The enduring appeal of Silicon Milkroundabout
This weekend Shoreditch's Old Truman Brewery plays host to Silicon Milkroundabout for the seventh time. Every May and November London's tech startups gather for this magical event.
On the face of it this seems like just another job fair: Flog a bunch of stands to companies that want to pitch their dazzling career opportunities and round up some initially enthusiastic candidates to traipse around collecting pens and stress balls.
But there's more going on a Silicon Milkroundabout. You're not picking up a brochure and talking to the HR team of a corporation with an expensive looking stand - although some of the stands are pretty damn fancypants. You're talking about roles with the CTO. Or with the person whose code you might end up reviewing in a couple of months. Now that's cool. It's personal. It's gritty. It's tangible.
Here's a snappy little video. Watch out for yours truly at 1:25 sporting a super-trendy cap and grinning like a burk.
SMR's enduring appeal comes from how well it serves both startups and candidates. As a candidate the experience I described is one that you can't get in many places. It's the perfect way to find a role that's a good fit - working for a startup is often more about your connection with the company and the idea than how much code you can bash out in a work day. SMR facilitates those kinds of discussions.
From a startup's point of view there's a very compelling reason to go back every six months: It actually works. People get hired. The guy I sit next to at work was hired from SMR. Hiring people is really, really expensive and a bit of a nightmare in a startup. Getting the engineers right in the thick of it and cutting out even a whiff of a middle man is powerfully compelling. In fact, recruiters are meticulously filtered out from the applicants to attend.
But I have a couple of niggling concerns. Much like the rise of UKIP I'm sure they won't amount to anything but I will be interested to see how they play out. Firstly, there's a chance that the event could be a victim of its own success. As the prospect of working for a startup is touted more strongly we are likely to see more and more people signing up. In past years the quality of candidates has been extraordinarily high but there's a worry that it could start to falter and the very best candidates will be harder to find. Also, there's the interesting point about who is allowed to attend. Startups tend to grow very rapidly and there is an argument to be made that a lot of startups in attendance are playing a bit fast and loose with the definition. Badoo? The BBC? King? What's even more interesting is watching the small startups grow from a few people around a laptop to an elaborate stand complete with cool swag and a whole team of identically t-shirted engineers. Hey, maybe the dream of every startup will end up being to get so big they're politely asked not to attend.
At time of writing there are still slots open. I could not more highly recommend getting over to Shoreditch this weekend. We'll be there - say hi to anyone you see wearing a Zonino badge! Oh, and naturally check out Zonino before you get there to have a search for who is hiring for your skills. See you at the bar.