Cambridge Skills Bazaar

November 8, 2010

….Two days and counting…..

Amazing the amount of things that are always left till the end!

Today putting final touches on

  • the “LookBook” containing all attendee details
  • feedback forms
  • name tags
  • AudioBoo account

Anything else…… oh, yes mustn’t forget to confirm the catering…that would really mess things up!

Yippee! We are 1 Year Old

October 20, 2010

Wow and it has really flown by!

And what have we got to show for it? Well first some numbers

  • 3900+ unique visitors
  • 52,000+ page views
  • close to 15,000 job views
  • 5.80 average page view per visit
  • 4+ minutes per visit

What’s more interesting, in the past month we are already averaging 7,000+ page views, against an average of 4,000+ in our first year.

But it doesn’t end there. As one of the founders of Cambridge Pitch & Mix and the Creating Cambridge network of Cambridge groups, we have been the primary organisers behind

So, what have been our key successes in this first year?

  • Our innovative approach of aggregating data from many different sources [Jobs, Events, News] was a first for Cambridge. And we think the high number of pages per visit proves that our users find all our information relevant to them.
  • Our automated job search engine has retrieved close to 100,000 job entries in the first year.
  • Ours is the only Cambridge job search engine that retrieves and indexes the job information, making it easier for our users to search them.
  • While Cambridge is small, there is definitely a problem of fragmentation amongst the various groups & networks. We hope that¬† CamTechNet has – in a small part – help to overcome the fragmentation, by bringing the essential information together in one place. And by promoting Creating Cambridge, we hope to make it possible for more and more people to come together from all networks.

So this all sounds very rosy, but some things obviously did not go to plan. Such as

  • We hadn’t appreciated how difficult it would be to convince companies to list on our site. Especially for startups and SMEs, we think our site is the obvious solution to provide a simple out of the box tool to raise your profile in the cluster. But we need to get better at proving it to them!
  • It quickly became apparent that our strength had to be built on creating collaborations. But that takes time, which was not always easy to find when we were aiming to deliver monthly upgrades to the site.
  • Due to the intense development programme, things like blogs and other social media have obviously suffered. We hope to redress that in the first year.

In conclusion, it’s been a great experience and we have come out strengthened in our belief that CamTechNet has a part to play in the Cambridge technology cluster.

We look forward to the continued support of our users – and our clients – and to another great year!

P.S. A huge thanks goes to our team of collaborators, without whom even this first year would not have been possible.

Big Summer BBQ – A Cambridge First

July 23, 2010

A few months ago at Barcamb3 we organised a session asking “Is there a Cambridge tech community?” which generated lots of interesting discussion.

One of the observations was that there were lots of communities, and they didn’t really talk to each other – apart from meeting up at BarCambs of course!

So we started playing with the idea, and as usual things evolved.

– First we thought of getting 4 groups together to hold separate talks, with networking before and after

– Second we thought of getting 4 groups together to hold talks on a common theme, and share their views

– Both of the above though posed difficulties. The groups needed to be coaxed to come together, and find a common language with others. And it all could’ve seemed like trying to force people together.

LIGHT BULB MOMENT!

Putting our heads together with Massimo Gaetani –¬† Pitch and Mix co-organiser and founder of MaGa Coaching – we came up with the idea of a purely social event – A BBQ!

It suddenly made perfect sense. If you want people to come together freely, what better way then by offering good food, a nice relaxed environment and hopefully some sun?

So that’s where it all started. And to read how it went on and evolved, you can follow the story here!

Will we do it again? You bet!

P.S. WATCH OUT FOR SOMETHING AT XMAS….

The Results Are In!

June 7, 2010

We recently requested user feedback on the jobs email newsletter. In particular, we asked two questions.

  1. On which day would you rather receive the current weekly job email?
  2. If we extend the service, what type of jobs would you rather be told about and how often?

In response to the first question

  • 50% of users told us Monday was their preferred choice
  • 37% of users had no preference

As a result, we have decided to send the weekly jobs email out every Monday.

With regards to the second question, we wanted to get user feedback on what other content they would like to see in the jobs email. In particular, we wanted to know if they felt there was value in sending out jobs by industry sectors, as well as in the generic listing. The responses we got were as follows

  • 50% of users are happy with a weekly email, containing the jobs matching their job search query
  • 62% or users would like to receive a weekly email, containing jobs grouped by industry sector

In addition, the following comments were submitted by individual users.

  • A complete listing would be valuable. I would rarely click through to see more jobs from most employers, so if the selection doesn’t have what I want, that’s it. (Note that employers I am keen on, I would be checking other listings eg cambridge network for all their jobs, so camtechnet is really of value for highlighting things in the broader sweep of vacancies for me, not for specifics)
  • *New* jobs matching my search criteria daily, perhaps?
  • In addition, it would be helpful to have a link to the job listings so that I can share this list over twitter/fb etc with my community.

We will be implementing the grouping of jobs by industry sector over the next few months. And we will also review the individual comments, to see what we can implement.

Thanks again to everyone who participated, and we will do our best to continue to improve the service.

BarCamb3 – We Were There!

April 30, 2010

We were there. We sponsored it. We ran a session.

Even if you look at it it looks interesting!

What an amazing experience!!! I think that BarCamb #3 was one of the best examples I have seen so far, of what makes the Cambridge tech scene so vibrant.

There were lots of people there, with lots of different backgrounds, and putting up a huge range of topics. And – this is what I wasn’t expecting – there were lots of people curious to listen, discuss and share their experiences. People that in the normal day to day work/life environment would rarely cross paths.

