Good Business: Rob Reason, Hidden City
27 January 2014 - Impact Hub

Each fortnight, the Good Business column from Positive News catches up with people who are leading social change. It’s hosted by Impact Hub Islington, an incubation space in London for socially minded entrepreneurs.

Nicola Slawson finds out how entrepreneur Rob Reason applies the principles of transparency and value-based pay to his unique company that helps people to discover hidden parts of cities across the UK.

Here’s an excerpt, you can read the full article here:


Nicola: Hi Rob, can you tell us about your business?
Rob: Well, it’s called HiddenCity. As a participant, you solve a trail of clues, which guide you across a city. Each clue is sent by text message and each clue leads you to a new location. We focus on the hidden side of the city and that’s helped us get to where we are today. It’s our particular focus.
Our mission is to be the most exciting way to see the best cities in the world. We’re currently in five cities in the UK – Brighton, London, Manchester, Newcastle and York.
What happens when someone goes on a HiddenCity hunt?
The experience takes two to three hours to complete and you might end up exploring underground bars, teetering to see rooftop views through a window or discovering hidden art in a gallery. Multiple teams can be entered for those who want a competition.
Most of the trails we create now are themed around something particular. For instance, last year we created a London trail called Time Out Easter hunt, starting at the Wellcome Collection as they had a Japanese exhibition about spring on at the time. In Newcastle we have a trail where participants can discover the quayside in Gateshead and in Brighton we have one uncovering the city’s quirkiest bars.
What makes you a good business?
It’s the whole approach. I remember hearing about a book called Maverick! The Success Story Behind The World’s Most Unusual Workplace, by Ricardo Semler, when I was working at a previous company. It has some interesting principles about autonomy, honesty and transparency. One of my colleagues asked 1,000 people at a company conference if they would consider opening up the company records. He was completely rebuffed. I thought that was rubbish.
If you apply the principles from the book at a really high level, then you end up with a business where everyone knows everything that’s going on. There is nothing hidden. Even to the extent that everyone knows how much everyone is getting paid.

If you’re a Hub member and are interested in being featured in the next Good Business column, get in touch with Nicola Slawson from Positive News.