5 Minutes with… Tom Macmichael

A second year computer science student at the University of Edinburgh, Tom set up the taxi booking app YourTaximeter when he was just 16, and continues to run it with a small team of fellow entrepreneurs.

Do you consider yourself more of an entrepreneur than a student?

I think deep down I’m more of an entrepreneur, as I find it difficult to focus on studying. I like learning by doing. I’ve learnt so much about Computer Science simply by building YourTaximeter. Fortunately I’ve been granted a year out by Edinburgh University this year, allowing me to do what I love without the risk of dropping completely out of university. I am very much a student when it comes to early starts, however!

Do you get more stressed about work for the business or uni?

Business is definitely stressful but it is a more exciting kind of stressed. The stressful thing about university is that you feel that if you go wrong, you can mess up your degree for the rest of your life. On the flipside you know everyone is going through the same pain and there are more people you can talk to about it; I think they’re equally stressed.

Why did you decide to go into higher education despite already having a business?

Before university I saw it more as a cool thing that people could use; just something I had done while on my year out. I never even thought of it as a business. I had left it be, pretty much for one or two years, with just minor changes, but then I noticed that it was actually suddenly really popular – tens of thousands of people using it every month. By this point I had just started second year and that was when I was like, “I should really be working on this!”.

What plans do you have for the future? Will it be taxis for life?

I want to see YourTaximeter to the point where I can go to a new town anywhere in the UK and just book my cab using the app. That’s the dream. I don’t think I can sleep happy until then! As for the future, I’d love to work on a music startup at some point – Spotify is a company that inspires me and I’d love to work on something like that. I see myself in startups for quite some time!

What’s your favourite Edinburgh coffee shop?

Funny you should ask that – I’m currently sat in my favourite coffee shop. Cafe Turquaz is a place I come to pretty much every day to work. I was just raving to my flatmates before coming here today. The staff are incredibly friendly and it just has a great environment for working, without feeling incredibly hipster.

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