(This blog post is by Lisa Devaney, the Founder and Director of the Hai Media Group)
Over the last few years, I’ve had the pleasure of helping to mentor Valentine from SSSHAKE, an early-stage London tech startup, right from when the seed of the idea was taking root.
When I first met Valentine Del del Giudice, she immediately demonstrated more than a starry-eyed view of launching her start-up. She showed a well-thought out business plan, credible research into her marketplace and an enthusiastic drive that we knew would not quit – no matter what!
Well, that “no matter what” moment seems to have transpired when on 23rd June 2016, the vote for the UK to leave the European Union took place. At this point, Valentine was not even out the start gate yet with her SSSHAKE!
What’s the startup idea?
Her idea, like most of the best, is simple – there’s an app which connects you to new, unexpected matches when you shake your smartphone, Additionally, SSSHAKE hosts events and collaboration tools to offer London creatives the chance to form a solid creative network to connect and potentially collaborate with others to launch new projects. In a big city like London, Valentine’s channel literally shakes up how creative people could find and work together – no matter where they come from.
Valentine, an EU citizen from Paris, woke up on the that morning and experienced a big shock. She says she felt very sad, angry and that it seemed like everything she had valued about the UK – its welcoming, multicultural attitude – had vanished. Would she have to leave? Would she have to lose members of her team as they lost the right to work in the UK?
That was more than a year ago, but, like her app, she shook off the fear of uncertainty, and decided to remain focused on launching SSSHAKE in the spring of 2017, and not let Brexit blues interfere with her ambition to make her startup succeed.
This included running a successful crowdfunding campaign for SSSHAKE, and smashing it above her 5K target goal – she secured more than £6K. The app also secured some press at launch time. Go Valentine!
The mood these days
SSSHAKE Founder Valentine del Giudice
This week, I caught up with Valentine to find out what her mood is now in these pre-Brexit times, and how it feels to be a tech startup in “pre-Brexit” Britain, with herself an EU citizen at the helm.
SSSHAKE is proving popular, attracting a few hundred attendants at every event she runs and significant downloads from the Apple App Store, even in these still very early days. Having started the idea for her business while she was still attending university at the London College of Communication, this is her first big pursuit out of school days, and she’s smartly been cultivating support and mentoring from various advisors.
Shock from that first Brexit referendum results morning has eased for Valentine. While there may be big changes, she is ready, and up for anything that comes next, even if it means relocating SSSHAKE headquarters to a different city.
“We are not afraid of change and relocation,” she says. She’s just returned from a business trip to Paris, which is ramping up and courting tech startups to make their homes in the city,
Hotspots like Lisbon and Berlin are doing the same.
“As a tech business, we can be anywhere.”
If London doesn’t change
Right now, she explained, London is still still proving to be welcoming and an easy place to connect and grow the SSSHAKE network and business model. Filled with an international community, the city remains a gateway to the world.
Valentine’s mood is that she’ll keep her startup here for at least a few years, or more if that allows, while keeping an eye to the news and what might be in-store for her both personally and professionally as Brexit shakes out.
No matter where she lands, the future feels very promising, she happily reports.
Are you a tech startup in the UK? What mood are you in right now? I’d love to hear your story for my Hai Media Group’s blog. Email: email@example.com
NOTE: Inspiration to share this story, and help with editing the blog post, came from Keren Lerner, the Founder and head of Top Left Design.
Our Founder & Director Lisa Devaney will be back, for a second year, presenting to startups and entrepreneurs at UCL on Thursday, 2nd March, this week, with her DIY PR workshop.
About 30 attendants will participate in the workshop sponsored by UCL, where they will get insight on how to earn press coverage, and build social media presence, for their startup.
In the three-hour session, Devaney will cover:
- Developing communications strategy for your startup that will win headlines
- The tools of PR (email pitches, press releases, press lists, and more)
- Social media for startups and entrepreneurs
An honour to be part of the UCL offerings, this workshop is included with the UCL Innovation and Enterprise department. which launched last year. As part of UCL’s mission to support students pursuing entrepreneurial paths, they have seen more than 200 startups launch from the programme, including RecommendMe.
Here’s more information about UCL Innovation and Enterprise:
Our aim is to inspire a spirit of enterprise across UCL: to ensure that the economic and societal benefits of our research are fully realised. To achieve this, UCL Innovation and Enterprise brings together academics, the business community and other potential beneficiaries of our research in order to maximize its potential for commercialisation and ‘real world’ use. The goal is to secure our institution’s long-term place as a global leader in enterprise and innovation.
See more about the session here.
Looking to the new year, it may feel exciting, but also a little bit daunting. Challenges will roll, but how can you cope with unexpected events? Getting balance between business and career is one way to tackle this 2017. Stepping in to help is an upcoming Women in Food event ‘New You, New Business’ – hosted by the Female Foodpreneur Collective, happening on Thursday, January 26th in London.
In this evening gathering, a panel of inspiring speakers from various businesses will be tackling the topic of “A healthier you = A healthier Business and Career” to help you plan ahead, with health in mind, for the new year.
