NEXT CROYDON TECH CITY MEETING – Thurs January 23rd 7.30PM MATTHEWS YARD

Croydon Tech City io

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A little note of thanks to my friend @MarkofRespect

I have only met Mark Jennings three times in person, but I already have five significant memories of him:

The one where I met Mark for the first time at Likeminds

The first memory was our initial meeting in June 2010.

I was in my last year of university and interning at Aaron+Gould Social Media consultancy in Exeter, Devon. At that time Scott Gould was also running a two-day social media conference/festival called Likeminds – which, for a time, was a beacon of immense creativity to the UK digital conference scene.

The night before the first day of Likeminds, many of the delegates (for want of a better word: everyone involved in Likeminds is too cool to be called a ‘delegate’, trust me) decamped to the Phoenix in the Exeter

I went with my friend Debo* as my wingman as up until that point I had never mixed with working professionals with businesses and branding and communities before. Much less Twitter-famous ones**.

As soon as I entered the Phoenix I recall the various characters of the Likeminds scene propped up at the bar; Paul Simbeck, John Lewis, Wisdom London, and there, in the middle, a frenetic ball of energy in a distinctive hat; Mark Jennings.

I didn’t get to speak to Mark that night (Paul and I got embroiled in an hour long conversation about Germany and his past as a diving instructor), but never one to respect personal space or social boundaries, I managed to get this photo with him the next day (I suspect he had no idea who I was and just wanted me to go away):

Mark Jennings Likeminds

Thus started a great Twitter friendship – the type that bards and anthropologists will write about for years to come.

The one where Mark gave me the confidence to run Purley’s First Tweetup

Mark next big assistance for me was in January 2011 when – on the night before Purley’s first tweetup – I gave him a panicked call having I realised for all of my love of social media and talking to people, I had no idea what I was doing (I had been wow’d by Mark’s phenomenal work building up the #Media140 community). Mark kindly – and with great patience – took me through the fundamentals of hosting a tweetup, even though I so obviously encroaching upon his evening.

So basically Mark was the reason this happened and went so well:

The one where Mark did my job for me

Mark saved by butt professionally in Feb 2011 when I started working p/t for Top Hat Property Services. Although I was perfectly competent at setting up and creating content for Top Hat’s various social profiles, it was lacking a certain ‘pep’. Another phonecall later and Mark advised on how he had worked for a DIY client in Scotland by tweeting every Friday a ‘Guess the tool’ competition.

Completely devoid of any originality myself, I promptly copied the idea (to great success, I might add):

Guess The Tool

The one where Mark had a party in a Soho bar and I ended up writing #givejonnyroseajob on a drunk Benjamin Southworth’s body

The second time I saw Mark in the flesh (and, yes, with the same hat I’d seen him in the year before) was at Meet140 reunion in London, April 2011. Meet140 by this time had gone international, but Mark had brought it back ‘home’ to London for one night.

I think the reunion also coincided with Mark’s birthday as there was a lot chocolate cake, champagne and merriment. Mark was his usual ebullient self and although we only exchanged a few words that night in the dingy depths of Bar LVPO in Soho – I had the pleasure of meeting some of the London digital scene’s great and good (Mark, if nothing else, is a great connector). Most notably – as at this point the #givejonnyroseajob campaign was in full flow – so I had the good fortune of being able to physically deface an inebriated Benjamin Southworth (then a hirsute ne’er-do-well, now Deputy CEO of Tech City Investment Organisation).

The one where Mark turned up in shorts to an idio business breakfast

The third time I met with Mark was on my home turf running an idio breakfast on ‘Content Marketing and Hip-Hop’ with Jon Akwue (Partner, Engine Group).

It was Summer 2012 and by this point, Mark was working for social media agency behemoth, Spreading Jam, and had come along to support his colleague.

Although I was glad to see Mark,  ever the misfiring prude, I was more scandalised at seeing his bare knees (he’d cycled in) than by any of the abrasive NWA tracks Jon insisted on playing that morning.

(if you listen, you can hear Mark’s laugh throughout)

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Today, Mark send me a video (below) of him speaking at the GEEK Conference in Margate. In it he cites both #PurleyBreakfastClub and Croydon Tech City. I hope he realises that he has been a bigger part of both of these initiatives than he will ever know.

This post is just to say that although I don’t see or speak to Mark as much as I’d like, or articulate my thanks to him enough, he is very special to me and I am very appreciative of his continual support.

Mark’s banter with Gary Day Ellison (including the time they set up a mock account based on an anonymous man in the background of Mark’s profile pic, “eh?”); His exchange of reggae wisdom with Glenn Le Santo; His droll exchanges with various bigheaded London-ers in the digital scene; His occasionally sharp, frank ways and unfailing conscientiousness, make Twitter a delight for me.

Mark Jennings, I salute you!

PS I’ve also promised to take him to The Ivy one day and I’m more than happy for this post to be used in evidence against me until I make good on my offer.

PPS Sorry Mark that you get a bit grouchy on Sundays when I tweet about church X

*History has taught me: always bring another ethnic minority to a professional event to use as a decoy/sacrificial offering to the police. Trust me.

**This was a time when being ‘Twitter-famous’ and several thousand ‘followers’ was worthy of something approaching reverence.

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EVENT: #Croydon #TechCity – Thurs Nov 22nd 7.30pm at Matthews Yard

*Updated post*

N.B.  Thurs November 22nd is a follow-up meeting from the first Croydon Tech City event held October 4th (see below to see what was discussed).

On Thurs Nov 22nd:

  • There will be a full presentation of the vision (as below) from 7.30 – 8pm for those who were unable to make the previous event.
  • 8pm onwards there will be a presentation from Croydon Creatives, and extended time for audience feedback and discussion of how to take Croydon Tech City forward.

