Three weeks ago I started a long tour that brought me and a bunch of other Seedcamp winners to London, NYC, Boston, Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Seattle and Austin. Needless to say I got home exhausted but full of new experiences, inspiration and ideas on how to take vox.io to the next level.
To sum it up for those of you who won’t be reading the whole post or series:
It was superawesome!
I started my trip with a few meetings in London to warm up a bit, payed a visit to my friends from LeStudio52 in Shoreditch and met a some very interesting people on their Friday Waffle breakfast. The interesting thing about Shoreditch and East London is the creative energy that floats around, you can see and feel it everywhere. Very Brooklynish.
East London is trying hard to become a technology hub, but there is still a lot of work to do. This is a topic for a standalone post.
New York City
We flew to Newark from London and got a great surprise at the start of the trip. Limos. The Seedcamp team made us feel really special for the whole trip and the start was appropriate.
In the following days we visited several NY startups including hot ones such as Foursquare, 10gen (MongoDB) and Etsy. I was impressed by the friendliness all those companies showed us, since we were more or less crashing in their offices. It was specially interesting to see how Foursquare was getting ready for their yearly highlight event – SXSW. The focus inside their office was amazing – everyone was working at full speed and even though Dennis spent a few minutes with us, one could see that he is eager to go back to work and deliver his awesome product. Admirable.
Google NYC hosted the first Seedcamp tour event in a classic Seedcamp format – pitches and mentoring sessions, with some top mentors. Imagine being mentored by people from Google, Betaworks, Zemanta, Hot-Potato (recently acquired by FB), AOL, TimeWarner, Daylife, Aviary and more. You just can’t get out of the day without being blown away by those people. So many comments, ideas and genuine advice are given that you can’t process everything on the spot – notes are mandatory.
Another NYC highlight includes a morning chat with Fred Wilson (AVC) at the Betaworks office. Fred is incredibly sharp and open, he shares his views without keeping back (as he does on his awesome blog). From my personal perspective Fred is very different from other investors in the way that he understands the entrepreneurs problems and admires everyone who is trying to change the world, but only if the entrepreneur tries to do that in a clever and educated fashion. Too bad we only got one hour with him, as we could probably chat the day away.
I also managed to sneak into the NY tech meetup where some of the hottest young startups were presenting. As an analytics freak, I was specially impressed by chart.io, but there were several interesting startups presenting. I would love to be part of one of these events in the future.
Finally I was luck enough to get one hour with Bostjan from Zemanta. A good friend and helpful advisor in these times. If you are in NYC and want to meet someone really awesome, try to meet Bostjan and his wife Gaja.
All in all the NY startup scene is great. Very focused on beautiful products and experiences, a bit less on technology. I find this rather interesting and good in many ways.
It was my first time in Boston. I heard many stories about it and most of them were true. Boston is a neat city with a vibrant startup scene including some internet mastodons like Akamai, HubSpot, Sermo, Brightcove, SkyHook and many more. On the other hand Boston is full of emerging gems such as Celtra, SCVNGR, Where and the likes.
Our first stop in Boston was Voltage Cafe, where we met with Fred and Dustin from Atlas Ventures for a great coffee and morning chat, before heading to the Sermo HQ for an inspiring talk by their CEO Daniel Palestrant. Sermo is a really interesting company with an even better culture. They have about 10 dogs running around the office, do I need to say more about their culture?
Next stop – Atlas Ventures. Atlas is one of the major venture firms in Boston, well known for investing in Dailymotion, Moo, Songbird, Seedcamp, Zoopla and many others. Entrepreneurs talk very well about them, and after meeting them I can see why. They are clever, open and helpful.
The HubSpot office was the venue for the second Seedcamp on tour. The HubSpot is conveniently located in the same building along with Atlas, ZipCar & Sonos. With slightly improved pitches the Seedcamp winners were shining again and opened up a whole set of questions for mentoring sessions. The attendees in Boston were slightly more formal than in NYC, but nevertheless brilliantly clever people. I was lucky to get into great mentoring sessions (but I doubt any mentoring sessions were lacking greatness). The Seedcamp event was wrapped up by a talk from the HubSpot’s CEO Brian Halligan with some great insights into how HubSpot brings value to their customers.
We ended the at Venture Cafe – another interesting event where influentials from the startup scene meet with peers and potential investors. If you are in Boston make sure to attend one of these events.
Before leaving Boston we stopped at the MassChallenge HQ in the seaport area, the MIT museum and took a walk in the university campus.
To sum it up, Boston is a great city, a bit “boring” if you are looking for that Brooklyn or San Francisco hipster feel, but appears to be great for those who tackle difficult high tech problems where you really need the brightest minds.
Continue to part two, including details on Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Seattle and Austin.