Ali Arslan

Unlike many tech founders, Ali Arslan, founder of CampaignUP, didn’t grow up surrounded by whizzy gadgets, Game Boys and televisions. For the first seven years of his life he didn’t even have electricity. “I come from a remote village in Turkey where the main source of income is from hazelnut farms,” he explains. “From no electricity to running a company that does WhatsApp marketing, my life has been an amazing transition.”

Looking back, Ali recalls finally being able to watch television and enjoying a certain crime fighting car: “We used to love Knight Rider, particularly KITT. That was an early imagining of AI. Sometimes people from the city would come to our village and tell us about cars like that – they were messing with us but it got me so interested. We’re very close to Knight Rider now with Tesla.”

Having launched in 2018, CampaignUP was the first UK company that utilised messaging apps like WhatsApp to be effectively used for marketing. Ali credits the democratisation of tech with helping start-ups like his to get off the ground. “It’s a total meritocracy. You see people here with their first company and if they have the right tools, they can succeed. In other industries it’s all about seniority, in tech you can have very young people doing amazing things.”

One of the biggest challenges facing CampaignUP is talent, particularly ensuring the team has the same diversity as the capital. “At the moment we’re very white and male for a start-up and we want to change that,” explains Ali. “There are lots of barriers to break down, but London is very multicultural, and I want that reflected in my start-up as well.”

Ali says he loves London and that it offers many opportunities for young companies. “It’s a city with access to lots of ambitious people, good students and graduates. If you think of it like a jungle, you’re in the middle of it with everything around you, water, trees and minerals.”

Level39 has been a big part of CampaignUP’s story: “It’s the most connected place in London, where six degrees of separation actually becomes only two degrees.”

Looking to the future, the potential of tech continues to inspire Ali: “If you’ve created a solution that people love, enjoy and benefit from, that is success. You’ve essentially helped people and made their lives better.”