@GeeknRolla – Thanks for a rocking day!

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In the two days since GeeknRolla ended I’ve had some great feedback from you all about how it went. And I’m afraid to say that I’ve been hard pressed to find much criticism of the event. The feedback, in real life and on Twitter (see #gknr) has been roughly 99% positive (no, really!) even if I do say so myself. So, given that you can comment anonymously on this blog post, feel free to re-balance the views, if you really do have any feedback on how we can improve next year. And I’m still collating all the Tweets and blog posts for a more comprehensive wrap-up. (Picture: (CC) Benjamin Ellis –

But, in the main I think everybody got something out of the day. Although I was concerned to make sure things would go well, I was, however, not too surprised, since I really didn’t have much to do with it. I simply did what I think all conferences should do: research the industry, take soundings from key people, invite clever people to speak and then select the most appropriate presentations. I was merely the ringmaster. Our speakers and panelists did all the heavy lifting, and for that I am hugely grateful. OK, I might have had something to do with the event in that I am a fairly rigid time-keeper, I like to keep things moving and, frankly, I like everyone to have fun. After-all, why shouldn’t conferences be fun? They are full of smart, witty people. But I also had a little fun myself- adding a musical flavour to the event – and generally getting people to network furiously, creating a mini-Silicon Valley style event in the heart of London.

Did it help that we priced it extremely competitively (£75 for ‘early bird’, £95 full price)? I think it did. Suddenly my friends from a startup in Krakow could afford to come and network with their London compatriots. I loved that.

The original idea behind Geek ‘n Rolla was for (deep breath) tech startups to talk to other startups about the experience of being a startup. What had they learned? What would they do differently? How did they survive? How did they hire people? All of these issues are too often assumed, and for some reason startups are all expected to learn these things themselves or by some mystical osmosis. I wanted to puncture that assumption and by finding speakers who were the bluntest, frankest people I know – some of whom, like William Reeve, I had to coax out of a five year conference avoidance, or like Jof Arnold who has never presented his findings about being a mobile startup before. And, well, it looked like it worked.

So for now, I want to thank all our speakers and panelists, sponsors (the very supportive Viadeo, Bootlaw, UKTI, NESTA, School for Startups, Park Lane Champagne), TechFluffTV for their video, Rassami, Petra and Bash (my awesome team) and you the delegates for making the day and the night a real Geek ‘n Rolla experience.

I leave you with me making a fool of myself at the After-party. But I just love rocking out…

  • Daniel Tenner

    Hi Mike,

    I think I’ve said most of what I wanted to say in my blog post about the event, but after reading this I wanted to add that yes, the price was a *huge* factor. Many start-ups are perpetually cash-strapped, and spending hundreds of pounds per person is just not an option. If you’d priced the event at even £200, we simply would not have turned up (and I know several others who wouldn’t have turned up either).

    However, £95 seemed like a good price, and based on this event, we will definitely attend the next one at this sort of price!

    This was well worth it. Thanks again for organising it and making it affordable!

  • Jules Morgan

    Event was absolutely spot on and did exactly what it said on the tin.

    From my perspective, the first talk and the second panel were a bit off-point, but other than that there was a ton of useful info for startups.

  • Stefano Bernardi

    Unfortunately I couldn’t attend the event, but I followed all the comments and reports on twitter and on this blog and I think it definitely was a success.

    There’s just this one thing..

    I am still today disappointed by the talk “European startups need to move to the US”.

    • Mike Butcher

      Stafano – Yes I think that talk about Euro startups moving to the US was meant to be quite controversial but I think where she was coming from was this: Invade the Valley; be successful; then bring that culture (and the money!) back to Europe.

      • Stefano Bernardi

        Mike I think that’s not the way for european entrepreneurs to start and grow their companies.
        The Valley is full of tech and pseudotech startups, here in Europe we surely don’t lack the talents, we might lack the money.
        The invading idea can be taken by some entrepreneurs and might be the best choice for them, but I think that the vast majority of us should really focus on developing a new and truly european entrepreneurship culture.

        We have WAY more potential than the US imho, but if we continue to go overseas we are not the ones that are profiting from this..
        We have to get to the point where US startups will want to move to Europe and open up offices here.

      • Carmen Villadar

        Mike, I’m glad there was actually a segment on “startups need to move to the U.S.” because it gave people like Stefano (I totally agree with Stefano by the way) and others living in Europe a chance to speak up and state their perspective.

        Kudo’s though for your efforts. Europe definitely needs more platforms for startups to have open dialog with one another. Actually, there are Open Coffee Clubs through the globe and many are in Europe and these are one type of platform where this dialog can occur. Now for my two euro’s worth.

        Germany is the fourth country I’ve had the privilege of living in and I must share this: if you leave your country to be successful somewhere else, unless you return to bring back the knowledge & experience you’ve gained to share it with others in your country, you truly are depleting your countries resource. True, many argue that startups that re-locate and grow their business elsewhere i.e. the U.S. – gives them the opportunity to actually give back to their country, however, what percentage of return goes back to their mother country and what percentage stays?

        Cultures like India and China have the idea. Many go abroad to ge educated and obtain work experience. Though many decide to stay, many also return to their respective countries and open up businesses. Not only do they open up their own businesses but they also bring other foreign investors along with them. (And people wonder how China and India’s economy have managed to grow the way they have in the last decade!)

        Sorry for this long comment. I will be writing more on site.

        DO keep up the good work. I hope the three of us, you, Stefano and I can meet sometime soon!

        Cheers Mike!

        Kind regards,

  • Jof Arnold

    This is the only conference I’ve ever been to where I was gutted to get phone calls and emails requiring me to leave the presentations (I’m known to get conference-fatigue pretty easily)!

    Thanks for inviting me, Mike, and also thanks to Petra and Ressami – it was an exceptional event.

  • picture rock city

    i was there in the city in april, but could not make it /:

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