Minutes of hardware-ish coffee morning, edition 12

12.18, Monday 2 Nov 2015

Hardware-ish coffee morning last week was AWESOME. Thank you for coming - in no particular order - Nathan, Nat who has just launched a new invention studio called Buckley Williams, Maximilian and Heinrich from Kazendi, Rob who is behind the Ockham Razor, creative hardware engineer Saar, Grace from manufacturer PCH International, the Tingbot massive - which is launching on Kickstarter in a matter of hours - Ben and Joe and Ken from Nord, Naomi and Nick who make biofeedback games to regulate breathing at Shift, Josh (hardware accelerator Hardware Pro), Ines (hardware investor C4V), Tony and Christiaan of the accelerating meteor Pact Coffee which recently successfully launched Nespresso-compatible speciality coffee on Kickstarter, David of Pixie Labs, No Mayo Digital‘s Izzy and Clare, shipped-hardware-product BleepBleeps founder Tom, hardware-to-software maker another Tom, Chelsea who is behind the Olly table-top robot currently in development, and OpenSensors Internet of Things platform founder Yodit. And breathe out.

What an amazing group for chitter-chatter and caffeine!

Including me that’s 24 people, and a quick stat – we’re down to two thirds (16) who would probably identify as dudes. Which is not perfect but better than it has been, and on the right trend. Going by my gut, it seems that female founders are a better part of the mix in hardware startups than tech at large, and I hope that goes for inclusivity of all kinds. Whether or not my gut feeling is correct, I certainly want the London hardware community to be a leading edge of London’s inclusivity, and that’s why I track the NADQ at this coffee mornings.

NADQ = Not A Dude Quotient.

So if you’re a woman or not a down-the-line dude, thanks for coming! If you invited someone, thanks! I know it’s a bit weird to keep calling out my coffee morning NADQ like this, but trust me it’s weirder when I sit round a table with six other men on a Thursday morning.

There were a ton of new people today. That was lovely to see.

What was discussed?

Honestly who knows what was discussed.

Hardware-ish coffee morning sprawled over about five tables, with double that many conversations and people continually moving round. I have no idea what people talked about. But I had to leave just after 11 and people were still going!

I was darting about like a headless chicken so I didn’t get to say hi to anyone and my attention was always elsewhere. BOOOOO. And sorry to everyone I know that I didn’t get to chat with!

BUT a couple of things I did notice.

  • Tingbot is a lovely add-on for the Raspberry Pi that turns it into a hackable home gadget, a bit like an alarm clock with an app platform. Here’s a pic. What’s special is that it has a dead-simple programming environment, a bit like Arduino, that makes writing and running graphical, internet-connected apps very simple. Tingbot goes on Kickstarter this week – follow @thetingbot on Twitter to get the latest.
  • Olly is a robot currently in development (in London) with all kinds of voice features. Chelsea talked about it as being table-top - which is an intriguing context because it feels like that’s where the old school kitchen radio sits - and the character-driven, emotionally-responsive robot she talked about sounds fascinating. One to watch.

What’s also interesting to me is that we had pre, post, and intermezzo Kickstarter projects present, from both small and pretty seriously established companies, plus investors and manufacturing. A maturing scene. There’s a lot of knowledge in the room.

…to the point that, discussing one project that is imminently adding hardware to their existing software-only offer, I can assemble the roadmap with them, 50% from my own knowledge (what the critical proof-points and bottlenecks are, what needs to happen hand-in-hand with what), and 50% simply from looking around and going: Well, first do it like company X, and then do product development like company Y, and finally you will end up speaking with someone like company Z and here are the questions to ask.

Next time

Let’s have one more hardware-ish coffee morning this side of the new year. I’ll take a look at my calendar and see if I can pick a Thursday which won’t be too conflicted with the holidays. Join the email announce list, I’ll send a note there to arrange it.

UPDATE: Tingbot is now on Kickstarter! Go read more about it there. And please back it, I want a Tingbot of my own.

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