UK companies often complain there is too little engineering prowess in the UK. Recruiting firm Hired says the talent is there – if you know where to look.

With an exclusive sneak peek of a top recruitment agency’s data on employer trends, salaries and share, Techworld advises you on how to hire the best in the business.

Airbnb London office
Companies like Airbnb have little issue hiring talent due to its well-known brand ©Airbnb

Hired helps over 300 London tech startups, including Funding Circle, Deliveroo, Just Par, Lyst and Hassle source tech talent. Here are some tips based on their insight into the recruitment world.

Lack of talent?

There isn’t a lack of quality tech candidates across the UK but there is a growing demand, which creates more recruiting competition amongst companies.

The problem lies in visibility. You need to make sure you gauge candidate intent so you put out the perfect job advert and make the most attractive offer.

Sell yourself

Developing a strong employer brand is key. Take Google, for example. You need a name that resonates in the developer community. This can be achieved through hackathons or developing interesting projects. Typically open-source projects win intelligent engineers over due to their altruistic and problem solving nature.

Fair pay

Keep in mind that it’s is not all about money and many engineers want to work on something they are excited about. Bear in mind that 70 percent of Hired’s candidates don’t end up taking the highest paying offer. However, spreading the word that you pay fairly is always going to work in your favour when it comes to hiring.

Should I offer shares?

Equity generally isn’t something that attracts UK engineering talent, according to Hired, which has asked hundreds of developers what they are looking for in a job role and offer. But it could change in the future. For now, focus on creating an interesting role with career progression.

Salary: How much should I pay a software developer?

Take a UX designer, for example, a role that pays between £35k and £88k. The average salary is £40,245 for a junior UX specialist (0-2 years) and £54,250 for more senior roles (7-10 years), though they can earn more.

Software engineers take home a similar pay packet. A junior takes on average £44,000 (0-1 years’ experience) £48,000 (2-3 years) £55,000 (4-5 years), £60,000 (5-7 years), £77,000 (10-15 years) and £88,000 (over 15 years), according to Hired’s figures.

Relocate, relocate, relocate?

Great candidates are willing to relocate from Europe and elsewhere – don’t limit your search to the UK. Speed is of the essence! Moving candidates quickly through your process increases the likelihood of placement. Top candidates find jobs within three weeks of expressing intent.

Time is of the essence

The average time to hire tech talent in the UK is around 22 days compared to 19 days in the US, Hired finds. The shortest time to hire in the UK is one week, so be prepared to take some time to find the right person. However, you should be wary of the ticking clock, as the best developers on the recruiter’s books find jobs within three weeks of signing up. Moving candidates quickly through your process increases the likelihood of hiring.

Which skills are most in demand?

Within London, Javascript developers are most in demand. In contrast, Java is well supplied in the city, followed by UX (user experience), HTML/CSS and mobile.

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Beyond the hyperbole that loyally follows fintech in the U.K. (and elsewhere in Europe), the country’s banking sector is on the verge of facing some genuine disruption. That includes the trio of ‘challenger banks’ making headlines — Mondo, Starling, and Atom — but there are other startups looking to take a significant slice of the banking pie.

Or in the case of Monese, which sees a throttled launch today, grow the banking pie in the U.K. and European Union. That’s because the London and Tallinn, Estonia-based company is targeting immigrants and expats who might otherwise find it difficult to open a bank account outside of their originating country.

Its mobile app (Android only for now) promises to let anybody open a Monese account in a claimed “under 3 minutes”, providing a fully-fledged ‘current account’ interface, low-cost international money transfers, and a Visa debit card.

“Monese’s underlying technology enables the company to provide customers with a U.K. current account regardless of their citizenship. This will revolutionise banking for immigrants and expats as ‘residency restrictions’ imposed by traditional high street banks are one of the single greatest barriers to accessing the banking system when they arrive in a new country,” Monese CEO and founder Norris Koppel told me in May.

