Rules of attraction: captivating and retaining talent while scaling

Tech companies are some of the most exciting places to work these days, and there are several reasons for people choosing careers with them. However, finding and retaining the right people is one of the biggest challenges that tech companies deal with. 

CEW client, talent agency Few&Far, recently organised a panel discussion with experts in the field to discuss how to attract and retain talent while scaling.  The panel included Michelle Coventry, Head of People at Kindred VC, Richard Shepherd, Global Head of Product at Just Eat, and Jack Tang, CEO and Founder of Urban, and was hosted by Sifted’s Senior Reporter Amy Lewin.

The panel at the event

The panel at the event

What makes people want to work for you and your company in the first place? 
According to Michelle, tech companies are particularly good at attracting talent when they have an exciting product, are pitching the big goal and being ambitious. The founder is often a key figure in the recruitment process and should be someone both driven and humble, who comes across as a believer and a passionate person. 

Attraction is much more than what is written on the company’s website. As Richard said, you can only really feel what the company stands for when you walk through its doors. 

A Sneaky Interview Tip
Richard shared one of his hiring secrets. Once the interview is formally over, he asks two questions that are actually the most crucial as they give more clues about the person’s personality. 

One of them is asking what the interviewee likes to do at the weekend and the second one is what the interviewee’s been reading recently. What seems like two innocent conversational questions is actually a way for the interviewer to learn if the person is doing anything engaging in their free time and if they are interested in the industry outside work hours as well. This can be an interesting way to get insights into who the person really is beyond usual interview questions. 

A Note on Salaries
Big salaries might be a driver for some people pursuing certain roles or not, however the speakers were dismissive of anyone just looking for a large pay rise. They wanted to connect with people, to unlock people’s true motivations, skills and talents. On top of that, it’s important to know that people’s motivations keep changing throughout their career - so how can you as a company become part of that change. 

Unconscious Bias
The panelists also discussed avoiding unconscious bias by having multiple people interview a candidate and being able to see them from different angles. However, as a founder you might not have a team of people to help you with interviews. A founder therefore needs to be a good recruiter as well since it’s his or her role to build the initial team when he doesn’t have anyone else to.

Keeping That Team Together
Right, you hired your people and the team is expanding! Now, how do you make them stay longer? 

According to Jack, it is key to be aware of what is on your team’s mind and ensure that they are aligned. One way to achieve this is through transparency such as organising frequent town halls and releasing financial statements. It is really important for founders to be authentic and to bring people on the journey with them as that is what makes a leader a leader, being someone who inspires others to join them in trying to achieve their vision.

A key element that links to transparency is being honest. As Richard said, his one rule is to never lie and play. At the same time, it is important to support people in constant training and development. Another important part of keeping people is making them feel empowered to do well and making their experience better. 

Company Culture
You’ve heard it a billion times. Company culture. According to the panel, culture is how people behave when you leave the room and what happens ten feet from your desk. It is the subtle things, it’s not the football table in your lobby. It is what is accepted and what is not accepted within the company. However, the panelists also agreed that culture should come as much from the team as it should come from the founder. 

Company culture should ideally reflect in your personal life as well. As Michelle said, you should be able to go home and think that you had a great day. It is also about having a personal connection with your people. Sometimes you can build this connection just by being attentive. To show his people that he cares, Richard gave an example about gifting his people a book when he thinks they deserve it or when they need a little encouragement. Jack added that quizzes are a good way to keep people on their toes about what is happening in the company. 

Scaling a company can be a huge challenge, but if you have the right people by your side, you can be sure that the journey will be a little more pleasant. Happy hiring! 


Four programmes to support the growth of your startup in London

London is a hugely popular city for tech startups. In 2018, more than 205K startups were registered as based in the capital. No wonder, the city has a lot to offer. There are over 150 co-working spaces and over 70 incubators and accelerators here. In 2017, VCs spent more than £5 billion on tech startups in London, which in return generated over £56 billion in digital revenue. This is all in addition to London being a key market for a range of industries, from fashion to finance, and advertising to music, and the universities and talent that support them. It’s also a pretty fun city to live in!

If growth is at the top of your list, there are great accelerators, incubators and communities that can help your business with refining your ideas and developing a strategy. These are the four ways to grow your startup in London!

Google For Startups 

© Google for Startups

© Google for Startups

Google has become much more than a search engine over the last two decades. One of its numerous activities is also supporting startups. They have campuses in multiple cities across the globe where they offer events, programmes and venues for startups to come and learn. 

They believe that the power of startups is in solving complex problems that can help society move forward and they support startups on their way to achieving this. Each startup that joins Google receives tailored mentorship and workspace at Google for Startups Campuses. Companies like Pace or Vestpod are among many residents of Google’s London Campus. 

Google for Startups hosts loads of events too that help entrepreneurs with different aspects of their businesses, but that allow them to network and get to know each other as well. If you don’t want to miss out on what’s happening in London, you have to follow the Head of Google for Startups in the UK, Marta Krupińska

Founders Factory 

© Founders Factory

© Founders Factory

Founders Factory is a partner for all startups that are looking to grow. It works with both entrepreneurs who haven’t founded their companies yet, and existing startups that want to scale. It was founded by Brent Hoberman and Henry Lane Fox in London and has worked with companies like Luther Systems or Straight Teeth Direct

Founders can join the programme and receive validation on their ideas as well as initial funding. Startups looking to scale can use Founders Factory’s contacts to establish partnerships and receive additional cash support.   

Entrepreneur First 

© Entrepreneur First

© Entrepreneur First

If you have an idea but haven’t developed it further, Entrepreneur First is a great place to go. Its aim is to help you find your co-founder and start the business together. You may have all the technical expertise, but  don't have the commercial experience. This is your chance to meet your future co-founder. It doesn’t come as a surprise that a company that believes in the power of co-founders was founded by a pair - Matt Clifford and Alice Bentinck. They both worked at McKinsey & Co before starting EF and are also involved in Code First: Girls

EF’s alumni include Affable, an AI for Influencer Marketing campaigns company, Brolly, an AI driven personal insurance platform, Chattermill, customer experience analytics tool, and Genie AI, a legaltech contract drafting startup. EF also worked with Magic Pony, which was acquired by Twitter for £150M. 

