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Ask YC: are you a UK-based hacker, or working on a startup in the UK?
26 points by dood on Nov 13, 2007 | hide | past | web | favorite | 68 comments
I'm suprised how few UK startups and hackers I've seen here. Where are you, and what are you working on? Or have you all moved to the valley?

Hi, ian here from Songkick (YC summer '07 batch). We're based in East London. If you're UK based get in touch - can introduce you to other hackers in the UK doing/interested in start-ups. We'll organise some drinks soon. You can reach us at founders at songkick dot com.

Huh, I hadn't seen Songkick before, it looks great! I had the same frustration with finding shows from bands I like, and wanted to make something similar. I'm sure it'll be a hit if you get the data and some half-decent recommendations.

Thanks man! Hope to meet you in person soon.

What do you think of our recommendations right now? We're taking a different approach to the 2 most popular paradigms: collaborative filtering on your userbase (e.g. Last.fm) or expert hand labeling (e.g. Pandora).

Instead we consider any implicit or explicit relationship between two artists expressed on the web as a data point for our recommendation engine to analyse. This could for example be that Arcade Fire and LCD Soundsystem were mentioned in the same review. We also incorporate data from our users' listening histories. You can see the recommendations at work on artist pages and on our Band Manager.

Our goal is to generate recommendations that harness the wisdom of the biggest crowd possible: all music lovers anywhere on the web. We're not there yet but would love to hear what you think of the first results.

I had a look around the artists pages; the recommendations are good, each set seems fairly solid with mostly nothing too irrelevant, the main associations I would expect are generally there, the results seem fairly consistent across genres, and pretty good for niche/non-mainstream bands too. If this is all hand-rolled from web crawling and that sort of thing, rather impressive!

A couple of thoughts/ideas:

It'd be good to have more recommendations for bands who have dates coming up. As someone wanting to see shows, I'd generally like to see at least a couple of recommendations for specific tours, as long as they're fairly relevant. Though I imagine the main issue with this is tour data, rather than recommending. Also, If I'm looking for touring bands, it doesn't seem quite right to get several recommendations for bands I know I'll never see, like Nirvana and Biggie Smalls, so maybe you could provide separate result sets for bands that are touring and bands that aren't.

Another suggestion is to have a little more randomness, or a little more tolerance for less-close matches, or different types of closeness. The results tend toward big names/popular bands, but it may be good to throw in more that are more closely related by genre/style, and less by prominence. You may even consider randomly removing some of the biggest bands from results, otherwise you end with e.g. Metallica recommended for every band when browsing around any vaguely rocky bands.

There are a couple of cases where it seems maybe you've sucked in some related but irrelevant data, and end up giving word-concept recommendations, e.g. for Underworld I got [Gods, Hades, Orpheus, Doom, Demon, Witch, Terror, Curse, Warrior, Dawn]

Of course all this depends on the user and context. A disclaimer then: I'm a huge music fan, but my comments are probably coloured by my (generally, somewhat) less mainstream tastes. Sorry to go on so much, but I'm very interested in both music and recommendations, so I'm finding it hard to stop myself. But good job, it looks to be a very useful site that I would use. I'd very much like to hear more about it, and what you plan on doing with it when this meetup happens.

Thanks very much for your feedback man. We're aware of the issue that occurs with a few bands (e.g. Underworld) and are fixing that. Imagine my horror when I was listening to one of my favourite London producers Burial and got recommended bands like Grave, Funeral, Resurrection. That'll be fixed soon.

We're also going to make the recommendations much more tour focused as you suggest. The goal is to really separate the signal out from the noise so you know which of the hundreds of small gigs going on are most likely to interest you.

We're also going to have user preferences for the recommendations (particularly how obscure you want them to be and whether you only want to see artists on tour. RIP B.I.G.)

Really interested to talk more at the hacker meetup. I've got a ton of emails so should be a good group.

Hey Ian

You'll like this;

I've been in talks with a London-based investor. At the end of one of our meetings, the investor was checking his emails and pulled-up the Songkick powerpoint via an angel network they'd signed-up to! Then the following week you guys hit TechCrunch! That was pretty exciting and inspirational for me!

I'm eager to meet some fellow founders & hackers - so I've got to make OCC London and these hacker meetups...

Thanks for letting me know!

Look forward to meeting you soon.