Part of the reason that the company is able to offer banking to those who high street banks typically decline or put up additional barriers is that Monese doesn’t hold a full banking license, meaning that it isn’t able to offer credit or loan out customer deposits. Instead the startup is classified by the Financial Conduct Authority, the U.K. regulator, as an Electronic Money Institution.

The other part of the equation is Monese’s technology play. It claims to validate your identity in real­time based on a snapshot of your passport and a ‘​s​elfie’​ taken with your smartphone as part of the account opening process. In addition to “hundreds of data points”, the company’s system then makes an instant decision on whether or not to allow you to open an account.

However, despite not being a ‘bank’ per se, for all intents and purposes — and not least for those for whom Monese solves a genuine problem — it operates as a bank account like any other, including providing an account number and sort code, a Visa Debit card, and cash deposits and withdrawals. In fact the startup has a few additional tricks up its sleeve too.

One is low cost international transfers. “We are also totally different from most other digital banking services as we combine cheap international money transfers with our everyday current account. It’s like having a Transferwise or CurrencyFair bundled into your bank account. This all in one solution is perfect for our immigrant/expat audience for whom remittance is incredibly important,” says Koppel.

Another is that Monese customers will be able to hold multiple currencies in their Monese account. This will mean you will be able to have Euros sitting alongside Sterling, perfect for its European ex-pat target audience and those who travel to the Eurozone extensively. The Monese Visa card will adapt automatically.

(It’s worth noting that the startup is able to do this with relative ease because it only needs a single Electronic Money Institution license across the whole of the European Union, underlining the negative impact the U.K. withdrawing from the EU would have on the country’s flagship fintech industry.)

Meanwhile, the startup’s business model is somewhat disruptive too. Opening a Monese account is free and so are the first 5 transactions each month. However, after you have exceeded 5 credits, it charges a flat rate of 50 pence per transaction.

This doesn’t include when you pay for items on your card in the U.K. or when you (or somebody else) makes a U.K. bank transfer in or out of your account, but does include cash withdrawals at ATMs and cash deposits. There’s also an additional 0.5% charge and minimum £1 fee for transactions made abroad.

In May Monese disclosed that it had picked up $1.8 million in backing from pan-European accelerator Seedcamp, the taxpayer-funded VC SmartCap, and Spotify advisor and investor Shakil Khan, amongst others. Separately, I’m hearing that a significant Series A round is currently underway.

Note: Although Monese is launching today, the startup has a 50,000 waiting list of people who have registered their interest and is throttling new account openings. However, for a limited time, TechCrunch readers can download the Monese Android app and then using this link jump the queue.

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Jeonguk Lee and John Kim are hoping a different spin on flipping through food reviews is going to help you decide where to eat for lunch.

It’s an app called Foodie, which the pair showed off at the TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2015 hackathon. It shows photos and Yelp reviews of various foods in the area, and users can swipe left and right to save the ones that look good. The goal then is to show how many people in the area also liked what showed up on the app.

foodie founders appThere are two goals here, Kim says: to figure out what people like to help better make a decision as to where to eat and to figure out what foods and restaurants are hot at the moment.

Picking new or the best restaurants, even for lunch with friends, requires slogging through a huge list of reviews on sites like Yelp. This is a huge headache in general, and Kim’s hope is that this will be more lightweight by showing user-generated images and restaurants that start off with pretty good reviews.

“We want to know where other people are around the location and then be able to give them what’s hot now,” Kim said. “That’s something Yelp doesn’t do; it shows you what was hot before, but it doesn’t show what’s trending now based on the weather. If it’s super hot, ice cream could be trending, for example.”

Of course there are challenges here. It’s a hackathon project, so the team has to make sure that it’s working soundly on not only a technical level, but also on an API connectivity level. This isn’t the only app going after something similar, with others like Nibbly on the App Store. But the hook, Kim says, is figuring out what everyone likes right now and using that to help figure out where to go get lunch.

