Archive for August, 2009

Are we a nation who can’t stand success?

Last night at Open Soho, I had a debate with someone about how it’s much easier to be an entrepreneur in the USA. He was saying that other UK entrepreneurs and I should consider moving there because:

a) It’s easier to be an entrepreneur in America, Americans’ want to be seen to help people on their way up, they want to genuinely help others’ succeed whereas in the UK people like to see you fail, or if Brits seem like they are happy for you, it’s actually fake.
b) It’s easier to get cash. Americans’ will hear you pitch and give you a straight answer- no mid way, being kept in limbo etc, they are more inclined to take a risk.
c)Failure is seen as success, if you’ve had a business failure Americans will pat you on the back, whereas in the UK failure is a permanent mark on your business acumen.

I argued that the entrepreneurial community here in the UK is buzzing with vibrancy and is really coming into fruition with so many great entrepreneurs and startups. I could be at an entrepreneurial/tech event every night of the week if I wanted.
I also argued that whenever anyone gets good they seem to piss off to Silicon Valley and If the UK was to sustain an entrepreneurial community we have to have people who will give it a chance.
I’ve been to America many times and do find they have a positivity and attitude that sometimes lacks in the UK, but Is that just a cultural difference?
What do you think? Are there any Americans that now do business in the UK and have noticed a difference?
Are there any UK entrepreneurs wanting to head off to the US?
I’d be interested to know your thoughts:)

Sarah Beeny answers you Tweets!

Make sure you check out our startup of the week pitching on an escalator and Sara Beeny answering some of your Tweets over at Telegraph blogs . We have to keep our Telegraph blogs vlogg short but LOADS of you submitted questions and we didn’t want any of you to miss out, so here’s Sarah answering the rest:

Don’t give me the hard sell: Why Sony Ericsson are getting it right

If you’ve been on YouTube lately you’ll have noticed adverts for Sony Ericsson’s Pocket TV in the top right hand corner. But instead of just a banner add saying something like: ‘Get Facebook, Bebo and Twitter’ on your phone 24-7′ (the boring sales pitch most phone companies’ are trying to leveraging at the mo) Sony Ericsson’s Pocket TV is producing really, refreshing MTV-style content that’s getting lots of views.

Their YouTube Channel has 180,880 channel views and was awarded #33 – Most Viewed (This Week) – United Kingdom and their individual video viewing figures are much higher. The JLS: Face Invaders episode (below)  got 162,462 views alone. OK so it’s not millions, but not bad for UK YouTube viewing figures from a company consumer channel. The top three UK channels are made up of cars, musicians and a girl doing makeup tutorials.

What I like about the content is it’s subtle. They don’t dangle a phone in front of your face. Or even use one at all. I’ve watched about ten episodes and have not seen a phone once. They’ve realized people, like me, can, and do just switch off as soon as they are being sold anything. Instead of the ‘we are a phone that can do everything on the planet’ sell, they are creating a brand young people associate and connect with. So hello advertisers, we know all phones come with Facebook, Bebo and Twitter 24-7, so don’t bore us with that drizzle, do something innovative, try a little harder, take a leaf out of Sony Ericsson’s book.

‘JLS Face Invaders’

Interviewing top UK YouTuber charlieissocoollike’s band Chameleon Circuit.

Win a hot LG GD900 Crystal in the LGPout competition!

The lovely Miggy over at The Pout is giving away an LG phone! What do you have to do to get your grubby hands on it?

All you have to do is show Miggy your best POUT.
Leave a comment on her blog post, with a link to a pic of yourself, doing your best pout and the winner will be twittering in style, from the brand new LG phone! – Winners will be announced on the morning of Friday 21st August.

PS: Miggy’s next fashion event is this Thursday in London-keep an eye on

Picture 24

Can you do better that Miggy?

Can you do better that Miggy?

Little miss network: UK/Europe based entrepreneur? Organisations, people and events to help you!

Networking events are great for startup entrepreneurs- not only do you get to meet and exchange business cards with potential clients or collaborative partners, you also (if it’s a quality event) get fed and watered for free, perfect when you’re trying to save the cash for your boot strapped startup.

