Digital Mission Blog

Digital Mission The Digital Mission series is run by Chinwag to support UK-based digital companies expand into new markets and attract overseas investment.

Digital Mission - let the show begin

Yesterday started with investor meetings over breakfast. Both for those companies fundraising, and those that were not, there were fruitful discussions about the market. VCs can be hard to track down, so having a place for rapid one-on-one meetings (in the very nice surroundings of the Winston and Strawn offices) was priceless.

After that, the Digital Mission companies headed off to lunch with Sun (Start up Essentials). As we were in the US, and Stuart Townsend was in the UK, Rob Klusman was 'Stuart' for the lunch, and gave a good overview of Sun's recent re-engineering around open source principles.

Digital Mission NYC 2008The afternoon was given over to meetings and recovery, before heading out to the pre-show Web 2.0 Expo evening events - where the British presence was definitely felt.

Today the Web 2.0 Expo kicked off in earnest. Lots to do and lots to see, before Digital Mission heads to Digital Wednesdays tonight - the weekly network for digital media folks in New York. It's been going since 2006 and is home to the New York digerati, and for tonight, there will be a British flavo(u)r too!

Photos here on my Flickr and all digitalmission tagged photos here.


Digital Mission day 1 - or is that 2?

It is an interesting week to be in New York that's for sure. You can imagine the TV and press coverage here. But new challenges bring opportunities with them. As businesses re-examine their budgets and spending habits, companies with newer, more effective ways of doing things have scope to make gains.

Tom WatsonTom WatsonMeanwhile, the Digital Mission continues at full steam ahead! Yesterday was action-packed. Starting at Winston & Strawn's offices, Tom Watson MP added a UK government perspective - a very encouraging one at that. Expanding a business overseas brings unfamiliar legal and accounting issues, as well different ways of doing business. The sessions went through the key issues for UK businesses looking to establish in the US, as well as tackling a steady flow of questions from the digital mission companies. See more on The Lawyer.

The panels also tackled getting into the local network and winning business. The work might be the same, but New York has a pace and brusqueness that can be a little unnerving to newcomers, but it is refreshing too. Breaking into the market takes a significant effort.

New York ViewNew York ViewThe evening at the British Consulate provided an excellent way for the companies to build contacts; a packed gathering, with senior people from household and industry names. The only challenge was getting round all of the executives present.

Lots of business cards were exchanged and follow up meetings already planned. It was interesting to watch the companies working together - there's a growing sense of camaraderie.

As well as the obvious international bridge building, provided by UK Trade and Investment, something else that keeps coming up in conversation is the benefit of spending time away from the office with industry fellows. There's a community building up between the digital mission companies, together with a fresh excitement about the future of the new media industry in the UK.

Photos here on my Flickr and all digitalmission tagged photos here.


Digital Mission - departure arrival and day 1

30,000 Feet up in the air feels like a very odd place to be writing a blog post, but it is curiously appropriate. I'm halfway between London and New York as I type this. Around me are representatives from the Digital Mission companies. Already, just a few hours into the mission, there have been discussions about the challenges and opportunities of business between the UK and the US .

Far, far beneath me are the bundles of fibre optic cables (or fiber optic - oh the language barrier) that make the digital distance between the UK and the US smaller than it has ever been. We can move digital media from one side of the ocean to the other in the blink of an eye - traffic permitting. That creates opportunities for both sides, and new competitors too. As those pitching for business know, the world is a much more global place than it used to be a few years ago.

By the time you read this, the mission team will be gathered in a New York office, having completed the flight and headed across New York (photo evidence due here). You can also track our adventures, micro-blog style, on Twitter.

Tomorrow the Digital Mission kicks off in earnest, as we gather at Winston & Strawn's offices for a master class in the legal aspects of setting up shop in the US. That will be followed by tips on how to get started in the US market from UK Trade and Investment and British companies already establised in the US. To round off, the evening will be spent at the British Consulate, but more on that tomorrow...

Photos here on my Flickr and all digitalmission tagged photos here.

Final preparations for Digital Mission

I'm sat here in the delectable new Chinwag offices, with the swirl of final preparations proceeding around me. More and more people are finding each other on the Web 2.0 Expo Crowd Vine site, and the agenda is continuing to grow (see the digitalmission tag on upcoming).

There are now less that 48 hours until flight check in, and we'll be on the way. Each time I go back and forth between the UK and the US, the journey seems that little bit shorter. Its not that planes have got that much faster in the last few decades, it is that doing business over the Atlantic has become easier and easier.

I've helped establish US companies in the UK, and build UK businesses out into the US, and whilst there are differences in the business cultures, bridging the gap has become easier in recent years. Transatlantic innovation is increasingly common place, as technology has helped us transcend geography, and businesses look beyond national boundaries for employees, partners and customers.

The subject of innovation has been a hot topic over the last couple of weeks. Partially stirred up by Judy Estrin's new book (former CTO of Cisco), but also by some introspection into where Web 2.0 goes next.

The Expo will be an opportunity to benchmark progress, as well as build new partnerships, while rivals eye each other up.

Let's watch what unfolds during the week. One thing is for sure: it will be action packed.

Photos here on my Flickr and all digitalmission tagged photos here.


New Media Sector Champion Joins Digital Mission

digialmission-unionjack-120.gifAs the Digital Mission to New York gathers pace, the agendas are printed, the bags are packed and some of the UK's top digital businesses head to the airport, there's a new addition to the party.

Aleks Krotoski, recently appointed by the UKTI, supporters of the Digital Mission, as New Media Sector Champion. Over to Aleks, for a proper introduction..

Hello all, I'm Aleks Krotoski, the UKTI's New Media Sector Champion, and I'll be joining the Digital Mission next week in NYC.

2837686182_29f71728df_m.jpgMy job as New Media Sector Champion is to find out what you folks need and to see how we can develop strategies to deliver them. Expect a lot of chat and probing questions. Some of these may be on the record, 'cause I'm also coming along to Web 2.0 under my other hat, as a Tech journalist for The Guardian. I hope to speak with many of you about your companies under the guise of both areas, taking home lots of fresh ideas, new relationships, new bridges and new opportunities, plus a pile of audio for the Tech Weekly podcast.

I've been at The Guardian for five years, as one of the three gamesbloggers and as a paper tech writer. My beat is social media, playful web and interactivity, so I feel very excited to wallow in all of the crossmedia cross-overs that are emerging on both sides of the Atlantic. I've also been an academic for most of that time, working towards a PhD in social psychology at the University of Surrey examining how information spreads around the web.

Really look forward to meeting you all! I'll be sitting on the panel at the Web2Open session on Thursday and will be chairing the afternoon session on Monday. See you all soon!

[Pic courtesy of psd]