This article was written in response to the story appeared on Telegraph
1. I organised an event titled "Tech Mission London 09" on 8th June 2009 hosted by Stewart Townsend of Sun Microsystems in London. If there were any deficiencies of the event, then I am the one who should be blamed for such an outcome. I am yet to hear a single negative comment from startups and investors who attended the event.
2. This was the first time that Northern StartUp 2.0 held an event outside the North West, and it formed a critical part of its geographical expansion. After all, eveo Ltd which runs Northern StartUp 2.0 is a commercial entity, setup to develop an ecosystem for early stage tech companies, a wholly owned effort by me, but now supported by the growing community of over 1500, partners and the team. It is also going through a period of transition from a hobby to a commercial organisation. Still at it’s infancy, having run the first event in November 2006, it is perhaps one of the few organisations in the UK, trully committed to developing an environment for tech entrepreneurs to succeed.
3. The key objective of this event was to provide an environment for tech companies and investors from both the north and the south to share knowledge and best practise and explore partnership and investment opportunities. The event featured a keynote speech by Michael Birch, a free-flow workshop (3 break-out groups) and Dragons Lair.
According to Milo Yiannopoulos, "Point was to stimulate debate, but I genuinely believe northern companies are crippled by lack of good quality connections and advice. It was a supportive article! Conclusion was that we need to give more support to the North."
1. Irrespective of personal emotions, there is a north and south divide in terms of econmic transactions. This is largely due to London been the capital city with superb infrastructure and a very large population living in close proximity. This does not in anyway imply that Southerners are cleverer than the Northerners. The South has produced more startups as well as more successful exits, simply due to the sheer size of the cosmopoliton city, its infrastructure, etc.
2. Northern StartUp 2.0 have drawn speakers from the West and East coasts of America, Europe and London to the North West. We have attracted tier 1 VCs from Internet Capital (New York), Advent Ventures, DFJ Esprit et al to the North West. Michael Birch flew one day before to be part of Tech Mission London and spent well over 8 hours without knowing who would be there. He gave time, because he wants the community to cherish and create successful exits. Having contacted Marc Benioff (CEO of Salesforce.com), within 48 hours Tim Barker was confirmed as a speaker for our Cloud Computing event held in April 09. We may not be from the South, but we can equally build relationships with exceptional individuals.
3. Tech Mission London 09 was represented by Mark Blackburn, Marketing Manager of Daresbury Science and Innovation Campus (DSIC). DSIC is key part of the north west ecosystem for tech entrepreneurs. Their aspirations are to create a culture closer to Silicon Valley. And I for one, has been key part of this strategy.
4. In terms of exits, we have number of key successes: Freeserve/Ajaz Ahmed (£1.6 billion to Wanadoo/Orange), Moneysupermarket.com/Simon Nixon (£760 million IPO), Surf Control/Steve Purdham (£204 million to Websense), Transitive/Alasdair Rawsthorne (£’000s million to IBM), Laterooms.com/Chris Allen (£120 million First Choice), plus.net/Lee Strafford (£63 million to BT) to name a few. Some of these individuals are engaging with the tech entrepreneurship community, e.g. Chris Allen is mentoring me with respect to edocr.com, a webmisson08 company.
5. In terms of history, the first computer was invented in Manchester. There is significant wealth in the North West, in particular, once trapped could help accelerate the growth of the tech entrepreneurship community. Others are better qualified to speak about the richness of the North and the hospitability of the people.
RESPONDING TO MILO
1. Northern tech entrepreneurs do not need saving. The event was about exploring mutual opportunities. e.g. It is likely that one of the London based tech startup who attended the event may be funded by one or more investors who attended the event. If I am flippant as Milo, I could argue that humble Northerners came to London to save London tech startups. Both arguments are absurd to say the least.
2. I am the first one to admit that London is a great environment for tech startups. But if that’s the case, why do we keep seing the same tech startups at event after event? In this respect, London has not quite got it’s act right either. Just because you are based in London, does not automatically warrant success.
1. In one respect, being in London is a handicap in terms of competition, as clearly indicated by one of the guest comments. The mobility and willingness of the northern tech entrepreneurs allow them to not just trade in the north, but also be key players in the south without having to be based in the south. As many Southern companies do not venture out, they become the loosing side in terms of competition.
As a journalist, Milo is paid on publishing contraversy, as truth is considered boring by the media. Whilst we need the media to promote our activities, we should not be disheartened by such efforts. Thanks to Northern StartUp 2.0 and its partners, the team and growing community, we now have a trully compelling opportunity to create a sustainable ecosystem that any tech entrepreneur can benefit from without having to worry about where s/he is located. If Milo wishes to find out more about regional and national co-operations, there is nothing better than taking part in some of these activities before he brush us with "grim up North".