The overall goal of Entrepreneur First is to bring people together and give them an environment where they can meet and realise the potential of their ideas. It runs as a full-time six-month programme in both Europe and Asia. Check in with Jonny Clifford, EF London’s General Manager. 

Backstage Capital

© Backstage Capital

© Backstage Capital

Backstage Capital supports founders from underrepresented groups such as women, people of colour and LGBTQ+. It was founded by Arlan Hamilton in the US, but can be found in Europe now as well. Your London go-to people would be Andy Davis, Anisah Osman Britton and Andy Ayim

Its accelerator programme lasts three months and helps founders reach the next milestones by offering mentorship, investment capital and access to resources and networks. Companies Backstage Capital has worked with, are for example floral arrangements DIY kits company IT’S BY U, a platform for discussing politics and culture without trolling and abuse GREO, a watch company supporting children in Sub-Saharan Africa Vitae, or a mobile barbershop and nail studio app Trim It

We’re sure that by combining all the resources available you can achieve your goals! 


Support Women in Tech Every Day - Not just On Ada Lovelace Day

We’re incredibly lucky that every day we get to read, absorb, and follow a whole host of talented journalists as they report on the ins and outs of the wider technology and business world. Obviously what we do means we need to be in the know, but it’s a wonderful bonus when you actually enjoy what you read, and appreciate the journalist behind it.  

CEW has put together a list of talented journalists we highly recommend you follow. 

Yes, as today is Ada Lovelace Day, they all have one very clear thing in common - but what they also share is that we respect them, they are all incredibly talented, and they are reporting on and in a very male-dominated industry.

Ada Lovelace, the English mathematician known for her work on Charles Babbage's proposed mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images News / Getty Images

Ada Lovelace, the English mathematician known for her work on Charles Babbage's proposed mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images News / Getty Images

This Ada Lovelace Day we’d like you to expand your world, and follow the work of these great journalists, as another way of seeing a different view or expanding your horizons. So why not join us in following the work of this list of talented reporters - and read their great work for the other 364 days of the year. 

You never know what you might just learn...

Alison Coleman, Freelance

Alison covers business, leadership and HR with work regularly published as a contributor to Forbes, and for other national publications such as The Guardian and The Telegraph. Alison regularly covers issues or trends that impact small businesses and she is always open to hearing from young companies, as well as the more established.

Check out her website and follow her on Twitter.

Annie Musgrove, Freelance & Tech.EU

New to the team over at Tech.EU, Annie joins part-time to apply her knack for taking complex stories and making them easy to understand - applying this gift to dry topics, which we all know can crop up when you’re covering tech news, data and market intelligence!

Follow her on Twitter. 

Amelia Heathman, Digital Technology Journalist, Evening Standard

Amelia covers all things tech and has a particular interest in tech for good, change and women in the industry. She’s been working alongside Dr. Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE (see list) on podcast series Women Tech Chat, and her social feed is a snapshot into her sense of humour, and the fun London tech stories we love to digest on our commute. 

Read her articles here and follow her on Twitter.

Amy Lewin, Senior Reporter, Sifted 

We are big fans of Amy, ever since her days previously working for The Courier. Amy is now at Sifted, where not only she reports on the UK and European tech scene but is also responsible for their amazing newsletter. Sifted officially launched its website this year and covers startups and the tech world, bringing a breath of fresh air to the stories of the industry.

You can follow her on Twitter and make her day by signing up for Sifted’s newsletter, here.

Dr. Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE, Evening Standard Women Tech Chat Podcast

Just an incredible person. Hugely talented. Massively inspirational. Gets things done. Now the host of a podcast for the Evening Standard and the second season just started - we HIGHLY recommend you follow and listen. 

You can follow her on Twitter and listen to the podcast here

Charlotte Jee, Staff Writer, MIT Technology Review 

Charlotte is the absolute boss behind The Download, the only newsletter in tech you need to read every day. It’s her job to stay on top of the biggest and most interesting news, and then drop it into your inbox for a daily dose of what you really need to know. Previously Editor at TechWorld, and with an additional background in Politics, you can expect a social media feed that blends the tech and political landscape, with some decent jokes and insight into diversity. She’s also just really lovely and welcoming. 

You can read her work here and follow her on Twitter. (Also sign up for her newsletter and make her day!)

Emily Wright, Head of Special Projects & Tech Editor, Estates Gazette

We have a fair few Property Technology clients on our books, so it’s no surprise that we’re keeping an eye on the work of Emily, who writes features, profiles, and interviews for the Estates Gazette magazine and website. In addition, she also freelances for GQ, Wired, The Sunday Times and The Spaces. If PropTech is an interest, you’d better read up. 

Read more of her work here and follow her on Twitter.

Felicity Hannah, Finance & Consumer Affairs Journalist, Freelance

This wonderful writer also happens to have one of the most entertaining Twitter feeds we have come across - for both giggles and insight, tune into her tweets. Felicity covers personal finance for and her work has been featured in The Guardian, This Is Money, Sky News, MSN Money, and many others. 

Check her website and follow her on Twitter.

Gemma Milne, Freelancer Journalist

Things you need to know about Gemma. 1) She is a powerhouse 2) She loves making science accessible to everyone 3) She will publish her first book next year! Gemma wears many hats, from Forbes writer to events organiser of Science:Disrupt, and a regular speaker to publishing Brain Reel, an amazing newsletter on science, tech, writing and freelancing. She is a force of nature! Gemma focuses on biotech, energy, space, health, advanced computing, and much more. 

Subscribe to her newsletter and follow her on Twitter.

Georgie Barrat, Presenter, The Gadget Show 

We first came across Georgie back in the day when she was the host of the Week in Tech for UKTN, and she has since gone on to join the team at 'The Gadget Show' as one of its presenters, covering all things….gadget and tech! Want a sneak peak before the next show goes out? Follow Georgie. Her work has also been featured in Marie Claire and The Mirror. 

