Texan “love-in” for Hackney business partnership

Duncan Ray. Pic: Rachael Pells

Duncan Ray. Pic: Rachael Pells

Businesses and entrepreneurs of Hackney dropped their routine Friday lunchtime for cowboy hats and BBQ schnitzel at a Texan-style “love-in” in Shoreditch.

The ‘HackneyHouse’ event, held at BL-NK on East Road, was organised by Hackney Council as part of the borough’s business partnership with Austin, Texas.

The “business friendship agreement” was established in 2012 and features collaborations mainly in the technology sector, with the purpose of providing a platform for east London businesses to showcase their ideas and make valuable connections.

Duncan Ray, Shoreditch Town Centre Manager, was responsible for the day’s proceedings and described it as an opportunity for locals to “have fun, meet people and share ideas – whilst experiencing a little bit of Texas. It’s a Love-in!”

As well as offering Texan-style food, music and interactive games, the BL-NK building was transformed into a brainstorming space for next year’s conference trip to Austin.

The lunchtime session attracted several keen small and larger business representatives, as well as Head of Regeneration Delivery, Andrew Sissions, whose role involves management of employment services in Hackney.

Speaking about the Austin-Hackney partnership, Sissons explained that the council “are in the process of forming key relationships with other tech clusters around the world.”

Sissons said: “Austin came to us and said they wanted have a relationship with TechCity and it started from there. We went out to Austin last year and that allowed us to generate £8m of new business back into Hackney.”

Big international corporations such as Facebook, Google and Apple also attended last year’s HackneyHouse conference, which was the partnership’s first event. The next similar conference will be held in May and promises excellent networking opportunities for businesses across Hackney.

Last year’s conference cost £45,000 to run, all of which came from sponsorship and cost the council nothing. “We’re very good at getting sponsorship money”, Sissons said, “This building space is also entirely funded by our sponsorship partners.”

Guests embrace the Texan theme. Pic: Rachael Pells

Guests embrace the Texan theme. Pic: Rachael Pells

Plans for next year’s event include a bigger venue, more partners and more networking opportunities. There is even talk of free flights out to Texas, Sissons confirmed: “We’re talking to airlines right now, so that we can take lots of young entrepreneurs out there for free.”

One visitor to the lunchtime event was Johan Rand, an educational technology app-designer for Kahoot, he said: “We went to HackneyHouse in Austin last year and ended up with business contacts that we would not have had otherwise.”

“Texas is the hottest scene outside of California for Education and Technology. It’s great that Hackney can be a part of that.”

Find out more about getting involved with HackneyHouse here.





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