All posts filed under “Entrepreneurial

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Announcing OpenCoffee Club in Cambridge

Saul Klein started the OpenCoffee Club just about two years ago with an initial gathering in London. As I’ve mentioned before, Cambridge is one of the other hearts of entrepreneurial ventures in the UK and Europe. About 10% of venture capital across Europe is invested in Cambridge. (A city of just 80,000 people if you don’t include students.)

What Cambridge doesn’t have right now is a regular place to meet fellow entrepreneurs. While organisations like the Cambridge Network and the Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning and Judge Business School all run events with some excellent networking afterwards, there are no regular events.

The OpenCoffee Club in Cambridge is meant to help change this. As Saul described in his first post on the idea:

This is an attempt to establish recognized, open and regular meeting places where entrepreneurs can meet with investors (and anyone else who fancies coming along) in a totally informal setting.

The key is a regular place and a regular time – it’s not important who comes along, some days it might be no one – just that people know if they want to meet, this is the time and this is the place.

We want to create some density for people — a few places where people know they can meet or bump into others.

Think of OpenCoffee Cambridge as office hours for entrepreneurs and investors. It’s simply a regular, weekly time to get together to demonstrate what you’re working on, discuss current challenges, and pitch your ideas.

When and Where?

The first OpenCoffee Cambridge will be held this Thursday, February 19th from 10am-noon at Caffe Nero on King’s Parade. (Directly across from King’s College Chapel.) Click here to see the Upcoming invite.

Map:

View Larger Map

This day/time is far from set in stone… if attendees (or people that want to but can’t) have strong feelings for or against it, please feel free to comment here or contact me directly. Or better yet, come along to talk about it!

I really look forward to the very first OpenCoffee Cambridge this Thursday, and hope you can come along. If you’d like to hear about future OpenCoffee Cambridge events, please join the group on Upcoming. (I hope to shift this and make it a Meetup Group soon.)

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Get fit in London

So exercise is clearly linked to thinking better. Depending on who you ask, that and reading are the two keys to life.

But let’s face it, exercise isn’t easy. If you’re pushing yourself, it’s pretty painful. Rowing, for example, at any sort of serious level involves legs and lungs feeling like they’re on fire. It’s great to win, but it can be a tremendous sacrifice to get there. Because it’s not easy to do, it becomes easy to skip. And once you start skipping exercise, you can pretty rapidly lose fitness.

One solution is either getting involved in exercise classes (anonymous and generally not tailored to your needs) or seeing a personal trainer (expensive). A personal trainer can sometimes be trying to mold you into what they want you to be, and not what you want.

If you’re in London, there’s a new solution. Two friends of mine and LondonAnnie have established a new Personal Training company that’s specifically geared to what YOU want to do in life: Point2Fitness. For older people, that might mean being more active with their grandchildren. With others, it may mean training to become an Olympic athlete or climb Everest.

The two founders, Baz and Carla, are World-class athletes themselves. (They won bronze in the 2007 Rowing World Championships in addition to World Cups, Olympics, and more.) LondonAnnie in particular has seen and experienced them in action, as they are long-time members of Thames Rowing Club, and have been experimenting with new fitness routines at the club recently.

Please check out the Point2Fitness website and look into it! Baz and Carla are both talented athletes themselves but also incredibly down-to-earth and focused on making their customers happy and their business a success. It’s great to see what international-level athletes are able to do with their careers when they choose to stop competing, and I wish them the best of luck!

(I particularly like that all of the photos were taken in/around Thames Rowing Club; it’s a very professionally produced website.)

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Entrepreneurship at Cambridge University

At the end of last year, YouNoodle.com published a list of the Top University Startup Communities. Cambridge University came in 3rd, right after Stanford (Silicon Valley) and MIT (Boston). Oxford University came in 6th. Here is how YouNoodle came up with the ranking:

YouNoodle has designed an algorithm to calculate each university’s significance as a startup community. Significance is determined by factors including the number and quality of the startups in the university, activity of its groups, business plan competitions, availability of talent and investment in the area, and the success of past startups.

