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The magazine for the startup scene

disrupts.co.uk

change the world

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#5 september

be the change digital ninjas xero heroes law

squirrel.me female founders north korea

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DISRUPTs

change the world

6 Change the world...

8 Be the change

10 media

11 digital ninjas

12 xero heroes

14 what to do with pressglue

marketing

16 get a yes from

the marketing manager

law

17 Key Consumer Laws

money

18 fintech: real smart

19 be socially responsible

and save money

20 get funding from london

angels

21 rockstar: looking for investment?

22 EVENTS

24 music: flying Vinyl

25 COFFEE PAGE

26 disrupts.LONDON

28 female founders

29 space

30 words

32 experience

34 whip profile

35 politics page

36 dividabill profile

38 fabrik profile

40 unreasonable people: Mutaz Qubbaj

42 guest columnist: Emma Cheshire

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The cool looking guy on our front cover was kind enough to

pose for us and let us use the shot, but we never got his name.

If you recognise him, let us know, and we’ll send him a copy.

contributors

/DisruptsUK

ARYA TAWARE

Real Funds

NADIRA TUDOR

Fakerocker Ltd

Want to see all the stuff as

it comes out? Follow us on

Facebook!

A lot of useful articles there!

JAMES RICHARDSON

Metric Accountants

CHRIS OWEN

Penningtons Manches LLP

LU LI

Blooming Founders

KEN VALLEDY

Tech2Brand

@DisruptsUK

MUTAZ QUBBAJ

Squirrel.me

JONATHAN PFAHL

Rockstar

Or just send us a pic of you

and Disrupts!

We love it you know

xx

EMMA CHESHIRE

Dotforge

ANDREW HOLMES

Angel Investor

SERGEJ TOLZ

CHARLOTTE

ROBERT

JON BARTLEY

Penningtons Manches LLP

CHAD HANGIT

Subscribe in print at disrupts.co.uk

Disclaimer: The information provided in this publication is not intended as a

recommendation to invest in any of the featured or profiled organisations.

Thank you to unsplash.com and Death to Stock Photo for

some of the images used in this publication.

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Produced and published by Disrupts Media Limited

69-89 Mile End Road, London E1 4UJ

editor@disrupts.co.uk

07535 670 581


change

Bird

What is it that changes the World? I thought it was ideas, but

it’s not. It’s actions.

The action of creating a company that positively impacts the

World is a profound thing, when you consider it. It’s to take

responsibility for a situation, and according to ones means

and abilities, to improve the situation.

“How can I use the market to fix this problem?”

“How can I use the consumer world to fix this problem?”

Take lack of clean drinking water. Big problem. Now google

GiveMeTap.

Take poverty in Sierra Leone. Now google Karma Cola.

Take the problem of hydrocarbons. Now google Tesla.

Capitalism is starting to get really interesting. Proethical

businesses valued at billions of dollars, poised to transform

entire industries. The more problems capitalism creates, global

warming, pollution, the more problems there are to solve, and

the bigger the opportunities become for companies finding

ways to fix them, or replace their causes.

Katia

Believe in humans

I’ve always been obsessed with making a change.

You know, leaving something after me that hasn’t

been there before. Hopefully, something good.

I don’t know whether it’s normal or rather a sign of

some mental restlessness, but here we go: Change

the World. It’s about innovations, ideas, but mostly –

the new attitudes that are changing the reality.

Statistics claim that people born in the 80s-90s are

way more entrepreneurial and open minded than

their parents. They want more freedom, and they

care more about doing the right thing than getting

a well-paid job. Is that because the quality of life is

higher and they don’t have to worry about staying

alive? Might be.

However, I believe that this positive shift towards

more meaningful existence is happening because

it was needed, and it will evolve into new types of

businesses and new way of life.

The key is to ask the right questions right from the beginning.

Forget thinking outside the box, there is no box, there never

was. There is only the vision of the end result, and the joining

of the dots to get there.

Andrei

A hundred words to change the world

Everyone I speak to seems to want to change the world. Maybe it’s the

scene, maybe it’s the times, maybe it’s human nature. Meeting my share of

UNREASONABLE PEOPLE (see p 40) I’ve learnt that it’s true – you won’t

make a difference if you’re happy with everything you see. But I’ll go further

and say that you have to be unhappy with yourself. Because after all, life

is just one big startup. And startups are all about scaling. To find a good

product solve a problem for yourself and scale up from there. Likewise – to

change the world, change one thing in yourself and scale up from there.

editor@disrupts.co.uk

5


change the world...

...reinvent the lightbulb

25-year-old entrepreneurs have created a light

that uses ten times less energy and lasts fifteen

times longer than its predecessors.

They call it ‘the most beautiful LED light in the

world’ as this is the first time an LED can exactly

mimic the warm light of a vintage Edison lamp.

Ciaran Dawson, director at Tala believes their

lamps will have a huge effect on the environment

and their customers’ energy bills.

talaled.com

Since launch in March the company estimates that it has already

removed 9 million kilograms* of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

The young startup has quickly gained the attention of some of the UK’s

most famous brands and Tala is now stocked with Heal’s and The

Conran Shop among many retailers, and they have been contracted

to work with Pizza Express, Caffe Nero and Byron Burger.

The name

Tala is an African word meaning conservation and beauty; it forms

the over-arching ethos of the company. 5% of Tala’s profits will be

reinvested to help local community.

*through electricity saved over the lifetime of the product

...wear a dress!

I’m not advocating abandoning the cultural norm of the blue jean,

not at all – I’m just genuinely captivated by the impact that an LED

dress can make. Hmm, maybe there’s more to it?

ADA.ADA.ADA.

is the story of Ada Lovelace, the first computer programmer. Part

theatre show, part educational lecture, part visual spectacular – it’s

an interactive storytelling experience. A dress which would wouldn’t

look out of place in the 1830s, comes alive with the help of the

audience, quite a bit of string, and five hundred LEDs.

But that’s only the icing on the cake. Zoe Philpott, the director

and performer, has the much tougher job of bringing Ada into the

21st century using only the fragments left from history, and history

hasn’t been too kind. Lovelace’s notes, including the first bonafide

computer programme, published in 1843 are still a topic of debate.

The aim of the show is “to write Ada Lovelace back into history.” As

well as other women in tech? @AdaTheShow #WomenInStem

6


change the world

...create office as a service

Mike Galvin and Eduardo Martinez are co-founders

of Geniac, an “office as a service” startup taking

the headache out of growth for small businesses.

Through a combination of automated technology

and personal account management, Geniac enables

entrepreneurs to easily manage their accounting,

legal, HR and insurance needs. The startup is backed

by the power and credibility of Grant Thornton UK

LLP and recently announced an investment of up to

£22m from the business advisory firm.

Geniac has capitalised on the Do-It-For-Me (DIFM)

service movement, whereby tech automation

combines with specialised labour to deliver a

complete solution to a business problem. In Geniac’s

case it helps small businesses scale, by alleviating

time wasted on a range of complex admin tasks.

UK SME owners spend, on average, 38 per cent of

their time on business-related admin. Geniac can

help cut this so founders can focus on positioning

their business for growth.

From the beginning, Mike and Eduardo formed a

user community to share prototypes, get feedback,

and build. This is something they continue to do

today, and they believe it is the reason for Geniac

clients being their biggest promoters. Referrals are

a top source for new clients.

Mike and Eduardo have ambitious plans to scale

Geniac and want it to be the growth engine behind

every single fast-growth SME in the UK.

geniac.com

Eduardo Martinez,

Co-founder and director

Eduardo enjoys designing

and creating unique things.

He loves cycling, cooking

and his Morgan 4/4.

Michael Galvin,

Co-founder and director

Mike can often be found

training for marathons or

running round after his two

young daughters.

...And drink no evil!

Somehow Karma Cola got in touch with us, or their PR agency did,

or something, and one way or another we got sent 3 bottles of super

fantastic delicious cola, lemonade, and ginger beer. This totally made

our hearts sing. The Karma Cola guys are serious about being good,

have a mosey around their website and see what we mean. So anyway,

in the interest of what goes around comes around, if you want to change

the world in a good way, email your local supermarkets and ask them if

they stock Karma Cola. Love ya. X

karmacola.co.uk

7


change the world

be the change you want to see

bathtub2boardroom.com

...Bathtub2boardroom are

changing the world one empty

building at a time.

Ghandi once said, that you have to “be the change you want to see in the world.”

Most people take that advice as far as giving a polite smile and a passing

“Thanks” when someone holds the lift. Thankfully, there are always exceptions…

Fred Ryder and Ed Hughes, the founders of Bathtub2Boardroom, are two of those

exceptions. Fresh out of university they decided that climbing the corporate ladder

wasn’t for them – they saw a change they wanted to make in the world.

In the process of finding an office to work from – in the days before the coworking

boom – they realised there wasn’t much available which didn’t cost an arm, a leg,

and bit of equity. Your standard office was too expensive, with massive upfront

costs, and anything geared towards startups wanted to absorb you into itself

before there even was a “you” to speak of. And that’s just half the battle, the key

factor for success is the environment; it’s your network, the people around you, the

conversations you have on a day to day basis. Surely, the broader the spectrum of

entrepreneurs, the broader the spectrum of resulting ideas… variety is the spice of

life!

The duo met a landlord looking to rent out a renovated eleven storey building in

King’s Cross after the market crash. An eureka moment later Bathtub2Boardroom

was born as charity. Charities as tenants provide landlords with a significant

reduction in business rates, and empty buildings are not usually part of a great

business plan. Yet currently 5 - 10% of the city’s commercial space is unused!

Bathtub2boardroom are changing the world one empty building at a time. By

filling the unused space with the buzz of startups – entrepreneurs, mentors,

and events – they’re giving to the communities in dire need of redevelopment.

The confidence and knowhow to create your own business, your own vehicle

to freedom, is priceless and at near a hundred businesses per ‘tub’ lead by

entrepreneurs from all walks of life, it’s quite an impact to make on an area.

