This blog post was originally written by David Billson of rTraction.
“I’ve lived in London for about five years while working in Waterloo – and to be honest I didn’t make many connections in the city until I started Dibbzz,” admitted Brennon D’Souza, Founder and CEO of Dibbzz.
You may not have heard of Dibbzz as it’s still in the R&D cycle of its development. If you attend ticketed performance events like sports, theatre, music, however, you’ll likely hear of them soon and want to call Dibbzz on your next seat upgrade.
What does Dibbzz do? If you’ve ever been at a sporting event or performance and have seen open seats in a section closer to the action and thought “I wish I could upgrade to those empty seats!” Dibbzz has the solution for you. Simply send Dibbzz a text message and they’ll instantly let you know what’s available, how much that upgrade costs, and lets you pay for those seats. This process usually takes place in under 1 minute.
For consumers it allows them to have a better experience once they’re in the venue, for venues it allows them to maximize the revenue potential from the event, and for performers they get to be closer to their audience. It’s a win/win/win story.
Previous to founding Dibbz, Brennon worked at Open Text. Open Text is widely considered one of the main anchors of Waterloo’s tech community. He has a vast network of contacts and resources available to him in Waterloo. It surprised me to find out that he started his technology company in London – afterall, Waterloo has branded itself “Silicon Valley North” as the place to be for tech startups.
Brennon clarified his reasons for being in London around three key concepts:
- London is “less saturated” than Waterloo – in London you can gain better traction and access resources easier because the marketplace for startups is less crowded.
- The London network is more efficient – once Brennon started working with TechAlliance he was quickly connected to research grants from OCE & IBM as well as IRAP.
- The London community is more engaged and seems more committed to building a community through a more stable workforce.
Let’s unpack each one of those stories.
London is “less saturated”
Brennon tells a story about approaching IRAP in Waterloo. “In Waterloo I was told I was too early, which maybe I was at the time, but I was left without any further resources or help so I had to to go out alone.”
He contrasts that to his London experience, “TechAlliance did a small blog post about my new company and IRAP in London actually reached out and called me to find out more about my business and technology, and to see if it was a good fit for them to help.” Similarly, using TechAlliance’s network Brennon was able to connect to OCE and IBM resources to advance the machine learning part of his intellectual property.
In Waterloo, he felt the pace was faster and not necessarily in a good way. “I found that if no one bought into your idea it was instantly dead in the water. The ecosystem had so many options to turn to that ideas like mine can be overlooked,” observed Brennon.
In London, he found the time and resources to test out his business model, improve his IP and is almost ready to launch. “We start a full beta process in the coming months!” explained an excited Brennon.
Brennon was surprised to find out how quickly he could connect into the London technology ecosystem through participating in TechAlliance, citing connections to OCE, Innovation Works, and the Western Accelerator.
“People are genuinely wanting to help,” observed Brennon. “I feel like everyone I meet who offers to help is genuinely invested in our success – and that’s an amazingly uplifting feeling.” The speed by which Brennon was able to access IRAP, OCE and IBM resources proves that people put their money where their mouth is – literally. “Having support from IRAP, OCE and IBM put us on the track to have a viable product very quickly. Working with Western and their acceleration programs have put us in great shape for our beta and eventual public launch.”
As Brennon speaks about his company you can hear his passion but also his confidence in his eventual success – success brought on by feeling supported by TechAlliance and the broader community.
“While I worked at Open Text I was there for the money and opportunity to advance,” admitted Brennon. “If another tech giant had called me and offered more money or opportunity I would have been gone in a heartbeat.”
In London, he senses a different type of workforce. “People seem more likely to engage with the purpose of your organization and stay to help you build something great rather than just looking to you as a source of income.”
He believes that building a workforce will be easier in London because of this key difference. “People who live in London are committed to being here in this community and to be part of an ecosystem. It’s a subtle but important difference between London and Waterloo.” [Editor’s note: As I own a technology company with an average tenure of 8 years, I tend to agree with Brennon!]
Brennon is excited to attend London Tech Week – both to further expand his network through the mentoring sessions and to learn more from Talkin’ Tech with Sarah Prevette and her special guests, including Taylor Ablitt from Diply and Mallorie Brodie of Bridgit. I know many of us share Brennon’s enthusiasm to meet and greet his fellow tech company peers – it’s a great community to be in. You can meet Brennon and others like him during Tech Week, April 16-20th – come out and join us!