I’ve been on the internet pretty much since I was 11. In that time frame I’ve started a range of blogs that with the intention of blogging regularly but then I never do. This time I want to get all specialist and niche and hopefully keep at it (I also want to improve my written skills and practice is what makes perfect). How often will I blog? I’m going to try to blog fortnightly but more like every month!
I’m never good at introducing myself. So i’m going to keep this short. I’m Arfah, 22 years old, from East London and I somehow managed to co-found “Discoverables” which is gameful platform that enables young jobseekers to demonstrate their core personality traits and soft skills to employers. It’s the missing link between what schools teach, what businesses need and what young people can do.
I fell into all of this simply by chance and luck. I was part of youth aspirations charity Spark+Mettels Star track program. I was one of 13 young people on the pilot programme and taking what I learned from this program and my experiences of CVs being so 2D led to us pitching and winning £50k funding from the Design council. I went into this project simply as a young person lending my brain and came out on the other side as co-founder/director.
We had a BETA launch for Discoverables at the end of January 2013 which was a great experience and I managed to drag my family along so they could finally understand what I’m up too! After our launch though we had £0 in the bank and in startup terms I guess it was time to “bootstrap”. At that point in time the job I thought I had secured fell through and now I see it as a blessing because with that spare time I was able to attend a lot of meetings about the future of Discoverables. By April however I managed to get a boring admin job at a government work programme which led to me having lots of #WannabeStartUpKidProblems like “Taken day off work only to go work on the startup!“. My day consisted of a 9 to 5 at the work programme which led to me learning lots around jobs, welfare and how NOT to do things to then coming home in the evenings trying to get more users on our site and applying to endless funding/investment.
From June things slowly started to come through, we were one of those chosen startups for the Big Issue Invest: Tech for Good competition which led to having awesome mentors from Bank of America, Merril Lynch who helped us take our nice little project and develop a real deal business plan we could take to investors. It also led to a 2 day pitching event in Manchester. We also got into the final for the Wayra Unltd Social tech accelerator at The 02 headquarters in Slough and was chosen amongst 9 others to join the academy. My life felt a bit Dragons Den! We were successful with both and being accepted onto a tech accelerator led to me announcing to the world that I can finally quit my job!
Now life really does feel surreal. I’ve been dreaming of this moment since we launched Discoverables. I thought I was going to be a social media bod after graduation, working away at some creative London Agency. Little did I know i’d be running something that is a combination of my passions: Education and technology.
Two things have got me to where I am today are the people in my life especially Eugenie Teasley, CEO of Spark+Mettle and my fellow co-founder. Eugenie was originally my “agent/mentor” on the star track programme, her belief and trust in me makes me sooo grateful that I have her in my life. She really is superwomen and I really believe in the saying of surrounding yourself with people who are successful and better than you leads to awesome stuff happening to you. The second thing? Mettle/Resilience: It’s a key strength we teach through Discoverables. This year has really been a struggle for me but by staying gritty I’ve somehow managed to get through the tunnel and see the light. I expand on this on a Tedx Talk I gave in May which is the note I’ll leave you on.
PS: Sorry if this has been a bit of a self obsessed blog post but I just wanting to explain how I got here, blog posts from now on will be startup, tech, social enterprise and geeky internet related!