Currently – ahem – filling to two tubs, one in Bethnal Green and another in

The City, they’re levelling the playing field and destroying the stereotype of the

entrepreneur. ‘Tech City’ is great, but as we’ve always said at Disrupts – startups

are much more than that – there are a lot of great enterprises which could never

be part of that trend, as not every business needs to become a trans-global giant

with a multi-million pound exit or an IPO. There is nothing wrong with having a

lifestyle business, in fact, it’s a change I see. The decentralisation of production,

decentralisation of work itself. Let’s take the plunge and see what’s in store.

8

Barry Craig photography


change the world

Automata

Who are you and what do you do?

Automata is a London based technology company working to

democratise robotics by creating an affordable & accessible

robotic ecosystem. Eva, our first product, is a 3d-printed,

lightweight, plug-n-play robotic arm, with software so simple

that it takes just three taps to get Eva running. On top of all that,

Eva costs just a tenth of conventional table-top sized industrial

arms.

Why do you do it, what motivates you?

We think making robotics accessible will let professionals of

all scales and skill-sets not only improve productivity, but also

enhance creativity. The possibilities are endless. It should be

useful to you whether you run a small manufacturing unit, a chef

in a high volume kitchen, a photographer shooting a product, or

a large manufacturer producing in the thousands.

What changes do you see in the world from five, and ten years

ago?

People have become more receptive to innovation. Specifically

from our perspective, social awareness of robotics and

automation has increased, and while there is dystopian

hyperbole about killing machines and mass unemployment, most

people see it pragmatically and are excited by their benefits.

What do you see happening in five, and ten years from now?

Decentralization of production through advancement

and democratisation of technologies such as 3d printing

and robotics, leading to a confluence of economic and

technological forces. This will create a landscape where the

value of knowledge will be greater than the value of goods, and

smaller organizations will be able to play bigger roles as their

capabilities multiply.

How would you change the world?

We hope to be one of the enablers that let people get more

done with fewer resources. We make robotics accessible to

a much wider gamut of professionals – Automata being the

versatile platform that it is, we can’t wait to see what others will

do with it.

getautomata.com

benefacto

benefacto.org

Who are you and what do you do?

Benefacto is most easily described as lastminute.com but for

booking employee volunteering. We work with charities to ensure

volunteering is meaningful and valuable. We support corporates

to build a culture of volunteering and inspire their staff, making it

so easy for employees to find and book volunteering they have no

excuse not to.

Why do you do it, what motivates you?

Collectively, UK businesses pledge a billion pounds’ worth of staff

time to the community each year. The vast majority never gets

donated and much of the volunteering that does go on is more of

a burden than a benefit to the charities. We work with 35 amazing

charities and know, if volunteered appropriately, this time could

make such a difference to the services they deliver. Who needs

more of a motivation?

What changes do you see in the world from five, and ten years ago?

Cheap tech and the sharing economy. Due to the increased

penetration of technology (broadband internet, smart phones

etc) and decreased barriers to developing technical solutions, a

plethora of new services have sprung up – from booking a night

in someone’s spare room to having premium bacon delivered to

your door. Many of these have been applications of the sharing

economy business model to existing services, revolutionising the

experience of the customer.

What do you see happening in five, and ten years from now?

With the introduction of so many new services – many designed

to offer ease to the consumer – life has strangely become more

complicated. Over the next five years we will see this simplifying

through greater integration of services and solutions. A great

example of this is Apple Pay – why have a wallet when you can

pay with your mobile phone?

How would you change the world?

We would improve synergy and integration between the sectors

to ensure each is truly supporting the others at being good at what

they do and doing good while they do it.

9


change the world

media has changed the world,

and the word has changed media

by Nadira Tudor

Media and especially the growth of social media HAS changed the world.

I feel that it is without a doubt, the most powerful tool we have as humans to

communicate both effectively or if you possess a lack of understanding of the

mechanics of media, then ineffectively.

The impact of technology has been so dramatic in terms of how stories are

recorded, told, viewed, heard, written that you really cannot ignore the fact that

smart phone owners at the touch of a button are able to post information to a

global audience. There are of course upsides and downsides to this technology

in terms of no editorial stop button when unruly ‘citizen journalists’ relay events

from a one-sided perspective, which can cause hysteria if a counter-response is

not issued quickly enough. But the positives by far outweigh the negatives in my

opinion. After many years of working across multimedia platforms, I still believe

that every single person has a story to tell given the opportunity, and if told

sensitively with professional guidance, those unique human-interest stories will

always help another. At worst, it will ensure that the voyeur at least thinks about

what goes on outside their own bubble every once in a while and at best empathy

is found.

Media is not just something to watch, to read or to listen to – those words, sounds

and pictures are filled with hidden messages, cross-cultural communication

and deep psychological undertones. As technology advances further, there is

no doubt that media will not only be used more effectively by huge corporates,

SMEs and individuals but also as a weapon by those that understand it most.

The answer is to stay one step ahead. Understand those mechanisms, train those

communication skills and work WITH the media by taking the rough with the

smooth and embracing the benefits that media gives to us all.

10

Nadira Tudor runs her company

Fakerocker Ltd with her partner Oliver

Pscherer. They offer professional media

education and media training for those

companies that recognise the demand

for senior personnel, CEOs and staff to

be competent at public speaking and

talking to the media. She has worked

for many major platforms in the UK,

inclusive of several BBC platforms

(Radio 1, Radio 1xtra, Radio 4, 5 Live,

BBC News, BBC Three, BBC Business

and many more), ITN Productions,

international channels and many

corporates. She has worked in Media

Training for the last 8 years, extensively

with NATO and other militaries across

the world as well as with many high

level corporate CEOs.

Visit: www.fakerocker.com

Contact: fakerockercontact@icloud.com


change the world

digital ninjas

Apparently there’s no rest for the wicked, and I guess that’s why I

was in the office on a Saturday, alone – until about fifty kids burst

in and started typing away. Questioning my sanity, I managed to

find a responsible looking adult, and an explanation. Carl Petrou

runs CoderDojo at Whitechapel along with other London locations,

which is a free programming club for kids to become digital ninjas.

We quickly descended into a philosophical discussion about the

changing world. Here’s what Carl told me.

Today’s world is changing faster than ever, and

technology is leading the race. In almost every

aspect of day to day life, technology is gripping

us further in, along with the expectation of our

understanding.

Kids are now learning about Scratch, Ruby, Virtual

Reality, and so much more – it’s becoming almost

impossible for parents and schools to keep up. Only

a few years ago every lesson, and every topic, had

been taught numerous times across the teachers’

careers. The subjects themselves hadn’t changed

between our school days and the schools days of

our parents, or even their parents.

The digital world is now no longer seen as a

“passing fad” or science fiction, it has already

become part of our daily lives. Ordering a taxi,

sending mail, storing documents, and even paying a

bill in a restaurant has moved into the digital world.

Coding and programming have become the new

literacy. No matter what kids want to do when they

grow up, computers will be an essential part of it.

We had a kid whose father runs a butcher in North

London. He saw his father getting stressed at the

end of the year because of all Christmas orders.

Phone, email, and walk-in orders for different dates,

and with different terms was a massive strain. Even

though his Dad employed extra staff over Christmas,

orders were misplaced, money often not paid, and

stock was never in sync. His son, over a few months

at CoderDojo, was able to create a simple software

solution to optimise the process. It would inform his

Dad what was required for the day and week ahead

and if the orders had already been paid for or not.

His son was 11 years old.

CoderDojo is a global community of free programming clubs for young

people. It gives young people all over the world access and understanding

to the technology that surrounds.

Our vision is a world where every child has the opportunity to learn about

technology and be creative in a safe and social environment.

There are 1,000s of Dojos spread across 48 countries, and more are

being set up every week.

Take a look here: www.coderdojo.com

As Tony Wagner states: “The world does not ask,

what knowledge you have? It asks what skills you

have. What can you do?”

All I could do was smile, nod, and wonder if I’d

have any skills the world would want in 20 years.

Because Carl is right, the world is changing. The

question is are we changing with it?

11


xero heroes

bubbles, beers and b2b

For the next 5 editions this

lovely bubbly double page is

going to feature some thriving

clients of the rather splendid

cloud based accountancy

platform XERO. If you want to

join them, drop us a line:

editor@disrupts.co.uk

bijububbletea.com

Biju

What’s your business?

Biju is the newest bubble tea brand in the UK.

We say we serve next level bubble tea, because

we’re the only brand that individually brews loose

leaf tea for our customers upon ordering. We also

use fresh British organic milk in our drinks, when

our competitors use powdered creamer. Our fresh,

natural, and organic approach to our drinks has

won us many fans. We serve our drinks in a quirky

shop in Soho, Central London and do so with

friendly and approachable customer service.

How did the business start?

I was lucky enough to be able to fund the

business using a combination of my own personal

savings from my previous employment as well as

investments from family members. The support from

my family and friends has been invaluable.

Why do you love Xero?

Xero’s ability to integrate with POS systems is what

stood out to me first. New businesses are starting

from scratch and so, we always look for best in

class modern solutions. Founders have a lot to do

and worry about, so anything that makes our lives

easier is a major bonus.

How’s business going? Plans for the future?

Business is going well and we are growing month

on month as word of mouth spreads. We are

currently looking for our second shop! We plan to

focus our efforts on maintaining consistency and

quality as we expand progressively.

HonestBrew

honestbrew.co.uk

What’s your business?

HonestBrew is an online craft beer retailer revolutionising

the way people discover craft beer. We’re here to help

people get the beer they want, when they want it. Our

tailored ‘Honesty Box’ service matches every case of

craft beer to our customer’s tastes - they set up their flavor

preferences, box size, and delivery frequency. We send a

personalised selection of beer to the door. We now work

with over 50 of the best craft breweries across the globe to

bring their beers to our customers.

12

xero.com


xero heroes

MarketInvoice

What’s your business?

MarketInvoice is a leading peer-to-peer lender for businesses,

focusing on cashflow finance.

What does that mean exactly?

Well, if you’ve ever wondered what your business could do

if it had more cash in the bank, you can now use our online

marketplace to access finance against individual invoices and

contracts. The peer-to-peer bit just means that it’s a community;

we connect businesses with funders from across the world,

including the UK government – they’re the ones that lend the

money.

marketinvoice.com

How did the business start?

