The most frequently asked question we get as a startup in London is:
Good Audience has been going through Techstars London for a month now. When ever we meet someone new, they’re always surprised to find out where we moved from. Yes, we’re from San Francisco; yes, we could have moved to any major city; yes, we understand startups around here are doing the opposite and trying to move to Silicon Valley.
When we made the decision to move to London, we had offers on the table from other US investors, but reflecting back, it was always an easy decision. We asked ourselves this: Why not London?
Community and Network
The US investors tried their hardest to convince us that the startup community and the network we would build in London would never be as strong as the one we could grow in the states. Although there was money on the table, this was a valid concern.
One of the other companies going through the program with us now had wrestled with the same issue before joining.
However, upon finally deciding on locating to London, those concerns were quickly obliterated.
There is an inherently strong startup community in London that we’ve never felt anywhere else before. Entrepreneurs here are extremely generous to help and support a fellow entrepreneur in need. Need an intro to another founder who has 5 years experience in your space? How about to big companies like Twitter, Facebook or Google? Or even VCs willing to give you feedback? Not a problem. Almost everyone is willing to take a meeting as long as what you’re asking is clear.
In a few short weeks, we went from knowing nobody, to being able to tap into anybody’s network. This unabashed openness and willingness to help shown by those who can, comes around full circle; we’re able to give intros to those who need, back to people in San Francisco.
Above: Sherman is pitching some new features to SmileFamily and immediately gets introduced to a music company that could use it.
Lean Startup and Customer Development
As two hackers (ex-Google/Yahoo, yes we have coding death matches), we’re eager to put our heads down and just code. None of the entrepreneurs we’ve met actually do that around here. We get our ass kicked every time we try to slam on the gas pedal, before validating our assumptions. Lean startup is a must mindset in this community and people will remind you if you’re jumping the gun.
Receiving constructive feedback on your idea and vision is important, even if that means changing it. After meeting with over 80+ industry experts, potential customers, and investors; within the first week, we realized we would have to pivot. Our business was generating revenue, but it wasn’t scalable. Our assumptions didn’t survive the first mentor week. Pivoting at that point became an easy decision, one we wouldn’t have been able to make without all the support from the network.
By the next week’s time, we were able to reconfigure the business and present as basically a brand new company with a vision everyone was excited about. We were able to build much more productive relationships and sailed through the next two weeks of mentors. It was amazing how supportive everyone was in our decision to pivot.
Above: TeamDizzy working on their next album. We met these guys outside the Warner Yard office doing a photo shoot for their album cover. Serendipitous relationships like this wouldn’t have happened without the encouragement of the community pushing for customer development.
Work and Travel
As a company, we love traveling and experiencing different cultures. The opportunity to live in London, work on our startup, expand our network, and do pub crawls was an opportunity we just couldn’t pass up.
We’ve met amazing people from all over the world. The city is beautiful and its humbling to soak up the history as we walk by buildings and through neighborhoods older than our home country. We picked up on all the British terms (e.g. queue vs line) and even use correct British spelling! For where we are now as a company, there is really no better place we could have chosen to build our company and network.
We’ve survived the first month of Techstars and have made so much progress with the business. We pivoted, developed a prototype to explain our vision, received invaluable feedback, and are now heads down working on a version which we can begin testing with early adopters.
From London with love,
Sherman and Karl