#Croydon #TechCity season finale review

By - Monday 4th August, 2014

Take a look back at the last #Croydon #TechCity event of the academic year with Shaniqua Benjamin

Photo by Fluid4Sight, used with permission.

School was out for summer and so was Croydon Tech City, who hosted their season finale on July 24th at Matthews Yard. CTC has had a successful 2013-2014 season, which kicked off in October. Co-founder Jonny Rose said: “We want to build a tech eco-system that can rival places like East London”.

In true season finale fashion, Jonny relayed CTC’s story of the past year, giving us refreshers of previous presentations and an insight into what we may have missed along the way. “We want to improve the future of young people in the borough”, said Jonny, as he reminded us of the Future Tech City event that was hosted in November at the Brit School. He brought us back to the December presentation by local 17-year-old success story, Andrew Bracken, who I remember having the pleasure of meeting at my first CTC event in January. According to Jonny, “Croydon’s now sexy apparently”, as he referred to Mayor of London, Boris Johnson’s two shout-outs.

There was a stronger focus on media during the finale, which was fantastic for me, as I have a greater familiarity with the media world than the tech world. “We tend to talk a lot about software, ‘cause software’s sexy… but media is really cool as well”, were Jonny’s enthusiastic words as he introduced the presenters for the evening.

The first presentation had more of a tech aspect as we learnt about organisation tool, Snupps, from delivery manager, Richard Green, and head of marketing, Carolyn Simnett Branco. Richard and Carolyn used humorous anecdotes throughout their presentation to keep everyone engaged, as they not only gave us an insight into Snupps, but also provided us with some useful lessons in business. One of the key things highlighted by Carolyn was, “Don’t focus on your competitors. Focus on your customers”.

Bringing people together and boosting positivity in the borough is exactly what Croydon needs

Snupps helps you to keep track of and share your stuff, simply by taking a picture of an item, adding some details and then storing it virtually – Richard described it as “the holy grail of data”. Like many of the best business ideas, Snupps came from a place of need. It was started by a father and son duo who lost their luggage on holiday and realised that they were unsure of what was missing, so they came up with the idea of a visual organiser. Their company was fortunate enough to receive a $5 million investment from a single seed investor, which allows Snupps to operate efficiently and deliver this useful service. Although the company’s main customer base is in the United States, they have a world class team of employers from around the globe, including Richard, who is from Croydon and “proud”.

“We are the founders, creators, designers, developers and promoters of Just Croydon”, said Steve Hemsley, co-founder of the social network specifically for Croydon. Steve and his co-founder, Chris Howson, delivered the second presentation of the evening as they introduced us to Just Croydon, a website that allows you to access “loads of local stuff” – including news stories, job notifications and events – which Chris hopes will “encourage community interaction”. I was also happy to learn that they had partnered with the Croydon Arts Network to help promote the Croydon arts scene, as the arts are of high importance to me and they are often neglected.

Chris assured us that site membership would always be free, but this raised the question as to how they would make a profit – they actually hope to monetise their site through sponsorship and advertising. Just Croydon is all about increasing a sense of community by bringing people together and boosting positivity in the borough, which is exactly what Croydon needs.

It is great to see good things coming out of the riots and I am glad that they have increased the sense of community spirit

The final guest presentation of the 2013-2014 CTC season came from Tim Longhurst, one half of Croydon Radio’s founding pair. Croydon Radio is an internet based community radio station that was launched in July 2012 and is staffed entirely by an amazing group of volunteers. Tim and his co-founder, Tracey Rabbets, started the station because they were shocked and saddened by the riots, but also inspired by the groundswell of activity that followed. Tim said: “Radio is the name that we give. It’s not really what we do”. It is great to see good things coming out of the riots and I am glad that they have increased the sense of community spirit.

We learnt that Croydon Radio has a significant online following, as well as listeners, including twelve thousand website visitors to go alongside their five to ten thousand listeners per week. In fact, since its launch, Croydon Radio has been heard by over 500 thousand listeners, which is quite an achievement. However, there are still a number of challenges the station is facing, including the cost of keeping it running and maintaining volunteer motivation. Resource limitation also prevents involvement by young people, but they are trying to change that so more young people can get involved in the future, which I was glad to hear.

“There are incredibly cool people doing great things here every day”, said Jonny. This statement rang true after hearing the evening’s various presentations and being reminded of CTC’s successful past season. Croydon is alive and kicking, and as Jonny says, “Lots of things are happening because of you guys”. The official launch of Just Croydon will be on 13th August in Matthews Yard from 6:30pm, which will be a great opportunity for all to come along and get to know others in the community. So let’s keep this community sprit going until September, when Croydon Tech City will make its welcome return. After all, it’s nothing like going back to school.

#Croydon #TechCity will return after the summer break on Thursday 18th September at Matthews Yard.

To attend, please sign up as ‘attending’ here or  to confirm your attendance.

Tim, founder of Croydon Radio.
Photo by Fluid4Sight, used with permission.

Jonny Rose and Nigel Dias, co-founders of #Croydon #TechCity.
Photo by Fluid4Sight, used with permission.

Chris and Steve, founders of Just Croydon.
Photo by Fluid4Sight, used with permission.

Carolyn and Richard, founders of Snupps.
Photo by Fluid4Sight, used with permission.

Jonny Rose, co-founder of #Croydon #TechCity.
Photo by Fluid4Sight, used with permission.

Shaniqua Benjamin

Shaniqua Benjamin

Shaniqua is a writer and poet, born and raised in Thornton Heath, which she is proud to call her home. She has used her passion for making a difference to found a platform, Young People Insight, which empowers the voices of young people and encourages community engagement. When she’s not writing or trying to cause change, she loves reading, scrapbooking, watching films and listening to music.

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