Category Archives: Startups

Software Engineering Internship At CANDDi

I am already a month and half through the summer and a lot of things have happened since my last blog post. I have got a First this year, which means I am averaging a First Class Degree.

The fourth year is going to be worth 50%, so I just have to come back and confirm this trend, which is pretty good. I have already worked for CANDDi for 5 weeks (I am currently on holiday – they gave me 5 days for 3 months of work).

Working in a startup is extremely interesting for several different reasons:

  • Plans change quickly ( I am not doing what we planned to do).
  • Small teams are families.
  • I am in charge to deliver an iOS app and between me and the end-user there is no one.
  • I do wear shorts and t-shirts (yes, suits are forbidden).
  • I eat ice cream at work.
  • My learning curve is an exponential.

I am currently developing an iOS app in React Native, which will probably ship by the end of the month. This is great since I had never built an iOS app (I am an Android developer) and because I am using a leading edge technology such as React Native.

But startups are unpredictable, I was supposed to write two native apps at the beginning of the summer, then one in Phonegap and then we ended up realising React Native was the best choice. This decision was taken after developing several different prototypes.

Since they are unpredictable, I won’t finish my summer just with this project. Apart from documenting CANDDi’s API along the way, once the app is finished I’ll focus the rest of the summer redesigning CANDDi’s main UX/UI.

I’ll be back with another post when I begin my fourth year!

The Day I Got Rejected By Google

As most of you might know, since I am studying on the MEng program so I am required to get a summer software engineering internship between my third and fourth year. I think I was one of the first to try to fit this requirement with an “associate product manager” position at Google, which I wrote about in my previous post. A few days after I had written this blog, the recruiter phoned me (with a funeral voice) to inform me that my application was unsuccessful.

The question that came up at first was “what do I do now?”. The result was “re-writing my CV with a Software Engineering outlook” (you may want to check this link) and then send it to everybody. I got an offer one day later by a startup based in London, which wanted me to build their Android native app, since they are currently using Phonegap. Although London is really appealing from a “startup” point of view and even in terms of the relationships you can build, the offer was weak and the current version of the app is ridiculous.

I didn’t decline it, but certainly I didn’t show interest. That’s why probably they have disappeared, but who knows they might come back in the next weeks with a decent offer. Then I got in touch with another (Manchester based) startup, which wanted frenetically to hire me. They also asked me how much I wanted and the reply was “it’s not the time to talk about money”. They invited me to their office, but I still haven’t replied to them, I guess I should do it after publishing this post.

Some of you might go for big corporations, others might not even have an idea of what starting a company means, but over the past two years of doing completely crazy things, which I think I have reported here in detail, you realise stuff. Aribnb interviewed 1000 people before hiring their first employee. It’s true, we are just talking about an “internship”, but if you rush up, it means you don’t have a clue of what you are talking about.

I also met with two other (Manchester based) startups. I think I am joining the latter, because they are tiny, they have 300+ customers, they are profitable and I need to find a mentor who teaches me how to startup in the proper way. I think I have found one. I’ll visit their office next month, define what I’ll be working on and then sign a contract at the beginning of April.

I’ll definitely disclose more details once everything is clear. 🙂

The Day I Interviewed At Google

Getting a job at Google might not sound as cool as it was ten years ago, straight after their Initial Public Offering; but, although this company has become a corporation, the lifestyle that you gain by working there is pretty amazing. Yes, I interviewed at Google in London for a summer internship as an Associate Product Manager.

I actually had a first phone interview, where they asked me a “behavioural question”, a “product” one and finally an analytical. It was pretty straightforward and also amazing, because you don’t get “normal questions”, but it’s more a race to determine if you are crazier than the interviewer, and if you are, you move to the on site interviews.

After a few weeks, before new year’s eve, I received an email saying I had passed the phone screen and I was moved to the next stage “on site”. This is something similar an Assessment Centre run by banks. You spend the whole day at Google and you get between 3/4 interviews. In my case, I went through 4 interviews, 3 with Product Managers and 1 Technical.

Two assessed my “product” skills, one was “analytical” and the last one was purely technical. For the first three, the advice is to be crazy, understand Google, lead the conversation and show off as much as you can. As soon as they asked me the first question, I got the marker and told the guy I was going to the whiteboard. We also talked about strategy and the future, so an advice is to read TechCrunch, The Next Web, The Verge, on a daily basis and understand companies’ moves. You are not interested in what happens but why.

I just received an email by the recruiter who told me she would let me know next week, probably on wednesday. If I have passed this stage, I move to the next one, a 3 page essay to be written in 48hrs. I feel like I did good in the first three interviews and underperformed in the technical one, even though I should suppose to be a “Computer Scientist”.

This wasn’t an in-depth post about what really happened. The reason is because Google doesn’t let you tell everything publicly and also because I am not sure I passed this stage, so I’d rather focus on my own things, wait, reflect and let you know what is going to happen in the next few days.

If I go through this stage and the essay one, I’ll probably describe in detail everything and even blog during the summer; but it’s an hard guess and the APM program is probably the hardest program to get in. Keep in mind that for a Software Engineering Internship you just have to pass 2 interviews, I already went through 5. lol.

Stay Tuned!

Introducing Great Preneurs Conference 2014

When you run an online magazine, you end up thinking shall I hide behind a laptop for the next years and keep writing or go out and start connecting with the people who believe in what I believe? We ended up reflecting and thinking. In the end, we chose the second option and that’s why we are organising the First Ever Conference About Manchester Startups. “First Ever” sounds a little bit silly, but it’s true, no one has ever held an event about Manchester Startups; probably because no one has ever considered it a proper hub for entrepreneurs.

