Monday, woke up in Kalk Bay – and not feeling tired! – first day of Spring, 30deg, great weather, Vishoek beach breakfast with Mia and walked the Jager trail along the sea – pretty spectacular walk, drove to Simon’s Town and showed Mia the Just Nuisance statue (the dog), Bolders Beach lookout to see some penguins and a quick beach visit, drove to Noordhoek via Kommetjie and had lunch at Cafe Roux, scenic drive to Somerset West via the coastal road, dropped Mia off at her mom’s house, processed some email at the Stellenbosch gym… full of Spring fitness energy, gym, swim, a sunset walk around Stellenbosch, a glass of wine at Piet’s house, great dinner (the usual medium rare Filet Bernaise) with Al and Paul at Hussar Grill… Paul treated us with a great selection of wine, night cap it Balboa with Al – some plans are in the works for Groovy Troopers in November – good memories of Nov 2012.
“What did you do to make GUST better in London?” — Mia
At some point at Monday’s dinner I got up and went to go ask the loud American tourist next to us if he ever stops talking. It did not help and I just felt a bit bad about this the next day.
Al is moving to Cape Town – Thibault Square branch for work.
I now have two Telegram apps – one for each of my mobile numbers, pretty lame.
I suspect my plan with giving Mia a Casio watch is working well – she now knows every feature and keeps on setting alarms for events.
Paul found his (new) bike from AfrikaBurn – turns out Daniel had it. The boomerang bike.
Constant battle to keep email in one screen while trying to take some time off is not really a break at all.
Tuesday, woke up at Paul’s house in Stellenbosch, last minute rush to get a few things done with a mild headache, swim, sauna, last minute shopping, Mxit visit (to dd new Kanux image to an SD card)… nice to see Gavin, installed Kano at Mia’s school but there is some weird HDMI issue that creates a snowwy image on the screen, dropped Mia at Naulene’s house and said goodbye, Paul gave me a lift to the airport and we had a cool chat about girls – thanks Paul, the low-carb Spur experience, picked up some Sennheiser MM 550-X noise cancelling head phones (over the ear, Bluetooth – no cord for Mia to run over with my chair again), minor moral dilemma about buying Jacques duty free cigarettes, flight to London, watched Xmen Days of Future Past, watched the new Robocop, meh.
You know you travel too much when you specifically look for things like hair gel and mouth wash in less than 100ml containers. Great job guys – we live in an age where you can 3D print a weapon, but you can’t take sunscreen on a flight.
I’ve progressed to gluten-free meals on flight and having a selection of travel plugs. Now I just need the Tumi bag.
Wednesday, woke up somewhere over Europe, watched Fading Gigilo – good movie if you like Woody Allen, long UK border queue (listening to Neelix) – thankfully no snags, Heathrow Express and a District line ride to Whitechapel, day at the office, conference call, my Contactless Barclaycard arrived (small win), a glass of red wine with Werner at Duke’s sharing some war stories and wisdoms about the Techstars experience, had the better part of a bottle of Argentinian Malbec (which hurt a bit the next day) with Jacques.
I think I’ve given up on living anywhere in particular, London, Stellenbosch, Cape Town – as long as I have my laptop and gym bag and some sense of routine.
Thursday, woke up in London, I’ve become that guy that reads all the labels of the yoghurt to see which one has the least sugar inside, Smiley (old school friend) randomly contacted me on FB – he’s now living in Budapest (one less Dvorak typer in SA), business card design, pitch demo discussions, pitch practice, cool founder stories session with Mick from spatch.co.
The solution to just about everything: eat better, get more exercise and work harder.
There seems to be a fair number of people leaving the major startup ecosystems for places like Berlin. Cheaper. Good value. I think Cape Town really needs to market itself in this space.
Jacques on prepping: things you really need in your bunker: Prozac (like 3 million Americans), whiskey and baked beans.
Friday, CEO session with Alex from Hassle.com in Vauxhaul, Macbook PSU died, got a new one, admin and paperwork, after work drinks at Microsoft Ventures and an interesting chat with Brian about PayPass ideas, a Hospital Porter beer at the White Heart Brew Pub with Werner and Brian, low carbed the eat as much as you can Red Dragon Chinese buffet, babies don’t sleep this well.
Saturday, watched the rugby with Jacques and Werner at The Hanbury Arms (only 4 people in the pup, incl staff), braai at the warehouse… we made V for Vendetta eggs in peppers on the braai with some more Argentinian Malbec, braai broodjies, we played with Bruce the local dog, epic nap (over slept a bit), bus ride to Dalston with Jacques and Werner, drinks at Ashley and Angelo’s house… gave her a chilli pot plant, awesome (9 GBP) gin cocktails at Dalston Street Feast Gin Bar… Hendrick, Campari, Vermouth and champagne.
After visiting the epicenter of London Hipster culture (Dalston Street Feast) we figured Jacques needed to go full hipster – he wanted the Brandon Flowers look, so we started shaving his hair – he was not that impressed the next day, but it was pretty funny.
“Now I just need to look like my mom dressed me for Sunday school.” — Jacques about going full hipster.
Mia spent the weekend with Victoria and Johann making a volcano experiment for her show and tell talk. Thanks guys! Also thanks to Georg for the travel. Naulene was not very happy with this arrangement, but I guess she never really enjoyed science experiments.
Sunday, I made a ten egg breakfast, gym, swim, sauna, steam bath, spa, walked around the Angel Carnival with Jacques, Turkish mixed grill at Cafe Gallipoli in Islington, we watched Lucy in 4K on-3D… very entertaining.
