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Hipsters, Hackers and Hustlers storm Google Campus!

rob fentonGoogle Campus is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get. If Robert Fenton, founder of the Hipsters, Hackers and Hustlers website and talent impresario a la Simon Cowell, were a piece of confectionary, I think he would be a dime bar. Delicious sweet chocolate on the outside, gnarly toffee on the inside, helping you cut your teeth. High praise indeed. To put that into context, Cowell himself is probably only a Milky Way.

On Tuesday last week Rob and his team pulled off another spectacular event, this time wearing their “Devs and Ents” hats: different meet-up, same stickers. Last night the “hackers” were in particular demand.

The event was a kaleidoscopic mix of energy, buzz, talent mingling with further talent, and more energy. With Rob in his trademark smiley face T-shirt, it felt like being in an early 90’s indie music video. Like this one:

After 10 cans of red bull. If Joseph had arrived in his Technicolor dream coat, he would have felt a little uncool. There was so much going on I think I’m going to have to tackle this in two parts.

But first folks, a word from the sponsors: – Elance is the place where you can hire amazing freelancers online. It’s used by over 2m businesses, and 8m freelancers. It has helped the likes of Vivino, the wine lovers app that helps you learn more about your bottle of choice by simply photographing the label, build a scalable platform with a minimal initial outlay. Check it out here –

Microsoft – the ubiquitous Diane Perlman was present to tell us all about the now not so new Microsoft Ventures accelerator program. Now in its second season, or cohort, with 12 new companies on board, the program has helped 207 graduates worldwide build their businesses with the help of mentors, office space and networking opportunities. 80% of graduates have secured follow-on funding, and 14 exits have been made, including one Microsoft led acquisition. Its open to all platforms and best of all Microsoft do not take any equity. Find out more –

Waterfront solicitors – Alison Berryman, partner, spoke about the law firm that is a boutique tech specialist focused on helping early stage entrepreneurs with their legal problems. Pragmatic and commercially minded, Waterfront combines legal expertise with a start-up mind-set.

Wizemail – the email marketing specialist’s video explained why they are a first class marketing service at an affordable price. It’s all down to their ‘bots, you see!

Part 1. Keynote speaker: Warren Cass, Business Scene

Business Scene is a disruptive rival to the Federation of Small Businesses, an online community providing essential advice and guidance to SMEs. It’s 70,000 members benefit from events, early bird deals, mentoring, free legal advice, and much more. Founder Warren has built a national network from scratch, knows a few things about marketing, and loves to share. But conventional, he ain’t. Unless persuading the audience to shout “f*ck off Warren, we’re non-conformist” is conventional. It isn’t.

Warren’s talk on modern social media, and the changes he has witnessed over the past decade and a half was comprehensive to say the least, but also engaging and packed with insight. Here are some of the highlights:

Nowadays it’s all about the early adopters; social media is fragmented and disruptive marketing works best. Capturing young people’s imagination is paramount, so how do you do it?

93% of social media users expect businesses to have a presence in the space. It took 50 years for the wireless to reach 50m people, 20 years for the telephone, 13 for television, 3 for Facebook, and 35 days for Angry Birds. Sounds apocryphal, but a pretty stunning factoid nonetheless. It’s part of the social media fascination we all have nowadays. But why do some sites succeed where others fail? Rupert Murdoch paid nearly $600m for Myspace. Then sold it in 2011 for £35m…to Justin Timberlake! Hard to know who got the rough end of that deal?

YouTube once briefly overtook Google as the most used search engine in the world. So why does no-one use it as part of it of their marketing strategy? Well this guy did:

And he got some serious traction. Here’s how one guy persuaded Nike to pay him $150k to blend a pair of their trainers:

Credibility by association people! The more ridiculous, inappropriate and outlandish the activity, the more marketable the proposition! It’s all about long tail PR, let the gag run for as long as possible. That’s what persuaded Bodyform CEO Caroline Whitley to record this:

In response to this:

B2B social media is not all about selling, some people may never buy the product, but they can’t help sharing the news if the content is engaging enough. Disruption is creation, and vice versa.