Our team started out in 2011 with just a small seed investment,

and in our first year we funded £3m. At the time, that was

huge! But in the years since we’ve seen exponential growth.

Last year we funded over £200m, for example. Investment

wise, last month we closed our Series A of $10m.

Why do you love Xero?

It’s a bit of a funny story- we’re a tech company, and we fund

invoices, so we thought ‘Why not link up to Xero’s fancy API in

order to create a super-smooth experience for our customers?’.

While our developers worked on the integration, we fell in love

with the simplicity of the software and realised it would be a

great system for our accounts team to use.

The best part about it is that we can use the Xero API in order

to pull through data for reporting against other company KPIs.

For that we use Looker, a great data aggregation tool.

Since starting to use Xero we’ve become big fans, enjoying

Xerocon 2015 back in February (it was *amazing*!), and

featuring as one of their Hundred Happy Businesses.

www.xero.com/happy

How’s business going? Plans for the future?

We’re approaching some big milestones. In September

we’ll have funded over half a billion pounds worth of

invoices since launch (pretty incredible!).

We’re also hiring like crazy (particularly in marketing,

sales and engineering), so our team of 75 will quickly

outgrow our Holborn offices and reach 100+. 2016

should see us scale more rapidly following our recent

Series A investment, and who knows what might be next

after that?!

How did the business start?

HonestBrew originally began brewing and running

sessions teaching others to brew. As we ran these

sessions and spent time in the craft beer scene, we

soon recognized the opportunity to make it easier for

people to enjoy craft beer and set about creating an

online platform to do so. The business was funded

initially with personal investment (plus a fair amount

of blood sweat and tears) and we then closed a

funding round with food industry veteran investors

late 2014.

Why do you love Xero?

With three Kiwis in the founding team, Xero was a

natural choice for us and we set Xero up from the

beginning. We love how user-friendly it is and being

cloud based it means we can access our

accounts at anytime from anywhere. Our

book keeper actually does all our accounts

from New Zealand while we sleep!

How’s business going? Plans for the future?

It’s full steam ahead for HonestBrew – we’re

averaging 28% monthly growth which means

we’re continuing to grow the team and refine

our operations. We’re keen to give our

customers the best experience possible so

we are continually innovating and focusing

increasingly on mobile. Plus our beer gurus

are always seeking new beers to add to the

mix and do a fair bit of taste testing while

they’re at it.

OFFER FOR

READERS:

50% off

a Taster Kit :

6 cracking beers for

only £9 delivered.

Enter code ‘XERO’ at

honestbrew.co.uk.

xero.com 13


pressglue.com

What to do with Pressglue

Last month we got a phonecall from way up near Manchester, a

visitor to google campus had picked up one of our magazines and

wanted to chat about what they’d been doing. Always happy to

hear from our Northern cousins we invited John and Steve back to

London to drink coffee and spill the beans.

So here’s what they showed us. Pressglue.

The website describes it as ‘The Easiest way to publish news for

your organisation, you business, or your life.”

The guys assure us that what

they’ve created is a truly kicas

way for people with zero tech

ability to create professional,

multiuser news sites. The whole

thing is drop and drag, which

means anyone who can move

a mouse can use it. Multiple

contributors can provide content,

which gets held for moderation

/ editing by you the boss.

And because it’s specifically

designed to be a news site, it’s

not overloaded with unnecessary

features or crap plugins. And it’s

currently free.

14


pressglue

Ok, we say to John and Steve, let’s see an example of what Pressglue can do in

the real wide World. So they show us So-Cheshire.co.uk

Cheshire might not be London. In fact it isn’t. It’s Cheshire. But the So-Cheshire

site is pretty sticky, local news, a comedy night being promoted, kitchens

for sale, and Cheshire people are all over it, the embedded twitter stream is

buzzing with new posts every few minutes. Nantwich Town Council even enter

the fray with a declaration that no less than 14 Town Criers are set to battle

it out on Saturday to win the coveted Nantwich Shield. Evidently Cheshire is

a melee of hyper local happenings, and So-Cheshire.co.uk is the hub of the

Cheshireverse.

And Pressglue is the power behind it all. Totally mobile optimised of course.

And now it’s heading South, and East, and West, as the So-Cheshire model

becomes So-Everywhere.

So that’s just one teeny tiny application of Pressglue. It could be used for a news

site for London, or a charity, or a school. It could be a news site for people who

collect goldfish, or hats. It could be a news site for all sorts of things.

So here’s the call to action bit.

And it’s a bloody good offer by any

standard. Create a Pressglue site, tell

us about it, and we’ll give the best one

a FULL PAGE FOR FREE in next months

edition of DISRUPTS. The runners up get

coverage too. And next months edition is

a real biggie, because we have a promo

stand at AdTech London exhibition at

Olympia to distribute through.

Yep, you read it. Now build it, and start

your news based media empire. You’ll

be stroking white cats by the end of the

week.

When

your new

Pressglue site

launches,

George

Osborne

will come to

cut that pink

ribbon.

Cofounders John on left, Steve on right, and

look, it’s George Osborne in the middle.

Er, mate, I think you got

something on your shoulder...

John Haynes,

Pressglue`s Angel investor.

Background in small

company acquisitions.

Enthusiastic, fun loving

WITHOUT an eye for

detail.

Always on the lookout for a

fragmented industry ripe for

consolidation.

“This time next year

Rodney”. Enjoys one on

one gym training and

general health related

research. Immortality is

now within our grasp.

Steve Wood,

A confirmed technology

addict with over 25 years

industry experience from

junior developer writing

device drivers in C to CTO

managing the technology

landscape for Pressglue.

When not at the keyboard

cutting code or analysing

data can often be found

in the relatively low tech

world of sailing, racing

dinghies and yachts or

playing guitar for local

bands

15


marketing

Ken Valledy,

the founder of Tech2Brand

www.t2blimited.com

Five Ways to get a ‘yes’

from the marketing manager

Having sat on the ‘other side’ of the table for many years, I

wanted to provide a few pointers on what my team and I looked

for from startups to help us make the crucial final ‘yes/no’

decision.

1. BE RELIABLE:

It is absolutely crucial that you arrive on time. If you arrive late, you are

saying that you don’t class the meeting (and the brand) as important. It implies

that you yourself aren’t reliable when it comes to meeting deadlines. In most

cases if you’ve missed the first deadline (your first meeting), you’ve missed the

opportunity.

2. BE SERIOUS:

It is important that you have an online presence. A marketing manager will

search online for more information about you and, the technology in question.

Make sure that you have an up to date, professional looking website, and

if you are on social media, ensure that you are posting on a regular basis.

If you don’t have a polished website and your social accounts haven’t been

activated for some time, it will just convince the marketing manager that you

are not ready to work with a brand yet.

3. BE CLEAR:

When you present to a marketing manager, it is crucial that you explain

your technology in a very simple and easy to understand way. Far too many

startups will try and get everything out in one go and subsequently, lose

the interest (and attention) of the marketing manager. When you prepare a

presentation deck, you should present the following five slides:

Slide1. What problem does your tech solve? (one sentence)

Slide 2. How does your tech work? (either a simple diagram or using a

handful of bullet points)

Slide 3. How is your tech different/unique to anything else in the

market place? (again use simple bullet points)

Slide 4. How your tech could work for the brand in question and what

a ‘priced’ trial could look like.

Slide 5. A final ‘thank you’ slide with your main contact details.

(email address/phone number)

In addition, if you want to significantly increase

your chances of getting business, then create ‘Cut

and Paste’ slides. These are slides that a marketing

manager can just take and use for their own internal

presentation in the near future. Make your slides so

easy to understand that someone else could easily

present the content.

4. MAKE IT WORK:

Obvious, but often forgotten. It is highly

recommended to demonstrate how your tech looks/

feels and works. If possible, also create a ‘mock-up’

of how the brand in question would look within your

tech. This customisation helps the marketing manager

to visualise how the end result will look when it goes

to market. It always helps to move closer towards a

‘yes’ decision.

5. SHOW BENEFITS:

This is the most crucial piece of reassurance that is

needed. Unlike investment decks, do not include

details about your wider team, your investment

goals, how your tech is built – this is irrelevant to a

marketing manager. They just want to know how your

tech can help their brand grow, and subsequently,

keep ahead of the competition (hopefully also

helping the marketing manager’s career grow in the

process.) Focus on ‘what your tech can do for THE

BRAND’ not just ‘what your tech can do’ – a very

small, but very significant difference.

Marginal Gains

Unfortunately, there is no ‘silver bullet’ to successfully

acquire new business – if only! Presentations are

always unpredictable and nothing is guaranteed.

The smallest thing can make the biggest difference

between ‘yes, I want to pilot your tech’ and ‘sorry,

but there are no opportunities at this present time.’

Hopefully, the aforementioned advice may provide

you with the required ‘marginal gain’ towards

achieving a ‘yes’ answer – GOOD LUCK!

16


law

Key Consumer

Laws for B2C

Start-Ups

Companies providing products or services to

consumers are subject to additional compliance

requirements and liabilities that don’t affect

companies supplying only to business customers.

Jon Bartley of Penningtons Manches LLP highlights

some of the key consumer laws that B2C start-ups

should be aware of.

Many successful and well-known tech companies

are consumer (B2C) businesses. However, selling to

consumers involves an additional layer of legislation

and regulation which can increase the risk and costs

of doing business. Leaving aside data protection

risks (think Ashley Madison and Carphone

Warehouse) and sector-specific rules (e.g. financial

services, travel), there are general laws that will

impact most consumer-facing businesses. Consumer

law is undergoing significant reform, and set out

below are some key issues and reforms to be aware

of.

Distance Selling

Most people are aware of distance selling rules

to a degree, if only from their own experiences

buying online. Consumers who buy online or

otherwise “at a distance” from the seller must be

provided with specific information and will often

have the right to cancel contracts. These rules

changed with the Consumer Contracts Regulations

2013 (“Regulations”), in force from June 2014. For

example, consumers now have 14 days in which

to cancel, compared to the previous 7 days. More

pre-contractual information must be provided,

failing which the right to cancel can be extended

to over 12 months. Suppliers are now required to

provide consumers with a template cancellation

form, although they are not obliged to use it.