Noise cancelling earphones don’t really work so well on the power plate machine.
Jacques says his landlord likes to reminding the German tenants that their grandparents bombed the warehouse in World War 2 when they complain about their roof leaking.
Monday, rainy bank holiday in London, made breakfast with Jacques, bus ride and delayed (first hand luggage only international) flight to Cape Town – extra hour of people watching and trying fragrances in the duty free shops – still like Tom Ford Grey Vetiver, mild panic – at least 6 movies I wanted to see on the plane and I knew I could only fit in 4, watched Divergent.. good movie, and Captain America: Winter Soldier… not bad – big Snowden theme, BA now lets you watch movies even as the plane is busy landing.
Kinda ironic that pretty soon the web (and money) will be decentralised and most sane governments and their people will run Linux rather than MS/Apple OS – all thanks to the NSA.
“Pocket does not work for Preppers.” — Jacques, about his doomsday / Survivalism news reading habits.
Home is where your toothbrush charger is.
Tuesday, woke up somewhere over Africa, Georg fetched me from the airport, good to be back in Cape Town (after being in London for just over two months, nice to drive my car again, fetched Mia from school, great to see her again (5 weeks later), I arrive at Mia’ hockey practice and Mia is the girl playing hockey in her black school shoes… makes me wonder what disasters I’m not seeing, shoe shopping – got her some teal green Adidas trail runners and ended up getting some new Nike’s for myself, Mia assembled her new Kano computer and I gave her the 3D printed models she asked for (letters of her name and the Vader ring), took Mia to swimming lessons… they are learning to swim butterfly at the moment.
Managed to get Naulene an early birthday gift (CK fragrance from duty free), no limes to be found in the Gardens Centre (again!), made some Tanqueray Ten with (home made) mint and lemon grass infused Tonic G&Ts (and biltong – best of both worlds), Van Hunks with Georg and Bianca… who seems to be doing well after a recent breakup, she enjoyed the Albanian story, we sent Andrew a photo of the three of us (see above)… to China where it was 3am.
Wednesday, woke up in Oranjezicht, rainy day in Cape Town, snuggled under a duvet trying to catch up with work, alarm starts beeping, no power, walk down the road in the rain to get Vodacom 3G signal, figure out Standard Bank changed their whole app, walk back to get bank card, 20 questions later buy electricity, figure out the meter is actually off, discover there was a planned power outage and for bonus points try and figure out how to get my car out of the garage and gate with the power off, gym, swim, sauna, teleconference to London, Van Hunks with Georg, Tanya (the friendly waitress), Jessica and Wouter – try the ribs there.
Wouter is keen to do Burning Man 2015.
Thursday, made a 10 egg breakfast, Georg gave me a lift to fetch my car, gym, fetched Mia from school, we got Mia a new swimsuit, took Mia to art class, took Mia to swimming lessons, burger in a bowl at Da Vinci’s with Michael – who switched to the Dvorak keyboard layout recently (legend), kinda watched The General’s Daughter again.
“Ek verkies eintlik om te stap.” — Georg, about the times he chooses to leave his car at Van Hunks.
Generally feeling a lot better after I changed by diet, started cooking at home much more and getting more exercise.
Friday, gym, carpet cleaner day, fetched Mia from school and went to convince her school’s headmaster that I can install Kano at aftercare (very cool guy, also talked about using DuckDuckGo and not Google), fetched HDMI screen from storage, T10 and a leg of lamb roast and a lot of veggies, failed at getting the Raspberry Pi to use RCA video (screen did not have a power cable).
Not going to miss the poor GSM signal in Oranjezicht – which Vodacom was going to have fixed two months ago.
Saturday, morning cartoons, some packing (Georg was moving out), Oranjezicth City Farm visit – fresh juices and a green smoothie, drove to Kalk Bay via Boyes drive with Mia, book shop browsing, charcuterie platter and a glass of Chardonnay in the (almost Spring) sun at The Annex, a walk around the harbour, back to the (Kalk Bay) guest house to meet Johannes and Victoria, sunset Hendriks G&T’s with cucumber at Harbour House, back to the The Annex for supper… very nice Yellowtail and Sutherland Pinot Noir, sing along session to the Matilda soundtrack at home.
Sunday, woke up in Kalk Bay, breakfast at Olympia Cafe with Mia, Johann and Victoria, awesome weather, a walk along the harbour and up to St James (Danger Beach), cinnamon and pistachio ice cream at the local ice cream shop, drove to Builder’s Warehouse (singing along to Patricia – Chris de Burgh) to get a kettle cord for for an LCD/HDMI screen to get Kano working – gave Mia the full Kano/Linux experience – it failed to boot – ended up mounting the file system from my Mac and deleting a lock file it was complaining about but the whole thing ended in a fsck that would not complete – joy, bumped into Lara, sunset walk around Kalk Bay, calamari and hake at The Brass Bell (right on the water – played with Hyperloop app), a stroll around the harbour, told Mia the story of how the harbour dolosse got their name, we shared a trio of sorbet and creme brulee desserts at Harbour House.
Farming is the new open source.
Mia can now count in Roman numerals and she knows all the months of the year.
And when I grow up,
I will eat sweets every day,
On the way to work, and I will
Go to bed late every night.
And I will wake up
When the sun comes up, and I
Will watch cartoons until my eyes go square,
And I won’t care ’cause I’ll be all grown up.
I will have treats every day,
And I’ll play with things that mum pretends
That mums don’t think are fun.
Monday, up early, gym and swim with Jacques, took a Boris Bike (Barclays + TfL bike) to work, uneventful day.
The gym has a swimming costume drying machine: pretty cool.