And then there was our own session: Is there a Cambridge Tech Community? The attached photos show some of the ideas we touched upon, but the key points to emerge were

  • there are lots of communities
  • from the outside there is not enough visibility of what’s happening, especially in relation to jobs
  • there is a need for regular events where people from different backgrounds can come together and cross the boundaries (just like BarCamb!)
PostItTopic

Writing the session post-it

Over the coming months CamTechNet will take on the task of translating the desire for a community event into something real. We have some ideas already, but watch this space for future updates!

Is there a Cambridge Tech Community?

Jobs by Email – We’ve Launched!

April 12, 2010

This has been a long time coming, but it’s finally here.

We wanted to make sure that our users would be able to tune the job search criteria, rather than just receive dozens of irrelevant jobs (as some other sites do!).

Now we hope to hear back from our users. Tell us how we could improve the service, and what else you’d like to see.

The service is available only to registered users. To register click here.

CamTechNet is changing

March 12, 2010

It’s been over five months that CamTechNet has been live, and we wanted to let you know about some important changes.

It’s not just the usual improvements that we’ve been making in these months to improve the site’s useability. It is a change respect to our initial idea of how CamTechNet should be accessed by users.

Our initial idea was that we would make information accessible freely and easily to all users. And this applied to all our pages.

So why are we changing? Well, after close to 6 months of Beta and no revenue stream to support the site, we are now at a turning point.

Can the site become economically self-sustaining, and how do we do that? Well the obvious options are

  • start including ads
  • start charging companies to have their jobs listed.

The ads option was immediately excluded because – as many of you have told us – the site is very striking in it’s design and we didn’t want to detract from that. And we couldn’t bear the thought of our web creative designer screaming and jumping up and down.

We have therefore decided to start charging companies to have their jobs listed on our site. But recruiters are really finnicky, and they want to know about our users, number of page views, by whom, when and whether they were eating chocolate or strawberry ice-cream while viewing the ads – OK, not the last bit.

But in order to provide that information, we need to capture more information from you. Heck, that’s what the whole Google business model is based on, so we’re not really doing anything new.

Finally, as a “reward” for registering to view jobs, we will soon be providing a wider range of job related features. In particular,

  • Jobs by Email – this is something we plan to launch very soon, so watch for further updates
  • Self-Service Jobs – this is a new feature we are currently planning, targeted at SMEs and startups who want a more flexible and direct way to publicise their jobs. Without having to go through recruitment agencies or job boards. We are currently looking for companies who wish to participate as alpha users, and in return we will offer a free trial period of the new service. Get in touch if you want to find out more.

So please bear with us in this phase. We will try to make the transition as easy as possible. And – most of all- we will maintain our fundamental principle: the website will remain free to use for individual users. Thanks for your ongoing support.

Are there too many groups in Cambridge?

March 4, 2010

The question has been raised by various people, who question if there is too much fragmentation of FREE special interest groups (and events) in Cambridge.

As CamTechNet, we feel that we are in a priviliged position to try and reply to this question because

a) one of the key aims of our site was to give a free space to all groups to publicise their events in one central location

b) as organisers of two Meetup groups (Cambridge Pitch & Mix, Cambridge Open Coffee) we have first hand experience of what it means to run a group.

So here goes.

BLANKET STATEMENT – No, there can never be too many groups in Cambridge.

BUT (always a but) it is important to understand why a group exists.

  • A group exists to bring like-minded people together, and also to give something back to it’s members.
  • A group should always be inclusive. It should not exclude anyone either by charging fees, or by having a “vetted” membership.
  • A group needs to be honest about it’s relevance to it’s members. If it’s no longer relevant, it should cease to exist.
  • A group exists if – as the organiser(s) – you could walk out of the room and no-one would notice.
  • A group should not exist if it’s primary aim is to sell yourself, your product or your company.

Anything that does not meet the above is a business\hobby\personal network, club, association, etc..

As far as we are concerned, the vibrancy of the Cambridge hi-tech community relies on a wide range of special interest groups which meet the above criteria and which are always evolving.

That’s pretty much it. What do you think?

Too many events on home page?

February 19, 2010

We are continually trying to find ways to make the site easier to use.

So it seemed pretty obvious that the 7 day event summary on the home page contained far too many events. Many of which were not even organised by any of our 25 listed groups!

We’ve therefore decided to display ONLY events from our listed groups, and extend the summary period to 14 days. In this way we hope to give our users better visibility of what’s coming up.

Similarly, we’ve appended the company name to the jobs listed on the home page, so that users can more easily put the job in context. And we’ve added the total number of jobs listed for each day.

Did we get it right? Did we get it wrong? Send us your feedback.

Why Community? Why .info?

February 5, 2010

So what’s with the cryptic blog heading? Well, let’s start at the beginning.

When the idea for CamTechNet first emerged, and throughout the initial development, we really had no time to think about the nature and peculiarities of the Cambridge technology community.

We felt strongly that there were lots of Cambridge groups and networks, but nothing that had the sole intent of bringing them all together and making them more accessible. Nothing where individuals could easily see all the links that exist within the community.

So we registered a domain name – and camtechnet.co.uk seemed as good as any. And we adopted the motto “Growing the Cambridge Technology Network”.

Then in October 2009 we finally released our public Beta. Naturally people started asking lots of questions about what we were trying to do……and we were COMPLETELY unprepared!

Now we are 4 months down the line, a bit wiser, and certainly more aware of the community that surrounds us. We now can also see better the (many) links that are the cement of the Cambridge technology community. And we are trying to come up with new ways to facilitate the sharing of those links.

As a result of our brief – but intense – experience we have decided to

  • change the domain to camtechnet.info, because we want to be an information web-site, not a company selling services
  • change our motto, because what we want to help grow is the technology community. Networks remind us too much of business meetings, whereas our main objective is to facilitate the sharing of information.

There, I’ve said. Does it make sense? We think so. Now you be the judge.


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