Tag Archives: london

Growth at Silicon Roundabout rivals Silicon Valley. How can we sustain it?

silicon-roundabout bannerHow can the UK tech scene overtake its rivals from across the pond?

It’s undeniable that London remains one of the most creative and diverse cities in the globe. This is evident in London’s Silicon Roundabout/Tech City which is arguably beating Berlin to be Europe’s number one, and ranked number three – against Network in New York and Silicon Valley in San Francisco – as the global ‘Tech Centre’.

This is certainly impressive and an achievement to be proud of. But then why, of the 30 $1bn tech companies created in Europe in the past 13 years, were only 11 of these companies were founded in the UK?

In comparison the US produced 39 such companies in the same period, according to research done by GP Bullhound.

European culture may make us more cautious when seeking expansion – but is this the reason why so many UK tech start-ups sell up too early to large US tech companies?

By doing so, they are making it easier for the US to lead the way, albeit only on paper.

It’s often argued that in the UK we have the best minds in the globe but we fail to incubate those great ideas, inventions and innovations.

Is this therefore the reason why there are only two UK registered tech firms listed on the FTSE 100?

Silicon Valley is well known as a haven for tech start-ups, and equally as the home of some of the world’s largest tech corporations. However, in recent years London has begun to outpace Silicon Valley and is now growing faster in terms of employee numbers.

This growth has allowed London to directly rival Silicon Valley by attracting global investment away from California.

Yet Silicon Valley start-ups on average still raise two to three times more capital in the early stages of their development in comparison to London.

Could this all change with Google’s venture capital arm and the opening of its Campus space in Shoreditch supplying office space and networking opportunities to UK start-ups?

It’s a great piece of US investment in the UK, rather unfortunately opened by George Osborne who hailed it as a centre for the European tech scene. This year it has already created 576 jobs with an average of £75,000 raised via formal sources by each start-up involved in the Campus.

It’s not a government initiative and certainly not a coup for the disastrous coalition. But whilst brilliant in every way, the Campus serves to drive London’s tech scene via a US company that cultivates start-ups before then relocating them to Silicon Valley to focus on the US market.

Instead, we should be cultivating and fostering that talent to make London and the UK the globe’s tech capital. We should be enticing US start-ups from across the pond to come here, rather than vice versa.


Read more at: http://www.londonlovesbusiness.com/business-news/tech/daniel-todaro-growth-at-silicon-roundabout-rivals-silicon-valley-how-can-we-sustain-it/8725.article

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How London businesses can hang on to their world class workforce

london skyline banner

As someone who runs my own business, there are two bits of research that have caught my eye in the past few weeks. Individually, neither is particularly dramatic, but when combined they represent a real challenge for London businesses.

The first is the latest report from High Fliers confirming that the median starting salary for top graduates has stuck at the same level since 2010. From 2004 until then, it grew roughly in proportion to the growing cost-of-living. Yet owing to the downturn the figure has stagnated four years in a row.

The second stat – which should make some businesses nervous – is that rental prices in London have increased to such an extent that the average London rent (£1,348/month) is now more than twice the average rent in the North East (£520/month). It’s a worrying situation when the brightest young talent are being offered a diminishing quality of life if they choose to work in London.

It only takes a quick check of any jobsite to see that there are some great companies offering competitive salaries for jobs in the North East. It isn’t sustainable for businesses to continue to assume the brightest young grads will keep throwing away so much of their income on London rent, when they could be living the high life away from the capital. Businesses need to give their employees the confidence and security they need to stay.

One of the many reasons some of the brightest workers are attracted to London is because of its innovation and creativity. Yet employers need to ensure they’re applying this innovation and creativity to how they motivate and retain their staff. It’s great to offer pension schemes, life insurance and gym membership as enticements to your staff where many other businesses still don’t.

