Guest post

Guest Post: A Day in the Life of Miappi

Julia & Parul

** This is a guest post by Julia Merritt, Portfolio Strategy Manager at Camelot a Collider Brand partner. Julia piloted a secondment programme **

Being a member of the Collider Programme at Camelot, we were offered the opportunity to spend a day with a digital start up in order to live and learn – in real time – about the challenges start ups face.

Through my existing links with Miappi – a start up that aggregates social content into a simple interface – I was lucky enough to spend the day with them last week.

The day kicked off with a pitch at a digital agency, where I met the CEO of Miappi, Andrew, having ‘ran’ from a previous pitch at another agency. It was great to sit in on a pitch to a digital agency and Andrew and his colleague Dave showcased what Miappi could do. The demo spoke for itself and it was really well received – so much so that other agency team members were pulled in to see the demo working and Andrew launched into his elevator pitch – the meeting went really well!

Heading back to Miappi’s offices, impressively located on the Southbank with views to die for, the serviced offices were a hive of activity. Miappi rent office space for the 6 strong startup, and use the communal meeting rooms and social areas. Full of other start ups and small businesses – this free space allows for great networking and exposure to a wide range of different contacts.

A bit of a contrast to the corporate environs of a business park in Watford! Beer, coffee and soft drinks on tap, open plan, hot desks, arcade games, ping pong and a few resident dogs kept the vibe relaxed but buzzing.

Sitting in a technical development session, it was fascinating to see the developers work in progress prototypes and how they worked through challenges together, adapting and changing to continuously improve their offer. Never standing still, continuous improvements and adapting to new clients requirements ensures the product is flexible and can offer something for everyone.

Chatting with Miappi, what struck me the most was the way they are living and working ‘in the moment’. Whilst we are working on our 5 year plans – they are working on plans for the next 5 months. Whilst this brings its challenges – particularly around having to initially work at a loss while the offer builds; working in such an agile way engenders a sense of urgency, excitement and freedom – allowing for more spontaneity and adapting to new opportunities as they arise.

This is a learning I will take back to the business to see how we can ‘sprint’ smaller projects to test and learn, in amongst the larger projects that do take longer to achieve.

It was great to get an insiders view of a startup - literally running between meetings, seizing the moment, adapting and ideating – it demonstrated speed of thought and flight of foot. Thank you!

Guest Post: A First Interview Template

startup hiring
Here at Collider, we believe it is as much about what you learn on the journey to your destination, as getting there. And this week we wandered through the world of HR. We are lucky enough to work in the same building as Seed.Jobs - who are bringing marketing intelligence and data science to recruitment, empowering companies to engage with the right talent at the right time. And they have been kind enough to share their step-by-step guide to hiring talent. And they've generously shared their first interview template for all to enjoy.

Example First Interview - Getting to know each other in 30 mins

Part 1: Putting them at ease

  • Step 1: Start with a friendly opener to put someone at ease and make it a little bit less formal, gets conversation going

Example: "Hey, how are you, how is your day going?"; "Have you had a good weekend / week?"

  • Step 2: Establish the format of the interview, so they know what to expect

Example: "Really appreciate you taking the time. I wanted to make this quite informal - I'd love to tell you a bit about us and what we're building, and it would be great to learn a bit about what you have been upto and what you are interested in."

Part 2: Intro to your company - get people excited

  • Step 1: Give an overview of your mission

Example: "I'll start by giving you a bit of background on why we started [our project]... 

  • Step 2: Introduce the team, give a bit of history, explain how you work

Example: "The company was founded x months ago and we're a team of y hackers and z hustlers...."

  • Step 3: Give a view of the future

Example: "We are a product-centric company with a big focus on data, which to us means ...... 

