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Here’s how London’s other ‘Tech City’ in Croydon has fared in its first 6 months

If you think about the UK tech startup scene, London’s Tech City in the east of town will probably jump to mind. But look a little closer and you’d realize that while most focus goes on the Silicon Roundabout area of the city, there are other parts of the capital, and country, with a burgeoning startup scene.

One of these hubs of new activity is Croydon, just on the southern outskirts of Greater London, which saw the official launch of  Croydon Tech City (CTC) six months ago.

Since then, support for the scheme has come along in leaps and bounds and it now boasts a 400-strong community of software developers, VCs, tech startup founders and other creatives.

Tonight, Croydon Tech City chief Jonny Rose will take to the stage once again at Matthew Yard to give a recap of the last nine months (the firstblog post from Rose about CTC came in August last year) and outline the plans ahead.

“Tonight will mark a milestone where Croydon shows that it has what it takes to become a credible player in the European startup scene,” Rose told The Next Web. “In less than half a year we have created a completely community-led startup scene with no outside investment or government support, and our growth and influence in South London and beyond is only set to increase over the next six months.”

Galvanizing a town’s population to create an engaged and vibrant startup scene is no mean feat, and it’s clear that one of the reasons for its success so far, simply from talking to Rose, is his genuine desire to reinvigorate an otherwise forgotten area often mistaken for being a part of London itself – although that’s a debate for another day.

To the future

One of Rose’s aims for CTC (which already has some 35 startups under its wings) in the coming months is to expand the scheme outside of Croydon and forge links with other notable tech areas such as ‘Silicon Alley’ in New York.

“We have Tink Taylor from dotMailer based out there, he’s also our ambassador as well, so he steers a lot of conversations with guys who are interested in this opportunity. So already we’re trying to build that international corridor between Croydon and the rest of the world, basically.”

It may well still be early days, but there are big ambitions.

One of Croydon Tech City’s aims for the coming months is getting even more schools in the town to offer Code Club coding lessons. In just six months, Croydon has gone from having no schools that offer them, to having 12 out of 94. Rose wants all 94 to offer them before the end of 2015 in order to help young people develop better skills, guarantee future jobs and create a pipeline of developers in the South London tech ecosystem.

Money, money, money

Rose says that as a result of its fledgling nature, CTC hasn’t yet attracted the government attention – or financial pledges – afforded to Tech City in East London. Nonetheless, with plans to register the organization as a limited company over the summer and an increasing amount of interest coming from fringe startups (those that could reasonably choose between either CTC or East London based on where they live) the workload is piling up.

Run currently by just a handful of key individuals, including Rose, all of the organizational team have full time jobs and simply do CTC in their ever-diminishing spare time. When quizzed over whether there are plans to put full time members of staff in place to dedicate themselves to CTC, Rose said it simply wasn’t generating the sort of revenues that could support that, yet.

Talking to Rose was energizing; it’s clear he has a passion for tech startups, and more than that, in seeing his local area rejuvenated and thriving once again. Whether the goodwill, support and patience of local people that share a similar desire will be enough to get the organization where it wants to go remains to be seen, but its growth and progress so far is undeniable. Six months ago it didn’t formally exist. Nine months ago, the blog post that kicked it all off hadn’t even been written. And today it’s looking ahead to the future with its 9-month anniversary event at Matthew Yard.

Why Moving to South East Asia was the Best Business Decision I’ve Ever Made

I live a life that makes a lot of people uncomfortable.

Together with my husband, I run an affiliate marketing business; and up until 7 months ago we were flatlining. You see our business was growing, slowly. Our life was healthy, somewhat. We hired help but could only afford one employee. We craved growth; we so desperately wanted to level up, and we longed to shake things up and add a little discomfort to our lives.

We decided then and there we were going to do it – we were moving to Thailand!

184 days later and it has proven to be the best thing we have ever done for ourselves – both personally and professionally.

From harnessing the power of Geoarbitrage to surrounding ourselves with like-minded digital entrepreneurs, ridding our lives of bad habits to staying uncomfortable; we have been able to catapult our business from one that barely supported our Western lifestyle to five figures a month and the lifestyle we had been dreaming of.

Curious to know how you can do the same thing? Read on.

What It’s Like To Be An Entrepreneur in Mexico

I wake up every day and sit down on my bed for some minutes, meditating, and thinking: “what I will do today?”Then, I rapidly check my twitter feed and e-mail, just to know what happened when I was sleeping, after that… I know it’s time to get moving.

In the bus, on my way to the office, I imagine where other passengers are going and sometimes what they do. Maybe they’re going to school or maybe going for some groceries but at the end they’re probably also going to work. At the moment I arrive at my office, everything inside me changes. I’m not longer a random guy in the bus, but the CEO of my own business. An entrepreneur.

Funny to say it, few years ago I had no intention to become one. During college I was studying to maybe go and work for a big IT company here in Mexico. Actually, some of my friends convince me to start a business, at the end it failed, but the damage was done, ever since the only thing I wanted was to be an entrepreneur. Along the way I have met other people like me, with dreams of creating their own business. In a way it helped that my university promoted this entrepreneurial spirit to their students but when you go outside, to the real world, this mentality is almost non-existent.

Don’t get me wrong, Mexico is a country that is continually growing.  In recent years big corporations, the government and other institutions have started to promote the creation of new businesses. But, there’s a big difference between the entrepreneurial culture that I’ve received and gained and the culture of the Mexican.

Most Mexicans work to survive, each day at a time.

There are a lot of small businesses owners, but also there’re many businesses that develop in the informal sector; and this derivate from the idea of having more money to spend instead of creating value as a brand or business.

But, these small businesses are the ones that really develop new jobs and improve life’s quality for society.

Sure, here in Mexico we have entrepreneurs as successful as Carlos Slim, Ricardo Salinas and Emilio Azcarraga. Opportunities exist but the biggest problem that I’ve found, and maybe other entrepreneurs from Latin American or developing countries could agree on, is the lack of vision. Not trying to dream big and not seeing the bigger picture are two things that make businesses and good ideas fail.

It’s hard to find people with that kind of vision, but when you find it, everything flows smoothly. It’s not about looking for people with good skills in certain area, it helps, but it’s completely useless if they don’t have the drive and the commitment to be entrepreneurs.

The bright side is that things in Mexico are changing, more and more youngsters want to become entrepreneurs, they enlist on college groups or associations which promote entrepreneurship. Government is doing its part too: creating new institutes and giving more funds.

So, what is it like to be a Mexican young entrepreneur? It’s really challenging, we’re trying to change society paradigms, which were established by our parents, changing the way Mexicans see our country and making things happen. I’m glad to have found friends with the same interest than me, and creating new ideas as time goes by.

Business is business in every part of the world, my advices to all young entrepreneurs who are trying to create and/or grow their businesses is:

Do it for a good reason

Not for the money, not for being your own boss, but really for something that will create a value in people’s life.

Gather a good team

Not only friends or family, but also look for someone who can add value to your ideas, someone from you can grow.

Find a mentor

A mentor could help you with some initial problems in business, learn from him/her.

Believe

You gotta believe in your idea, in what you’re doing. Belief will encourage your partners and workers.

And the most important one…. Get things done.

That last point is what differentiates successful business people and mere business owners.

It really doesn’t matter which country you live in, if you really think that you can make it, you will, it’s a matter of time, perseverance, hard work and belief.

Cristopher Ramírez is a Mexican entrepreneur and small business investor. Passionate writer in entrepreneurship and motivation articles for local papers, college magazine and the blog he founded. You can follow him in Twitter.