I’ve been networking my little socks off over the past couple of years and thought I’d share with you some of the people organizations and events which I surround myself with and feel are really helpful in the entrepreneurial, tech,  business and social media sector.

The list is rather Londoncentric sorry, but tough because it’s where I live! Would love to know about more organizations, people and events across the rest of the country- please feel free to add.

Also some of these organizations are focused for tech startups and some for entrepreneurship more generally and some cross over so have a look at their sites to gain more info.

I swear by Twitter as the best way to connect with people so have tried to link the ‘person you need to know’ Twitter name to their name.


Microsoft Bizpark: A program that provides Software, Support and Visibility for Software Startups. In the UK, Bindi Karia is the woman you want to speak to.

Sun Microsystems: Get discounted servers, open source and discounted software free technical expertise and more, free to join and the man you’re after, the man with the most colorful shirts in London is Stewart Townsend.

SeedCamp:  At Seedcamp, they believe Europe has the talent, the role models, and the capital founders needed to succeed.  Reshma Sohoni is  CEO and here is the Seedcamp twitter account.

NACUE: The National Consortium of University Entrepreneurs is a national organization that supports and represents university enterprise societies and student entrepreneurs to drive the growth of entrepreneurship across the UK. They also run a funding process. Victoria Lennox is at the helm. NACUE Twitter account and here is Victoria’s

CmyPitch: offers free online services for small to mid-sized firms / entrepreneurs. Get supplier quotes, pitch for funding, watch videos. cmypitch Twitter account.

    Smarta: Smarta founded by entrepreneur Shaa Wasmund is a new support platform for business owners and entrepreneurs. Our aim is to provide a one-stop-shop where business owners can connect, learn and actually *do* business. Here’s the Smarta Twitter account.

    Angel’s Den: Angels Den offers a service for two types of people: those who are trying to obtain business funding and small business finance – and those private investors (the business angels) looking for exciting business ideas to invest in. Startups pay a fee to join. Angel’s Den Twitter and the man behind it all is Bill Morrow

    MakeYourMark: The campaign is run by Enterprise Insight, which was founded by the four leading UK business membership organizations – the British Chambers of Commerce, the CBI, the Federation of Small Businesses and the Institute of Directors. Their Director Generals sit on Enterprise Insight’s board, which is chaired by entrepreneur Peter Jones. Enterprise Insight is supported by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and is endorsed by the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.Alongside the Make Your Mark campaign, Enterprise Insight runs:Global Entrepreneurship Week.

    Make your mark Twitter

    Entrepreneur’s World: is a membership-only organization offering a unique environment where entrepreneurs have stimulating interactions with like-minded business leaders and investors; share experiences; exchange advice; are inspired and collaborate in relaxed, informal environments. with an application criteria of a minimum company annual turnover of £1 million. Ivor Tucker is the founder, I don’t want to give his email so hed to the site to contact him.

    School for Startups: The inspiration of serial entrepreneur and angel investor Doug Richard, School for Startups is the UK’s leading provider of business training for entrepreneurs. We provide expert tuition on the critical issues entrepreneurs need to understand, including how to start a business, finance and investment, product management, managing successful teams and entrepreneurial marketing. Schoolforstartups Twitter

    Up North

    Entrepreneur’s Forum: Encouraging a culture of enterprise and entrepreneurship within the North East. Was established in 2002 by a group of the North East’s leading entrepreneurs.

    Growth Investment Network East Midlands: ‘We’ve got the network of East Midlands people you should know if you want to take your business successfully to the next level’. Toby Ried is behind it all, I don’t want to give out his email so i’ll update when I find out his linkedIn.

    Startup 2.0: Founded in 2006 with the help of KPMG, Startup 2.0 (NS20) has taken the bold responsibility to build a sustainable ecosystem for early stage tech companies in Britain. At the core of this initiative is a series of premier monthly events focusing on the needs of Tech StartUps.  Manoj Ranaweera is your man.

    Girl Geek Dinners Founded and run by Sarah Blow has been providing girls in tech with dinners and events for a number of years.

