On the hunt for the next Mark Zuckerberg in Shoreditch

Success stories from San Francisco are now the stuff of entrepreneurial folk law, but here at ELL we firmly believe that the next Mark Zuckerberg is, instead, waiting to be discovered somewhere around Shoreditch. We are on a technological mission to find out whose idea might be the next big thing.

See the first video interview here and read on to find out more.

Around the Old Street roundabout in east London, you can feel an unmistakable buzz. In offices and converted spaces, ideas are being discussed, projects are being planned and, potentially, the next global tech phenomenon is about to be unleashed.

In July 2010, David Cameron announced that he wanted to create a new “Tech City” on the Olympic site after the Games, with household names such as Google and Intel being offered the chance to invest in the site. If they were to come, they would be riding the wave of an East End tech revolution that has been in full swing for a while now.

Silicon Roundabout – as the Old Street hi-tech hub is known – is host to around 100 tech start-ups, all in walking distance from Hoxton square, and although comparisons to Silicon Valley are to be expected, entrepreneurs in this area are keen to stress the difference.

Nadav Poraz, creator of WhoSampled.com, an online music discovery service said: “It is not the same as Silicon Valley; east London is unique. There is a lot of inspirational stuff emerging from the area right now. It is the right place to congregate and to share ideas. East London is definitely the place to be right now.”

Companies such as WhoSampled.com have swiftly grown, in stature and appeal, from the iconic bedroom start-up, into a position where they are ready to take on global challenges; and they are not alone.

Juan Alvarez, conductor of Amplicate.com, which provides an online collective consumer voice, said that the tech hub in the area is a natural choice for start-ups.

“It’s really important that we are here because we can meet a lot of people doing similar stuff, so you can meet them and discuss projects. For us it is really important to be in Silicon roundabout.”

One of the roundabout’s strongest attributes is its diversity. In a five hundred-metre radius, you can walk from a start-up for musical libraries to one that is trying to aggregate the world’s carbon standards.

Gregory Vincent, the creator of Sponsume, a crowd funding website, says this diversity is invaluable. “It’s one of the great things about the start-up sector. Meeting other tech entrepreneurs and exchanging ideas with them, and often experiencing the same sort of challenges. It is always helpful to see and speak to people who have been there before and done it, and then try and understand how they have done it.”

If the likes of Jobs and Zuckerberg are to bring their operations to east London, there are some who already have their doubts.

Brian Glick, editor of Computer Weekly, blogged that it is not about location, but business culture. Writing on his blog he said: “If a smart company – whether they are in Shoreditch or Swansea – came up with an idea that might be the next big thing, how long before they are snapped up by Silicon Valley?”

However, not everyone is worried about the potential negative impact that their arrival would bring.

Rich Martell, who runs Floxx, a location-based social network designed for flirting said: “I don’t think it will be a problem. In fact, having the bright lights of someone like Google here with will be positive and will make everyone want to show that the East End is a serious place to be.”

To aid our discovery of the next groundbreaking tech company we interviewed the six companies that we thought were the most interesting and innovative. Each day we are going to have a featured video on the site for each company, with an interview with the creative brains behind the idea. We wanted to find out what inspired the concept and why there was a need for it. Each interview will also explore what the future holds for the business, what they feel about the potential move of Google or Cisco to Silicon Roundabout and of course whether we are in the presence of the next Mark Zuckerberg.

The companies we chose are:

Wordia logo

WORDIA.COM – Edward Baker

Wordia.com is a high-quality on-line dictionary with the definitions of words brought to life on video using famous people and experts as ‘orators’.

Mantra: Wordia believes, that through a personal connection, users can improve their vocabulary whilst discovering what words mean to other people.

Location: Future Content, Studio Nine, The Energy Centre, Bowling Green Walk, Hoxton, N1 6AL, London, Tel: 020 7613 5724

Whosampled.com logo


WhoSampled.com is a community site for discovering and discussing sampled music, remixes and cover songs.

Mantra: WhoSampled was created out of a love for sampling, music history and production. The website is about the discovery of old and new music, the exploration of musical influences and the sharing of knowledge.

Location: Nena House, Ground B, 77-79 Great Eastern Street, EC2A 3HU, London

Amplicate logo

AMPLICATE – Juan Alvarez

Amplicate is a service that provides an online collective consumer voice, where crowd-sourced opinions can be seen by people and companies.

Mantra:Amplicate is the ‘collective voice for people’s strong opinions’ and not a forum to discuss products or services or to provide a corporate help site.

Location: 12-18 Hoxton Street, N1 6NG, London, Tel: 07704356745

Sponsume logo

SPONSUME – Gregory Vincent

Sponsume is a crowd-funding platform for artistic and entrepreneurial projects.

Mantra: Sponsume is geared at having small stakes in big ideas, welcoming a wide variety of projects including films, albums, concerts, inventions and fashion.

Location, TechHub London, 76-80 City Rd, EC1Y 2BJ, London, Tel. 020 7490 0764

Floxx logo

FLOXX – Rich Martell

Floxx is a location-based social network that allows anonymous posting of both the location and description of an attractive person that you may have spotted.

Mantra: Floxx wants to inform the world about someone or something in a location and allow users to view it as easily as if they were looking at it.

Location: 86-90 Paul St (Floor 3), EC2A 4NE, London, Tel. 0207 749 7663

Good Gym logo

GOOD GYM – Mark Hubert

The Good Gym pairs runners with isolated, less mobile people in their area. Runners can get fit whilst also helping the person being visited by providing them with some friendly human contact or just to drop off a newspaper.

Mantra: The Good Gym is designed to make the most out of someone exercising, so they not only help themselves but also others.

There will be a new video interview uploaded every three days over the three following weeks, showcasing the talent, drive and aspirations of all these innovating companies.

By Sam Foster and Sophia Ignatidou

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