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Insider tips on building a start up in East London: Pros, Cons, and Recommendations

People roller skating on a rooftop on a summer's evening
  • Written byLubna Hussain
  • Published date 06 January 2023
People roller skating on a rooftop on a summer's evening
People roller skating on a rooftop in Stratford on a summer's evening | Lubna Hussain
“Farmers who wait for the perfect weather never harvest”

— James Kaguima

London College of Fashion is moving to our new home in Stratford, East London on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park neighbouring our East Bank friends BBC, Sadlers Wells, UCL, and V&A. With new opportunities and room for exciting collaborations in the horizon, we take a deeper dive into the colourful roots of deep culture and community in the area from a local resident James Kaguima who’s making a big impact in the borough of Newham.

Social Entrepreneur | Creative | Product Designer | Founder

Seems like you're a jack of all trades! Please tell us about your journey and how you came to start your award-winning platform Skate Cabal?

My name is James Kaguima, award-winning Social Entrepreneur, Creative and founder of Skate Cabal; a Multi award-winning platform that amplifies safe spaces, stories, and culture for the Roller-Skating community in the UK.

I was first inspired when I witnessed how roller-skating united people during lockdown and helped the community overcome social isolation and mental health issues. I then heard the community complaining of the lack of dedicated spaces for skating in their local area.

We managed to secure funding from Newham council to host Skate events, workshops, and festivals. We also designed an app to help people find Skate events, tutorials and will soon add features to help them track their progress.

James Kaguima presenting in front of an audience
James Kaguima presenting in front of an audience | Lubna Hussain
Do you have any advice for someone looking to build their own start-up and stay motivated whilst trying to overcome challenges?

When starting a new Creative venture or Start-up, it is common to wait until the everything is perfect before releasing it to the public. Perfectionism can lead to stagnation and procrastination, because perfection doesn’t allow room for mistakes, and this will limit you.

You need room to make mistakes and test ideas, which is key to learning and implementing improvements to what you’re building and provides value.

When I built the first version of the Skate Cabal’s app, it was not perfect. But it allowed me to get feedback from the people it serves, and the improved version helped me get the opportunity to speak at London Tech Week. Every step builds your own footpath in making a niche journey to flourishing your own enterprise, never lose faith.

James Kaguima presenting his Skate Cabal prototype at London Tech Week
James Kaguima presenting his Skate Cabal prototype at London Tech Week | Lubna Hussain
What is it like being a Youth Legacy board member at London Legacy Development Corporation? How would you like to give back to the community?

I've lived within walking distance of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park since 2011, just before the Olympic and Paralympic Games started in 2012. I got to see first-hand the transformation and how it benefited the people living around the park. I was always fascinated by the building developments that were happening in the area, and always aspired to get involved, so I when I saw the opportunity to be part of the Youth board, I took it.

As part of the Youth board, I have worked on a variety of exciting projects such as the Good Growth Hub, SHIFT, Your Neighbourhood Talks, and The Great Get Together. I enjoy working closely with community stakeholders and decision makers as part of a sub-committee which provides good opportunities to get a deeper insight into the decisions being made at the park.

James Kaguima accepting Rotary Stratford EAST LONDON Community Heroes Awards
James Kaguima accepting Rotary Stratford East London Community Heroes Awards | Lubna Hussain
Our students are inspired by the stories of London and Londoners. With east London being your hometown can you give us an insight of what it’s like living here?

East London is a vibrant and diverse place, with a wide range of cultural and recreational activities making it a truly exciting and interesting place to learn about various cultures & history. It is seen as the ‘up and coming’ place to be for artists and has become a collaboration hotspot.

Living in East London has helped shape me as a person as I am surrounded by individuals from all walks of life. There is an importance in holding on to nurturing authentic relationships as these create a valuable support system. Learning from other’s lived experiences has helped me to understand different perspectives and the reason why you should fear regret more than you fear failure when it comes to passion.

James Kaguima and group of roller skating friends posing at an indoor basketball court
James Kaguima and group of roller skating friends posing at an indoor basketball court | Lubna Hussain
Are there any creative or business opportunities you’d recommend within the east London area?

East London has so much to offer, and its growing list of opportunities is set to continue in the coming years to cater its diverse and creative talent, as it's a place that champions the spirit of creativity & innovation, below are some of the safe spaces to check out:

Good Growth Hub offers creative career opportunities, free training, and skills courses to 18- to 30-year-old east Londoners and diverse, new talent to local businesses. I've been on their Freelancer Exchange & Future Start-up Founder Now, and it has been valuable and helpful towards my own journey.

Economy of Hours is an online network advocating for offline connections, with a diverse membership spanning corporate boardrooms to local back gardens. When you join their network, you can exchange tokens to get free advice, which I use myself to get support with building a Fashion brand, fundraising and business advice, whilst their programmes have supported hundreds of prospective entrepreneurs to launch and grow impactful projects and businesses.

Some popular fields for young creatives include technology, e-commerce, and social media. New technology is making it easier for anyone to build their own software that tackles issues that their passionate about solving through using tools like No-code builders which can all be found on No-code Guru.

In general, young creatives who are interested in pursuing creative or business opportunities should be willing to take risks, learn from their experiences, and continuously improve their skills. They should also be curious, open to new ideas and willing to try new things. With hard work and determination, young people can achieve great things in a variety of creative and business fields.

Want to know more about James Kaguima? Find him on TwitterInstagram, or visit the Skate Cabal.

If you are a creative, I would really appreciate you taking the time to share some of your experiences of navigating the creative industries through this online form. It shouldn’t take any longer than 10 minutes to complete and welcome any feedback.