This year we have had the chance to do some great interviews with amazing people for our Tough Cookies series.
These interviews aim to celebrate the strong and determined individuals making waves in the tech industry.
CookiesHQ has core values of sharing goodness in the community, bringing people together and creating a dynamic and better tech ecosystem. This can be seen with our events, Smart Cookies, that brings together in the same room entrepreneurs, designers, developers and marketers. We believe that by promoting the sharing of successes, failures and tips in the tech industry, we can all learn and build better businesses.
So here is a roundup of the fantastic answers we have collected from our past interviews, as well as some of the interviewees favourite cookies…
What would you say to younger people looking to launch their own tech company?
Get started, work hard, ask for help and learn quick. It’s not at all easy, you’ll work 24/7, you’ll have sleepless nights, but you’ll learn loads. And you’ll be surprised at what you can achieve in a short space of time. Go for it.
It’s a really exciting time to get into tech, so first of all, do it! There are a lot of different roles in tech too, enough to suit anybody, you don’t have to be a hardcore coder if it doesn’t suit you.
Just do it. And sooner than you think you should. You’ll always wish you’d started earlier and you’ve actually far less to lose than you might think. Ignore the doubters, stay true to your mission, deliver, deliver, deliver. Oh and get the best accountant you can afford – they’re invaluable.
What are the key things tech companies can do to help young individuals looking to get into the industry?
First and foremost, it’s vital that tech companies recognise that talents are evenly distributed across the city, but opportunities are not. From that perspective, tech companies need to be intentional in taking a multi-faceted approach to their scouting and recruitment approach. This could be through working with community-based social mobility agencies such as Babbasa to identify, prepare, and place young people from less advantaged backgrounds. It could also be through identifying talent in other, less conventional ways.
Anything worth watching, reading or seeing?
I’ve really enjoyed ‘Simple, Logical, Repeatable’ by Marianne Page. It takes all the thinking from E-Myth and shows you how to implement the thinking into your business.
I’m a prodigious reader of books, so that’s a dangerous question! I think one of the most interesting books I’ve read in a while is I don’t Work Fridays by Martin Norbury. It’s a great read and has some solid business advice for anyone growing a business.
What part of the tech industry most excites you at the moment?
For me, the scale of growth and impact the tech industry has locally is super exciting. Bristol & Bath has a number of world-leading companies and so of the technology being developed is truly mind-blowing. That, in conjunction with the local attitude of being interested in tech with purpose or ‘paying it forward’ means it’s a really exciting place to be.
Start-ups! It’s been kind of my bread and butter for the last 2 years helping them grow. I love the fast pace, the culture and the partnership you can build where you feel like an arm of their company.
That we’re standing at the top of a precipice constantly, technology isn’t benevolent or malevolent but the way it is used or wielded is, which means the responsibility and integrity of CEOs, regardless of the company size, is pivotal to the future of our civilization. The closer we get to a dystopian society, the more important this is.
In regards to technology, I’m most excited by the advances of machine learning and artificial intelligence. I know that both of these things are going to become increasingly important in our line of work. For example, you can see how the role of machine learning is changing the dynamic when it comes to the cost of SEO, and even the dynamics underlying PPC.
What has been the biggest challenge you have had to face in your career and how did you overcome it?
Being a leader in an organisation can be a really lonely and difficult place to be. Building a network of peers who you can talk to and share challenges is something I think which is super important for your career and just general happiness.
Having worked at Lloyds Banking Group for 15 years I was pigeonholed as a financial services expert but I wanted to work in a different sector. How did I overcome it? I started FD Works and created my own opportunities.
My biggest challenge was having my daughter when I was 18 and putting myself through university whilst supporting her. I had to work nights and study during the day so it was extremely tough, but I’m a strong believer that you can achieve anything you set your mind to!
Anything we should be using to help us with our work at the moment?
There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to tech, so all business owners need to find the software that works best for them. We love using Notion at SLHQ to share information across the team and manage workloads. We also love Teams for internal chat.
I’m building it… we have data all over the place. We use Google Analytics, Mailchimp, Hubspot, Quickbooks, Asana, Slack, Google, Linkedin & more… it’s disparate, disconnected and complex. So much so, that this is what sparked our idea for a new dashboard tool for SME businesses, like ours, call My Data3, which we’re testing with clients right now and will launch in early 2020. Watch this space…
You are the king of networking! What would be your top tip?
I’m an intersectional-queer-feminist and a republican so would prefer not to be called “King” of anything. My top tip? You can’t fake empathy, understanding or interest but you can find something about a person, business, idea or project that interests you. If you listen, learn and ask questions about what you’re attracted to you can build real relationships with people and expand your network of credibility.
Are you seeing a change in the way young people are founding tech companies?
I think we’re seeing a generational change in the attitude towards business altogether, both for the good & the bad but I think the good wins out in the end. There’s a lot of fallacy around entrepreneurship with many people wanting to explore it for the title alone. Luckily though, I think most realise soon enough (or right away, anyway) that entrepreneurship is a vocation that can give you a career without ceilings and the flexibility of making your own rules.
Today’s generation (YGen) is cause focussed and want a healthier work-life balance. They’ve seen generations burn out, families fail (they might have experienced it first hand) and want to ensure a better work/life balance.
Do you have any advice to your younger self?
To my 15-year-old self: ‘Be more, with less’
To my 18-year-old self: Don’t get out a credit card!