Subscribe to her YouTube channel and follow her on Twitter.

Hannah Williams, Staff Writer, Computerworld (UK)

Hannah is a Staff Writer at Computerworld UK with a keen interest in digital transformation, enterprise IT, innovative and emerging tech, IoT and women in tech. 

Read her articles here and follow her on LinkedIn.

Holly Brockwell, Editor & Founder, Gadgette 

Holly freelances for publications such as TechRadar, Gizmodo, and Evening Standard. She focuses on consumer tech, social media, gaming and everything ambitious women want to know. Check out her Twitter feed for the latest in tech and her many birds.

Get to know her work here and follow her on Twitter.

Ingrid Lunden, Writer, and Editor, TechCrunch

Ingrid covers mobile, digital media, advertising and the spaces where these intersect for TechCrunch. Prior to TechCrunch Ingrid wrote for, and has freelanced for publications like the Financial Times.

Follow her on Twitter.

Lucy Hedges, Technology Editor, Metro

Lucy focuses on gadgets, games, and apps and leads the Tech section at Metro. She’s also a presenter for the BBC Travel Show. You can read some of her work here and follow her on Twitter.

Jessica Twentyman, Contributing Editor, diginomica

Jessica specialises in digital enterprise and digital economy, contributing to several publications with weekly analysis and exclusive interviews. She also lives in Portugal. We’re jealous. Read her articles and follow her on Twitter.

Jordan Erica Webber, Podcaster, The Guardian

Jordan hosts The Guardian's digital culture podcast ‘Chips With Everything’. She’s also the resident games expert on The Gadget Show. Learn more about her work here and follow her on Twitter.

Kate O'Flaherty, Freelance 

Kate has a great eye for cybersecurity and telecoms stories and has contributed to publications such as Wired and The Guardian. We’re also as obsessed with her dog as she is.

Check out her website and follow her on Twitter.

Katie Collins, Senior Reporter, CNET

Katie is the person to go to at CNET for smart appliances, phones, software and apps. She is passionate about innovation, great design, privacy issues and tech for good. She also runs a pretty cool travel blog on the side.

You can read her tech writing here and follow her on Twitter.

Kitty Knowles, Senior Reporter, Sifted 

Kitty is an experienced journalist in both hard news and lifestyle features. She’s a champion of female founders and women in tech. Most recently, she joined Sifted to report on startups in the UK and Europe, but she still freelances to other publications - and is doing more and more with the BBC.

Check her website and follow her on Twitter.

Madhumita Murgia, European Technology Correspondent, Financial Times

Madhu writes about AI, innovation and the impact of technology on society. She also authors a monthly column on the tech world for the FT weekend magazine and features on the weekly podcast, Tech Tonic.

You can read her work here and follow her on Twitter.

Maija Palmer, Senior Reporter, Sifted 

Maija is the former Deputy Editor for FT Special Reports and has a blog about motherhood. She’s now part of the team at Sifted (you might have gathered, we really like the publication). Maija also runs the closed Facebook group, Tech Meets Money.

You can read some of her work here and follow her on Twitter.

Mary Loritz, Head of Content, EU Startups

An American refugee in Europe - her words, not ours - Mary lives in Barcelona and works for the team at EU Startups. An experienced journalist and researcher, she covers tech and business topics and was  previously at Tech.EU.

For more add her on Twitter here

Natasha Lomas, Senior Reporter, TechCrunch 

Natasha covers technology and startup news, dividing her time between London and Barcelona. She previously covered smartphones for CNET UK and focused on mobile, wireless and telecoms for Lover of cats and poetry.

Read her most recent articles here and follow her on Twitter.

Olivia Solon, Tech Investigations, NBC

Olivia is based in San Francisco and focuses on technology, science, startups and digital culture, and is now Editor, Tech Investigations at NBC News. Also worth noting she has two wonderful French Bulldogs called Beezle and Mabel.

Check out her website and follow her on Twitter.

Rhiannon Williams, Technology Correspondent, The i paper 

Rhiannon covers consumer and wider technology subjects, including news, features, reviews, gaming, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and large-scale business acquisitions.

Read her articles here and follow her on Twitter.

Sarah Drumm, Freelancer

Sarah covers stories of startups and modern business. She also heads The Courier Friday newsletter, Courier Weekly.

Sign up for the newsletter and follow her on Twitter.

Shona Ghosh, UK Tech Editor, Business Insider UK

Shona recently became the new UK Tech Editor for BI overseeing all coverage and previously covered business technology, with a particular focus on Facebook, Snapchat, data privacy, worker wellbeing, and venture capital.

Read more about her here and follow her on Twitter.

Sophie Curtis, Technology and Science Editor, Mirror Online

Sophie covers a range of topics, from mobile and wearables to the internet of things, gaming and 3D printing.

Read her articles here and follow her on Twitter.

Victoria Turk, Features Editor, Wired UK 

Vicki has been published everywhere from Vice to Motherboard. Earlier this year she published the book 'Digital Etiquette', a humorous, practical guide to etiquette and digital culture. In addition to being Wired’s Feature Editor, she’s a big part of Wired’s book club!

Read her recent articles here and follow her on Twitter.

Yessi Bello Perez, UK Crypto Correspondent, The Next Web

Yessi was the lead person in command of UKTN for quite some time before moving to The Next Web earlier this year, where she now focuses on crypto news. Now, it’s pronounced Jessy, not Yes-E. Got it? Ok! Follow her and enjoy her writing - we think she’s fab.

Follow her on Twitter.

Zoe Kleinman, Technology Reporter, BBC News

Zoe breaks tech news, writes original features and provides in-depth analysis of big stories across BBC TV, radio and online outlets. She also has an addictive sense of wit and her Twitter is a nice look into the ins and outs of the BBC...and it’s canteen.

Follow her on Twitter.

And there’s always room for more… Tell us which journalists you admire and we’ll add them to this list!


