What’s your historical London and New York connection?
I grew up in a small town in England and moved to London after graduating, where I founded my current business. A year ago, I started travelling to New York every two weeks to promote Conversocial to US customers and media. In August, we opened a proper office in Manhattan, I got an apartment and we started hiring. We decided on New York as a base because of its proximity – physical and timezone – to London, and because it’s the main East Coast hub for business and media. The other natural option could have been San Francisco, but I didn’t want the 11 hour flights and 8 hour time differences that some of my friends are trying to cope with. This year, I’ll spend 3 weeks in NYC and one in London each month.
Describe your experience in New York as a Londoner.
I’m lucky that I’ve completely fallen in love with New York. London is a wonderful city, but its size means you have to really plan your social activities. That can be a problem, because I’m pretty terrible at arranging anything outside of work. In NYC, everything is so close together that social activities happen much more naturally, without needing to plan it out. I’ve met some really smart, ambitious, interesting people. And I tend to do a lot more yoga, more spa visits, and absorb more culture in NYC.
What is the biggest challenge of moving back and forth from London to NYC?
Switching timezones can be a pain. I’ve usually just fully got into the swing of one timezone when I have to shift again. Managing a calendar and relationships (professional and social) across multiple timezones can be difficult; when I’m in London I have to cram in a month’s worth of meetings into 1-2 weeks; and then again in New York – so my only real downtime is on the plane! Managing teams in both countries when I’m away a lot can be challenging, and means I have to be very strict with regular Skype calls and catch-ups which are easy to miss when you’re busy.
How can NYC and London best engage with each other?
NYC is quickly becoming the natural place for London companies looking to expand into the US, which NYC is already working hard to promote. But I think London should be doing more in the other direction. London and New York share so much in language, history and culture; and London is an amazing gateway not just to the large UK market but to the rest of Europe. But preferential tax rates mean a lot of companies headquarter themselves in Ireland; and Berlin is quickly becoming serious competition as the tech capital of Europe. London’s Tech City initiative is making some of the right noises, but the city needs to be doing more to woo NYC entrepreneurs and investors. London and New York also share a lot in their creative and artistic scenes; with the amount of people travelling constantly between the two cities, it would be great to see more cross-city cultural initiatives, and not just the same show or performance being repeated in both places.
Favorite NYC secret spot: I’m a dark chocolate fiend. You can find me getting my fix almost every afternoon at L.A. Burdick on 20th and Broadway. Their dark chocolate hot chocolate is simply amazing, I can’t live without it.
Favorite London secret spot: My favourite bar in London for a pre-dinner cocktail is Sketch in Mayfair. Go through the entrance replete with baroque furniture melting into the walls, past the libertine lounge, through the fairytale forest, and into the cocktail lounge at the back. The bar is sunk into the ground inside a huge dome, with seats around the inside of the dome, and steps leading around and above it to toilets – each one in its own egg shaped pod
From the 3460 Miles newsletter: connecting NEW YORK CITY + LONDON