Gordon from Project Playfair (now hypernumbers.com) - we met at Seedcamp...

We have an alpha SDK out at the moment - we should show it to you before I head back to Scotland in a couple of weeks...

Just used Songkick - stuck in an obscure artiste and it turns out he's playing in Edinburgh 2 weeks after I get home - you seem to be serving some tasty dogfood there son...

Drop us a line at gordon blah-blah hypernumbers.com


There are several UK startups funded by YC, so we exist! Auctomatic, Sitepass, Songkick and a few in the new batch.

Visas are difficult but otherwise I'd recommend moving to the Valley, or at least visiting.

How about getting together at this?


Myself and Harjeet will be there.

To be honest. That event just doesn't interest me at all. The speakers are not going to say anything that is not already on the web. ...and if they do, it will be on the web the day after.

I want to meet hackers. The best way to do that is probably over coffee. Not in the context of someone delivering a speech.

Perhaps you'd prefer Barcamp London? It's happening 24-25th of November.


I read about that event somewhere, but isn't it for Oxford students only?

Hi, dood. We're a small team based in Oxford, UK. Would be cool if you can make it to the event kul mentioned - parts of the event (including drinks with everyone afterwards ;-) ) are open to anyone. E-mail jonathan[dot]black[at]sbs[dot]ox[dot]ac[dot]uk for more info. Otherwise we can meet up in London some time. In fact, are you at Minibar this week?

I recently started blogging about UK start-ups at http://davidlanger.co.uk so am also keen to hear about more hackers, entrepreneurs etc. working on stuff this side of the pond.

Hi David, probably won't make Oxford, and I didn't know about Minibar, but if possible it sounds like fun. If not, guess it'll have to be the upcoming YC london meetup, if you can make it.

Clickpass not Sitepass! :P

I am just starting out and trying to get a couple of start-ups off the ground. I am based in Leeds (http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?hl=en&q=leeds&oe=UTF-8...) and my current concern is about finding talent in the north. Everything I have read so far - including most of the stuff on YC News - suggests that I will have to go down south to London or Cambridge, or up-sticks and move to 'the valley'. However, recent networking events have introduced me to local talent and so things are looking more optimistic.

A hacker who lives in the north (in the countryside between leeds and york), and commutes weekly to London on contracts. There is talent in the north, you just have to be quick to snap it up, coz the first place we all look for work is in the biggest and best paying market, which of course is London.

In London. Working on collaboration software.

If anyone has the leadership ability to organize a meetup - I would be very interested.


We'll do it. Hit us with your emails: founders at songkick dot com.

Probably a good idea to start a new thread for that sometime. Its about time for a UK meetup so thanks for taking the initiative!

Cool - sign me up!

Come and check out London OpenCoffee


Hi. We're here - based in Newcastle. Existing business, however we've two startups underway that are being run by two independent teams. I'm trying to oversee them and help where needed as at 37 years old I get too tired for all-nighters!! Just as a note though, I often go out to San Jose etc to meet up with people

Yup, niche market for mining and quarrying: quarrysell (dot) com. We are based in Loughborough (outside Nottingham/Leicester)

Join out network on Facebook if you are around:


I'm in Southampton, Hampshire. Currently hacking away at a web app which has something to do with online storage. In the progress of registering the company.

Will be hopefully moving to Cambridge at some point (that is if I don't run out of money entirely).

I am working with online storage as well. I see it as a smaller part of a bigger system. Get in touch - it would be good to swap stories.

In Cambridge incubating an idea. Cambridge is a great place for entrepreneurship.

Cambridge does seem to have a lot going for it with the science park etc (I'm based not too far away in Ipswich).

Would be interested how other peoples experiences have been regarding getting funding though (I haven't got that far yet).

I'm here from Ambush Networks (http://www.ambushnetworks.com)

Not really a hacker, more of a computer security consultant.

I'm working for 'social betworking' starup http://www.bragster.com/ in East London. I'm originally from the North West and often keep an eye out for jobs back there but they usually pay ridiculously low amounts so all the hackers congregate in or around London. Also there are loads of opportunities to network around London which are all but non-existent in the North.

I'm in London, working on a journey planner. Keen to meet hackers in the UK. Drop me a line at enginedriver at telltrains dot com

BTW, my site is www.telltrains.com

London based, and lecturing at London South Bank University. Just put up a few social networking sites around climate change, poverty, peace and wildlife. They're gathered on http://www.bippr.com.

