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Entrepreneurship: Michael Kohn


Michael Kohn examines the journey he undertook on setting up his architecture and software company SliderStudio. Michael details the flexibility and adaptability needed to create a manage a successful business.

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My name’s Michael Kohn, I’m an architect. I run a practice called Slider Studio, which is both an architect and a software specialist. We specialise in something called demographic design tools, which are tools which bring people, who are going to use buildings, into the design process. They’re particularly useful for public consultation and community engagement.

I moved into this field when I was working as an architect and I realised there weren’t any really good tools, any software tools, that would help architects talk to the people who use their buildings. There was a real gap in the market to develop those types of tools. The problem was, I needed to learn more about software, so, I decided I needed to retrain and find a course, at a university, which would teach me a little bit about how to make software which might help design processes. I came to UEL, I studied on MSc in Computing and Design and having finished that course, I realised it wasn’t going to be easy to get a job for me. With that very specialised skill, I needed to start my business. Thankfully, UEL had the facilities available to young entrepreneurs to help them start up. So, I took a two person office, got a couple of clients, developed just services, nothing really big, just a few changes to their existing software and then it went on from there.

My particular journey was one of getting experience, going back to university, starting a business and growing that business. I think for graduates, whichever their route is, they may actually be an entrepreneur right from graduation, or, they may decide to do what I’ve done. The fundamental ingredient is that they need to always be looking for opportunities and listen to other people. And not getting stuck in one idea, but being prepared to evolve and grow. So for me, I’m always learning, I’m always listening, I’m always getting new perspectives of what people think about our idea and how they see us. Then, being able to make a decision about, do we change, do we evolve, is this relevant, do we stick on the path. I think that absolutely true, even for a graduate who’s just knocking up their first CV, and they’re wanting to get that job and they’re not quite sure what their strategy is for who they’re going to apply to. They need to talk to people, they need to take advice, they need to listen. Listen to their family, listen to their friends, listen to university advisors as well.

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