Boris Bike: not the best experience, has 3 gears, tricky to get in and out of the bike rack, very bad touch screen to scroll through t&c’s you’re not going to be able to read with the glare from the screen – not trivial to know if they bike was locked into the next stand, 300GBP if not (use a pre-paid card).
Good idea to start reading the Techstars book (Do More Faster) while at Techstars. Reading it before the programme would be even better.
It was time to start the SleekGeek Reboot diet again.
Tuesday, gym, swim, spa, painful rush hour tube ride from Angel to work, wrote a new boiler plate / intro for GUST, met the SendGrid guys again, nice video Skype chat with Mia walking home from the train station (4G is pretty cool), a sunset run along the Regent’s Canal.
“Do what you are most passionate about. If you have more passion for another business, do that.” — from the David Cohen investment workshop
Started eating raw broccoli – we have no steamer at home and I’m not planning on using a microwave.
Wednesday, gym, swim, took the (hybrid) bus to work – always a bit weird when the engine stops – walked the last 30min – just because, awesome Techstars CEO breakfast by Alex from Hassle.com (very inspirational), strategy workshop, Skype chat with Mia (teaching her to count in Roman numerals – “like the Star Wars movies”), pitch design session with Greg and Werner, took the train home and made paleo burgers (with big mushrooms) – Jacques’ Sleekgeek diet seems to include lots of whiskey.
From Alex’s talk: “stick to what you really want to do and what people really want, when multiple things go wrong – pick one thing to fix, have fun, take pictures… because this is an awesome journey – people often forget that.”
“Nobody knows anything.” — Alex, the Ellen Ripley of the London tech startup scene.
“I’ve realised that three days is the limit for not showering in a corporate environment.” — Jacques
Thursday, gym, bus and walk to work, corporate banking meeting, met up with Paul at Embankment, a catch-up beer around South Bank – seems Paul has been seeing somebody for two months, walked around Leicester Square and Soho, caught the last round deadline at Duke’s Brew.
“Well then… long term, is the wrong term.” — Paul
Friday, ordered a Contactless card from Barclays and fetched a bank statement to get a Coinfloor account, turns out my credit score in the UK is not yet good enough for Lloyds to give me a Contactless Debit card – strange policy, Skype chat with Mia – she asked for a 3D print of her name, got a KANO pre-release kit for Mia… (they moved into the Central Working offices just below us)… just had to test it – managed to log in and reset it again, designed (and printed) my first 3D model… not trivial replacing the filament in the printer and Setchup is not a great app, ended up opting out of a house party thing with Paul and had supper with Jacques.
Naulene finally managed to install Telegram on her phone – so I could send her the first text message since she left London a few weeks ago. iMessage seems to be too hard to get working.
Saturday, I made a big breakfast, 55minute call to EE to have a copper line ordered for Jacques’ “fibre” broadband – very bad VoIP line to India – first world customer service at its best – I’m pretty sure most of their support staff have no idea how FTTC/VDSL works, fixed Jacques’ bike and got a bike helmet around Hoxton – time to cycle more, nap, gym, swim, spa, sunset (~210kg on a) Vespa ride across Tower Bridge (nice views) to The Orange Bull pub in Canada Water (the ex very South African Aardvark pub), watched the rugby – pretty lame game and to be honest the whole SA pub in London thing was a bit sad, low carbed the eat as much as you can Chinese buffet at Wings Buffet and conversations about Prepping / Survivalism.
Sunday, figured it was time to explore a different gym – Islington: Essex Road, made a pretty creative paleo burger lunch with Jacques, ended up skipping the Notting Hill Carnival and visited the office – to make backups and get some new (gym) earphones and put the Cosmos series on my iPad, bought my first two beers with Bitcoin (Hive wallet for iOS) at The Proud Archivist near Haggerston Station – well, technically I bought a milkshake with rum for 0.0214 XBT but because of the terrible hipster service it never arrived so we had some beers – I later got the milkshake for free, another meat platter Sunday at Duke Brew with Jacques, 12h sleep.
“This city is three meals away from a riot.” — Jacques
“Hipsters is sluipers.” — Jacques (Stellenbosch res lingo).
For the record, we are the first South African startup in Techstars at the first Barclays Accelerator – took us a while to confirm this.
I think it’s safe to say that at this point we lost pretty much all forward momentum and started thinking Techstars might end before we have a UK bank account open.
Monday, walked to work (takes about 50min along the scenic route), we finally managed to get a bank account number, Skype chat with Mia, pitch practice afternoon, walked home, sunset run along Regent’s Canal.
It’s starting to get a bit colder in London again.
This weekly Monday pitch routine really does not suit my way of working… when writing a weekly blog post keeps me sane.
Tuesday, walked to work – starting to enjoy this (good pitch practice time), opened a Barclays personal bank account, video planning meeting, free lunch, workshop about using Gust in Spain, rainy walk home, worked on KPI4.
Not sure if this is an email you want to receive from the school shrink: “In her emotional literacy exercise Mia indicates that she feels angry, rebellious, disappointed, disbelieving in others, curious, frustrated, happy, restless, lonely, sad, suspicious and rejected. It is not unusual or negative to have so many emotions, it is positive that she can identify with so many. My main concern is that she is bottling her harder feelings and this manifests in feeling frustrated or cut-off from others. In her colour my life exercise her dominant emotion is happy with small quantities of loved, jealous, excited and sad. Mia is a kind girl and shows a maturity above those of her peers.”
About public speaking – you really need to get excited about your pitch and you need some forward momentum for that. It’s safe to say I like product design and complexity and creativity and writing more than drama.
