Monday 22 November 2010

Techcrunch Europas 2010

What was good
Techcrunch Europe’s annual awards evening, The Europas, took place last Friday. Around 300 people gathered at Paramount, on top of the Centre Point tower. As promised, the views were indeed spectacular, and the turnout seemed to attract a good mixture of people from across the tech startup scene.

Image: Sarah Rowlands/Miller Hare

In particular it was great to be reminded of the great startups that are right on our doorstep like Moshi Monsters (someone mentioned 1 in 3 kids in the UK are users), Flattr, Tradeshift, Whipcar, Wonga, Spotify, and many others, check the TC article for the full list. Nice to see startup friendly law firm Winston and Strawn getting recognition for their great efforts.

It was interesting to hear founder Tariq Krim talk about the newly released Jolicloud notebook given that I'm in the market for a netbook at the moment. Not sure I'll be rushing out to buy the Jolibook just yet, but might be interesting to install Jolicloud as a second OS for dual boot on whichever netbook I do end up getting.

I was quite impressed to see that the toilets (well the gents at least) were covered with guerilla marketing stickers from the various startups in attendance keen to use every opportunity to get free publicity. Perhaps not too surprising given the crowd...

Awards ceremony or party?
Although the event was a great opportunity  for the community to recognize successes, I do wonder whether the format could be improved upon a little. There seemed to be a two-fold purpose to the event, as an awards ceremony and also as an end-of-year party. That’s absolutely fine of course, except the two seemed to be happening simultaneously, with people talking over the announcements and awards. Not really the fault of the attendees, since the long thin shape of the venue meant that a lot of people were quite removed from the stage in the middle of the room.

The awards part also seemed very rushed, almost in a “lets get this out of the way so we can get on with the party”, with award winners asked not to give speeches as they rolled through the award conveyor belt. The main issue I have with this approach is that in any given month (even week) there are usually plenty of parties/networking events/meetups going on in London which provide plenty of opportunity for people to socialise over drinks. But the Europa awards are a bit more distinct - they only happen once a year, so why not put the focus on them and make it more of an awards show, followed by a party, Academy Awards style?

That way we could have a seated venue, which would encourage people to pay attention to the presentations. We could have speeches from the winners - it would be great to hear what these people have to say and any wisdom they have to impart, as well as offering them a platform to ask for anything they need (money, employees etc). I realise this means the presentations part would run a lot longer, but given that the event was on a Friday night and started pretty early, there’s not really a big shortage of time. Have an intermission or two to allow people to eat/move around in the middle if necessary.

Finally, I must admit there were several startups mentioned that I’d not heard of before - a short video clip/pitch of the winners (or maybe top nominees + winners) would be a great way of educating the audience and getting some free publicity.

Of course it’s very easy to say all this as an attendee, and this shouldn’t take away from the fact that it was an entertaining evening which obviously had a lot of hard work and preparation go in to it. Mike opened the proceedings by saying how fed up he was of the constant comparisons to the US and the Valley in particular, but in truth if we want to build an ecosystem for tech entrepreneurship in this country, and Europe more generally, then these kinds of events are important in raising awareness of all the great work going on around us.

See you all there next year!

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