[UPDATED]: Why Facebook never happened in the UK. The case of FitFinder.

Update: FitFinder has been Relaunched as Floxx with Doug Richards as an Investor.  Good luck Rich!

Back in April this year, I heard of a little UCL based startup (FitFinder) that was gaining ‘Facebookearlydayslike’ traction in some UK Universities. It was a location based public/flirting service.  The founder pitch in the Guardian was this:

The concept is simple. If you “find a fitty” in the library you can anonymously post up a short description of them on your university’s fitfinder. You have the option to describe yourself, or provide a telephone number. Others in the library, including the targeted fitty, are able to comment on the post.


Like any Zuckerberg story, everything was going on fine. Early University traction, second class Universities begging for it, early press, what could go wrong?

Not much. Except that it was shut down by the University College London (UCL) for bringing the University to disrepute.

How?  Some people were posting offensive comments, blah blah bladder dash!

So why the hell am I speaking about it so soon, only 8 months after the incident?

Yesterday on Hacker News, a YC company posted a job opening anonymously

In just 6 weeks since launch, we have over 20M page views (now over 1M a day and growing fast) and hundreds of thousands of daily uniques. Our virality index is higher than Facebook’s in their fastest growth stage.

“Wow! That’s pretty cool”. I said to myself. ANOTHER location based stuff getting so much traction? That must be something cool.

It did not take long for the stealth startup to be uncovered by TC.

It is LikeaLittle. It is described on the about page as

Basically, the site was made to allow you to compliment and chat about potential crushes you see around you.


To think UCL which hosts Open Coffee (A meetup for startup founders) EVERY Thursday and Seed Camp week (the biggest Internet seed funding program in  Europe) will KILL a startup with so much potential founded by its OWN student. Amazing!

I just feel gutted for Richard Marttel. Founder, FitFinder

HN link

What is wrong with the UK Startup scene?

Where is the HUB?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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