Also, if consumers exercise the right to cancel,

reimbursements must now be made within 14 days

rather than 30 days.

Many businesses provide their products or services

immediately on receipt of the online order, and in

such cases the cancellation risk can be avoided or

mitigated, but only if consumers are given certain

information, and provide express acknowledgements

to the supplier. A further requirement is to label the

Jon Bartley

www.penningtons.co.uk

“Order” or “Submit” button with text such as “Order with obligation to pay”,

otherwise consumers will not be bound by the contract.

Consumer Rights Act 2015

This is a significant reform of consumer law, much of which will come into

force on 1st October 2015. One of the key changes is that the pre-contract

information which must be provided to consumers under the Regulations will

now form part of the contract, giving consumers wider rights to reject goods,

require a replacement item or repeat performance of services or claim a refund

or price reduction. The right to reject defective products will be much clearer,

with a structured process and timeline. Companies providing services will be

bound by verbal or written statements made to consumers which are relied

upon, and new statutory remedies are introduced for defective services.

For the first time, consumers are given rights in relation to digital content, such

as downloads, apps and streamed data. For example, if digital content is

defective or does not match a sales description, consumers will be entitled to a

repair, replacement or price reduction.

Also if, due to a supplier’s failure to exercise reasonable care and skill, digital

content causes damage to a consumer’s device or to other content on that

device (such as through the presence of malware in a download), the supplier

will be liable to repair the device or pay compensation to affected consumers.

Managing the Risks

This is a snapshot of a more complex framework of consumer rights, the

application of which will vary depending on the business model. Start-ups

that direct their goods or services at consumers should take advice at an early

stage to ensure that their terms and conditions and business processes comply

with the rules, and that their staff are properly trained in their interactions with

consumers.

17


fintech

real smart

Arya Taware,

the founder of real funds

How did you realise you’re an entrepreneur?

I have always loved the thrill and excitement I get in

finding a solution to a problem. Growing up, my idols

were all entrepreneurs from around the world. I was

amazed by their ability to challenge conventions,

by their drive and willpower to change the world.

Reading about their stories inspired me and triggered

the initial idea that I could do the same.

So what is Real Funds?

We are a property development peer-to-peer lending

platform, democratising real estate investment. You

do not need to have high capital or the right industry

connections to invest in property development

projects anymore. Through Real Funds’ platform you

can invest as little as £10, for returns up to 10-12%

p.a.

What’s the story?

In 2013, I worked for a small developer. I found out

that there was limited funding available for small

and medium-sized housing development projects as

banks would only back major house builders and

projects above £10 million. I saw an opportunity to

solve this gap in the market by making alternative

finance available to small and medium-sized house

builders through a combination of crowd-financing

and technology.

The initial stages were challenging: you have to

imagine a young entrepreneur venturing into an

established industry, traditional in many ways, deals

still done in pubs; and I’m telling them about a platform

that will transform they way have been operating for

decades using technology and alternative capital! A

lot of people did not take me seriously…

Very early on, I knew our business would need a

combination of senior property experts along with

young tech-savvy entrepreneurs. We have struck

a good balance, but are currently recruiting three

more team members: a CFO, a Property Head of

Investments and a Due Diligence Officer.

Did you get any investment and how did it work?

We are closing a £1million seed round. This

investment will enable us to be Financial Conduct

Authority (FCA) regulated, and finalize our peer-topeer

lending platform. Members registering now on

Realfunds.co.uk

our website will have first access to initial projects in our pre-launch phase at the

end of this year. We will be closing the Investors’ Club registration in two weeks

time. In the meantime we are also welcoming interested property developers to

get in touch with us and register on our website.

If you could change the world, what would you change?

My background in urban planning inspired me to see the impact mankind can

have on our surroundings. My dream would be to reconnect people with their

surroundings by providing them a way to directly influence how cities are designed

as well as financed. Through Real Funds, I imagine a future where everyone

will have the possibility to decide and fund projects in their local communities

or elsewhere, making cities financially self-sustainable and less dependent on

foreign capital. I am also very excited to promote models of shared ownership

and would like to introduce this in Real Funds’ future development plans.

18


money

How a startup can be socially

responsible and save money

James Richardson,

Director of Metric Accountants

It’s now widely accepted that Corporate Social

Responsibility (CSR) is not only good for society, but

makes sound commercial sense as well. So how can a

startup be socially responsible when it’s operating on

the financial equivalent of an empty tank? Here are five

ways in which we’ve seen companies of all shapes and

sizes become better corporate citizens.

Be proud of your purpose

The most obvious way in which you can serve your

community is to provide a product or service which is

of social good. Not only will this make your heart feel

warm, it makes business sense too. A couple of recent

examples illustrate the point.

When Indra Noovi became CEO of Pepsi, she identified

that regardless of how much money the company

spent on sponsoring worthwhile projects, staff

did not feel proud of a brand that had a reputation

for unhealthy products. So, Ms. Noovi made it a top

priority to steer the company towards developing healthier

products and to become a ”good” company.

As result, staff and customer satisfaction have risen,

as have profits.

On the flipside, look at Ashley Madison, a website

designed to help married people have affairs. It’s morally

questionable purpose has made it the target of

hackers and potential lawsuits, for failing to adequately

protect customers’ data.

Create a community

Startups don’t have the luxury of being able to offer

incentives or pay over the odds to customers and

employees in the form of discounts, pay rises or bonuses.

The good news is people also value participation.

If customers and employees feel that they get a fair

say and feel that the company is listening, they will be

more motivated and loyal.

Establishing ways in which employees can provide

feedback, or allowing customers to interact with the

company through tools such as social media, can be

a cost effective way of bringing society closer and

benefits the company at the same time.

Positive discrimination

Most companies will tell you that their customers are not all alike - with different

needs and budgets. Yet many act as though they are, consistently offering the

same product or service for the standard price to all customers.

Failing to tailor the product or service to meet specific customers’ needs is not

only a business failure it’s also a missed CSR opportunity.

Cinemas combine positive discrimination with CSR very well. Cinemas have long

offered discounts to students and senior citizens, but in recent years they have taken

this a step further. You’ll often see day time showings marketed exclusively to

senior citizens, with tea and cake (and conversation) before the show included

in the price. In a stroke, the offer is no longer a discount, but instead providing

something extra to a particular customer segment.

Help support other CSR friendly businesses

One of the easiest steps a startup that wants to be socially responsible can take

is to review its supplier list. All companies, regardless of size, have suppliers. But

how much do you really know about yours?

Are they acting in a professional and moral way? Are they reducing their environmental

impact? Are they actively looking to ”give back” to the community

in some way? In short, are they adopting socially responsible practices? This is

not only good CSR; it’s also good business practice.

When the horse meat scandal broke, it wasn’t just the meat producers and food

manufacturers that received negative headlines in the media; it was their customers,

the supermarkets, too.

Love your environment

Whilst obvious, it’s worth reiterating. Reducing waste helps the environment and

your wallet.

Even simple steps can make a significant contribution and save the company

cash. For instance, a common lapse is forgetting to turn off PC monitors come

home time. Left on overnight, that is the equivalent of printing 800 A4 pages.

Multiply that by the varying IT equipment in your office and you’re looking at a

lot of unnecessary energy use.

So, be good corporate citizens and make your business financially stronger in

the process.

19


money

Andrew is a

London-based angel

investor focusing on

technology; he was

previously a coder and

a quant.

@AndrewHolmes82

Raising Startup

Funding from

London Angels

EDITORS OPINION:

I’d go further than Andrew in this and say anything

written from a Silicon Valley perspective is irrelevant

to fundraising in London. The two have totally

different commercial ecosystems. We should forget

about SV as a role model, it just doesn’t translate

into anything meaningful. It would be like our film

industry trying to be Hollywood. The London scene

(or UK scene if you prefer) is more than capable of

self definition and self determination without trying to

be Silicon this or Silicon that. We are better than that,

more innovative than that. The only Silicon Valley

worth watching is the HBO series. This is London.

Deal in it. @disruptsUK

Between bootstrapping your startup and VC funding you’re probably

going to need to raise some money. While a seed fund might give

you £300/£400k at once, most startups need to raise some angel

money.

There’re many great articles online about angels and what founders can expect,

a recent piece by Mark Suster of Upfront Ventures for example. However, they’re

typically written from a Silicon Valley perspective, which may give London startups

unrealistic expectations about valuation, investor involvement and investment size.

Valley angels have typically been founders or early-stage employees of tech

businesses that achieved successful exits. They’re younger, richer and less riskaverse

than London angels. They understand tech startups and are more likely to

have a niche they understand and focus on.

London angels are often financiers, lawyers and accountants. Many have sold

businesses, but often to retire. They’re much less likely to understand current

technology and may want to invest smaller amounts as part of a syndicate. Many

are retired and have generalist portfolios of companies across many sectors;

they’re probably not going to be helping out much day to day, and you’re unlikely

to get more than £50k from an individual angel (and usually less).

A seed stage company’s three year projections are likely to be irrelevant in

California, yet many London-based angels will expect to see them and you need

to have an explanation for why they aren’t meaningful for your company. At one

recent pitch event the conversation descended into a discussion of the year-end

dates for the three-year projections; at another event, no one noticed that the

online demo didn’t work since they didn’t try it.

To summarise, there’s plenty of money available in London today, but when

approaching angel networks you can’t assume Silicon Valley levels of background

knowledge and should plan accordingly to successfully close your round.

20


ockstar

Looking for

investment?

Read This.

Nickel Yudat,

founder of Danccce.com

Following the popular feature in the last edition

about Rockstar Hubs new Investment Fund, this

edition we talk with Rockstar MD, Jonathan Pfahl,

on why he decided on Danccce.com:

What appealed to you about Danccce, as an investment?

Was it just because it’s cool?