Good to see what else is going on.

I'm on twitter at http://twitter.com/helptheworld.

I am in the U.K - Milton Keynes, which is less than an hour from London. I dabble but I am no hacker by any means. I do however design software for a living and I am looking for a hacker co-founder for a startup. So if anyone is interested, do get in touch - initially by reply here and we'll take it from there.

I am looking for a co-founder. drop me a line at enginedriver at telltrains dot com

In Sheffield, South Yorkshire.

Two of us working on a web service that should make blogging more 'two-way' and social, as opposed to the rather one-way broadcast activity than it is at present. Hopefully it will help web-surfing be a far richer reading experience and encourage higher quality Internet conversations.

Hi, I don't think I'm a hacker (unfortunately I'm a lawyer) in Birmingham UK, but may be looking for any interested hackers to collaborate with me in overhauling the provision of legal services to people via a personal startup. If anyone wants to share any ideas or comment,I'd be grateful.

I'm one of the co-founder's of Zamzar which has been live for about a year now. (http://www.zamzar.com)

I'm based in Southampton and interested in the meetup that the Songkick guys are mooting - you could always post the details on Hacker News ?

Hi, I'm in Central London currently working on a start-up part-time and looking to pursue it full-time from early next year. I would be really interested in meeting hackers to share ideas, if you guys at Songkick organise something count me in.

I'm in london, working on a citizen journalism site (www.scribblesheet.co.uk)

Hi, we're two American hackers in London starting a betting exchange to take on Betfair. Would love to meet up with hackers/startups in London...jason@binaryclub.com

Hmmmm, just as I thought, everyone is down south! Could people please expand on the merits of being down south: is it easier to find funding, hackers, etc?

I'm dropping out of the University of Bath to work on tech startups full-time in London. Also in Winchester quite a lot as from there.

I'm over in Bristol. If you feel like having a chat about your startup ideas get in touch with me via newsycATdanshub.com or come to Bristol OpenCoffee sometime

Bristol based here. There plenty of UK startups but they're mostly busy working isntead of posting on here :p

In Guildford, have a few ideas for startups, but not gone as far as actually doing anything about it. Yet.

I'm in Guildford too although my day job sees me around the SE hacking ahem I mean consulting.

I am in Devon hacking away at my ideas. Doing client work to pay the bills at the moment.

3 guys in London, and myself in Bristol working on our project concept at the moment

I'm also Bristol based. You should come check out openCoffee Bristol at the Watershed.

I'd be interested in hearing about your startup, feel free to get in touch newsycATdanshubDOTcom

Irish hacker here. We are currently in stealth mode while we work on our project.

Heh, I'm in Ireland too. We should meet up.

Me three. Drop me a line -- patrick#collison#ie.

I'm in London, working on a web app for helping people share and organise stuff.

I'm in Edinburgh. Working on a collaborative web search startup.

In East London, bootstrapping a social mobile music thing :-)

I'm in London, finishing a PhD actually, but after that...

I'm scraping something together in Edinburgh.

hypernumbers.com in Linlithgow - drop me a line...

gordon blah-blah hypernumbers dot com


Hypernumbers.com just gone into alpha...


I'm london - hedge fund.


echion - I'm doing some research in the healthcare area for a startup and am interested in speaking to anyone involved in a hedge fund and healthcare that works with firms like Gerson Lehman Group. Do you have any suggestions for appropriate individuals or organisation in London to contact?

Not really, unfortunately. Good luck.

Hey - if you are looking for FX trading API or STP people at any point, please get in touch :) (My contract is likely to be up at end of the year)

I'm working on an online music startup in my spare time, based in Islington.

Thanks for the contact - we generally look for permies so probably aren't compatible with what you'd want. But always worth getting in touch just in case.

not sure i trust a 2-h old account with 1 karma... but it's nice to offer.

Not sure what you thought I was "offering" - just answering the OP.

But I understand your skepticism about the id. I've just been lurking for a while and had no need to post.


Hi Cibermole, worked for you at codies, dragon empires Lead P. what a dog that game!!! gotta thing you can help me with. will email. Magic1234.

Hi Cibermole. hows about meeting in London. I'd like to show you some cool sw that you're gonna like. need a little of your time. H

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