In Silicon Valley the early stage scene is propelled by the sheer quantity of startups, investors and other players that comprise the eco-system. In London we don’t have this luxury and all have to try much harder, but do we?
We talked to VCs based in both the US and the UK and found many were extremely critical of the mindset of UK entrepreneurs. One felt that entrepreneurialism was almost treated like a lifestyle business. In the US there is little doubt that the best entrepreneurs set out to change the world and they work tirelessly to achieve that end. It is clear that the work ethic here in London is not the same. There is a particular breed of startup guy (usually guy) who wants to live the startup lifestyle, hangout in Google Campus and attend the many meetups offering free beers and pizza without ever making serious progress. Unfortunately, this is not the exception but the norm. We need more of the archetypal geeks who lock themselves away and don’t come out until they have a world beating product.
We also need to individually invest more in our own startup education. Here in the UK, we take a pride in saving money by getting advice from our mates for free. However, it is a false economy. We can save time and reduce risk by getting it right first time. To a large extent you get what you pay for with these things. You can attend a drink fueled event and come out with little of value or you can pay a very small fee and get some real insights from experts who have been there and done it before.
I would argue that the high quality support is available in London. However, it will only go to serious startup founders who understand the rules and know what makes a successful startup. Both mentors and investors (often the same person) are attracted to founders who understand the critical success factors and follow them religiously. This is what being investment ready is all about.
Luckily, we are moving away from the days when it was enough to have an idea, to stalk people at networking events and to naively expect an investor to take his chequebook out. Founding a startup is becoming more of a science and investors expect the first-time entrepreneurs to understand this. They want them to have traveled a logical journey with proper attention to detail and a good level of understanding of the market, who their competition is and other critical factors.
We need a strong self reliant startup scene. We can’t rely on high levels of government intervention. To achieve this we must encourage a culture of high work rates, serious attention to detail and continual learning and innovation.
Dreamstake is a platform for early stage high growth potential startups. The platform provides support and access to an investor database via a highly sophisticated screening process. We are constantly on the lookout for top-quartile startups to introduce to our advisory board and other investors on our network.