I have left Coventry for good, I have moved to Birmingham!
Moving was hectic, in trying to be economical (I saved about 40 pounds), I had to make 3 trips from Coventry to Birmingham carrying about 5 heavy bags each time. but it would have been a lot harder without having my man Jude, drop me at Coventry train station on two occasions. Thank you sir!
Why I left
I have several reasons for leaving Coventry, top of the list that nothing happens in Coventry. If London is Lagos, then Coventry is Benin. Without the University (in my case Warwick) Coventry might as well be sold to France. Ok, enough of the slamming of Coventry. It is not that bad it used (I get am before no be propati) to be the centre of manufacturing but since the rise of China, everything manufacturing has gone to the far east. Poor ‘Coventrians’!
The actual reason I moved is that Joel and I were looking for an ideal Internet startup base to launch OnePage from (outside London) and Coventry was high on the list but to do that, we needed other startups in the area. Like Paul Graham said, Startups need other startups around to thrive. I tried pushing for a startup hub centred around Warwick University but as time went on, I realised I had neither the muscle nor the time required. So I knew my time in Coventry was up.*
*Of course i will be coming to Warwick at the slightest opportunity, I love that Uni!
Deciding on Birmingham.
When I wrote the blog post “What is wrong with the UK startup scene?" I got to know of Entrepreneurs for the future exactly what I was trying to push for. It came in the form of a comment from Simon Jenner (you see why you should always blog your thoughts?). The Birmingham City council is trying to stimulate the region buy supporting startups. So the possibility of being with other startups was the first motivation of considering moving to Birmingham. There are also a lot of Internet activities going on in the area; Multipack, Birmingham Social Media Cafe, Birmingham Bloggers, to mention a few) .Secondly, I thought I should move to a city. Birmingham is the second biggest city in the UK by population (although 10 times smaller than London). So it was a worthy consideration.
Why not London?
London is too expensive! Although I could have got a moderately priced place ‘near’ London, it would not be London. I have always believed if you live in a city, you should live in the city, not nearby. e.g Kubwa is NOT Abuja, no, ‘Redeemed camp area’ is NOT Lagos. Luckily I live near the city centre in a place called Digbeth. Though it is in a formerly rugged part, I can walk to the City centre! I look on the bright side
Another reason Birmingham appeals to me is that it is small enough to create the family startup scene I have always dreamed of. Since the people of Birmingham are serious, let us see how we can get this city on the European startup map.
- There are about 2 Chinese restaurants and 4 pubs for every person in Birmingham. Seriously.
- It is quite cool when your local shopping area is Bull Ring (I have noticed some coded areas like the Rag Market though) and you pass where they audition for X-Factor on the way to your local pub.
- My I stay about 30 seconds walk away from St Annes Catholic Church. My problem is not that they might be having revival at 1am but that I will have no good excuse for missing mass!
- We (yes we) have two Clubs in the Premier league (Aston Villa and Birmingham City) . I now have a chance of seeing my Man U when they are in town!
Joel will be moving in form Sheffield in the next few day. I would like you all to wish him the best of luck. It takes great courage to decide to live with Oo for ANY length of time.
So anytime you are in Birmingham, give your boy a holla, I will come meet you up. I mean Birmingham, not near Birmingham.
With 6 years behind them, $1bn in revenue, 1000 employees, 350 million users and a valuation of about $10 billion, Facebook won the best Start-ups award at the Crunchies (The Oscars for Internet Companies).
I do not know what a start-up is but I know what isn’t, Facebook.
My understanding of a start-up is exactly what is says, Starting up. i.e a company starting up. The Wikipedia entry defines a start-up as
a company with a limited operating history. These companies, generally newly created, are in a phase of development and research for markets.
In his acceptance speech at the Crunchies (see from 3:00), Zucky said “we are deeply humbled to be still recognised in the start-up community”. That says he knows him winning the award for a start-up is humorous!
Seriously, if Facebook is still a start-up company what are all the companies that have been given 20 grand just after Y combinator graduation called? Maybe we need a reminder of what a start-up is. The term had been used basically to define Internet companies created in the dot com era as they differentiated themselves from traditional companies as they required basically cranial capital to create and few employees to start out. But since Microsoft and Google were winners in the crunchies, maybe Internet Company = Start-up
Like I sad before, I do not know what an Internet start-up (based on the old definition) is, but I would propose a filter to say the ones that are not. I suggest any company that
- has more than 50 employees OR
- is above 3 years old OR
- has more than one million dollars in cash or revenue
is not a start-up.
To be honest I do not think the word start-up means anything these days. Internet companies are more prevalent that brick and mortar companies so there is nothing special about them. Maybe we should just scrap the word start-up and call it what is should be, an Internet Company.
Congratulations Facebook! for being the best Internet company! You guys are the bomb!
This post was initially titled “Where should the startup hub in UK be? Hint: NOT London!” of which the central theme was; although London is the hub of internet technology in UK, it should not be because of the high cost of living which eliminates startups between idea and Y Combinatior graduation stage (product fitness). I also stated that because of the importance of a living community tied to Universities like that which exists in the Valley (Stanford and Berkley), London is NOT conducive, as the Universities there are deep inside the city. I tried to propose a hub location by comparing Cambridge, Oxford, London, and Warwick (my University). While researching for my write up, I realized that there are greater challenges to the UK start-up scene than having a main hub .
Before going on, it is important to note why I am in a great position to write this post.
- I am a foreigner (Yes, I am Nigerian), therefore I have no bias.
- I have followed the ‘UK start-up scene’ quite closely for a while (1 year)
- I have just begun my startup OnePage so I have firsthand experience of what is like creating a startup in the UK
I will itemize the factors working against the UK startup community thereafter suggest my solutions to the challenges I have listed.
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This post concerns Nigeria’s image that pertains to ebusiness/ecommerce. As for the issues of politics, corruption e.t.c, we’ll discuss that another day.
I got a true experience about the way we are viewed by people outside Nigeria during my first week of classes.During lectures, a majority of course tutors found it compulsory to associate Nigeria publicly with fraud. In one of the classes, the consultant from IBM actually had a full slide on ‘Nigerian Scam Mails’ among major internet security issues. i.e. we were next to viruses, rated next higher than spyware, Trojans. Google even used a ‘Nigerian Scam’ as part of their April fool’s joke this year which I found funny but sad. I am amazed at the negative reputation Nigeria has and got within three years of getting online (we started actively in about 2000). Obviously we are not the only ones that perpetuate fraud as you can see here but something must have made Nigeria become synonymous with online scams.
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