Whilst Nickel, the Founder of Danccce probably is one of the

coolest guys I have met, No, it wasn’t just that! What always

excites us most about new companies are the ones who are

genuinely creating a unique solution to a problem. Danccce

gives professional and would-be professional dancers

the opportunity to make money online. Nickel has been a

professional dancer for over 10 years so knows how difficult it

is for professional dancers to get those gigs and create a living,

he built this platform around knowing the problem of the dance

industry worldwide and how to market the solution.

So tell us more about Danccce.com?

The platform lets Dancers upload unique footage of themselves

either performing or teaching aspiring dancers. Users then pay

to download and watch and learn. Danccce takes a % of each

sale and the majority goes to the dancer. The team monitors

quality and provides useful tips and feedback to the users to

ensure sales will take place.

The other unique offering is the competitions the company

runs. Members can upload their dance videos for free and

try to win the competition. Whoever receives the most votes

wins. This encourages our users to market and share their own

performances on all the relevant social channels, and the top

5 share a multi-thousand pound prize pot. Our last competition

saw over 600,000 hits to the Danccce.com platform in under 4

weeks. Not bad exposure.

So in general, what is it you’re looking for in terms of

investment opportunity?

Solutions to problems with some form of proof of concept. It’s that

simple.

We are open to all sectors and have listened to a lot of pitches

here at the hub. Our ideal proof of concept though is actual clients

and sales. They don’t have to be huge sales, or even profitable

at present, but, like Nickel, we want to see business owners who

have put their own money and hard work into the early stage of

the business to show and prove to us they have created something

that people actually want. Or ideally need.

How many investments are you planning to make over the

next 12 months? Where is the money coming from?

Our goal is 10 – 15 investments over the next 12 months of

between 100k - £400k. The money is from an investment fund

owned and operated from the Rockstar Hub whose funds have

been raised predominantly from China. We have had a strong

presence in China, and a number of investors who have invested

in the fund to support growing businesses in the UK who could

potentially do the same over there.

Need Funding?

We invest in revenue focused startups.

All sectors considered.

Fast process.

Email: Sonal@RockstarHubs.com

Let’s begin the conversation.

info@rockstarhubs.com

0203 751 8150

www.rockstarhubs.com

21


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22

#appsworld


events

Event: TECHtoberfest

Date: Friday, 2nd October 2015

Time: 4pm – late

Place: London Fields Brewery,

365-366 Warburton Street,

Hackney, London, E8 3RR

Enthusiasts of the London startup scene are clearly big fans of their

tech….and their beer, so it makes perfect sense for their two passions

to be combined into a riotous and raucous event, namely TECHtoberfest

which is all set to be “probably the BEST beer and tech festival in

the world!” Set in the caverns of London Fields Brewery in the heart of

Hackney, there will be plenty to keep every inner geeky child deliriously

happy including all the latest tech and gadgets to play with, non-stop

entertainment including Oompah bands and of course heaps (or should

that be hops) of beer and bratwurst to keep those bellies full!

Stop suffering from FOMO anxiety attacks and get your tickets now and

since we love our readers so much, we’ve managed to bag you an extra

special deal – use the promo code “DISRUPTSMAG” to get 20% off all

tickets.

Could your digital innovation significantly impact

the financial services industry?

If the answer is yes and you are a startup working on changing the financial services industry

and looking to scale quickly, you should apply for the Barclays Accelerator powered by Techstars.

Our 13-week programme is designed to fast-track the next generation of FinTech businesses.

Apply online by 14 October 2015 at barclaysaccelerator.com

23

Barclays Bank PLC is registered in England and authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Registered No. 1026167.

Registered Office: 1 Churchill Place, London E14 5HP.


music

Flying Vinyl

Just as print ain’t dead, neither is vinyl. Apparently there aren’t enough presses

in the World to cover demand for record production. Vinyl is back, and for good

reason. It’s interesting to muse on availability vs collecting. The ‘availablity’ of

music is now so on-demand, that there’s no need to collect it. But this immediacy

of availability disconnects from the heritage, the legacy. It disconnects from

memory. Without the shelves of record covers, what’s going to prompt you to

suddenly decide to listen to a track from 30 years ago?

www.flyingvinyl.co.uk

@Flying_Vinyl

We were contacted by Craig, who wanted to tell

us about his startup. Always receptive to founders’

requests to share their stories, Craig pops over to

Disrupts offices in Whitechapel where we drank

coffee and talked shop.

As a business model, it’s a well trodden path,

monthly subscription = monthly delivery. It exists for

food, snacks, one dollar shaves, and cosmetics, if it

fits through a letter box you can subscribe to it.

But only a proper muso would do it with vinyl. And

Craig’s a muso.

He talks passionately about the connection to the

music, the sonic aspect of records, the legacy.

The resurgence of vynal, how a 7 inch single is all

about the music, from speakers not headphones,

from a machine not a computer, from a solid state

record not a digital rendering. All these things

matter. Hugely to some people. And with a record,

especially a 7 inch, you listen to it. That’s the

difference, the beauty. They arrive in the post, five

at a time (beautifully packaged by the way) and

you open the box, lay them out, look at the artwork

and designs, read the descriptions, flip through the

booklet, then one by one, you place the records of

the player, you sit down, and you listen. You actually

stop, and listen. No sms pops up, no facebook

notifications to interrupt, the record spins, the person

listens. Amazing isn’t it.

Craig finds the bands himself, from living the scene,

going to gigs, knowing the score. It’s a great break

for the bands. They’re picked on the merit of their

music, they don’t sign a contract, and they don’t

pay any money. They provide a master and the rest

is done for them. It builds their following, both on

social media, but also in real life, at gigs, events,

clubs. They get heard.

There’s a detectable love of music that’s at the heart

of this business. It’s obvious. From the aesthetics of

the packaging, to the generosity towards the bands,

who are charged nothing and even 50 copies of

their single to sell or give away.

Nice little hobby business then?

Maybe. But it wouldn’t surprise me if this is a

multimillion pound company this time next year. It’s

also a lesson in doing what you love. I’m going to

buy a record player.

24


The first coffee with Dripapp

is free! Just download the

DripApp and follow the map

to discover more amazing

independent coffeeshops.

Get a free copy of

the latest Disrupts there too.

drip app

soho picks:

My Place

21 Berwick street, London,

W1F 0PZ

coffee page

A laid back all-day dinning spot, where you can

enjoy a coffee and a sandwich or share a couple

of dinner plates with great wine. Situated in

London’s Theatreland, My Place is perfect for a

pre-theatre meal or a post-show snack or drinks

with extra late opening hours guest are always

made to feel welcome.

Sacred Soho

13 Ganton Street, London

W1F 9BL

Classic, antipodean-style cafe

serving gourmet coffee alongside

exquisite herbal teas and great

food. Sacred cafe embodies the

New Zealand cafe experience

deep in the heart of London.

Art Fix

10 Walkers Court, London,

W1F 0BZ

A unique space offering a wide variety

of art exhibitions and shows open to the

public. Get your caffeine buzz from the

cafe serving Blacksheep coffee, while

observing some of London’s newest artist.

A great place to meet and be inspired.

Wham Bahn Mi

40 Great Windmill street, London,

W1D 7LY

Vietnamese coffee shop and cafe, pioneering

the world of Banh Mi by creating elegant,

heart felt combinations of fresh greens and

marinated meats. If your mouth is watering

already, there’s more: Whaam Banh Mi’s

talented baristas serve delicious Vietnamese-style

coffee that you simply must try.

IS YOUR FAVOURITE COFFEESHOP NOT YET PART OF

DRIPAPP NETWORK? LET US KNOW!

SHARE IT AT EDITOR@DISRUPTS.CO.UK

Download DripApp

on Appstore.

Juice & Public

9 Wardour street, London

W1D 6PF

This cafe loves playing with new

ingredients, vibrant colors and

unique flavor combinations to

create nutritional juices, shakes

and smoothies with nut milks.

25


disrupts.london

Coolest Dot London. Available.

Here’s the bottom line on Dot London domains.

You can get a really good one, because most

of them are still available. If you want to own

HOORAY.COM you’ll have to go back in time

to 23rd July 2003. If you want HOORAY.CO.UK

you’ll have a bit of an easier job, only having to

bend the space time continuum to 22nd March

2004. If you want to buy HOORAY.LONDON

you’ll just have to be quick because it’s still

available on the 26th August 2015.

Dot London can make for some kickass brands.

Kickass.com creation date 10th March 1997

Kickass.co.uk creation date 13th June 1997

Kickass.London still available as at 26th August 2015

One more, go on then. I love searching out cool domains,

it’s a hobby of mine, like fossil collecting, or fishing.

Some I put back, some I keep.

Spoton.com 19th February 1997

Spoton.co.uk 7th October 1998

Spoton.london Go on, race ya to it.

Beach.London

“A creative laboratory. A space for

London’s most exciting illustrators,

designers, and more to test the creative

boundaries…”

supper.London

They deliver Supper. To Londoners.

26


disrupts.london

If you want to get a single word

.com, you’ll have to either fork

out a fair few thousand dollars, or

make up a new word. Literally the

entire dictionary is taken. Has been

for years.

Pretty much ditto for .co.uk names.

If you go for a Dot London domain,

you’ll be able to get a word that

describes what you do. And is

memorable.

Techspace.london

Obvious.London

Ok, so that one’s a premium

and costs a bit extra, but in

terms of branding, recognition,

memorability, it’s a pretty good

name.

Or how about GDN.London. Yours for

£60 or less. Could stand for Great

Domain Names, or abbreviated

garden. And aren’t all gardens in

London pretty abbreviated?

And here’s one more good reason

to use Dot London. You get free

promotion in disrupts magazine,

and on our website too.

Disrupts.london

And here’s a final reason. You get 50% off because

you read it here.

The possibilities are enough to make you DIZZY.London

And for that one you’ll have to check yourself.

Godaddy have got the offer on right now.

Bargain.london

Or you can buy bargain.com for £1,333,335.00.

I kid ye not.

27


female founders

LU LI is the founder

& CEO of Blooming

Founders, London’s

leading startup

support network for

female entrepreneurs.

