Techstars London day 7: Working on a Sunday

Nothing new about working on a Sunday. Whoever has worked on a startup before knows well that you are in working mode 24/7. This has been my life for the last year (and prior to that the early years at Mendeley). 

You do it because you love it. Because even though you are tired, you are broke, you don’t see your family/partner much, and you forget what the word ‘holiday’ means, it brings you a kind of satisfaction that it’s difficult to explain. People working in startups feel part of something. Something that starts small and gets big(*).

You feel like you belong. You feel your ideas matter. And they do: the success of a company is up to absolutely everyone involved in it. 

And when you feel you belong, you feel damn good. 

This was the case when I was an early employee at Mendeley and much more so now that I am a co-founder of Headliner. Being part of Techstars feels of belonging in a much bigger scale.

Today we went to the office. It was quiet and peaceful. A few other companies and hacksociates were there. You could feel it in the air, people were enjoying being there working and making things happen. Also, our new CFO joined us. Check out how cool he is:

Charlie Feathers, the new Chief Fluffy Officer. Photo credit: Stan.
Charlie Feathers, the new Chief Fluffy Officer. Photo credit: Stan.

Tomorrow mentor madness week starts, so we went through the list of people we will be meeting. Let me tell you, we will have *lots* of meetings. And I know this week is gonna be hard (will have very little time to code) – but our excitement just keeps growing.

We have plenty of ideas we can’t wait to implement! 

So today it was quiet. Tomorrow, I am sure it won’t be.

Summary of the day:

Time I went to bed last night: 2.21am (I’ll admittedly say, I was at a friend’s house party drinking Margaritas – good fun)
Hours of sleep: 8.27 (hooray!)
Hangover: slightly
Mood for the day: chilled but productive
Steps walked this week: 118645
Soundtrack for the weekend: https://open.spotify.com/track/6Rg227P2kJd6OLVLnukqop (Also, TIL, John Talabot is Spanish!)

(*)  Or at least has the potential to become big, if not, what the hell are you doing?!

PS: Yesterday I decided not to blog because, well, I took part of the day off – Remember when I said I could not feel the tiredness? Well, I definitely could yesterday morning. 

Techstars London day 5: Getting out of the building

I can’t believe it’s already Friday. Where has this week gone?! A good sign, considering that time flies when you are having fun.

One thing that has surprised me this week, is the lack of tiredness I am experiencing. Or maybe I am just on a constant high. I mean, I have been sleeping an average of 5 hours per night for the last week and I am used to crack at least 7/8 hours per night, plus the sporadic siestas (I am Spanish after all) – AND all this without a single drop of caffeine (drinking coffee gives me terrible migraines). I am sure this will take its toll sooner rather than later though, it’s not a question of if, but when.

Moving on, today was incredibly productive for us. In the morning Stan had the CEO meeting, which I think  went quite well – at least for me, considering my ears weren’t burning (*). in the meantime I started on a little piece of work that’s gonna help us refine our search functionality greatly – little steps with great impact. 

In the afternoon we decided to get out of the building as suggested by Steve Blank in his brilliant “How to build a startup” course. We headed down to a new venue that opened recently in Clerkenwell, the Piano Works (amazing btw) to talk to the manager about a possible partnership and find out how they work and source their entertainment. And when I say we, I mean my lovely co-founders Stan and Maria, I stayed coding in the office 🙂

Cool detail from Piano works. People at the bar can request songs to be played on stage by writing them in a napkin. The piano in the photo is actually mine.
Cool detail from Piano works. People at the bar can request songs to be played on stage by writing them in a napkin. The piano in the photo is actually mine.

And before I knew it, it was already beer o’clock! The only problem was… no ping pong! There were people still working in the kitchen area so the table was not deployed, and oh the disappointment! I was looking forward to (try to) kick a few asses there and then. But I guess it will have to wait until next week…

Finished the day with a lovely team dinner in Exmouth Market and then a nice walk back home (**).

So first week has gone by quickly – I have to say, I am loving all the people in this cohort and the deep dive was amazing – I almost wished it was longer than 2 hours.

Now this weekend to catch up on some sleep and get ready for mentor madness next week…

Btw, I have not decided yet whether I will be posting during the weekend or not. I’ll see how I feel about it tomorrow, until then…

Summary of the day:

Time I went to sleep last night: 1.30am

Total hours of sleep: 5.13

Mood for the day: Relaxed and productive

Steps count for the week (From Monday ’til today 23.41): 80354 (I am leading walky legs!)

