#Croydon #TechCity: December Review

By - Monday 23rd December, 2013

Andrew Easter returns from Silicon Valley to report on the final #Croydon #TechCity event of 2013, featuring fellow tech migrant @Brackin

Thursday 19th December was to mark the final #Croydon #TechCity event of 2013 – and what a year 2013 has been for this growing community of tech enthusiasts. There can be no doubting that the sum total of varied Croydon Tech City affiliated activities, and high profile event speakers, has firmly established it as a force to be reckoned with.

The event also marked my official return to the Croydon tech scene following an enduringly sunny autumn/winter sojourn in Silicon Valley. It would seem somehow inevitable then that the short walk between East Croydon and Matthew’s Yard would throw up some of the fiercest weather Old Blighty can conjure – thunder storms, torrential Tic Tac sized hail stones and a biting cold that seemed only too happy to wipe away any remaining memories of California’s stubbornly warm sunshine.

It was reassuring, having skated through a treacherous slush of melting hail stones in wholly inadequate, highly absorbent footwear, to find things already in full swing. And, fortunately, I was to become so zestfully engaged in the excellent presentations, networking activities and complimentary mince pies, that I would only realise, on the way home, that my socks remained disturbingly moist.

After a temporary delay to replace a very sick projector, and a brief introduction from Sarah Luxford, the first presenter to take to the stage was the very impressive David Batey, ready to share his startup experiences and, most notably, his equally impressive new venture, Nickelled. His product is a powerful tool allowing website owners to build rich, guided tours around their site without making a single code change. Given the level of probing questions during Q&A, it’s clear everyone in the room shared David’s belief in Nickelled’s potential. The highly engaged audience would also pick up some extremely useful startup advice as David keenly shared various key learnings from his startup adventures.

The second presentation featured 3D printing double act Steve Motakef and his superbly named sidekick, Hercules Fisherman. We were to hear an introduction to their company 3DScanbot, an exciting 3D scanning and printing business that is proving extremely popular at trade shows, educational events and pretty much anywhere else where crowds of people are ripe for entertaining. 3DScanbot shepherded us into the networking break with mince pies and mulled wine sponsored by the ever supportive accountancy firm Bryden Johnson.

Who would argue with the idea that 2014 is a year when Croydon will really emerge as a leading player in the London tech scene?

The final presenter to grace the stage was a young man of such esteem, that he now finds ‘The’ routinely prefixed to his name. ‘The Brackin’ – real name Andrew Brackin – is, of course, well known to Croydon Tech City, and the community welcomed him back with open arms for an update on his startup experiences.

Having only flown in from San Francisco, via New York, at 9am, he came armed with a presentation thrown together at the last minute. But, as to be expected of the audaciously talented nineteen year old from Warlingham, you wouldn’t have known it; his honest, engaging and humour-scattered delivery was clearly the product of much time spent in the limelight.

Andrew led us back through his early days and onto his latest adventures as part of his fantastic sponsorship with the Thiel Foundation in San Francisco. We were also introduced to his current venture, Spot, a parking space finder app that’s already gaining some great traction in the Bay Area.

Despite being semi-blinded by the stand-in projector, Andrew did not fail in sharing some great insights and advice with an audience quite frankly envious of his action packed life. From the need to blag it sometimes, to savvy techniques for working with investors, I don’t think anyone left without some inspiration to channel into their own business ventures.

And so it was left to Nigel Dias to wrap up yet another successful Croydon Tech City event, featuring an understandably raucous response to his latest out of left field fashion fanfare – this time he’d swapped his trademark suit for a Christmas jumper with fetching flashing bow tie. When the tears and laughter had subsided, proceedings moved back into the bar area, where the remains of the mince pies and mulled wine were mopped up as an accompaniment to yet more enthusiastic networking activity.

With a warm sense of achievement, a great year of growth for Croydon Tech City draws to a close. And who would argue with the idea that 2014 is destined to be not just another period of steady growth, but a year when Croydon will really emerge as a leading player in the London tech scene? There was a feeling, a buzz in the room last night, the energy of the event resuscitating my withering, still jet lagged brain. So, despite the ferocious weather that has greeted me on my return from the US, boy does it feel good to be back.

Andrew Easter

Andrew Easter

Andrew is a Co-Founder at Unroutine. He is an experienced (10+ years) technologist and software engineer/architect, formerly the Lead Platform Engineer at Gumtree.com. An active tech blogger and tweeter, you'll also be sure to find him engaged in many a debate on tech mailing lists, covering, amongst other things, framework implementation and software design principles. When Andrew is not writing code, and obsessively researching the best ways to build software, he'll probably be cycling, playing tennis, doing something musical, or watching Formula One.

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