In England there was, at the time, no funding right of passage. Having not lived there in ten years though I don’t know the full extent of how funding, if any, is distributed now. Once up a time though I lived in Harrogate and had a few ideas what I wanted to perhaps see about taking further.
Rarely there was an event going on and I made the effort to attend that was “open to all”.
Before I WAS LET IN I was asked one question, “Son, what’s your postcode?”, thinking it was some marketing thing I swiftly answered, “HG1”. The guy looked at me, “What are you doing here? You’re entitled to nothing”. I spent the next five minutes actually justifying my existence of why I should be let in. It’s not like it was a pitch panel, seminars or anything like that they were just the usual run of exhibitor stands. So you come away deflated and you are left with a choice, hammer it out and do it yourself or give up. At least 95% gave up.
Startup Natural Selection I call it, do you have the ability to survive when the odds are stacked against you?
You need to vary the idea pool, some ideas will thrive while some will obviously perish (hopefully sooner rather than later). Once a model is found that works (i.e. generates revenue) then exploit it to multiple revenue streams and make more money.
This is stark contrast to what happens now, especially where I live, where the first question is, “What funding can I get”, with Oliver like cupped hands. You hatch your idea and in a heartbeat it’s on the path to a proof of concept fund, first £10K and then £40K. That’s okay and I fully support the fact that you need to build something when you don’t have the skills pools to create product.
And that’s the game that’s played, just take what’s available and not worry about the long term outcome. Natural selection should take hold but take a little longer to kick in, money has this habit of keeping the patient alive a little longer than naturally required.
I’d not seen any real reading of what it was like to run a startup (aside my own experiences of working in Silicon Valley as a developer) until yesterday when Ben Hammersley pointed me to the Wired article on “No Exit: Struggling To Survive The Modern Goldrush“, the full version is available as a Wired Extra (it’s less than two quid or, 2/3 the price of that coffee you’re about to get in Established 😉 ).
Unless you are willing to move to where the proper money is, see Trustev and Pat Phelan, then you are seriously reducing your chances. Not to say great things and great exits can’t exist over here because that’s just not true. All business is local and taking Silicon Valley money is the call sign to them that you are willing to prove your business other there, not over here. There are a few exceptions but not many.
Some would argue that I’m being too cynical about free money, possibly. Perhaps the rules need to tighten a little, perhaps. What happens though on the day it dries up? Does your belief in your idea run so deep to the core that you’ll do anything to make sure it happens? Let’s be honest, probably not….
A piece of advice, “build it and they will come” is nonsense.
While there wasn’t a lot of public feedback with “Startups: The Passion and The Paradox” the private feedback has been incredibly interesting. I am acutely aware that the last few posts have been rather opinionated, I make no apologies for speaking my mind, it’s been rather therapeutic actually.
As I close a chapter in the next few days and come back refreshed, ready but not going to take on the world…. well not without measured risk assessment first.