Tech Cities: Starting Up In London (vs. San Francisco)

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A quick guide to being a tech entrepreneur in London.

By Kate Jackson (CEO & Co-Founder, TableCrowd)

Having snapped up my ticket to the Women 2.0 Conference in San Francisco and booked my flight, attention has turned to how to use the days either side of the conference effectively.

In addition to setting up partnership and fundraising meetings, I want to get a good understanding of the tech scene in San Francisco and also meet some other startups. Where are the walk-in co-working spaces?

Are there any demos I can take part in? Which networking events are worth attending?

I’ve signed up to Startup Stay with the hope of borrowing someone’s sofa in the heart of the action. I’ve also entered my London-based startup, TableCrowd into the Vator Splash competition. As one of the very few women led startups in contention, I’m hoping for enough votes to demo my project on stage. Support from Women 2.0 readers is welcome!

This trip started me thinking about the tech scene in London and what it would be like coming over from the US for a short visit with the same objectives I have for my trip to San Francisco, so I put together this blog as a quick guide to being a tech entrepreneur in London.

Where to work?

Google Campus, 4-5 Bonhill Street, London, EC2A 4BX.

You need to register online to get a code, but then you can take advantage of this open-to-all free working space and café. It opens at 9am and is quiet at the start of the day, but later on, there isn’t a spare seat. There are plenty of opportunities to meet local startups and lots of networking events held in the same building in the evening.

Where to stay?

I can’t yet vouch for Startup Stay (having only just registered) but the concept is great. People list their houses and offer a room, couch or floor space depending on what they have available. You can search and make stay requests. My flat is on there and I’m open to requests!

If this isn’t for you, then you can pick up really cheap hotel rooms just 200 meters from Silicon Roundabout. It’s a spin off from budget airline Easyjet, perfectly located for London’s Tech City,

Where to network?

There are 100s of networking events for the startup world in London – I’ve just listed a few here:

  • Startup Engine dinners – TableCrowd hosts weekly networking dinners for startups. Each week is a lively mix of software developers, founders and people looking to take the plunge with their million-dollar idea. There’s often a pre-dinner speaker on a relevant topic (e.g. pubic speaking, IP, social media).
  • MiniBar – Monthly social evenings in Shoreditch for entrepreneurs, tech investors, software developers and geeks where the chat is all startups and web based. These are big events, with often around 250 people attending.
  • Silicon Drinkabout – Friday night drinks around Tech City for startups of all sizes to network and wind down after a busy week.
  • Founder Friday – Organized monthly by Women 2.0 in more than 15 cities worldwide on the same night, the events promote the creation of new networking amongst entrepreneurs. You can expect a guest speaker (an up-and-coming or successful female entrepreneur) sandwiched between great networking and drinks.

Where to demo?

If you want to show off your project to the community of London Tech City, then there are plenty of opportunities. Check out some of these:

  • Don’t Pitch Me Bro – These demos cut through the cr*p and get to the nitty gritty of the products being presented, rather than public speaking and presenting skills of the founders.
  • Tech Meetups – These relaxed demos invite audience feedback and there is plenty of time afterwards for networking, drinks and to meet the founders who presented their products.
  • London Business Starters – Lion’s Cage – This is a pitch competition where startups go head-to-head on stage, followed by an investor panel and audience casting their votes as to the best investment opportunity. I pitched TableCrowd at their event earlier this month and we won, receiving a prize of £5k of legal advice from top London law firm Taylor Wessing.
  • The Next Women – This pitch competition gives women-led business a chance to pitch on stage in front of an audience and investor panel. At the end of the evening, the panel votes on the best business.
  • Founders Hive – This is a very welcoming and relaxing demo event where you can show off your project and receive feedback from the audience.

Where to learn?

Check out Google Campus’s calendar for all the local events which range from seminars on SEIS and tax credits, to word press tutorials; from startup success stories to hackathons.

Editor’s note: Be sure to get your Women 2.0 Conference ticket by February 1 – prices will be going up!

Women 2.0 readers: What are your recommendations for where to work, stay, network, demo and learn in San Francisco? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

About the guest blogger: About the guest blogger: Kate Jackson is the Founder of ClickTonight and TableCrowd. She is a former commercial lawyer in London who is now an entrepreneur. She loves triathlons, playing cupid and dining out. Follow her on Twitter at @KateJacksonK.