My week began on Sunday afternoon, heading to Heathrow for my flight to New York as part of Digital Mission, a UKTI-organised trip that took 21 of the UK's ‘hottest’ technology startups to the Web 2.0 Expo.
A very busy itinerary started on Monday morning with a trip across New York to the offices of legal firm Winston & Strawn, who were advising us how we best deal with trading in the USA. As QuickTV is a global business, with a large proportion of sales likely to come from the USA, this tax and operation advice may prove to be invaluable. Their offices – located on the 42nd floor of a high-rise in the centre of the financial district – provided a fantastic view over the city. But it was only upon leaving the offices that we became aware of the events that had been unfolding beneath us, with the news Lehman Brothers had filed for chapter 11 and various other financial institutions were experiencing serious difficulties.
The next day I had breakfast with some New York based venture capitalists – it was interesting to gauge their reaction to the events of the previous days, and also to hear their thoughts about the potential of technology in a difficult economic climate.
Much of the week was spent attending the actual conference, discussing opportunities with potential partners including Sun Microsystems, and attending sessions put on by industry experts. But we also had some great visits. On Monday evening I was invited to the British Consulate, where I met with several high-profile business leaders from New York's technology scene, before heading back to the hotel to network long into the night with other Digital Mission attendees. On Thursday evening the Digital Mission party attended WineTasting 2.0, hosted by ‘web celeb’ Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV (followed by more networking). And on Friday I met for coffee with the Guardian’s Technology reporter, who was in New York for the week – she has great experience as a journalist, but has also worked in a technology startup herself.
My last appointment of the week consisted in joining two partners from Winston & Strawn for lunch at the Rockefeller Center, before a whistle-stop tour of ‘The Big Apple’ and (of course) the big Apple Store!
Next week should be pretty busy too: I have a catch-up day with our development team, a review session with our brilliant UX team at Splendid and our final user testing session of the new product before our November launch.
Nick Bell is the co-founder and Chief of Innovation of QuickTV, a broadcast start-up due to launch next month that helps companies add interactive features to online video content. It’s expecting to attract £3m in funding by the end of 2008. One of the UK’s top young technology entrepreneurs, Nick sold his first business (Teenfont.com) for almost £1m the day after he finished his GCSEs. Now 24, he’s already set up and exited four businesses in markets ranging from videoconferencing to spray tanning.