A Downing Street-backed initiative to help early-stage startups attend a jobs fair has found five-figure funding after a meeting at Number 10.
Silicon Milkroundabout, the Shoreditch-based recruitment fair, raised the issue of very young startups struggling to find the initial talent vital to help them grow at a meeting hosted by Joanna Shields, CEO of Tech City UK.
Milkroundabout and job search engine Adzuna recently found data showing that tech startups are hiring more staff than ever at higher-than-average wages.
The jobs fair's co-founder, Cristiana Camisotti, claimed this meant entrepreneurs could lose out to more established firms unless they get access to more support.
Shields then used the meeting to link the jobs fair with backers, which provided an undisclosed five-figure sum to help a number of early-stage startups pay for stalls at the next Milkroundabout fair on November 16/17, as well as help hire their first few employees.
The resulting Milkroundabout Bootstrapped Initiative launched yesterday, just a week after the meeting.
"The Tech City UK team helped us connect with major investors and larger startups and in just a week we pulled together an initiative that supports one of the main problems of early-stage businesses - hiring great people," says Camisotti.
"It shows the power of the community at play in the UK technology scene - a community that this week proved itself to stretch all the way from No.10 to the coffee shops in Shoreditch where entrepreneurs start out with just their laptops."
Those providing the cash are accelerator Level39, investment bank and advisory firm CODE Advisors, and education technology startup General Assembly.
Online printing business MOO will offer all startups at the jobs fair free printed business cards, while software developer community site Stack Overflow will provide a free job posting to each startup.
Eric Van der Kleij, head of Level39, said: "We knew it was the right thing to do, as Milkroundabout are doing an amazing job at connecting entrepreneurs and innovators with the talent they need.
"There are many ingredients that contribute to the UK's thriving tech industry, but head and shoulders above many things is access to talent, and this is particularly hard at the earliest stage."
Dan Rough, a co-founder of six-month-old startup Gamevy, which creates online game shows, said the initiative would help him recruit more software engineers in order to expand after hiring the firm's first software developer at the last fair in May.
"We can't relax our focus on building a great product, but at the same time we need to grow our team with the right people," he explains.
"With the Bootstrapped pitches at Silicon Milkroundabout we get to meet lots of talented people in a short space of time - so we don't need to take time away from our build and launch."
But Pete Smith, the other co-founder of Milkroundabout, tells CBR there is not likely to be any government investment despite Number 10's help in finding the initial cash.
"They did a great job of hooking us all up," he says. "But I think if they started providing funding and picking startups others would ask 'why not let the market pick the best ones?'"
But he adds that this is just the start of the initiative.
"We hope we can pull together more funding in the future," he confirms. "That [five-figure sum] has meant we weren't turning companies away and the dynamics for us were we didn't want to do that but we would've been forced to because we're a startup too.
"It's a relatively small amount but what's cool about it is how quickly we pulled it together and how responsive the funders were."
The 110 startups attending the November jobs fair are set to include Blinkbox, Mind Candy, MOO, thetrainline.com, Shazam and Yammer.
Shields says: "The initiative demonstrates what's possible when passion, people and policymakers come together to support a common goal.
"By engaging in direct and open communications with the Tech City community the government has created the world's leading package for entrepreneurs and startups - we are continuing the conversation to make sure government support keeps pace with UK innovation."