Yesterday at the London OpenCoffee Club

London OpenCoffee ClubYesterday I went to Saul Klein's Regent Street, London OpenCoffee Club Meetup. Saul's idea is straightforward. Set up a regular place and time for a relaxed meeting of entrepreneurs, investors, and anyone else who is interested in startups for networking and chat over coffee. They take place every Thursday at 10:00 at the Starbucks inside Espirit in Regent Street in the centre of town. They only started on March 1st this year, but the idea has already spread around the world. Looking at Saul's Ning community you can see references to events in Seattle, Houston, Cape Town - there are even 4 clubs set up in Ireland! Maybe that's because Ireland has such a strong network of bloggers and a thriving technology community. I see that the Cork Club is planning to visit the London Club on May 10th, so that will definitely be one to be at. The news is travelling fast, and maybe even faster after this evening. A Channel 4 reporter and camera crew were at yesterday's event, so it might well be publicised on the 7:00 pm news today.

London OpenCoffee ClubI met with Saul himself, Sam Sethi and his wife Gillian Kent.  Gillian used to be director of MSN.co.uk, and is now doing strategy and marketing consultancy. Sam's just about to rebrand his site as Blognation, and start a network of similar sites in 8 or 10 countries. Frankly I'm amazed nobody had grabbed that domain name until now! I spoke to Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten, who was over promoting the Next Web Conference to be held on June 1st in Amsterdam. I spoke to Kate Patterson, a transplanted Australian who is in her third month of operating Sprout. Kate's advising growing businesses on marketing and strategy, hence the name. I spoke to angel investors and VCs, and Stephen McCurry, in the middle of his MBA at London Business School who'll soon be looking for a good opportunity. Lachlan McArthur from eMarketing company Quirk was on the look out for business. Loic Le Meur was over from Paris, but was so deep in various conversations I never got the chance to break in and introduce myself. Mike Butcher was doing his thing, making notes on an impossibly small notepad, and his quick summary of the event is here. He posted his Treo photos from the event on Flickr, so thanks for those Mike!

I gave cards to various people who had run out of theirs, so hopefully they'll drop me a line so I can give them a mention. I guess there were around 50-80 people, and most of them didn't just come for half an hour, but stayed beyond 12:00. I'll certainly plan to be a reasonably regular visitor.