating diversity, this city is certainly damn good at it. (This year PLATF9RM is even part of the parade, so make sure you give us a wave!)


However, with all the dancing it’s easy to forget Pride’s convoluted past. So, whilst we’re colour coordinating our glitter (red of course), we’d like to reflect on what Pride is really about.

It All Started At Stonewall Inn

That night, hundreds took to the street to riot and carried on for the next six nights. In amongst the ugly chaos was excitement that the beginning of a long – still ongoing – journey of liberation had begun. A year later, in June 28, 1970, the first Pride procession took place, as a remembrance of the events that happened the previous year.

To show support to the cause, you can get involved with Stonewall Charity

No. 1 Pride Babe, Martha P Johnson

Obviously, it’s the group resistance that was so vital to events that evening. But we must mention Martha P Johnson. Outside (and inside) of the riots, she was a hero and has been credited as one of the main instigators of the backlash. Whether there’s truth to that or not, Martha’s moves after – by joining the Gay Liberation movement – make her an unerasable part of Pride’s history. She also went on to found queer advocacy group, S.T.A.R. (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries), with Sylvia Ray Rivera.

When you’re sporting your flower crowns on August 7th, dedicate them to dame Martha P!

Cooking Up A Stormé DeLarverie

The evening the riot began, Stormé broke out of her handcuffs, and she, plus others, let loose hell on the police. She was seized and handcuffed again, walked through the crowds, but once more broke free and ran. And the cycle would repeat. In other words, she contributed to the most politically influential Benny Hill moment of all time.

A Tall Glass Of Harvey Milk

"If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door."

After the loss of one form of representation, an urgent call came for another. San Francisco artist, Gilbert Baker, answered that call by designing the Pride flag. Though it’s lost a few stripes since them, it’s the same flag you’ll see all around Pride cities today.

Harveys time in office was adapted for cinema, and it’s definitely worth a watch for anyone wanting to get up to speed (and in need of a good cry). Sean Penn won an Oscar for his performance and it’s great. And for the littluns, there’s a picture book!

Brighton Get Proud

Pride celebrations kicked off in Brighton in June 1973, organised by the Sussex Liberation Front, though the event would be completely unrecognisable compared to today. There were certainly no sponsored floats or today’s mass influx of glittered-up ravers. The small crowd marched through town, then styled it out with a dance at the Albion! After this, Pride in Brighton took a hiatus..

Pride bounced back in 1991 as retaliation against government legislation to ban the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality. It was the start of something truly special...

Feeling Our Roots

To be able to wear your best multi-coloured spandex and actually get cheered for it is great, right? We’re 100% onboard. But Pride is, first and foremost, a protest for the acknowledgement, celebration and questioning of LGBTQ rights. So, whilst painting a rainbow on your friends’ faces and drinking a Corona or ten, have a nose at the different causes going on around town, such as Allsorts , whose work support LGBTQ youth.

Don’t Forget About The Mighty Transpride!

Maybe you’ve noticed Transpride. It happened last week and it’s got shorter lineage than the broader, all encompassing Pride. But it gives a voice to those that sometimes get overshadowed, or just straight up harrassed and disregarded in the parades. (Sadly, that was more than evident in the London march this year.) When feminism doesn’t include trans-women, it’s not feminism. Sisters, not cis-ters.

Or... Black Pride!

Black Pride officially took off in 2005, from the vision of Phyll Gyimah-Opoku and celebrates African, Asian, Middle Eastern, Latin American and Caribbean-heritage LGBTQ peeps. If you’re wondering why a separate space for subgroups exists, you don’t have to look far for answers: sadly, fragmentations within protest spaces cause a need for further minority representations.

PLATF9RM Parades

The PLATF9RM family will be part of the parade this year, dressed to the nines (ahem), smothered in face paint and covered in glitter. We’re buzzing to be a small part of Pride’s history! Come down and give us your biggest cheer. (We promise to cheer back.)