Hosted by Ashanti Bentil-Dhue , this event will include the following panel members:
Maggie Richards, meditation expert and certified Somatic Experiencing therapist will share how women from all walks of life can harmonise mind, body and spirit to transform life’s traumas and trials into triumphs. Her book, A Guide to Being a Better Being, is out now on Amazon.
A guest trainer from Today Fit will share how you can make your physical health a priority when building a business and career. Today Fit brings, personal training and customised fitness programmes, to anyone of any age, through online video coaching and nutritional advice. Aiming to break down expensive barriers to getting fit they help people get personalized workouts and nutritional advice, replicating the experience of 1-2-1 time with a personal trainer.
Fig & Bloom – London-based nutrition and food consultancy focused on improving health and wellbeing for the long-term. Stephanie Ridley, registered nutritional therapist, and Dorothy Barrick, holistic chef and recipe developer, combine evidence-based nutrition and culinary creativity to create fabulous tasting food; helping clients to nourish themselves easily, effectively and deliciously. Ex-food buyer and management consultant Caroline Flower co-owns and manages the business.
Pep & Lekker will be serving their gluten free ‘Gleaming Gold’ sweet potato and butternut squash soup on the evening. A great example of women in food rocking it, co-founder Susan Gafsen spent over 25 years working in leading City law firms first as a corporate lawyer before becoming a foodpreneur! Pep & Lekker believe we can support healthy clean eating with an active lifestyle.
Komal George is a pharmacist turned spice enthusiast who founded Amala Pure Health which celebrates the health benefits of turmeric. She’ll be serving her dairy free Turmeric Honey Hot Chocolates on the night.
Book your ticket here.
Happy 2017 everyone, or HNY!, as people are saying on social media. We want to wish you a great year, filled with promise and potential.
HNY 2017 from Lisa Devaney’s Bitmoji!
In case you are wondering what we are up to this year, here’s a few things that we have planned:
We’ll continue to be supporting tech startups with public relations services, including working with a few early stage startups that have plans to launch in 2017. We are currently helping to rally beta testers for some of our clients, develop social media presence and begin media relation’s activities. A few clients we work with are still in stealth mode, while they plan their strategy for public debut.
Here on this blog, we’ll be periodically featuring startups from around the world, with our ‘Startup Spotlight’ feature that has proven to be very popular. If you are a startup and would like to be featured, please contact us. We’ll also continue blogging here about happenings from our network, including conferences, events, beta test opportunities from our clients, client launches and more!
At the start of 2017, we are nearly at full capacity for new business, but would love to hear from you if you are interested in pursuing our services. We can always make room for more clients!
Also in 2017, Our Founder & Director Lisa Devaney will be hosting her DIY PR Workshops for Startups & Entrepreneurs for various organizations, including UCL. She’s also serving as a mentor and a non-executive board adviser to a few tech startups.
Look for us elsewhere online, for more current updates, of our Hai Media Group’s activities at:
For years now, the team with Hai Media Group have been watching the news reports about the refugee crisis – and with the headlines, tears result. But what can be done?
With millions (more than 65 million globally according to the UNHCR) fleeing their homelands to try and stay alive and to make a safer better life in other parts of the world – how can anybody help?
During this festive season, rather than buy gifts for our clients or send cards, we are admiring and contributing to the global effort of a group of hard working, generous members of the tech community who are trying to do their part in making a difference to the refugee community with Techfugees. This is a non-profit organization, which aims to bring creativity and innovation to the refugee community, which got its start back in 2015. Organizing conferences, workshops, hackathons and meetups around the world, all in an effort to generate tech solutions that can help refugees.
Joséphine Goube, one of the Directors of Techfugees, told us this week: “Our idea from the start has always been: refugees are human beings, that have lost it all and need to rebuild their lives: friends, family, networks. Technology, because it scales, has the power to make a difference. So let’s do make it happen.”
Techfugees was founded by Editor-At-Large of TechCrunch Mike Butcher, who recently was awarded an MBE, with the Queen’s birthday honours list. Petra Johansson is also a Director.
For the best projects, Techfugees works to implement these in the field.
At the recent TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon, held in London in December 2016, three new projects to aid refugees emerged:
- RefuTweet aims to provide refugees on the move with the help they need by connecting with local individuals sympathetic to their cause.
- ResID: When refugees are in a foreign country they often have very limited papers with text information, papers which can be easily lost or stolen. ResID helps people never lose track of who they are.
- Sensei Hub provides a simple capture mobile app that photographs and records student test papers.
According to Techfugees website, As well as operational goals, such as becoming a sustainable organisation, Techfugees has defined five main focus areas of work where tech can have a significant impact. See these five areas in the infographic below.
Techfugees is even inspiring entrepreneurship among refugees. Hai Media Group especially admires this approach, for its positivity and offering of hope to millions in how they may rebuild their lives in a new community.
It is the festive season of 2016, and a time when many will give. We’ve donated to Techfugees and we hope you will also support this worthwhile organization. You can pledge to a crowdfunding campaign here. Or make a direct donation at the Techfugee website here.
You can also support Techfugees on social media by using the hashtag #Techfugees.
Like the Facebook Page.
Follow on Twitter.