21 UK digital firms hit NYC last week – no wonder there was trouble

Earlier this year 20 UK startups went to Silicon Valley to network with the tech scene. The government-backed trip was called Webmission. Last week 21 UK companies were over in New York on the UK Trade & Investment’s “Digital Mission“, put together by UK online new media community/events outfit Chinwag. Here’s a guest post on the event by Benjamin Ellis.

The Digital Mission was timed to coincide with the Web 2.0 Expo in New York, so there was a long list of sessions and meet-ups both within and around the Expo. For the companies over to drum-up investor support, there were intense discussions with VCs, with more to follow. It might have been a stormy week to be over in NYC, and you know I’m not talking about the weather, but that didn’t slow things at all.

Winston & Strawn (the law firm behind BootLaw) kicked things off with a legal overview of setting up in the US. Tom Watson MP, Cabinet Office Minister and long-time blogger weighed in with a governmental perspective, and an evening reception at the British Consulate introduced the companies to 120 people from the New York tech scene.

The New York community welcomed the Brits with open arms. An invite to Digital Wednesdays was one of the many extended to the companies each evening. Everyone hurled themselves into the scene and networked away, which is harder than it sounds given that it’s a 3-parties-a-night kind of town. Sun Start Up Essentials provided a lunch and talk, and there was even a bit of a cultural exchange with the larger-than-life Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV fame. You think we have lots of meet ups every month in the UK? That much seemed to happen in about a New York week.

Big take aways? The Atlantic’s not the gap that it used to be. Make no mistake, there are definitely barriers to establishing in the US, but they aren’t insurmountable. The New York scene welcomes new talent, and for those that can keep up with the pace there are big opportunities. With folks like Fred Wilson looking to the UK and Europe, it is pretty likely that other smart money will follow. One way or another, the Atlantic is less and less of a barrier to tech companies. In a parallel to the experience of companies on the Webmission trip, one of the big benefits for the digital mission companies was actually getting to know each other. The mission didn’t just build links in New York, it built them back in the UK too.

The 21 Digital Mission Companies:

B View

Harvest Digital

Head London




KMP Interactive Marketing and Technology


Market Sentinel






Tactile CRM




Unruly Media