    Events- There are many more Tweetups and events than the ones below, here are some of my favourites:

    Drinktank: Started by one of the UK’s most popular startups Huddle, Drink Tank is one of my favourites with a good crowd and free drink, often held at a snazzy bar just off Regent’s street. Huddle’s Suz is behind it all and also organises a girls networking event called Silicon Stilettos

    Minibar Started by Christian (weirdly I don’t know his second name) Minibar is free and is held at The Old Truman Brewery in East London. Free bar if you get there early before it runs out. Minibar usually has a theme where startups can pitch to the crowd and get questioned on their business model/pitch etc. Last time the theme was online publishing.

    Tuttle Club Started by Lloyd Davis Tuttle is held at the ICA every Friday morning -Tuttle is ‘Co-creating a Social Media Café for London’ and sometimes has free coffee and cake.

    OpenSoho Started by Mr know everyone, entrepreneur and investor Paul Walsh Open Soho is usually on a Thursday night in a funky central London venue (usually Floridita or Kettners)- Free drinks until they run out-get there early!

    Shoreditch Twit: East London, normally hosted in the Elbow Rooms, started by aptly named Lewis Webb, I’m not sure if they get sponsors for drinks but you can play a game of pool.

    Facebook Developers Garage This is for the more techy specific people (coders and developers) held at Sun Microsystems there is without fail free pizza and beer., every time- win! Started by Joshua March they are run monthly and usually have a theme- the last theme was gaming.

    BootLaw Started by our favourite technorati lawyers Danvers and Barry, Bootlaw is a free monthly seminar with the next one coming up in September themed on selling shares. If free pizza and beer wasn’t enough they also dish out iPods to people who have listened and learnt the most!

    The Glasshouse/Second Chance Tuesday Founded by Judith Clegg The Glasshouse puts on ticketed events monthly. They always have interesting speakers like founder of Bebo Michael Birch, so it’s definitely worth the money. The next event is coming up soon has the Spotify founders up on stage- check the site for more details.

    First Tuesday is a professional networking forum for established technology entrepreneurs and companies seeking venture capital, investors and related service provider, They are usually held at The Hospital Club in Covent Garden- no free bar but successful startup founders speak about their journey on stage. email:

    Big Fish You have to apply to become a BigFish member, but it’s free and once accepted you get to hear people like Luke Johnson speak (He is Chaiman of Channel 4 and turned Pizza Express into a huge success story.) Big Fish run monthly events.

    Media- Again loads of media but just naming a few blogs/publications that I surround myself with:

    TechCrunch: @mikebutcher ‘s your man, everyone knows him, everyone loves him and everyone wants to be him! He has a brilliant job running around Europe reviewing startups for the TechCrunch blog. TechCrunch Europe runs a number of events throughout the year where you can pitch your startup.

    The Next Woman: Online business magazine for women, showcasing some of the best women in tech Internet/Tech sector. Simone Brummelhuis is your woman.

    The Next Web: Founded by serial entrepreneur Boris. Besides the blog, The Next Web runs a few conferences per year, last year co-hosted by your truly!. @Zee is editor for the blog.

    Mashable: With a large American following, but set up by Scottish entrepreneur Pete Cashmore (yes the hot one) Mashable is not only a tech blog but holds events in New York and LA.

    People- There are loads, I should write another post entirely for people, I will endeavor, but here are a couple of the best:

    Oli Barrett Named by WiredUK as one of the most connected men in Britain, Oli has a high calibre network of entrepreneurs, investors and mentors.

    Ian Ellis heads up Technology Business at Morgan Stanley, Irish, very intelligent, you can find him on LinkedIn.

    Ryan Carson is the founder of Carsonified and also runs the FOWA events all over the world. You should really attend the FOWA FOWD events if your company is in the design/apps sector. In fact, you should really just attend full stop. The events are fantastic.

    Why do robots freak me out so much?

    So not all robots just the ones that are extremely human or animal like- I get this funny sick feeling in my tummy, like I saw a ghost! weird! Why is this? And do they freak you out too?

    Just watched this video which prompted me to post:

    And this is the one with the biggest freakout factor ‘Dog’ robot:

    Stories moving across web:Is Facebook taking on Google in the bid for real-time search?!

