Archives for the month of: April, 2013

We headed to London favourite BKB in Soho for this week’s Startup Engine meal and my personal fill of social dining. Probably the warmest evening of the year so far, so the Soho streets were packed and people were fighting over the window-side and on-street seats. There were 10 diners, so a busy and lively TableCrowd dinner. The fish finger sandwiches looked delicious but in an attempt to keep it healthy, I opted for a chicken, bacon and blue cheese salad. Verdict: yummy. I could easily be a Master Chef judge.

Kevin Quincey, founder of CityBeachLondon joined us. Kevin invited along Marc Weide, a musician turned Music Agent, who provides music acts for all occasions, from Scottish pipers to Egyptian belly dancers through his company, Piano Forte Entertainment. It was great to meet Jack Flanagan, who hosted his first TableCrowd dinner last week, ‘Copy Writing & Startups’ and has scheduled in another one on this very same topic on 16th May – Copywriting & Startups at Pizza East in Shoreditch. Jack is currently a very passionate freelance writer.

Kate Reid and Paul Nolan from Rock Salt joined their second TableCrowd dinner. Rock Salt is an established and creative team of copywriters, journalists and digital marketers. Chris Walkey and business partner joined us from MarketMe, a successful social media agency that works with a number of startups based in and around Tech City. I have met Chris previously due to his involvement with the Lion’s Cage pitch competition held at Google Campus.

Iain joined us from risk management startup Calabash, an innovative trading and risk management system that leap-frogs the short-comings of legacy trading platforms. Big plans and exciting stuff to come!

Another wonderful evening with a great group of people.

If you’re interested in networking with other startups, join us this week when we will be joined by TableCrowd’s partner and top 100 creative digital agency nerv, so come armed with any questions about branding, web design & web building. Check it out here: Startup Engine Dinner In Partnership With Nerv: Networking With Other Startups.

– Kate

Introducing our fun new feature, foodie tweets of the week – enjoy!

1) “Italian terminology: “antipasti” is one word. If you write “anti-pasti” in Italian it means you are against meals” @TheFoodieBugle, 11/04/13

We’ve learned an important life lesson here from independent mag The Foodie Bugle – a simple spelling error could cause people to think we’re against meals, and that’s one thing we’ll never be.

2) “Strawberry-cheesecake blondies or brownies? #LifesGreatChoices” @bakingjames, 10/04/13

Oh, James Morton (of Great British Bake Off fame), that is a decision that one should never have to make.

3) “This is really happening. Right now. #giantjaffa” @EmeraldStreet, 11/04/13

Wow – a Jaffa Cake with a diameter bigger than an average face! Get yours from Asda or Morrisons.

4) “Recipe testing a lychee, lime and mint margharita next. If Tweets from here on in start to make no sense, consider the recipe a roaring success” @lorrainepascale, 9/04/13

Fortunately model-turned-baker Lorraine Pascale managed to keep her Twitter composure, but we’re reassured to know she’s a girl after our own hearts.

5) “Bloody brilliant “ – @GizziErskine, 08/04/13

TV chef Gizzi’s caption says it all, but we just had to bring this Lionel Ritchie themed spoon holder to your attention. Die-hard fans can get their own from Etsy. You’re welcome.

Don’t forget to check back next week and tweet @Tablecrowd if you spot something we should include!

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, hiding in a cave, or avoiding every form of modern media, you’ve probably heard of the rather popular American TV shown Man vs Food; a celebration of the biggest and best food challenges across the US. From donuts the size of human heads to spicy wings that you have to sign a disclaimer to consume, host Adam Richman has toured the States consuming every kind of extreme cuisine – and now the trend is hitting restaurants across the UK. If you’re a fan of the show (or just extremely hungry) and want to try a Man vs. Food challenge for yourself here in London, here are five of the best …

  • Burgers at Blacks, Croydon

Given the name of the restaurant, you won’t be surprised to learn that the challenge here is the consumption of a burger … one that weighs 14lb and contains a whopping 15,000 calories! Affectionately known as ‘The Beast’, Burgers at Blacks offers their patrons the chance to chomp through this champion sandwich in one hour to secure themselves an iconic “I Devoured the Beast” t-shirt (but if you fail, you’ll have to pay the full £40). Vas Herodotou, the owner of the establishment, revealed, “It’s a burger like no other. It’s definitely not for the faint-hearted.” Oh, and just so you know, it comes with fries and a milkshake on the side.

  • Fat Boys Café, Croydon

There must be something in the air in Croydon, as our second challenge is also located there! This time, instead of a burger, you’ll be facing off with the Blowout Breakfast, a giant take on the classic fry-up which comes with an entire pack of bacon, two jumbo sausages, two eggs, a whole tin of beans, mushrooms, and a fried slice just for good measure. If you clear your plate, you get a celebratory t-shirt and the meal is free – but if not, you’ll need to cough up £7.75.

  • Red Dog Saloon, Hoxton

What we like about this place is the variety of the challenge – there are three options for you to attempt. The biggest is the Devastator Burger challenge, which features three 6oz patties, 200g of pulled pork, applewood smoked bacon and American cheese all topped off which a chunky bread bun. However, if you’re blessed with stubborn taste buds rather than a strong stomach, you could try the Hot Wings challenge, where you’ll be presented with a pile of chicken wings marinated in fresh Naga Viper chillis (for those not in the know, read: very hot). They also offer a Bucket o’ Wings challenge where you can beat the heat and choose your own flavour. What’s the catch? You’ll have to eat 50 of them to come away triumphant!

