“With low barriers to entry, practically no overheads and an idea, anyone can make a dent in the universe.”
Calum Leslie, a 24-year-old from Glasgow, Scotland founded The Wooju App after being the subject of a debate over his looks. Now his app has received a £100,000 angel investment, as well as backing from Microsoft. This is Calum’s story of how he turned his love for technology into a global tool for success.
The Cabinet Office Minister Matthew Hancock recently said that under-25s should not be covered for the new UK national living wage because they are “not as productive” as older workers. In response, IPF have launched a new series delving into the lives and hardships of young entrepreneurs across the country.
The tech industry
Tech Space is infinite.
Young people have a distinct advantage over the older generation in this market, having grown up being naturally fluent in technology usage and digital programming. Britain’s technology sector is booming at its fastest rate since the financial crash of 2008 and is now considered the fastest growing industry in the United Kingdom by KPMG.
In fact, investment in tech start-ups increased 140% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2015 compared to 2013, and the UK government has proposed a £500million budget to support tech initiatives in this year’s summer budget.
Apps are extremely profitable within this market with 1.6million available for Android users and 1.5million for Apple. Calum Leslie, founder of Wooju App, has turned his passion for the industry into a route to be in control of his own income:
“The thing that excites me most about the tech space is the ability to write a few lines of code that change the way people behave…and that 9/10 it’s a bunch of kids sitting around in their pyjamas, as opposed to the 40 year veteran CEO of a Fortune 500 company.”
Wooju App allows you to post a picture online and gain a public (or private) opinion of whether the image is considered a “Yes” or a “No”. For example, if there is ever a debate to be had over whether the apartment you are looking to rent is good value for money, you can send an instant snap and get a second opinion from others. But how can this app be successful?
“The only metric that matters in the social startup scene is traction and the biggest obstacle to traction is virality.”
The key obstacle for most entrepreneurs in this field is the inability to go viral. To improve his business’ “viral co-efficient” (the number of new users an existing user signs up), Calum considers a good layout and design as a high priority to attract customers. However, the key is social proof.
“We were “tweeted” about by two UK reality TV stars, which helped us gain vital traction in the early days as we became ‘cool’.”
People are more inclined to download an app that is being used by others, especially if it is their favourite celebrity. Therefore, appealing to today’s role models is ideal for the success of the start-up.
How does age come into play?
Developing a business idea at a relatively more “inexperienced” age has its negatives. Dealing with objections from potential investors who often have a preconceived idea about how your business should be managed is a difficult obstacle for any entrepreneur, but Calum takes criticism in a positive light:
“The important thing to remember is that everyone has an opinion on how you should be running your business, so be selective in who you listen to and if that ‘no’ comes from someone you think you can learn from, or the action would have been key to growing your company, then sit back and analyse why it was a ‘no’.”
Youthfulness is the best time to learn and master a skill. Every failure opens another door and opportunity to develop. Of course, this is also the age when you can spend time with friends and family, and as such you must consider your work-life balance:
“If you’re prepared to take the good with the bad, work harder than your friends, cancel social events for deadlines and become obsessed with your startup then don’t let anyone stop you. I’s important to balance start-up life with other commitments and the key is scheduling everything. My diary is set a year in advance.”