I’m not surprised that Cambridge ranks just behind Silicon Valley and Boston. While this list focuses on University startup communities, I believe that Cambridge is an incredible place to be for entrepreneurship no matter the criteria. I’m sure Charlie would say that something from New York should be on the list (and I would agree), I think it’s both fair and correct that Cambridge is ranked as one of the top startup communities in the world.

Silicon Valley and Boston are clearly in a class by themselves based on the sheer size of the communities there. But Cambridge is a hidden gem. You must recognize that the startups coming out of Cambridge are only rarely the consumer-focused, trendy companies. What gets funded here tends to be hard science, technology, microchips, sensors, biotech, and the like. If you’re reading this blog, I guarantee you that technology invented here is within a few feet of you right now… virtually all mobile phones use ARM chips, for example. Recent successful startup founders I’ve met have developed sensors for chemical detection (and have received a multi-million dollar contract from the US military), and a wearable sensor to help women accurately track their body temperature and fertility cycle to help them get pregnant.

To put numbers on it, nearly 10% of all venture investment in Europe was in Cambridge. What do we have here:

  • One of the world’s best Universities, with significant science and technology focus
  • St. John’s Innovation Centre, a fantastic incubator for nascent businesses. Mailboxes, virtual offices, general offices, and services for growing businesses.
  • Cambridge University Entrepreneurs, which provide workshops for entrepreneurs and hold a series of business plan contests each year.
  • Very experienced venture capitalists, such as Amadeus Capital.
  • CUTEC (Cambridge University Technology and Entrepreneurship Club), which hosts a large conference in May of each year, as well as smaller events and networking sessions throughout the year.
  • A VERY large angel funding network, the most prominent of which is the Cambridge Angels. Many of these angels are very available to students and local entrepreneurs, and they tend to be very active in and around Cambridge.
  • Center for Entrepreneurial Learning, which hosts events like the famed Enterprise Tuesday sessions, as well as a full programme of other events.

So I’m very happy I’m here in Cambridge as I work on my plans. If you’re starting anything in the science or technology fields in Europe, Cambridge is one of the best places to be.

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Very cool rocket photos and news from SpaceX

I’ve been following SpaceX for years, since they were building their first hardware and trying to launch it from a small island in the Pacific. I posted this fall when SpaceX became the first privately-funded company to successfully launch a liquid-fueled rocket into space. That was their Falcon 1 launch vehicle, with 1 engine. They’ve had their Falcon 9 vehicle (9 engines) in development for nearly as long, and just before New Years Eve it was fully integrated on its launch pad at Cape Canaveral! SpaceX took four tries to get Falcon 1 into orbit, and I hope that the first Falcon 9 launch works straight off.

The recent HUGE news for SpaceX is that they were awarded a $1.6 billion (yes, with a B) contract to launch 12 rockets and send 20,000kg (~22 tons) of cargo to the International Space Station. NASA may also elect for additional missions for a total of $3.1 billion total value! They will be competing for longer-term contracts with Orbital Sciences. One difference is that SpaceX will be launching Falcon 9 in the next couple of months, where Orbital doesn’t expect to launch their newly designed vehicle until at least 2010, putting SpaceX a year ahead. An interesting paragraph in this Wall Street Journal article regarding the contract says quite a bit:

SpaceX, which easily came out at the top of all the cost, management and technical rankings, is slated to start flights in late 2010, and the contracts stretch for seven more years.

Anyway, I thought people might enjoy photos of what will likely be the future of commercial spaceflight in the US for many years to come. (All taken from SpaceX’s Updates page.)

Beautiful shot of Falcon 9 at the Cape:

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Fully integrated at the Cape:

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Fitting the HUGE fairing to the rest of the rocket:

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Another shot just before the fairing was attached:

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Nine, yes NINE first-stage engines shipping from testing in Texas:

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The second stage engine:

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