Thanks for the recommendations so far, here is our growing list:

Ailis Brennan, Evening Standard GO London writer

Alara Basul, News Editor for UK Tech News

Almara Abgarian, Freelance & regular at Metro

Becca Caddy, Freelance, Bylines with T3, New Scientist, Wired and more!

Britta O'Boyle, Features editor at Pocket-lint

Charlotte Burns (Lotty Earns), Money Blogger

Charlotte Trueman, Staff Writer for IDG UK

Eleni Digalaki, Senior Research Analyst, Business Insider Intelligence

Eloise Linford, News at Hits Radio

Georgia Arlott, Homes News Editor, Sky News

Jennifer Savin, Features Writer, Cosmopolitan

Lauren Windle, Writer - The Sun, Mail, and more

Lea Nonninger, FinTech Research Analyst, Business Insider Intelligence

Natalya Paul, Editor at Stuff TV

Nicola Byrne, Reporter at PlaceTech

Rachel England, Freelance

Rachel Thompson, Senior Culture Reporter, Mashable

Rachael Venables, Breakfast Reporter at LBC and Global

Tola Onanuga, Tech feature writer & sub at Wired UK, Guardian & more

Verity Burns, Freelance Tech Journalist


To call or not to call, that is the question!

Mum: What do you actually do for a living? 

Me: Short version, I call journalists and plead with them to write about my clients. 

That is the conversation that I think happens for all young PR professionals about twenty minutes into a trip home to see the parents. I could be wrong, but I don’t think I am. 

Anyway, one of the many elements of being a PR professional is connecting with journalists and obtaining coverage. 

But our world has changed so much over the last few years - speak to the old guard that have not only been around the block, they actually put out a press release about the block being built - they will tell you that everything starts with a phone call. But, speak to the up and comers, the young’uns, and you quickly realise something. There are communication specialists that are shit scared of picking up a phone and calling someone! 

I didn’t study PR, so I don’t know what is being taught on the matter, but what I do know is that being a human is important, most of my big coverage wins have come from long lasting relationships. That may be through striking up quick chats on Twitter to being at events and parties and being “that guy” that chatted to people, promising not to pitch them - they liked me... Further down the line they remember that I was a person at a thing, not a bot on a mission to pitch. 

I spoke to Matthew Hughes about this, if you don’t know Matt, he’s a lovely man that writes brilliant words, and a theme started to develop, “don’t call for the sake of it would be my advice, but to be honest, I use my personal number, and for the most part I give that to people I have a good relationship with,” a huge takeaway from our chat. You will get to the phone call stage, but likely when you are more mates than simply PR <> Journo. 

This got me thinking…. I have built a network over time of truly wonderful people on the journo side, so, why not pick up the phone and ask a few more of them what they think of calls? 

(Busted, of course I emailed them). 

When asked if they minded PRs calling or if email was best, Jennifer Savin over at Cosmopolitan summed up most peoples’ thoughts saying that “to be honest I rarely pick up the phone these days… simply because I’ve never had a good pitch over it. Often you can tell it’s a poor intern reading off a script and it’s just a waste of everybody’s time. Email is always my preferred mode of communication as I can read the info as and when I’ve got decent time to do so, rather than being put on the spot.” Whereas another fave of ours, Sifted (sign up to the newsletter here)’s Senior Reporter, Amy Lewin, was somewhat more direct, but honesty is something that comes across well in this world; 

“I HATE getting calls from PR people. 

Email is the way to go.”

Whereas Leo Mirani from the Economist, possibly a little more traditionally, pointed out that he doesn’t “really mind, no. It would be nice if they were useful. But it allows me to say "that's not for me" or "sure, send me an email". It's also a useful reminder that PR folks are human beings just doing their jobs.” 

I have been called many things of late, but being reminded that we are human too is actually decent, cheers, fine sir. 

Lest we forget that a lot of our compatriot hacks don’t work in the same place, they are in LA one week for some phone launch (ironically), Shanghai the next week for a blockchain thing and back to San Fran to find out why 5G is the future that we can’t live without. Journos are often freelance, often on the move, and the last thing they want is their mobile going off. Which is a perfect segway to the lovely and inspiring Charlotte Jee of MIT Technology Review fame:

“I prefer emails. I don't have a desk phone, and I don't share my mobile phone number for work purposes. So emails are the only way to get hold of me (you can try tweeting at me but that is a very hit and miss method...mostly miss). You can also try LinkedIn but expect a long wait...”

So, are people getting more or less calls these days, the answers were mixed, but Chris Merriman helped out adding, “Luckily, thanks to the fact I send them all straight to voicemail, I am getting fewer.”

This sounds like I am hating on calls, I am not. For me they still work, when to the right person at the right time, with the right pitch, so it is hard to generalise, but I had to ask what the biggest annoyance was when people do ring. 

For this there was a reassuring clarity on what people didn’t like…  Three main points: 

  • “Know who you are calling. Not being sure what they're talking about. Not having researched who I am or what I write about beforehand.” - Charlotte Jee, MIT Tech Review 

  • “If you are going to call, get to the point: Very long-winded explanations of stories when I can almost immediately tell whether it's something of interest to our titles.” - Thomas Macaulay of IDG

  • “Be really careful when following up an email: they're phoning because they didn't get a response to their email. It's not the US - take the hint!” - Chris Merriman freelance for The Enquirer and Talk Radio to name a few

Not all doom and gloom though, Alara Basul, UK Tech News’ editor reminds us that being human is going to be vital if you are calling. 

“When a PR calls and doesn't mention a pitch. For example, they may have already emailed about X, but when they call they speak about something completely different - i.e. media invite, event, press briefing etc. Puts less pressure on the journalist and then it will most likely get them to check their inbox for previous correspondence.”

Granted, balancing that with getting to the point is going to be tough...

Any top tips for people calling out of the blue? 

Leo:  “Please start by introducing yourself and telling me what you want from me.”

