“Don’t you just sit around drinking coffee and playing video games all day?” I was jokingly asked by a rather cynical family friend, when I began my first ever role at a London tech startup.
We’ve all seen the comedic take of play hard, play even harder cultures depicting the day to day at a startup business. Some twenty-something, overconfident tech pro shows up in a great outfit, takes a couple of hours to make brunch before a quick creative ideas session, followed by a long lunch, a 10-minute presentation and then signs off for the day at 4pm to go to a gig.
But are startups really like that? Well, (mostly) no. At least none that tend to work out anyway. Instead, young businesses are often home to ambitious people who are keen to develop their skills alongside other talented minds.
Looking back to when I graduated from the University of Brighton
… in 2012 with an events management degree, I knew I wanted to continue in my path in events. But the events world is a fragmented industry, which can be overwhelming and leave you unsure of what’s the best fit for you.
In all honesty, it took me until 2017 to properly realise that it’s an industry I love working in. This was when I joined Hire Space, the platform for event planners to source and book venues. Hire Space had a big idea for a project called EventLAB, an educational event brand for event organisers.
Suddenly I was working in my industry, for my industry and that’s really given me the intrinsic motivation for working to create something positive and valued by my peers. For me, joining a startup with a healthy workplace culture, an open mind and an inspiring team of ambitious individuals, has provided me with the ideal environment for developing in my career and advancing my skills, as well as meeting lovely people.
Startup culture isn’t for everyone. It’s fast-paced and there are times everyone is needed to muck in to support one another. You’re often required to take initiative and work autonomously, with real responsibility and trusted by the business to make big things happen, which sometimes means learning on the job. But these challenges are also great opportunities for personal and professional growth and can be very rewarding, as you really see the difference you’re making within the business.
What’s my Advice?
I can only speak from my experiences of working for small businesses, as opposed to large organisations. However, my key advice for anyone who’s unsure of what their own place might be in the events space and whether working for an SME or a larger organisation is right for them, is simply this: speak to as many people as you can within your network and don’t be afraid to ask them questions about what they do, what they enjoy and don’t, and what the culture of their part of the industry looks like. You’ll get more clarity on whether it will suit your strengths, whether you might enjoy it, and will get a better picture of what exists within this diverse industry.
Felicity Cator graduated from University of Brighton in 2012 with BA Hons International Event Management. Since then she worked at Eagle Rock Entertainment, Oliver Kinross, and now at Hire Space where she is head of EventLAB and responsible for Project Logistics and Operations, Content and Creative event production, Brand growth, and Commercial development.