In recent years a buzzing tech community has developed throughout the eastern area of the city and beyond. It is now rated as one of the top places in the world to base your startup in terms of support and funding. The main focus of London’s startup scene, in media coverage at least, has been focused on a traffic junction which has even lead to the phrase ‘Silicone Roundabout’ being coined.
So if you are new in town or just want to immerse yourself in some startup goodness, where do you go to meet some fellow tech folks and network your little socks off? Based on my own experience I have compiled a list of some useful resources and groups to help you tap into the flowing energy of London’s highly active startup scene.
In their own words, they are ‘growing the startup community, one follicle at a time’. Originally founded by 3 superb chaps with equally superb beards, hence the name, the team and events list has now expanded to reach all sectors of the London tech community.
They host 2 regular, 1 annual and 1 ad hoc event that are open to all. The real key to the success of their events is the friendly, open atmosphere and relaxed attitude that helps to get people talking without all the name badges and nonsense seen elsewhere. Their events include:
Hosted every week, it’s free to rock up and get chatting. One of the team is always there in a 3 Beards t-shirt ready to say hello. This networking event is so successful it’s grown to 20 cities across the globe. The venues will vary from week to week to keep it fresh.
Don’t Pitch Me Bro’
Hosted monthly this refreshing event gives startups a chance to showcase their product, service or idea in front of an eager group from the tech community. The only caveat is there’s no pitching allowed, so no spreadsheets, charts or talk of revenues and seed funding. The key idea being that you get pure feedback about the idea, design and potential rather than any fluffy pitch type feedback.
The £5 entry fee is well worth it to see the non-pitches and get fed and watered into the bargain.
Chew the Fat
Hosted on an ad hoc basis this event aims to get to the meat of the meat of the matter. It is a series of conversations with high profile entrepreneurs, founders, VCs and generally epic people, designed to stimulate, motivate and inspire anyone attending.
The beards also play host to superb annual party/tech fest called Digital Sizzle with a unique theme. Generally regarded as the biggest and best event in the London tech calendar, tickets are like liquid gold so sign up for their email to be alerted first to grab your spot.
Details of all events at 3-beards.com/events, costs from free.
You know that you have a blossoming tech scene when uncle Google shows up and opens a collaborative working and events space for the community to use. Opened in March 2012 it is free to join and get your pass into the campus building, situated just a minute away from the actual ‘silicone roundabout’.
I found this place invaluable when founding a startup and managed to get 6 weeks free hot desk space here just by attending events and asking around.
There are several events, workshops, one to ones and talks each day with a communal cafe workspace in the basement. Wifi is naturally free and turbocharged throughout the building.
For events check out campus.co/london/events and sign up to the newsletter to get full listings sent directly to you.
With 3 locations close to each other Tech Hub is another key player in the London startup scene. Although the hubs themselves are members only work and ideas spaces anyone can attend the events that they host.
Backed by Google and BT, Tech Hub is very active across many cities from Boston to Riga and has helped to found a fair few successful startups.
For more details of to join take a look at london.techhub.com/events, again it is worth signing up to the newsletter to be the first to know of upcoming events.
Based in the centre of London’s eastern financial hub Level 39 is primarily concerned with financial based tech startups but does host a wide range of events. Much like Tech Hub this is a members workspace that doubles as an events venue and is backed by some big players in the financial sector.
It’s worth popping along to an event for the views alone as it is situated on the 39th floor of the One Canada Square building in the Canary Wharf (Docklands) area of London. The space occupies the entire 39th floor so you can take in the stunning views in all directions. Just don’t let that distract you from the event itself!
More details, membership and newsletter signup can be found at level39.co/events.
Front End London is a free monthly meet-up concerned with front end development and design. I’ve not attended this one personally as I am far from a developer but thought it was worth a mention as it is much more specific than many London startup events and has collected a good following over many months.
Details at frontendlondon.co.uk.
The final place in our list goes to the much more general website meetup.com. If you’ve ever searched for any type of event in any city in the world this handy site might have popped up. Not specific to tech you can search by location and subject to seek out some of the more fringe events on the London tech scene.
Through the site I found a couple of free regular pitching and networking tech events. You can find many meetups with a more specific appeal from Android developers to women in tech.
Get searching now at meetup.com.
What are you waiting for?
The more you get out there on the tech scene, the more opportunities, contacts and invites you will find. So my advice is to pick one or two of the above events, go and see how you get on. My experience was people were very genuine, friendly and offered advice or ideas freely. If you go with a sales hat on you might get shunned early on, go with an open mind and enjoy!