#Croydon #TechCity July 2014 review

By - Tuesday 29th July, 2014

Andrew Easter reports on the final #Croydon #TechCity event before the summer recess

Photo by Fluid4Sight, used with permission.

In all honesty, it’s most unlikely that I’m even writing this review – it was barely twelve hours prior to this CTC monthly main event, the last before the summer recess, that my attendance was even confirmed. Whilst it would be more politically correct to claim otherwise, my splendid barn break in the Cotswold was, in fact, cut short due to a homesick labradoodle, not a desperate attempt to return to Croydon. However, rather than find an event depleted of numbers, it seems that South London’s fastest growing tech community either delayed or cancelled their own holiday plans to avoid missing out on a final CTC fix before the summer break. It was, therefore, that I soon came to value my six month old puppy’s limited ability to adjust to unfamiliar environments.

Befitting the humid atmospheric conditions, this was very much a summer holiday fashion affair – leaving only CTC founder, Nigel Dias, to buck the trend as he sweated out the night in a trademark immaculately pressed shirt and suit trouser combination. As the revellers piled into the event room from the bar area, the temperature went up a few more notches, leaving many to wonder who would be the first to strip down to beach wear. Fortunately, as Jonny Rose stepped up to introduce the evening’s agenda to a buzzing audience in Matthews Yard, he’d decided against breaking out the Speedos.

The first presenters to take to the stage were Richard and Carolyn from the fast growing social startup Snupps. Richard is a CTC stalwart, having become involved in the community at an early stage as an integral member of the tech expert panel. And, it sure was fantastic to see one of CTC’s key supporters on stage talking about his day job. Having started off by introducing their company’s exciting product, Richard and Carolyn proceeded to share some hugely valuable startup advice gathered during their rise from “a solution that didn’t know what problem it was solving” to a company that’s growing quickly off the back of really understanding their customers. Such an important lesson for anyone in the room, and such an easy trap to fall into. Startup founders be warned – make sure you define the why before the how and what.

The emergence of Just Croydon is a warming story of the power of community, and a sign of the core strength at the heart of the CTC movement

The Snupps team shared further valuable insight on the perils of outsourcing, targeting customers before you’ve even got a product, and ensuring you’re obsessing over what your customers want, not what your competitors are doing. A very active Q&A session followed during which some very intelligent questions were asked that were dutifully answered, with further great insight, by those on the stage. Any budding startup founder would be well advised to learn more from the experiences of Snupps, and we wish Richard and Carolyn every success as their company’s journey continues.

Next up on stage were Chris and Steve who were introducing their dedicated Croydon social network, Just Croydon. These two self-starters have built Just Croydon in spare time outside of running their successful local web agency, Sleeptwitch. The emergence of Just Croydon is a warming story of the power of community, and a sign of the core strength at the heart of the CTC movement. Chris and Steve began, like many others, strictly as observers. But it was the inspiration they encountered during prior events that was the catalyst for them to give something back and, in many ways, this goes some considerable way to validating the reasons behind CTC’s creation.

Just Croydon has some pretty bold ambitions and it will be fascinating to see which direction this journey turns – with a base product out there in ‘beta’, community feedback can now work towards truly shaping it into a hugely valuable tool for Croydon diehards. It was downright exciting to see the passion Chris and Steve have for their product, something that came in handy as they calmly recovered from a mobile phone ringtone disturbance, and comfortably batted away one audience member’s attempt to go all Dragon’s Den on them.

We’ve gone from a community that’s had to work hard to prove its value in even existing, to one that now feels it belongs

After a brief interlude to rehydrate and towel off sweaty bodies, we returned to see Tim, founder of Croydon Radio, take to the stage. Whilst falling more into the category of media startup, there’s little to distinguish between the challenges faced in any startup business. There’s absolutely no doubting that Croydon Radio, being a very data-driven outfit, could teach their tech oriented counterparts a thing or two on how to build a healthy business. Croydon Radio – like Just Croydon – is a great tale of community power, and a startup ready to challenge claims that radio is dead. With a willing volunteer presenter team of more than sixty locals, fifty hours of live shows per week and up to ten thousand listeners per week, this is yet another example – along with Croydon Tech City itself – of the good that has been created in response to the riots in 2011.

And so it was left up to the CTC team to see out the evening’s agenda with a review of the past year and a look forward to the exciting opportunities that lay ahead. We’ve gone from a community that’s had to work hard to prove its value in even existing, to one that now feels it belongs. Any early fears of a struggle to just stay alive have been replaced by an inherent optimism about just how big this is going to get – CTC is staying put and a sweltering, oxygen deprived meeting space was never going to get in the way of that tonight. The humidity is rising…

Happy holidaying, and see you again when we return later in the year!

#Croydon #TechCity will return after the summer break on Thursday 18th September at Matthews Yard.

To attend, please sign up as ‘attending’ here or  to confirm your attendance.

Tim, founder of Croydon Radio.
Photo by Fluid4Sight, used with permission.

Jonny Rose and Nigel Dias, co-founders of #Croydon #TechCity.
Photo by Fluid4Sight, used with permission.

Chris and Steve, founders of Just Croydon.
Photo by Fluid4Sight, used with permission.

Carolyn and Richard, founders of Snupps.
Photo by Fluid4Sight, used with permission.

Jonny Rose, co-founder of #Croydon #TechCity.
Photo by Fluid4Sight, used with permission.

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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