We were “between companies” over the summer, having left Unthinkable but not yet launched Turner Hopkins. We ended putting some work-related material up on our “other life” tumblr, Death Metal Aprons. (Don’t ask – take a look and you’ll get a feel for what it’s all about. I think.) Over the next few days I’ll be re-posting here anything which I think is relevant.

Simon

We’ve just returned from a few days in Prague, our second trip in a year. We’d been asked back to mentor once again on the excellent Start Up Yard business accelerator, whose inaugural stretch we attended last year.

This year we saw seven companies:

CSS Hat have got a remarkable little piece of technology, a Photoshop plugin which can convert PS document items or layers into CSS 3 with one click. They already have a strong customer base and I think we all felt they’ve got a potentially very bright future.

iMenu supply tablet-based menus to restaurants; where they differ from others in the area is that they actually build the tablets into the top of dining tables, underneath a glass which still allows manipulation of the touch screens. Smart!

Limatte enables medium-sized retailers to embed pop-up surveys on their websites, with automated handling of all the back-end stats-crunching. They’ve also hit on the somewhat why-has-nobody-thought-of-that-before idea of putting the survey at the end of the user visit.

Pizzatime are aggregating a number of different food delivery offerings across Prague into one convenient, user-review-based mobile service.

Lingv.us call themselves an “online translation marketplace”. If you have a website or set of documents, you can submit it to their site and enter an auction with various translators and find the best solution for your needs. They also offer a rigorous copy editing service to verify their results.

SpaceTeacher were in the middle of a pretty major pivot, so we’re not sure we can say much about their offering. But we liked them a lot, and feel that their contention about language learning – that the missing piece of the puzzle is practice time – is well observed and a great point from which to start a business.

Tab Foundry, meanwhile, have built an on online wysiwyg editor which social marketeers can use to make media-rich Facebook pages easily. We were very impressed and would dearly like to use it for our little Abyssal Labs project.

But, you know, the businesses and ideas are really only the half of it. What was really inspiring here – and we really mean inspiring – was the energy and intelligence of all these young teams. And yes they were young; the average age seemed to be about 21, which given that many of these guys were on their second business was extremely impressive. We were left with the impression that there is a lot of great software talent, as well as entrepreneurial drive, in the Czech Republic.

Thanks to Nikola Rafaj (@techsquarecz) for inviting us out to the event and to both him and Lenka Kucerova (@lenkakucerova) for being such warm guests – and in Lenka’s case an indefatigable one too!

The team we went out with from the UK was slightly different to last year, but great: thanks to James Fulforth, Bob Schuckai (@iammobilebob) and Tony Sheehan (@anthony_sheehan) for such great company over a long day and a couple of very enjoyable evenings, during which Simon well and truly fell off the slow-carb regime (Prague and beer are virtually synomymous, it turns out).

More generally, we got to see a lot more of Prague this time and came away with an overwhelmingly positive impression. We were especially taken with Prague 5, well away from the tourist centre, an area very obviously “at work”, and, with hipsters cheek-by-jowl with ordinary working class people, definitely a creative quarter in the making. We were introduced to the area by Matt Butler (@mattbutlercz) of Brand Embassy, one of the star companies of last year’s Start Up Yard) and went there a couple of days later to see the fabulous co-working/incubator space, Node 5, instigated by Lukas Haducek – which looks to us like a huge success in the making.

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Not much cultural activity on this trip. The weather was quite lovely and anyone who’s experienced the “summer” here in the uk will understand why we wanted to spend as much of our spare time as possible in the open air. We did see a small exhibition of delightfully creepy but exquisite pieces by the children’s illustrator Markéta Prachatická, at the small but excellent Galerie Lazarská.

But the most fun of all was almost certainly the most touristy thing we’ve done in, well maybe ever: taking a pedlo out on the River Vltava. How many other world capitals can you do that in?

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