When Google launched Campus in 2012, the stereotypes about East London tech startups probably rang true. The scene was mostly white, male, it was overwhelmingly young, and probably too separated from other sectors in its own silo. But the picture is rapidly changing with two trends emerging this year: diversity and industry convergence.
Disrupting industry verticals
UK startups are firmly embedded in the real economy and in our everyday lives. In the last year alone, 1,040 jobs were created and £50 million in funding was raised by startups at Campus London. The way we do business and conduct our lives has changed. Boundaries are blurred - and disrupting tradition is the new norm.
London is no longer a start-up heaven for just fintech and fashion start-ups. Our residents are pushing new boundaries - take adtech hardware firm Eyetease who work with the world's largest digital advertising suppliers. Or Welldoing.org - an independent psychotherapist and counsellor directory created because the founder, Louise Chunn, believed that the market for mental health practitioners should be as user friendly as a dating app.
Given the breadth of established industries in the city, this is no surprise. In 2016, we expect London's startup scene to produce stars in even more varied industries, with healthtech and VR poised to have an especially good year.
But just as the boundaries between startups and the rest of the economy have been dissolved, so too have the divides between one tech vertical and the next, making old school industry categories almost obsolete. We've seen it first-hand with Ding, a startup selected for Dot Everyone's #5050 tech event held at Campus. Ding connects your doorbell to your phone, allowing you to "be at home anywhere", a beautifully simple innovation that, depending on application, could be seen as healthtech, IOT and hardware.
This convergence is echoed in the growing bonds between startups and larger firms. Maybe once a startup would have little overlap with larger, more traditional institutions but increasingly, companies large and small are partnering for mutual advantage.
It's about winning together. We see Campus as a connecting space who can help startups benefit from the experience and userbase bigger companies have, and large firms seek inspiration from the nimble, agile ways entrepreneurs work. For example, the participants for a recent UX workshop we ran varied from well-known startups like Transferwise to Macmillan Cancer Research and Samsung. The chance to build these relationships is the reason over half our community come to Campus.
No such thing as the typical entrepreneur
It is amongst our membership we have seen the biggest change. Once, startups were the preserve of young and highly-caffeinated bearded men, furiously typing code in complete isolation. The truth is there's no such thing as the typical entrepreneur anymore. After all, we know more diverse teams produce better products, and we're proud to be a place where all kinds of founders and teams thrive.
Campus London now has over 50,000 members, and the clear trend is for ever-increasing diversity. A year ago, 2 in 10 of our members were women - but by the end of last year, the proportion had grown to 4 in 10. What's more, 38% of startups at Campus London have at least one female founder.
We are also giving the community the tools to adapt to the new economy. It's clear from our members that the old yearning for a lifelong career has been replaced by the yearning for lifelong learning. Our "Founders over 50" program was developed to provide experienced professionals with a support network of first-time fellow founders, while 'Campus for Mums and Dads' is the world's first baby-friendly startup programme. The Campus community reflects London's diversity, and captures our city's internationalism. Over half of members come from outside the UK with members from over 159 countries.
We're proud to be a home for entrepreneurs of all kinds in London. So no matter who you are and what issue you're hoping to solve with your new business, get in touch and let's grow the innovation economy together.
For more information about our year at Campus, please read our report here.
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