Silicon Valley Comes to Oxford: Awesomesauce

24 Nov

One of the events at SBS that I had been looking to the most was “Silicon Valley Comes to Oxford“, which was held at the business school on Sunday and Monday. I have to say the event did not disappoint – in fact it far surpassed my expectations. It truly was awesomesauce.

As a member of the Technology and Entrepreneurship OBNs (Oxford Business Networks) I had the opportunity to volunteer to help with organisation and to buddy one of the VIPs. I’m glad I volunteered for as much as I did, because I really managed to get maximum leverage from the event and meet some really cool people.

On Saturday I took the VIPs to New College for the Evensong service, which was quite something. Afterwards three of the MBAs had the opportunity to join the VIPs for dinner at the Ashmolean Museum. It was my first time up in the new restaurant and I have to say that while the setting and company were excellent, the food itself was a little disappointing. You really don’t want to serve chewy steaks to Americans.

After the meal I decided to hang out with the VIPs at the Randolph Hotel bar, drinking whisky and introducing them to Jura Superstition. I left at 2am and the hotel tried to get to cover the whisky bill which was running in to the hundreds of pounds! No chance!

Hanging out with Biz Stone & Raymond Nasr

Hanging out with Biz Stone & Raymond Nasr

The VIP I was buddying for the event was Meagan Marks, who was one of the first people at Facebook and is now VP of Product Strategy at Wonga.com, a London based mico-loan company and also an Angel investor in Groupspaces. She was really cool and a pleasure to hang out with.

Another highlight was my first experience of an Oxford Union debate, where the motion “This house believes Silicon Valley is dead: long live Green Valley”, was defeated by the Silicon Valley team which included Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn. If you want weirdy Oxford University pomp and ceremony, an Oxford Union debate is the place to get it!

The best part of the event for me was getting the opportunity to pitch my start-up idea to as many people as possible including several very prominent London investors. My idea was well received and they all wanted to keep in touch to hear more when I’m maybe looking for investment later next year. Until then I need to launch the prototype!

For anyone interested in Internet and Silicon Valley -type technology events, the strength of the event should be a very compelling reason to come to Saïd Business School. Just have a look at the list of speakers. It was pointed out many times that Oxford University is probably the centre for entrepreneurship learning in Europe now. That’s certainly one of the reasons I came to study here.

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