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The Kindness of Strangers

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Everyone keeps saying that Seedcamp is keeping a pretty hectic travel schedule over the 2-3 months as we continue to talk about SC and entrepreneurship. One of the side effects is that you lose track of time and space which make you feel pretty confident that you’re losing your mind. 3 days ago I headed out at 5am from London only realizing I forgot any form of money (cash, cards, everything) when I had to pay Ahmad for the taxi at the airport. Ahmad kindly paid his company for my taxi (not a small amount) and put trust that I’d pay him when I got back. All I could do was smile sheepishly and say there was no way I could pay him.

Armed with only a passport and every form of technical equipment I left on a 3 day trip across 3 cities. Suffice it to say I couldn’t buy anything on the Ryan Air flight so I was pretty hungry when I got to Gothenberg. Stepped into a taxi and Anders of Tablefinder met me at the front of the building and off course had to pay for me. He very kindly lent me money (it’s really wrong for an investor to be taking money from an entrepreneur) for the rest of my 2 days but I knew I had to watch that pretty carefully. Rest of the day was spent on talking to students at Chalmers about SC and meeting several start-ups working on cancer vaccines and on some cool new touch screen applications. Thanks to John for a farewell drink. Got on a train to Stockholm and paranoid about the money situation I strived to conserve. Delayed by 3 hours on a 3 hour journey you can imagine my excitement when the girl sitting opposite me offered me half her food at 1am. Somehow she must have seen the starvation in my eyes. Funny how good everything tastes when you’re desperate.

Luckily for the power of technology my hotel was already paid for through Expedia and the guy forgot to ask me for a credit card so I got off pretty easy. Thinking breakfast was included I ate as much as possible in case I couldn’t get food again. The Seedcamp panel session at the Innovation & Technology conference went really well and over the course of two days I learned a lot more about the challenges Swedish entrepreneurs face in building an ecosystem and raising funding at the early stage. Kept dinner pretty cheap but hit a major panic button the next morning when I discovered breakfast was extra. Luckily I had been frugal so I was able to pay the extra cost and still managed to have some money to get to the airport.

Had emailed the organizers of the Zagreb Web.Start conference explaining my predicament. Nikola (future star entrepreneur) picked me up at the airport and as I explained the story he committed to take me everywhere the rest of my stay, which fortunately only involved 1 trip to the airport. And thanks to Ondrej I even ended up making money as I had some Kuna left over. So, arriving back in London I exchanged the Krona and the Kuna for my final leg of the journey back into town. In a world where you hear lots of bad stories, I am happy to have my faith restored in the miracles of the Internet and the kindness of strangers who helped me get my job done by enabling me to travel 3 cities in 3 days with 0 money. I don’t recommend travelling this way but if you’re going to do it, may you be so lucky as to meet Ahmad and be caught in Sweden and Croatia! Good luck on all your travels!

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