The London Startup Scene: An American’s Perspective

By Bethany Hill

A few weeks ago, I took a train from London to York to indulge my inner medieval nerd. I’d lived for three years in New York before finally visiting its quaint namesake. One of the common themes throughout the weekend was that the city had such an abundance of history, it didn’t actually need to be discovered. Our pubs and ghost walks and B&Bs were above medieval manors and Viking compounds and Roman garrisons, but the archaeological attitude towards digging was nonchalance.

Who knows what’s under this field. Literally.

Having written my thesis on medieval English history, it was baffling to me that researchers would simply decline to excavate this treasure trove of primary evidence. Their view: these millennia of objects weren’t going anywhere, what was the rush? Instead, there was value in the knowledge that entire societies were built over ruins and relics, which literally support a cosmopolitan city today.

At a time when another ages-old city is undergoing a technology startup boom, it is precisely this approach that makes London so different from New York. Both cities incubate thriving tech communities, one bolstered by bagels and Dunkin, the other by digestive biscuits and Costa. Yet London presents a larger context to the boom of gadgets and apps: unlike the eager capitalism exemplified by New York and currently propelling San Francisco, London’s been here. (Not to mention, Karl’s got nothing on London fog.)

And what makes these two cities’ tech industries similar, compared to the atmosphere of Silicon Valley SaaSies, is that New York and London have both seamlessly integrated startups into the plethora of other fields that call these metropolises home: banking, fashion, advertising, the arts. These industries thrive because of their diversity, and these cities thrive because of their internationalization.

Where in the world can you walk from SoHo to Little Italy to Chinatown in a few blocks? There are two correct answers.

Time Out London, the week after Brexit (click on image to read).

Time Out London, the week after Brexit (click to read).

What London lends to its residents is a sense of sangfroid, of composure under pressure. New York fast is New York fast. There’s nothing like it. “I couldn’t live in New York, it’s too busy,” is a common refrain I hear from out-of-town friends. London is certainly busy, but it’s a meticulous sort of busy: the loud tick of a clock’s second hand instead of the scream of an alarm. When Brexit happened, there was disbelief and outrage and anger, but not violence or hate. Instead, Time Out London said, “thank you for making YOUR city your home.”

Along with this, Londoners possess the sort of rituals that help us keep calm and carry on. Why doesn’t New York have an evening paper? (My immediate gut response: “Well, I’d be too busy to read it.”) But now, reading the Evening Standard on the way home — and then parking myself at the kitchen table to finish it — has become a daily habit. During what has been one of the most stressful news months of recent memory, physically holding a prudent summary of the day’s events provides a way to process and reflect on our world.

What else is quintessentially London? Even after many trips to the UK, and a semester here in college, little cultural quirks continue to surprise me. For example:

  • Drinking outside in public is OK, but uncommon.
  • Apparently gym buddies are much more of a thing here.
  • Phones and data are much more competitively priced than in the US. A decent UK plan costs a fraction of its American equivalent.
  • It’s difficult to shake the paranoia that I am tipping incorrectly. As someone who’s worked in the service industry (thank you, Tripps Steakhouse!) I’m sensitive to stiffing someone, but don’t want to embarrass with a grossly disproportionate tip.
  • I never knew what “American food” was before coming here, but there’s a whole case of it at the supermarket.

America: giving the world cheese and chorizo macaroni, chicken burritos and Chilli Philly Steak Bake since 1776.

In the UK, I was prepared for my favorite Netflix shows not to work, for the bacon to be thick-cut and for the salmon to be much more affordable. But what’s surprised me is how much these cities have in common. New York tech is rushing ahead, but London moves with alacrity despite the weight of her history. In other words, New York may set the pace of the non-Valley tech grind, but London will match this pace with a steady stride. No matter what happens in the coming months, London will remain a crucial access point between European and American tech markets.

