Standing room only at Google Campus. Nervous entrepreneurs shifting from one foot to the other and going over and over their routines. Live demos, handstands, and a water pistol? It can only mean one thing. That’s right, the 20th (count them) iteration of the Hipsters, Hackers & Hustlers Co-Founder Dating & Speed Pitching event!
If you don’t know the format by now, shame on you! But for any newbies, recent converts to the world of entrepreneurialism, or people who have been living on the planet Zog for the past 18 months, here’s a quick recap of our house rules: entrepreneurs (usually around 300 of them), assemble at Google Campus, and those who want to pitch to the assembled throng line up beside the stage, ready to tell everybody in the audience all about their exciting, game changing, life changing, mind altering start-up businesses, apps, platforms, projects and why theirs is the most awesome of the lot!
There’s just one problem. They only have 30 seconds. Policing the pitches, there’s myself, Rob Fenton, ringmaster in chief, talent scout, entrepreneur and leader of the Hipsters, Hackers & Hustlers. You may recognise me by my smiley yellow face emoji, and yes, there is a story behind that! Maybe I’ll tell you about it one day. Wielding the water pistol is Tim Berryman, our master of ceremonies; rest assured if your pitch lasts longer than half a minute, he will soak you. Unless you bring an umbrella, like one enterprising chap did this week. He’ll go far, we think!
We also have some amazing sponsors, Waterfront Solicitors for example, the boutique start-up lawyers with 12 years’ experience helping entrepreneurs realise their dreams…without being sued, which always tends to put a cramp on your day / week / year / future! We’ve used them on many occasions and they have always fought our corner with bravery, tenacity and a lawyer’s eye for detail. What is more, if you’re an HHH’er, they will offer you a range of special deals. So talk to the guy’s at Waterfront…before you sign anything!
We usually have a keynote speaker too; this week it was Dominic Smales of Gleam Futures who manage ‘Social Talent’ specialising in YouTube ‘celebrity’ vloggers.
So, on to the pitches, and I’m not just saying this for effect but they really do seem to get better and better each time. I don’t want to blow my own trumpet here but I often ask myself, where would the London start-up scene be without the HHH’ers? I keep getting told it’s one of the best atmospheres, at any meet-up event, anywhere in London. And who am I to disagree?
Oh and by the way, if you fancy “sailing the world and the seven seas”, too, we’ll shortly be announcing some pretty amazing start-up retreats, including ski trips and a trip to the Caribbean. Hmm, “Start-ups of the Caribbean”…it’s got a certain ring to it.
So we had nearly 70 pitchers on Tuesday night, each one unique, punchy, and achieving the desired result, which is the quickest and best way to find the resources that your company needs, be it investment, a CTO, a dev team, marketers, new staff or just, and I’m totally serious here, a bit of moral support and encouragement. Starting a business is nerve wracking, so if you’re not worried, then you’re doing something wrong!
Some of the highlights of the night for me were Hustler Jana, the founder of Lifeshifter, which connects employers to highly skilled female professionals who want to work more flexibly; it’s a community and marketplace managing a vast and highly skilled talent pool. Jana needs a CTO, and is looking to raise £250k in exchange for 20% of the business.
There was also Hustler Timo of StartupStartup; a site that matches talent with founders and an online networking platform, launching soon! Check it out at www.startup2.co.uk it’s the future of networking (apart from HHH events of course).
Not forgetting Hustler Rasik and Betweight, leaner body or leaner wallet? Create cash challenges to inspire your friends and loved ones to get fit; Rasik even took a splash from the water pistol to demonstrate his “fresh from the gym” look. A chance to get involved with a unique start-up promoting fitness through gamification!
My personal favourite? It had to be Michael at Amsterdam Standard; ever seen somebody perform a handstand and reveal 3 separate props from secret hiding places on the stage whilst delivering a stonking pitch, all in the space of 30 seconds. Neither had I, but now I have! Amsterdam Standard are a Digital Agency for websites, apps and dedicated teams, by the way, with offices in Amsterdam, Cracow, Barcelona and London.
OK, one more before I sign off. Hmm, so many to choose from, in fact if you want to view a full list then try our resident blogger Ted’s amazing Haggerston Times site, which will shortly be carrying details of more than half of all the pitches, with links, contact details, and more!
So my final choice has to be Kia Uzton-Frank’s Loover Twister Comb! Is it a blind? Is it an abacus? Or is it a “control mechanism rotating strips of flexible material between two slits by pulling or raising a transverse bar module”? (clue: it’s the last one).
Folks, these are the kind of amazing people who come to our events; happy, dynamic, enterprising, devil may care types who laugh in the face of adversity and, to coin a start-up cliché, “make the world a better place”. These guys really do.
Come to our next event, GaP->GaS at Google Campus on May 26th, or our next speed pitching event on June 9th. Or come and see what it’s like to be chosen for one of London’s most prestigious accelerator’s, Microsoft Ventures, at our Inside MSVA event next week!
Keep on Hustlin’