About doing epic shit and being awesome: It’s hard doing epic shit day by day. I think the trick is to feel that you are doing epic shit at least every three months. Take photos, write blog posts. Get perspective.
Wednesday, walked to work in 40min (the optimal route), very cool ideation session with the Barclays design office guys – they seem to like the ideas behind TrustFabric, free lunch again, finally signed the Techstars investment docs, kinda missed the go karting team building thing (had the wrong shoes), nice walk home.
“In retail – all that’s left after eEommerce is relationships and experiences.”
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!” — HST
Thursday, walked to work via the Regent’s canal (not the shortest route, but very pretty), finally got our Techstars money, mentorship call, very cool (teleconference) investment workshop by David Cohen, KPI evening.
“50k USD for a 6 minute pitch. Not a bad hourly rate.” — Jacques
2004 was awesome, I have a good feeling about 2014.
Friday, mostly struggled to get online banking working, Werner flew to Cape Town.
Techstars is a pilgrimage to meaning. Find the fundamentals. First principles. Do you really want to build this? Do people really want what you are building? The trick is to find inspiration from this. Causality, kids.
Maybe Techstars is not supposed to be fun, it’s supposed to be an adventure.
“This is not checkers; this is mutherfucking chess.” Technology businesses tend to be extremely complex. The underlying technology moves, the competition moves, the market moves, the people move. As a result, like playing three-dimensional chess on Star Trek, there is always a move.” — from The Struggle
Saturday, installed Hive Wallet for Jacques and sent him his first Bitcoin using Waggle (geofence) – somebody that reads that much Zero Hedge needs to own some Bitcoin, watched Dawn of the Planet of the Apes in Angel, 3D + 4k… pretty boring, missed the rugby. I made gourmet burgers, watched 2 Guns… entertaining.
Sunday, I made breakfast (Jacques figures I’ll do well at being a house husband since I can cook and I like photography), gym, very hipster pulled pork, beef and pork ribs and beer at Duke’s Brew with Jacques, watched Spark on Netflix – a Burning Man story… watch it, booked a flight to SA.
Joined the gym, VA in Angel. Nice pool.
“Go big, or go home.” — Jacques
“Hipsters: metrosexuals with cave man ambitions.” — Jacques
It’s not about the money, it’s about the experience.
New record in delayed posts… almost 5 weeks late. I was kinda busy.
The week of 4-10 August. Techstars week 8.
Really hope I’m going to be laughing about this post at some point.
This guy… made me think I need to update me /history page again. I remember discovering his homepage early 2000 – great inspiration for personal home pages and photography from these people – so sad it’s a dying thing (personal home pages). Go read this and start your own, don’t delay.
Monday, we found some biltong in Tesco, a long pitch practice session – I actually enjoyed this session – at some point I guess I had to simply realised I’m here to open a bank account and make a 6 minute pitch, evening run along the Regent’s canal, pizza at the not-hipster place in Hoxton with Jacques and Werner, we walked home with a beer in hand (drinking beer in public is not a thing when you live under a rain cloud), watched some V (the new series).
Pitch tips for the day: Louder. Shorter sentences. More engagement with the audience. Be in the moment. Have fun. Breath.
Jacques is very unhappy that his VHS tape with the old V series ending broke before he managed to see the end and the new V series was cancelled due to political pressure… and somebody never returned his Return of the Jedi VHS tape. We really did watch that thing a lot – good memories.
“The New New Man is perhaps a better father than a husband. He loves his children with a passion that frightens him.” — January 2009 GQ, sometimes quotes are good enough to be recycled… starting to really miss Mia.
I asked Jacques if they ever have parties in the warehouse – turns out Pete Doherty (of Kate Moss fame) wrote on Jacques’ unit’s wall with his own blood (Sideshow Bob style) – I can confirm this – he was seeing a punk rock star girl that used to live in the place we are staying now. I guess that’s a yes.
“It’s not uncommon for tech startups to fail before they managed to open a bank account in the UK.”
Tuesday, very positive meeting with Roy, dev team masterclass by Phil from Osper, Skype meeting back to SA, late afternoon founder story session, admin and reading legal docs, sunset walk along Regent’s Canal, stir fry night with Jacques.
I think I’m starting to like London. Could get used to living in two places. London has been a pretty cool adventure so far.
“You may very well be the first… and last South African company we let into Techstars.” — Greg.
Wednesday, we started showering at work – Jacques’ landlord removed the pipe to his shower, Techstars CEO group meeting, Skype chat with Mia – she seems to like their new astroturf hockey field and they seem to still suck at netball (which is probably not a bad thing) – she also seems very interested in 3D printing after our Science Museum visit, I’m going to print her a Darth Vader ring this week, I pitched her a business idea which she’s going to research – start them young, good afternoon pitch design session with Greg – the new story line is big and I’m happy with it, Mexican beers and tapas with (boy band) Dan at Las Iguanas around South Bank – good to catch up.
Finally received our Gust UK tax number, so we can start the SEIS pre-approval process (nice tax break for UK angel investors).
Mia and her siblings have started swimming lessons again – I’m very happy. She has to swim butterfly in the coming season.
This bank account BS is impacting KPI4.
“How to kill feminism: make them CEOs, make them work long hours and tell them they can’t see their kids.” — Jacques
Thursday, data insights masterclass (sad story about bankers getting an average 80k GBP/yr salary in Canary Wharf warping their assumptions about what people really want and need), pulled my hair about about getting a bank account – still, teleconference about an opportunity in Spain, printed my first 3D model (Darth Vader ring – for Mia), lunch with Barclaycard digital guys, demo for Mike, GUST Pay demo at KPI evening (at Techstars alumni drinks), printed my 2nd and 3rd (failed) 3D models… Han Solo in Carbonite iPhone cover and Flight Club soap dish – temperamental little printer (wrong filament I discovered later).