Charlotte: “Be yourself! Journalists are only human beings (hard to believe sometimes though, I know). So don't let yourself get too nervous. That said, do plenty of research about what you're saying and who you're calling beforehand. Expect journalists to question you on your pitch - practice it with others. And steel yourself for the fact that some people will be very curt with you. They might have an imminent deadline - don't take it personally.”

So the summary, brought to you by the wonderful Yessi Bello-Perez (Jess-y if you are going to call her, not YES-EE) UK Crypto Correspondent for The Next Web:

“I think calls can work really well when there's an established rapport between a PR and a journalist, but that takes time. I can't really think of an instance where someone who was contacting me for the first time ever decided to ring and that turned into coverage. I am by no means saying that PR is an easy job, I know it's tough and there are client expectations to be managed, but I think there are a lot of people not doing their job properly thus giving the industry such a bad name.”


CEW Loves A Podcast, Pt 1. 

So Cathy, a podcast fan-girl, and I started a conversation in the office to see what people listened to! After many discussions, we’re now bringing you a mini-series to round up the faves of the office for you to see where we invest our precious earbud time. Starting with mine. 

99 Percent Invisible (99PI) is my go-to recommendation when people want new audio delights. Through 99 Percent Invisible I have increased my knowledge of all things, from an obsession with a phone box in the Mojave Desert, hearing about an airport in Newfoundland, all the way through to an interest in areas of America that suffer from drought whilst actually putting people behind bars if their lawn is too brown or badly maintained. Lawn Order - say it in a slow American voice... 

99PI has expanded my knowledge - its Moto “always read the plaque” is a great life rule. I went as far as being a donor to the team behind it for a while. 

Through 99PI, you’ll then discover Roman Mars - he not only has the most soothing voice since the M&S ‘this is not just food’ adverts, he is creating a new ‘label’ for audio journalism. Broadening the radio landscape (Wired’s words, not mine). In Radiotopia he has created a platform for some amazing indie podcasters to share their works. Keep doing you, Mr Mars! 

Song Exploder is an independent podcast whilst also being a member of Roman Mars’ Radiotopia. Famous musicians take apart their songs and describe the journey they took in creating that particular track. The very first episode was one of the tracks I grew up to, The Postal Service’s “Such Great Heights”

A few of my favourite episodes are:

☐ 35: Toro Y Moi - a really good listen. 
☐ 62: Time to Pretend by MGTM (First year heading into second year - “a modern day banger” - I am almost certain I said that at some point). 
☐ 79: Band of Horses’s Solemn Oath, and number 
☐ 98: my all time fave episode: Bonobo: Break Apart. Such an entertaining and insightful listen if you are of the Simon Green persuasion. 

To give you an idea of the artists featured, the pod has also played host to Metallica, Iggy Pop, Björk, Garbage, KT Tunstall, Deathcab, Fleetwood Mac, Mumford and Sons and Solange! 

If you are reading this Hrishikesh (the awesome producer of the show and general badass), Song Exploder will not be complete without Hanson (our colleague Renata here can’t give a five star without her boyz).

Hmmmm (bop), what next? 

The Football Ramble is a gem, you don’t need to be a football fan to enjoy it, but as one myself it certainly helps. Three very entertaining chaps, and Pete, chat about what’s going on in the game and the wider world around it. 

From ever so unfriendly abuse of Mike Ashley (deserved) to crying at the rise of Spurs, right down to the terraces of lower league football - it is well worth a listen. 


My pod-listening doesn’t stop there though. Here are a few highlights: 

Unfiltered with James O’Brien - his chats with Cantona and the poet, rapper, scholar and general inspiration, Akala, were particular favourites for me. 

Tomorrow with Joshua Topolsky - what’s happening right now - and next - in the world of culture, tech, internet, music and more. 

Recode Decode - Kara Swisher chats to some big names in the world of tech, politics and more on the future they are creating. 

Longform: The show that interviews filmmakers, writers, journos and podcasters about how and what they do. 

Harry’s Last Stand: Just listen to it for tales and insight from a man that has seen it all. A man that fought in the war telling his tales, the sadness of his sister being lost to TB and a running theme of Brexit being a shit idea (my words). 

Cortex:  I just don’t know how to describe this, but there is something so familiar with the nerd level in it - and I say it purely in a good way. CGP Grey and Mike Hurley are great - my intro to this was from a host on the MWW Podcast (good listen too, from two tech stalwarts both here in Shoreditch and Stateside) with an episode discussing the layout of apps on a phone and how they handle the nightmare, hooked. 

So there you have it, I got carried away, and from one blog about my favourite podcast we have a mini-series. Keep an eye on the blog for some great content from my colleagues as well as my interview with Cathy on her favourite podcasts. As a podcast producer and fan-girl herself, it is going to have some crackers, of that I am sure. 


Here are some online digital marketing courses to improve your PR game

When you own a business, having a digital presence is crucial. Especially if you are a tech business, you are expected to be on top of your digital game. To help you boost your marketing strategy, we selected some online courses you can take to learn how to improve your online presence as a business. 

Google’s Digital Garage
Google offers perhaps one of the widest ranges of online courses that you can find. Upon completion of a course, you get to take a test and can become certified, which not only looks great on your CV, but it shows that you really mastered the specific skills that you were learning. 

Google is a known pioneer in helping people obtain the skills necessary to run their business online. Digital Garage offers quite a complex package of skills that each modern business owner can utilise to grow their career and business. You can learn anything from making long term social media plans to managing your time effectively. 

With Google, you can also learn on the go. It has an app called Google Primer, which offers similar content like Digital Garage, but is easily accessible via your phone for learning during your commute or while you wait for a meeting. 

Facebook Blueprint
Facebook remains one of the most used social media networks and as such allows marketers to go through a course that teaches them all about how Facebook works and how you can use its tools to reach your target audience. 

Blueprint is particularly focused on running Facebook pages and ads on them, but there are courses for different levels, both for beginners and advanced users. Upon completion, you can also get certified. 

General Assembly 
General Assembly offers courses both online and offline, and it is a great chance to meet like-minded people and learn from each other too. They also organise one-off events in multiple cities. Besides digital marketing, they cover data, coding, design and career development. 

