THE BLOG

Why I'm Saying 'Goodbye London' and 'Hello to New York'

12/01/2015 10:47 GMT | Updated 05/03/2015 10:59 GMT

I was born in America, in Chicago in 1983.

Having been a little anti-American in my teens, the country began to truly fascinate me during my adult years.

The last few years of working in digital strategy and startups, have seen this fascination grow further, fuelled by endless reading of tech and VC bloggers in the Valley, New York, Seattle, etc.

The tech scene is much smaller here in the UK.

I knew after my first startup, it'd be a good time to move Stateside, put that passport to good use and try a whole new life.

I've been agitating to move to the US for a while.

I think now is the time go West.

Destination New York

I'd always thought I'd end up in California.

A couple of my friends had left boring banking and consulting jobs to go into VC and tech there and I'd listened, enthralled, to stories of a sunblessed life, surfing before breakfast, cycling in the California hills and skiing at weekends.

Sitting in my office, watching the rain beat down during London winters, I was green with envy. Thanks to my friends and their taunts accompanied by photos such as the below.

Rooftop for Tamara's birthday fun💕 #hotelerwin #rooftop #venice #birthday #love

A photo posted by Erin!🎀 (@erin0012) on

Maybe I'm a little cornfed and wholesome to be a Manhattanite, friends had quipped too, suggesting even more of a fit with California.

The tech scene is obviously biggest on the West coast too.

In my mind, it'd always been a straight shootout between New York and California, but it's the Big Apple I'm moving too.

So, why New York?

Three reasons

Like all the best things, the reasons behind this leap come in three.

You already know about my growing desire to experience life, work and adventure in the US.

After five years in London I also feel stale, in deep need for change. I want to experience a more dynamic society and entrepreneurial culture. I want to live and work around dreamers and people trying to change things up, not what Mark Suster calls back-benchers.

Going straight into startups after uni and doing six years in this environment is not exactly typical in the UK and culturally I wonder if London is right for me long term.

To be honest I feel as if there's little keeping me in London right now.

America's call has become defeaning, even if moving countries is no small deal.

Maybe I'm nuts, but this reason alone would be enough for me to make the leap.

Business and relationships to build out there

I do digital marketing and digital strategy, with a 16-year industry veteran and genius partner (Paul) and a small team of colleagues.

We work with large brands, other agencies, investors and startups.

Paul already has a few client relationships out there, for whom he's done some great work over the last few years. Some of these clients are Fortune 500 companies and global brands, where the relationships maybe haven't had quite the facetime and nuturing they could have had.

My job is to build our current relationships Stateside and new ones alongside them.

I'm excited to to do this. And, I'll admit it, nervous too.

The digital marketing industry is significantly more evolved, more competitive and generally more impressive in the USA than the UK.

I'm about to go through a serious personal price discovery process and learn how to play in the big leagues.

No small challenge then.

And then there's a girl

All the best stories seem to involve a girl. (Or a guy for you ladies!)

My one does too.

Whilst I'd been thinking about America for a while, it felt as if I needed a catalyst to spur me into action. I was also taking a little time to just breathe, after an intense few years in my first startup.

That catalyst is 5' 3", blonde, full of energy and half American, half English.

We got intro'd by a friend over a year ago and after nine months she moved from London back to NYC, with an internal role in her firm. After 18 months here, she'd been agitating for a route back to NYC - where she spent five years of her twenties. Out of respect, I won't give away any more details here. (She's more important than you, dear reader).

In this situation, nine months is a tricky length of relationship. If it'd been three or four months, maybe it'd be best to let it slide away. If it's years, then obviously you plan around each other.

Do you make the leap? Or, at least factor love into your planning?

For me love is a part of the equation for change, even if there are other bits to it too.

Love confuses such decisions and makes them hard. Not as hard as four months long distance, maybe. I cannot guarantee the future, but not giving it a chance has a guaranteed result.

Would I make this decision with only for love? I don't know. Maybe. Ironic given I am something of a commitmentphobe.

The decision to move is made easier by having balance to it, but love is at play.

New York taste tests and taking the leap

I've had a couple of trips to NYC this autumn and winter, having never been there before.

I didn't know what to expect, but had heard stories of it being the busiest place on earth.

I was hooked within hours.

The energy. The buzz. The canyon-like streets and people juiced with positivity.

Crisp cold #NYC morning

A photo posted by Will Bancroft (@billybankers) on

New York is truly a city that thinks it cannot fail.

It's like nothing I'd ever experienced and London instantly felt even less appealing. In fact when returning back to London after these trips, people on the buses and tube seem clinically depressed, compared to their New York counterparts.

I knew within a day I wanted to live here, perhaps spending the next few years exploring this city.

... And a view to work to! #flatiron #newyork

A photo posted by Will Bancroft (@billybankers) on

I'd lived in Asia for a year in 2009/2010 - in Taiwan and Hong Kong, with another startup - and whilst New York is not as fast paced as Hong Kong (nowhere is!), there's something indescribably energetic about it.

I'm also an Ayn Rand fan and looking up at the soaring towers, with their clean lines and modernist architecture, makes me think of Howard Roark - the hero in her book, 'The Fountainhead'.

After a few weeks, meeting some great people, eating and drinking in some great places, my head had caught up with my gut and the decision had been well and truly made.

Perhaps I'm nuts? Maybe naïve and foolish? Either way, it feels and thinks out right for me.

I'm moving to New York in January 2015.