“You guys are going to need some major air cover.” — about working with big banks.
Friday, and then, the shower at work stopped working, Techstars accounting masterclass (turns out there is tax break for buying employees bikes), hacking and editing an anti-money laundering (AML) policy document, we told Simon than if we don’t get a bank account soon we’re going to have to walk to work on Monday, but we kinda miscalculated, no money to take the train home – so we walked home via Brick Lane, we’ll more like we walked to Silicon Drinkabout, no free beer this week – which made it very boring, got the free sticker and walked home, spotted this Nike poster around Shoreditch saying “Risk Everything”, meh, and then Netflix died on the Xbox so we kinda watched About Time again and ate raw veggie snacks with some 5GBP Californian Merlot, more than one whiskey with Jacques and his German lesbian neighbour – no judo in front of the building CCTV system this time… I suspect Jacques is afraid of her.
Tech startup adventure level 9: no travel credits, no bank account, no shower, no mineral water, no mattress, no voice minutes, no Netflix, no fibre broadband. Pondering asking for Bitcoin donations while in a fintech startup programme. The irony.
“High five! looks like guys are going to be the first startup in the Barclays Accelerator to successfully open a bank account.” — after we completed our AML doc.
Jacques thought this whole thing was very funny and he feels bad that he’s not allowing us to experience the whole tech startup experience – being homeless.
Jacques came home with a story of his Italian friend who had to pay 300 GBP after he failed to park his Boris bike properly and they took 300 GBP off his credit card.
Have you seen the ZAR/GBP exchange lately? For the record it was 18:1 at this point.
It’s pretty cool to be in London in the summer, but trying to get things done is tricky, everybody is going on holiday.
“BANKERS LOVE CAPITAL LETTERS IN LEGAL DOCUMENTS” — Simon
Some days I hope I’m just leaving enough cryptic notes on this blog to write a good Paul Carr-like story about all my adventures.
Jacques has this theory that Omega6 in french fries are making humans dumber. Woman store Omega3 in their hips, which is essential for a child’s brain development, but their bodies now store more Omega6.
Saturday, I made breakfast, watched Now You See Me again, watched The Secret Life of Walter Mitty… great story – makes you want to travel more, train ride to Oxford with Jacques, a braai with Jacques, JJ and Thomas, I braai’d (Georg will be proud) – first time I had salmon on a braai… conversations about urban farming (all the veg at the braai was home grown) and fibre networks for transport systems (Thomas has a PhD related to fibre optics).
Turns out you’ll have constant wifi on the London underground in the next two years.
I think I’m starting to have fantasies about getting into a gym routine or just getting on a spinning bike.
Sunday, rainy touristy photography walk around Oxford with Jacques, JJ and Thomas, a beer at the Turf Tavern (of Bill Clinton dope smoking fame), a stroll around the Oxford University Natural History Museum, a few beers and Bitcoin conversations on the train ride to London, some (failed) agile KPI4 adventure planning, Chinese buffet and a canal walk home, photo processing while watching Pain and Gain again.. epic as always – made me want to go to the gym – “I need to get a pump”.
“Look, when this is over we’ll all go camping, all right?” — Daniel Lugo, Pain and Gain
Entrepreneurs really don’t like ceilings.
I think everybody needs a No Media Sunday (no FB/Twitter) policy.
Jacques seems happy with my new more Gonzo writing.
Monday, first day Jan joined us in the office (you can expect a new version of the GUST Pay/PayPoint apps soon), quick Skype chat with Mia, very pretty sunset walk along the Regent Canal towards Islington, Jacques and I made stir fry.
Week 7 of Techstars (week 6 for us), week 6 of trying to get a UK bank account opened for Gust.
Tuesday, Skype meeting with Jon from the Techstars London programme, a curry in Whitechapel with Jan and Werner, the rest of the day pretty much sucked while I pulled out my hair trying to get a bank account open and finishing the admin crap to try and get access to our Techstars investment – add to that we had some more bad news about our visa requirements to get the UK Tier1 Entrepreneur visas – a blog post with hints and tips about avoiding this stuff to follow soon.
I have this theory that Skype chats should be capped at 20min, even though they are free.
Wednesday, important meeting with Barclaycard Spain and Portugal in Canary Wharf with Jan and Werner, afternoon Skype chat with Mia, worked late – email scrubbing.
I did a 30min pitch for a room full of bankers today – exco of two European countries. Made me think of this quote: “The way it works is, you do the thing you’re scared shitless of, and you get the courage AFTER you do it, not before you do it.” — Archie Gates, Three Kings.
Starting a company from scratch in a different country involves a fair bit of new things to learn and figure out.
Boy bands and tech-idols – Jacques’ latest series of morning jokes about tech startups.
Thursday, video production meeting, mentoring call with Mike, KPI evening, more than one beer at the local pub (The White Heart) with Nick and the guys from 90seconds.tv.
“Africa for beginners.” — Georgi about South Africa.
Friday, (mildly hung over) pitch planning session with Greg, more bank account red tape, Brainstorm magazine interview, Skype meeting (to Canada) about NFC devices with David, mentoring meeting with Brian, Silicon Drinkabout… a bit lame and nerdy this week, walked home and had a long chat with Jacques covering topics like the Israel conflict, a comprehensive bible history lesson and the Stonecutters 2012 Olympic symbols, The Haggerston pub in Dalston, now we know their closing time.