She helps enterprising

women turn their

ideas into flourishing

businesses. She is also

UK ambassador for

Women’s Entrepreneurship

Day.

@houseofli

bloomingfounders.com

28

Ann Nkune,

Founder of Bloomsbury Beginnings and the

Parent-Cubator

www.BloomsburyBeginnings.org

Why did you start your business?

To help local mums like myself who wanted to start

a business or social enterprise but needed the

time, advice and confidence to make it a reality.

The Parent-Cubator is a way to help them solve

those problems and to create the personal and

professional networks that are so critical when

you’re facing the emotional rollercoaster of being

the parent.

What has been the biggest surprise to you?

I started with a different business, which were

“nearly new” sales. I thought everyone would

be as keen as I am on a second hand bargain.

To my surprise my sales were a flop! If I’d known

about the Lean Canvas then, I wouldn’t have spent

6 months trying to make them a success just by

flooding the neighbourhood with flyers.

If you had a magic wand to solve your biggest

challenge at the moment - what would the

solution be?

That families share childcare and housework more

equally, which would significantly increase my

potential customer base of flexible workers!

If you could swap a day with someone else, who

would it be and why?

Emma Stewart, co-founder of Timewise and

Women Like Us: two very successful organisations

supporting women to work flexibly and

encouraging organisations to use the vast pool of

talented mums who want or need to juggle child

care with other work priorities.

If you could change the world, what would you

change?

Make equality a much more valued ideal: the

societies with the best gender, race & social

equality have the least violence and the best life

outcomes.

Lia Choi,

Founder of Marybow Property

www.marybowproperty.com

Why did you start your business?

My father started out as an estate agent so

ever since I can remember, I was interested in

property. In my professional career, I found out

that I was good at delivering results, but not so

good at playing “the corporate game”. Over

time, I became disillusioned and decided it was

time to set up on my own business.

How have you changed since you started?

I have always been very goal-driven. But since

I’ve started to build my business, I’ve learned

to be more mindful and enjoy the process of

reaching a goal.

What has been the biggest surprise to you?

Not many people meet the profile that all

landlords want: full-time professional. I’ve

learned that people’s lives and backgrounds are

very diverse.

If you had a magic wand to solve your biggest

challenge at the moment - what would the solution

be?

All my contractors will be ethical and show up at

the time and date agreed.

If you could swap a day with someone else, who

would it be and why?

My husband, because he’s a more relaxed

person than me and sees the lighter side of life.

If you could change the world, what would you

change?

I have been involved with the Alzheimer’s Disease

International and Age UK for the last 18 years.

If I could change the world, I would eradicate

loneliness in old age.


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29


words

i have become tech,

creator of worlds

by Andrei croitor

OVER THE LAST FEW MONTHS I’ve spent quite a

bit of time on the receiving end of a shocked stare

followed by the now customary greeting: “A print

magazine?!”

Yes, a print magazine… Yes, we realise what the

printing costs are… Yes, we’re still going to do it…

No, we’re not completely insane…

Startups and neophilia are like roads and road

rage, you don’t really get one without the other. You

drive? That’s nice! Have fun with your impromptu

driving lesson from the guy in the car behind you.

Work in startups? How exiting! Get ready to be told

that there’s an app for that, whatever that is. Daily.

A new app in fact. The one you’ve heard of is sooo

last week.

Using something as archaic as paper is seen as a

sacrilege, and yet… everywhere I look, there are

sticky notes, books, and print magazines. Why?

There are a billion and one note taking apps, more

e-readers than I care to name, and a seemingly

infinite amount of web to trawl through.

Well, paper is simple. I don’t need training to use

paper. It doesn’t care about which OS I’m running

nor does it ask me to verify a billion different

account settings before I can begin work, or

play. It works by default. I don’t have to look after

paper, it looks after me.

Yet, something wonderful is happening. Tech is

maturing. It’s not throwing tantrums anymore.

Becoming stable. It’s no longer Frankenstein’s

monster… different limbs held together with digital

duct tape. The right hand of development now

knows what the left hand of design is doing. Even

the two legs of iOS and Windows are running

together. All it needed was a brain to control it all.

Hello Cloud.

Hello World.

30


words

Tech Start Ups,

Well-Being and

the Mindful

Entrepreneur

Two decades or more of research underlines the

beneficial role that our subjective sense of wellbeing

can have in all aspects of our lives. If we

have a strong sense of our own well being we live

longer, are more productive and creative at work,

have happier relationships and are generally

healthier. For these purposes, when we feel happy

our subjective sense of well-being is strong. These

feelings of happiness result primarily from us

achieving an appropriate balance in our lives

between pleasure and purpose. The research also

shows that the more we tune in to the experience

of being happy, the better able we are to discover

what makes us happy.

A number of problems arise however in trying to

move in this direction:

We don’t invest enough time in considering our

own well-being and the well-being of people

around us and it is a habit that is difficult to break;

We misdirect our attention, how we attend to it and

for how long. We tend to get easily distracted and

often allow our emotions to run away with us.

There is a limited amount of “attentional resources”

that each of us has: we can only give so much

attention to any one thing at any one time.

For the young tech start up entrepreneur, paying

attention to their own well-being as well as that of

the people around them including co-workers and

customers should be (but rarely is) a critical issue.

By maximising the “attentional resources” that the

entrepreneur applies to this overall sense of wellbeing

they can achieve a competitive advantage in

their market place. They will be able to differentiate

themselves in the market because the business is

driven by happy, motivated and engaged people.

And it is in this area that the mindful entrepreneur

can have a critical role to play.

Instead of investing excessive emotional energy

in ruminating about the past or unproductively

worrying about the future, the mindful entrepreneur

can connect in with the here and now. What is

before them in the present moment. Instead of

judging and blaming and shaming themselves

and others they can adopt a more grounded,

compassionate and non-judgemental approach

towards themselves and the people around them.

Instead of developing avoidance techniques when

faced with their fears or clinging desperately to the

need to achieve success at all costs, the mindful

entrepreneur seeks to face both their fears and

cravings with a sense of openness and acceptance

of what is. The core of mindfulness is about learning

how to transform your powers of attention.

In a digitised, globalised marketplace

characterised by volatility, uncertainty, complexity

and ambiguity in which the mindful entrepreneur

can, in the face of these pressures, be open,

flexible and responsive with a strong intuitive sense

of where the market is heading.

Chris Owen is

writing in his private

capacity.

He is also a

mindfulness teacher

based in South East

London.

31


experience

466 words

on north

korea

by sergej tolz

So I went to North Korea and was asked to write a short introductory article.

That’s tough, given the country is so alien to most and changing so fast that

information on the Internet is largely out of date or plainly wrong. After

all nobody local can update Wikipedia, given the Internet is banned. My

lovely tour guide (it’s only possible to visit Korea on a guided tour with two

chaperones, who can spy on you and each other apparently) did know

about Google and Baidu, but towing the communist party line, stated she

was not interested in the Web (I think she smirked saying that though). Party

pressure also made her worry that we might mess up the compulsory bowing,

to the very much dead, but apparently still ruling “Eternal President” Kim Ilsung

and the “Eternal Leader” Kim Jong-il. They are housed in the impressive

Kumsusan Palace, which used to be the elder Kim’s work place, but has since

been turned into a mausoleum. She seemed a lot more relaxed at the DMZ,

which was surprisingly tranquil, given that five days later the two Koreas

started bombing each other there.

The timing of my trip was chosen to coincide with the 70th anniversary of

Korea’s independence. We had hoped to see classic dictatorship style

military parades, but apparently those are reserved for the 70th foundation

day of the Communist Party in October. Instead our guide put on her

traditional dress and took us to Kim Il-sung Square, where several thousand

students had choreographed a mass dance. It was an impressive show and

included a fireworks display with the 150m tall Juche Tower as the backdrop.

Architecturally Pyongyang reminded me of Soviet Russia or China two

decades ago, though it is much cleaner. Oversized buildings like the

unfinished 105-story, pyramid-shaped, Ryugyong Hotel, which has been

under construction since 1987, and colossal statues like the 22m tall

Mansudae Monument to the two dead Kims, make actual humans feel very

small.

In an effort to contradict negative stereotypes, we were always shown the

best parts of Korea. For every meal we were served cornucopias of local

delicacies, from Kimchi, to duck barbeque (and yes, dog soup). I was keen to

see the other side of the DPRK, but unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed to explore

at will. The only place we were permitted to be unaccompanied, was at our

Orwellian Yanggakdo hotel. This did offer plenty of entertainment though

in forms of bars, pool tables, bowling lanes and a karaoke room, where

“It’s fun to stay in the D.P.R.K.” was sung (or rather butchered) to the tune of

YMCA. All in all, it was a very interesting trip and I had lots of fun, but I was

left with a feeling that I don’t know the place at all yet.

“...Oversized buildings like the unfinished

105-story Ryugyong Hotel, and

colossal statues like the Mansudae

Monument, make actual humans feel

very small.”

32


experience

looking for a

home in london

by Charlotte Robert

This is it. It’s the moment you’ve decided to leave your

cocoon to brave London and find the perfect new home.

You’ve already pictured it: wooden floors, gigantic

kitchen, a living room with your Fender in the left

corner... Heaven on earth.

In the countryside, it’s easy, no need to have twenty pages

of references, people are friendly and it’s not difficult to find

what you want. Full of energy, ticket in hand, you board the

train thinking about that beautiful one bedroom you want to

rent.

Then, you arrive in London… expensive, noisy, and at times

unsanitary. Your dream apartment quickly starts looking

awfully like a nightmare.

Andrei Croitor:

I know the feeling exactly, I’m looking for a place

too. But I’ve seen light at the end of the tunnel -

www.fizzyliving.com seems to have a fresh

approach to letting. For once I felt that I wasn’t

being lied to about every little detail when viewing

the flat. It’s still early days, so watch this space.

No matter. Full of motivation, you go from agency to agency.

“…and what’s your budget?”

And there’s that look – they’re mustering as much courtesy as

they can to tell you it’s nowhere near enough.