Soundtrack for the day: https://open.spotify.com/track/43DnalVz4tL1pR1GWCpfCj (when in doubt, always listen to Todd Terje)

Happy Friday night!

(*) Remember in my post from Wednesday that I mentioned what the purpose of the CEO meeting was about 😉

(**) Walking is seriously therapeutic…

Techstars London day 4: Still standing

This will be a short post. I just arrived home after a lovely walk home (after a few drinks) with an unexpected (but wonderful) companion.

Today I would say it was a good day. I got to code some more (yes!) finishing off a few tasks on my list that were getting in the way. So today I could move onto a more interesting task! Hooray!

No meetings today for us other than the all hands meeting which involves all the companies in the cohort and the hacksociates together. During this meeting, everyone gets together and we share what was the best during the week, if there was something that went incredibly wrong and if there’s anything we want to ask for. Since it is just our first week, there was not much to report.

Also, some companies presented to the rest of us what they are building and I have to say, pretty impressed with what I have seen!

We also had a visit from founders from a couple of companies that went through Techstars in previous cohorts – this is known as founder stories, which bring more insights into what it means to be part of Techstars. So far they all agree: it has been one of the best experiences, and so far I can agree with that.

After that, we headed to the pub where we were invited to have some drinks and food and mingle with fellow companies. Also, the Ambie guys got to show us what they are all about and delighted us with a sample playlist and some shots at the end (which i didn’t partake in because my body simply can’t handle shots and I needed to take the picture!).

Such nice gang, wow
Such nice gang, wow

To finish the night, I got to walk home with Tak who I run into on my way home and convinced him that waiting for the bus was a bad idea considering the tube strike. And I am glad he accepted my invitation to walk together, cause we had a very deep but beautiful and helpful conversation. So, thanks Tak for not thinking I am just completely mad – or if you think so, just thanks for coping up with me 😉

And now, time to sleep, but before a quick summary of the day…

Time I went to sleep last night: 1.39am

Total hours of sleep: 5.18

Mood for the day: happy

Gin & Tonics: around 4 (Singles – might explain the mood)

Shots: 0 (Thank God)

Level of tiredness: actually not too bad

Hugs given: at least 4

High fives from Ben Southworth: 1 (and it *was* a proper one) 

Soundtrack for the day (contrary to what Stan may think, this is a good tune!): https://open.spotify.com/track/7f6RiVFXqUT3dWi35OznLI

The pressure timer...
The pressure timer…

Techstars London day 3: Already feeling the benefits

Today was a long day. I woke up early (6.30am), jumped in the shower and got on the run.

I walk everyday from our lovely flat in Haggerston down to Clerkenwell. It takes me about 45 minutes to get to the office and it is good exercise. I am not a morning person – actually, let me correct that: I am not an (insanely early) morning person and walking helps me a lot to wake up and be more alert.

I arrived at 8am with a bit of buffer time to get changed and head to the CTO meeting. Our first. The meeting was led by Tak and to my (great) surprise Dom Davis was the guest this week. Yes! The same Dom Davis that inspired me to start blogging my experience at Techstars! THE Dom Davis in the flesh! (Sorry got a bit carried away there..)

The CTO meeting is presented during the induction as a “forum where you can b*tch about your CEOs” the same way that the CEO meeting is an “opportunity to b*tch about the CTOs” – but in reality, and as Dom already pointed out in his book, it was actually a very helpful chat about things that are concerning us in our position.

Some of us have experience managing teams but some others don’t. Or some are more confident about the technologies they are using, and some need some help with this or that. But there we were, a room full of incredible talent, and as Dom put it, among all of us, we are sure to cover most expertise areas in computing, which makes the group incredibly powerful. If you have a question you just ask. It felt great to be able to be open about our worries. It’s also good to see that, it is ok to not have everything figured it out but knowing in the end it will be ok. 

Right after the CTO meeting we went onto our first deep dive as a company. The first rule of the deep dives is…you don’t talk about the deep dives. But I will say this: it was a brilliant conversation with Max, Jon and Ben and that I finally got to show that I am not as quiet as it seems at times! (*)

After that, I spent the rest of the day coding. There’s one thing that I am not sure all developers would agree on, but even though I can be quite productive and get great insights in meetings and all, there’s no better metric for productivity than the number of commits or lines of code(**) that you write in a day. So for me, to have finished off (almost!) some work that has been dragging for a while felt great.