Mia was named Artist of the Week for her “The Firebird” painting in the school newsletter.
Saturday, breakfast with Jacques around Islington, epic nap, braai with Jacques, Werner and Kevin (who was 9yo, when living in Berlin, the wall came down) at the warehouse with some 5GBP Californian Merlot, had banana cooked in its skin for the first time, chilli butter corn on the cob on the braai, a guy from the guitar workshop next door played some Bob Dylan for us: You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go – love this version, we watched Forrest Gump again… (sorry of a guy getting out of the friend zone), watched The Matrix Reloaded – good entertainment, all in all a great summers day.
Turns out Jacques is officially counted as being of Jedi religious beliefs – in the UK.
London: too much time to think while walking everywhere…
This post is a bit late, it’s from the week of 21 to 27 July.
Monday, opened a personal back account at Lloyds – seems to be the one with the least KYC issues, pitch practice day, took a long walk along Regent Canal to Victoria park – to be honest I was a bit tired of Techstars and I needed to figure out how to make it fun again.
I always thought I’d be a journalist if I was born 100 years ago (before the current tech industries were an option). Greg said something interesting in his founders story last week. When you ask a writer: “Why do you do it?”… they usually say: “I just have to.” – being a writer or an entrepreneur is often frustrating and painful – but some people just don’t know what else to do.
Tuesday, Techstars office hours, general plotting, planning and reading, long’ish meeting with Greg, researched 3- and 4-party payment systems, we found a pretty good non-hipster pizza place around Hoxton.
Wednesday, Jacques got back from Italy, CEO group meeting with Alick from Osper… very cool product, Skype chat with Pieter in Bali about new Bitcoin payment tech, Techstars office hours, salad, pasta and a 5GBP bottle of Californian Merlot.
I came up with a business idea for Mia – kinda like The Royal Tenenbaums dalmatian mice – I still need to tell her about it.
“When I’m not at Burning Man, I do the tech accelerator circuit.” — little inside joke from the office this week.
Thursday, Techstars ~photo shoot, admin and more admin (updated some domains and an SSL cert), registered TrustFabric Limited (UK) and Gust Payments Limited (UK), Techstars KPI evening, upgraded and backed up two Linodes (free upgrade, 64bit, double the memory and space now).
Friday, VC meeting, business banker meeting, a beer with Sonja (who I have not seen in ages) and Jacques near Blackfriars – nice summer vibe out side the pub (see photo above), attended my first Silicon Drinkabout at Bold Rocket near Old Street… good fun, free (MVPA) beer – I can see where Paul Carr got his material, doner kebab wrap with Jacques, black cab home, Werner showed Jacques a few judo moves – which we watched on the building’s CCTV system the next day… Jacques actually won the hallway battle when Werner’s arms were tied behind his back.
London is Coruscant.
Jacques’ 40Mbps fibre turned out to be VDSL / FTTC (fibre to the curb). False advertising if you ask me.
Saturday, I now almost have a proof of address in the UK – my Lloyds bank (contactless-less) debit card arrived, Jacques made breakfast, kinda watched some Game of Thrones S4 while tinkering with LinkedIn, a braai at the warehouse with Werner and Jacques, 10h sleep.
It was time to update my LinkedIn profile, here is the new upgraded one. 840 connections now. Still can’t say I like using it, but maybe it needs a bit more attention in future.
Sunday, Brick Lane Market adventure with Ashley and Olivia, browsed some vinyl and bought a vintage 70s Hawaiian shirt, my first English BBQ around the Leytonstone area, Skype chat with Mia, Jan arrived in London, a beer with Jan and Werner at The Old Blue Last, walked home, a New York hot dog with mustard and sauerkraut at Red Dog American Sandwiches around Shoreditch with Jacques followed by a drink at The Blues Kitchen.
It’s not really doing so well with the “less detail, more gonzo” plan, sorry Jacques.
Monday, day at the office, master class about share options, KS video meeting, pitch practice afternoon, got out of the office at 22:00ish, not proud of it, but it was time for our first London Burger King visit.
Latency from my desk to my personal (mail/web) server: 5ms – not bad.
Tuesday, Datacash meeting with Brian, teleconference about a project in Spain, we walked home, hipster food truck burritos at The Shoreditch Food Village, watched some House of Cards… getting pretty boring.
Mia went to visit her great gran in Somerset on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Pro tip: you generally want to avoid the Central Line (tube) – very congested.
“if that’s your geek?” — if that’s your interest/passion
Wednesday, Techstars master class about KYC regulation, interesting meeting with Susan from the Barclays Group Design Office, meeting with the ClickVid guys, deep dive session with Greg, Jess and Mark, walked home, (kinda meh) pizza around Shoreditch High Street, watched parts of Dexter while processing photos… can’t say I like it.
Thursday, had lunch with Mia and Naulene at Blueprint Cafe (above the Design Museum), Mia and Naulene visited the Design Museum, Barclaycard meeting at One Churchill Place in Canary Wharf with Werner and Greg… impressive building, KPI (read: beer) evening at Techstars, Greg’s founders story… great story, Werner introduced me to Breaking Bad.
“One absolute rule: no assholes in my company.” — from Greg’s founder story
I suspect the general lack of exercise (other than walking) over the last six weeks is starting to get me down.
Friday, Mastercard Labs meeting, train ride to Hampstead Heath to meet Mia, Naulene and Olwyn – minor sense of humour failure with Naulene, finished a bag of fresh cherries with Mia, two hours of travelling to get back home, get our tickets, get dressed and arrive at Matilda The Musical just in time… brilliant show, Mia loved it – we had 2 of only 4 box seats in the theatre (last minute booking luck), we took a stroll through a lively and brightly lit Leicester Square and China Town with a late night snack – nice to get a little bit of rain after probably the hottest summers day so far.
