As part of the Entrepreneurial Smart Camp Summer School, students were treated to an inspiring range of guest speakers at an Entrepreneurial Breakfast Series.
Christopher McCreadie, CEO and co-founder of Shoprocket, spoke to the students about the lessons he has learned from 20 years’ experience in senior technology roles within the startup and enterprise space. Christopher created and sold two companies in the technology sector before starting, and now growing, his most recent company, Shoprocket. Shoprocket offers enterprise level, feature rich eCommerce that integrates into any existing application with a single line of code.
“It was exciting to be invited to speak at Imperial College Business School, and have the chance to share our experience at Shoprocket with a group of bright potential entrepreneurs. I enjoyed hearing the kinds of questions student had to ask and learn about what part of startups they are interested in,” Christopher reflected.
During his lecture, Christopher shared his experiences with the students, and offered advice to help them in their entrepreneurial journey: “I love to hear about how many young people want to start their own business. The goal for me is to provide guidance, even what not to do, for budding entrepreneurs. Existing companies should always be used as a tool for emerging startups. I encourage all beginners to study the failures and successes of those who came before. You can gain insight without having the experience.”
The Entrepreneurial Smart Camp students are a highly driven group of aspiring entrepreneurs, motivated by expanding their knowledge of the startup sector in order to achieve a flying start to their careers. Passionate about the benefits of working in such an agile industry, Christopher said: “Startups are becoming increasingly more powerful compared to their established corporate counterparts. Startups are unparalleled in their speed in their ability to innovate, grow, and adapt to the market. This gives startups an advantage. Considering how software is taking the world by storm and with so many breakthroughs in a vast amount of areas, from artificial intelligence to medical technology, it’s never been easier or cheaper to launch a company than it is right now.”
Imperial College Business School is committed to gender parity on all of our programmes, and strive towards helping more women into successful careers in business. In 2016, 44% of Entrepreneurial Smart Camp students were female, which Christopher noted was a positive achievement: “I was very excited to see how many women were present at my talk. It’s encouraging that women are becoming a strong presence in a typically male dominated industry.”
Speaking about the challenges he faces in achieving gender diversity in the startup industry, Christopher commented: “a team of men tend to design and build a product with masculine elements. We want to incorporate women into our team to balance that out, but it’s been hard to find women who are interested in the industry.”
Throughout the Summer School, students learned about different opportunities, challenges and business models operating in the startup world. Giving insight into working in a distributed business model, such as that used by Shoprocket, Christopher said, “it’s important to showcase our model as an alternative to the typical work environment, especially with young people, who are just figuring out what they want to do and how they work best. Furthermore, I don’t think a lot of students are aware of the possibility of working in a distributed model. For a couple of our interns, this was a brand new concept. Even though we are constantly re-evaluating the effectiveness of running a distributed team, I think it is crucial to expose students to alternatives to the typical model.”
Predicting big things for the Summer School students, he added: “I look forward to seeing some familiar faces from Imperial in the startup world soon.”
Shoprocket have kindly offered entrepreneurial students from Imperial College help with setting up online shops through a free set up and 6 months free access to the platform.