Hello! Today we are meeting with Matt Holas, the co-founder of the Shanghai Soup events. He tells us a bit more about why and how they are helping new projects to take-off the ground!
What is the story of Shanghai Soup? How did it start?
Shanghai Soup is based on the hugely successful Detroit Soup model; a micro funding initiative started in the USA. David and I felt it was a great idea that we could adapt. We knew so many people with interesting ideas in Shanghai but there were so few opportunities for them to get funding. We were also passionate about food waste and saw an opportunity to combine this with the soup model by providing sustainably sourced food.
Can you tell us a bit more about the event itself, what is happening during a Shanghai Soup?
Shanghai Soup events follow are very easy formula, we invite guests to attend the event. They pay for a ticket which entitles them to a vote and a bowl of soup. Then they listen to four different projects from across Shanghai, each project has four minutes to present and field four questions from the audience. After the presentations everyone queues up to choose from one of four soups, as they collect their soup they can vote for the project they like to most. The winning projects receive all of the funds collected at the door.
What’s your personal background and what is driving you?
My background is in project management so I am keen on seeing what projects and initiatives are coming out of Shanghai and supporting them where I can. David has a background in Biogeochemistry with a focus on waste management, so he is eager to raise awareness about food wastage and take action to change it.
Why it is so important for you to help people achieve their projects and goals?
There are so many ideas in Shanghai, it is such an international city and a place that has ease of access for many people. Most of these ideas start small, if we can contribute in some way to growing these ideas that is great. We are also aware that many of the things people want to do and are active in are not necessarily for profit, we really want to encourage people to try whatever they believe in and hope we can give them some support to do that.
Talking a bit more about the events, how do you make the soup you serve during the dinner? How do you collect the ingredients?
All of our ingredients are surplus vegetables that are provided by our sponsors Kate and Kimi and Fields. They deliver unused vegetables to the venue first thing in the morning on the day of a Soup event, we then spend the rest of the day sorting, cleaning, cutting and cooking the soup, ready for the evening. All of our soups are vegetarian and vegan.
What has been your favorite project pitching at a Shanghai Soup event since it started?
I don’t know if I have a favorite they are all so different. We’ve had dance projects, sports projects, books, indoor gardening, women’s support initiatives, a school, a plastic recycling group. I have never seen a project at or soup events that I didn’t think could win, it’s always been hard for our guests to choose who to vote for.
What do you think is the biggest challenge for people that are starting their project besides financial help, including yourself with Shanghai Soup?
I think often the biggest hurdle for people, apart from finding financial resources, is finding people who want to share in their project, be they volunteers, customers, partners, teachers etc. Getting the project form an idea up to a real activity is hard. So we like that projects get to present to up to a hundred people too. We know that some of the projects have received additional support from people they have met at events.
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