Hampstead Heath was nice to see, but after taking the afternoon off to spend with Mia I was far from impressed with Naulene and her sister spending almost two hours with Mia in the woman’s only swimming area – and not answering her phone.
Three weeks later, still waiting for the bank to open an account for Gust Pay to get access to our Techstars funding. Yes, the fun does not stop at getting a visa, kids…
“We’re not always open, but we’re always doing business.” — The line I use when Jacques complains that I seem to never work.
“Praat kak met die diere.”– about conversations close to the edges of the bell curve of truth.
Saturday, some morning cartoons, fresh blueberry and blackberry breakfast, Portobello Road Market with Mia, some vegetarian food for lunch, a bag of fresh cherries and crepes, frogurt in Notting Hill, the Victoria and Alfred Museum… impressive, Sensational Butterflies exhibit, National History Museum… the express tour till closing time (it was very busy earlier in the day), we shared a pizza around South Kensington, taught Mia the months of the year on the train ride home, some packing for her trip home.
We skipped Lego Land and we never took a boat ride on the Thames, but I think our tourism adventures were pretty successful over the last two weekends. One iPhone charge is not enough for a touristy day out navigating London… compass and a willing accomplice.
“A pound in money or a pound in weight?” — o/h at the Portobello Market
“TV is old fashioned.” — Mia, about TV vs. computers
Sunday, up early, a few sad goodbyes and some tears, Mia and Naulene took a mini-cab to the airport (Mia’s first ride in an electric car) and took the day-flight to Cape Town via Amsterdam, a day at the office, got some supper from Tesco without any humans behind the check-out counter, read through my RSS feeds for the first time in a while, watched some Top Gear – Polar special.
Self checkout is actually pretty cool – even better with tap & go / contactless payments – the future is here…
Monday, started using wristbands for access control at the office, mentoring and pitch practice afternoon, Thai green curry around Whitechapel with Greg and Werner – long day.
“nerd catnip” — about Arduino and similar devices.
Tuesday, mentor day, booked a flight for Mia to visit London, pitched Gust Pay to the Barclays Group CEOs, attended a very cool B2B sales master class, weird hitpster pizza with broccoli in Islington.
Techstars: Disney World for tech startup geeks. I get the feeling 3 months is going to feel very short by the end.
Wednesday, Naulene left me a voicemail message to say she’s not bringing Mia to London anymore, a bit late to get to the office – had to run the last stretch… to find out our first mentor was late, Naulene changed her mind (again), Skype chat with Mia, long day at the office.
“Adults are obsolete children.” — Dr. Seuss
“Lone Ranger time… 9:50.”
Thursday, the last Techstars mentor day – finally, ~80 x 20min sessions done in three weeks, fetched Mia from London City Airport and had lunch with her, haircut at a local barber – 13GBP (R240) but, A+ for attention to detail, KPI / “all hands” evening at the office, an evening walk along Regent canal with Mia.
After a recent conversation and a recent birthday – I’ve been thinking, it’s probably not a bad idea to have a new sense of urgency for getting a few things done – the usual suspects: career, travel, a few brothers and sisters for Mia maybe, and I might even have to resign my membership from the league of emotionally unavailable gentleman – and not to screw it up again.
Friday, very cool mentoring session with Brian – geeked out on learning about card payment networks (x25 payment protocols etc), three Skype meetings, Mia and her mom visited the Tate Modern and got some tickets for Matilda around Covent Garden, met Mia and Naulene around Holburn station, we ate a whole bag of huge cherries (yum), took a long walk along the North Bank of the Thames, lupper by Tower Bridge, quick visit from Olwyn and Milk.
UK prepaid mobile services suck, T-Mobile, Orange and EE all had issues when starting to use them.
Saturday, a hot summers day, Hamleys with Mia… all 5 floors from the top – the life size Stormtrooper Lego was pretty cool, a walk down Regent st… what happened to the National Geographic shop?, took the mandatory tourist Piccalilli Circus photo, Big Bus (open top) tour, ice cream, home made burgers with Werner.
Sunday, another hot summers day, London Eye with Mia… good fun, London Sea Life Aquarium, open top bus ride to South Kensington, Science Museum, took a photo of the first (NEXT cube at Cern) web server, scones and cream and jam snack, 3D IMAX movie (nerd catnip level 9) with a big bag of popcorn… “The Hidden Universe” – a pretty epic documentary about astronomy, open top bus ride to Marble Arch, Naulene fetched Mia, watched the soccer with Werner at a local pub.
Loom Twisters seems to be all the rage. Seems to even distract from taking in the views of the London Eye.
The cluster of (free) museums in South Kensington is awesome – would be easy to spend a few weekends there.
I have this theory that a fear of heights, fear of flying and the fear of public speaking comes and goes. My fear of heights: all time low after that 30m high crane at BST and London Eye), fear of flying: way better than about 5 years ago: fear of public speaking: probably increased over the last 3 years – or maybe I’m just starting to pay more attention to what it takes to be good at it.
Progress on (what Werner affectionately calls:) KPI No4 has been a bit slow this week.
Monday, death by mentoring, we learnt about the “the bell curve of truth”, pitch practice session, loooong day, walked home and had pulled pork tacos along the way at Chilango, watched more True Detective – it grows on you.