Soon enough you find yourself in a vicious circle where you

need a job to have an apartment, an apartment to apply for

a job. But as you just arrived in the city, you have nothing. To

infinity and beyond…

After giving up on agencies, you decide to go on Gumtree,

the fantastic website where you can find a palace for £400

per month. Wait, what? Hum, sounds too good to be true.

So, what should you do? Go back to your mother’s and?

Certainly not! So you start again and again. Suddenly, a

miracle: an understandable landlord who knows how difficult

and cruel the world is today, and who’s happy to rent his

apartment for you. For sure, it’s not your dream apartment, but

at least you have a nice little home to start a new life.

33


profile: whip

WHIP is a web based platform which makes engaging

in politics easy.

team

Company name

WHIP

Launch

BETA launched July 5th

Website

www.whip.org.uk

Contact

contact@whip.org.uk

mentors

Tracy Green - Head of Strategy at

Parliamentary Digital Service.

Arthur Kay - Bio-bean

needs

UK based CTO, Investment,

Ambassadors

The public, politicians and organisations can all engage directly

with the political issues of the moment, vote on the bills being

discussed in Parliament and share opinions.

Users are provided with a concise breakdown of Bills passing

through Parliament, synthesised by our team of writers, who cut

through the lengthy and complex legislative language to deliver

information in an accessible format.

Users are given the Bill’s meaning, arguments for, arguments

against, whom the Bill impacts, likely costs and links related to

media articles and the Bill itself. Users can then influence MPs

with the click of a button and share with friends on social media to

rally support all within one minute.

s

Strong value proposition for

the public, politicians and

organisations. High avg.

time spent. Strong branding.

Flexible infrastructure

which is easily scalable.

Acquisition channels to

politicians are few and

far between. Maintaining

bi partisan perspective

tough.

w

JONNY BOTTOMLEY

Founder & CEO

PPE grad pivoting to political tech.

ALAN LOCKE

CTO

Rockstar Ruby on Rails developer.

OLIVIA HOLTERMAN

Community manager

A voice more comforting than

Stephen Fry’s.

o

Geographical expansion

(any socio democratic

country). Many white

labeling opportunities.

Growth in pressure group

membership.

Low barriers to entry.

Competitors in polling

sector.

t

December 2014 January 2015 Feburary 2015 July 2015 September 2015 October 2015

Entered

idea into the Duke

of York young

enterprise award.

(Final round)

Company formed.

Trademark granted.

Alan joined the team,

working from his

base in America.

Tracy Green, Arthur

Kay joined advisory

team.

BETA launched.

1000 + signups in

first month Future;

University tour

to recruit WHIP

ambassadors.

Crowd Funding

34


politics page

Politics Massively

Excites Me

By Chad Hangit

@ChadHangit

It’s silly season, and true to its name, the Labour

Party has spent most of it squirming around in its

own birth fluids. It’s been quite distasteful, pretty

gross actually, almost enough to put one off ones

Pringles.

And along with the rest of the mammalian

kingdom, I blame JC for the disruption. No not

Jesus Christ, our sandal wearing bearded Lord

and Savior. The other one. Jeremy Corbyn.

One could also blame The Guardian newspaper

for the forthcoming JC Glory. They’ve spent so

much ink trying to convince their readership that

Corbyn is the new face of New New Labour

2.0 New Danger that their comments stream

overrunneth with disillusioned ABC1s who are all

voting Corby to find out why not.

But it’ll be fun if he strips naked to do the Cersei

Lannister walk of shame from Parliament to Tower

Hamlets wearing a Tory Blair mask whilst being

flogged by Betty Boothroyd ringing a bell to the

cry of shame. Some analysts predict this will

trigger a split within the Labour party, which will

continue to subdivide in an unstoppable fission

until there more variations of The Party than there

are atoms in the Universe. Then all the socialists

that secretly voted will gather up the elements to

form a new party, red in tooth and claw, which will

demand equality for the workers. But there will be

no workers, only benefit claimants.

The end.

NEXT EDITION:

Is Chuka Umanna Britain’s Obama?

Yes

No

Include 3 quid

A lot of people naively believe another system of

some sort is possible. They don’t know quite what,

and they don’t know how to make it happen. But

like Neo and Trinity in The Marxist, they feel the

wrongness of the current system, the illusion of it,

and want out. The one thing they definitely know is

that this magnificent social enlightenment won’t be

achieved simply by wearing a different coloured

tie. They also know now is the least risky time for

such a change, it’s 5 years to go before NULabour

MVP 2.1 hit’s the market. Which is fine, because

JCs role is that of a change bringer, a catalyst for

the process, not the finished product. Praise Him.

So will we really leave NATO, hand Europe to

Putin, hand the Falklands to Argentina, hand

Trident to Neptune, and re open the coal mines?

Who knows.

35


profile: dividabill

Company name

DividaBill

DividaBill is turning the chore of household bills into a

simple digital service. Consumers view the utility market

as highly complex with multiple suppliers and tariffs. By

applying technology and focusing on customer service,

we provide a simple, transparent solution.

Launch date

April 2015

Website

www.dividabill.co.uk

SAUMEEL PACHIGAR

Co-Founder

Gets the good deals so our

customers don’t have to.

Contacts

Saumeel Pachigar

s.pachigar@dividabill.co.uk

Jon Akass

jon.akass@dividabill.co.uk

investors

Michael Pennington – Gumtree

Tom Allason – Shutl

Patrick Teroerde – Hanson Asset

Management

mentors

Dr Stephen Rhys Thomas -

Accenture, Oracle, GSK.

John Armah - FT.com, CNBC.

Tony Littne - Harbottle & Lewis

Dori Abendschein - Schneider

Electric NA

needs

Smart, creative and data driven

growth hackers to join us in

becoming a household name.

How does it work? Any new tech you are using?

Multiple bills for energy, water, TV and internet become a

thing of the past as we create one consolidated bill each

month after you complete our simple sign on process.

Single household bills are banished as DividaBill charges

individual customers directly. You decide how bills are split by

customising payment levels. Solving the two major customer

queries.

How do you plan to make money on it?

The easy thing would be to charge either upfront or recurring

fees. But that’s not our style, we’re both free and can save

our customers money. As the champion of the consumer, we

buy utilities on a wholesale basis and at scale. This allows us

to give consumers the most competitive prices in the market

place including our reseller margin.

s

o

Strong endorsements,

A passionate and diverse team,

Innovative technology platform,

Scalable solution

Huge UK and international

markets,

Additional new services

provision,

Great timing

Long established incumbent

market place,

Struggling to acquire

talent

w

Volatile wholesale markets,

Regulation

t

JON AKASS

Co-Founder

Makes the world of bills keep on

spinning.

MARTI MARKOV

CTO

Builds the tech which makes

your bills simple.

36


co.uk

How did you realise you were an entrepreneur ?

I spent most my time in university trying to start new businesses. They

ranged from a social news aggregator in the Arabic world to creating

fish farms with social impacts in Ghana! This made me realise that I

loved solving problems. I think that an ability to find creative solutions

to problems can result in some exciting businesses. So to answer the

question I would say I realised at university!

Why did you decide to start DividaBill - Troubles with flat

sharing ?

During our final few months at university, I was staying in a house share

with Jon my co-founder and we really struggled with the bills. The mass

of suppliers and confusing tariffs made it even worse. Jon and I thought

that we can’t be the only people who feel like this, we found out pretty

quick that 35% of students fall out over bills. So at this point Jon dropped

his dissertation and we started the research and business plan for our

idea. Dividabill solves the problem and makes bills, simple and stress

free with 1 simple monthly payment for each housemate.

How's Dividabill going to change the world ?

How does anyone change the world? It just takes a group of very

dedicated individuals with a real vision solving a problem. We’re part

of a generation that is dealing with the effects of the financial crisis,

higher tuition fees and fast rising housing costs. Therefore having sound

financial education has never been more crucial and we’re driving the

solution.

Who are your clients?

If you have a home that you share with others, Dividabill can help !

Do you have an exit strategy?

We're focused on growth right now. The rented sector is destined to grow

significantly for the foreseeable future and this presents a whole range

of issues that need solutions. We don’t just need financial education but

credible solutions to the problems out there. Dividabill's knowledge and

insight into this marketplace is too exciting to leave, just yet anyway.

Subscribe

37


profile: fabrik

Create smarter, shine brighter. Beautiful portfolio

websites for creatives, powered by clever

technology and you.

team

Company name

Fabrik

needs

Launch

May 2015

Website

fabrik.io

Contacts

info@fabrik.io

• Investor introductions

• More hours in the day

• More wonderful creatives to

boast about

Putting the time into building a portfolio website is hard,

especially when establishing a career making actual work.

Creatives are forced to place their work where they can across

disparate creative services and struggle against the noise of

everyday social media to find exposure.

Fabrik is a SaaS portfolio platform that completely separates

project content from website styling, enabling creatives to add

work from their existing creative services, upload content, blog

and share without touching any code. Fabrik’s clever portfolio

technology understands and adapts to it’s content, making each

website one of a kind, across all devices.

We’re using adaptive technologies that learn from the content

that’s added, making decisions on how it should be laid out,

what colors and tone the portfolio site should be to really make

the work shine. We can also begin to make suggestions to the

creative on how to enhance their portfolio as they continue to

mould it.

TIM JARVIS

CEO

Design & Branding. Currently

playing with financial models.

BEN FOSTER

CTO

Development & Architecture. Currently

playing with colour sampling tech.

PHIL JENKINS

CPO

Development & Support. Currently

playing with data visualisations.

s

• Easily add work

• Connect to existing

creative services

• No technical

understanding needed

• Industry backed

• No in-house marketing

expertise

• Customer expectations

very high

w

o

• Partnerships with creative

services

• Creative industry growing

at +5% year on year

• Incredibly loyal, networked

customer base

• Big CMS products

focusing on creative

industry

• Donald Trump

t

38


Do you really think your

startup is viable? Really?

wednesday,

18 november 6:30 pm

whitechapel

the startup interrogation panel show

Get your free ticket: antipitch.co.uk

39


unreasonable people

Photo and introduction

by JON STEVENS

www.jonstevensphotography.com

Mutaz Qubbaj

the founder of

squirrel.me

How did you realise you’re an entrepreneur?