  • Ray’s Pizza, Bloomsbury

Listen up, pizza lovers – this challenge is for you! Tuck in to an incredible 26 inch pizza with your choice of toppings. From simple, classic Margarita to the spicy New York Hot, there’s something to tickle all taste buds on the menu – but even the website itself warns that “ordering 26 inches is a serious commitment!” Unlike many of the other challenges, there are no prizes offered for conquering this cheesy, doughy opponent – just eternal glory.

  • MEATliquor, Soho

MEATliquor is a dining outlet with a great little slogan – “Come hungry. Leave Drunk” – but their Triple Chilli Challenge is more likely to give you a bulging belly than a tipsy glow. Consisting of a portion of chilli cheese fries, a green chilli cheeseburger and an enormous chilli dog, it’s a chilli laden feast strictly for fans of spicy, meaty dishes. However, if you’re thinking of taking up this challenge, it’s only fair that we warn you that the current record is an astounding 3.25 minutes – so only those who can guzzle with gusto need apply!

If you fancy yourself as a bit of a Man v. Food kind of guy (or gal) then TableCrowd’s Man v. Food Crowd will be right up your street. It hosts regular dinners that devour some of London’s toughest food challenges. View the Crowd and join to receive updates of upcoming social dining challenges. The next challenge is the Devastator Burger Challenge at Red Dog Saloon on Sat 4th May.

Read other tales of food challenges taken on my our members here.

It’s always a pleasure to try out a new restaurant local to our Old Street office for a TableCrowd dinner and last night our Startup Engine crowd descended on newish-to-the-scene Rotary Bar & Diner, right by Old Street tube. The menu was simple, burgers, steak and fish – all very tasty, as, it was reported, were the virgin cocktails.

We had 11 diners from the Startup Engine Crowd, all ready to meet and eat. It was good to see our valued regular Damien Allison at the table, his startup SiteMorph helps web sites grow using marketing, engagement and conversion optimisation ideas. He also does consultancy work and I spotted a few other diners picking his brains while he tucked into his burger.

This was a totally fashionable dinner. We were joined by Debbie Lafayette Miller, who is deep in research to understand the manufacturing process for her lingerie fashion brand which should be available for sale next year. Paul Persky also joined us. He is a fashion and music photographer by trade but who has also launched in beta a rather impressive photography application. Reactize allows users to upload a sequence of images which then displays as one reactive image. Clever stuff – definitely worth a look. Paul and I met at London Business Starters Lion’s Cage event, which I expect to see him pitching at in the coming months!

Winston Veerender is a techie and his company is Samran Technology. He develops software using his crack team of 30 developers based in India as well as having developed Social Knitter, social media management tools that companies can use to execute their social media strategies. Techie Nigel and Lynn Myrick are part of a 2 person team that is Agile Environment. Together they assist startups and SMEs with project planning, development and staffing amongst other things. There was much talk of scrums and sprints and books I should probably read….

Rand Jawad, Founder and CEO of Nature’s Wonders, a company that promotes people and sells products which help support natural health and well being, is looking to launch a blog which will be brimming with engaging content. Francesca is working towards her MBA in London. She works on a food industry startup in her home country Italy, as well as a packaging project she has started in London through the social enterprise part of her course.

Wesley Rashid co founded 4 person company Incisive London, which provides accounting services to startups and SME’s in a modern and adaptable way. He came directly from an event he hosted at Google Campus to showcase his company’s services. All those in favour of a Startup Engine dinner themed around accounting issues facing startups, say ‘aye’!!

Rotary Bar & Diner, we enjoyed and we’ll be back soon for more social dining. We have some interesting ‘Startup Engine’ dinners coming up including a dinner based around copywriting.  A dinner for people to talk about the importance of copy, how it places in an ever-changing industry, and where copywriters rank beside startup mainstays like engineers and graphic designers, so get involved.

This should be compulsory for all offices on a Friday afternoon, agreed? Champagne all round.


If we’re not supposed to have midnight snacks, then why is there a light in the fridge?

3 courses, 4 investors, 5 pitches. 

Our finalists joined us for dinner at Piccolino’s in the City prepared to pitch their businesses to our panel. They had attended either the Application Dinner or Application Lunch previously to qualify for the final.

The panel comprised Karri Vuori of Charles Stanley, William Orde of Oxford Capital, Thomas Colmer of Osbourne Clarke and Ben Kirby of Greenhill Capital Partners. They were tasked with scoring the businesses to decide the best investment opportunity.

The format of the evening was a 5 minute presentation with the aid of slides followed by 15 minutes of tough but fair Q&A from the judges.

Introducing the startups…

Emma Watkinson – SilkFred – The online destination for emerging fashion designers. Provide tools and resources for emerging designers to grow their business online.

Damien Allison – SiteMorph – A tech start up that helps web sites grow using marketing, engagement and conversion optimisation ideas.

Jon Prove – Ginicam – A new interactive broadcasting technology that is not flash based and uses very little bandwidth. People can buy and sell services and digital media in real-time globally.

Kevin Quincey – City Beach London – Developing the UK’s largest all weather beach.

Julian Fisher – Look Up Bubbles  – A marketplace to find products and soon, services. It takes the frustration out of online shopping and allows you to search without searching.

And the prize? Well, together with the prestige of being the first ‘TableCrowd Meet Investors Over Dinner’ winner, the winner also receives a meeting with Oxford Capital. This month’s winner was Jon Prove of Ginicam – big congrats from the TableCrowd team!

The reason for TableCrowd hosting this series of dinners was to provide an informal and fun format for startups to meet investors, to practice their pitches, to face questioning and to receive good feedback and suggestions. We intend to repeat the series of dinners, so if you have a startup and could be interested, be sure to join the Startup Engine Crowd to receive notifications.