Sunday, 9 December 2012

SyncNorwich 6 Review: Aviva Christmas Special at Carrow Road

SyncNorwich is going from strength to strength. A year and a day before the Aviva Christmas Special at Carrow Road, I was sat in the Coach and Horses on Thorpe Road for the very first Agile East Anglia meeting. A year ago there were half a dozen of us, tonight, after the addition of Norwich Startups and Norwich Developer Community and rebranding as SyncNorwich in June, there were 110 of us in one of the most prestigious venues in Norwich. It’s difficult to describe how incredible that feels, so I won’t try, anyone who was there will have seen how much it meant to me.

Tonight’s event was sponsored by Aviva. SyncNorwich is very grateful to them for hiring the venue, buying a drink for everyone and three fantastic speakers.

First up is Juliana Meyer who gives an introduction to SyncNorwich for those who are new to the group and a recap of many of the events that SyncNorwich has been involved with over the last six months. I have seen variations of this presentation many times, but Juliana always makes it feel fresh and new.

Juliana was followed by the charismatic John Marshall from UK Trade and Investment, who uses his two minute presentation judiciously to tell SyncNorwich about the companies he is working with and the money he has to give away to help companies trade overseas. Tonight he is just as informative and entertaining as at Hot Source a week ago.

Next up we had SyncNorwich favorite, ignite style lightning talks. This time around there were four. Chris Leighton was up first and despite her slides working against her gave an excellent and well delivered presentation on startup training from the Business Skills Clinic. Chris was followed by local entrepreneur Keith Beacham who took us through a very slick presentation about the highs and lows of startup companies and investment. I first saw William Harvey give his lightning talk on funding for low carbon companies at SyncNorwich Corner at the Common Room in November. It was great to have him at a full SyncNorwich event and soak up some of the infectious enthusiasm. Last up were Tom McLoughlin and Josh Davies from FXHome. They gave us a hilarious description of the trials and tribulations of making their startup successful and told us about some of the amazing people in the video industry that they’ve worked with.

Before the break SyncNorwich gave FXHome the chance to show their latest promotional film to the group. It was fantastic and you can watch it here.

After the break it was the turn of Rob Houghton whose charismatic and engaging Northern style was the highlight of the evening and went down extremely well with the SyncNorwich crowd. He told us about Horses Vs Tanks and his vision to revolutionise the use of technology at Aviva. Rob’s session was followed by an extremely interesting, amusing and informative question and answer session.
The last of the presentations came from Jason Vettraino and Jason Steele who spoke about the joys and perils of a mobile application that they developed at Aviva. This was the first technical presentation we’ve had at SyncNorwich since Dan Wagner-Hall from Google spoke about testing. It was great to have some good honest technology back in the programme and again this presentation was both amusing and informative and followed by an engaging question and answer session with Sky Viker-Rumsey providing his usual difficult questioning to the Jasons.

The Aviva SyncNorwich Christmas special was wrapped up with a run down of future events, including SyncConf given by John Fagan and our January Student/Employer Speed Dating & CyberDojo event given by Seb Butcher. After that were the Smart421 robots! The highlight that many had come for.

Please visit the Smart421 blog for another review here.

Keith Beacham video
William Harvey video
FXHome Video

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