Connecting the UK Student Tech Scene

When I came to study in London two years ago, I was expecting to find a Silicon Valley-esque scene; a hub for all things tech where people just wanted to build awesome things and create startups. Much to my surprise, there wasn’t one (or at least that’s what I initially thought). Even more so, the student tech scene at King’s didn’t really seem all that active. I was hoping to come across the likes of Google and Facebook at campus careers fairs and instead was greeted by several large financial institutions. Boring. Yet, given that it was the only visible path at the time, a lot of people didn’t really think of making the effort to look for tech companies or better yet just work on an awesome project of their own.

 No tech scene? Let’s build one.

That’s when a close friend and I decided to change things on campus; the KCL Tech Society was born. A society that aimed not only to bring together people who cared about building great things, but also share the knowledge we had in various technical areas. We didn’t care if you weren’t doing a CS degree as long as you cared about tech. We brought over the likes of Codecademy to campus, ran regular workshops where students taught each other new skills, and eventually it all started to gain a lot of momentum. Finally, people at King’s started to think of tech companies and startups as a much more viable career path. We were getting there.

HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM!

As we developed our network in London through the society, we realised that there were quite a few cool events happening around us. For instance, Imperial had a killer Startup Speaker series and yet a lot of people did not know any of this was going on. It became apparent that inactivity wasn’t the problem, it was being disconnected.

The problem became incredibly apparent a few months later. I was organising a large student-run hackathon in the UK and just when I began to spread the word, much to my frustration, I was contacted by a few other University societies telling me they had set up a hackathon on the same day. It was nuts. There were no hackathons all year (or at least we didn’t hear of any) and suddenly three pop up on the same weekend. Despite that, the event was still a huge success with more than a hundred students coming over, but…

 Let’s not leave this to chance again

If it wasn’t for me going to a few events at Imperial, I would never have met the great guys at Codecademy and we wouldn’t have held that awesome talk on campus that got people caring about startups. In fact, the idea for a hackathon may not have come to us if the guys at Codecademy didn’t suggest it first. Things would have been so different.

So, while KCL Tech was amazing for King’s, we needed to solve a much bigger problem. We needed something for the tech students in the UK as a whole.

 A tech society for the UK?

So, we started thinking, what if there was one central source where you could go to at any time to find out about the most awesome things happening around you in the university tech scene? Even more so, what if we could build a community powered by incredible student hackers across the country that are just great at building amazing things. A community where finding the best opportunities around you was made effortless; where you no longer had to sweep the Web to look for a start-up that was the right fit for you during term time when you already have a bunch of course deadlines to worry about.

HackCampus seemed like the perfect answer to all of this. It’s a project I’ve been working on this summer with a good friend (who I met at that Imperial event, actually) and we are convinced this is the solution.

 The Mission

The HackCampus goal is to make sure students are effortlessly wired into the tech scene around them. With the HackCampus Digest and Calendar, you no longer have to worry about missing out on great events just because you didn’t hear about them.

We know students want awesome opportunities too, so we’re working with some of the best startups around such as Codecademy, King, and GoCardless to develop an incredibly immersive internship programme for next year.

Events are what bring us together, so we’re working closely with the guys at MLH UK so that students don’t miss out on awesome hackathons. We also plan to run events of our own where talented student hackers can meet and the community as a whole just becomes a lot more connected.

 And we’re just getting started

It’s only the beginning, but I’m already seeing a far more plugged-in student tech scene. There are an amazing bunch of student hackers around the UK working incredibly hard to keep the scene active. We’ve got around six hackathons happening this fall, a bunch of great societies wanting to do awesome tech events, and a lot more students care about startups. It can only get better from here.

 
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