Although Manchester can’t be compared to the Valley, this ecosystem is massively growing and there are a lot of people who are building great things. For this reason, we have decided to create a one day event just about them. The aim is to reflect on what Manchester has achieved and where we can bring this city. Instead of inviting random people who will then disappear, we are inviting those who are part of this community and that are going to talk about their experiences in Manchester.

I believe it’s going to be a great event. This city is expanding and great companies such as Uber and Hassle are expanding here, because they know that after the expensive and massive London, there is Manchester. We are going to run five keynotes, three fireside chats and a demo.

The speakers will be:

  • Martin Bryant – Editor in Chief of The Next Web
  • Ben Taylor – Co – Founder of Fatsoma
  • Tim Langley – CEO & Co-Founder of CANDDi
  • Rose Lewis – Co-Founder of Collider
  • Rupert Saul – Investment Manager at AXM Venture

The Fireside Chats will feature:

  • Formisimo, which recently got into Seedcamp
  • Rormix, which closed its first seed

Growot, the winner of Startup Weekend, will be showing its recent updates to the product they will launch in May, a couple of days after the conference.

The event will take place on the 3rd of May at the new space of Techhub Manchester. We are selling tickets both for students and non, we think this event is everyone, but it’ll be great to have the presence of students that are those who should lead the next generation of entrepreneurs in Manchester.

You can BUY TICKETS here:

GreatPreneurs and Magna Ideas

Well, this is another quick update. The year hasn’t started yet, but I have already moved in. The house is terrible, cold, without a good internet connection and with a single bathroom for five people. You can find better places in your second year if you look deep. This rented house was supposed to be good because it was in Fallowfield; but I have started hating it from Day 1. I will post some pictures in the next few days here on the blog, just to show you how small my room is.

In the meantime, I have been working on Great Preneurs, the blog I founded more than a year and half ago in Italy. At the moment, we are four writers, but we aim to reach the number seven by the end of this month. We have changed the theme, chosen and new logo and rebranded the whole idea behind the site. I am really proud of what we have been working on and I hope the blog will get million of followers in the next years.

On the other hand I have decided to co-found a consulting company with a friend of mine. It’s called Magna Ideas (Great Ideas in Latin). We are available for developing applications, websites, SEO and solid platforms. We have already closed a deal with a University of Manchester society and we are building a relationship with a couple of clients, but there is still a lot to do.

UPs An Interesting Product

UPs SolidEnergy is our innovative new caffeine energy sweet which we launched in Manchester, January 2013.

Kaffeination consists of four founders, three of whom studied together in Manchester doing their Masters in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship. The fourth founder studied Business and Engineering in Dresden, Germany.

The team has an international background, complementary skills and a unified passion for innovation.

I have come across this product a couple of days ago, it is called Ups.

What I have found incredible at first glance was the idea behind it. What they are basically trying to distribute is a sweet which is able to give the energy you need during the day. If you are not able to drink coffee or have an energy drink, Ups is the solution for you. In fact, just 16g of this product are equal to one cup of coffee, in terms of the Caffeine that they have.

At this moment, the only flavour that they are producing is Strawberry, which I think is probably the most interesting they could have chosen. However if they want to take this further they will have to able to produce other different flavours. In my opinion lemon, orange, pineapple, melon and pear could be the next ones. Even if I would try to make something completely different with a “banana” flavour, which I think it has never been tried before by anyone.

The product comes out in two versions, the 16g and the 50g pack. I have been lucky enough to test both and I can easily suggest to stick to the smaller one, which contains the equivalent of one cup of coffee and it is not too addictive. Further it is small enough to fit in your pocket; you can do the same thing with the second version, but I think it is too big to bring it around.

In the next months they will probably face two main issues: distribution and the improvement of the product. The distribution, from what I have been able to see, has been achieved in the best way as possible by starting from the University of Manchester user base. On the other hand the improvement of the product will have to focus on the next flavours and on a low calories product.

Even though it is just a sweet, it has up to 333 calories per 100 grams; which is not a lot, but this number can be lowered. Here you can find the nutrional table, which gives you a general idea:

I have been able to test it during revision time today and I have to admit that I am pretty well satisfied by it. I have tried the small pack first, which I think it is the right caffeine for my body, and it was useful and even tasty. It remembered me a lot hairbo, but with a different vision. That is what makes them different from other sweets. They are trying to distribute a product that can help people, not just a mere sweet that is able to fill our greediness.

I believe they will have to work on their vision a lot, because that’s what it makes them unique and different by the others. Although this looks like a small market, it can be a huge one for the simple fact that there isn’t one yet. They are introducing a different way of gaining solid energy to achieve what we want.

That’s why they might find a big user base in students, who are constantly studying, revising and trying to do more at University; but also in professional workers, who need to be focused on what they are doing for hours, without any break. Being in a University is extremely important if you want to start a project like this one, because you can actually see how the product flows goes by testing it directly. Further students have connections all over other Universities, which are important assets for this product.

In fact they can use the Facebook distribution model from one University to the next one, University by University. If the product is good enough, it will take over even in the offices, impacting the niche we were talking about; but there is still time for that. Now they just need to focus on students, because they will be the future professional workers.

I am definitely going to order more packs for the next exams and I suggest you doing the same at this website

This article first appeared here: