Wow. What a month. Josh and I got to spend the month working out of Google Campus, the heart of the London startup scene. It is been amazing to work with such great founders and feel the intensity of the community growing here in London. Okay here is the run down.
Google Campus Rocks
Okay so the story goes, Google gave the city of London a building in the heart of the startup area and it is now 5 floors of awesomeness. There is event space, two incubators (SpringBoard and Seedcamp) and an awesome free coworking space called the Cafe run by Central Working. If you are in London and are a founder, go there. You just rock up, say you want to work there, they ask you some questions, give you a shiny card (seen above) and you are good to go.
Then from 9-6 M-F you can just show up grap a spot, get free WiFi and crank. (Check out Grab Thai Street Food towards old street for food – Ozone for a meeting)
The Startup Eco System is Growing!
So the startup section of London is 100% Old Street & Shoreditch areas. (Tech City is leading the charge) It is an area that is a combination of old under used buildings that have suddenly found startups flocking to work there, even AirBnB has opened offices in the area.
The company that best captures the transition of this area is Moo.com. The area used to be industrial, with printing shops all over the place. Moo, the tech based business card printing company, had its birth in the intersection of technology and printing. We had heard they were in the area and one day turned down a random alley and by chance we discovered their headquarters. So if you are in europe and order from Moo, your cards come from here
Besides the growing number of successful companies, there are also an ever increasing number of events in London. We have our monthly nReduce meetup there, and had 40 people at our first event in November. It was great to meet all the awesome founders. I even ended up signing up for TableCrowd.com after Kate Jackson pitched and ended up having an all to painful eating contest (the Devastator Burger at Red Dog Saloon).
Besides those events, Silicon Drink About is awesome. But in reality, if you just stop reading this post after when I said to go to Google Campus, you would be fine Everything stems from Campus.
So I was lucky enough to get invited to speak on a fundraising pannel at Capital Enterpize and learn a bunch from my fellow panelists. First off it seem that the UK has some tax thing coming down the pipe that would mean that investors would get something like a 50% tax write off on their investments. So it is basically a 2 for 1 deal on early stage equity. There is talk about that opening up the capital markets quite quickly.
Man the scene is kicking. A lot of early stage people are hacking away. We got a bunch of sign ups to nReduce which is awesome as that means we can keep helping the teams even when we are not there.
One thing that stood out to me as odd was the number of times the Valley was referenced. It seemed that most talks I went to, people would say things like “We are no Silicon Valley, but…” The would continually compare London to the Valley and portray London as a lesser ecosystem.
I think London is its own thing.
I would challenge London founders to start looking at what is great about London.
Take pride in it!
For me, a SF Bay Area native, the ways that London beats the Valley are striking.
1) It is not all tech.
All the financial services in London are great places to test ideas for Fin Tech. There is Fashion. Etc.
2) It is actually Multicultural.
In SF, multicultural is going to the mission and getting a taco from someone who speaks both English and Spanish. In London, multicultural is walking through a Bangladeshi market where people are selling hijabs and then passing an over flowing coffee shop of all Turkish men (took a guess at that one). That shit is real.
3) It is an awesome place to live.
From the amazing bar scene, (Kicks the crap out of the SF house party scene) to the murals going up daily on Brick Lane. It rocks pretty damn hard.
If you are a founder who likes to really experience life, London is a great place to be.