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Kam Star: What to look out for at Digital Shoreditch 2013

Digital Shoreditch founder Kam Star on what not to miss this year and the future of the festival

With Digital Shoreditch just around the corner, East London is poised to be packed with geeks, techies, investors and entrepreneurs alike.

But with a mammoth eleven day lineup, you could easily get lost in the sea of impressive names, events and venues.

Tech City News caught up with Kam Star to find out what not to miss this year, and what the future holds for Digital Shoreditch.

What are you trying to achieve with this year’s Digital Shoreditch?

KS: This year our focus is on growth, entrepreneurship, and making meaningful connections.

For us the key action of this year is going to be people telling us, “I found my co-founder here” or “I found my investor here.”

A big focus is going to be on the future, and that future being about growth.

The UK could potentially be considered the start-up capital of the universe — we had 440,000 new businesses formed last year, and that’s an increase of 9 per cent over the previous year, and what I’m really interested in is, of these half a million new businesses, how many of them are going to be employing ten thousand people, and what can we do to help them achieve this? I just feel that this is the next chapter in the British mind-set; five years ago starting your own business was a bit of a stigma, it had a lot of risk associated with it, then there was a sea of change with things like Dragons Den, The Apprentice, now we have a culture of “don’t get a job, start a business.”

What I’m concerned about is how do we make things sustainable, and how do we make things grow. We want entrepreneurs, we want people to be creating jobs. The word entrepreneur actually means job creator.

A lot of young people don’t have jobs, so this whole business of growing your business, of being a true entrepreneur, a job creator, is really trying to address this.

What are you most excited about?

I am so excited about the Behavioural Design day, it’s a phenomenal line up if you’re into the space of changing behaviour. I’ve been working in the space of changing behaviour for many years, combining play with influence and behaviour change.

In terms of entrepreneurship you should come to the Capital and Growth day, and get to see and hear amazing entrepreneurs like Mike Lynch, who sold his business for ten billion pounds, people we can aspire to be one day.

I’m equally very excited about Tomorrow’s World. As a day, the concept of Tomorrow’s World is pretty awesome, we’ve got people who work with robotics, people who work with new modes of interaction, people who are going to talk about what the future of engagement is.

I’m also looking forward to the make and do day, which is all about making and doing stuff and I think it’s going to be really exciting and interesting, not least because the BBC are going to be there.

What does the future hold for Digital Shoreditch?

I think for us the mission has always been to help grow this community, and when we first started there was no Silicon Milkroundabout, the Drinkabout, these things didn’t exist.

With TechHub, and Campus, this has been a real challenge for us — the first time we did Digital Shoreditch, it’s almost like what Campus does everyday, all year round, and its not just them, lots of people are doing stuff, there’s a real challenge for us — how do we stay relevant when there’s events going on every single night in the area?

We need to keep finding interesting ways to engage the community, that’s the real challenge. How do we stay relevant? The only way we can do this is through our crowd. The speakers that we have this year, by-and-large they were picked by the community; 3000 individuals voted on who they wanted to see, and thats how we did 99 per cent of the program.

So we’re going to continue to listen to the community, to have that dialogue; Digital Shoreditch is a community thing. Everything I do is based on the feelings, the emotions, the direction I’m getting from the rest of the community.

We listen to what people are saying. People say what they want, if it works, we stick with it, if it doesn’t, we dump it.

What have you learned from putting on Digital Shoreditch for the last three years?

What I’ve learned is that the more generous you are with people, the better the outcomes.

The view that if you trust the community to do the right thing, and give them the opportunity to do the right thing, they generally do.

It’s called Digital Shoreditch, but it’s a lie. It should be called analogue Shoreditch. We’re far less about sitting behind facebook or twitter, we’re very much about meeting face-to-face, seeing each other eye-to-eye. In a way we’re analogue Shoreditch. That’s what it’s all about.

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