To aryrow a business you need a steady stream of customers and investors because cash-flow is the lifeblood of an enterprise. Yet lots of people around the world still feel uncomfortable with business development, marketing and pitching to investors.
In Silicon Valley there is a saying that the perfect combination of skills for a startup is a developer, a designer and a hustler. Often under appreciated, the hustler is responsible for ensuring that the business has a steady and increasing cashflow. The role of the hustler could be taken by someone with training in marketing, sales or finance. The art of the hustle is really just a combination of clear communication and hard work.
New York and London have a lot in common when it comes to finance, fashion and technology startups. The startup cultures in both cities are focussed on building real businesses not just the latest flashy social mobile apps.
Recently I’ve been in New York checking out the startup scene with VentureOut New York and UKTI. Keith Moses from UKTI and Brian Frumberg from VentureOutNY were our hosts. It was a great trip with an exciting group of startups. We had a full programme of events, meetings and visits. We kept a frenzied pace and I learnt a lot about the startup culture in New York.
Converge+UK is evolving fast from a one-off startup event into an enduring programme of evening events, workshops and conferences. The last Converge+UK event of 2012 was held at the Wayra startup incubator. Wayra is a Telefonica backed startup space just off Tottenham Court Road (at very the north end of Soho). The mature creative neighbourhood of Soho has a very different feel to the startup tech scene in Shoreditch where we’ve held our previous Converge+UK events.
Wayra has around nineteen startups involved in their programmes. The space has a mix of open-plan and breakout spaces. It was opened by Boris Johnson and has hosted dozens of exciting events so we were humbled to have access to the space. Ashley and the Wayra London team were great hosts.
Barclays and Central Working recently launched their new Knowledge for Growth event series with an “unconference” event to talk about how startups and blue chips can learn from each other. The Knowledge for Growth events are part of Barclays move to support the startup community in London. The main event was on 7 December at Google Campus in Shoreditch.
Barclays have formed a long-term partnership with Central Working and will be doing lots more to get involved with the startup community. They already have a small team that hangs out at the Shoreditch Central Working venue and they are working on streamlining their products to suit early stage startups (personally I’m hoping for Xero integration).
The second Converge+UK event was held at the Innovation Warehouse on 3 October 2012. We had over fifty people attend from a mix of design, business and technology backgrounds. The mash-up of backgrounds made for some great debates and discussions.
The Converge+UK team are getting better at dressing the room to create a sense of occasion. Our branding is getting so good that we even had a few attendees try and (jokingly) steal the event posters at the end of the night. We’ll be making PDFs of the posters available on the Converge+UK website.
New ideas happen when old ideas collide. But if you’ve ever been to a networking event then you might have noticed that birds of a feather generally flock together.
While sitting in an East London cafe, Biotech consultant Tim McCready, entrepreneur Klaus Bravenboer and I bemoaned that business culture in the UK had turned out to be no further ahead in terms of innovation, collaboration and access to capital than our native New Zealand. And in some areas such as Angel Capital and start-up incubators, New Zealand was actually ahead of the UK.