Hubspot Academy 
Hubspot is another platform where you can learn the ropes of digital marketing. Their courses are taught by industry experts in the form of lessons, videos and quizzes. The courses also differ in length, some take several hours to complete, but some are great as a quick knowledge fix within half an hour. 

Alison offers a range of digital marketing courses. You can choose to start from the very beginning and learn the fundamentals and build up all the way to web business development and marketing and web analytics. 

Social media advertising with Buffer 
We’ve told you about Buffer before, a platform that enables you to schedule social media posts. If you want to focus on your social media skills from a wider perspective, give a shot to Buffer’s Intro to Social Media Advertising. 

SEO Training Course by Moz
Some people say that SEO is dead, but if you are not one of them, you can definitely check out some of the courses focusing on search engine optimisation. 

The Ultimate Pinterest Guide
An extremely interesting platform in the social media world is Pinterest. While it is not used by many tech companies, it has 291 million monthly active users. If you are a business which could benefit from Pinterest, there are also courses on how to make money over there. 

Email marketing 
Although most people’s inboxes are exploding these days, email marketing is another way for reaching your target audience. Unlike social media, you don’t have to attract people to come to you. Instead, you come their way. 


#StartupsToWatch: LIV

Recently we had the chance to work with an amazing startup that is changing the way gamers and spectators interact. LIV is a VR live streaming company which has embarked on a journey to make the experience of gaming spectators more fun and relatable. 

Twitch and similar live-streaming platforms have grown immensely over the last few years and the esports industry has seen investment pouring in. With over 2.2 million daily broadcasters and 15 million daily Twitch viewers, this new form of entertainment is experiencing a boom. 

However, VR games, in particular, tend to be difficult to watch as there are two potential viewpoints. Spectators can either watch the game through the eyes of the player or watch the player in the real world. But what if the spectator could see the player in the game? That’s exactly the solution that LIV has come up with. 

The Prague-based startup was founded by AJ Shewki (aka Dr Doom) in 2016. AJ studied mechanical engineering at the King’s College in London before moving to San Francisco where he set up his first startup. On top of that, he also managed to be the number one European competitive gamer of World of Warcraft for two consecutive seasons. 

With VR becoming a thing, his initial business idea was to sell green cubes that gamers could stream from. Unfortunately, that business model was not as sustainable as AJ had hoped. He was well aware that creating content in VR was considerably more difficult than with other computer games, and wanted to find a solution to facilitate creating VR content and making it more shareable. 

And that’s how LIV started. The company is the new age VR streaming specialist on the journey to create a truly engaging spectator experience. The team created a mixed reality interface that has been featured in many viral videos from games such as Beatsaber. Its product, LIV App, enables streamers to share the experience of VR gaming with their audience and engage with them in a new way. It basically allows spectators to be part of the game and make decisions by purchasing boosters and what not for the player. 

LIV has also built a strong Discord community with 11,000 users and counting. The company is now based in Prague while the team continues working from across the world. And it is hiring too

Last month, LIV announced a new round of investment in which the company has been backed by Palmer Luckey of Oculus and Jaroslav Beck of Beat Games, among others. With the new funds, the goal is to build the first integrated VR live streaming and real-time audience interaction. 

Make sure to check their Youtube videos and support them on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter


3 companies using AI to change healthcare 

We’ve all seen the reports: artificial intelligence is here and it will change the way we look at and interact with healthcare. Most recently, Elon Musk made waves in the industry when he announced NeuraLink, his company to explore ways to connect the human brain to a computer interface, has applied to US regulators to start trialling its device on humans.

NeuraLink, however, is not alone. There are several companies in Europe that are taking the lead when it comes to exploring ways to use AI and machine learning in healthcare. We’ve selected three of them that should be on your radar.

Babylon’s mission is to put an accessible and affordable healthcare service in the hands of every person on earth. Using a combination of unique AI technology and medical expertise, Babylon is able to deliver digital health tools in multiple languages and localised for multiple countries. 

In some countries, they offer 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week access to a health professional through virtual consultations. Their current technology allows users to instantly learn more about their symptoms through their AI symptom checker and to assess and improve their future health with an AI-powered healthcheck.

The company recently announced it raised $550 million in Series C funding, elevating the company to unicorn status, with a valuation of $2 billion with a total of $635 million raised.

We’ve been working with BIOS since August last year and what a thrill it has been! BIOS is a leading neural engineering startup, creating the open standard hardware and software interface between the human nervous system and AI. They are developing the standards, datasets, tools, and algorithms to enable a new generation of neural treatments to improve the quality of life for millions of people affected by chronic disease. 

Their team combines applied materials, machine learning, software, neuroscience in conjunction with the experience of surgeons, clinicians and patients to create a seamless and accessible user experience. BIOS has generated the largest peripheral neural data set in the world and is leading cutting-edge machine learning research in the neuromodulation and bioelectronic medicine fields.

Last December, they raised $4.5 million to grow operations in the UK and expand internationally. More recently, they won The Europas Awards as "Hottest HealthTech Startup" and were also included in Startups 100 2019.

Lifebit is building a cloud-based cognitive system that can reason about DNA data like humans do. Its first product, Deploit, can be used to scale distributed analysis within a team’s own secure data environments and drastically reduce time and costs up to 80%. 

The company’s AI Engine is the tool of the future for precision medicine and multi-omics data analysis. By using their federated machine learning platform, users can have access to the insights provided by datasets across the globe, while the data stays where it is, private and secure. This allows algorithms to be trained on huge datasets without worrying about data sharing obstacles. Finally, biomedical data can be shared across organisations to benefit the precision medicine industry, enabling worldwide benefits.

In 2018, the startup closed a $3 million seed round led by Pentech and Connect Ventures, and in the previous year, they won the Audience Choice Award at the Women Startup Challenge Europe 2017.


These Are The Tech VCs To Follow

You either love them or hate them, but venture capital is one of many ways to help fund a startup. We regularly monitor what’s going on in the VC world so we know where investors are putting their money - a great insight into the growing markets and most exciting uses of technology. These are the European VCs we think you should follow to stay in the know, pitch to in the future, or just for some simple inspiration. 

