It’s funny but in the startup world we use the word exponential a lot. We talk about the exponential growth of startups and the power of exponential technologies. However, I would argue that apart from Silicon Valley the eco-systems themselves just don’t hack it. Why are we not seeing exponential growth of the eco-systems? Even the shining stars such as London and New York see only moderate progress from a low base. Tech investment is still an extremely small asset class and VCs are almost a cottage industry within the broader financial services industry. So what is required to change?
It is well worth looking at London as a case study because it has been successful by many measures. The Government has been highly supportive through tax breaks and other incentives and has been effective in promoting the city as a technology startup cluster. However, this has still only created modest growth from a slow start rather the exponential growth we should expect from such efforts. I don’t believe that we can rely on Government to make this happen. Much of what has been achieved in technology innovation over the centuries has been the result of individual human endeavour rather than Government intervention.
If we look to Silicon Valley we see that growth comes from within the eco-system. It’s all about the drive of key individuals and leveraging the power of paying forward. In my view, it is the established founders that have the means to drive exponential growth from the eco-system. They can do this by continuing to engage with the startup eco-system after their first successes. This can be achieved by starting their next venture or by supporting others to create theirs.
We have had massive support for our programme from established founders such as William Reeves, Tom Allason, David Buttress, Nic Cary and others. However, we need to change the mindset and start to expect exponential growth of our eco-system. This will require far greater support for emerging entrepreneurs from people who have been there and done it before. It requires a step-change in ambition. We should look to emulate the likes of Elon Musk and unleash the full potential of innovators.
So some concrete suggestions;
- Join the dots between the key players; established entrepreneurs, emerging founders, universities, investors, corporates etc.
- Engage successful founders more proactively as investor mentors. We need our own Paypal Mafia
- Educate investors in tech investment as an asset class to increase liquidity in the sector
- Raise the ambition level by promoting a vision for technology in schools, universities and society in general
As always the answer lies in the power of the network and the ability to make connections. The Silicon Valley model works. We just need to take the best elements and adapt them for other markets. We have created a database of the key influencers in the London Technology scene and are reaching out to involve them in projects involving the best startups on our platform. If you feel you have something to contribute to our mission please reach out to us.
Blog by Paul Dowling — Co-Founder of Dreamstake the world’s first tech startup platform to match over 16,000 founders with the most appropriate investors using a unique startup rating system. This allows entrepreneurs and investors to monitor startup progress and inject capital and support when most needed. Startup founders create profiles on the platform and get curated introductions to investors. We are constantly looking to support great early stage tech startups. Investors please contact [email protected]