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US Trip – First days in NY

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The first week of our yearly Seedcamp trip to the USA is over, and it was indeed a whirlwind of a visit on the East coast. We left London with a group of 15 – very reminiscent of a class trip back in the days – and met up with the rest of the group in New York City. We had a relaxed weekend in the Big Apple (alternating between shopping opportunities, Carlos’ movie-referenced sight seeing tours, and catching up with local friends), we met up with the New York chapter of the Sandbox network, and got to hear about exciting businesses being built by this extraordinary group of young people.

Dreaming big at NYSE and checking in with open source

While cold rain from all sides tried to stop us, we made our way to the New York Stock Exchange on Monday morning, to hear about the markets history and development, the current operations, and of course the ringing of the Opening Bell (fittingly set off by HomeAway, an internet success story). As the second order of the day, we visited 10gen, the creators of the non-SQL MongoDB data base technology. We received an insightful overview of the companies history, and the peculiarities of being a creator and curator of a very popular open source product (the author of this post would love to delve into technical details discussed in the second half of the meeting, but these were clearly far beyond his understanding, so he took photos of the office dog instead).

The afternoon was spent in a very informative discussion at Foursquare HQ, where founder Dennis Crowley told us about the re-emergence of the NY tech scene, and of course the growth of the company itself (btw, checking into foursquare HQ on Facebook causes iPhones to crash).

A Fat Tuesday at Google and AOL

On Tuesday, we started the day with a typical Seedcamp mentoring session at Google’s new offices (yes, we were allowed to partake in copious amounts of snacks, cookies, and soft drinks, as a visit at Google warrants). We had an impressive line up of local mentors, both from the investment and entrepreneurial community, as well as some Googlers spreading their knowledge. In the afternoon we were guests of the Venture, Corporate, and Business development teams at AOL on the lower east side, getting their helpfully frank views on how to cooperate. “Just tell us precisely what you want to achieve” is about as simple as it gets – thanks again to Mike Brown and his team for hosting us. Seedcamp Alumnus ERPLY sponsored a proper American dinner and supplied the whole crew with fresh cooked burgers afterwards – a good wrap up of a high powered day.

Big Apple, Big offices

On Wednesday morning, we had the pleasure of meeting Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures for a couple of hours, to discuss both the local, european, and international startup ecosystem, his views on the current funding market, and of course feedback on all of the visiting companies. Betaworks was kind enough to host us for this session and made many a founder jealous of their gorgeous offices in the meat packing district. Afterwards, we visited the new hot workspace at General Assembly near Union Square – a glaring display of coolness and style, probably the most thought out startup space we saw on the trip (check out what they are doing in the New York Tech community with events like Music Hack Day and the Foursquare Hackathon).

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