OpenCoffee Leeds {April} + Coworking Day

CakecrowdLast month’s
OpenCoffee {March}
could have been a bit of a downer, with only a handful of people attending. I’m still wondering if I shoulda canceled it while I was in the US for ETech and eComm, but sounds like 10-15 people did make it out to Loftart so it was worth keeping the doors open 🙂

This month, inspired by Paul Robinson’s mashup of coworking and OpenCoffee in Manchester, we relocated to Leeds Met’s Old Broadcasting House, spiritual home to the city’s geek communities; from coworkers and Flickr groups, to BarCamp and a recent Geekup!

Though OpenCoffee started slow, albeit wih a handful of new faces, about thirty minutes later the cafe area of OBH was buzzing with around 25-26 attendees, so the venue change didn’t affect the numbers – phew! So this month…

  • Telco 2.0’s Keith McMahon made an appearance, sounds like he’s helping the NetStart guys with some telco-nomics for their platform project. Keith’s in great company at Telco 2.0 with luminaries such as Martin Geddes and my old boss Dr. Norman Lewis; incidentally, they published a great post on digital music business models just the day before.
  • I had a long chat with Leo Fowler, Technical Director of Kensei and one of OBH’s newest coworkers. It sounds as though Kensei will shortly be providing media hosting, management and delivery technology as a white-label service, but are looking for venture funding to grow quickly. I’m not quite sure what they do yet, but they seem to have big ideas and ambition…a startup to keep an eye on for sure.
  • My friend Ross Brown made it over for a too-short half hour, but long enough for us to talk through some editorial ideas for Dotnorth and the timeline for spinning things up.
  • Though Leeds Met student, Stuart Childs had been along to a previous OpenCoffee, this time he brought along his friend Chris, so we, um, doubled the student uptake? Seriously, where are all the students at Leeds various geek+tech meetups?

We had a few mixed reports on the success of Paul’s coworking day over in Manchester, so we weren’t sure what to expect. Most OpenCoffee attendees just wanted a peek at the facilities. Other’s stuck around to chat, share ideas and get a little work done…

  • Neil Wilson who’d travelled over from Halifax’s Elsie Whiteley Innovation Centre stuck around to get his email – we spoke for a while about the region’s digital industries. The EWIC is oddly named (and located!) but it appears to be providing some usefully priced not-quite-working facilities over on the tops of the Pennines 🙂
  • NTI’s Linda Broughton and I met to discuss our shared plans for 2008 regarding the coworking community and the city’s startup/innovation community.
  • My former colleague Mark Sailes was progressively irritated by me trying to convince him to buy a Mac…Ihe spent the rest of the day coding up some proof-of-concept work for I had more success convincing Gavin Sweet to go Mac, once he saw Windows XP running under Parallels – yay!
  • NetStart‘s Gavin Sweet, Lee Strafford and Marco Potesta convened the NetStart board along with Keith McMahon.

The coworking afternoon had no agenda – only to give OpenCoffee attendees a taster of the facilities and also give an opportunity to work, meet or just hang out…I think it worked out in that regard.

However, I’m unsure whether to bundle both events together going forward…OBH is a little tricker to get to, for parking and distance from the core of the City. There’s perhaps a place for separate monthly ‘OpenCoffee’ and ‘Open Coworking’ days a couple of weeks apart…or maybe we do run a single day as a sorta BarCamp-lite each month. No food, just coffee and cakes. No sessions, unless you want to convene one. We need to think a little more…

In the meantime, here’s a peek at Broadcasting Place, the area that’s taking shape around Old Broadcasting House.

See y’all next month!


  1. I thought it was a really great event this month, certainly I found plenty of people to talk to despite knowing very few people before I got there – and thanks for the mention as well 🙂


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