Another good thing of Techstars so far is having an office. Especially an office where, not only there are other great companies in your cohort, but there’s also great companies where you have a bunch of your closest friends, who you can ask for help and they won’t hesitate to give you a hand after a long day at work (thanks Nickrw!).

Ended up grabbing dinner at 9pm at Byron. Naughty, I know, but hey! I just had a salad for lunch and I totally skipped the pastries at the CTO meeting – can’t promise I’ll always have this will power though.

And final highlight of the day, our screens arrived! And they are massive! Not sure what it is about them, but I just get 10x more productive when I am working on 27” than 13”. It must be (again) a developers’ thing, since Stan’s and Maria’s reaction was “I am not sure I need this big ass screen” – but I assure them they will love it!

My final setup :D
My final setup 😀

To finish off, while chatting to Dom, he gave me a few ideas to include in the posts, which I absolutely loved and for the sake of science I will implement: provide numbers on how much I sleep every night, when I wake up, when I go to bed and what my mood for the day was, etc – then I will analyse it and see if there’s any correlation. I have also noted down my weight and will see by the end of the program just how much more I have put on – I have been hearing it is bound to happen, so might as well embrace it but trying to keep healthy. 

So here’s the summary for the day:

Wake up time: 6.30am

Hours of sleep: 5.48

Mood for day: Positive and happy due to productivity during the day

Levels of tiredness (as of 00:47): extreme 

And to finish off, since I am a music passionate and I started this blog not long ago to blog about music but didn’t get to much of it, I will also add the soundtrack for the day: https://open.spotify.com/track/2GLl5SfGDhAEztVvEVRimA 

Now, off I go to sleep, tomorrow more…

(*) The first real conversation I had with Tak he mentioned I seemed like the quiet type. To his surprise, now he can’t shut me up! 

(**) Sometimes (generally) less code is better in terms of design, but you still need to write code 🙂

Techstars London day 2: A quick one

So, I just wrote a very nice post that it is lost because Squarespace doesn’t have autosave (waaa?).

So in a nutshell, great day, a bit of induction on mentor madness which is scheduled for next week, a couple of meetings with Hacksociates to touch base about a few things we want to help with and generally getting used to the fact that I am back in an office environment (with tons of people) (*). 

Also, I was planning to work a bit more tonight before heading to bed, but fear not, I left my laptop charger in the office and vagrant (virtualbox) it is not nice to battery life. (**) and (***).

On the plus side, the nice ladies that run Warner Yard, Linda and Emma gave me a chest of drawers for my desk, so epic win! 

So early night for me  to be ready for CTO meeting early morning and deep dive…

Night night, and thanks for reading.

(*) Time to get a new good pair of headphones

(**) /giphy facepalm

 

(***) /giphy fffffffuuuuuuuuuuuu

Hello again: Day 1 of Techstars London

Many reasons for the radio silence – last post was from more than a year ago and a lot has happened since then! Today though, I felt it was a good day for a come back (and beware, I might come back with a vengeance!).

Where to start…

A year ago I left Mendeley (the company I worked for about 5 years) to start my own venture, Headliner, with my two co-founders and friends Maria and Stan

We’ve been working very hard for the last year to make it all happen. Last April we launched to the public and it’s been awesome, unbelievably busy and slightly frenetic at times since then. Even though it has been hard (working from home, though flexible and convenient, it can get lonely and  make you a hermit), it has been a great ride and I would do it again without hesitation.

Today is a good day to come back, because today we started our journey as a Techstars company and we can finally announce we are part of the Fall 2015 cohort. Needless to say I (we) am (are) incredibly excited.

Left to right Headliner's co-founders: Stan, Maria and myself. Slight look of fear I am pulling, but I promise you this is just down to the fact that I might be the most anti-photogenic person. I am actually super excited! Also, I need a haircut.
Left to right Headliner’s co-founders: Stan, Maria and myself. Slight look of fear I am pulling, but I promise you this is just down to the fact that I might be the most anti-photogenic person. I am actually super excited! Also, I need a haircut.

Aware there are tough times ahead – 3 months of intensive work, non-stop meetings, KPIs, deep dives, mentor madness… still, I get the feeling it is gonna be good fun and well worth it and really gonna help us grow. 

Inspired by Dom Davis’ 100 days of TechStars, I have decided to document my experience – mainly so I can reflect on everything that happens and analyse how I feel as the program progresses. And just before I forget, I am incredibly thankful to have Jesper, who is the most supportive boyfriend in the world(*). 

