NEF Fireside Chat #2


A couple of weeks back the NEF held the second of this year’s “Fireside Chats”, this time in the upstairs room of The Crown Taven, Clerkenwell, London. The Fireside Chats are a new format of networking event which the NEF are pioneering as part of our calendar of events for the year. Where they differ to the previous Speaker Events is mainly through the informal format. At a Fireside Chat the emphasis is on mingling one-on-one or in small groups with an invited entrepreneur. The NEF invite maybe a dozen or so entrepreneurs (both established and new to the game), they each give a short introduction of themselves, and then we sort of ‘speed-date for entrepreneurs’ and rotate around the venue to meet as many different people as possible, without mobbing one or two in particular!

The first Fireside Chat went well enough a couple of months back, but I think they got it about right this time. This time, there weren’t any poor lonely entrepreneurs or any of the previous one or two ‘crowd-magnets’. Things were a lot more chilled out and it was all good fun and easy going.

On the guest list were about a dozen entrepreneurs, from all manner of backgrounds and with a variety of tales to tell. We had Andy Bell from Mint Digital, Emeline Wrath from Remote Goat, Matt James from Doing Something, Matt Doris from Etsy, Sam Patel from MyPopSales, Matt McStravick from Echo, Will Ross from Zafiri, and George Oborne from India Bet (to name but a few, or 8).

I took most out of the evening from two different conversations. The first of which was with Sam Patel from MyPopSales ( Sam’s company centers around flash sale sites, but he’s previously worked across numerous other ventures in the past and worked for both Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers. Turned out Sam is pretty well connected and knowledgeable on most things. When I told him about some of my interests and ideas in the endurance sports arena, turns out he’s a keen triathlete himself and had plenty of insight and thoughts to share. Hopefully I’ll be able to take some of my ideas to Sam to discuss and develop further at some point in the future.

I also spent some considerable time deep in conversation with a recent graduate named Will Ross. Will graduated from Edinburgh University last summer and since then has developed and launched his mobile app called Zafiri ( In essence, Zafiri is an app which allows users to tag equipment and products in their photos, for the purposes of promoting and sharing information about their kit of choice. The app is aimed very much at the outdoor sports market, particularly skiing, snowboarding, mountaineering, climbing etc. and Will has a number of pro athletes using his app to tag clothing and equipment which has been provided by their sponsors or favoured brands. This was something that struck a chord with me. It’s aimed at a similar market to that which I want to play in, and I can see the value and use in the app. Would love to see it evolve into something great.