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UK tech stars aiming to change the world: Andrew Brackin and James Anderson

Techworld is showcasing 12 young UK entrepreneurs over 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 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. 

Those that feature on the list were 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

5. Andrew Brackin (19), Founder of Spot

How would you describe what your business does?

We're experimenting with different apps for cities. With San Francisco as a launch market, we put together a parking app called Spot, which received good early traction but the model didn't work out. We decided to move on from that project.  

What do you consider your greatest achievements to date? 

Getting the Thiel Fellowship was probably my greatest achievement, although the fellowship itself means little without the hard work that comes now to create interesting technology within the experience. Before the fellowship I ran an event in London called Tomorrow's Web with sponsors like VMWare and Twilio, co-founded a marketplace for designers that grew to 100,000 sign-ups and ran an internet radio station in school. So I'd had my fair share of projects to mess around with. 

What are your targets for the next five years? 

My goals are still somewhat vague. I'm always thinking about the next one to two months and it's hard to think beyond that. Especially because until recently I was dealing with visa issues and I'm still working on this. My goal is to use this opportunity to fix a solid problem and put together an organisation around this problem with longevity in mind.

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

Dennis Crowley: the co-founder of Foursquare is one of my role models. I've met him a few times at LeWeb in Paris and I admire his honesty, product-focused mind and ability to stick with it through hard times. 

Elon Musk: he is an inspirational figure because he doesn't stop. When he has more capital to invest he finds another huge problem to fix, instead of moving to an island and ending his career. He's almost gone bankrupt twice since becoming rich and has been able to make it work both times.

Richard Branson: I hope that he uses his position to take bigger steps. Virgin Galatic is very interesting but still tourism and I hope the income from his recent gains is invested into bigger thinking. 

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

UKTI [UK Trade & Investment] and Tech City UK are doing a decent job of spreading the word about what people are doing in the UK. Making it increasingly easier to expand teams for young people would be valuable and computer science education in schools is a good first step if implemented properly. 

6. James Anderson (16), Founder of Thinkspace 

How would you describe what your business does?

Thinkspace is a non-profit organisation — backed by Richard Branson, Stephen Fry, Steve Wozniak and others — which aims to teach young people how to code. We live in an age where programming is one of the most important skills to have, yet it is not taught properly in secondary schools.

What do you consider your greatest achievements to date?

Within a month of launching Thinkspace, we received well over 100,000 views on our website, 25,000 views on our launch video and we inspired tens of thousands of young people to 'go out there and do it'. Just a few weeks later, we were invited to meet Richard Branson, had dinner with Steve Wozniak and launched Thinkspace Pioneers — a community of young developers. We wanted to show how anything is possible if only you put your mind to it.

What are your targets for the next five years? 

I'm currently working on a new for-profit venture called Space (@spaceuk on Twitter) with backing from David Marcus (president of PayPal), Stephen Fry, Troy Osinoff (serial entrepreneur) and Simon Woodroffe (YO! Sushi founder). Our main aim is to get the project off the ground and launch it later this year!

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

Jack Dorsey: I look up to Jack because he has a very clear focus on what he wants to achieve at Twitter and he's obsessed over *how* something works.

Jonathan Ive: Jony is one of the most well-known and respected figures in the tech/design industry and I love what he's done at Apple.

Marissa Mayer: Like both Jack and Jony, I love how focussed Marissa is and she evidently has incredible management skills.

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

Perhaps there's room for a 'Thinkspace' equivalent, but for entrepreneurs! One of the biggest hurdles for a young person wanting to start a business is getting investment. They might not know where to look or even what to ask for. I definitely think the UK government should provide more free advice to these young people, or at least make this advice more obvious. Education on the subject is also paramount.

PREVIOUS NOMINEES

7th and 8th: Leo Anthias (23), Co-founder and CTO at Kivo.com, and Isabel Bescos (23), International Marketing Co-ordinator at BlaBlaCar. 

9th and 10thElia Videtta (23), co-founder and VP of engineering at AdBrain, and Tade Oyerinde (20), co-founder and CEO of Gleepost.

11th and 12thEmma Walker (21), ‎programs producer at General Assembly, and Duncan Peters (23), founder of eRiple.



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