As many of you may have noticed, ITK newsletters have become a bit sporadic of late as life and work gets in the way. However, rather than skip another week, here are some haphazard updates, along with a bumper edition of ‘Things I wrote’.
Due to last minute access issues at the venue, I didn’t get to do the planned interview with TransferWise CEO and co-founder Taavet Hinrikus at Startup Grind Europe. Instead, my esteemed TechCrunch colleague Ingrid Lunden stepped in (thanks Ingrid!). One day Taavet and I will make it happen, I’m sure.
The upside was that it freed up my work week so that I could attend part of The Europas conference
, which was a total blast.
One highlight was catching part of the 'Meet the press’ breakout session, if only to see Business Insider tech editor James Cook helping out startups in need of PR advice. Oh, the irony.
I also had fun making VC Saul Klein pitch me
his music/creative tech startup Platoon
, which he’s co-founded with Apple veteran Denzyl Feigelson. The company appears to be quite an exciting marriage of technology, data, traditional A&R and audience development.
Saul spoke on stage with artist Gabrielle Aplin
, who is signed to Platoon, and following the panel we were treated to an excellent performance of one of her tracks, which is no mean feat in front of a tech conference audience. 'Just never try making a joke,’ I advised Aplin afterwards.
I caught up briefly with investor Fred Destin. 'You can’t keep anything from Steve,’ he (warmly) warned the person stood next to me, which made me smile and offer an apology for breaking his latest news
Entrepreneurs I chatted to included the awesome Alex Depledge, who did an interesting and, by her usual standards, only somewhat candid panel about her experience exiting Hassle to Rocket Internet; Thriva’s Hamish Grierson, who was on a medtech panel earlier in the day; Tom Adeyoola from virtual fitting room Metail; and Rodolfo Rosini from AI startup Weave.ai. All people I’ve written about but only some I’d ever met in person.
That’s what I really enjoyed about The Europas. Not only was the lineup and programming high quality, but it felt like most of the speakers stuck around for at least a few hours after their bit, if not till the awards ceremony
in the evening.
Add to the fact that there is no green room or backstage at The Europas, and it meant the conference had an unusually inclusive and speak-easy atmosphere, beanbags included.
My visit to LocalGlobe
Talking of people I’ve written about but had never met till recently, a few weeks ago I spent a couple of hours at LocalGlobe, the seed investment firm founded by father and son duo Robin and Saul Klein, for a TechCrunch feature. I tend to waste very few words on the page and my style of writing is inherently pithy, so it was quite an exercise to create something longer than a thousand words. Going by the feedback I’ve received, I think the resulting piece came out pretty good
The backstory, which is very briefly told in the article itself, is that I’d found out LocalGlobe had closed a new £75 million fund and I was planning to scoop the news. However, when I called Saul Klein for comment – standard TechCrunch policy – he said the new fund wasn’t a story he wanted to tell. Instead, he urged me to visit him and the rest of the team and get the bigger picture myself.
Now, normally I would likely publish the story anyway (a scoop is a scoop) and I tend to run a mile from anything that could be deemed access journalism, but in this instance I thought it would be an interesting experience, even if I can’t say Saul and I exactly hit it off on that first call. After covering LocalGlobe investments more than most other journalists over the years, it also seemed like a good opportunity to finally meet.
The resulting ensemble interview with six LocalGlobe VCs at the same time (something I’m not sure I ever want to do again!), including both Kleins, was pretty robust. To all of their credit, for the whole two hours everything said was on-record and I was free to take the conversation in any direction I wanted, which I gladly did.
Saul was a really good sport too, both during the interview and after the piece was published. In fact, I was a little annoyed as the LocalGlobe team weren’t meant to like the article quite so much!
I’m definitely planning on doing more of this kind of feature writing going forward. With a bit of luck, the next one I’m trying to line up will be a doozy.