Side projects / startups without traction as evidence

Hi all,
Thanks for this amazing forum (thankfully it’s back online - wasn’t working for me for a while) and thanks for your time in advance!

I am now preparing to apply for a GT visa and have a question. I’ve stumbled upon an article https://medium.com/@ryzalyusoff/how-i-got-my-uk-technation-exceptional-talent-visa-4e912af68ff0 that claims that side projects, supposedly without huge traction or anything like that, were used as essential pieces of evidence of creativity and/or continuous learning (which has been deprecated since) within the application.

This is the exact quote: “details of my side projects that I have done showing my continuous learning / mastery of new digital skills”.

In my case, work I’ve been doing mostly for fun, developing web projects end-to-end, could be one of the foundational pillars of evidence. However, I am struggling to understand whether or not it’s still relevant and can be used to support any of the optional or even mandatory criteria.

A clarification: my projects aren’t open sourced because of their nature (I didn’t intend to make them open source in the first place, neither it would be very useful for the community to have the business logic exposed just for the sake of it) but I certainly can provide a list of commits from private repos. I can even make them public for a while if that’s required.

Appreciate your advice and opinion,
Thanks!

Side projects can definitely contribute to this criteria:

  • proof of recognition for work beyond the applicant’s occupation that contributes to the advancement of the field

However, since your side projects are not open sourced, it is likely that they don’t “contribute to the advancement of the field”. In this scenario, it is difficult to see how it would add as evidence to one of the criteria.

That said, more often than not, your core evidence don’t take up all 10 pieces of evidence. For me, the core criteria was done with in about 6-7 evidence. The rest of them were support letters. If your side projects are indeed innovative and shows your ability, perhaps you can add that as one of the 10 pieces of evidence to show it off. It might add value to your case.

That said, please don’t depend on this evidence to see you through the endorsement. Your other evidences and reference letters have to add up to prove that you meet both the mandatory and the optional criteria.

In summary, your side projects will play a side-show in your application and nothing more. Keep that in mind and you should be okay.

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Thank you so much for your response, Shreeniwas_Iyer!

I am bit sad because of that: turns out the “continuous learning” criterion was a pretty easy one to meet?

Even when Continuous Learning was a formal criteria, meeting it needed a little bit more than private side projects. For instance, I showed evidence of 3-4 courses I have completed and linked them to work I have done subsequently. I don’t think private side projects, unless presented well and showed really great level of learning, would have cut it.

That said, as of today, the criteria is what it is.

All the best for your application!

Gotcha, thanks for the opinion. I didn’t come up with this idea myself though, it’s in the article I linked.
Good luck to you (and everyone reading) as well!

As an optional evidence, your side projects might count but for mandatory they don’t count in my experience. I was rejected because of my side project even though it is open source and a business is established on it. So for mandatory criteria you really should have a solid traction in your projects.

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This is very helpful, thanks. What were your core evidence then?