James Chance (Class of 2007), Technology Entrepreneur, yourself.online

How did CLS get you ready for the world of work?

As someone who wasn’t totally sure what they wanted to do, I found the wealth of interesting speakers and talks really helped but looking back on it, the Young Enterprise scheme really stood out. During this a group of us got together and formed a company making items in the school’s Design Technology department. We made a few thousand pounds in revenue, but sadly lost the inter-school competition that was part of it at the first round. My friends and I still reminisce about this today…I think we might be sore losers still!

What was your first job?

I started my own business at the age of 13, delivering magazines and marketing materials to apartments and offices in the square mile after school. I grew the company by undercutting Royal Mail on price and hiring other CLS boys to help me out. There were long days, but it taught me some amazing business lessons. From the effect of economies of scale, to the importance of motivating and looking after your team.

After leaving CLS, I decided to join Accenture’s gap-year programme which gave me 8 months of management consulting experience before going to university. I ended up coming back after I graduated and staying with them for three and a half years. The experience gave me a good grounding in how different companies operate, the mechanics of the corporate world and where my strengths lie.

Your biggest professional achievement?

I’ve just completed the sale of my current business, yourself.online, after building it since early 2018. Our software helps individuals to protect their reputation through scanning and cleaning up their social media accounts. My co-founder and I began working on the idea after noticing how old posts and photos were stopping people from getting jobs, new business opportunities and even dates. We were approached by one of our partners to acquire the business earlier in the year and were excited by the combined potential of the two companies.

Your most challenging professional moment?

During the start-up phase of yourself.online, I found raising funds from investors one of the most challenging moments of my career. It was incredibly busy, with a lot of meetings, but also highly pressured as you always knew that if you didn’t close the funds you couldn’t keep on building the company. Although it was challenging, I learned a lot about myself and what investors look for in early stage start-ups.

What inspires and motivates you at work?

I’ve always been someone who spotted opportunities and problems to solve and this keeps me inspired and excited, but on a day to day basis helping my colleagues and team to grow is what keeps me motivated.

One piece of advice for pupils and other Old Citizens about getting into your profession?

When I was at CLS I had the perception that the career you started would be the career you’d be doing forever, when in reality your career is flexible and the working world has rapidly changed. With this in mind, having an understanding of technology and AI (even if you’re not writing code) and building transferable and recognisable skills is vital.