Accel Ventures
Accel Ventures is a venture capital firm that partners with exceptional founders with unique insights and helps them from inception through all phases of growth. Past and current investments include Facebook, Dropbox, Slack and Deliveroo.

Albion Capital 
Albion is a leading investment management firm focusing on B2B software and tech enabled services in the UK. The team have also backed companies across digital health, MarTech and FinTech. 

Atomico invests at Series A & beyond, leveraging deep operational experience. Investments include  Bossa Studios, FarmDrop, and GymPass. Keep an eye out for its annual State of European Tech report. 

Bryce Keane
Bryce is Partner and Head of Communications at Atomico where he’s worked with companies like Klarna, Lilium, Truecaller or MessageBird. Previously Founder of Albion Drive, Bryce is a PR Jedi - well worth a follow!

Niklas Zennström
Niklas is the CEO and Founding Partner at Atomico, as well as an experienced technology investor and entrepreneur. We’re pretty sure you’ll of heard of one of his most famous ventures - Skype! 

Mattias Ljungman 
Mattias is the co-founder of Atomico. He’s recently announced that he’s starting a new seed fund - Moonfire Ventures - he’s previously backed Klarna, SuperCell and TrueCaller. Well worth a follow to see what’s next!

Backstage Capital 
Backstage Capital work with underestimated and underrepresented leaders and bring them to the top. We are OBSESSED with the team and the portfolio! You should follow them, and the core team of Backstage London are ace - Andy Ayim, Anisah Osman Britton, and Andy Davis

Balderton Capital 
Balderton is said to be one of the biggest European VCs focused on tech companies. Backing European founders with global ambitions, and they’ve definitely proved that as they worked with companies like Citymapper, Nutmeg, and Revolut, among many others.  

Suranga Chandratillake
Suranga is a Partner at Balderton and a former entrepreneur. He founded a company called blinkx, an intelligent search engine for video and audio content. 

Cherry Ventures
Berlin based Cherry invests in Seed stage + companies across Europe. Investments include Eastnine, Manual, and Weengs, with a mix of both B2B and B2C companies. 

Dawn Capital
Dawn focus their investments in their specialist areas of fintech and B2B Software. With headquarters in London, they are the largest European specialist VC. In their portfolio, they have companies like Collibra and iZettle.

Evgenia Plotnikova
Evgenia heads Dawn Capital’s investments in France and Benelux, and more broadly covers exciting B2B companies in software and fintech across Europe. Since joining Dawn, Evgenia led an investment into ZIVVER ($12m Series A) and is actively involved with the company. In 2017, she was named in Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list of leading young entrepreneurs, innovators and game-changers.

Sarah Nöckel
At Dawn Capital, Sarah is responsible for sourcing, due diligence and execution of investments in B2B software and fintech across Europe. Sarah is also the founder of Femstreet, the leading newsletter on women tech, entrepreneurship and diversity in Venture Capital.

Diversity VC
Diversity’s mission is to create a fairer and more diverse venture capital industry in London and beyond. 

Francesca Warner 
Francesca is the co-founder of Diversity VC, and invests in early-stage tech businesses. She is PHENOMENAL and a true champion. Improve your Twitter feed by following her. 

Downing Ventures 
Downing Ventures is all about early and growth-stage technology businesses. They work with fast-growing business and more than 25,000 investors who help startups reach their goals every day. Investments include Open Bionics and Live Better With. 

Early Bird VC
Earlybird focuses on European technology innovators and supporting the digital economy. Its wide portfolio covers everything from big data to eCommerce and healthcare to fashion. Investments include Lexoo and N26.

Episode 1
Based in London, Episode 1 focuses on startups “hidden in the blindsight”. They believe that they see the world like you, not like typical investors. They were early investors in Zoopla, Shazam and Betfair. 

Five Seasons Ventures 
Five Seasons Ventures focuses on FoodTech and AgTech innovation. Partners Ivan Farneti and Niccolo Manzoni invest in product and process innovation aimed at solving the global challenges of the food industry.

Forward Partners 
Forward Partners supercharge tech startups from day zero all the way through Series A. Since 2013 they've backed over 50 startups, working with founders to build great products, achieving higher valuations, faster. Investments include AppearHere, Hailo, and Baby 2 Body.

Frontline Ventures 
Frontline Ventures focuses particularly on European seed-stage B2B companies with an ambition to expand to the US - more than half of its portfolio companies have US offices. Based in London and Dublin, they provide both capital and experience to help shorten founders' learning curves. 

William McQuillan
William is a Partner at Frontline Ventures and was the youngest partner of a European VC fund when Frontline was founded. 

Sitar Teli 
Sitar has been a VC for 14 years, focusing on early-stage investments in both consumer and B2B companies. She is now a partner at Connect Ventures where she led rounds for companies like Citymapper or Typeform. 

Index Ventures
Index Ventures helps small companies go global. They share lots of success stories of businesses that they’ve worked with over the past 20+ years and how they continue to grow. Companies like Dropbox, Deliveroo and Revolut are just a few of the big names they have in their portfolio.

Ari Helgason
Ari is a former entrepreneur with both an operating and investing background. His core investment focus is on enterprise software, SaaS and fintech across all stages. Before joining Index, Ari was at Dawn Capital in London where he invested in and worked with SaaS and open source companies in Europe and the US. 

Local Globe 
Local Globe focuses on seed funding, the first stage of any funding round. Nevertheless, they’ve worked with today’s tech giants like Transferwise and Zoopla.

Saul Klein & Robin Klein 
Father and son duo who have worked with many of the biggest European tech successes, including Kano, Seedcamp, Index Ventures, Moo, LoveFilm, Zoopla, Transferwise…the list goes on! 

Octopus Ventures 
Octopus Ventures look for talented entrepreneurs who have big ideas and want to build global businesses. They’ve worked with over 70 companies and helped them raise more than £150 million last year. Based in London and New York with Venture Partners in San Francisco, Singapore and China, their typical investment is from £1 million for Seed to around £5 million for Series A.