Up next, according to Kim, is hopefully a feature that lets a group of friends flip through food photos to decide what looks good and showing the group what the consensus best photo was. “It’s basically, we’re thinking of doing a chat room like Slack. Think of this as a session and you invite your friends to this separately, and then when you go into it you see three people match and what all of us want.”

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As many have noted, we’re entering a new era where wearable gadgets — from watches and fitness bands to glasses and health aids — are at the forefront of the new technological revolution. A PricewaterhouseCooper’s report found that more than 20 percent of U.S. adults already own at least one wearable, and estimates that soon we’ll be using them at home and work for a variety of purposes, with as many as 50 billion new connected devices by 2020.

This new breed of devices, often referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT), will reshape the way we live our lives in ways small and big, offering new practical, convenient (or just entertaining) capabilities that were the stuff of dreams not too long ago. Most of these new functionalities will in large part be fueled by the collection and processing of vast amounts of personal data, so it’s essential that both consumers and manufacturers keep privacy and security front and center when adopting and building these new technologies.

The Double-Edged Sword

Thanks to a few decades of remarkable and relentless engineering progress, miniaturized components are readily available that allow whole new species of powerful mobile and wearable technologies. Not surprisingly, consumers have embraced not only mobile, but wearables, including fitness monitors, smartwatches and a whole host of connected medical devices. Although consumers have some idea of the sorts of data these devices capture — location, for instance — it’s unlikely most have a real grasp of how revealing, comprehensive and risky that information can be.

For example, even a garden variety smartwatch is capable of sensing and recording not only one’s spatial information and location via several technologies (wirelessly via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS), but also a user’s physical activity — everything from temperature and heart rate to blood oxygen levels and more. On the one hand, access to that sort of comprehensive, intimately personal data is what makes these mobile and wearable devices so capable, so functional and, ultimately, desirable. But it’s also why they are so tantalizing to identity thieves and fraudsters.

The Sky’s The Limit

Thus, the dilemma with mobile and wearable tech presents us with a paradox of sorts: To unlock their incredible potential, we have to give them unfettered access to a lot of our personal data. Because the data collected and stored by the ecosystem required to collect and synthesize this information is so potentially comprehensive, if compromised — via physical theft or infiltration by other means — the risk to your privacy and identity is worrisome.

My view is that the weakest link is your mobile phone, not the actual wearable device itself. That’s because wearables tend to link to your mobile device over a short-range wireless spectrum known as “Bluetooth” (used to wirelessly send and receive data between your wearable device and your smartphone), and typically only collects a rather small set of data. However, contrast that with your smartphone, where your data is stored and synthesized from numerous sources, which makes that device a prime target for hackers.

To even a novice thief, the potential for abuse is substantial, from simple credit card or identity theft to various forms of fraud. To a seasoned criminal, however, such data could be catastrophic to a victim, leading to high-scale extortion or even physical threat of robbery, stalking or worse. In fact, the data collected and stored on your mobile device can be worth 10 times the value of a credit card on the black market.

Practice Self-Defense

As with any connected device, simple safety measures go a long way to making you less likely to be the victim. That’s why we need to be first line of defense in protecting data by adopting practices to protect our information for both wearables and our mobile devices. When considering mobile and wearable devices, spend a few minutes reading user reviews and look beyond price, so you can eliminate bad options with confidence.

Choose a device that has location and remote-lock capabilities, so the device can be erased should it be lost or stolen. Another key tip is to enable a password to protect your device. Whenever possible, use biometric authentication such as your fingerprint or face recognition — you’ll likely find it easier than using a password while providing even stronger protection.

Keep Perspective

As with any other type of technological shift, there undoubtedly will be FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) and sensationalized stories about the risks of wearable tech — it happened with the radio, the telephone, the TV, the microwave, the PC and the Internet, and will certainly happen again with wearables.

