Suffolk entrepreneur Rocky Start arranges Ed Sheeran gig - in a Washington DC living room

Rocky Start of Sofar Sounds

Rocky Start of Sofar Sounds - Credit: Archant

A Suffolk-based music entrepreneur is spearheading an ambitious fund-raising event that will see over a 1,000 concerts take place across the world, including Ed Sheeran playing in a living room in Washington DC.

Ed Sheeran is due to swap the big stage for an intimate living room gig for the Give A Home fund-rai

Ed Sheeran is due to swap the big stage for an intimate living room gig for the Give A Home fund-raiser organised by Sofar Sounds and Amnesty International. Picture: KEVIN WINTER - Credit: Kevin Winter

Rocky Start, who lives in East Bergholt, is the co-founder of Sofar Sounds, an online business that connects audiences with music artists in intimate spaces, such as people’s homes.

The venture, which Mr Start co-founded in 2009, has now spread across the world, with gigs being organised in 370 cities across five continents. This success has led to Mr Start recently being short-listed for the Natwest Great British Entrepreneur Awards while last year Richard Branson also invested in the business.

“Richard Branson has put his own money in because he thought what we are doing is the most innovative concept in music since he started Virgin,” said Mr Start, whose wife was born in Suffolk where they now live with their two young daughters.

“We wanted to get away from the idea of big headline bands in big venues. In a lot of cases with Sofar no-one knows who they are going to see play.”

This week, Sofar (short for songs for a room) is taking on arguably its most ambitious project to date – a partnership with Amnesty International to organise the most gigs ever played on the same night under one cause – to raise money to help house refugees.

The aim of the initiative called Give a Home is to arrange 1,000 concerts across the globe, including the intimate gig with Suffolk’s own Ed Sheeran, and raise hundreds of thousands of pounds to support displaced people.

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Mr Start said the global fund-raiser will be “the proudest moment of his career” which has been built on “bringing people together in a shared passion for music” and says he is also keen to put down further roots in Suffolk and support young business people from the area .

He said: “Suffolk is one of the most beautiful places in the world, but it feels slightly forgotten.

I want to make sure this county has the chance to shine and help other young entrepreneurs gain recognition.

The reality is that today you can run a global business from the place that you love, especially given Suffolk’s connectivity to London.”