Today has been a great day(**) and I can’t wait to see what tomorrow will bring. I think we are definitely onto a good start. And with this thought, it’s time for me to hit the sack.

Welcome back to my little corner on the Internet…

 

(*) First thing they told us to do was to thank our family for their support, since they will see very little of us during the next three months. Hopefully, i’ll still get to see him almost every night (will report on this later)…

(**) Check out the picture we took at an unexpected stop during our surprise activity…

From left to right: Martin from Sorry as a Service, myself and my co-founder Maria
From left to right: Martin from Sorry as a Service, myself and my co-founder Maria

Burning House

I have a problem where, whenever I find a tune I like (or album, or band…) I listen to it on repeat-1. Until it hurts.

So when people recommend some new music to listen to I usually keep the recommendations aside and come back to them when I’m done with my obsession at the time.  Then I am desperate for new things to discover. Run into something unexpected that simply blows my mind away.

I have a few solutions for this problem: one is get a hand on my folder on Spotify “New Stuff To Listen To” where all recommendations end up and play something randomly.

But, I found a better approach that makes me even happier and excited. Go to gigs. Not any specific gigs. Random gigs. Gigs recommended by friends. Gigs of bands I know absolutely nothing about.

Normal people would do some research prior to the gig, find out whether the music is their cup of tea or not. While I sometimes do this (especially if the gig is not particularly cheap), I’ve discovered that going to these shows without hearing anything beforehand gives me a much more interesting experience.

This is risky, as it can go both ways: you either love it or you hate it.  And I wouldn’t recommend it to people who are picky on their musical taste. But if you are like me, where there are little things you dislike and listen from classical to heavy metal and beyond, then give it a go, you’ll find that you’ll be greatly surprised – or extremely disappointed, but in that case, I’d just leave 🙂

Last week, thanks to our lovely friend Amandine, we had the opportunity to go to Cargo for a band we’ve never heard of before: Burning House. Great chance to put the experiment to the test!

It was a long time since I was in Cargo – so long, the back yard looked completely different since the last time I was there. I forgot how cosy of a venue it is. We arrived early and we were pretty much the first ones there.

At first I was a bit scared, it was already showtime and it was just the 5 of us there. Some more people started coming. Musicians on stage, show started.

The duo,  Hervé Salters aka RV Salters (keyboards) and Chief Xcel (DJ) were accompanied by a drummer and a bass player with really cool afro hair.

Their sound is 70s funky with a nice electronic twist and incredibly fun.

They also know how to put on a good show. Check out a video I took from the first row (quality unfortunately not great, but you get an idea of the dances RV was pulling while playing the keyboards).

Details of the dancing (at real speed..)  Details of the dancing (at real speed..)

 

Burning House just released their new (first) album Walking into a Burning House  so go and check it out because it’s awesome. It’s now available on Amazon, iTunes, Rough Trade and Deezer.

My favourite tunes so far: Tokyo Airport, Post Party Stress Disorder and Turn Off The Robot. Enjoy!

Great fun evening and super glad I got the opportunity to discover their music the way I did. Thanks again to Amandine for inviting us along!

 

 

 

Pretty Lights

I came across Pretty Lights not long ago. If I remember correctly, it was Jesper’s recommendation. And as like any other good recommendation, Pretty Lights became a little bit of an obsession.

 The first tune I listened to was Finally Moving from the album Taking up Your Precious Time, and he got me there. It’s a beautiful remix of the amazing Etta James’ Something’s Got a Hold On Me.  

 

After I listened to this tune like there was no other thing to listen to, I decided to give Pretty Lights repertoire a good spin. To my surprise, not only he made beautiful chillaxing tunes, but he also had very funky tunes. The type that make you want to dance, or at least bang your head. Give a listen to the following two tunes…

http://grooveshark.com/songWidget.swf

http://grooveshark.com/songWidget.swf

I got really into his music and for 2 years I wondered when would he come to perform in London. The wait was long, but it finally happened! Last September, we were lucky enough to have him here for a one only show in London, in the Electric Ballroom in Camden. Funnily enough, the same week the tickets were released, Jesper and I were saying how, with all the gigs that we go to, we’ve never been to this venue for real gigs (during the day it’s used as part of the market). There’s nothing like hitting two birds with one stone 🙂

Thoughts from the night: the DJ before Pretty Lights (I am sorry I didn’t catch his name) was awesome, and made sure we were in party mood for when Pretty Lights came to stage. We were even a bit concerned that he was a bit too much upbeat and that Pretty Lights wouldn’t be that hardcore (the DJ before was cracking some Knife Party, Feed Me and Nero tunes…) but to our surprise, Pretty Lights was beyond that.

