Sticking it to them at MiniBar

29 August 2008

Last Friday Alex M and I demo-ed Snagsta at MiniBar (London’s pre-eminent monthly Internet networking event – is that what I was supposed to say Christian?).

It’s a tough place to present. Being a Friday night the audience tend to neck the free beer and will happily chat throughout your pitch (no, we weren’t being boring!). So we thought a little audience participation to demonstrate elements of the Snagsta algorithm might do the trick. We used a series of questions (and lots of coloured stickers) to establish people who had similar tastes. We then asked the folks with the same stickers to suggest books or restaurants to each other and see if they were of interest. I am not sure we quite pulled it off but from the photo I think you can tell we had a lot of fun doing it!


Here’s our interview afterwards with Hermione Way of Newspepper fame and her overview of the night.

Today’s list was inspired by Fabio De Bernardi, a good friend and the co-founder of Veedow, a social shopping site that recommends products in line with your own interests and taste. (Fabio is a surprisingly bad dresser for an Italian… I guess that’s why he started Veedow!)

London’s best Internet networking events according to my esteemed co-founder, Alex M:

1. DrinkTank

This one was set up fairly recently from the nice people at Huddle. Unlike other events they are fairly selective about the guest list. The last one I attended was very full, a lot of fun and good for business. No presentations or long speeches – just lots of beer and conversations.

2. MiniBar

One of the more informal gatherings on the circuit. Noisy and sometimes difficult to hear what the presenting companies are saying but still worth the trip to this wonderful part of East London. I have met some great people at this one.

3. Second Chance Tuesday

These happen infrequently but are excellent. The auditorium where it’s held (The Royal College of Physicians near Regent’s Park) is a great place to actually hear what the speakers are saying. The networking sessions both before and after the interviews in the library is also very well attended.

One of my favourite events – they should hold them more regularly.

4. Chinwag

The best name of any event by far and run by the amiable duo Sam Michel and Deirdre Molloy. This is another panel discussion event so most of the networking is at the end. The topics discussed are always well thought out but the event can be a little hit or miss depending on the quality of the panel members.

5. Mashup*Event

This is a more formal sit-down-and-listen-to-expert type event. I have only been once but learned a lot. The one minute pitches at the end of panel session are fun to watch.

6. Open Coffee

Inspired by Saul Klein and the insightful folks at Seedcamp. Takes place every Thursday in West London. I have been 4-5 times and have met a wide variety of people each time. It’s a good place for those who are thinking about taking a leap and becoming an entrepreneur as it’s a rich environment to test out your idea on other people.

7. Imperial entrepreneurs

I haven’t been to this one yet but my business partner Phil has been to a couple of these and has seen some excellent speakers present. Student run so takes a long summer break each year.

8. Facebook Developer Garage London

I went to one of these a few months ago. Not an event I would rush back to but useful if you’re a developer looking to network with potential clients looking to build applications.

9. Social Media Café

I haven’t been to this yet but I plan to get there soon – we’ve heard good things about it.

10. Bootlaw

AKA ‘the Danvers and Barry show’ in reverence to Danvers Baillieu and Barry Vitou of the law firm Winston & Strawn. Have yet to attend but it looks like it could be a very useful event for online startups to pick up some free legal advice and meet lots of other fellow entrepreneurs.

Have a great weekend.


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How bad can an exotic boat trip go?

26 August 2008

As Ratty so beautifully put it “There is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”

Unless of course you didn’t use Snagsta to find your boat…

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Just how 2.0 are you?

15 August 2008
web 2.0 logos

web 2.0 logos

I finally managed to get a little time to go through SEOmoz’s 2008 Web 2.0 awards list and it occurred to me that a good way to see how 2.0 you are is to tally up the number of their award-winning sites that you use regularly.

They have 174 sites listed and I use a grand total of 17 of these, so I guess that makes me not so much web 2.0 but more web 0.2.

In my defence, I will roll out the usual line about being so busy that I don’t have the time to keep up any more.

Once you have counted up, check below to see how you did.

0-30: Really, why did you even bother trying.
31-60: Nope, you still have the stench of 1.0 about you.
61-90: Not bad, you can hold your head up high.
91-120: Yep, it’s official, you can now add 2.0 after your name.
121-150: Crikey, don’t you have a life?
151+: You bloody cheat! Go back and count again properly.

Seriously though, what did surprise me a little bit is the lack of 2.0 features in this awards list. Don’t get me wrong, I love SEOmoz, but if you are going to put together a list of the best 2.0 sites why not make the actual awards list a bit more 2.0 too?

That said, this is a great list and come 2009, expect to see Snagsta up there with the best, even if they have to create a new category for us!

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Do all massages have a happy ending?

8 August 2008

Last week, after another hard day whipping staff in the Snagsta sweatshop, Alex G went in search of some relaxation.

What he found wasn’t quite what he was looking for…


Stumble It!

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Lights, camera, action (well almost)

1 August 2008
Help! Get me out of here

Help! Get me out of here

The long arm of the law finally catches up with Alex G and Bjorn

Yesterday, Alex G and our creative consultant extraordinaire Bjorn Turmann hit the streets of Bangkok to film a couple of videos that will help us spread the word of Snagsta just before our public beta launch.

When we asked them how things were going a couple of strange messages came back – Bjorn sent me a text that read, “What a day! It had it all: emotion, action, laughter and danger…”. Alex G’s description was even more intriguing, “I have a bad headache, a large lady has been jumping up and down on me all afternoon – I think she managed to cut off the blood flow to my brain”.

During the filming the guys were cornered by the Thai police who wanted to see their permits; which of course we didn’t have. They eventually managed to talk themselves out of trouble: but only just. The rest of shoot one had to be done covertly which Bjorn assures me will add a certain “edginess” to the scene.

Shoot two took our protagonists to a local spa. This is where the incident with the rather full bodied lady took place. To find out what happened next you will have to wait until the video appears on our blog. Stay tuned.

In the mean time, I will leave you, as always with a list. This comes from an excellent investigative journalism site named Mother Jones and it’s one that I hope Bjorn and Alex G will read carefully before they head out for shoot three!

8 Tips for an Easier Prison Stay

1. Leggo your ego: Be humble. New prisoners will “lock eyes with the wrong person and have problems,” says Steven Oberfest, an ex-bouncer and personal trainer who won’t say what he did time for. “This is not Fifth Avenue and their penthouse anymore. They’re just a number.”

2. Hard knocks: Never enter someone’s cell without permission, says Steve Scholl, a former management consultant who now goes by the moniker Dr. Prison. “It’s about respect. People get killed over that.”

3. Presumed innocent: Don’t go asking what someone is in for, advises Oberfest. Ask what he’s accused of.

4. Ethnic cleansing: Don’t mix with prisoners of other races, Dr. Prison warns. “Things we don’t even consider a problem between races here are a very extreme focus inside. If there’s a fight, every race needs to depend on their own race to protect them.”

5. Sleeping dogs: “Miserable people want to be miserable…treat them with extreme caution,” advises Robert McDorman, a former Texas car dealer who did 26 months for federal bank fraud.

6. The best defence: Just in case, Oberfest says you must learn to “drop someone incredibly fast.”

7. Unwanted interest: Says Oberfest, “If you bum a smoke and the guy with the cigarettes says, ‘Sure, it’s a twofer,’ you should know a twofer means, ‘I give you one for two, so now you owe me.'”

8. Alone time: Oberfest advises high-profile clients such as politicians to request solitary confinement, or even feign mental illness to get into the psych ward. “If you’re segregated, you’re going to have a much easier time.”

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