Letters Home - Boston


Wheels down in Boston, fast forward from the inspiring meetings in New York.

Travelling with Seedcamp is pretty amazing - given the combined IQ of all of the 19 best young European businesses on the same flight, it was close to the weight limit for the talent that the 737 could carry. We are also learning lots from our fellow companies who we're spending time with - blossom.io guys know the dev management tools inside out and we spent part of the flight discussing the tools we could use to make Wise move faster. Phillip of Seedcamp, one of the most connected tech people in Europe, showed me how he is using Google / Social and a few tricks to manage and share 60 000 contacts between the team and all of his devices.

Boston has had a venture scene since funding the whalers, now it is a rich soup of VC funds, tech and pharma powerhouses, mixed in with world's best research coming out of MIT and the talent of Harvard.

As a young and ambitious tech driven business, who do you want to meet in Boston? Seedcamp had the answer.

Seedcamp Day Boston, the equivalent of what we had in New York was hosted by Microsoft in their NERD center, wisely next to the brainladen MIT campus. The audience resonated greatly with the Wise pitch, among others we had an Indian oligarch come up to us who owns 6 banks across the world and has been trying to solve the FX problem for years. Lucky him, now he has the solution - Wise. The mentoring sessions were followed by a "fireside chat" with Brightcove CTO, sharing his experience in building a company from scratch to the IPO a couple of days ago

We separately connected with Dan O'Malley, who started Perk Street in Boston - a debit card which gives you back the fees that the banking system charges the merchants and the merchant has added into the bill. Being wise with your card payments, you get $1000 back in hard cash by Christmas. A huge treat for the worker's family, which would have otherwise been a small percentage in the banker's bonus. Dan is forecasting tough times for many US banks, who have built up huge branch networks that no customer wants to visit in this digital age. 6 million tons of bricks have been used to build these branches. For who?

Then on to the inspirational high of the trip - visit to the MIT Media Lab. Walking from lab to lab and talking to people about what they working on was like moving between the Minority Report set and a TED stage. We saw intelligent lightbulbs, 3D-printed violinas, prostethics and exoskeletons. Ryan demonstrated an urban vehicle project, which is an electric four-wheel drive version of the Boris bikes. About 30% of our cities are taken up by parking space - we will look back at the last 50 years and smile about the unreasoned affection we had for our 4-wheel pets. These new "Boris" cars fold up for parking and you can walk in and out through the windshield. Just goes to show that if you want to solve a real problem, parking / congestion in this case, then the human genius is an incredible tool.

David Hughson from the UK Trade & Investment hosted us on behalf of Her Majesty's government and Mark of Ubervu (successful Seedcamp old-timer) explained how to relocate parts of your enterprise to Boston. Recently our good friends at GrabCAD have done just that and moved into the epicenter of the world's engineering.

One must-have visit for an enterpreneur was to Highland Capital Partners, a group of serious and insightful investors supporting and impressive number of companies. Among them WePay who simplifies group payments.

The unofficial event of Friday was celebrating the birthday of Estonia, having 3 out of 18 teams from this small country - we showed everyone good time, as tradition requires.

Next stop at the roots of our digital world - San Francisco and the Silicon Valley.


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