As we enter into a more uncertain time of this city’s history, I encourage entrepreneurs and startups not to take the wealth of international resources they have for granted. Be mindful of what we’ve created, but focus on the people and backgrounds that continue to make this city a progressive place to live and work. Digging up the past can wait. It’s time to keep moving forward.

read more
The London Startup Scene: An American’s Perspective
Web-Summit.jpg

The Web Summit – Top 10 Startups

Day in day out, at Clarity PR we work with startups of all shapes and sizes, so attending the Web Summit was a no brainer for us. This year’s edition was more special than most others as it was the last Summit to be held in Dublin for at least three years.

This year’s event was the biggest yet, boasting 40,000 attendees and 1,000 speakers from around the globe, with some of the hottest startups in the world showcasing their wares. Thankfully, this year really did live up to the hype and at Clarity we were lucky to meet some really great startups who have the potential to grow and grow. We highlight the ten most interesting startups below (in alphabetical order):

Bluetens

Bluetens is a pocket sized piece of technology that brings electrotherapy (of a professional quality) to anyone. The equipment is also supported by a smartphone app that controls the physical device. Co-Founder,Boris Dorin, kindly showed how it works and it looks like a seriously impressive piece of kit that will simplify medical care for consumers in a big way.

Credilikeme

Credilikeme is a Mexican startup that sells short term loans online to millennials. It uses gamification to allow users to ‘level up’ if they payback their loans in a responsible way. This means that future loans could also be cheaper for users, due to the level of trust they’ve already built up. Jorge Enriquez, Co-Founder, kindly showed us how the gamification system works and it is a really simple system which will definitely appeal to millennials.

Dott

Losing a pet is quite traumatic right? This was the inspiration which brought Wade Chen, Co-Founder, to found Dott, which hails itself as ‘The Smart Dog Tag’. Slightly bigger than a 50p coin, it is a smart tag which fits around a dog’s collar and will alert you (by your smartphone) if your dog has gone into an area that they shouldn’t have. It is a really simple concept, but Wade has big plans to link with a number of partners (and also build up a community of users) to create a technological solution that enables ‘social good’ – we salute you!

Fairtime

At Clarity, we hate wasting time, as for us, time is money. Fairtime have the same way of thinking. A Spanish startup, they are offering consumers a way to donate their idle time either for profit or for good causes. The app builds an anonymised profile of a user and will ask them to then watch brands’ videos in which they can earn small amounts of money for each view. Manuel Maese, COO, took us through the quality of brands they have on board already and all we can say is ‘well done’!

Gatehub

Fintech can be a somewhat difficult and dizzying topic to understand at times. However, the guys at Gatehub have built a truly impressive offering, which translates easily into everyday life. One of their core offerings is a ‘wallet’ which is in effect ‘money in the cloud’, in which any asset can be sold and in which a transaction takes less than two seconds to complete globally.

Revolut

Another fintech startup that really seemed to be onto a winner was Revolut. Using just an app and a physical card, it allows you to transfer money globally by SMS, Whatsapp and social media. Not only this, if you’re travelling abroad, your Revolut card just needs to be topped up and it automatically converts into the local currency at the most favourable rate. The best part of all this is that there are no hidden fees.

Scheduit

Business networking can be a bit easier at events like the Web Summit. However, if you’re constantly travelling, maximising your networking activities can be quite hard. Scheduit looks to solve this problem as it enables you look for networking opportunities wherever you are. You can search anywhere in the world or at specific events and then also look at your fellow networkers’ compatibility thanks to the ‘Schedumeter’.

Shaw Academy

Given that the Web Summit has been held in Ireland since its inception, it’s surprising to see so few Irish startups at the event. However, one startup is making huge inroads globally. The Shaw Academy is an online educational platform which has over 35,000 student on its books. It’s aimed at skilled professionals looking to upskill or fill a gap in their skills set. Each course is a minimum of 10 hours long and measurement of how successful the course is for users is based off a whopping 840 metric. The entire operation is completely bootstrapped, making it quite an impressive startup to come out of Ireland.

