We had another good turnout this morning at Open Coffee and covered a lot of ground from technology companies not building good links with content companies to quite a long discussion about aims and metrics associated with Cork Open Coffee.

Haydn made some strong points about the fact that many web businesses are very heavily involved in content (the classic User Generated Content) but they seem to focus on business networking in a technology realm. He feels that we should be building relationships with content and media companies like newspapers. Given that a lot of the acquisitions in the web-space in the UK have been by media companies, I think he dead right.

John held a long conversation about where we are going with OpenCoffee, how we will measure success and what practical steps we intend taking to bridge the divide between “the talent and the money”. Even at a local level he thinks we could be doing a lot more to build both the profile of OpenCoffee and of ourselves as “the talent”. I have some plans for building the LouderVoice name locally but, thinking about it, perhaps we could do it as a group.

One suggestion to aid this, which I like a lot, is that OpenCoffee should be the source of controversial and provocative statements made publicly about business, startups, technology, funding and academia e.g. “the entry criteria for Comp Sci and Engineering in Irish Universities is too low and is damaging our ability to build world class companies” or “technology investment in the Munster region has shown minimal return for investors over 10 years, so why are we different?” “EI should retract the offer of €175m to Irish VCs as they are clearly not able to raise matching funds. The money should be redistributed in €100k chunks to any start-up with a half-decent idea”. IF we get these messages out to mainstream media, I think we might get a smidge of attention!

Other suggestions included inviting in one-off guests (as opposed to guest speakers) to tell us informally about themselves, their businesses and give us the benefit of their experience. I have one VC who has offered to talk on the investment process and scene in Ireland, but there were several other suggestions including bringing in non-technology people who had invested in technology previously and had been burned. What had they learned? What could we learn from that? What needs to change for them to be interested again?

And finally, my favourite suggestion of the day - “OpenCoffee Goes Large”. We have decided to pick an upcoming OpenCoffee event in another country and attend it. Everyone is welcome to join us. It will be somewhere we can get to/from in a day for minimal cost. I suggest we start with London for a multitude of very obvious reasons. If there is an OpenCoffee in Poland, we think that could be a future destination too. And no, we’re not forgetting Limerick or Dublin!

This will not be a junket, it’s a mission with a purpose - to build our networks further, make valuable contacts and help build our businesses (or future businesses).

I’ll contact Saul to get the ball rolling and I’ll do a mailshot to all previous attendees of Cork Open Coffee to measure interest and find a good date to do it. I’m thinking sooner rather than later so perhaps early May? Thursday 3rd?