Manchester is a hotspot for all things science and tech. The city is home to a great tech community with numerous expos and events to highlight North West talent. There are countless opportunities for collaboration and inspiration from the universities and surrounding science parks. Manchester was also announced as the Internet of Things capital in the UK. City Verve, who are key players in the project, are keen to include local communities in the design and decisions involved. This opens up gaps in the market for many budding entrepreneurs.
Clearly, Manchester has a lot to offer as a tech and science hub. But what makes Manchester so attractive to the science and tech communities? And how do people get involved with these communities in the first place?
We spoke to Vimla Appadoo who is a common sight at tech start up events over Manchester and knows what it takes to stand out in the sea of start-ups. She is also a great example that people with a variety of educational background can get involved into tech and is an advocate for diversity in tech. Definitely someone to keep your eye out for at events!
As someone who studied a non-tech related degree in Manchester, she decided to stay “due to the amount of opportunity in the city. There is also less of a hierarchy so people without a known reputation or voice can meet people more easily and reach their goals.” She also stressed that “people are much more personal and will take their time to speak with you”. As many people do, Vimla made the jump from a non-tech background (history and politics) into the start-up community. Showing passion for the field is essential and she “spent a lot of time at university building her degree and ended up getting involved in digital tech start-up and fell in love with it due to its fast nature and ability to get things done at a fast pace.”
A regular a tech events, she has seen many start-ups come and go, but what makes a new company stand out from the crowd? “Impact is important, what difference are you making and what does the product bring to the market? If you’re not really changing how things are done then you get left by the wayside.” To begin with, many people are unsure of the marketing or business aspects and become ‘stuck’ on an idea. Vimla’s advice for this is that “start-up environments are a good-place to make collaborations, which are very important for the foundation of business”. Collaborations are a great way of developing professional networks, bouncing ideas of each other and gaining insight into skills you can improve on.
Vimla is also a driver for more diversity in the tech communities. Sometimes tech can be seen as inaccessible and difficult for groups of people but these views need to change. She states that “there is a lack of diversity in all fronts of technology, there needs to be more discussions about different roles in technology and making coding more accessible. This is already being done on a school level. The stigma of it being geeky or complicated will begin to change once people get the understanding of how the apps and computers work.”
It is clear that Manchester has provided a great base for Vimla and allowed her initially get involved in the tech industry and to go onto use her platform to promote diversity in the tech industry. One of the key messages to up-and-coming start-ups is that if you have an idea do something about it! Get involved in local events, meet new potential collaborators and get advice and knowledge from peers and professionals.
Join Innovation Forum Manchester on the 12th October for IF Manchester’s Bench to Business. A series of talks exploring entrepreneurship in the North-West and then taking your start-up global.