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UK tech stars aiming to change the world: Emma Walker and Duncan Peters

Techworld is showcasing 12 young UK entrepreneurs over the next six weeks

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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 hundreds of 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, the 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 as part of a new six-part series. Each week we'll bring you two new entrepreneurs until the winner and the runner-up are unveiled at the end of April. 

Those that feature on the list have been 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

11. Emma Walker (21), ‎Programs Producer at General Assembly and former candidate on The Apprentice

How would you describe what your business does? 

General Assembly turns thinkers into creators through education and opportunity in technology, entrepreneurship and design across eight locations globally and online. We do so by providing a skills-based, hands-on, learning education experience guided by practitioners in the field. I am the Programs Producer at General Assembly London, running our long-form courses.

What do you consider your greatest achievements to date? 

Joining the New Entrepreneurs Foundation has certainly been the most life-changing achievement to date. The New Entrepreneurs Foundation (NEF) aims to create the next generation of entrepreneurs through a programme that combines real-life business experience in fast growing SMEs with intensive training, business mentoring and coaching. I joined NEF at 19 and worked alongside the CEO of a 3,000 person, high growth business – the exposure was priceless.

What are your targets for the next five years?

In the next two years I hope to be running my own business, preferably in the ecommerce space. I think ecommerce has come a long way through advances in technology, delivery methods and a change in spending habits, but there’s further to go. In five years, I believe that I can be running an international business with revenues of over £10 million.

Who are your top three role models in tech and why? 

Jeff Bezos: he understands that building a tech company isn’t just about software, but about a bigger picture of using technology and processes to transform otherwise traditional businesses.

Jony Ive: he has inspired me to focus on the craft of building great products, showing that it’s not just about profits and that people are willing to pay for items that have been created with care.

Eileen Burbidge: she is one of the leading angel investors in London. I look up to her as inspiration for women in the tech scene.

What initiatives would you like to see introduced in the UK to support young tech entrepreneurs? 

There is still a huge shortage of web development skills in the UK, which companies such as General Assembly are trying to address. The tech “scene” is still a club for those who can code, or who have friends who can, so I would love to see more help in raising the technical abilities of those who didn’t learn programming as a kid. I’m excited to see what the industry will look like when even more smart people can be involved, building more businesses that change industries. The more that can be done to encourage university graduates to consider start-ups as an option over the corporate world, the stronger we can be as an entrepreneurial nation.

12. Duncan Peters (23), Founder of eRipple

How would you describe what your business does?

eRipple helps you find co-founders and start companies. Finding like-minded entrepreneurs with complementary skills can be tough. After filling in a profile online, our mobile app allows you to search and connect with the most like-minded entrepreneurs. We help you find like-minded co-founders, support groups and advisors for the business you’re starting.

What do you consider your greatest achievements to date? 

To the people who know me, I’m no ‘Tech Genius’, everything is a journey and I’m learning every day. I started with my first dollars on eBay, have done websites, and I'm now moving with eRipple into apps. Tech’s automatable, scalable and accessible! This is why I like it.

After an ‘interesting’ first business, and a number of marketing experiments, I found a marketing mentor in America. I went out to learn from his success and ended up creating a matching platform connecting entrepreneurs. This was the beginning of eRipple. We're in a soon to be 'paid beta’ at the moment as we build up the audience in London.

What are your targets for the next five years? 

eRipple is currently in 48 cities, but on a small level. The focus is now on London. There are so many talented entrepreneurs waiting to create amazing companies! We aim to be the go-to platform for sourcing co-founders, in all of these cities. Eventually, we want to help break down international boundaries, forging connections across different countries. The digital landscape has changed the way we approach business. You don’t need to be sitting next to someone to work together any more.

Who are your top three role models in tech and why? 

Markus Frind: The founder of PlentyOfFish taught me to pick a market where the competition charges money, and do it for free. Keep your costs low. Bootstrap! Use Web 2.0 or become really good at marketing. Relax, business is fun and it’s meant to be!

Elon Musk: He taught me to think BIG. Really BIG. Think not only about the small impact you can have directly, but the compounded interest of that in the future.

Robert Scoble: he’s just an excellent content creator and influence on the tech world. He’s done this largely through Google+, which isn't as popular as the likes of Facebook, so it’s even more impressive.

What initiatives would you like to see introduced in the UK to support young tech entrepreneurs?

Barclays Bank has so much to offer tech start-ups and, as evidenced by events like Barclays Open Innovation, it’s clear that the start-ups aren’t short of things to offer in return.

A link between start-ups and the Barclays Bank corporate responsibility schemes, which currently have executives cleaning ponds, would multiply the resources available to young entrepreneurs, accelerating business growth, increasing the chance the big WhatsApp-like exits and IPO’s that the city’s looking for.


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