WebMission Day 2: Brunching and lunching

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Eastern promise at TMT Ventures

So day two of WebMission began with plenty of recovery time following the previous evening’s partying, which took in the tad pricey Clift Hotel bar, and the Slide and Le Colonial clubs. I gather. I of course turned in with a nice cup of cocoa. In the morning the WebMission crew jumped on a bus and headed over to the rather nice house belonging to Jim Buckmaster of Craigslist who very generously opened his home for us. There were plenty of US entrepreneurs there, as well as some home-grown talent who’d moved out to Silicon Valley, including Bebo’s Michael Birch and trulia’s Pete Flint (formerly of LastMinute.com). Some interesting chats were had, including a general theme about the differences between the UK and the Valley, and about the chatter surrounding Startup School, the Y-Combinator event which happened the previous day (TC coverage) which was clearly a big event.

In general, UK entrepreneurs who have moved to the Valley say it is easier to do a startup here, that people “get” your idea faster and there is a wide talent pool to draw on. No-one says Europe is not a place for startups (who would be that stupid, right?), but there is less friction here and less aversion to risk and failure. I met the 23 year old Tristan Harris, who recently got headlines for his first startup, Apture, who had a salient point: “Hey, if you’re ‘back-up plan’ in Silicon Valley is to get a great job at Google or Facebook then why NOT do a startup?”

Following the brunch I joined Paul Birch, Paul Walsh, John Havens, to a BBQ thrown by Brian Solis, as a small-scale SXSW reunion in his garden. Over a catered BBQ, and live music, about 100 people chatted in the Californian sunshine, many of them the WebMission startups. We also met up with the unofficial WebMission “fringe” delegation in the form of RecommendBox and writer Paul Carr, who has now started an unofficial blog of the event, which is always a sign you are doing something right.

On a more serious note, I guess we have all been told ad nauseam about Silicon Valley’s ‘clustering’ effect where similar companies all come together. But in practical terms you see that at work when someone throws a brunch, leaving you time to head over to another event, which then runs its course allowing you to head out to a dinner (as I did today). Because of the sheer scale of the industry here, each event has enough people coming and going to maintain a good crowd and for the hosts not to be offended if people leave for another. Plus, the events are not expected to go on forever. Tomorrow there are two evening networking events I know of are set to run for exactly 2 hours each (one 6-8pm, the other 8-10pm) and both are within walking distance or a short cab drive from each other. That’s it. In London most events expect everyone to turn up and stay all evening. Obviously there are practical reasons why – it’s hard to ping between one event and another largely because of traffic or public transport issues. But at any rate, the culture and geography here is set up to be pretty efficient at networking you amongst your peers and people who might help your business. At least, that’s what it looks like from where I’m standing.[Update: I'm told by a local that lots of events happening every night for just two hours is more a feature of Web 2 Expo being on this week, but still, every night there are events of this natures here].

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