This post should have been written over a week ago but I’m only finally getting the time now.

On Thursday 10th May, three of us from Cork Open Coffee (Walter Higgins, David Copithorne and myself) headed over to London Open Coffee. As someone who has never worked into the UK (The Netherlands and Germany being my main destinations in the past), I was pretty impressed to find myself standing outside the door of Waterstones on Regent Street at 9.55am, having left my house in West Cork after 6am. The reality that London is as close to us as Dublin really hit home.

The Waterstones location was new and there was a little confusion on our arrival. However, coffee did start flowing along with the chat. The place filled quickly and I estimate over 40 people attended with a constant flow in and out. The energy in the room was infectious and everyone was there to meet and talk and network. It took us a while to find our feet as none of the faces were familiar but bit by bit we started meeting a bunch of interesting people. David Terrar knew we were coming and sought us out and we had some entertaining chats with him, Cristiano Betta and Sam Sethi. I gave a whirlwind demo of LouderVoice too.

The attitude of everyone there seemed to be one of community. “Oh you haven’t met X? I’ll introduce you” was a phrase I heard many times over.

I had a short conversation with Jeremy Knight from Library House who are arranging the exciting Essential Web 07 which we have signed up for.

I got some great advice from Damon Oldcorn of Zebtab about the London scene and what we need to do to raise our profile. That conversation convinced me that we should be attending events in London once a month at a bare minimum.

Unfortunately I only got to talk to Paul Fisher for a brief time as he was heading out the door but his positive attitude and enthusiasm for what we are trying to do with the start-up culture in Ireland was refreshing.

Walter has already summarised the morning perfectly - he handed out more business cards in two hours there than he did over three days at MiX in Las Vegas. Knowing you only have two hours focuses the mind!

We followed that with an entertaining long lunch with Mr Walsh, Cristiano and Scott (?) of an uber-stealth startup. Again the topic of real people networks was a big one. We sometimes forget how important regular face to face meetings are for building strong business relationships. OCC really drives that home.

I came away from OCC London absolutely buzzing. If we manage to get even 10% of that energy in Cork, we’ll be on to a winner.