How Grads in Silicon Roundabout Out Earn Parents: £40k Incomes at 24
A Guide to Grads Wanting To Get into a UK Tech Start-up
Earning more than £40 grand a year at the age of 24 may sound a little too good to be true, particularly in a Britain where masses of over educated graduates are competing for entry level roles in a heavily saturated job market. But there is a place where exercising your creative licence, working on innovative projects and earning 40K in your twenties can become a reality. The Silicon Roundabout, AKA Tech City is the home of many of the UK’s most successful tech start-ups. If you’re soon to graduate and want to get involved, here’s how. Joining an Existing Start-UP Tech city is attracting some of the best software developers and tech engineers in Europe, and also the best graduate talent. Wages tend to be double those of the average UK graduate and job openings are abundant. To get involved with an existing start-up there are a number of steps you can take: Graduate Job Fairs
“Digital and tech companies are providing increasing opportunities for employment…one of the biggest challenges is finding the very best tech talent and convincing them that tech start-ups are the place to be. This is where Silicon Milkroundabout comes into its own- it’s a jobs fair hosted by the very people who are hiring.” – Erik Van De Kleij – Chief Executive of the Tech City Investment Organisation.
Dedicated job fairs such as Silicon Milkroundabout, next occurring in May, or Tech City Graduate Job Fair which takes place every October, are the places to meet the start-ups who operate from the area and to get your foot in the door. Start-up companies were searching for 500 plus new employees at the last Silicon Milkroundabout event, and many start-ups are greatly in need of tech talent. Networking and Events Google Campus in the heart of Tech City provides a seven storey playground for young entrepreneurs and tech start-up companies with facilities and events including weekly mentoring programmes, a myriad of note-worthy visiting speakers, networking opportunities aplenty and a thriving Campus community. If you want to get into an existing tech start-up then it’s a good idea to become a member and network at the Campus. It’s simple to register online and spending time in the large cafe area will cost you nothing whilst offering plenty of opportunities to meet likeminded people who are involved in the start-ups you might like to work for. Google are hoping that the Campus will lure the next generation of geniuses out of their spare bedrooms and sheds and into this stylish London think tank. Even if you can only pop down occasionally or attend the odd talk it’s worth joining. The help of experienced start-up professional, mentors, visiting speakers and start-up businesses based in the building is invaluable.
‘Tech city is a place where like-minded start-up businesses are collecting together to develop themselves and learn from each other” – Mike Grafham, Head of Professional Services at tech start-up Yammer.
Finding Current Vacancies As many of the start-ups are constantly growing, you can find advertisements either on dedicated jobs websites like this or directly on start-ups own websites. Check out the job pages for EDITD , Huddle, Moo and Yammer, four of the roundabouts most successful start-ups, for examples. It is worth making a list of the existing start-ups that you are interested in and checking back to their sites regularly for possible job opportunities. The CEO of fashion based tech start-up EDITD stated in a recent BBC interview that they are currently taking on one new member of staff every month, and many of the most successful start-ups are regularly recruiting.
“Huddle is now 80 people and growing very rapidly. We’re tripling in size every year. Obviously that’s a lot of people.” – Alistair Mitchell, CEO, Huddle.
Creating Your Own Start-UP
The three elements in creating a successful tech start-up: ‘Timing…experience…and the people around you’ – Alistair Mitchell, CEO and Founder, Huddle
The Light bulb moment If you already have the necessary experience and skills and wish to create your own start-up, the most important thing is your idea. This may sound obvious, but, as discussed in my previous post, your idea and initial immersion in the project is much more important than a traditional business plan.
“Huddle is now four years old. It’s taken me ten years to get to this point but it’s going very well and I think really the inspiration…was from family, I’ve got a very entrepreneurial family…and I knew I wanted to do that myself. A desire to change the world plus the entrepreneurial background is what got me to this point.” – Alistair Mitchell, CEO and Founder, Huddle
Funding Opportunities There are pros and cons to seeking investment in your start-up during its initial stages and you should carefully consider your options, as addressed in this post. If your start-up needs an initial cash injection then there are a number of avenues you can pursue. Seedcamp, Europe’s leading micro-seed investment fund, are a great place to start for graduates and young entrepreneurs. You can present your product to Seedcamp and apply to attend one of their events where they will select the best companies to invest in. Read more about their process here. Otherwise, you can look to Europe’s network of Angel Investors, many of which currently have their attention on Tech City. Alistair Mitchell, CEO of Huddle explains:
“We’d saved up all of our life savings to launch Huddle, we put it all into building the first prototype and to get some people involved and working on the business with us. That got us some customers and enabled us to raise some seed or Angle investment from a guy called Charles McGregor, an entrepreneur himself…He’s now a chairman, he’s been our biggest supporter.”
Finding a Team 1) Identify the gaps in you and your co-founders/ colleagues skill pool 2) Find individuals who can fill them at networking events, or advertise online. Don’t try and bridge the gaps yourself. Find someone who is an expert in the field and get them involved.
“I think the most important thing to making any business is hiring great people, I think when I hired my first few people into the business it was when I realised that we had something. It wasn’t just me, it was a real thing.” – Richard Moross, CEO and fouder, Moo.com
Other UK Start-Up Hubs The Silicon Roundabout isn’t the be-all-and-end-all when it comes to tech start-ups attracting graduates in the UK. There are a number of similar areas that have joined the party from the Paintworks in Bristol to the area known as Silicon Fen in Cambridge. A number of start-ups are also taking over other pockets of London now that rents in Tech City are climbing. If you’re a talented graduate then east London’s land of tech start-ups could be the place to look when it comes to bagging yourself a well paid, creative and exciting job. This is good news in an economic climate where graduates have been left feeling overworked, undervalued and underpaid. Through mingling with founders of some of the UK’s most successful tech start-ups it appears that the world of employment is going through something of a DIY revolution. If the jobs aren’t there, graduates and young entrepreneurs can build their own companies, create jobs for themselves, and invite other talented individuals to join the ranks. In Summary So, if you want to get into the world of tech start-ups: – Find out about existing tech start-ups and their current vacancies by attending dedicated job fairs such as Milkroundabout, or by browsing for jobs online – Network at industry hubs such as Google Campus and attend relevant talks and events Or, if you are ready to create your own tech start-up: – Hone and develop your idea – Look into funding options to get your idea of the ground – Build a strong team by identifying the gaps in your skills base and finding the right people through networking Am I missing something, please feel free to add your comments below: *Special thanks to Alastair Mitchell, CEO and founder of Huddle.com, for his contribution to this article.