A busy 7th week was started with an early morning meeting with one of our mentors from Yammer. We met in their offices where the meeting room tables converted to allow you to play table tennis and there was a pop-up sign in reception encouraging people to bring their dogs into work for dog week, which seems like a recipe for disaster to me. We stuck to the meeting and got some sound advice once again.
From Yammer it was straight to TwiloCon Europe, a full days conference organised by Twilo and pretty impressive it was too. I have been to a number of these things and they are usually all about the company and its products, which is fine but not overly useful and engaging. What Twilo did was much more interesting and more likely to leave you with a lasting positive memory of the company. They had laid on two tracks, one around innovation and the other technical. I remained in the former and was treated to some really interesting presentation and debates.
Highlights of the day for me were Nick Lansley, Head of R&D at Tesco, a company that I don’t normally associate with innovation and now I have to reevaluate them and a panel session on European accelerators. Given that I am currently right in the middle of one it was fascinating to hear what it was like on others – I never knew there were quite so many competing for the local start-ups.
While the accelerator programme is a structured series of events and sessions to ensure that start-ups have the tools and knowledge to make the most of their opportunity you do still need to find time to do your day job. For me this week that meant a train trip to Coventry for a meeting. While I had pre-booked I wasn’t at a table seat and trying to get a laptop on the pull-down table was nigh on impossible but still necessary to ensure that I could continue to work. However, sometimes things don’t go quite as planned. On returning to the station it was chaos as, it eventually transpired, a tree had fallen down and blocked the line. This took a couple of hours to clear, most of which time was spent milling around on the platform, which wasn’t terribly productive.
3D printing is all the rage at present and I was delighted to see that a printer had turned up in our space at Central Working. One of the other start-ups is looking at producing real world items from their virtual equivalents in a game, which is a cracking idea. So the printer was set off to produce a number of items, one of which was a complex thing taking over six hours to complete.
Something that I hadn’t really appreciated was that some elements of what you are printing need a supporting structure while printing to stop them collapsing but you don’t want these to remain in the final finished article. For this the supporting structures are created in a soluble material that can be washed away. Unfortunately this printer don’t have that option so the range of what it can produce was limited but it was fascinating to see what is bound to be something that is going to be widespread technology in the not too distant future.