Friday, 5 November 2010

Cameron reveals Silicon Valley vision for the East London

I was flabbergasted yesterday by the revelation that Mr. Cameron has a start-up vision for this country, more specifically, this area of East London. I was eager to hear what he had to say. I even exchanged emails with Rory, from the BBC, in regard to his blog post on the subject. Rory's view was that we're all drinking 'skinny' cappuccinos in local cafes however, I soon pointed out he is more likely to find us drowning out our disappointments following VC meetings. 
I guess it's good to know that our man at the top, Mr. Cameron, speaks to the founders of Google and clearly listens to them. I am confused as to why they would have had a problem starting their business in the UK though. Copyright law? Hmm they seemed to be ok with YouTube having that problem? Come on guys, IP law in general, not just in the UK but also in the USA is completely out of date in its application to Software, the WEB and technology - invention is re-invention. We in start up world get patents to impress VC's and protect ourselves, so imagine that - you have an idea and you next protect yourself from it. I will let you into a secret, we need VC money to pay the Patent lawyer. Ok, I'm exaggerating. But I exaggerate to make a point.  
Mr. Cameron If you want to throw the cat amongst the pigeons make the UK IP indifferent. The innovation will be massive. We would have a Silicon Valley over night, the whole of the UK, indeed all those development agencies being shut down won't be necessary anyway so it was a good idea to close them - well done.  The Valley will run from Land's End to John O'Groats. Anyone with an idea will flock to the UK. 
But I deviate; I do not mean to get into a conversation about how silly IP law is. 
What I really wanted to say is Mr. Cameron you maybe be saving the UK from sinking under the weight of interest payments, but to help UK start-ups here in the East End or anywhere else in the UK you could ask us directly. I am sure you would hear "Give us a break on Employer NI contributions for a couple of years" or "Can you ask corporate UK to rethink draconian payment terms of 90 days that hard times seem to warrant. We don't have a problem if they do it between themselves but to start-up tech companies it’s very tough to make ends meet". If you ask us directly, I doubt you'll hear any problems arising from a lack of capability, passion, people, or come to that copyright infringement. 
What you'll hear loud and clear, in my opinion, is that to have a Silicon Valley outside of the USA you might need Silicon Valley VC's and culture which appears to be less risk-aversed, NOT large companies moving in and shooting the rents up. We are a community here that has spawned from Old Street roundabout. We are an organically evolving interesting local development. The reason we are here is a combination of rent, location, good pubs (I personally recommend the Fox), good clubs and no tourists asking you where Regents Park is when you nip out for your sandwich. Google have a nice office just off Victoria Station because they can afford the rent there. 
You have a point when you say we have a great entrepreneurial spirit but for some reason the support fabric, probably due in part to culture, is not quite there yet. Do something there if you want to help.  
Please tell the Google Founders we say Hullo! and ask them can they rethink their location as the rent here is reasonable at the moment....
PS. I would be concerned that saddling UK students with more debt will mean we'll sadly see choices being made between - do I do my idea and create or do I get rid of this debt hanging over my head and get a job, pen pushing to pay off the debt? Contradiction maybe?

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