Silicon Valley Diary by Andrew Fogg
A Friendly Face
My week started with a little taste of home when I met with fellow Brit Andy McLoughlin, the co-founder of Huddle.
Andy McLoughlin, cofounder of Huddle
Andy was a guiding star for me prior to my trip out here. His presentation at the Future of Web Apps in 2010 is basically the only thing I could find on the web that provides practical advice about the logistics of getting out here. His de-mystification of the visa application process is especially useful.
Although, after talking to him, it turns out that his presentation needs an update in order to cover his visa re-application experience one year later. Apparently, when he reapplied his visa was rejected and he ended up having to spend 6 months of visa purgatory in Europe! My takeaway is that the visa process is not something that you should try and do yourself. Get a lawyer and even with a good lawyer things can still go wrong.
Presenting at PARISOMA
I have presented in front of a lot of audiences since being here in order to get the word out about what we do: usually at demo nights or pitch events.
Andrew presenting at PARISOMA
But on Tuesday evening I did something a little different. I gave an hour long lecture at PARISOMA about getting data from the web. An event like this requires a totally different approach – sales pitches are a big no-no – I had to actually teach something instead!
I decided to talk about the business problems that our users have that can only be solved with data from the web.
For example, HP use web data to make sure that all their channel partners observe Minimum Retail Price (MRP) on the sale of laptops. Sometimes a channel partner will be naughty and will reduce the price of a laptop below MRP for a couple of hours, which allows them to suck in all the sales on that laptop from all the other channel partners.
This is a big problem for HP, which they have solved by building connectors on import•io to all of their channel partners’ websites. This allows them to automatically pull in price data throughout the day to make sure that everyone is playing fair.
What we do is technically quite complicated, and I have found that telling stories like this is a great way to communicate with people about what we do.
Stories tend to resonate better with people, but I feel that sometimes communication in the London tech scene can get a little too focused on the detail and forget the big picture. By telling stories you keep yourself and your audience focused on the big picture.
Networking at Venture Shift
A few nights ago I attended Venture Shift, an annual conference focussed on the venture capital industry.
During the post-event networking I was introduced to someone that I had never met before but who had already heard about me and import•io, he had even already tried to use the product.
Panel at Venture Shift
This was exciting for me because it means that we are finally starting to make some headway in this town and I must be doing something right! Unfortunately, his use case wasn’t one that we could readily help with, but I suggested another approach that I thought might. He ended up pleased anyway.
Something rather unusual thing about the Venture Shift event was the entertainment. They had a band called Coverfow. I did not know it at the time but the band is made up of 2 VCs, 2 Facebook employees and a serial entrepreneur. I guess it’s kind of like a ‘house band’. Not exactly my thing.
Here they are playing a cover of Good Feeling by Flo Rida…I’ll let you draw your own conclusions…