Tech City UK Blog

We hear from Alice Shyy, Founder of Giggypop and successful Tech Nation Visa applicant, on some really key advice about how to help yourself when applying.

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Top tips for Tech Nation Visa applicants:

  1. Be clear: Your story needs to be about exactly what you hope to contribute to the UK digital business economy, and why you can do it: vision and validation.
  2. Be confident: You need to back yourself! You must believe you are exceptionally talented. That is why you are applying for this visa.
  3. Be informed: There are costs and timings involved across three stages. Really pay attention to your resources.
  4. Be calm: This is totally stressful, I agree! I recommend separating anxieties into two categories: Ones with answers you find externally, and ones with answers you find internally. And then go find both before you worry any longer.
  5. Be savvy: The application may seem daunting or opaque, but it’s really about trying to be sensible. They are looking for reasons to say yes to you.

Letters:

  1. I asked the director of my Techstars Community Program, Startup Next (Karina Costa) and the CEO of MassChallenge Global (John Harthorne). Go for the highest-ranked person who is willing to sign off a letter for you, in an organisation held in high esteem.
  2. I covered anything that I couldn’t say for myself elsewhere (particularly character traits), as well as reinforced my biggest wins within the signee’s purview.
  3. My suggested structure for someone writing a letter of recommendation:
    1. Establish your role, the scope of your organisation, how you know the candidate, and how well you know the candidate.
    2. State your recommendation of the candidate, and the candidate’s top qualities for the purpose of the recommendation.
    3. Share specific stories/moments to back these points.
    4. Make a quick summary statement reinforcing your commendation, and an invitation for the reader to make contact for further information.

Cover Letter/Personal Statement:

  1. It’s about telling your story—wins, losses, and lessons—in a cohesive and compelling narrative. I wrote it pretty quickly and didn’t belabour it too much, as I felt pretty confident about the rest of the application providing the main content. This is about vibe and credibility.
  2. I would advise this as an expression of passion and personality, a chance to show what the other pieces of the application do not.
  3. Make sure it is a story supporting Tech City UK’s goals, not your personal goals (i.e. about your business aims and not your lifestyle aims). Express your ambition to make an impact beyond yourself, and make the UK’s digital economy greater!

Supporting Evidence:

  1. I submitted exactly ten documents, and none of them were letters (although I lined up about six people who could have written supplementary on my behalf, just to make myself feel better).
  2. Each document ranged from a couple to about twenty pages, depending on what was necessary to tell the story. I defined a document by the point it was making. So if the document was to illustrate my product ownership of twosigmas, I included a screenshot marking what features I impacted, a list of user testimonials about the success of the product, and the landing page I created to market the product.
  3. I proved my involvement with an early stage tech startup (twosigmas) by providing my shares certificate and articles of association, my employment contract, my contributions to the product (above), and a press clipping about a success (winning MassChallenge).

Follow Alice on Twitter @aliceshyy. You can also find out much more information about the Tech Nation Visa Scheme or read more from past applicants on our dedicated page.