A view from the top: Placecloud

Founder of Placecloud on his early career experience and why hiring young people is essential

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George Fort, Founder of Placecloud, talks about doing what you love and staying true to yourself in the world of work.

What was it like finding your first job?
Not fun or easy, that's for sure. I came out of university with no idea about what I wanted to do. I didn't really know the options. I had studied Classics, so no clear career path was laid ahead of me.

As a result I had to fall back on the wishes of my parents. My father had worked in the City and so that's where I found myself headed.

After six months in an internship with Citybank, which I neither understood nor enjoyed, I was feeling very dejected. A friend of mine told me his cousin had just set up a small company in Oxford, a 'hedge fund specialist'. They were looking for a new recruit. I interviewed and got the job. I was employee number 5. The other guys were great, good fun and relaxed. And for the right person, the job and the company would have been ideal.

The company became very successful. But my heart wasn't in it. I just couldn't get excited by financial markets. After 18 months, I quit.

Is there anyone in particular who you would love to have the voice and expertise of on Placecloud?
Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia. Firstly, there are deep similarities between Placecloud and Wikipedia.

Placecloud could be described as an encyclopedia of the physical world. Jimmy built Wikipedia from the ground up, and that's what I'm just now embarking on. No doubt I will be making many mistakes and heading down dead ends that Jimmy could help me with. But it's all part of the process. It's a learning curve. It's very exciting.

Another reason I'd like to have Jimmy Wales involved is that Wikipedia, like Placecloud, is an aspirational organisation - it's not just about money, like most companies and start-ups. Our mission is to reveal the cultural significance of the millions of everyday places that surround us, so that we can have a more meaningful relationship with our world. I think Jimmy would be on board with that.

Why is it important for you to hire young people into your business?
As I mentioned, Placecloud's mission goes way beyond simply making money. We believe that history and other forms of cultural knowledge are extremely potent, and have the power to give people a new way to see the world. That's what we believe Placecloud can do - literally change the way people see the buildings and places that surround them, leading to a more meaningful experience of the world.

I feel that young people today can see more clearly issues and problems confronting us all as a civilisation, and are doing more than older generations to create a better world. That's exactly the energy that I want to be working through Placecloud.

Where do you see Placecloud developing over the next 5 years?
Our mission is to populate the physical world with stories and knowledge. So that's what we're aiming for - more and more viewpoints covering ever more places around the world. We hope to grow a thriving community of cultural experts and Placecloud users, all fascinated by the world around them.

In terms of technology, it's looking like Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality hardware is around the corner, with the Likes of Apple and Facebook developing AR glasses. This will be very exciting for Placecloud, since our content is geolocated and so perfect for AR/MR.

How can someone impress you in a job interview?
Above all, be authentic and truthful. Say what you really think and feel. Stay well away from canned responses.

If you're passionate about something, say it. If something bores you, admit it. It's only when the conversation gets 'real' like that that two people, in an interview or anywhere else, can actually get to know each other.

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