Tales From The Business Startup Show

Yesterday, at work, we went to London’s ExCel for The Business Startup Show. We’ve been there a couple of times before to get some interviews and do a bit of networking. It’s usually a fun day – especially when Mak’s flirting or joking around with the people on the stands – but very tiring. Last time I went I had my BlackBerry, so I was able to listen to music on the train, tubes and when I was on my own at the show. But this time I had my iPhone, so the battery was running low at a rapid pace, which meant I couldn’t listen to music. This meant that I did get to do a bit of people watching and take in some of the London life.

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The train ride was most enjoyable. There was a girl sat opposite wearing massive sunglasses who spent about 20 minutes transferring her entire bag of make up onto her face. Meanwhile, further down the carriage there was a man shouting loudly down the phone, trying desperately trying to explain to his colleague – for over 20 minutes – how to move a .zip file into a folder on the computer’s desktop. I could feel his frustration, as he cursed the colleague and repeated his instructions over and over and over again. In the end gave up and put the phone down.

On the tube from Euston to Westferry, I met two secret lovers. They got on the tube together, the girl said hello to a woman and then they walked to the end of the carriage, standing right in front of me. She then asked the guy if he’d seen the woman. He hadn’t. The woman was Claire who was the general manager at an office. The girl was worried that the woman might have seen them together. “Do you think she saw you?” She asked her partner, “She might not know who you are. She’ll probably think we’re going to work together though.” But still she made him leave he tube a few seconds after her just in case.

We got off that tube at Westferry and had to wait for another one to Custom House. While we were waiting, Mak told me about another of his theories – or as he thinks of them, solid facts. He started off by saying how whores get paid for sex. I misheard him and genuinely thought he was on about horses. “Horses pay for sex?” Then he said that when men buy women gifts, they’re essentially using the gifts to buy sex. I didn’t really agree with him. Okay, at the start of a relationship a certain type of man would buy a girl loads of gifts to keep her so that he could have sex with her, maybe. But in general, I prefer to think that men buy gifts to show their appreciation of the woman and be romantic. At the start of a relationship, yeah, you would buy gifts to impress her and try and keep her, bribe her to stay with you… that makes it sound bad, but you know what I mean. Anyway, the point is I disagreed with him, but it was a nice little debate. Mak has a lot of these strange ideas and it’s fun to discuss them.

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The show itself was okay. It was quite tiring as we were walking around filming all day, but there were a few interesting moments. At one point, near the end of the day, we saw Piers Linney – of Dragons’ Den fame – and Mak insisted on getting an interview with him. Linney was talking to a woman at the time, so we stood waiting for at least 15 minutes. During that time, another guy came and stood in front of us, but he moved on after a couple of minutes. Lightweight. We eventually got to speak to Linney and Mak asked about an interview. Piers said “I can’t mate, I’m running late.” but Mak was persistent. “My car’s in the car park,” Linney begged, “It’s already half an hour late.” but again Mak assured him it would only take a few minutes and eventually Linney gave in and agreed to give us a ‘soundbite’… which turned out to be a 3 minute interview. What I loved was Mak’s persistence, not letting him go.

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On the tube back to Euston, we were crammed in with a bunch of suits. The typical businessmen and women who say things like “I told Carole I’ll have the figures in by Monday” and laugh at statements that aren’t jokes. Later we were joined by a man and woman. At one point the man kept kissing the woman, just a small peck on the head, but after about 16 times I had to stop myself from hitting him. He shouldn’t be showing off like that.

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