9others is 5 years old

9others is 5.

This is my first proper blog contribution to 9others. It has taken me 5 years so don’t expect a Seth style one-a-day, the following hit me when I was walking to Waterloo to get my train home recently. This feeling happens a lot but today, on our 5th birthday, I had to share it.

Today is also Seena Rejal’s birthday. Seena is the Founder of 3D Industries and came to the very first meal 9others – the one where Matthew and I invited a small group of trusted founders and said that we were thinking of doing this dinner thing where just 10 founders come along, share challenges and help each other out. Did he come along just to make sure I never forget his special day? Perhaps, but he’s been incredibly helpful and inspiring too so Happy Birthday to Seena!

In the last few weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to me about 9others turning 5. And this is the best way I can summarise the impact I feel we’ve had is the following…

Inspiring London Founders.

On my way from central London to Waterloo I need to figure out which bus to get so of course I fire up the CityMapper app. I first met Azmat in November 2012 when he joined us for a good meal in Farringdon. We knew he was looking for a bit of funding so we sat him next to Alex who was looking for good deals. He found one.

After getting the right bus I walked over to Waterloo Station and was joined by dozens of cyclists in the lanes beside me. Most of them were on Boris Bikes and were flashing their bright green Blaze laser lights to let trucks and cars know they were there. Emily, the founder of Blaze, joined us for a 9others ‘Founders Weekend‘ in Ascot and London in February 2013. She had just started on her prototype of Blaze and she was (and still is) full of infectious energy.

Once seated in my comfy chair on the train (yea right!) I opened the Evening Standard and flicking through to the business section I find a half page article on Tom Adeyoola’s business Metail. Tom was one of the first founders I met in 2011 when I started working on investment readiness. His core team have since joined us at retail focused 9others dinners at Level39 and he is a constant source of inspiration.

Eating & Drinking with 9others.

When I got in home I headed to the pantry and pulled out my latest recipe box of Simply Cook developed by Oli Ashness and whip up a fresh and delicious meal that uses the ordinary ingredients in my fridge and turns them into masterpieces with the box of spices and flavour – and all within 20 minutes! I feel like a culinary genius and I know in the morning even if I only get a few hours sleep all will be fine when I fuel myself on my Pact Coffee delivered, as if by magic, by Stephen Rapoport and his team. (Stephen was a co-founder of the first exit I was close to – his company, Crashpadder, was acquired by AirBnB in 2012). Both Stephen and Oli have attended 9others meals, contributed to our community and I hope gained a few sales too as I can’t stop telling people about them!

Making an impact. Make an impact.

So when I think of 9others and the impact it has had over the last 5 years I get an incredible sense of pride that these founders, just a selection from over 4,000 who have attended the meals, are impacting my life and the lives of hundreds and thousands of others on a daily basis.

Many things go into building a startup – the highs, the lows, the surprises and the damn hard work founders do day-in, day-out. I do hope, for these founders and many others, that 9others has been a useful part of their journey – a trusted place for problem sharing, for brainstorming and a useful source of quality introductions to partners, hires, customers, investors and fans.

Your success requires the aid of others.

I am incredibly proud of our community and I want us to work very hard to continue to add value, support each other and who knows, maybe one day every product and service I touch and engage with will have a 9others founder at the helm!

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