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The Silicon Valley of South London

Croydon Tech City is a vision of mine in which I wish to see Croydon become a credible player in the European tech scene and an attractive home for digital and creative start-ups.

The aims of the evening are primarily to:

  • Explain why Croydon should commit to this vision
  • Show how I intend to push Croydon Tech City forwards in 2013 
  • Find out how others can help me
  • Learn from any suggestions or criticisms 

The agenda for the night is as follows (although subject to change):

  •  Introduction (with pyrotechnics and laser show, budget permitting)
  • An introduction to Tech City
    • Brief history
    • Notable companies in the area
    • Events and culture
    • Success stories
  • Why Croydon should commit to this vision
    • Matthews Yard
    • Fairfield Halls
    • Examining current local tech cluster
    • Croydon Creatives
    • Commercial office space
    • Residential properties
    • Local culture
  • Q&A (with possible premature escape through the back exit from groupies/irate naysayers)

The event will formally finish at 9pm – although it would be great to carry on the conversation well into the night. Ideally somewhere classy (read: KFC). :)

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Please do come along on Thurs Nov 22nd at 7.30pm, it would be wonderful to have you listen, contribute and shape this vision.

I can be contacted at jonnyrose1 [at] gmail [dot] com or 98rosjon on Twitter.

The crowd at the Oct 4th meeting wanted to meet again to progress the idea! :)

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Matthews Yard – The site of #Croydon’s renaissance

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a MASSIVE advocate of Matthews Yard – a new cafe and workspace behind Surrey Street Market, established by Saif Bonar.

The venue is fast becoming popular with the various denizens of Croydon who have warmed to its urbane cafe culture and spartan style.

As well as organic word-of-mouth from its many patrons, Matthews Yard has also benefitted from the calculated efforts of Hillcrest PR who has continued to gain the venue borough-wide and national exposure, which notably culminated in Autumn 2012 with a visit from the Royal family.

Hillcrest PR dynamo John Lavabre (centre back) introduces Prince Charles to the workspace members of Matthews Yard

The appointment of Alice Cretney – a local artist – has meant that Matthews Yard now plays host to regularly updated arts exhibitions and cultural programmes (something that is dramatically lacking in the borough).

Locals have also formed the ‘Croydon Craft Club’ held on third Tuesday of each month 5.30-8pm. 

Croydon Craft Club in session…

Further compounding this sense of wider community utility is the presence of Croydon Radio – a venture founded by Tim Longhurst – which provides round-the-clock music, comment and personality.

Tim Longhurst and cohort brighten up Croydon’s airwaves (photo source: Inside Croydon)

On Friday and Saturday nights, Matthews Yard has live artists in residence bringing in crowds from across South London.

Temi Odesanya has been appointed in recent months as Matthews Yard’s Community Manager. An enviable role which has seen her boost membership of the workspace as she seeks to make Matthews Yard be at the forefront of Croydon’s social enterprise and collaborative workspace movement:

My affection for this place and the people there is boundless, and I look forward to seeing it continue to improve the social and cultural landscape of the area.

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SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT

On Thursday 24th January 2013 7.30pm at Matthews Yard, myself and others will be speaking on ‘Croydon Tech City’.

We will be detailing:

  • Why Croydon should commit to this vision
  • How we will push Croydon Tech City forwards in 2013 
  • How YOU can help us

PUT THIS IN YOUR DIARY RIGHT NOW. YES, RIGHT NOW. I look forward to seeing you there :)

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StartUp Weekend – Launch a start-up in 54hrs

As I continue to see how I can make Croydon ‘The Second Tech City’ – I have been REALLY inspired by the work of StartUp Weekend.

StartUp Weekends are 54hr events where developers, designers, marketeers, product managers and startup enthusiasts come together to share ideas, form teams, build products and launch start-ups.

Beginning with open mic pitches on Friday, attendees bring their best ideas and inspire others to join their team. Over Saturday and Sunday teams focus on customer development, validating their ideas, practicing LEAN Startup Methodologies and building a minimal viable product. On Sunday evening teams demo their prototypes and receive valuable feedback from a panel of experts.

This is JUST the kind of thing I would love to do in Croydon in Matthews Yard (please do get in contact – see below – if you’d like to help me do one in Summer 2013)

Until then, please do check out this beautifully produced 15min documentary following two entrepreneurs as they go from idea to product in 54hours.

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If you are interested in contributing to my on-going project of making Croydon ‘the Second Tech City’ and  ‘Silicon Valley of South London’, please do introduce yourself to me.

I can be reached on Twitter @98rosjon and by email: jonnyrose1 [at] gmail [dot] com

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jonathanrose:

An article I wrote for Inside Croydon on Croydon’s viability as a credible player in the start-up scene.

Originally posted on Inside Croydon:

As property giants Hammerson and Westfield charge headlong into a £1billion battle for the rights to develop another temple to high street retailing, proud Purley resident JONNY ROSE puts forward an alternative vision for regeneration: the Silicon Valley of South London

Retail is dead, long live the start-up!

The unwelcome news last week that Allders of Croydon is closing comes after a line of other long-established businesses are preparing to flee the borough.

Surprisingly, the council and local government remain in thrall to major retail developers who are promising an economic and cultural Renaissance, if only they can build yet another soulless, identikit multi-storey shopping centre.

These retail developers are well aware of consumer shift from in-store shopping to online purchasing, but those in charge of the 2012-2013 “masterplan” for central Croydon will have long moved on, often perhaps with a golden handshake, when the borough is left with its…

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50 Shades of Dismay

Enjoy this thought-provoking video produced by The River Church, Exeter featuring my colleague at Idio, Dini Muana:

For more on the story behind the video, go here.

 

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