I guess I’ve always had a knack for figuring out

how to make things better and easier to use. I’ve

been doing that for ages. Breaking stuff to figure

out how it works was a rite of passage as one of 4

brothers. Upgrading from toys to software, however,

took place only when I went to MIT and decided to

throw myself into roles at the Media Lab that involved

changing the face of collaborative storytelling as well

as enabling people to interact with their computers

without having to use a keyboard or mouse (this was

pre-Kinect btw).

As for wanting to be involved in a project that

developed something from the ground up and

making a business out of it, my first real taste came

through a job at Zefer, an internet strategy consulting

company based out of Boston. Initially working out

of one of the founders’ apartments, I immediately fell

in love with the idea of once again taking something

that was broken and making it better. We were

helping people find their voice on the web through

designing their online presence to match their ‘bricks

and mortar’ personality. Awesome experience and

glad I’m ‘stuck in’ again despite the 13yr ‘bankerbreak’!

What’s your background? Any crazy stories?

I’m a Palestinian with a Jordanian passport who

was smuggled out of Kuwait during the Gulf War.

Always great conversation fodder, but I guess they

say ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,’

though I can’t discount the amazing strength of my

parents who got our family through what can only be

described as a crazy time.

I’d have to say between that and being the

youngest of 4 brothers who competed to set and

exceed standards, including breaking the record

for most international siblings that studied at MIT on

scholarship, my life’s been quite a ride.

MIT kicked off my trek towards becoming a techie, with a degree in Electrical

Engineering and Computer Science and internships at the MIT Media Lab, I was

ready and raring to embrace the life of an entrepreneur until… Until I was offered

the opportunity to take ‘any job that I wanted’ on an investment banking trading

floor.

13 years later having done everything from being a trader, salesperson,

product marketer, published strategist and global lecturer at each of Morgan

Stanley, Credit Suisse and PIMCO, and armed with a Masters in Finance from

LBS, I decided to take the plunge (the positive kind) into truly embracing my

desire to build something that could truly make a difference.

What was the stupidest idea you ever had?

This is a fun one. I wouldn’t call it stupid… More of a learning experience.

Imagine coming up with a solution to the payday loan problem, and calling it

‘Payday Savers’… That’s actually the first iteration of the Squirrel name when we

were purely focused on coming up with an ethical and affordable alternative to

a payday loan. Didn’t quite fly with any of our initial stakeholders!

How did you end up making Squirrel?

It all started with a few ads pushing people to take out 2000-6000% APR

payday loans during their time of need. This is something I figured obviously

needed ‘fixing’…

Seeing the Church of England come out and say that they wanted to compete

the largest payday lender out of existence also meant that this was a pretty big

problem looking for a solution.

That’s when the conversations with payday borrowers and any/everybody

in the credit community came into play. I even got to talk to the Archbishop of

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unreasonable people

Canterbury’s second in command about how to take

on the £4B payday loan epidemic.

Squirrel is the culmination of thousands of

conversations that all started with a common thread

– “what keeps you up at night about your finances?”

It was the realization that people weren’t looking for

an easy way to score cheap credit. They were looking

for a way to get comfortable with their money.

It’s crazy to think about how much time goes into

setting aside savings or even making it to the end of

month on their salary. What is enlightening is seeing

the common theme of people getting creative about

either.

The number of people we meet who get paid

and pass their money on to their ‘better half’ for safe

keeping is growing on a daily basis. So many people

want to make sure they can’t tap into their savings at

the slightest whim or perceived emergency.

We’ve actually seen people set up multiple bank

accounts at different banks just to physically separate

out their money into different categories and levels

of access.

Squirrel organically grew out of these individual

needs into a platform that addresses fundamental

issues people have with their finances. We’re all

about making people better with their money… And

Squirrel makes it easy!

Without going into a full pitch, at its core, Squirrel

gives people an account into which their pay is

diverted so that they can manage their bills (and

we’ll help get them better deals on them), so that they

can set aside savings automatically before they even

get access to their pay, and so that they can break

down their spending money into weekly amounts as

opposed to a lump sum every month. Check out the

nifty animation online if you get a chance.

How did you end up at a corporate accelerator?

After spending half a year working out of a

basement, too many coffee shops and restaurants to

remember, a chance email crossed my inbox asking

for applications to the Barlcays Techststars program.

So, we were a FinTech company looking for a

(much) better and more stable home. Squirrel had

(and still has) ambitious goals to help people with

their money, but camping out at restaurants and

ordering that hundredth glass of water to make sure

we didn’t get kicked out didn’t really cut it.

The program appealed to us as it brought

together Techstars, a global startup program with an

“The reasonable man adapts himself

to the world; the unreasonable one

persists in trying to adapt the world

to himself. Therefore, all progress

depends on the unreasonable man.”

George Bernard Shaw

amazing entrepreneurial ecosystem, and Barclays, a global bank that could give

us the edge – or what we like to call an ‘unfair advantage’ – as a FinTech startup

looking to land on its feet.

One application, and 5 or 6 meetings later, we became part of the first

cohort of the London Barclays Techstars program. I remember getting the news

by phone, hanging up and thinking “did that just happen?”

Looking back, the accelerator proved to be a pivotal experience for Squirrel,

and the mentor-heavy setup helped scope out the vision and the message that

helped us win both the WIRED and Pitch@Palace competitions.

Since then, we’ve moved onto become part of the Wayra UnLtd program

which is run by Telefonica-O2 with a focus on social impact. We managed to

latch onto another combination in terms of global resources poised to drive

acceleration and traction as part of a program aligned with our mission to

change peoples’ lives for the better.

Describe in 20 words what your company offers and what’s so special about it.

Squirrel helps people take control of their financial lives. It’s the only holistic

payroll-based solution with an account out there.

If you could change one thing in the world what would it be?

I would love to see a world where people are easily able to get a handle on

their finances.

The reality is that financial complexity is the root of so much distress in an

individual’s life. Distress that doesn’t separate between a person’s work or

personal life for that matter. I keep on talking about facilitating financial freedom

and setting people on the path to having financial peace of mind, and I only see

that taking root if more efforts align to help people realise their financial goals.

This would of course have to address giving people better access to financial

products what has(d)evolved to become a ‘poverty premium’ for those that need

that access the most. Think about how expensive a payday loan is relative to

taking out credit as a premier banking customer.

I believe that everybody has an important part to play here… The innovators

that provide the ideas and the executions, the banks and incumbents that can

provide the structure or the ‘rails’ to build a solution, and the regulators who

can take a proactive stance in rewarding that innovation and aligning their roles

to reduce barriers to bringing something new and potentially life-changing to

market.

So here’s one to everybody out there who’s listening - Let’s get on this

bandwagon together and make financial freedom a reality for everbody!

Papa Squirrel out...

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Guest columnist

Emma Cheshire,

Co-Founder and CEO of Dotforge

Emma is has a wealth of experience in tech innovation, third sector

integration and fund management, as well as being an industry

representative on the Tech Cluster Alliance for TechCity UK.

Emma was responsible for raising the initial investment funding of

£500,000 to launch the first Dotforge programmes. Her commitment

to the programme’s success resulted in a further £1.5million

investment in partnership with Key Fund and the RSA to pilot

Dotforge Impact, a social accelerator in Sheffield & recently launched

in Manchester. She is now developing a wider portfolio of sector

focused programmes building on the strengths of key cities in the

north of England.

DotForge is an incubator right? Can you give us the details? What

kind of companies, what’s the funding deal, what’s the criteria?

Dotforge is a pre-seed accelerator for early stage software

startups. We offer 3 months intensive support via mentoring,

workshops and access to our experienced team, investment of

£18,000 and free office space for a further 3 months after the

program.

We invest in early stage teams which in most cases have a good

pedigree of working together or have known each other for

some time. Applicants will have built a basic MVP or pared down

working prototype with at minimum some beta users, although in

some cases this may be more progressed. We don’t take teams at

idea stage only.

The accelerator was established by a group of angel investors in

Sheffield lead by Lee Strafford and myself. The first two programs

ran supporting startups working in a wider range of industries. We

have some great successes including Coacher, Linc and Mihaibao

from these accelerators.

You’re expanding from Sheffield into Leeds, is that right? And

Manchester? And we hear you guys are getting involved with Rise?

We have now launched in Manchester with Dotforge Impact,

supporting socially motivated entrepreneurial teams using

technology to solve social and environmental challenges. This

program is very inspiring and we have companies working

on commodifying solar energy in accessible form for off grid

networks in Africa (Mobile Power - mobile-power.co.uk), building

an e-commerce applications for the unbanked (PIP Payments -

pippayments.com) and bringing personalization techniques to the

difficult and relatively dehumanising process of searching for a

care home for a loved one (Care Selector - careselector.com).

We plan to launch in Leeds shortly so watch this space for more

exciting developments in the Northern tech startup scene.

What’s your position on the Northern startup scene? Is it in

competition with London, or does it have it’s own niche or niches?

I think in the world of tech startups the competition for offering the

right context for new companies is global –about Berlin, Boulder

and Singapore as much as it is San Fran and London. Each place

has a different offer, but often the smart capital is hunting in all

these places for good companies.

There are clear supply chain strengths outside of London which we

can leverage for startups, these include e-health, logistics and IoT.

But we also think there is an different way to do FinTech which is

building on the long established back office delivery in Edinburgh,

Leeds and Manchester to create a focused B2B FinTech offer for

startups.

We know Nostrum Group is involved with supporting Dotforge,

who else have you got on board?

The Nostrum team are brilliant advocates of FinTech out of London

and Harrogate, we are also working with the team at Rise, a

global open innovation community who are backing our move

to Manchester and have sponsored Dotforge. We are looking

forward to working with them on future accelerators.

What’s the plan for DotForge in 2016?

Our plans include FinTech as well as expanding Dotforge Impact

and a number of other exciting developments.

Next edition: Let’s see some of these Northern Upstart Startup in

action.

We have a lot to shout about so lets.

Photo by Mark Davis

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Yes

No

amplab.co

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