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Is Manchester ready for OpenCoffee?

I live in Manchester (well actually in Greater Manchester, a place called Cheadle Hulme in Stockport). Having lived in Sri Lanka (first 19 years), Brighton (3 yrs), Leicester (1 yr – thank god for that), Newcastle Upon Tyne (5 yrs), Abu Dhabi (nearly 4 yrs) and now Manchester (over 6 yrs), I feel at home in the North West of England. It’s wet but not as boring as Leicester nor as windy as Brighton.

So what is my contribution to making Manchester a great place to live as well as work? Perhaps its in the promotion of entrepreneurship. With this in mind, today I set-up a beta site for OpenCoffee – Manchester. Question: is Manchester ready for such event? Once again, I am attempting to replicate what is happening in London. Londoners are very well tuned to these type of events, perhaps due to the fast pace of life and sheer volume of businesses and the capital markets. We are bit slow in Manchester as most of us live outside the city and commute. However, the landscape is changing with the ever increasing number of high rise modern apartments being built in the city centre.

So what the heck is OpenCoffee? First of all I see this as a natural extension to NW StartUp 2.0 events I organise. These will be held every two months in a city office, such as at KPMG. Events after March 15 will cost between £20 to £30 to attend. The format is usually: networking + speeches (max 5) + panel discussion + networking. Quite a bit of work goes into organising these events, hence the charge for my time. 

OpenCoffee events are usually held every week. I do not think Manchester is ready for this. So the proposal is that we trial with monthly events and reduce the time gap to fortnights if the demand is there. In addition, these are normally held from 10:00 am to 12:00 am, which is highly disruptive to work unless you are the boss. The events are unstructured, informal (unlike NW StartUp 2.0 events) and do not require organising other than selecting a regular venue, dates in the calendar, viral marketing and setting up of a website. I managed to set-up a website this morning within 30 minutes. Have a look here.

So how did this all start? The first event was organised by Saul Klein on 1 March 07 in London. It was hugely successfull with estimated 80 attendees from entrepreneurs to investors as well as marketers, etc. Read the original article here. Subsequent to this weekly event, Ivan Pope (the widget master) started OpenCoffee Brighton with first event taking place this morning. Other events are planned or (already held) in Paris, Amsterdam, Cambridge, New York, Seattle and Boulder. The number is growing.

So now we can add Manchester to the list. My thoughts are to go for Tuesday morning at one of the Starbucks in town. I will confirm the venue over the next couple of weeks. First event perhaps could take place on 20th. Do let me know what you think, especially should it be held every weekly?


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