Based in Cardiff, Tech Nation Rising Stars semi-finalist miFuture connects young people with employers using an app that matches them with career opportunities.
Employing a swiping mechanic popularised by dating apps such as Tinder, the app lets users swipe right to apply, left to decline, or up to consider opportunities, which are presented based on users’ qualifications, skills and interests.
Gemma Hallett, the company’s founder, says that the business practice of asking young people to submit CVs typed up on traditional computers is at odds with a generation raised on mobile devices.
Gemma Hallett: My background is all sport and rugby-related – in the past I was an international rugby player, a PE teacher and a successful sports coach. In 2015 I took redundancy and left that world behind to bring miFuture to life.
Part of my pastoral role was to provide career support and help those that were leaving school to decide where to go next. During this process I realised there was a real problem with career progression for young people, and my passion transitioned from sport into finding a solution. That’s how miFuture was born.
What problem is miFuture trying to solve?
Seven million young people in the UK (aka Gen Z) are transitioning from education and training to employment and thousands of organisations are fighting over their talent. Unlike any generation before them, they’re completely digital digital native – 98% do online activity through a mobile device and don’t own Microsoft Word or printers. There’s a real mismatch of communication and process when it comes to supply-and-demand.
How do you solve it?
The solution is to tackle as many barriers as possible. For Gen Z we start with eliminating the barriers to finding and applying for jobs, courses, apprenticeships and volunteering positions. Using our app, organisations make opportunities available to talented people who can swipe through their matches.
Have you had any key wins?
We celebrate every swipe as a win. We’re on our way to raising aspirations and mobilising a generation towards employability, one swipe at a time. We’ve also secured relationships with big players in Wales including GoCompare and Newport Wafer Fab, Wales’s expanding semiconductor supplier, to provide tech-based opportunities to Gen Z and employability support to councils.
Organisations like Prince’s Trust Cymru ensure that we also help those furthest from the labour market and in generational poverty to receive employability routes. We’ve also been nominated for numerous awards.
How has being based in your coworking space helped you?
I have to big up the team at Welsh ICE. Years ago I rocked up with a battered notepad and a vague idea of a solution. I got to spend some time with the astute Gareth Jones (Welsh ICE’s cofounder), who grilled me through a business model canvas and identified its potential.
Returning to teaching the next day, I put in a redundancy request – so I blame Gareth for this whole journey! I secured a 12-month Welsh ICE scholarship and was selected for the accelerator programme, which was a Godsend. I didn’t realise how little I knew about starting a business until that kicked off, but I was in safe hands. To be in that incubator environment with other startups was invaluable.
Have you raised any investment?
No – it’s been a journey of bootstrapping, including early investment from family and a loan, along with my redundancy and savings – and being imaginative with every pound!
You made it to the semi-final of Rising Stars. How did you find the experience?
It was very rewarding – the opportunity to meet with other tech startups and make connections was great. I fully embraced the pitch training we were given and continue to benefit from the insight and delivery that was given on our training day.
What were some of the your challenges in the early days?
The constraints of minimal finances and a lack of team members. If we had the resources and finance to recruit early on, I’m almost 100% positive that I would have hired the wrong people. It’s only really in the last six months of going live that I fully understand the business model, industry, doers and time wasters – I’ve had to learn the hard way through trial and error. Experience and keeping control has allowed me to understand every facet of the business.
What are your main challenges and ambitions right now?
The next stage requires a different style of leadership from myself. With phase two under way, the focus is to make miFuture an incredible tool for young people, taking it to a unique position in the UK and to global markets. Simply put, it’s all about growth.
We’re working with specialists in education and industry to bring three exciting new elements to the app which will set us apart from anything in the market. It’s key that we stay true to the original vision of ‘mobilising a generation towards employability’ and avoid over-engineering a solution. Stay true to that and I really believe miFuture will be a global product soon.
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