Now here’s how to become a social media start-up the Warren Cass way. Simple, think FILM: Foundations, Influence, Leverage, Measure. If you would like to know more, ask him, not me!

Now for a picture of Alastair Sim:

alastair sim

This man believed only the under 25’s should be given the vote on the basis that they are only ones alive who still believe they can change the world. Good on you Alastair, may your legend live on!

And another tip: don’t just talk in one tone of voice. Find different channels; have original ideas. Like these guys did: Very engaging.

I hope I am portraying a picture of just how much information Warren imparted in just 30 minutes. It was breath-taking, only without the pause for breath. I swear I saw people being carried out on stretchers. There was time for just a few more tips before a team of roadies, possibly led by Noel Gallagher, hauled him off stage still shouting about what we can learn from the porn industry. Sigh, not really.

But here’s something you may not know. The first ever video was made in 1895, the same year that the first ever skin flick was made. Go figure.

And finally (wipes sweat from brow), check out Fiverr, you can pay people to do ridiculous things for you (Warren had someone dress as a ninja to promote his business…natch), and finally finally, as Steve Jobs himself put it, “the iPhone 6 doesn’t look much different from the iphone5. Ha-ha not really, he said: “it’s better to be a pirate than to join the navy”. Keep innovating, keep disrupting, to keep your business alive and kicking.

Part 2. The pitching:

By the time Warren had been evacuated still imparting words of marketing wisdom under his breath no doubt) an intrepid gaggle of entrepreneurs had gathered at the side of the stage, ready to pitch their business ideas to the heaving masses, before being chased from the stage by water gun wielding ninja hired hands. Like something from Going Live. Philip Schofield would have been proud. It’s fair to say a good time was had by all. I wasn’t quick enough with the notebook to get everyone’s details but I did manage to catch up with these rather special founders.

Henchman – an app, launched last week, that solves all of your delivery needs. If it can fit in the back of a moped, and you live in London, Henchman can deliver it to you in less than 60 minutes. Late night hunger pangs, all night parties, don’t fancy leaving the house? Let Henchman handle it for you! Founder Ryan Perera is delighted to have launched, and thinks the next few months are crucial. If he can prove concept and get those first few deliveries out of the door, he has big plans. A global network and recommendation services too? You heard it here first.

Crybb – founder Victoria Albrecht explained the concept behind Crybb, a great resource that works using Facebook to help you find the perfect room-mate. Currently most room sharing sites use groups, which tends to mean you are lumped with the same sets of people every time a room becomes available. Uni friends, workmates, family friends. Who you choose to live with is not always who you to choose work with, or even socialise with. Crybb leverages Facebooks social sharing tools to help you find the perfect co-habitant. Your perfect flatmate may not always be who you were expecting.; @wearecrybb

Inspiring – Founder Alex helps promote brands and products using low price, high impact strategies including disruptive events, digital marketing and techno creativity. Based in Portugal, the Company have also begun a social program aimed at promoting and helping to create a “better and greater” education system.

Buzz Cloud – can’t say too much about this one but its founder Lazius Kaye had apparently travelled all the way from China to be at this event! Outstanding effort, Lazius. You can find Buzz Cloud on Google Plus, it has 0.8m users, but that is just the start. Be sure to follow where it’s headed next.

ToBusk – a great concept sure to be popular, particularly now we are almost in Talent Show season, ToBusk brings artists and performers together. Users can find one another via video sharing sites and the most popular acts are featured on the site each week. Time for a MySpace revival, perhaps? The site is aimed at Street performers, Bands and Dance groups.

There were many, many more pitchers and 4 overall winners. Michelle Ogbonna, Maria Stylianou, and Kirsty Burton all won Nokia phones courtesy of Microsoft for their pitches, and Shakira won a $200 from Elance.

And then there was a barbecue. And more networking. If you feel tired after reading all this, imagine how the attendees felt. Was it worth it? Absolutely! When’s the next one? Tuesday, 14th October. Be there or be


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