Young Tech Entrepreneurs Beat Unemployment
What do you do when you've just left university and you're faced with the highest youth unemployment since 1992?
London's young tech entrepreneurs aren't sitting around waiting for jobs, they're doing something about it - starting their own businesses.
In Tech City, Gocardless and Enternships are two start-ups headed by university graduates under 30 who are doing it for themselves.
Enternships currently supplies interns to 4000 companies, including 300 in Tech City. It's run by Rajeeb Dey, 26, an Oxford graduate who also set up Start-Up Britain in 2011.
Dey says there's a schism in UK work culture that means entrepreneurship is not always considered to be a viable option for graduates.
"Entrepreneurship is a mindset, and there's a lack of understanding around it," he says.
"I think people see role models like Alan Sugar and Richard Branson on TV and they think they're unattainable, they think that's not me, so they don't think entrepreneurship is a real choice for them."
Dey says university milkrounds also limit young people's expectations: "The milkrounds at uni only expose you to roles in big banks and blue chips, but I'd say doing an internship in a tech company is the best way to gain different skills you need to set up your own business and be your own boss."
Controversially, Dey does not disagree with free or unpaid work experience. He did unpaid work in his field of interest early in his career, and considers the exposure invaluable.
"Work experience is necessary, but it should be aligned to your interests. Free work can be valuable if it's in the field you want to be in. I always say get yourself some work experience, then make yourself indispensible and you can create your own role - especially in start-ups."
In the UK, Dey believes we have a different attitude to trying and failing, and that risk-taking behaviour is essential to start your own firm. "The biggest mistakes I made was giving away a big portion of my company, which I eventually bought back. The biggest risk I took was turning down two big job offers to start this company. But you have to take the risk, and learn as you go along."
Three young graduates, also out of Oxford, have taken the leap quite recently.
Launched just two weeks ago, Gocardless is an online payment system that makes it easier to make and receive payments online. For example, if a tradesperson needs cash for a job done, Gocardless can get that payment through, no excuses.
Matt Robinson, 24, Hiroki Takeuchi, 25 and Tom Blomfield, 26 joined The Huffington Post on a group call to talk about why entrepreneurship has never been a better option in the tech field.
"I think the film The Social Network has really helped. It's put the idea into people's head that it's a viable idea to start up your own tech business," Matt says.
Hiroki says the challenges in starting your own business are huge, which can put some people off: "Everything that happens you have to make happen. You have to put a lot in, but you get a lot out," he says.
The reward, Matt tells us, is "to build something big and impact on people's lives, and honestly, it's fantastic to be in control and have ownership of what you're doing."
The three recommend finding suitable co-founders to go out with, because you will need support. They also say find your role models, learn from them, and don't be afraid to do an internship to learn the skills you will need in your own business.
Why are these business owners so supportive of the entrepreneurship idea? They've had support from the get-go. All three of the Gocardless entrepreneurs were lucky enough to have support from their schools, and then their university via the Oxford Entrepreneurs Club to start their business.
Young entrepreneurial role models in the London tech scene:
Lily Lapenna from MyBnk.
David Langer and Andy Young who set up Group Spaces.
Ian Hogarth, Michelle You, Pete Smith Songkick.
Suruchi Saxena, Uttara Parikh, Suruchi Bhargava of Wish Want Wear