  • Step 4: Highlight our approach to teaching/learning/development

Example:  We encourage everyone to always find new technologies to use and you get a lot of responsibility from day 1"

Part 3: Intro to the Candidate

  • Step 1: Get them to introduce themselves
  • Example: "Would love to hear about you, your background and what you've been upto recently"
  • Step 2: Get an idea of what they are looking for
  • Example: "What kind of stuff are you interested in doing next? Are you looking for specific opportunities or roles or technologies that you want to work with?"
  • Step 3: Understand their motivations
  • Example: "Can you tell me why you are interested in XXX"
  • Step 4: Get a frame of reference to their timing (when they want to move)
  • Example: "In terms of timing, are you looking to move now? What is your notice period?"

Part 4: Determining Fit

  • Step 1: Role

Example: "What would you say is the ideal role for you i.e. in terms of responsibilities etc."

  • Step 2: Drive

Example: "What motivates you and why?"

  • Step 3: Work Ethic

Example: "What is your working style? If you ran the engineering team, how would you do it?"

  • Step 4: Self awareness

Example: "What's the biggest impact you have made in a past role; and why do you think so?"

  • Step 5: Learning    Example: "What is your approach to learning? Do you spend your spare time researching technologies?"
  • Step 6: Creativity

Example: "What is the most creative thing you have done?"

  • Step 7: Personality

Example: "What do you do in your spare time? If you could take a 5 years off work with no worry about money - what would you do?"

Part 5: Answering Questions

  • Step 1: Give them an opportunity to ask questions

Example: "I've been asking all the questions. Do you have any questions for me?"

Part 6: Next Steps

  • Step 1: Thank them for their time

Example: "[First Name], thank you very much for your time. It's been a real pleasure chatting to you"

  • Step 2: Inform the candidate on what happens next

Example: "The next steps are, I'll circle up with our team and we should be in touch in the next day or two. Typically our process is we'll send you a test to do, and after that there will be an interview with a couple of our [engineers]"

  • Step 3: Find out if they have other processes ongoing

Example: "Finally, just wanted to check - do you have other interview processes going on right now? We can move very fast to make a decision for the right people"


Guest Post: Your First Hire

**This is the first post of two on the hiring process for early-stage startups from our friends at Seed.Jobs.**teamwork
We are halfway through the Class of 2015 programme! We can't believe that only a short time ago the sky was grey, and our founders were just joining us in London. Two months later, they are all on their way to becoming full-fledged businesses. And a part of that journey is expanding their teams. What are the sorts of things a founder needs to take into consideration when making some of their first hires? Here's a quick list of things to keep in mind;


Step 1: Figure out what kind of people you want to have in your team/project/company

Culture can evolve, but 1-10 employees can really dictate how it is shaped in the early days. Consider the impact of hiring people that you wouldn't go for a beer with, or that work remotely.

Step 2: Figure out how to make those kind of people excited by what you're doing. 

We start interviews by briefly telling people about what we're building and why it's important, and by explaining our work process and culture. Find out how to tell your story to the right audience at the right time.

Step 3: Define what you care about at a high level 

  • General
  • Interest in what we do
  • Communication
  • Curiosity
  • Tech
  • Learning
  • Problem Solving
  • Knowledge sharing (e.g. open source contribution)

Step 4: Identify core skills/strengths/criteria you want to prioritize for the role

  • Required
  • Bonus
  • Javascript (4/5)
  • Angularjs (2/5) - focus
  • Reactjs (3/5)

N.B consider what a candidate may want to focus on in next role. 

Step 5: Figure out where you can find candidates that don't apply to you 

e.g. For developers we like to use Angel List, along with contacting people directly through forums. For other roles, such as designers, posting jobs can be effective, but you can find great passive candidates in other places (e.g. Dribbble).

Step 6: Figure out the simplest way to start conversations with relevant candidates 

e.g. a simple landing/jobs page, with Email/Apply with Linkedin (or check out what we at do to make this easier)

Step 7: Come up with an interview process that sells you, and lets you comparatively assess them

For more info on that, click here.


