Start it Up: The Techie

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Sharlene Williams
29, runs tech start up All Chip IN, a mobile platform that connects businesses with young people to help to accelerate their progress.

On a previous start up I conducted a number of focus groups with young people aged 16 to 24 and became aware of the many barriers keeping them from achieving their goals. All Chip IN is a start-up that uses technology to overcome those barriers.

We’re still in the early stages, but All Chip IN works like Kickstarter and is a cross between crowd-funding and social networking. What we do is bring young people and businesses that care about young people together. We identify those in need of help and either get businesses to sponsor them financially, or offer them some form of advice or connection that helps them further towards the goal they want to pursue.

I don’t really know a lot of high net worth individuals or senior people in corporations so that has proved an issue in terms of funding. To get around that, I’ve had to find creative ways to add value to others in exchange for help. Our ultimate mission is for All Chip IN to raise £1 billion for young people over the next five years. We recently had an aspiring journalist who missed out on an opportunity to work with Jamal Edwards because she couldn’t afford a professional camera so we raised money for one. That’s something small but we aim to grow into a global company providing access and resources to young people focused on achieving their goals.

I worked in the legal industry for several years but I’ve always had the bug for business. When I see a need, I want to pursue it. I don’t have a background in technology but one thing I’ve learned over the years is the importance of leveraging off the skills of others to make your dreams a reality. People have great ideas all the time but the difference between those who have managed to get their ideas off the ground and those who haven’t is commitment. It sounds cliché but Oprah is my number one inspiration. She isn’t necessarily a better or more intelligent person than anyone else; it’s that she has a clear vision and determination that makes her unstoppable.

For black women looking to launch their own businesses, I really want to stress that when you get out there, you soon realise that no person’s ideas are necessarily more individual or impressive than yours – it’s just that you might have to try a bit harder. The first step in business is to make sure you’re 100 per cent committed. We can all be as successful; it just comes down to who is unwilling to give up. To me, the Obamas and the Oprahs of the world are simply the people who said, “No one’s going to stop me.”

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