He wasn’t giving a damn. He wasn’t there for joking, he was giving it all, and so was the crowd. We didn’t stop dancing until we left. It was amazing. That feeling of finally experiencing the music you love live is absolutely priceless. Some people looked at me like I was crazy or on drugs, even though I was completely sober – not a single drop of alcohol. That’s how much I was enjoying the music.

We also had some time to photo-document the night,  I hope you enjoy 🙂

It’s still summer (a tale of festivals)

Who would have thought this year we were going to have summer in London. After last year’s only-one-week-of-sun, the horrible winter and the not so good spring, I was losing hope. You see, for someone from the south of Spain it’s difficult to understand how’s it even possible to be wearing winter boots in June, even after 5 years in the UK, it’s hard to get used to it.

But the summer finally came and ‘oh! surprise!’ it seems it hasn’t left yet!

And with the summer the great festivals. Hooray! Full days of music for our entertainment and pleasure. This year I haven’t been to as many as I would have liked, but hey, something is something. 

Opening the season was Field Day. Myself and a group of friends headed to Victoria Park on the 25th of May (not quite summer, but hey, it was sunny, and that counts)  to celebrate the hen party of a great friend of mine.

It was a very sunny day, and we were ready to have fun! Lots of beer, dancing and good music. What I like the most about Field Day is that most of the music is quite unknown or at least not super main stream. And I like that. I like to be surprised with good stuff. I like going to festivals without doing much research prior to the event. I like walking around the place with a drink in hand and dancing to what my body needs at the time; and that has proven to be a great way to find new stuff to listen to.

Bat for Lashes  was a good discovery for me. I have heard about her before, but I haven’t really stopped and listened to her music until Field Day. It was stunning. She has an amazingly beautiful voice, and she did a great performance. Most of it wasn’t very danceable, but it was nice to sit down for a bit and just listen to nice music. There were a couple of more dance-y tunes and that was nice to bring us back up and keep running around.

 

Different style and genre, but yet another great discovery from Field Day was TNGHT. Now, I am not a huge fan of trap music, but these guys know how to rock it. And their tunes really make you want to dance. Check out one of my favourite tunes of this year (so far):

http://grooveshark.com/songWidget.swf

In July we headed to Secret Garden Party. I am preparing a dedicated post about the whole experience, because otherwise this one would be too long, but I would like to mention a few musical highlights in advance, of the 4 days we spent there.

First mention for the reggae band General Roots , not only because they were good fun and have an amazing cover of Joker Smoker by Triston Palma, but also because they took some lyrics from Pure Morning by Placebo and added them to that cover. Boom! 

Another great discovery was The Other Tribe , an electropop band from Bristol with an amazing energy on stage. I absolutely loved it and I danced like crazy to it. Good fun!

 

Enough of Secret Garden Party for now, it’s time to talk about African music! My friend Vincent’s girlfriend was part of the organizers of the Africa Centre Summer Festival that took place in Covent Garden, and following his recommendation Jesper and I headed downtown to see what was cooking. We arrived right on time for Kasai Masaiand man they were groovy! The guy ended up with a spectacular dance – I wish I could move my hips as well as him! Impressive. 

Later that night Nneka was playing. Unfortunately we had to leave before we could see her, but I later researched her, and her music is pretty cool. I particularly like her tunes Shining Star and Heartbeat. 

And to sum up, last weekend we went down to the Southbank for the  Sud de France Joie de Vivre Festival. It was kind of an “after party” organised by the Southbank in collaboration with the people from the Worldwide Festival. We were supposed to join our friends in Sète earlier this year, but we couldn’t go due to work, but we’re definitely going next year!

So here it ends my story about the festivals this summer. Make sure you enjoy the last days of this beautiful before lovely autumn comes to London. After all, 

In the summer time when the weather is high

You can stretch right up and touch the sky 

 

Hello World!

After a long time off the blogosphere, I decided to open this blog to write about what I love the most, music! You can check some of the motivations behind it here 🙂

For the first post (long due), here’s a recommendation I got from my lovely boyfriend’s brother, not that long ago. Pretty good alt-rock!

Welcome to my musical world and thanks for reading!