The point isn’t that wearable tech is inevitably dangerous or bad. To the contrary, I’m as excited as anyone about the new products emerging on the horizon, and have embraced them to enrich my life. However, the key to widespread adoption of wearables is ensuring security is built in from the beginning instead of being an afterthought.

Featured Image: Daniel Bruins

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You’re a European tech entrepreneur in San Francisco or nearby, or you’ve just landed in town for Techcrunch Disrupt and you want to connect to other Europeans in the city while you’re here. What do you do?

Well, one solution is to wait for Disrupt week. Usually, once a year — in the same week as Disrupt — I like to get the European crowd together in San Francisco and take over a bar. No pitch competition, no speakers, just hanging with the Euros, whether you’re a resident or a visitor. This year it’s going to be at a classic SOMA bar on Sunday night.

We’re calling our little gathering “Eurotrashed”. Oui, madame et monsieur, it’s just our kleine joke…

You can sign up over here on Facebook and get the details.

Handily, Joe Braidwood and his firm Swiftkey are picking up the tab for as long as their budget will allow. So come along and hang out with us. See you there!

Image courtesy of @kowitz on Flickr

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Hello fellow disrupters, and welcome to another episode of CrunchWeek, TechCrunch’s weekly roundup show where we talk the biggest things in tech.

This week we’re chatting about iOS 9 landing, WatchOS2 not, Facebook’s working on a not-dislike emoji button and people are rainbow barfing all over Snapchat. Also, we invite Ahmed to join us in the TechCrunch studio the next time he visits San Francisco.

As Alex says: It’s Friday, it’s CrunchWeek, it’s time to throw down and talk some smack. Hit play, and we’ll see you all right back here in 7 days.

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On Monday at TechCrunch Disrupt SF, we’ll be grilling Pavel Durov, the CEO and co-founder of Telegram, a messaging application that claims to have attracted over 60 million active users in less than two years since its launch in 2013. That would put it on course to becoming a significant player in the messaging space.

But why, amongst other things, does the world need yet another messaging platform? I’ll be asking this of him, and more, so come to the conference or tune into the live stream at 12.25pm PDT on Monday September 21.

Prior to Telegram, Durov founded VK – the most popular social network in Russia and neighboring Russian-Speaking countries, with over 100 million active users. However, he left Russia and VK in early 2014 to focus on developing Telegram — so we’ll be unpacking his reasons for leaving, and how he moves his team around the planet to stay close to him…

Grab a ticket to the conference here.

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I’ll admit that, at first, I was skeptical of Devialet’s claims. They were telling me that a single speaker, alone in an untuned room, would offer the kind of sound expected by snooty audiophiles and/or club owners. They talked up the rich bass, the excellent treble, and interesting separation. I wasn’t impressed. And then I was.

The Phantom is essentially a robotic speaker or a sound bomb. Built of metal and plastic, the case holds 1.2 tons of pressure designed to mimic the displacement of much larger speakers. The makers claim “sub bass at 16hz to ultra sharp sound at 25kHz with no background noise, no saturation, no distortion, all that up to 3000 Watts and 105 Decibels of power.” That means the bass is really low and rich but you can still hear the weird noises buried in Fleetwood Mac and the the skittering organ lines of modern jazz.

As an entry-level audiophile/guy who likes speakers, I can tell you that the clarity at volume is really nice. While you can listen to the Devialet at acceptable levels, turning it up in a large room truly makes it shine. It is like one of the speakers for doctor-waiting-room Muzak that allows the doctor, the patients, and the accountancy next door to occasionally fill an entire floor with sound and dance the night away. You could also put this into a big house and fill a room.

You can connect the speakers to a sound system via optical cable or, if you want to stream music from your computer or phone, you need a Dialog, a box that connects up to 24 Phantoms together on your network. The Dialog also allows you to stream, inexplicably, from Deezer, Qobuz, and Tidal but not Spotify. The company is promising further compatibility in the next few months.

