AllSaints Manifestos: Benjamin Southworth

The ‘technology evangelist’ on hacking the future, kicking off his own festival and what it’s like advising the Prime Minister

A self-proclaimed ‘technology evangelist’, Benjamin Southworth is striving to make the digital world a more human one. Entrepreneur, founder of the 3Beards tech events company – yes, he has one – and public speaker, singing the praises of all things computer-based whenever he’s given the platform. Southworth has also found time to advise the government as Deputy Chief Executive of the Tech City Investment Organisation for a full year. And all this without ever having gone to university (and failing his A-levels). It’s Southworth’s view that digital technology can change the world, but it’s down to you and me to steer it in the right direction. “The world is completely what you make it – we have this ability to hack the future,” he says. “A revolution is still inspired by people.”

What's the easiest way of explaining what you do to someone not involved in the tech world?

Benjamin Southworth: I’m a translator for the what technology and humanity can achieve via creativity.

What first made you interested in tech? 

Benjamin Southworth: My mum worked at a one of the schools where they introduced the BBC Micro [computer] when I was very young, and I just liked it. From there it just grew as the technology improved and once the internet arrived I thought it was the greatest thing I’d ever seen.

What does it mean to you to be chosen for the AllSaints Manifestos series?

Benjamin Southworth: It’s a huge honour to have been asked to share my thoughts, and to be given a chance to explain some of my core philosophies.

What's the Ada Lovelace Academy

Benjamin Southworth: The Ada Lovelace Academy will be a school for 16-19 year olds focussing on creative entrepreneurship that aims to help anyone, regardless of education or background build a successful business with digital skills.

“The world is completely what you make it – we have this ability to hack the future” – Benjamin Southworth

When and where will the school open? 

Benjamin Southworth: We’re hoping to launch next year, and we’re still looking for a site, but we think we can find somewhere in East London.

How did you get involved with Tech City

Benjamin Southworth: I was asked to join for 12 months after meeting Rohan Silva at an event I was organising, we ran a small panel on the needs on the needs for the digital sector and how government could help, and they liked what I said at the end and asked me to help out.

What was it like advising David Cameron? 

Benjamin Southworth: It was a very interesting experience, and one I’m proud to have taken part in, whilst I never got to meet Mr Cameron, I participated in some important policy work and feel that we achieved a lot of what we set out to do.

You didn't attend university – is that something you regret?

Benjamin Southworth: I try not to regret too much, it’s interesting to think about how life would’ve turned out had I gone, but I’m very happy with all the things I’m involved with and can’t really imagine how else it could’ve have happened. I think we’re obsessed with university in the UK and assume that everyone should go, but hopefully I make a small case of that not being the case.

What is the Silicon Drinkabout?!

Benjamin Southworth: Silicon Drinkabout is a weekly, global, gathering of likeminded digital entrepreneurs who meet up on a Friday evening to have a few drinks and talk about their week. It provides a much needed support network for all of us who spend too long alone with a laptop to network and make new contacts and friends.

What are your plans for the next 12 months?

Benjamin Southworth: I’m working on a small festival that looks to celebrate all of the creative elements of London: music, fashion, art, film and technology. So that’s been keeping me busy. After that – who knows!