OpenCoffee {Cinque}

OK, OK, I’ve been real lazy (hey, it’s Ramadan and I’ve been busy repenting) and haven’t gotten around to blogging last week’s fifth edition of OpenCoffee Leeds {Cinque}; y’know the Italian-coffee themed numbers sounded really hip four months ago, but as someone pointed out, it’s maybe smarter to go with months. So from December, I’ll do just that!

Every month I wonder…will they come?…did they read the emails? will Justin have enough pastries? Well, they saw the pastries, ate the emails and yes, they came! Though not quite the stellar turnout of the last two editions, this month’s   still captured an attendance of around 25 people. I should learn not to trust Upcoming’s numbers as definitive…

So this month highlights…

  • I’ve been trying to prise Elias Moubayed into OpenCoffee for a few months and this time around, we were fortunate to have him come hang with everyone. Elias is a veteran of several tech startups, including (now defunct) Israeli advertising tech innovators iWeb; one of Freeserve’s first partners. We spent a couple years tinkering and playing with ad formats a the birth of the web, but more significantly, Elias is one of the smartest, humble, laid-back commercial guy I’ve worked with. He’s keen to get stuck into the region’s grassroots community and I think he and Sally Broom and he, shared some thoughts about online travel opportunities…
  • Local designer/developer Richard Garside announced that he’d resigned his current position and was choosing to go freelance. Interestingly, he’ll be one of the first residents at Leeds Met’s coworking facilities at Old Broadcasting House. Coincindentally, Carbon signed a deal with Leeds Met to help define OBH’s services, help build a community, advisory board, some social applications and a programme of events. Richard and I got talking about what he’ll be needing as an indie, so I’m hoping we can work democratically with the residents to define how coworking will work in Leeds…we’ll be putting out a call-for-assistance soon, so anyone that’s interested in helping, give us a shout!
  • For the second month in a row, I was unable to make time for Maz Hardey! Grrrr!! Though Maz made it all the way from York, neither one of us found more than a few minutes to talk. Fortunately, we’ve been chatting a lot online about advancing plans for a one-off Geek Girl Dinner in Leeds…the discussion has extended to Sarah Blow and Inventya’s Valerie de Leonibus with a view to perhaps doing parallel events in Leeds and Manchester. I’m really fascinated by Maz’ work on the sociology of social media, maybe one day we’ll get to talk about it in person and not just Facebook messaging at 4am!
  • Tom Scott embarrassed me into explaining why there were no firm plans for Barcamp Leeds yet; we talked a little about the scheduling problems, sponsorship issues and venue, before deciding to give ourselves a week to investigate the feasibility of a ‘snap’ one-day BarCamp sometime in November (yes, yes Gordon Brown etc. etc.), followed by a fuller edition in the Spring…then Tom went and raised £500 in sponsorship the next day! We’ll make a call within the next couple days on whether we can go ahead 🙂
  • Mexuar‘s Tim Panton and Georgia Brown popped across the Pennines from their Manchester base; Mexuar was one of the companies that came out to this year’s ETel conference in San Francisco and are continuing to do some interesting web-based voice and social networking mashups.
  • TierLinear‘s Sarah Laycock and I spoke a little about founder Dean Sadler‘s vision for SME webapps and appliances as well as the general health of the Sheffield tech scene.

Though this month’s turnout was a little lower than August and September, I was really pleased to see more women coming out to play, with Maz, Sally, Sarah, Georgia and Simple Usability‘s Helen Harrop in attendance. Disappointingly, I only got to meet one or two new people…I’m wondering how we can get our regulars to bring fresh faces; for this to be a vibrant, growing community event, we’re gonna need diversity…otherwise we’ll end up as a member’s club…

Well, here’s to next month – I may be in Berlin, speaking at O’Reilly’s Web2Expo, but that shouldn’t stop you guys geeking out! In the meantime, we also have an evening OpenCoffee warming up thanks to Sheffield’s Matt Grest and Marco Potesta (yes, Matt lifted my silky blurb to promote their event, but he promised to buy me a, um coffee).

You can catch Paul Stanton’s post here and my photos of the day here…

Looking forward to OpenCoffee {Sei} next month already 🙂

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