That said this speaker isn’t for everyone. First, it costs $2,390 for the single silver model and about $5,000 for two. I would honestly recommend the more powerful 3,000 Watt silver over the standard model. Second, you have to have the room. Placing this in a small apartment might be overkill and it will definitely piss off your neighbors.

Finally, you will need to be patient with Devialet’s Spark app. This app works but not as well as I would have liked. In the early versions I tested it was almost impossible to use the app on the phone. This has been remedied with updates but it’s still a not quite there.

In short you should take a look at this speaker. It is smart, crisp, and loud. A very basic A/B test shows that even at very high volumes you get excellent depth of field in music and movies played through the device. However, like a powerful little motorcycle or a robotic wrestling coach, things can get out of hand if you get a little to excited. Pray that doesn’t happen.

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Why couldn’t they have left passwords in peace? Before the Internet turned up to spoil things, passwords and user names were familiar only to IT staff and the few workers who used computer systems built around LANs and early client-server systems. Passwords were tedious but everyone was happy. Nobody cared whether a password was ‘123456’ because it was inside the head of a technical person who used it to access often quite isolated systems.

Post Internet, passwords had a big advantage – they were cheap. They stuck around. We’d like to write that the ‘rest is history’ but the crisis of passwords is still with us today so much so that Britain’s GCHQ and the CPNI recently published new guidance for businesses and consumers alike that offered some surprisingly unorthodox advice on how to use them.


It’s a thoughtful and well-written document that challenges some of the assumptions that still get made about password security, its benefits and disadvantages. But while some remain sceptical that an organisation that devotes its time to breaking passwords systems should be trusted, we’d suggest that the bigger issue is simply that it omits important advice.

The tone is set by the introduction written by GCHQ’s head Ciaran Martin:

“Complex passwords do not usually frustrate attackers, yet they make daily life much harder for users,” he writes. “They create cost, cause delays, and may force users to adopt workarounds or non-secure alternatives that increase risk.

GCHQ password advice – what’s the password ‘problem’?

People re-use the same ones over and over, hackers trawl networks for important ones, simpler ones can be broken using brute-forcing, they can be keylogged or shoulder-surfed, people can be socially engineered into handing them over, databases storing them can be insecure – even encrypted ones.

How many do people use?

More than 22 each, GCHQ believes although many others probably have two or three times that number and rising. The problems is passwords are forever. Leaving passwords to ‘rot’ on e-commerce systems

Uncontentious advice

  1. Reset default passwords. You’d assume this was obvious by now and, indeed, consumer products such as broadband routers now force a passwords to be set from scratch. Progress.
  1. Be incredibly careful with admin accounts. Limit and control them to the nth degree. Again, this is obvious and a growing number of firms are rationing and managing them using privilege management and other technologies.
  1. Use multi-factor authentication for all important and admin accounts.
  1. Implement account lockout mechanisms to defend against brute force attacks.
  1. Always store passwords in encrypted databases to SHA256 standard or equivalent – and protect the keys used to protect those.

More contentious

  1. Regular password changes can harm security – users should only change passwords when a compromise is indicated. This flies in the face of a lot of advice that passwords should be changed on a timed basis. “This imposes burdens on the user (who is likely to choose new passwords that are only minor variations of the old) and carries no real benefits as stolen passwords are generally exploited immediately.”
  1. Password strength meters have limitations when it comes to checking self-generated passwords. This caused some fuss about in truth password meters are pretty old-fashioned these days. Machine generation is a more standard approach as long as the passwords aren’t too complex for people to remember.

“GCHQ advocating a ban on strength meters may surprise some, but also seems smart. We analysed 12,000 cloud services and found that a whopping 80 percent would allow ‘weak’ passwords according to the traditional strength meter, but the meter may be measuring the wrong thing and leading us to choose passwords that are difficult for humans to remember, but easy for computers to guess,” commented Nigel Hawthorn of Skyhigh Networks.

GCHQ’s password advice – omissions?