However, to attract the best workers, businesses need to make it feasible for their employees to remain in London and not lose them to more affordable areas. Living in London is a delicate balance, and there are two main ways that businesses can help their employees

1. Lend employees their rental deposits

Even the cheapest shared accommodation in London can reach £650-700/month, and landlords often demand a deposit of six to eight weeks rent. This means that companies hoping to hire the brightest and best graduates fresh out of university are expecting them to have nearly £1,500 in the bank. Companies should therefore soften the blow of their employees moving to the city by loaning them their deposit, to be repaid over the course of their first two years. There’s little risk to the company, as the amount would be roughly a month’s salary, which can be withheld if anything goes wrong and the employment is terminated. Such an offer would help to entice the best candidates to apply, and demonstrate the value you place in supporting your workforce. Companies who can’t afford to pay all the deposit up front for their employees can still make a loan contribution. With London prices so high, every little helps.

2. Subsidise their ‘me’ time

It isn’t just having somewhere to live that’s so expensive in London, day-to-day living adds up too. With a strong work-hard play-hard ethic, many Londoners need to find the time to relax, or risk burning out. It’s in everyone’s interests for employers to get involved in this. Many firms already subsidise or pay for gym membership. Yet to go one step further, it’s crucial that employees take time out to recover, reset and recharge. Companies who contribute to their employees wellbeing with a leisure allowance – a contribution that might go towards tickets for the theatre, football or a new art exhibition – can reap the rewards of a de-stressed and re-motivated staff whose minds are open to new forms of creativity. Immersing staff into the wealth of cultural activities the greatest city in the world has to offer enriches your workforce and its ideas: that’s the creative spirit that makes London great.

If the cost of living in London continues its rise, there’s no doubt that salary is going to become an increasingly vital criteria for job applicants. Companies who can’t compete with larger companies on salary have to be inventive and stand out with what they can offer employees. There aren’t metrics to gauge the benefits to a company of having motivated staff, but it should be high on the priority list for any business. If businesses can offer prospective employees the benefits of London life without the drawbacks, London should retain and continue to attract its world class talent.


Read more at: http://realbusiness.co.uk/article/27200-how-london-businesses-can-hang-on-to-their-world-class-workforce

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How to give the perfect interview – and bag the perfect candidate

londonlovesbusinessSourcing the right people and attracting talent to roles is a major challenge for any recruitment department. Here’s how to do it

Making your opportunity stand out among the thousands out there is vital. And once that CV reaches you – revealing the ‘perfect’ candidate on paper – it’s down to he or she only to deliver at interview, do the research, dress to impress and nail that presentation, right?

Wrong. You should be fully prepared to judge how this individual is right for your team, business and clients – and make the right decision to hire.

1. It’s in the meet and greet

First impressions count. The handshake, the smile and the overall presence – but remember to pay attention to the less obvious details too, what people say about shoes is true!  Candidates are given the chance to prove themselves throughout the time you spend with them, but ultimately it comes down to whether you would put that person in front of your MD, clients and customers presented as they are at their best – the interview.
2. Stop when you’ve seen enough

A short interview isn’t always a bad interview. Interviewers often make the mistake of clock watching, trying to make sure they fill that one hour session. Don’t do it, just stop when you’ve seen enough! Don’t waste your time or theirs if you’ve made the decision and it’s not going to work. And if they demonstrate the skills you’re looking for in a short space of time, be careful not to fill time by asking irrelevant questions and going off track as this could put candidates off.
3. Address the clichés, numbers, hobbies and interests

That opening paragraph on a CV can read like a long list of carefully selected adjectives, while the key achievements sound incredible. Break those words and numbers down: “UK’s top sales professional”, out of how many people? “Grown sales 51% since last quarter”, how exactly has this been done? More specifics please. Hobbies and interests are important to the cultural fit, but remember to explore them further, ensure the candidate hasn’t exaggerated by going into the finer detail.  If they “love playing golf”, what is their handicap? And if they haven’t put any interests down, ask. You’ll appeal on a more personal level that way, which is particularly important when remembering the below…
4. You are there to impress too

Don’t let your hiring manager run to an interview, grabbing a CV off the printer on the way, not briefed by the person who selected the candidate to interview. You need to sell not only the company, role and work culture, but also sell yourself as their line manager or direct report. Inform them of your background and let them know what they can learn from you personally. What can you offer them that other employers can’t? Tell them about the workplace culture and practices whether – it be complementary breakfast, flexi time, monthly company days out or free parking.  Share, you’ll be surprised what motivates people when it comes down to deciding what opportunity is best for them to take.
5. Does your interviewer know what they are doing?

