Hi Xander! Thanks for interning at Runway East this week! What appealed to you about us for your work experience?

Since I can remember my father has run his own business. Right from the start, he has always inspired me to start my own and so the idea of being surrounded by a whole community of startups appealed to me the most. From the second you walk in you feel a sense of community and you quickly find that everyone is always willing to help you. 

Being in an environment built for startups was the perfect place for me to learn how to take my business plan to the next level. The Runway East team are some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet and they were super enthusiastic about my business ideas. Before hearing about Runway East I was half expecting my work experience week to be boring five days spent photocopying and bringing tea and coffee to people, however I could never have imagined how helpful working at Runway East would be for my business. Fortunately, I never gave out tea or coffee but I was given lots of cake.

Speaking of your business plans – can you tell us a bit about your startup idea?

My startup focuses on making it easier than ever for influencers to make money from digital advertising on social media. It aims to simplify the process of generating money from social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook. The vision is that we will use image recognition to track each of your posts that have an advert and from there we will give you money and other rewards for the number of likes and views you have.

Amazing – where did you get the idea?

The idea came from the fact that almost all of my friends were complaining about the student debt they were going to have to pay after university, and so I decided to find a way where young adults like myself can make money doing something we love. 

That led me to think about how we are a generation obsessed with social media and arguably – we’re all influencers! However, when I began to research how to make money from social media I quickly came to the realisation that the process for getting sponsorships was long and tedious. Not long after that I decided to solve this problem by creating up my own startup focused on making this process simpler and quicker. 

At the ripe age of 17, what excites you about potentially becoming a Founder? 

Many things excite me about potentially becoming a founder at such a young age. However, I am most excited about being a founder because I’ll be able to work towards making my own dreams come true instead of working to make someone else’s dreams come true. 

On the flip side, does anything intimidate or worry you about the prospect of being a Founder?

Since I can remember my father has owned his own startup, and I have definitely seen his business go through some rough times. So I suppose I sometimes feel intimidated by the pressure you feel when you are responsible for carrying your whole team through those difficult times. However, I feel that with the right people surrounding you, you can achieve anything.

What startup(s) and/or Founder(s) are you inspired by and why?

I’ve already mentioned how my father has inspired me, however, I’ve also always been inspired by Simon Woodroffe. Simon Woodroffe is the founder of YO! Sushi and I admire him for the way he started his business. He ended up calling hundreds of sushi places and most of them said they couldn’t understand English or did not want to help, but he had the courage to persevere and he eventually got sent a five-hundred-page booklet on how to set up a rotating sushi bar. But if he hadn’t been so resourceful he never would have been so successful.

You worked from both Runway East London Bridge and Runway East Moorgate this week – what was your favourite part of the experience? 

I thought that seeing both sites was really interesting and I liked features from both spaces. For example, I loved that there were loads of private and quiet meeting rooms in the London Bridge site but I also liked how open plan the Moorgate site was and the fact that there was a strong sense of community in Moorgate. 

My favourite part of this week has to be when I was given the opportunity to pitch my own business plan to Chris Stowell. I had never done a proper pitch for anyone other than my sister and so going into that meet up I was incredibly nervous and shy, however, Chris was super friendly and enthusiastic about my ideas and by the end of the meeting he had given me hundreds of helpful pointers for the future of my business. I’m incredibly grateful for all the help Sonia and the Runway East team has given me over this week and I also can’t not mention how grateful I am for all the cake they offered me.

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