Two words: data breaches. No matter how good a password if the attackers bypass it by stealing personal data from poorly-protected databases the technology becomes powerless. It is ridiculous that passwords and credit card numbers are encrypted but people’s personal data usually isn’t. Passwords are only one part of the issue.

The experience of data breaches, where credentials are often abused for long periods, does seem to contradict the guidance that changing them can end up being less secure. Software such as password managers can automate the process so that strong ones are always chosen. Negating some of GCHQ’s concerns.

Surprisingly, not that much is made of multi-factor authentication where its use is suggested for remote accounts. But many accounts are remote these days as workers become mobile and the cloud is rising in importance. The old notions of internal and remote seem a bit out of date.

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Rocket Internet has its fingers in pretty much every part of the online food ordering and delivery pie. Heck, it even has a special division, the unimaginatively-named Global Online Takeaway Group, where its rolled up a number of those companies. But one slice it has yet to serve is corporate catering — until now, that is.

Today the German ‘startup factory’ and e-commerce behemoth is unveiling CaterWings, a newly-hatched company targeting the B2B catering industry. Launching first in London early next month, it offers what is essentially a curated marketplace for corporate catering services, promising to take the hassle out of companies wanting to order high quality catering for delivery.

“While working on projects across various industries and geographies, we noticed it was only on very rare occasions that we would be getting decent food in a meeting or during lunch breaks,” says CaterWings Global co-founder Alexander Brunst, when asked the describe the problem the Berlin and London-based startup has set out to solve.

“To organise a business lunch, an assistant had to call various caterers to request offers. On top of that, the pressing question remained if the food would arrive on time and whether it would be of the right quality.”

In response, Brunst and CaterWings’ other co-founder (both pictured above on the night of the startup’s first delivery) asked themselves: “How could the entire ordering process be simplified, so that a business owner could impress clients by having great food organised for them without the stressful aspects of selecting an appealing selection and making sure everything arrives on time?”

The answer takes the form of CaterWings’ select marketplace of B2B caterers with which the startup has partnered. Of note, those partners handle delivery, with the company adding value through marketing and customer support.

One specific feature Brunst is keen to talk about is a “personal butler Service” that will personally take care of special requests, including dietary.

“If that means running outside and personally getting the right meal for a Meeting starting in one hour, we will make eat happen,” he says.

In its early tests, as the company readies for a 5th October London launch, Brunst says CaterWings has partnered with 52 of the best caterers in London and is already seeing huge demand for test orders.

Typical customers are office managers or team leaders who are responsible for food supply within the office and when holding on-premise meetings with partners and customers.

“It is our vision to be the most customer centric company in the industry. Suppose your boss called telling you that you need food in one hour for clients coming in on short notice or you need to get catering for 80 people in the office next week. With CaterWings you can sit back and relax, as ‘we make eat happen’,” adds Brunst.

CaterWings’ business model is simple: It takes a small commission from each order. Competitors range from legacy corporate catering companies and other similar upstarts, such as London’s City Pantry, which launched early this year.

Regarding the latter, Brunst thinks startup B2B catering markeplaces are more likely to help grow the market through increasing awareness rather than eating each other’s lunch.

Inspiration seems to also come from the U.S. — not too surprising for a Rocket Internet startup. Across the pond there is ezCater and ZeroCater.

Either way the market opportunity is big. By some estimates I’m told it is worth 36 billion euros globally and about 8 billion pounds in the U.K. alone.

Meanwhile, on the CaterWings Rocket Internet connection, Brunst had this to say:

Together with the existing food delivery models in the Rocket Internet universe, CaterWings is the missing puzzle piece for the corporate world. Leveraging the knowledge and assets within Rocket Internet, CaterWings, with its focus on B2B, is thriving on strong synergies with and learnings from other food delivery ventures in the B2C market.

That B2C online take-out market consists of Delivery Hero at the mass end, Foodora (which recently acquired Germany’s Volo and is similar to Deliveroo) at the premium end. And with CaterWings Rocket Internet now has B2B covered too.

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