#Croydon #TechCity Autumn Launch: Review

By - Wednesday 25th September, 2013

#Croydon #TechCity was back with a bang last week, with the key note speech by Russell Buckley


Key note speaker Russell Buckley. Photo by Fluid4Sight.

#Croydon #TechCity was back for its autumn launch on Thursday and it was overflowing at Matthews Yard. There was barely any standing room left. This month’s panel saw Feast Express and Makerble take the stage to talk about their businesses.

Matthew Gomes and Hursh Donde gave a glitch-free demonstration of their app Feast Express, quite impressive considering it was on the freshly downloaded iOS7.

“We went for a big plan, put it all together and said ‘what can we do’. The moment you open the app it should activate your tastebuds.” It sure did leave me craving a pizza. The app aims to help people order local food.

Aware that they were going into a market where they would be competing with some well-established names like Just Eat and Hungry House, their aim was to make their app even easier for the user by having everything in one place. Users can order a delivery or book a table and see where their friends are eating – all in one convenient and beautifully designed app. Gomes and Donde have understood how important the social aspect of eating is and combined it with social media to bring technology in line with age old traditions.

Simple considerations like making sure the user doesn’t have to consistently enter their postcode when smart phones come with GPS will make it a delight to use. The app will be launching in London soon and then rolled out across the UK.

Before zeroing in on this idea to connect people to local food, they had come up with a lot of others, but they wanted an idea that was sustainable and feasible. Since starting they have been self-funding, aiming to get the slick app to the market in order to attract investors.

Based on the past speed of technology innovation future mobile will be the size of a red blood cell, and a billion times more powerful

Next up was Matt Kepple, whose business had a humanitarian aspect to it. Growing up, Matt had always seen his parents sponsoring children, so when he went to university and finally had some disposable income it was natural for him to sponsor a child himself; that was, until all of those university related expenses drained his account. But Matt decided to start a campaign, ‘sponsor a kid for a quid’, encouraging his friends to pool their money in order to sponsor one child. Through word of mouth the campaign was a success. Thrown out of the comfortable confines of university, he decided to take the idea further and now is the founder of Makerble. Using the site people who have donated their money can see exactly where it has gone to help the cause.

“Most people have a desire to change the world, but there is no way to know where money goes in charities. People give when donations are transparent.”

Matt gave the crowd some useful advice to be pragmatic about their idea. He also plugged the advantages of going freelance after he found he had become a very valuable asset to companies.

“Don’t be disheartened if at first people don’t get [your idea]. Put yourself out there and see what comes back. I had my friends be really honest with me about the app, and it is better because of that.”

Of course there were challenges and Matt had his top three ready for us: Working with friends who aren’t working to your standard; Dealing with all the rejection; And figuring out how you’re going to keep afloat.

Funding for the site was a mixed bag, from savings, grants and startup loans. They have recently received £100k investment.

The event again attracted a large crowd to Matthews Yard. Photo by Fluid4Sight.

After a short intermission and some quick networking, it was time for the key note speaker Russell Buckley, who is currently a special advisor to the UK Government Venture Capital Unit. His speech painted an absolutely, terrifyingly, innovative view of the future to come. Buckley is also referred to as the ‘godfather of mobile advertising’; he predicted that mobile would kill the PC. Based on the past speed of technology innovation future mobiles (or whatever we are calling them by then) will be the size of a red blood cell, and a billion times more powerful.

This would all be part of the Singularity, a concept first raised in Ray Kurzweil’s book The Singularity is Near, which predicts that in the next 20 years a point will come when technology exceeds human intelligence. It will happen regardless of governments, and no one will get a vote on it until it is too late. We’ve seen this numerous times as technology has expanded so rapidly that democratic processes have failed to keep up. His message to entrepreneurs: ”Think ahead of the exponential curve. As everything is getting faster and faster, developers and inventors need to think about future technology, how we will live and what we will be using to communicate. Come up with ideas that will be needed tomorrow.”

The next #Croydon #TechCity event will be on Thursday October 24th 2013, so make sure you sign up now on Facebook.


Rajdeep Sandhu has been a lifelong resident in New Addington, apart from when she studied journalism in central London. Now she works in book publishing and when she isn't working, can be found reading, writing or tweeting. Most of all she is excited about how New Addington will benefit from the changes in Croydon.

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