Guest Post: How to Be a Good Listener by StashMetrics

_MG_5098At StashMetrics we talk a lot about how to be a good listener. Our company is set up to help brands listen to social media data, to understand the value of what they can hear and to turn that in to valuable insight - and so it was fascinating turning this on ourselves during the collision phase. Each startup will be writing a guest blog to share the highs and lows that come with being an early stage startup. This is your chance to get a sneaky peek into what it is like to be part of Collider and even grab a chunk of wisdom on the way.

This week’s is written by Sam Oakley, the co-founder at StashMetrics.

In this case it wasn’t listing to social data but the same principles apply, in the context of Collider this trying to understand the value of listening to all the advice and support we’ve been offered, to prioritize.

The truth is that, just as not all insight is good insight, not all advice is good advice (my Collider mentors excluded of course). As a startup, learning to “listen well” is so fundamentally important - I cannot overstate it – because you sure as hell can’t listen to everyone. In the three-month collision phase I’ve had advice of one sort or the other from at least 60 people, there’s gold in there, stuff that has fundamentally changed our business but there’s also a huge amount of potential distractions.

If I had any advice to startups considering Collider I’d say three things when it comes to listening:

1.     Work out what your assumptions you’ve made in your business model early on - test these and these alone. Test them in a way that is repeatable so that you can compare the answers you get later on in the programme with those from early on. We were late working this out and spent at least three weeks in Jan asking people questions to which we already knew the answers. (And keep a log of you spoke to, when and what they said).

2.     Don’t listen to the first person who questions your business model, (listen to the 3rd if all 3 agree). You were picked from god-knows-how-many entrants so you probably have an idea that’s sound enough. The Collider coaches are smart and experienced, if it’s clear that you need to pivot they’ll make you listen.

3.     The feedback you get early-on is incredibly valuable but you have to “listen smart.” We worked this out late on in month one and started a spreadsheet combining the advice given with the competencies of the person giving it. You get patterns pretty quickly and once you have a pattern you have insight. I reckon ours has shaved weeks off our tech development plan, valuable weeks.

In the end it comes down to the same mantra we use with brands, listening is brilliant, you can (and will) learn things that change your business but you need to know why you’re doing it and you need keep tabs on the context, otherwise things can get very noisy very quickly.

Guest Post: Seenit

It seems today there’s an online dating platform for just about everyone. From the practical, such as, to the downright strange, Hopefully your interest in these links hasn’t taken you away from this blog, so I can explain why I’ve decided to build this analogy. Each startup will be writing a guest blog to share the highs and lows that come with being an early stage startup. This is your chance to get a sneaky peek into what it is like to be part of Collider and even grab a chunk of wisdom on the way.

This week’s is written by Edward Pearse Wheatley, the Creative Producer at Seenit.

Having recently joined Seenit I’ve had the pleasure of immersing myself in the Collider  program. And many of our encounters funnily enough have resembled a dating site in some way.

Go back a month. I was in my first week with Emily and Max, the co-founders of Seenit, working from Google Campus and any café that would have us.  Trembling from our fifth cup of coffee of the day, Collider offered some respite to our caffeinated bodies by inviting us to the pub.

We met, in my case for the first time, with our fellow Collider members. Like all dates, it started with an introduction, followed by a few drinks, then if the conversation went well a plan to meet again. The beauty of this gathering was that it was a room filled with like-minded people, with a penchant to help out their compatriots through the teething stages of building a tech company.

This week, it was much of the same again. Only this time, rather than meet in the protective confines of the Collider nursery, we were set loose at Iris Worldwide’s ‘South by South East’ event. Waiting by our designated tables, laptops energetically looping brand demos and logos, we confidently strut our enterprises to a crowd that was quickly consuming copious amounts of tequila, courtesy of the hosts.

This was a goldmine for promoting our startups to the kind of people that could and would actually put the tech into practice.

My father always used to say that he was never taught how to be a father. Starting and running a new business, it can sometimes feel that way to. But with Collider, from the perspective of a young and budding salesman, we have a truly helpful guide through these early stages.