Akriti Dokania
Akriti is an investor at Octopus Ventures where she focuses on deep tech businesses in the field of AI, Machine Learning, B2B Enterprise Software, Cyber Security and next-generation automation.

Gian Seehra
Gian focuses primarily on health companies at Octopus Ventures. Before becoming an investor, he led a biotechnology company in Canada. 

Passion Capital
Passion Capital partners with entrepreneurs and operators to apply their experiences to help founders and early-stage teams in the digital world. Since 2011 they've funded 70 early-stage tech startups, including Monzo, Adzuna and Tide.

Seedcamp is a mighty classic. They operate across all of Europe and have helped prominent companies like UiPath, Revolut and Transferwise make their mark. They focus on early world-class founders who are attacking large, global markets and solving real problems using technology. 

Carlos Espinal 
Carlos is the managing partner at Seedcamp and an experienced seed-stage investor. He works closely with their portfolio companies on everything from settling founder disputes to setting fundraising milestones. He’s also the host of Seedcamp’s podcast called This Much I Know

Reshma Sohoni 
Reshma co-founded Seedcamp in 2007 and is one of the most influential people on London’s VC scene. She works with companies on wide-ranging topics that help push them from those difficult early days into being household names.


We need to talk about your direct mail…

First of all, I’m going to have a rant. 

I’ve always received cold emails across my career, but the volume at which they grew when I set up CEW was crazy. I know, as a business owner/decision-maker it was bound too. But what continues to shock and aggravate me is just how terrible the direct mail hitting my email and LinkedIn is. 

When we were fortunate enough to be included in the Startups 100 last year, the amount of inbound I received shot up even more. We were now one of a hundred names on a list that a huge variety of service-based businesses could approach. We became an easier target.

It was rare that I responded to any email or LinkedIn message that came after that. If I did it was to ask for CEW to be removed from their mailing list, and sometimes I might be polite enough to decline. 

For the first time in a (almost) ten year PR career, I have more empathy for journalists than I ever have before. [Note - the following rules also apply to pitching the media.]

The amount of time wasted reading emails from people who couldn’t be bothered to do their research in the first place, is frustrating, and personally, I just think it’s plain rude. 

We’re all increasingly time-poor due to the demands of work, demands of life, and the notifications and calls for our time from people we already know and want to stay connected with. 

So, if you are the person who needs to send a direct mail - for whatever reason - to someone you don’t yet know, PLEASE READ BELOW. 

1) Think about the ‘why’
The email you send a prospective client will be different from the first email to a potential investor. 

The information you share, how you position it, and the way you approach them all need to be considered. The two things to invest time into are your messaging and getting to the crux of what you’re asking for - but doing it in such a time that people receiving the email don’t waste time and can make faster decisions. 

Invest more time before you hit send, then you do wasting time in follow up emails. 

2) Research
What was really clear when CEW was featured in the Startups 100 list, was that practically every company who emailed us was sending the same email to the other 99 companies. 

Aside from a generic ‘congratulations...’ and ‘we’re super impressed by...’ the rest of the email would go on to talk about a service that we didn’t need, and relate it to the sort of company that we aren’t. 

It seems so simple that you’d assume everyone knows they should do it. BUT RESEARCH THE COMPANY AND PERSON BEFORE YOU EMAIL THEM. 

A simple 30 seconds spent looking on our website or LinkedIn would tell you enough to know if you are a service of value to us. 

Adding as much as a few lines that are targeted about the business you are contacting makes a significant shift in the mindset of the individual reading it. The second I see that someone doesn’t understand what we do - I STOP READING AND IGNORE THE EMAIL. 

You need to reel people in. Personalise the email and make sure that who you are targeting is relevant. 

For critical future contacts invest even more time in the research piece upfront. 

3) Seriously, make sure you get somebody’s name right. 
I’m not going into detail on this, just highlighting that if you email cathy@cewcomms..., do not address the person in the email as Kathy/Cassy/Catchy/Thy/Caroline. 

Yes, I once responded to an email and someone who popped Cathy in the first email, then responded to ‘Caroline’. 

Small details are the big details! 

4) Please stop ‘expanding our networks’ 
This is something I see a lot on LinkedIn, and I hate it with a fiery passion. 

Firstly, anyone who connects with you so you can both ‘expand your networks’ is using this as a sales technique. 

Personally, it comes across as incredibly phoney to me and while I used to say ‘yes’ to most people approaching me through LinkedIn, I now mainly say no unless I can see you’re part of my existing network. Which goes against the whole point of ‘expanding our mutual circles’. 

I prefer to add people I have actually met in person or have had a lot of contact with. However, I know this isn’t the case for a lot of people who use LinkedIn and it carries a sales benefit. 

All I suggest is that if you are going to add a cold contact, be honest about why you’re adding them. Make it punchy, pay attention to the details as with email, and stop adding time-wasters like me to your network if all I’m going to be is another number. 

Make the connections that really count. 

5) Review your tech and be careful with follow-up emails
We know that a lot of salespeople use systems to send out initial emails and follow up with the people they were contacted - we get it, tech saves time etc. but if you’re not watching all the details like a hawk, it can backfire terribly. 

Firstly, make sure you’re being GDPR compliant and make opting out easy to find. Add a button or flag you’re ok to receive an email responding that you want to be removed from the database. THEN REMOVE THEM STRAIGHT AWAY. 

This is where the human to tech relationship can fall down. If you forget and then they get another email, you’re in trouble. 

But another issue is when tech doesn’t spot out of offices, and can’t take what the out of office might say, into consideration. What if you send a chaser email to someone who was recently bereaved, or someone who said they’re disconnecting for two weeks. The tech may be ‘at fault’ but it’s people that need to pay attention to all the details. 

Remember, every ‘lead’ you’re emailing is a human being, just like you. Email them as you would want to be emailed and be respectful of their time. It’s very simple really, but far more effective in the longer term.