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Arfah Farooq, tell us all the 'Discoverables' we need to know
by Startacus Admin
Arfah Farooq is 22 years old and co-founder and relationships director of Discoverables; a gameful platform that enables young people to identify, develop and showcase the key strengths and skills needed to succeed in work and in life…
"In my final year of university where I was doing a degree in Media and Communication at Goldsmiths I wasn’t quite sure where I wanted to go. I stumbled across this opportunity to join the pilot programme for an online coaching and careers programme run by youth aspirations charity Spark+Mettle.
We learned a lot about flourishing in life, soft skills and careers through group discussions on Google Hangouts. Taking what I learned from this program and my experiences of CVs being so frustrating, led to us pitching and winning £50k funding to help solve youth unemployment in innovative ways. I simply lent my brain as a young person but came out on the other side as co-founder.
It was a nice little project that somehow spun out to become it’s own social enterprise and I was given a lot of responsibility from day one. Our platform launched back at the end of January but then also the biggest struggles were felt then as well. We had just launched an amazing platform but we had £0 in the bank and we wanted as many young people to benefit from it.
I was tasked to use my social media skills to get users on our site and now we currently have nearly 750 users. From January to September we had no money at all and while I was unemployed I was always meeting potential investors to partners. I then started a very boring day job as an admin assistant for a government work programme and I really struggled with trying to run a startup on the side.
Any holidays off from work were always to go work on something Discoverables related. We recently securedinvestment and got accepted onto Wayra Unltd which is 02s Social tech accelerator near Goodge Street, that is when I got to quit my job and completely go full time on it.
When I went full time on it in September the first thing we had to do was give me a job title! My official title is “Relationships director.” My job involves managing all the different stakeholders from young people to employers to schools and youth organisation. Every day is different for me; I work on everything from marketing to helping to develop the product.
My most favourite bit is when I get to speak about Discoverables at events. The least favourite bit is due to running a start-up, you sometimes have a lot of admin to do like setting up a bank account. Those things really get In the way of the fun stuff but are so critical to a business.
I didn’t go out my way to choose this path but it chose me. All my life I use to help friends with careers and was involved in many youth projects. Education, technology and empowering young people are the things that excite me. I didn’t develop the platform but contributed a lot of the ideas to it.
There seems to be a huge misconception that to be in the tech world you need to either be a geek or know how to code. I definitely don’t know how to code but I’ve learned so much about UX and product development. I aim to learn to code one day and if you know how to then it gives you the extra edge above the rest but there are so many non technical roles in the tech world and it’s all about discovering what your strengths are which you can do through Discoverables.
Skills like mettle, positive relationships and collaboration are the skills that employers are looking for so don’t tell them you have those skills show them. They are after hungry self-starting young people so it des not matter if you went to uni or not, if have a certain kind of attitude you can work in this very exciting sector.
My last piece of advice would be is if you have a number of different ideas, try everything and see what sticks and gets attention the most. Work on things alongside your day job, it’s hard work but when the moment is right for you to take that jump or to make that career change you will know."
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Mi-IDEA Manchester Networking Event
27th Sep 2016
The teams from CISCO and Manchester Science Partnerships have teamed up to create Mi-IDEA, a post-accelerator designed to foster and nurture digital innovation in the North West of England.