The gentle geek, London

So, It’s been a while since I posted something. With good reason, it was a big transition time for me. I left my work at Smallrivers in Lausanne, Switzerland. Had a house guest for my last weekend in Lausanne and after that moved my thing over to the Netherlands to figure out what I would be doing the next. So what to do next? Well a friend was working as a CTO on a project and they wanted me to help them out. So at Exvo and Tolq I spend a couple of weeks working with them. At the same time one of my investments came back to me and asked if I wanted to join in. Michiel Roukens (the Owner of OWNR) was desperately looking for a technical guy to help him out. Thus I became CTO for OWNR as a side project. At the same time moving to London for Quipper, So we’re back in sync with the current time. Well … at least sort of …

Why Quipper?

If you’ve read about what I like and where I come from it is obvious. Quipper is a quiz based e-learning platform for mobile devices. I value education and learning new things every day, that is the “curse” you receive when you are from a family of two teachers as parents. As a project I look for things where I can make a difference, companies with big plans but not big offices. Quipper is one of those places in Europe where that is the case. There were other interesting companies of course. But in the end the visit I made to London was the best one and I think I can make a difference at Quipper. Now going almost 3 months and it seems I like it so far…

What about OWNR?

Well I already did a lot of work on OWNR before I moved to London so I made some space to keep things moving forward. But as a 20 hours a week side project I can keep things working. And even in that very short 20 hours a week we’ve been able to launch it a couple a weeks ago. Now I’m steadily building forward while my business partner is working getting funds, keeping the platform running and all other things that come with running a company.

The transition

So from the calm and serene alps of Switzerland to the busy and chaotic streets of London. Within Europe I might not have been able to pick a bigger difference in environment. And I must say… even with the chaos, not always so pretty views and the English food… I like it. And yes the food is not that bad, also there are a lot of nice places in London. But why do I like London?


The one thing in Switzerland that I found strange is that during the week all shops were closed at 8, in the weekend almost nothing was open at all. And that was in the city center! Here in London I’ve always found an open shop, pub, museum or any other place where there was something to do. And that 24 hours a day. I even live 2 blocks over from a supermarket that opens on Monday morning at 7 and closes at midnight Saturday to open again on Sunday from 10 to 5. Not bad for a suburb of London.

It does have it’s distinct disadvantages. In Lausanne I never had to let a metro pass because it was too full. I have that at least once a week somewhere in the tube. I live near the Dome in Greenwich and that brings a lot of crowds to the area, specifically to my exit tube station. It is fun though to know that down the road the Rolling Stones, Muse, Robby Williams and Lionel Richie are having a concert… and I can’t hear anything.

The tech community

One thing I knew about London but I was really surprised about was the size of the tech community. In Amsterdam I could go to an even once or twice every week. Here I can literally go every night to at least one event. And their not hosted by local recruitment or consulting agencies. They are actually hosted by Facebook, Google, Yammer and other big companies. I’ve been way to busy the last few months with other stuff to do but I definitely want to start exploring the events of London a bit more.

One other thing about the tech community is that it’s diverse enough to be interesting. I’ve been to meetings where I got bored because people were not up to spec or the general level was too low for me. I’ve been to some meetings here now and never found one that was completely dull. A bit recruiter heavy… but not dull. Also they tend to always speak English so everyone can understand, unlike the small amount of user groups in Switzerland I visited.

The people

I found the British public actually very enjoyable. At first I wasn’t able to figure out why, but then it hit me. They were all a little bit like me. In the Netherlands we are all “normal” and we have alternatives to the norm. But they are kinda dull to me. I first realized when I was on the tube and I found an average businessmen, with a three piece suit on wearing batman socks. Inside he was a geek, he showed it, but in a very subtle way. I liked it. He was, in a sense, just like me. I wear a t-shirt that has Michelangelo, Donatello, Raphael and Leonardo with colored masks on. Subtle and very geeky. The socks were the same for him.

When I started to look closer I found that kind of behavior all over. From small badges to hat’s, t-shirts, scarfs and even umbrellas they all had this small glimmer of geekiness to it. After a while I figured it out, the UK society might seem to be always the uniform way. The bowler hat and umbrella were a symbol of uniformity. But in current time I found that the bowler had and umbrella were still there, but the bowler hat had a little pin on it and the umbrella was an umbrella from the umbrella corporation. For me it seems that the British people try to find their own way and are proud of their little quirks. Letting them in turn be open to their inner geek.

Last week I found a video from an interview with Stephen Fry where he explained exactly that phenomenon. What makes the British slightly geeky.

The plan

Well, I like it at Quipper and I like London so I’m not really keen on moving just yet. I will be coming back to the Netherlands so once every often, but for now London is my place of residence.

And you know how I am… not really a plan for the years guy. I’ll just see what happens next.

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