Croydon Tech City 2017 launch event

 

Croydon was never a place that would come to mind if you were to think about technology and business. There are some who would automatically associate Croydon with a bad reputation of crime and shady neighbourhoods. This era, however, seems to be gradually disappearing for the benefit of Croydon’s small businesses and start ups. Croydon is becoming one of the best places to start and grow your own business. The South London Silicon Valley. Tech Hub. Tech City.

On January 26th 2017, Croydon Tech City hosted its first event of 2017 at Tomorrow Hub, located on Croydon High Street. Smarta and over 100 people attended the event and oh, what an evening it was!

It all kicked off with short welcoming speech from Jonathan Rose – one of the co-founders of Croydon Tech City – filling everyone with the ‘future is bright’ state of mind.

Next to the stage was Sarah Wilkinson, Chief Digital, Data and Technology Officer at the Home Office. She delivered an amazing speech on how technology is becoming more and more of an important topic in government. She also disclosed how over the last five years, there has been a significant growth on the focus from the government on how to make technology more widely accessible.  

The focal point of Sarah’s speech, especially in relation to the business community in Croydon, is that she revealed that Croydon will become the largest national hub for Home Office Digital, Data and Technology and by the end of 2017! Already Croydon has 4.5K workers in the Croydon based Home Office. This is set to develop as the Home Office has chosen Croydon to relocate staff out of Westminster with approximately 1.5k of Home Office tech professionals here in Croydon Tech City. 

Sarah stressed that the post-Brexit Britain as a technology hub will be stronger than ever, offering:

  • World-class universities and research;
  • World-leading digital consumers who are rapid and eager adopters of digital innovation;
  • The commitment to drive digital by default across government;
  • World-class infrastructure and a competitive communications market that delivers choice and low prices to consumers.

It was amazing to hear that in addition to technology, what is even more important is the community and that we need to work hard to keep and maintain the integration between us because “the work you do doesn’t care about your organisational boundaries” and all we need really is space, time and passion.

On that topic, Nigel Dias – co-founder of Croydon Tech City started presenting on the future of Croydon Tech City and big plans of expansion for 2017:

Environment and Culture:

  • Run and support tech events
  • Organize and support socials
  • Promote non-CTC events
  • Support non-tech culture

Tech Business and Support

  • Support growth from basic start-ups to scale ups, from team creation to business skills development;
  • Enable professional services to successfully operate locally
  • Areas of Support: Technology, Business, Investment

Education – Future Tech City

  • Partner with leading tech education providers to support skills development;
  • Sustain and grow volunteer community,
  • Create ‘young’ CTC Network
  • Career/apprenticeship opportunities

Promotion and Investment

  • Represents interest of tech;
  • Encourage domestic/international investment;
  • Advise on infrastructure investments;
  • Promote the Croydon community.

Nigel also encouraged everyone to spread the word and get involved in Future Tech City Volunteer program and get involved by becoming an official partner, run events or be a sponsor for others. For more information please see Croydon Tech City.

When the break was announced all the community magic happened when everyone was talking to each other about ideas, business, work and most importantly local community. There was no competition. It was purely amazing experience to be one of the companies exhibiting that evening and showing how we can support people who are just starting the long journey of being an entrepreneur and run their own business with our service and it was great to meet other companies with the same objective – to help and encourage people to follow and realise their dreams - Enterprise 4 London, Sleeptwitch, The Croydon Citizen, Sussex Innovation Centre, Killburn & Strode, Fluid4Sight and Bryden Johnson and not to forget those who are making sure that tech city will grow in the future – Code Club and Apps for Good.

 

The evening ended with a fireside chat with Ian Makgill from Spend Network and Joyce Veheary from Lend and Tend that was hosted by Sarah Luxford – co-founder of Croydon Tech City.

It was an extremely inspirational moment when we had a chance to hear their stories about how they started, what are their successes; how they see their future and honestly admitting that it was not only good things that have motivated them.

Ian’s story on learning the hard way when he needed to tell one of the longest working employees in the company that they were being made redundant really gave a glimpse of the real and unfortunately cruel world of business and how lonely it can get. He told us as well about how he is constantly trying hard to fight with  corruption. 

Joyce’s story showed something that, from my perspective, is very important that not only the BIG problems can knock you down but there are these small things on the way that can make you give up. Such as building a website, having to be in constant contact with developers because you want your perfect idea to be reflected in the best way possible but also prime functionality, and sometimes it is not really happening in the way you want.

Despite all that difficulties they were both optimistic about their future and plans for 2017 and shared with us their advice on running your own business:

  • Patience - to develop, grow and sustain the idea it may take up to 5 years. Don't expect too much.
  • Tech is the major part of the business and if you are not interested in tech, force yourself to understand it and if you are interested, learn more and more. Croydon Tech City is here to help - embrace the chance.
  • Don't be too much in love with the finished idea. Keep working towards the goal that benefits your product. Take small baby steps.

The grand finale of the night for me was the chance to meet and have a quick chat with Joyce – such an inspiration – and I wish to end this not so short composition with three simple things told by Jonathan Rose:

  1. Don’t disappear.
  2. Get Involved.
  3. Do something about it.

 

See you next time and as Joyce would say “Love thy neighbour”!

 

To see what is happening and get the list of events please visit Croydon Tech City website because this year will be big and loaded with events – socials, workshops, meetup groups, mentoring sessions with tech gurus, work space and much more.

If you are interested in getting more information about Entrepreneurs from the panel and their companies please visit Spend Network & Lend and Tend and check their Twitter accounts for latest info @SpendNetwork & @LendandTend

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