Makilo set up Milkandbeans.org; we’re a creative agency that works out of a local business centre. Like most businesses at a site like Capital Space, you quickly become a small part of a diverse professional community. Everyone gets along and use each other’s services. When lockdown and the pandemic took hold, we reached out to remind people about what we did. Lots of our neighbours did the same.
Like a lot of SMEs, we don’t work in an area with vast amounts of footfall. And without visibility and with people needing to change how they lived and worked, the first few months working from home quickly reinforced how much our business benefited from the word of mouth we get from other organisations. It came up in the email conversations with others at the centre; knowing what everyone did (now we couldn’t just knock on a nearby door) came up a lot. Pre covid conversations that used to go “we thought of you“ or “someone we know anyone told us about…“ seemed to have disappeared for a lot of us.
Milk and Beans came out of a new discussion topic – wouldn’t it be great if we could all, “share that contact easily in a way that let people know we’re helping each other out?” So rather than letting that pass us by, we asked if they’d like us to put something together.
Let’s be frank the best business directory out there is Google. If you want more business make sure your listings on there is correct and you’re capitalising on it.
Milk and Beans isn’t about being an alternative; it’s about using the directory format to support communities and local economies in a way that feels straightforward and rewarding. Its a fundraiser – a chance for residents of MK to see how easy it is to support each other and pay it forward. You stump up a donation to a good cause, we [Makilo] match it, and in return, you get a listing and a little badge on that listing to show you’re an organisation that ‘Supports Local’.
The website itself is optimised to promote all things Milton Keynes so that energy and money can get spent within the community while times are tough. Regardless of if you’re a big company, small business, self-employed or someone who’s looking to lend a hand, everyone can use it. It’s not about ratings or reviews like other listing websites. Milk and Beans set out to be a simple way to search for, and quickly refer companies or individuals — a chance to build new working relationships.
While it’s going to be hard to combat the pandemic and the economy when people are already struggling, one clear difference we can make is choosing how/where we spend. Doing what we can to not leave people behind who are struggling that little bit more.
Using the site as a resource to share opportunities and make new business connections with other like-minded businesses.
The directory is for everyone there’s no barrier to adding a listing, but doing so with a donation means you get a, ‘Supports Local’ badge.
If a bit of self-promotion and proof you’re a good egg wasn’t enough. Supporting or showing off to your neighbours feels pretty good!
All fundraising donations will go to Milton Keynes community organisations. Right now, and with the recent wave of job losses, we’ve chosen the MK Food Bank Xtra project. We’ll be sending the donations that come in over to them each month and making a matched donation ourselves. If you choose to donate, the suggested amount is £12. That’s the equivalent of £1 per month. Featured listings on the home page cost more per month, but you do get a prominent spot on the site. There’s no subscription model; we won’t take fees or set up reoccurring billing, we want as much as possible to go to the Foodbank each month. While also hoping the site can be a resource for residents in the coming months. We’ll review the use of the site in 12 months and either wrap it up or speak to users about keeping it running.
Makilo designed and built milkandbeans.org and we’re covering all the infrastructure costs for the directory. If you have any questions let us know – we aim to fundraise while meeting some new people, so please do reach out if you’re interested in a chat.
Thanks for the support, and start referring to each other’s businesses!
The Milk & Beans Team