Geek’n’Rolla 2010: Rocking Big Time Hard
About a year ago Mike Butcher was clocking some pretty awesome miles criss-crossing the European geography from Paris to Istanbul and back via Warsaw, Ljubljana, Berlin, Paris and somewhere in Sweden – or was it Denmark? The Merrypranksters TechCrunch Europe bus put metal to the pedal in demonstrating that European startups were not just a London thing. The EU tour had to be closed with some awesome, rocking closing gala and Mike and the team concocted a London one-day event for startup pitches that played homage to the cheeky, fake Eastender geezer Guy Ritchie film ‘Rocknrolla’. Geek’n’Rolla rolled credits up at RIBA one fine mid-April morning to the tune of a heavy-metal free track that I attached to a video I produced for the occasion. Geek’n’Rolla did its first gig in a tiny auditorium packed to the rafters with very very early stage hopefuls. This was a day of entrepreneurship 101. A kind of School for Startups.
Twelve months after, Geek’n’Rolla volume 2 was taking to Bigger Things: a Bigger venue facing Big Ben, a Bigger line-up of speakers from the Big European VCs and Angel investors, the entrepreneurs beginning to carve a Big name for themselves or emerging from the Big Ashes with even Bigger FOCUS. Geek’n’Rolla was planning a Big gig. An unexpected big natural disaster was also thrown into the concoction: the eruption of an Icelandic volcano that since Thursday 15th April had the entire Northern European flight zone shut down and passengers stranded all over the world unable to return or even fly out to nowhere. Amidst this background, the European entrepreneurs had to borrow from their European roots to the call of Winston Churchill “Never Give In” and their entrepreneurial bag of tricks. And so they drove, they drove the many, many miles that separated them from Blighty. In Sweden, the Bambuser team along with VC investor Lea Bajc from Northzone Ventures, drove across Germany, Holland, Belgium, France to London. Morten Lund and his team did the same from Copenhagen. The Twitter #geeknrolla feed was populated with ReTweets of their quest and their newly christened hell of a roadtrip #volcanrolla. TechCrunch published a last minute edition of an article that captured the pre-Geek’n’Rolla spirit. How many more entrepreneurs would show up?
The morning of 19th April, Mike jumped to the stage and looked to a room of some 500 people. The volcano casualties had been but a few and EVERYONE had managed to make it: from Paris, Munich, Milan, BUDAPEST… The keynote speech from Tommy Ahlers was done by Skype videolink. The triumphant spirit of the day prevailed as everyone – those stranded in London – and those who had managed to make it to it pitched great companies, shared big insights, and did what we do best in Europe: be irreverent (thanks to Morten for an unforgettable impromptu recorder concert of VCs conducted by the weirdest Danish teacher who “learned them how to play”).
There is no turning back for European entrepreneurs. They wanted it so badly they threw themselves to the road just to pitch for 3 minutes. People were sincere and passionate when they shared their experiences, funny and self-conscious of cultural aspects, and humble when explaining why the chicken had to cross the pond back from America without the US VC money.
Geek’n’Rolla has upped the bar to bigger things and one of them was the “LOVE” for the event. The GKNR Fellowship spirit that brought the people to the event against all odds also made them forgive that at times the videolink downstream would freeze and disregard nonchalantly the unavoidable fact that everyone had to DRIVE BACK AGAIN the MONUMENTAL MILES BACK HOME after the event.
If Geek’n’Rolla 2009 was a good Beta, this year’s version is the Mother of All Launches and Mike and the GKNR team have passed with flying colours.
I raise my goblet of ROCK to you my friends and to everyone that came to Geek’n’Rolla and I leave you all with one of the RocknRolla tracks: The Subways “Little Rock’n’Roll Queen (And Kings)” because you ALL are entrepreneurial ROYALTY. Those who came and those who followed and participated via Twitter.
LONG LIVE THE EUROPEAN ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT!!!