Hey, CTOs… how about speaking plain English?

CTO_EnglishDuring my years in agency-land I’ve met and worked with a number of CTOs as an agency and as a client). Most have bored the shit out of me, they weren’t actually boring, they simply spoke Geek (Greek would’ve been easier).

But when I was at Wunderman London I met Gregory Roekens, CTO at AMV BBDO. He changed my view on what an inspiring, engaging asset a plain-speaking CTO can be to an agency and how if they speak in ‘our’ language it makes life waaaaay less boring. Continue reading

Rocket Lawyer aims to disrupt the legal industry

Getting a good lawyer isn's about getting your leg over

Getting a good lawyer isn’t just about getting your leg over

The UK launch of Rocket Lawyer in London’s Tech City is an effort to disrupt the expensive and customer-unfriendly legal industry, news that will interest entrepreneurs, startups an SMEs.

The company has introduced straightforward and affordable legal services across the UK plus free legal services for three days in a bid to simplify the law, cut out the jargon and reduce the costs of legal matters.

Its subscription service of £25 per month may make it an attractive alternative to the current model. For this £25 fee, customers gain access to unlimited legal documents, one free 30-minute consultation with an On Call lawyer per month and a pre-negotiated discount of up to 33% off all additional legal fees. Continue reading

London’s Tech City growth stunted by talent and capital shortage

On the day of the launch of the annual Shoreditch Digital festival, a new report says that a shortage of skilled workers and a lack of funding is holding back the growth of London’s Tech City.

The ‘Tech City Futures’ Report was produced by reseearch company GfK and surveyed London’s businesses based out of Tech City. More than three quarters (77%) say a lack of skilled workers is restricting their growth
A third (33%) believe a lack of access to capital is hindering their business, and a similar number (29%) say as a consequence their company is missing significant business opportunities to expand. Continue reading

Want a job in London’s Tech City? How about unlimited holidays?

Crisis, what crisis? As the non-digital element of the UK population struggles with unemployment, shrinking incomes and a divide that is more discrete than the north/south house price divide, others ain’t doing too badly.

In London and the (some would say fool’s) paradise of Shoreditch where the streets are paved with (some would say fool’s) gold, those young people who listened at school are being offered all types of perks to join start-ups.

According to a poll conducted by Silicon Milkroundabout, some start-ups are tempting the best developers away from the City with benefits that include not only health and dental packages, equity and free travel, but also unlimited holidays.

At this weekend’s jobs fair, arranged by the aforesaid Silicon Milkroundabout (please change that name), there were more than 800 jobs on offer from 130 companies with average salaries for developers clocking in at an average of £34,000 and a top-end wage of £85,000.

Perks on offer included free health insurance, equity stakes, gym membership and ‘the computer of their choice’, whisky club membership, unlimited holiday, travel abroad, music festival tickets, wake-boarding trips and even remote control helicopters.

Silicon Milkroundabout, the brainchild of Songkick co-founders Pete Smith and Ian Hogarth, claims that its job fair has not only helped people find hundreds of jobs, it has also saved start-ups more than £5 million in recruiters’ fees.

“Tech City will only continue to grow, as will the demand for talent. Start-ups still need to be inventive in what they can offer employees that the City and big tech companies can’t, and the ultimate benefit is the chance to play an integral part in a growing company,” said Pete Smith, Songkick co-founder.

This must seem like another world to a struggling family in Halifax where broadband brings to mind a pair of trousers rather than a career choice but for now a note to budding developers with all this choice in front of them.

Don’t take the remote control helicopter. I know it looks clever and you can show it to your friend(s), but go for unlimited holidays, trust me, you won’t regret it.

Forget the knockers, there are some very real achievements at Silicon Roundabout

* Guest writer Dan Crow is CTO of UK startup Songkick

In Saturday’s Telegraph, blogger Damian Thompson tried to make a case that Silicon Roundabout is home to spoilt luvvies who churn out inconsequential iPhone apps, all the while whining about a lack of government handouts.

Is Thompson right, or is there something more substantial going on in London’s tech scene?

Stripped of the hyperbole, Thompson’s criticisms boil down to: the entrepreneurs of Silicon Roundabout are enthusiastic; they haven’t delivered anything of worth (but other parts of the UK have); UK tech entrepreneurs aren’t as aggressive as their Silicon Valley counterparts and spend all their time asking for government handouts instead of building businesses. Continue reading