What I learnt from attending #TechHUbTuesday Demo Night in London


by Ingrid Riley

I went off on holidays for 3 weeks in London and with newly made relationships in the London/EU Tech Scene I decided to attend London’s leading tech community meetup and demo night. It’s called #TechHubTuesday and it’s based at the Google Campus. It was held on August 7.

Billed to be 2 hours long including networking and solely demos/pitches as we at Kingston BETA also call it. It was £6 to get in for TechHub members and those who follow them on Twitter and £9 for those are not members and are not Twitter followers. So that’s $828jm and $1,242. They use eventbrite.com for you to register, pay by credit card/paypal and check in to attend the event, you print your ticket, present it at welcome desk, you are given roll of name tags to write your name, tag yourself and you’re in.

The room is set up theatre style with the TechHub and Google branding with a small at the back of the room bar serving Stella Artois beer, white and red wine and chips, or what the Brits call Crisps. People network before, while others connect to the WIFI to start tweeting using tech hashtag #techhubtuesday.

The Setup

The host is a woman and there is another young woman who is the volunteer floor runner who helps in getting the wireless mic to attendees with questions is Bailey @baileytalks. She welcomes everyone to #TechHUbTuesday Demo Night, states that there will be six demos/pitches tonight, how long each entrepreneurs is allowed to pitch – 3 mins and then more minutes of questions there after. And they pretty much stick with that plan.

The Pitches

Zummer App, an iPhone app that You Connect With People Having the Same Interest. Using Zummer, you can Create live, local walls about whatever interests you! You can explore Zummer and find walls you’re interested in. Contribute to topics by posting something relevant or follow a topic so you can easily find it later. If you don’t find the topic you’re interested in, start a wall for it, share it with the world and curate the conversation!

Getretain.com which is a customer relationship and Email automation software that allows you to increase your user conversion, retention and sales with your web app.

Seismarket.co.uk helping startups get funding. It’s based on a new government initiative to spark entrepreneurship and investments in startups.Currently UK investors get a 50% tax relief when they invest up to £100,000 per year and the investment attracts no capital gains tax on these SEIS investments. So UK companies under two years old can raise up to £150,000/JMD$20,000,000. It’s considered the most generous tax incentive in the world at the moment, making UK startup investment super attractive. So this startup based its busines around help other startups understand the SEIS programme and apply and submit paperwork to the SEIS programme.

I give this one alot of play as it was my favourite idea especially given the focus of Connectimass and what it does via Kington BETA, Caribbean BETA etc. Loved it so much so I’ve already sent an email to Minister Julian Robinson, in the Science, Technology, Mining and Energy Ministry for his response as to its feasibility here in Jamaica.

Startupstay.com was my second favourite idea. It’s a global entrepreneur network for entrepreneurs who travel. Entrepreneurs in start-ups or with a startup idea can:

  1. Build meaningful business connections with entrepreneurs worldwide: Make new friends and meet potential colleagues or partners in every trip or at home.
  2. Gain access to local insights: Save time and money by following the advice from a local host.
  3. Increase productivity and eliminate accommodation costs by staying with a local host entrepreneur in the destination city.

The online community relies on the generosity of local entrepreneurs who host visiting entrepreneurs. Guests return that generosity by exchanging business knowledge and tips, sharing their skills or even tapping into their business network. Beer or wine is always welcome too :). It’s now in 420 cities and was launched two months ago.

Bidderpal.com is in the social shopping/commerce space. Self described as “a digital marketing platform that helps brand owners increase audience engagement, drive up visibility and gain friend recommendations” coupled with the back end analytics that serves up meaningful and actionable intelligence.

Crowd shot from my second row seat

Then after the demos it lead to a vibrant round of networking with attendees huddled around each entrepreneur who pitched discussing further aspects of the ideas they demoed. And then that was it, you could stay longer if you wanted or you could mosey around to the other areas and lounge and linger with friends or on wifi.

What did I learn?

– I was reminded of the fact that people are people where ever you go.

-That I was sitting in Google Campus, so this demo night, meetup was being supported and sponsored by Google Campus with space,  facilities and volunteers.

– There is a business model that makes TechhubTuesday’s a sustainable community event of TechHub which the commununity and workspace for tech entrepreneurs. “TechHub is a unique environment where technology startups can start up faster. We nurture a international network of like-minded and focused tech entrepreneurs, providing places where they can work, meet, collaborate, network, learn and have fun. By getting the right people together in a physical space, good things happen.”  See what I mean about the similarities of what they do and what ConnectiMass does via Kingston BETA, Caribbean BETA and what we have in our pipeline?

A Tech Startup Community is as good as the environment in which it operates in.

Taking the Jamaican/Caribbean Tech Community further faster

I was asked by Minister Julian Robinson prior to his speech in parliament, what do I believe are the top 3 priorities the government can execute to make it easier for the Jamaican Tech Community. I sent him my top 5.

They were

1. Facilitate, endorse, maybe even fund training in a range of digital skills based on trends emerging and have outrageous growth paths for the next 5 years. Use existing infrastucture, relationships with existing community, corporate, government entities and groups who can, will realign/add to their resources to make this happen on a heightened and consistent basis for profit or non profit.  They only get endorsement etc once they meet their targets.

Why? More people need to understand that the internet is not just a place you go for entertainment but it’s also a place  for education and entrepreneurship.

2. Facilitate the set up of  a seed investment fund via partnerships or put up money for the establishment of the same,  that’s gear to fast track success stories coming out of Jamaica tech industry over the next 3 years. For example, JMD$50million dollars to give to 50 startups in exchange for equity stake and management guidance. Loans are pointless unless they are super low interest loans which if go unpaid convert to equity. That is in effect US$10,000/startup. Of course investing in startups is risky but spreading the risk in this way allows for alot of the cream to rise and be great success stories for us to leverage to help drive the culture further faster.

See why I Loved the SEISMarket.co.uk idea!!

3. Offer up underused/shuttered property to be used by tech community groups for coworking, cocreation hubs and give development/management of those to existing tech community leaders who’ve been in the trenches and who are trusted on the ground intermediaries in the community. We’re talking about old houses, a floor of a building tax free, low rent for a period of 5 years, agreement renewable once targets are met, progress seen. They are responsible or set up, maintenance.

4. Data, Data, Data….legislative framework, government endorsement of the CARE in collection, documentation, organisation, analysis, public availability of government /agency data so developers, bloggers, designers and entrepreneurs can build on it all.

5. iGuides | Educate, Educate, Educate
Fund, help with the distribution of iGuides… Internet Guides. Jamaican nee to be educated, guided on the possibilities of the Digital Age, the internet…yes it’s about being social and connected but it’s also a place of opportunity…a guide to online jobs, Jamaican/caribbean website and apps, trends information, Top 10 sites for this, Top 5 places for that. Please, I am willing to have someone steal that idea that I launched successfully in 1999 and not reinstated since.

Additionally, Marc Gayle a member of Kingston  BETA and tech entrepreneur in his blog also wrote this I agree with most of this points. The biggest problem, for Jamaica’s tech industry, is the sum of our smaller problems

What do you guys think about these ideas? Leave a comment.

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