When you’ve recruited a new manager or promoted within, training on interview skills are often forgotten. It may not be a priority at the time, but within days of requesting to recruit, your hiring manager could be sitting across the table from a potential future employee with no idea where to start. Introduce recruitment training sessions as an ongoing programme – don’t lose that great hire through a poor interview and lack of preparation on your part.


Read more at: http://www.londonlovesbusiness.com/business-news/business/how-to-give-the-perfect-interview-and-bag-the-perfect-candidate-/8482.article

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The top 5 wearable technology gadgets in 2014


Wearable tech is already one of this year’s hottest trends. Are you dressed to thrill?

If the headlines dominated by the latest and greatest smart watches and activity trackers following last month’s Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas are anything to go by, 2014 is set to be the year of wearable tech. Wearable technology is changing the way we communicate, exercise, socialise; and in many ways is enhancing the way our society operates. From fitness-tracking bracelets to smart ski goggles, Daniel Todaro, MD at field marketing agency Gekko, writes for us about the five wearable tech gadgets of this year that you would be happy to wear and use…

1.Fitbit Force


Fitbit Force, the latest standout offering from Fitbit, is a hyper designed and developed wearable fitness tracker. The subtle wristband displays daily stats, steps taken, calories burned, distance travelled as well as allowing the users to easily log food intake, sleep patterns, and even health information like glucose levels and blood pressure. The device can also easily be synced with a smartphone app or through a wireless dongle for PCs.

Expected to go on sale in the UK in the spring, we can expect the Fitbit Force to fly off the shelves.

2.Pebble Watch & Steel
Launched towards the end of last year in the UK, the Pebble has gained a large following in a relatively short space of time.

This waterproof smartwatch is designed to display messages from an iOS or Android smartphone and can send users notifications when they receive an email. Simple and stylish, the Pebble can be purchased in red, orange, black or grey, and comes with a removable 22mm watch strap. Alternatively the Steel is a great-looking wristwatch with top-end construction.

With an impressively long battery life and easy-to-use buttons, I suspect both Pebble variants will be huge in 2014.

Perhaps one for the most security conscious out there, iWallet is a revolutionary biometric locking wallet that protects personal information, cash and cards using the latest cutting edge technology.

What’s the standout feature? If the user’s iWallet and smartphone are more than 10 -15 feet apart, the phone will sound. Pickpockets beware.

4.Epson Moverio BT-100 smart glasses
Another potential game-changer on the market, with transparent lenses and Wi-Fi connectivity, these smart glasses allow you to update your social network accounts, catch up on the latest news and watch videos online while still being able to see your surroundings. With the Android™ 2.2 platform and a 4GB SD memory card, you can choose from a whole host of viewing options, such as MPEG 4 and H.264 videos, to watch content wherever you want.

The smart glasses offer a big-screen experience equivalent to a 320-inch display viewed from 20 metres away. The ‘control-at-your-fingertips’ touch-sensitive track pad means you can effortlessly navigate between menus and find exactly what you’re looking for.

This is the perfect hands-free alternative to small smartphone and tablet PC screens.

5. Oakley Airwave Ski Goggles
These ski goggles allow gadget-obsessed skiers and competitive adrenaline junkies to stay connected on the slopes. Sitting at the bottom of the left goggle lens, the technology senses and shows a range of speed and distance metric notifications, including buddy tracking, navigation, music and iOS/Android smartphone synching so you can view incoming calls and text messages with low energy Bluetooth connectivity.

Packaged with everything you expect from Oakley, the goggles include anti-fog technology, dual-vented lens designed to keep vision clear, 100 percent UV filters and Iridium lens coatings to to balance light transmission.

Daniel Todaro, MD at field marketing agency Gekko

Read the full article at http://www.londonlovesbusiness.com/business-news/tech/the-top-10-wearable-technology-gadgets-in-2014/7519.article

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