Something that Escape The City and Open Society have in common is that they both work to create an atmosphere of opportunity.

Opportunity is the main motivator for young start-ups today.

Some see an opportunity to change their life and escape their job. Others find an opportunity to meet a social problem with their business idea. There are those that see a gap in the market and fill it, making their money opportunistically.

‘Opportunity’ is also a word that is thrown around a great deal.

Working with Open Society, I have found that opportunity is made up of two key elements – hard work and inspiration – and both must be present in abundance to achieve success. There is the magical side of opportunity – musical and intangible; a transformative atmosphere in which good things can happen. But it never comes easy…

‘Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work’Thomas Edison.


The atmosphere in the UK at the moment, though high in unemployment and low on funding, is also one of opportunity, because so many people are starting to do things differently. People putting job satisfaction ahead of salary, increasing numbers taking the plunge and starting ventures of their own and companies beginning to pay interns are just a few important shifts we are currently seeing.

They may not seem too major now, but these are huge societal changes that are representative of our core values and, essentially, why we all get out of bed every morning. They are bigger than perhaps a lot of people realise.

Working with Open Society has shown me that both sides of opportunity must be harnessed to achieve any kind of success. As a collection of young people seeking to take ownership of our careers and skill development, we help people to launch their own independent projects or find project work with a business, charity or campaign.

Through our methodology of Opportunity Mapping – searching local areas and seeking out people and places interested in working to help (and be helped by) young people – we now have exciting projects in Earls Court, Notting Hill, Brixton, Embankment, Dorset and Bath.

People making things happen

Through an open-minded, flexible and opportunistic approach, founding member Matti Spencer has gone from running a small pub quiz night in Clapham to launching Quizmates:  London’s first match-making quiz event – from a boat on the river Thames!

Or perhaps another story might help illustrate my point, and it involves the Esc guys too.   Open Society’s first project Slumpwise (an online media channel focussing on start-ups – think Startup Britain but less smug) took place last June. I contacted Escape The City to ask them to speak as experts. They not only accepted, but offered us the confidence-boosting praise that any young start-up needs.

Another Slumpwise expert was Richard Addis, a national newspaper editor and media inventor, who, in the course of our online discussion, mentioned an idea to launch a newspaper service for schools. 10 months later, The Day has a readership of 200,000 students in schools around the world and I work on the team that started it.

Maxim and Annie, co-founders of Open Society, now work out of our Open Soc offices on Chancery Lane – amazingly provided by 3Space (the two guys behind it met on Esc), and are helping young people forge their own unique paths into their desired careers. Escape The City now has more to 30,000 members and is expanding into the USA – three interlinked examples of what opportunism can bring.

Stop Dreaming, Start Planning > Stop Planning, Start Doing

Now is an age of new and exciting ideas, fuelled by the fact that more than ever before people are willing to try new things and shun traditional ways of thinking.

The timing is good and younger people that have grown up with the internet and social media are excellently placed to make the most of it: think young start-ups not up-starts.

Sites like Escape The City are designed as platforms to help people make the most of this time of opportunity; a springboard from which not only to test the water, but to jump right in and make a splash.

Join Open Society free for opportunities for work, work experience, training or support in setting up your own venture at

Open Society is the project network for young people. Founded by Tom Rendell, Maxim Lester and Annie Broadbent in 2010.

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