I had the opportunity to attend OpenCoffee London yesterday morning, as I was in London for a private matter, having stayed the night before at Bourne End where Causeway Technologies is Head Quartered. As expected, the buzz is still there. But except for Saul Klein, I could not see any investors or deal makers among the entrepreneurs and those who thrive on providing services to startups and early stage companies. So, not much difference from OpenCoffee Manchester, except that we only have one real web 2.0 venture capitalist spread too thinly among Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester and Liverpool. Yes, that’s you Mr. Ed French.
I also had a chance to have a quick chat with Saul about my experience of running the OpenCoffee Manchester. We have a much smaller crowd, which creates an environment for much more deeper conversation than that could be provided in an event such as OpenCoffee London. In this case, I should use this to PR advantage rather than complain about the lack of numbers.
In addition to Saul, I also met Vincent Camara for the second time, only to learn he is part of the HMRC and Cap Gemini’s Aspire team that I pitched couple of years ago on behalf of ebdex before the first line of code was written. I got in through the very top – a chap called David Varney. Vincent is involved in developing various form based solutions such as PAYE. Obviously, Vincent is popular among the startups because of his own startup Intruders.tv which focus on interviewing startup founders. I for one look forward to continuing my relationship with Vincent with the hope of seeing him and his camera making a trip north to one of the NW StartUp 2.0 events.
New faces I met included:
- Nagib Tharani – Co-founder and CEO of Vorari Ltd – He has some sort MS Exchange type solution, which is worth having a look.
- Eugene Kouumdjieff – Director of e.man – we had a long conversation, but forgot to ask how to pronounce his last name. Seems like a good chap to collaborate.
- Michael O’Shea of Wicked Uncle – “how to buy cool presents for small people” – very clear message on his business card.
- Ryan Sher – Group Director, Managed Services of FLAG Telecom – He is working on an on-line game idea.
- Patrick Hennessey of Squadgod.com – A football site. Knows Chris Haslam from footy247, who is based at Daresbury Innovation Centre, where I am based. Patrick was in the process of launching his site and was eager to get the attention of press, etc, so did not get much of a chance to have a decent chat.
- Richard Solomon of Ourpetition.org – He has managed to get over 50 MPs including Tony Blair for an on-line campaign, which was set up to get attention on the quality of healthcare provided in the UK. He no longer blogs at ourpetition.org, and is working on an idea around an advertising platform.
Looks like I have not spoken to many people. All seems to be startups! Where were those who have started up and getting some traction? They were clearly not there! Without their participation, how can the guys and gals with ideas get that vital learning.
In conclusion, I did not feel the wow factor, this being my third visit to London event. Will this be sustainable in the long run – I fully agree it’s a great concept. Some point in time, the web 2.0 buzz will become a boring subject, what can OpenCoffee do to continue its survival? Seedcamp is one answer, but again its around web 2.0. Plugging enterprise 2.0 will have some effect. 3 to 5 years max is my gut feel. Enough time for Venture Capitalists to get some return, perhaps!