In 2015 James Grant completed a BSc in Computer Science with Games Technology. He acquired not only a 2.1, but also three years of professional experience. It gave him the ‘edge [he] needed to build Weavee. Weavee is a career platform that doesn’t just help people to get the job they want, it helps them to discover what they can do. Here James tells us how his time at City equipped him to build the platform of the future.
Can you tell me about your time at City?
The defining part of my time at City University was undertaking the Professional Pathway scheme, a scheme that gave me the chance to gain three years work experience in addition to my degree. The professional pathway has informed all I do now.
At the start of the scheme, I joined the web development team at City University for a year, which is where I learned most of the web skills I have today. I then moved on to a new role with Euromoney in my second year, where I set up and ran a graduate scheme later progressing on to a startup called Bar Pass for four months and onto a contract with BOAT international for five months. My final placement was with Hays recruitment for five months.
Because of the various positions I held, I knew exactly what I wanted to do when I left university. I wanted to build a business.
How did the idea for Weavee come about?
I was originally building a social network for my dissertation and during that time I considered the idea of scaling it outside of a university, however after pitching the idea at several startup communities it was clear that there is more to building a business than having an idea.
Throughout the employment process I found I was always facing the same process; put my CV in as many places as possible and hope that a job suiting my skills came up. It became increasingly harder even though my skills were developing. I figured that if I was having problems with an expanding CV, what was happening to the emerging talent just leaving University?
It was only during my time at Hays, where I was positioned inside the recruitment system that I considered the ineffective way recruitment agencies work. With UK recruitment agencies costing businesses an average of £4,000 per placement and successful appointment taking approximately three months, there is a lot of room for improvement. The situation won’t get better unless someone does something.
What has been the biggest challenge with regards to Weavee?
In the short time that I have been working on Weavee (a mere nine months!), I have learned so much. The constant challenge hasn’t been the creation of the business; instead, it was being able to reach the right people able to advance the business.
At each stage, I have had to choose between building the business and networking. The former has taken priority and now each networking event is an opportunity for me to share Weavee’s progress to try to gain support. So far this strategy seems to work!
What has been the most rewarding experience?
To see how my actions have influenced others is really rewarding – we have some of the stories up on our Weavee blog.
Do you have any advice for anyone looking to follow in your footsteps?
Building a startup is tough. I wouldn’t suggest doing it unless you have some work experience and also a holistic understanding of the problem you are looking to solve. Having experienced first hand (and from various perspectives) the situation I am solving, I can understand the problems each person might face. This means I am better equipped to solve the problem in a balanced way. Only through experiencing the situation can you better understand why the situation exists, be able to appeal to stakeholders and solve the problems they have.
Finally, it’s the quick fire question round!
Favourite place in London: St Paul’s
Favourite holiday destination: Florida
Must-check every day website: Mashable.com
Dream travel destination: Outer space
Cheese or chocolate: Cheese