What it’s (really) like to raise investment

Almost exactly a year since we first walked through the doors into the Bethnal Green Ventures (BGV) accelerator programme we’ve now closed our first major investment round. It’s an amazing feeling to finally have everything signed and sealed, and it’s a great time for the team as we can now really push on with the next phase of our growth and development.

BGV asked if I’d sum up my thoughts on the investment process for their blog – and the article is now out: http://bethnalgreenventures.com/2014/08/01/what-its-like-to-raise-investment/

If you’re in a hurry, the TL;DR is “If you’ve not raised investment before, it will take longer than you think – be prepared for this by knowing people who have raised before.”

We won! Our startup was crowned Innovative Internet Business of 2014 at the Nominet Awards

Well that was a nice surprise! Last week Overleaf (the new collaborative scientific writing platform we’ve built following on from the success of writeLaTeX) was crowned the Innovative Internet Business of 2014 at the Nominet Internet awards!


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Is hackathon output wasted, and could crowdfunding help?

I’ve experienced a few hackathons. Some indirectly, a couple in person, and a lot from reading the follow up articles.

They’ve ranged from scientific collaboration to social innovation to hardcore coding, and in almost every case I’m astounded by the sheer amount of work that gets done (whether it’s science, brainstorming, or the code in the resulting github repos).

I’m also now realising how often I look back on an old hackathon and realise that nothing really came of it*. The output lies disused or forgotten, and there is almost inevitably a subsequent hackathon on the same topic, usually without reference or mention of the previous efforts.
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My Super Mario Möbius Strip has arrived!

Well, it actually arrived a couple of weeks ago, but it’s been so hectic recently with all the goings on at Bethnal Green Ventures, I’ve only just gotten round to taking some photos 🙂

So, what is a Super Mario Möbius Strip you say? It’s the first level of the original Super Mario Brothers NES game, mapped onto the surface of a Möbius strip, and printed using the 3D printer at Shapeways.

As a mathematician of a certain age (who grew up with Mario Bros), it is one of the coolest things I own. In fact, it’s impossible to pick up without “playing through” the level, and recreating that iconic music.

Here are some photos:

If you’re interested in how it was made, checkout this video by the creator:

[youtube http://youtu.be/6c3z2ZGvShM]
Next up I’ll post about the Acme Klein Bottle that sits on my desk…

From the moon landings to collaborative open science

Today would have been the late Neil Armstrong’s 83rd birthday, and as it happens my sister was born on the very day Neil and Buzz landed on the moon back in 1969. I’ve always been a scientist, and I think this yearly anniversary helped fuelled a fascination with space and science that’s always stayed with me…

My younger self presenting a pod exhibition in Bath in November 2009

My younger self presenting a pod exhibition in Bath in November 2009

So begins my guest post for the Bethnal Green Ventures blog! Click here to read the full post, and feel free to leave comments below 🙂

Does !TeX => bad maths?

Whilst browsing the writeLaTeX twitter feed the other day, I came across an interesting observation that the absence of TeX is a good indicator that a math paper has issues, highlighted by John Cook (@TeXtip) in this tweet:

In the original blog post on this (entitled ‘Ten Signs a Claimed Mathematical Breakthrough is Wrong’), this is only one of a number of points made, although it is the first, and is accompanied by the interesting statistic that:

“This simple test (suggested by Dave Bacon) already catches at least 60% of wrong mathematical breakthroughs.”

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My first set of WriteLaTeX how-to videos

London is certainly keeping me busy, so it’s a very short post today simply to help disseminate the three ‘how-to’ videos I’ve recently produced for writeLaTeX:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/embed/videoseries?list=PL0KP0KSTjc2Pr0wU46IW7z0-oUOtNDctO&showinfo=1]

If you’re using writeLaTeX and have any feedback, please let me know (@DrHammersley).

Google Docs for Science – a short introduction to WriteLaTeX


Most of the world’s technological and medical innovations began with a scientific paper — there are now over two million scientific papers published every year, and many more technical reports and presentations. As scientists, we spend a lot of time writing, reviewing and publishing these papers, and whilst the Internet has drastically improved how they’re published and distributed, writing (and collaborating) is still difficult. With WriteLaTeX we’re helping to change that.

WriteLaTeX is a real-time collaborative writing platform which lets you create, edit & share your scientific ideas easily online using LaTeX, a powerful tool for scientific publishing. My co-founder John Lees-Miller created writeLaTeX to address the problems we experienced ourselves when writing papers collaboratively, in particular in the fields of mathematics, physics and computer science. We both have backgrounds in mathematics so naturally used LaTeX but when working with co-authors in different countries and different disciplines, there was no easy solution – so John created one!

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