Rick Waghorn: A Norfolk entrepreneur’s “take aways” from South-by-South-West

PUBLISHED: 08:01 14 March 2012

Rick Waghorn, chief executive of Addiply

Rick Waghorn, chief executive of Addiply


Entrepreneur Rick Waghorn reports from South-by-South-West (SxSWi), a major conference in Austin, Texas, where digital-minded folk congregate each year.

There are many a phrase that you leave events like SxSWi with.

‘Pivot ‘ is one; as in my business wasn’t working, so I tried something new... And ‘take away’; as in what have I ‘taken away’ from this session or this particular six days amongst the great and the digital good of Austin, Texas.

So, my ‘take away’ from SxSWi?

First, our business Addiply won’t be pivoting any time in the immediate future.

One-on-ones with the digital lab people at The Washington Post and one of the senior digital evangelists at Digital First newspaper group re-affirms our belief that we remain - for now - in an interesting space at an interesting moment in media time.

Second, Sean Parker in real life is far more like Mark Zuckerberg than Justin Timberlake - unless, of course, he had geek’d himself down for the Al Gore key-note.

Third, that the US are way more earnest in their search for the meaning of journalism life than we ever would be in the UK; there is an urgency and a desperation to their conversations that you would never get at a provincial media gathering in the UK.

Everyone, but everyone, has a new app that links your Facebook friends to your Twitter followers; all of them show you where you are and what you like. And then shows you who where you should be and who you should like.

That’s all a given these days. And, natch, it all comes to your mobile.

Twitter and Facebook are just a given in terms of the basic building blocks of new media life.

Fourth, you can pitch a product in 30 seconds if the recipient gets your space and has spent the last five years looking for just such a piece of kit.

That said, the key remains the response to the follow-up email. So the jury is still out for now as to whether Gary Vaynerchuk can monetize brand ‘GaryVee’ via Addiply until he picks up what may be a ‘cold call’

email post-festival.

Ever the New Jersey hustler, the instruction in the email header was Brit guy, football and tent. And let’s see if that rings his bell.

Other take-aways? That there are some smart UK digital start-ups out there that can compete with anything across the Pond. Our bigger challenge is to learn the hustle; and to find a VC industry that is far more out there and in yer face than it ever is in the UK. Each city here has its own VC community, each state an angel network; think a NorthStarVentures for Norwich, Manchester, Sheffield, Nottingham and beyond. And not just Newcastle and the North-East. And then get them into a sun-dappled city where beer is a buck a time...

Finally, if money is no option book The Spazmatics for your Xmas party

- they are, indeed, the ultimate new wave 80s tribute band.

And don’t convince yourself that, at 46, you can still play ‘saccer’

with 18-year-old US college kids in the Nike five-a-side court... And not pull your thigh muscle in two minutes.

Oh, and have a look at Umbel. One reason why, hopefully, Addiply won’t be pivoting in the immediate future.

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