Index Ventures, one of the UK’s richest venture capital firms, has backed an initiative that’s aiming to get students interested in working for startups through an initiative known as HackCampus.
Cofounded by Harry Lachenmayer, Ben Chin and Ammaar Reshi, HackCampus is an organisation that is facilitating internships for the UK and Europe’s most technical people at fast-growing startups.
Mayfair-based Index, which has €2 billion in assets, connected HackCampus to several London startups that it has invested in, including SwiftKey, Edited, onefinestay and Secret Escapes.
“HackCampus chimed very much with me in terms of what they were doing around trying to build a community of student hackers and aggregate that in the UK and beyond,” said Dominic Jacquesson, head of venture development at Index, at a HackCampus event held at SwiftKey’s office last night.
“We provided some funding,” he added. “Other than that, we made some introductions to the companies and they [HackCampus] took it from there.”
Index, which was unable to disclose how much funding it has pledged, also benefits because the startups in its portfolio get a boost from the skills that the interns bring to the table.
“Having spoken to a lot of our companies and a lot of the engineering teams, the top pain point or growth constraint is finding technical talent,” he said.
“On the West Coast and in the Bay Area, a lot of the most successful startups have used campus recruiting strategies,” he said, pointing to Dropbox and MIT. “They’ve been central to how they’ve built their engineering teams. It doesn’t exist in Europe at all yet.”
“We’ve got Google and Facebook and some of the other bigger tech companies hunting around European campuses trying to find talent but startups haven’t been able to do that. They generally lack the capacity to kick those initiatives off.”
Over 300 people applied for internships through HackCampus this year but only six were granted the opportunity to complete a nine-week paid role at one of the five fast-growing London firms that participated this year.
While completing the summer internships (now in their final stages), the interns stayed in student accommodation in East London.
The accommodation costs were covered by Index and the startup companies, with each party contributing 50 percent towards the total cost.
The interns also received approximately £400 per week during their placements.
Next summer HackCampus hopes to introduce more companies to the initiative.
HackCampus cofounder Harry Lachenmayer said: “At HackCampus we’ve managed to give a really talented group of students from all over Europe the chance to work at London’s best startups.”