On the last sunny Wednesday of summer, the KPMG High Growth Tech team was delighted to host a mixer evening with Nexters. It was a fantastic night, with over 50 organisations and tech-enabled companies represented on a packed guest list – so it was lucky we had ordered so much pizza and beer!
Gathering in the KPMG roof garden, there was a great buzz of entrepreneurs and investors. Start-up founders discussed tech-enabled solutions for education, energy, arts, social inclusion, music, ethical investments and sports, and engaged with funders, solicitors and angels. I was particularly impressed by the skills and passion so evident in all of the people I met. It brought home to me how great start-ups are often real labours of love to improve life in some way. Three recent start-ups gave inspiring talks that confirmed this for me.
Jason Bates from Freeformers explained how his start-up – a new member of Nexters – is able to balance commercial reality with social benefit. It’s all down to the transformative power of tech, as Jason said, “Technology has moved so fast and so amazingly in the last few years that what’s possible now – in terms of throwing up servers, using free frameworks, leveraging platforms – is just amazing. But large organisations have largely been left behind.”
The fast pace of technology presented Jason with an opportunity to train corporates to understand and work with tech-enabled businesses, and to share this training with young people who would not otherwise have the opportunity. He said, “Every corporate workshop we do sponsors our work with young people, which is really our passion. We see this great skills gap, there’s some amazing opportunities for young people if they can just get into tech, so that’s really why we’re here.”
Education also motivated Frédéric Kastner to launch The Virtual School. This is an initiative to create a free and comprehensive global education programme, made available under a creative commons licence and digitised so that everyone in the world can gain a secondary school-level education. Frédéric said, “We are trying to cover 3,500 videos for Science, Maths, English as a Foreign Language and ICT Literacy. The materials are universal – very high quality. We work with what we think are the best teachers in the UK, and then we translate the content for everyone.” Ultimately, Frédéric hopes to develop links with the United Nations, UNICEF and UNESCO to make these resources freely available across the world. It’s a remarkable and huge vision.
Finally, Ewan Marshall of SpeakSet talked about using tech to lessen loneliness and isolation for older people. Currently preparing to raise seed funding, SpeakSet have designed a simple and effective set-top box solution based on concept research and development with older people. “We’re twenty-year-old guys,” Ewan said, “we have no idea how it is to be older! Absolutely everything we design comes from our users. Right now we’re going into trials with four different organisations, from CCGs, through to care homes and GPs.”
I wish I had enough space to also tell you about all the great conversations I had during the mixer, like with Sam Gill from the Environmental Investment Organisation (EIO), on how publicly reported environmental data – such as carbon emissions – can be applied to investment data, helping investors make informed decisions and address climate change. However, if I tried to cover everything from the event you’d be reading for a very long time!
I’d like to take a moment to publicly thank Nexters for collaborating with us to make the end of summer mixer such a success.
Watch this space for news of the next mixer!