Tuesday, moar Techstars mentoring, first meeting with the Barclaycard Contactless/NFC team, signed up for a bPayband, inbox zero (!, for the first time this year), left the office at around 22:00 (just before it got dark), True Detective.
I’ve come to conclusion that Naulene is a simply bad person. I can’t work out any other reason for her not letting me communicate with Mia while I’m in London. It’s been three weeks and she can’t get her iMessage working or install Telegram. Mia has an iPad with 3G data and headphones. She has Skype and Telegram and she knows how to use these. Naulene just does not want to make any effort to let us communicate and keeps the iPad from Mia.
Wednesday, a non-mentoring day, less of a blur – sketched a few new NFC related ideas on the white board, managed to get an intro to some Mastercard people, got some VIP invites to an event in Hyde Park, Barclaycard social event after work… pulled pork mini burgers and French Chardonnay, we left the office early (20:00ish), watched the end of True Detective.
Thursday, mentor day, made my first iZettle payment, finally managed to have a Skype chat with Mia – she found and took the iPad, Techstars KPI review and (hack)associate meeting.
Seems Techstars “mentor madness” is a actually a thing. A washing machine of ideas. 80 x 20min sessions over three weeks.
Friday, my birthday, mentor day, Tony gave us a tour of the rest of the Central Working space, some market research: watched Soundgarden and Black Sabbath at British Summer Time in Hyde Park with Werner and Jordan, took a tour of the festival and looked at all the bpayband infrastructure, bought some strawberries and cream with my wristband, spent 15min strapped to the #betterview bar, hanging from a crane, 30m above the concert… nice views, we met a few guys doing payments in Asia at the Rosewood hotel, fun day.
Going to a rock concert as a VIP guest is a fairly different experience to the usual mayhem of a concert.
“Global economies are on the cusp of a ‘third-wave industrial revolution’ in which enterprising, young innovators will play a central role. The rise of ‘micro-multinationals’ – start-ups which operate across high- and low-cost locations, delivering to an international customer base exemplifies the opportunities wrought by globalisation, digital communications and the internet.” — The Economist
Saturday, Jacques left for Rome, breakfast at the hipster restaurant just below our office, some photo processing at the office with the CoderDojo kids running around, walked home (about 40min), made my first wristband payment outside of a festival (at Tesco), kinda watched Doom on Netflix… meh.
Sunday, Covent Garden, Green Park, watched the Wimbledon finals with some Pimm’s and Lemonade around Kings Road with Ashley, we took the train to Richmond, fish and chips at The White Cross pub, beautiful area, nice walk along the Thames until we encountered some heavy rain, train ride and a walk along Regents canal home, great day.
Pro tip: don’t arrange to meet people in the underground without GSM/wifi signal. Also, have a look at the “Citimapper” app.
Monday, last minute backups, Georg dropped me off at the airport, flight to Joburg with Werner, Gautrain to Sandton, fetched our passports… which now contain UK prospective entrepreneur visas – all kinds of happy, a late breakfast with Anton in Sandton City, evening flight to London.
Catching a flight to go live in another country is a bit like getting out of a shower on a winter’s day – as soon as you turn off the tap you just have to get on with the day.
Looks like Georg will be going to Ireland (for 4 years) after all.
ERnst has quit his weekly blogging. I’m not sure how I feel about this.
“Formidable, charismatic, relentless.” — Three words you need to understand for the tech startup game.
Tuesday, woke up somewhere over north Africa, managed to make it through UK border control with only a 10min Q&A – this time they apologised for the previous experience and deleted the entry refusal flag from my profile, first day at Techstars, walked right into our first mentoring session at the Barclays Accelerator offices, warm welcome, good fun, we took a bus to Jacques’s house (Islington area), traditional fish and chips for dinner.
Wednesday, bus ride to the office, stayed until 21:00ish, Overland train to Shoreditch, a few drinks at the Softlayer party (to launch their new DC in London), Jacques showed me Grand Theft Auto 5.
“That’s why you’re in a startup, you do what needs to get done.” — Werner
Thursday, Overland train to the office (much quicker than the bus), another mentor day, investigated UHF RFID tags, we started building a new website for Gust Pay, took a walk towards the East of London and had a kebab, watched some True Detective… Anton recommended it, pretty good.
Friday, a very good day of Techstars mentoring, lunch at Dirtyburger down the road, picked up new SIM cards, out and about with Jacques and some Guinness at two local pubs.
“Do you have a British passport?” — Jacques’ pickup line for the evening… he’s on a mission to find me a wife it seems.
After a night out Werner is now known as Will – makes introductions a bit easier.
Saturday, used Airdrop between two iPhones for the first time, a walk along Regents Canal, a Mexican breakfast and a Bloody Mary with Jacques, got a new 4GEE SIM and Jacques ordered 40Mbps fibre (for 28 GBP/m) in Oxford Street, lunch at Wasabi, walked around the Camden Town market… the Cyberdog shop is pretty crazy, The Worlds End pub, a drink at After Midnight in Angel, watched Dallas Buyers Club… good movie.
Good to catch up with Jacques.
Jacques thinks my blog should be more Gonzo. “Less detail more Gonzo.” I’ll work on that.
Don’t phone me on my SA mobile number, I now have a UK (EE) number.
First world problem: not being able to finish watching a morning movie on the plane and having to forward though it for about 10 minutes on the next flight.
Sunday, Jacques made us breakfast, watched some House of Cards, I took a walk through Shoreditch Park and Rosemary Garden, Vespa ride to Old Street for a Doner Kebab and a (plain) yoghurt drink with Jacques, photo processing, watched more True Detective.
“I revised the parameters of my promise.” — House of Cards