An enthusiastic and passionate army of teenagers and young 20-somethings are largely to thank for the tech movement that has swept across the UK over the last few years.
Inspired by the millions of dollars that have been made by the likes of Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Bebo's Michael Birch, Snapchat's Evan Spiegel, and Box's Aaron Levie, a new generation of talented young tech-types are looking to turn their start-ups into the next big thing.
Techworld asked some of the leading start-up experts in the UK to nominate who they believe are the most promising entrepreneurs under the age of 25 and here we've caught up with them.
Those that feature on the list were nominated by the following people:
- Benjamin Southworth - former deputy CEO of Tech City
- Matthew Clifford - co-founder of Entrepreneur First
- Alice Bentinck - co-founder of Entrepreneur First
- Oli Johnson - co-founder of Rain Making Loft
- Sam Shead - senior reporter for Techworld
1. Nick D’Aloisio (18), Product Manager at Yahoo
Arguably the UK's best-known teenage tech prodigy, Nick D'Aloisio sold his news aggregation app, Summly, to Yahoo last year for a reported $30 million (£18 million).
Following the sale of Summly, the Australian-born British entrepreneur and computer programmer joined Yahoo as a product manager, where he went on to design the Yahoo News Digest iOS app, launched last month in the UK.
The app, which is based largely on the Summly algorithms, has been well received by the British public, with an average 4.5 star rating in the iTunes store, based on 928 reviews.
"I’m really proud, first off, of what I’ve done with News Digest," D'Aloisio told Techworld. "After the Summly acquisition it was very important for us to continue to evolve the technology and be heads down for a number of months, which we were."
Over the last 12 months, D'Aloisio has successfully juggled his job at Yahoo, which requires him to go to the US every few weeks, with his ongoing university education in the UK.
"I want to make sure that I continue to feel like I’m innovating in the industry whether that’s creating applications or being involved in the ecosystem," said D'Aloisio. "I’ve no idea where I’ll be in five years. I could be at Yahoo...I could be at university...I could be doing another company. But wherever I am, I want to innovate and create companies or ideas that I’m super-passionate about."
D'Aloisio went on to reveal that Yahoo boss Marissa Mayer has been a huge inspiration to him since joining the company. "I think as a CEO she’s done an amazing job in last 12 months and I’ve enjoyed being mentored by her," he said, before adding that Steve Jobs has also been a key role model for him.
Beyond Summly and Yahoo News Digest, D'Aloisio is now starting to invest in other technology companies, with Swedish ecommerce start-up TicTail becoming his first investment, just last month.
"TicTail was an interesting investment," said D'Aloisio. "I think this kind of ecommerce gives the younger generation the ability to sell products in a very easy, straight-forward manner through a very beautiful design as well.
"I’m a passive investor so I’m not actively involved but I choose investments where I can add value or learn about the space."
2. John Collison (24), Co-founder of Stripe
How would you describe what your business does?
Stripe is the only online payments system built from the ground up for the internet. Unbound by existing barriers in financial services, Stripe approaches online payments as a problem rooted in code and design – not finance.
What do you consider your greatest achievements to date?
We have tens of thousands of businesses running on Stripe already, and we're very proud of that. But we're still young – Stripe was only founded in 2010. We still like thinking about challenges rather than any achievements to date.
The biggest challenge we care about is economic connectivity across the internet. While the web is 20-years-old, there is still no easy way to move money between people online. In fact most people in the world are essentially prevented from participating in the internet economy altogether as they don't have a credit card or their bank doesn't allow them to accept online payments. Solving that is our biggest challenge.
What are your targets for the next five years?
We think Stripe should be available in every country in the world, so expect to see a great deal of international expansion. Also, enabling more payments to move online means helping businesses accept more than just credit cards, so we will be integrating many more methods of payment as well.
Who are your top three role models in tech and why?
Evan Williams, Elon Musk, and Larry Page have each spent many years scaling an infrastructural business (short-form communication, rocketry and search, respectively) in industries that were thought to be mature already. Yet their work has had a profound impact in the relatively few years it's been around.
What initiatives would you like to see introduced in the UK to support young tech entrepreneurs?
Everyone starting a business today is forced to slog through the same setup quagmire – from basic company formation to technicalities such as co-founder structures, tax rules and legal agreements. As software continues to eat the world, these requirements should be simplified and productised, leaving founders informed, empowered and free to invest their time in what really matters – their core business ideas.
3rd and 4th: Alex Klein (23), Co-founder of Kano, and George Burgess (21), Founder and CEO of Gojimo
5th and 6th: Andrew Brackin (19), Founder of Spot, and James Anderson (16), Founder of Thinkspace
7th and 8th: Leo Anthias (23), Co-founder and CTO at Kivo.com, and Isabel Bescos (23), International Marketing Co-ordinator at BlaBlaCar.
9th and 10th: Elia Videtta (23), co-founder and VP of engineering at AdBrain, and Tade Oyerinde (20), co-founder and CEO of Gleepost.
11th and 12th: Emma Walker (21), programs producer at General Assembly, and Duncan Peters (23), founder of eRipple.
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