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Sophie Curtis

ubiCabs wins Digital London Startup Challenge

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British startups were given the spotlight at the first Digital London conference

After a hectic couple of days at Digital London, ubiCabs has been named winner of the Startup Challenge - a competition giving startup companies the opportunity to pitch their enterprise business ideas in front of a panel of judges.

ubiCabs is a mobile phone app and online London minicabs booker, which uses location-based technology to compare prices of minicab companies in the local area. Users can enter their journey details, receive an instant quote and then book, all in a few clicks.

Coming in second was PixelPin, a software security company specialising in picture passwords. Meanwhile yReceipts, which lets users receive receipts via email and manage them online, was awarded third place.

According to Simon Hill, CEO of idea management company Wazoku, which organised the competition, more than 3,000 votes were cast during the two-day event. By the end it was a close run match, said Hill, with only a few votes separating the top two entrants.

“The point of Digital London is not just to focus on big business,” said Hill. “As a startup ourselves, we know one of the biggest challenges faced when starting out is getting exposure for your business and being seen and found by the right people. This challenge offers a great opportunity for startups to get themselves in front of some influential judges and to be seen by potential customers.”

Judges included Ray Wang, (CEO of Constellation Research), Paul Coby, (IT Director of John Lewis), Mike Short, (VP Public Affairs at Telefonica) and Joe Baguley, (Chief Cloud Technologist EMEA at VMWare). UbiCabs was awarded a package of business products and services worth over £5,000.

Commenting on the growing Tech City cluster in East London, Hill said former startups that have gone on to become successful companies, like Huddle and Moo.com, should become the next business incubators, providing contacts and support for a new wave of startups coming into the area.

In Silicon Valley, for example, CEOs of startups are often on first name terms with the the bosses of major technology companies, because those larger companies recognise that they were once in the same position.

Hill suggested that Tech City could really benefit from this kind of community support system, where startups are not just helping each other out, but also receiving guidance and mentorship from more established companies.

The Digital London event was an overall success, although sadly under-attended, in spite of the stellar line-up of speakers. Many, it seems, were put off by the long journey to London's ExCel Centre - which doesn't bode well for plans to extend the Tech City cluster out to the Olympic Park. Or maybe it was the £700 price tag for tickets.

What really stands out, however, is the lengths that those involved are willing to go to put London on the map as a centre of digital innovation. Rumour has it that the event's organiser - Adam Malik - had to sell one of his rental properties in order to fund the event. Dedication indeed!

While being a far cry from the South by Southwest conference in Texas - and indeed Davos - Digital London could well become a regular feature of the British technology landscape. As Ray Wang put it, “Good for a first year conference. Will be awesome next year.”


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