Tech lead and digital product maker
I’m an experienced early-stage startup tech/product lead with a mix of overlapping skills in software development, design, and business model innovation.
Throughout my career, I’ve sought to find repeatable ways to discover new opportunities, prototype and develop early-stage tech startups and scale them to have an impact on solving problems the world faces.
My main skill, and what I focus on continually improving, is being able to take the nub of an idea, test it, hone it, rapidly build a working first version and then iterate to take the idea from "zero to one".
I work at On Deck, a cohort-based learning platform for people with ambition. Think a cross between an accelerator program and an MBA program and you might not be too far wrong. I currently support the product engineering team as Director of Product, Platform. It's a technical product leadership role where I coordinate our Data, No-Code and Funnel teams.
We're using no-code tools extensively, which has given the team an ability to operate at pace across all parts of the business. This kind of approach comes with some challenges and unusual architectural decisions, not least in wrangling all of the data that these services generate into a "single source of truth" for reporting and operational purposes. I'm currently leading a small team of data engineers and data scientists to do just that!
Prior to this (and my work helping to set up Oak National Academy during the Covid lockdown - see below), I’ve instigated and led venture building and "labs" initiatives to explore business opportunities in a diverse set of industries: sustainability, finance, supply-chain, logistics, e-commerce, education, urban mobility, car sharing, data analytics, tech recruitment, culture and more. I've been co-founder of a handful of tech startups, a design studio, a record label and assorted other ventures along the way.
You can read about my work history on my Linkedin profile.
Brands I’ve worked with
I write articles and essays, mostly on Medium, although you'll also find my words on Lifehacker, Quartz and elsewhere.
Here are a few of my most popular posts.
I speak on a variety of topics: creativity, startups, innovation, experimentation, inspiring the next generation with the possibilities of technology, "sketching with code", and my personal journey aiming to create something every day.
I always aim to be useful, relatable, light-hearted, honest and inspiring. And above all, jargon-free!
If you'd like to book me, I'm represented by Speakers Corner in London.
A brilliant talk which landed so well with our audience
Stef was great, delivered a great presentation and the audience found it very engaging. He received high praise and was a very approachable guy.
He was provocative and challenging at the same time as being positive and inspiring. He fulfilled his brief completely and was very flexible in the lead up to his keynote - flexing the content and checking with me that he was getting the messaging right.
Create Something Every Day
Life, Time, Value
Starting With a Hack
If you were to ask me my preferred tech stack right now, I’d say some of these would be in the mix.
In the past I've worked with a wide range of languages, Ruby, PHP, .Net, C++, Java, but nowadays I've found that I'm most productive with this particular stack for the kinds of projects I work on.
I started running as a complete beginner in September 2019 having not done really any organised exercise before. The daily walk to and from work was about it!
I used the Couch to 5k app to steadily get my stamina up, and kept going after I hit the 5k target.
Just over a year later I ran the virtual (because of Covid) London Marathon in a time of 3:52 🎉
There's a thread on Twitter that I made along the way, and I'm currently gathering all my Strava posts into a website that shows the journey from beginning to end.
If you're thinking "I could never run a marathon", I hope this shows that it might just be possible!
In a previous software leadership role, I helped the UK education sector respond to the challenges presented by COVID, by helping build an online learning platform, Oak National Academy for students to learn from home and in other settings when they're unable to attend school.
Our tiny tech and product team built and released the first version in a week, and the service has now scaled to support 4.5 million students per week to learn from home. The wider team and partners have produced almost a full national curriculum of video content and resources (~10,000 video lessons) across most subjects and made it all available for free (including finding a way to make it free to access on a phone) via the web.
I'm a Clore Fellow and am always interested in the intersection of modern technology and culture. The leadership fellowship I undertook exposed me to the needs of cultural and creative organisations and I've since been involved with several non-profits.
I sit on the industrial advisory board of University of Birmingham School of Computer Science and I have a history of volunteering for tech-focused and social good organisations.
I've been a school governor at two schools, and was chair for three years at Heber Primary School in South London, where I learnt a lot about good governance.
All of our work on Oak National Academy is under the wing of the Reach Foundation, a UK charity.
Through my running I raise funds for autism charities including the National Autistic Society and Ambitious about Autism.
Digital Leaders Impact Awards Oak National Academy
Tech4Good Awards Highly Commended
Oak National Academy
Business to Arts Award: Best Creative Staff Engagement
Accenture: Festival of Ideas
Nokia Pitch 'n' Win
Smarta 100 Winner
White Bull "Bully" Winner
Finalist for Guardian MEGAs — Disruptive Technology
NUJ Regional Journalism Awards – Highly Commended
Help Me Investigate
Best Investigation at the Talk About Local Unawards
Help Me Investigate
Top 5 in the Observer / Courvoisier The Future 500
First Light Movies
Webby Award Honoree (NetArt)
Name in Lights
Webby Award Honoree
The Big Picture
Joint-winner of inaugural Guardian Innovation Awards (‘MEGA’) for Best Independent Blog
Created in Birmingham
Joint World Record holder!? (With many others) The Big Picture
Finalist for Royal Television Society Innovation Award – User Generated Content
4tips (Maverick TV)
British Council Digital Pioneer
#20 in the Birmingham Post’s Power 50
Alumnus of the Year, Birmingham University
Birmingham Creative City Awards Small Business of the Year
Birmingham Young Professional of the Year
Channel 4 Ideas Factory Creative Class Award Winner
3form / Type Records
Champion of Industry, Mustard award
O2 / Arena magazine – Shortlisted for Entrepreneur of the Year in Birmingham
Mustard Award for Best New Start-Up in Birmingham
Birmingham Creative City Award for Outstanding Innovation
Gold Award for Best Non-Profit Organisation Website – World Media Festival Hamburg
Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery website / 3form
NASTA winner - Best Title Sequence
Robots in Disguise
Here’s how best to reach me if you’d like to chat.
Direct message me on Twitter. I find this is the easiest way for me to chat.
If you’re not on Twitter, you can email me.