My Week: Charlie Osmond of FreshNetworks

FreshNetworks' co-founder and CEO gets inspired by Silicon Valley...

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

This week, work starts on Saturday as I'm off to California as part of Web Mission 2009, a trip organised by UKTI, to take the top 20 UK and Ireland technology start-ups to San Francisco and promote closer ties between tech companies in the UK and US. I'm looking forward to it. Along with visiting Silicon Valley and attending the Web 2.0 Expo in the city, we'll get the opportunity to pitch to venture capitalists, visit the headquarters of companies such as Microsoft and Oracle and generally enjoy the San Fran way of life.

Saturday begins with an early morning VIP reception at Virgin Atlantic's Heathrow Lounge, before hopping aboard the flight. Ten-plus hours later and we're landing at San Francisco where we've got a bit of time to freshen up before our welcome drinks with TechCrunch and GPBullHound. I spent a good chunk of the evening chatting to Alastair Mitchell, the CEO of Huddle who was on the trip last year as well. Huddle is a team collaboration and project management application - very interesting stuff.

Sunday is a full day of relaxing with a little networking thrown in. We head to the penthouse apartment of Susan Best, CEO of Best PR, for brunch. The views of the city are amazing, and I chat with a bunch of local journalists and investors. Later on I squeeze in a run - have to take advantage of the California climate. I aim to get an early-ish night as the week is all go from here, but I end up catching up on emails and checking in with the team back in the UK.

Monday we head over to the GooglePlex and then on to Microsoft's Silicon Valley Headquarters. Humbling, exciting and inspiring are the three words I'd use to describe this experience. If they can do it, so can we!

We start Tuesday morning at Plug and Play, a business incubator in Silicon Valley. It's a facility where start-ups can rent office space for three-month periods; along with the office they get a range of business-building benefits like networking events and meetings with potential funders. There's nothing like this in the UK and I am totally sold on the idea after a couple of hours touring the facility and chatting with the president Saeed Amini. He's an inspiration, having founded the water bottling business ALPS and grown it into a $150m business.

In the afternoon we pitch our business ideas to a group of Silicon Valley investors. Most of us have businesses that are already on their feet so it's more of an interesting practice run than a real pitch. I take a night off from networking and manage to get tickets to see Gavin DeGraw at the Great American Music Hall.

Wednesday is a big day. I've been looking forward to it all week as we're set to visit Oracle's Headquarters. I was particularly impressed by their new collaborative business platform Beehive. I also manage a one-to-one meeting with their global head of M&A.

Thursday I'll be at the Web2.0 Expo all day talking social media and taking the pulse of the San Francisco web community.

Then on Friday I fly home and plan to jump right back in to building FreshNetworks into the leading European online community software and services provider. Let's just say I suspect sleeping on the flight home will be a breeze.

Charlie Osmond is the CEO and co-founder of FreshNetworks

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