    This week our top web story is from about a former marijuana smuggler publishing a newspaper add looking for employment. our top tech story is about the Facebook/Friendfeed acquisition and what it really means- is Facebook taking on Google in the war for real-time search? Our top euro tech story is the launch of, creating a storm of comments of TechCrunch and finally our Celebrity Tweet of The Week comes from Courtney Love for being random.

    Must watch: Think Social Media is just a fad? This video will change your mind!

    This vids been doing the rounds of the net for the past couple of days. There are some amazing facts and figures that should make any social media skeptic change their mind. Having watched a similar video about Internet usage with the same music (I can’t find it now) It feels a bit cliche but nevertheless the figures are incredible and makes those of us who spend 24-7 on Twitter and Facebook feel less bad for doing so!

    You Tweet, We ask, They answer-on camera! Next Week’s Techxpert- Sarah Beeny

    We are very excited to announce next week’s Techxpert: Sarah Beeny!

    Want to know why Sarah made the move from presenter to entrepreneur? Or why she set up an online dating business? Join in the fun! Tweet questions to @hermioneway  PS: For those of you who have been living under a rock or don’t know who she is:

    Sarah Beeny is a Channel 4 television presenter on the popular Property Snakes and Ladders prime time show. As well as being a well established property mogul Sarah also owns, a social dating website and has just launched – an innovative property website, where you can buy and sell property online without any fees.

    So get involved and get your Twitter name on Tech This Out at The Telegraph (Our new weekly vlogg over at Telegraph Bloggs) Tweet your questions to @hermioneway or put them in the comments section below. The most interesting will get chosen!


    Digital Britain: Basically we’re f****d.

    Over the past few months I have been working closely with e-skills UK, the not-for-profit , employer-led organisation, licensed by government as the Sector Skills Council for Business and Information Technology. Their aim is ensure the UK has the skills for Digital Britain, to secure Britain’s place at the forefront of the global digital economy.

    I was shocked to find out, in some research they commissioned, there has been a massive drop off in the uptake of Computing degrees over the last five years. UK applicants to Computing / Information Systems / Software Engineering courses have dropped by 50%, down to 13,500 people by 2006.

    This is worrying when over 141,000 new entrants a year are needed to fill IT & Telecoms professional job roles and the growth forecast for the IT & Telecoms professional workforce (i.e. IT & Telecoms Employment in the IT  industry is predicted to grow at 5 times the average for the UK.

    What’s even more scary is the gender imbalance is prevalent on IT-related courses, and this is worsening over time throughout the education system. 15% of applicants to Computing degree courses are female and 10% of A-level Computing students are female. Now the proportion of female IT & Telecoms professionals has dropped to 18%.

    I have been working with eskills on their Big Ambition Girls In IT events- They have been doing a stellar job helping school girls meet women in IT professions to share and gain an insight into what it’s actually like working in IT, but now the project is under threat as the government proposes to send its funding somewhere else.

    There has been much debate on why there aren’t more girls in IT and I have strong views on the subject. I believe the problem is still to do with the stigma attached to tech related courses – It’s uncool to be geeky or nerdy and the last subject hormonal 14-year-girls want to choose for their GCSEs, is one where they think they’ll be locked away in a dark room learning excel- Yet so many 14-year-old girls are surrounding themselves with technology every day. Facebook, Bebo, Myspace, mobiles, iPods, girls are using technology 24-7 but they aren’t shown the connections between studying tech and the kind of jobs it could create for them. Cool jobs that are well paid and aren’t geeky: designing the next Wii game or a Prada watch that syncs with their phone, working at Facebook.

    To solve the problem the Government needs to convert the current curriculum from being completely irrelevant to one which is flexible and adapting as fast as the technology industry is, and most importantly like eskills has been doing with Big Ambition, we need to give girls access to more female role models in IT and  show them the connections between studying IT and the career path it could lead to. We need to make tech sexy, make it appealing and shake of the stigma that’s turning girls away from an industry that is very cool, has much to offer and should be dominating the future of Britain.

    The eskills research is really good, some scary numbers though..I have uploaded it for you here

    Here’s a video we did an an event they had a couple months back, Lord Steven Carter spoke about the Digital Britian report and industry professionals came to see the work eskills have been doing.