The Pigeonhole

Book clubs probably seem quite old fashioned and parochial in the digital age. However, with the rise of the eBook readers, novels have become easier to read, share and discuss. The Pigeonhole looks to marry the old with the new by creating a global book club. You can read with complete strangers or create your own private group, while The Pigeonhole serialises books (called ‘Staves’) so it can fit into even the busiest lifestyles

Weddinghero

As some members of Clarity can attest to, weddings are stressful events as much can, and sometimes does go wrong on the big day. Weddinghero aims to put lovers’ minds at ease by helping them organise every facet of their wedding, from venue to wedding clothes. On the flipside, it offers wedding suppliers the chance to showcase their services and goods to an audience who is looking to buy.

By Dave Claxton

@DClax67

 

read more
The Web Summit – Top 10 Startups
photo-3-e1442914257105.jpg

Team Clarity, Assemble!

Here at Clarity we love an excuse for a great social event, and last weekend we were lucky enough to take a weekend trip to Berlin to network and spend some quality time with our global counterparts.

The weekend was jam-packed: meeting clients, new team members, new faces in the startup scene at the TechStars networking event in a thumping underground venue – in true Berliner party style!

The Berlin contingent were excellent hosts and hooked us up with the best venues so we got a real flavour of the city – sampling some real Bavarian food, and a considerable amount of German beer on our boat party!

After two super busy days, we had a bit of spare time to learn about Berlin’s culture too. Walking everywhere with a guidebook (and Bethany’s excellent narrating skills) meant we could soak up the city and learn along the way about Berlin’s history. We managed to cram a lot of hotspots into an afternoon, including the stunning Reichstag, Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie.

The trip served as an invigorating reminder of why we do what we do, and how lucky we are to work with some of the most exciting startups across the globe. The weekend was also a great opportunity to meet our newest team members, Marie, Paul and Anthony who bring a wealth of experience and ideas to Clarity and will be dotted across the globe in London, Berlin and New York respectively.

It also gave us the chance to reflect and think about what’s next; with inspiring presentations in Berlin’s Rainmaking Loft from Bryce on the agency’s phenomenally fast growth, Sara on the future of our identity, Sami on our rebrand and Clarity’s short but eventful journey so far, with a brainstorming session at the end on what’s to come.

Rest assured there are more exciting things in the pipeline for Team Clarity… Prost!

@RobynEmilyD

read more
Team Clarity, Assemble!
5-Reasons-Your-Startup-Needs-PR.jpg

5 Reasons Your Startup Needs PR

Getting your startup off the ground and running can be challenging. A large part of developing a business plan is thinking strategically about the ways you want your business to grow from an early stage startup to a fully established enterprise. Doing your homework is critical to understanding how to amplify your brand and prepare for market entry.

Alas, you hit ‘Enter’ on your Google search: “Does my startup need PR?”  Over 11 million results are now at your disposal – and you thought deciding on dinner was going to be difficult.  The Internet is crowded with various opinions and conflicting ideas, each providing their own merit and judgment for why a startup will or will not benefit from PR.

Here are five reasons in favor of having PR as a core strategy for your startup:

read more
5 Reasons Your Startup Needs PR
How-to-stand-out-in-the-growing-NYC-tech-scene.jpg

How to stand out in the growing NYC tech scene

In 2014, Endeavor Insight worked alongside the Partnership for New York City to publish a report called “The Power of Entrepreneur Networks: How New York City Became the Role Model for Other Urban Tech Hubs.” The study conducted was an in-depth look at the rapid expansion of New York City’s tech sector, and more specifically, as a growing entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The results of the study demonstrated the influx of tech startups to Silicon Alley, and the potential power the urban hub has for creating economic growth. Over the course of a decade, the study proved that New York City’s tech sector grew twice as fast as Silicon Valley, and saw a 240% increase in venture capital funding from 2003 to 2013.  In 2013 alone, the tech hub saw more than $3.1 billion in funding invested into the tech community.  So, what impact does this rapid expansion of the NY tech sector mean for other startups and trades in the industry? 

read more
How to stand out in the growing NYC tech scene