The age of the entrepreneur

By Chad Greggor

Day 3’s theme at Campus Party was Entrepreneurship. An ‘entrepreneur’ is essentially a person who has stepped out of being a consumer or a cog in some larger machine, and started on their own path. They fill a niche where there is a demand for innovation. This is exactly what Make the Web is trying to encourage: for people to stop using the internet and start making it.

As you would expect, the venue for Make the Web was teaming today with young people keen to hone their skills in design and development. There was a lot of discussion on the ground floor of Building Six about whether to go the entrepreneurial route or stick to working for bigger companies.

Ronan Dunne, the CEO of O2 (pictured above), gave a 10-minute talk on entrepreneurship. While starting up your own company is a daunting prospect, Dunne suggested that many who may not want to work for big companies would prefer working for SME’s (Small and Medium Enterprises). This is a comfortable middle ground between the mind-blowing scope of a big company such as O2 and the grass roots simplicity of a start up.

Tom Humphrey, winner of the AppMaker prize, began his speech with surprisingly realistic pessimism saying “most of us will ultimately fail as entrepreneurs.” He expanded, however, encouraging developers to “do it because you love doing it, don’t be an entrepreneur for the money.”

Jordan Poulton, the founder of Makers Academy and erstwhile contestant on The Apprentice, gave an interesting short on the importance of an idea. He praised Make the Web saying that “events like this are great because they get people excited”, addressing the great shortage of the amount of people studying to be web developers in the current demand.

The second floor at Make the Web was proactive in encouraging Campuseros to get involved in web design. Pop Up Talent held short testimonial talks about how technology changes lives, ranging from tales of online blogging to the different applications of Skype for business. One of several speakers quoted Mark Surmon on the diverse entrepreneurial opportunities on the web: “The revolutionary power of the web is built on the idea that anyone can make anything for anyone.”

Later in the afternoon there was a surprise visit from Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne. The minister visited Make the Web to collect a free smoothie from the Mozilla bar, stopped to look at what some of the campuseros were doing and then proceeded to his Q&A with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.

Wales and Osborne answered questions on how to improve tech ability, creativity and entrepreneurship in the UK. Jimmy Wales commented on a culture of entrepreneurship, saying that the UK needs to “create the culture where creative people can create.” Perhaps the most satisfying answer from the Q&A was when George Osborne paraphrased Make the Web’s main objective, saying that “users of technology are becoming the producers of technology.”

So, the Chancellor of the Exchequer is on board with the Make the Web objective. All in all the day produced a lot of encouragement for budding entrepreneurs in the tech and web design field. I think a lot of people will have left Make the Web today feeling inspired and creative, ready for the next day of Campus Party in which the theme will be Women in Tech.

Chad Greggor is a third year student at the University of Kent studying English and American Literature. He is also Website Editor for student led newspaper InQuire, and has written for The Independent online student and blog sections. Chad writes on music, film, technology, features, news and student news.