When crowdfunding launched for Digital Disruptors in late January, it’s goal was simple but noble; to help a young generation of digital entrepreneurs “realise their dreams of a future”. Several months later and the not-for-profit initiative is well on its way to kick-starting its programme of activities, and backed by two experts in digital marketing with an early partnership with youth charity The Hebe Foundation, the vision is fast becoming a reality.

With the aim of finding out more about Digital Disruptors’ progress so far and its founders’ plans for the near future, PerformanceIN caught up with co-founders Julie York and Tina Judic.

How was the idea of Digital Disruptors born?

Julie York: Our industry lost one of its most exuberant and progressive digital marketers when Nicky McShane sadly passed away at the end of last year. Known for being a fun-loving, crazy ball of energy, she was also passionate about digital and had a real ability to inspire people to think disruptively. We firstly wanted to do something to honour her memory but it then became apparent that we could do so much more.

Her enthusiasm and hunger to always look beyond the obvious were infectious and it is now our mission to inspire our next generation to think and act the same.

What is the goal of the programme?

Tina Judic: We’re on a mission to transfer as much of Nicky’s passion for digital as possible; to encourage our next generation to investigate digital, the options it provides as a career choice and, most importantly, to empower them to think dynamically about the opportunities its brings to our everyday lives.

The programme is all about harnessing the amazing array of creativity and innovative thinking that makes up our industry and give young minds direct access to some of its smartest individuals and businesses.

How will the programme work?

JY: We’ve deliberately created a long-term programme that gives young people a variety of access points into our industry. Kicking off, a series of inhouse Digital Workshops will be held in tandem with some of our industry’s leading organisations to lift the lid on the different facets of digital. These will showcase the innovation and creativity already in the market, explained by smart thinkers who’ll encourage the young attendees to consider the options and flexibility that digital brings.

On the back of these, we’ll then set up ongoing mentoring sessions with a collection of passionate industry experts who’re willing to share their own experience and help on a one-to-one basis. Working alongside a schedule of work placement opportunities, these will hone in on the Workshop attendees’ specific interests, allow them to find their niche and begin a viable career path.

To conclude each year’s programme, we will then run a ‘Dragon’s Den’ type competition to let them showcase their own disruptive thinking and pitch for support to help their digital projects take shape.

Tell us a bit more about the ‘Dragon’s Den’ element…

JY: Working as a concluding part of our Digital Workshop series, and hopefully harnessing all of the new-fired inspiration and creativity created by it, the ‘Dragon’s Den’-type pitch competition will provide a platform for the attendees to work in teams to present a digital concept for consideration by a panel of leading industry experts. The winning team will win the annual MYDDA (McShane Young Digital Disruptor Award) and support for getting their project off the ground. This year’s inaugural pitch competition will be run at the PI LIVE event in October.

Why’s it so important to attract a young generation into digital?

TJ: As an industry we’re an unrivalled bank of creativity and innovation. We’re quick to share this amongst our peers but until now there hasn’t been a platform with the scope of access points to enable us to share our knowledge and expertise to inspire the next generation of digital pioneers.

And it’s this next generation who will continue to drive our industry forwards. They’ve been brought up on digital and view its many capabilities as second nature. They’re quick to adopt, but equally quick to question. The Digital Disruptors programme will give more of them the chance to realise their dreams of a future in the digital world.

Where will the programme be available?

JY: We’re already in discussions with a number of organisations about beginning the Digital Workshops this Summer, with the Mentoring and Work Placements schedules to start towards the end of August. Our first ‘Dragon’s Den’ competition will happen in October.

Is the Programme available nationally?

JY: Initially, we are launching the programme in conjunction with London-based youth charity The Hebe Foundation and will be focusing on providing access to our industry for young people living in the London area. We’ll then turn our attention to running the same programme for young people living in Bristol, Manchester and Glasgow.

How can members of the industry get involved?

TJ: The entire Digital Disruptors programme hinges on giving young people access to the expertise and knowledge that already exists in our digital industry. We’re looking to work with like-minded individuals and businesses that are passionate about what digital represents and are keen to help us open the door for the next generation of digital pioneer.

Specifically, we’re looking for businesses who want to work with us to host a Digital Workshop, provide some Work Placements opportunities or who can perhaps help us fund the different elements of the programme. We’re equally keen to hear from individuals who would like to become a Digital Disruptor Mentor.

And of course, the not-for-profit initiative is purely voluntary so there is a text to donate Justgiving page for anyone who’d like to make a financial contribution. Just text DIGI18 to 70070 with your chosen amount.

Who is behind this new initiative?

JY: The co-founders are Tina Judic, CEO of digital performance agency Found and myself, Julie York, director of digitally-focused PR agency FYA. Apart from being close friends of Nicky’s, we also worked with her on a number of exciting business ventures over the years and were integral in our industry’s overall growth.

Together with Nicky’s daughter Naomi, we pledged to keep Nicky’s memory alive and to give our next generation the opportunity to explore our industry’s many possibilities.

Find out more about Digital Disruptors here