London is widely regarded as the tech capital of Europe. Although recent events (*cough* brexit *cough*) have put a big question mark over that status, at least for now, it is where people tend to gravitate in order to launch and grow their startups. I hear Berlin is trying to steal our crown?
London's allure extends beyond tech though. A lot of my school friends, now graduates and young professionals, have moved to London. Sure, theres a lot of jobs and opportunities here in the capital, but for a young adult, London is also a sick place to live. (assuming you can put up with high rents and pricey pints).
I often talk about things i've been doing in and around London throughout these blogs. In reality, I actually split my time between the capital and my hometown of Harrogate. This is because I obviously value variety and a change of environment. Its what keeps me motivated and fuels my creativity. In reality however, spending a chunk of time at home is a great way to save money when you have no income...
The other upside is that we plan to test STAMP out in the North. Harrogate and Leeds to be precise. (sign up for our beta test programme here). We'll have 200+ locations ready to go for locals to start putting STAMP through its paces. We go live in a few weeks.
It was ideal then that last week just so happened to be arguably one of the biggest events of the year for Leeds - yes you guessed it - Leeds Business Week 2016 (#LeedsBizWeek). I joke - Leeds has tonnes of great events going on year round, but this one was of particular interest to me. As I always highlight in these blogs - i'm learning on the job - so any opportunities to network or brush up on marketing, social media, fundraising etc etc are of great interest.
The week was packed full of various talks hosted at different spots around the city. I registered for a few that seemed to hold the most relevance to myself and STAMP, grabbed my pack of business cards and set off in eager anticipation.
One of the first things I noticed was the age demographic. In London, these sort of events were often chock full of 20-somethings. Even at the young of 24, I felt a little old. Here in Leeds though I was definitely in the minority. This is merely an observation and by no means a derisory comment, but it was something that was evident as I moved from talk to talk.
The first event I attended was at a startup hub/accelerator. In contrast to many accelerator programmes i've seen advertised (in London), this one was completely free. No equity stake, no upfront costs, just free office space, mentorship and advice. I think people underestimate the North when it comes to supporting new businesses and providing mentorship. Their office space could easily have been at home in any East London tech hub and their current residents were a refreshing mix of young upstarts and more seasoned individuals - doing away with the misconception that starting a high growth business is a young persons game.
It was a great start to the weeks events, and I was tempted to complete the online application for their 6 month programme as soon as possible. (I have subsequently filled out an application - so fingers crossed guys).
I won't bore you with the details of the other events I attended. The only other main observation I would make is that they did away with a lot of the pretension of similar styled events in London. Maybe its the nature of straight-talking Yorkshire folk, but I found the content the speakers delivered to be to-the-point, straight-forward and not wrapped up in a tonne of bullshit. In that sense it was a refreshing experience.
Hopefully, by the time Leeds Business Week 2017 comes around, maybe STAMP will be a sponsor, or maybe i will be doing a talk myself, who knows. At this stage in the game, we're taking it one step at a time. And as i'm sure you're aware of by now, the next step is the beta-test! If you're UK based and (ideally) from the North, we want you to help us out! Get in touch.
til next time,
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