Danielle Trudeau on creating a tribe and encountering roaring success

Danielle started Tribe Porty, a community co-working space and creative events hub in Portobello, Edinburgh, in 2014. She shares her thoughts and journey on social entrerpeneurship. 

[Danielle spoke with Sophie Badoux, our communications Officer.]

I talked to Danielle Trudeau when she was just back from a trip to her home country, the USA. Despite the jetlag, she was happy to give up some time to tell me all about the joys (and the hardships) of running a social enterprise. Danielle started Tribe Porty, a community co-working space and creative events hub in Portobello, Edinburgh, in 2014.

Logo TPWhen I found out that she is originally from the States, I had to ask her what the social enterprise scene is like, over there. She explains “I am not actually sure-I have lived in Scotland for 15 years now. It definitely feels like the social enterprise scene in Scotland is very active!”

Dani started Tribe Porty after she had been working for Senscot as a social enterprise coordinator for health and community food. Through her job, she kept meeting people who were making a difference in their community and it inspired her to do the same. Prior to Senscot, she set up a social enterprise through a large charity called The Hermitage-which was a golf course, café and horticulture venture.“Social enterprise was an obvious choice” she says. She received a Start It award of £3,400 from Firstport in August 2014, to help her get started with her new enterprise.

3 shades of Dani
3 shades of Dani

Tribe Porty, whose mantra is “Work, Make, Share” is a co-working space and community hub in Portobello. As a Portobello local, she decided to set up in the area she lives in and loves. Dani worked with the community for months before she finalised her project. She wanted to ensure that this project was a reflection of what the community really wanted. It is probably the reason why it has been such a hit! Tribe Porty hosts more than 16 classes a week and all of the private and permanent co-working spaces are now booked out. There are a handful of hot desk packages left, with about 30 freelancers working from Tribe Porty.

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The co-working table 

It wasn’t always smooth sailing though. Dani did run into some trouble when she started to refurbish the building. She explains “There was so much work that needed done and the council treated it as a new build project! Regulations for fire, ventilation and buildings meant an architect, structural engineer and a mechanical and electrical engineer, which took a while... I felt out of my depth...” But Dani did not let this intimidate her and she remembered a great piece of advice she once read “You will always be an amateur, life is too short to be anything else”. This does not sound like your typical motivational quote so Dani explains “If you wait until you are a professional at everything you need to do to run a business, then you won’t do anything!” 

Taking this advice on, Dani did not wait, and she was right in doing so. The opening of Tribe Porty, which was marked by a TEDxPortobello conference in May 2015, was a resounding success. She could not believe all the tickets sold in 3 1/2 minutes! When I ask her what the best moment of her entrepreneurial career has been so far, she brings up the run up to TEDxPortobello with loads of volunteers and people helping her get the space ready. There was a real sense of community. 

Surfing on the wave of success, the TEDx team is back for another TEDxPortobello on Sunday 15 May. The speakers are all from in and around Edinburgh and were nominated by the local community. Dani explains that they received 48 nominations and have chosen 9 passionate speakers. The theme that they will be exploring is “Find Us Here” and it promises to raise some interesting questions about what it means to be human, Scottish and much more. All the speakers will attend a masterclass, led by Mel Sherwood, to prepare their presentations. TEDxPortobello curator, Jo Holtan, met Portobello local Mel at a bus stop. This tells you a lot about the importance of making connections and being open to opportunities, wherever you are! Mel, who works for Edinburgh based company Grow Your Potential, will ensure that the speakers take their presentations to the next level and wow their audience. For those of you (like myself) who were not quick enough to get a ticket to this year’s TEDxPortobello, the event will be streamed live in several venues in Edinburgh. More information at www.tedxportobello.com.

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The TEDx Portobello team 

Firstport was so impressed by the way Dani’s social enterprise took off that we asked Dani if she would share her business model with us. Now, we knew this was a big ask! Her model for a community hub was clearly working and we wanted to add it to our bank of business ideas for the Ditto programme. Ditto is a unique way of spreading good social enterprise ideas using tried and tested business models. It offers aspiring entrepreneurs a range of proven business models that will benefit them and profit their community. When I asked Dani what made her decide to share her model with Firstport, she said “Well, you asked!” This definitely reinforces the old saying “if you don’t ask, you don’t get”! She adds “I also wanted to allow other communities in Scotland to have a hub!” The community hub is brand new and you can have a peek into it on the Firstport website. With inspiring stories like Dani’s, it’s only a matter of time until other hubs start popping up across Scotland.

Find out more about the Ditto programme on Tuesday 10th May, in Edinburgh. Click here for more information.