WebMission launches Brit/Irish assault on Silicon Valley. Join up now!

In the folk-lore of the UK internet startup scene, WebMission has past into legend. OK, so that might be putting it a bit strong. But the trip last year to take 20 UK startups to Silicon Valley to network, market themselves and see just how that world works has created a very strong base of relationships between the startups that went. (If you don’t believe me, check out all the blogging I did on the trip). That sort of thing can’t just be reproduced by one cocktail evening. And in terms of results it lead directly to announcements like the one Huddle made recently, being the only UK partner for LinkedIn’s social applications.

So it’s with great pleasure I can announce that Webmission09 is launching again. TechCrunch UK & Ireland is the official media partner. Below you’ll find the official announcement with all the detail you need, as a startup, to apply. But there are three key points to note.

The first is that because the organisers need to close agreements with lots of different parties the deadline has been squeezed. The deadline is close of play tomorrow, Wednesday 11th Feb. But don’t panic! Just get some kind of entry in ASAP and we can sort the detail out later.

The second is that WebMission09 is looking mainly for “Enterprise 2.0” style startups. That doesn’t anyone can’t apply – just that if you fit into that category then you should definitely enter.

The third big point to note is that as well as accepting applications from anywhere in the United Kingdom, WebMission is looking for companies from the Republic of Ireland as well. In other words British and Irish startups will be making a full, combined assault on Silicon Valley. I wonder if tey know what’s going to hit them?


WebMission is off to America again, taking 20 of the best UK Web Entrepreneurs out to Silicon Valley from 28 Mar to 3 Apr 09. The point is to enable the successful entrepreneurs to build relationships with great people in the US, meet US VCs, explore business opportunities and ultimately do business with potential US VCs, partners and clients. Last year we took 20 fantastic UK Web 2.0 companies to San Francisco to explore new opportunities for growth. In 2009 we’re following the same format but with one key difference, we’re particularly interested in Enterprise 2.0 companies. Enterprise 2.0 covers companies which are offering web 2.0 tools and applications for use in business environments.

WebMission is supported by UK Trade & Invest, Oracle, Orrick, Web2.0Expo (O’Reilly and TechWeb), and the Technology Strategy Board (TSB). WebMission’s online presence is managed by Information Architects and PR by Braben. The trip is organised by WebMission Ltd, a joint venture between Polecat and Oli Barrett.

The trip itself will be a blend of organised activities from a casual brunch with US Enterprise Web entrepreneurs through to a formal drinks reception at the UK Consul General’s private residence. There’ll be a day of Tech Corporate engagement, involving Oracle and a number of other well-known industry leaders, and a VC and press pitching day hosted by Orrick. There’ll be support to broker and set up a multitude of business-critical one-to-one meetings and opportunities to visit companies in Silicon Valley, from start ups to high growth success stories. It is designed to coincide with Web2.0Expo, so there will be time to drop into that, meet more of the press, and do more business. We’re formalising this year’s agenda now – as an indication, an outline of last year’s agenda can be found on the website.

The application process is open to companies all over the UK and – hot off the press – the closing date for applications has been extended for a week to midday on Wednesday 11 February. The entries will be filtered by UKTI, and individuals who have agreed to feed into that process include Mike Butcher from TechCrunch, David Rajan from Oracle, Chris Grew from Orrick, Dr Zoe Lock from Technology Strategy Board and entrepreneur Doug Richard. They will be looking at the organisation’s market potential, technology, traction, go to market strategy, management team and commercial viability.

The registration site is here: www.webmission.co.uk

Here’s what some of WebMission’s supporters said last year:

“The Web Mission represents an amazing opportunity for the best of entrepreneurial UK talent to visit Silicon Valley, and learn for themselves the differences that make the US a breeding ground for innovation and more importantly successful execution of ideas. With a spark of inspiration the UK has every opportunity to replicate that success on UK soil.”
Michael Birch, founder, Bebo

“Possibly one of the most valu able things I’ve seen happening the startup community within the UK. We are glad to have been as sociated with the WebMission”
David Rajan, Director Emerging Business, Oracle Corporation UK

“The sheer volume of applicants provides convincing evidence of the depth and breadth of emerg ing growth technology companies in the UK. The shortlist of companies selected demonstrates that the UK is able to produce credible web businesses.”
Chris Grew, Partner, Corporate Venture Law Group, Orrick

“Having recently returned from California and seen first hand the amount of innovative work being done by creative busi nesses it is clear that both the UK and San Francisco must be open to new opportunities; par ticularly as we’re both hotbeds of entrepreneurial activity. It is no surprise to me that we’re both on the same page when it comes to this second gen eration of web based companies which create social-networking sites, wiki’s and blogs with the aim of facilitating creativity, collaboration, and sharing among users. I am therefore delighted that UK Trade & Investment and Polecat Ltd are collaborating on this mission”
Trade and Investment Minister Lord Digby Jones
“In reaching across the Atlantic, the Web Mission is leading the way in networking key talents here with great opportunities in the USA. Good luck in Frisco!”
Mark Prisk MP Shadow Minister, Enterprise & Competition

And here’s what some the WebMissionaries said themselves:

“Web Mission not only gives you the opportunity to connect on a informal basis with some of the Valley’s most prolific and successful people, but can also build trusted relationships with fellow start-up entrepreneurs in one concentrated week, which might normally take a year.”
Andrew Scott, Rummble

“Although online collaboration is the future (naturally!), the chance to meet peers and busi ness partners face-to-face is still an important part of do ing business. The WebMission has opened lots of doors for Huddle which we hope will lead to great things in 2008” [As a direct result of WebMission08, Huddle went on to launch on Linkedin’s new application platform alongside Google, Amazon and WordPress. They were by far the smallest (but not for long!) and youngest partner on the LinkedIn launch and the only company based outside Silicon Valley.]
Andy McLoughlin, Huddle

“Webmission delivered far be yond our expectations and as a result we established a number of new and meaningful relation ships with financiers, potential partners and advisers. One of the most valuable weeks of the year to date.”
David Courtier-Dutton, Slicethepie

“WebMission08 opened doors for GroupSpaces to meet and build relationships with some of the top entrepreneurs and Ven ture Capitalists in the world. Not only did I have an action-packed and fun-filled week, but I’ve also taken away many valu able contacts I hope to keep for life.”
David Langer, Groupspaces

“The WebMission experience of fered me a balance of seriously useful fact-finding, introduc tions to US contacts and fund ing as well as intense bonding with fellow UK entrepreneurs which would have been impossi ble to emulate in London”
David Maher-Roberts, TheFilter

“The quality of advice that you get in the Valley can be compa ny changing significant. I had a 15 minute conversation with an entrepreneur in San Francisco that has fundamentally changed what our focus was in marketing the business. Two weeks later our user sign up rate has tri pled and the site is growing vi rally. I wouldn’t be surprised if I looked back in 3 years time and realized that was the con versation that made us success ful. Without WebMission08 we might never have figured that out in time.”
Nigel Eccles, Hubdub

“The Web Mission 2008 proved to exceed all my expectations in terms of the quality of the en trepreneurs that were selected to partake; the opportunity to get to know some of the leading figures in the Internet World, such as Michael Birch from Bebo; and the activities and social events that were organized by the Web Mission team. The event left me feeling enriched and enthused and a lot more con nected in the Valley area than I thought possible in such a short space of time. I would highly recommend the Web Mis sion to any aspiring entrepre neur who is determined to become a leading web entrepreneur. It was great fun too and the social events made it one to remember. Top marks!”
Peter Ward, Where Are You Now