By Damien Lane

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We recently invested in Huboo Technologies. It was the fastest investment decision I have ever made. After 15 minutes with the founders, Martin and Paul, I was in. The proposition — multi channel fulfilment made easy — was so compelling, the team — entrepreneurial flair and deep industry expertise so profound, it was a simple yes. The quality of the team, the short-term commercial progress, the long-term vision for what Huboo can be and the overwhelmingly enthusiastic early customer feedback all combined this to make Huboo a must do investment for us.

Here at Episode 1, we are no strangers to the ecommerce / logistics space. My partner Simon Murdoch founded and sold Bookpages to Amazon and then ran Amazon in the UK and Europe at its inception. He was later Chairman of Shutl, the last mile delivery service, prior to its acquisition by eBay. In a former life, I was on the Board of BWG, a billion Euro distribution business and at Episode 1, I have been on the board of fast growing Scurri, whose software connects merchants to delivery partners throughout Europe. …


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Huboo HQ — in Sunny Bristol

Huboo Technologies, a new investment for Episode 1

We recently invested in Huboo Technologies. It was the fastest investment decision I have ever made. After 15 minutes with the founders, Martin and Paul, I was in. The proposition — multi channel fulfilment made easy — was so compelling, the team — entrepreneurial flair and deep industry expertise — such a powerful combination, it was a simple yes. The quality of the team, the short-term commercial progress, the long-term vision for what Huboo can be and the overwhelmingly enthusiastic early customer feedback all combined this to make Huboo a must do investment for us.

Here at Episode 1, we are no strangers to the ecommerce / logistics space. My partner Simon Murdoch founded and sold Bookpages to Amazon and then ran Amazon in the UK and Europe at its inception. He was later Chairman of Shutl, the last mile delivery service, prior to its acquisition by eBay. In a former life, I was on the Board of BWG, a billion Euro distribution business and at Episode 1, I have been on the board of fast growing Scurri, whose software connects merchants to delivery partners throughout Europe. …


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A lot of founders that pitch to us miss a fundamental point of venture funding — VCs are all about trying to find really big outcomes. They want to discover the startups that will grow into 200million, 300million, 500million, billion dollar companies. Such companies are — to borrow a phrase from current political discourse — the few, not the many.

And so, as a founder, perhaps the most important part of the pitching process is convincing the investor that there is a chance that the idea you’ve got, the business you’re running, can get to that size. That’s difficult, especially as you might not yet have any revenues to speak of. …


As early stage investors, in predominantly B2B startups, the team here at Episode 1 sees our portfolio companies wrestling with the many attempts to achieve Product Market Fit. We love backing very smart entrepreneurs, often first timers, who are trying to solve big problems or deliver mission critical services in a variety of different industries.

I haven’t done a formal analysis, but I would guess that more than 80% of our teams have at least one founder with a first class degree, a top Masters or a PhD in a field relevant to the start up they are working on. And without exception, all the founders are people who have been successful in pretty much anything they have ever turned their hands and minds to. Top universities, top employers, top accelerators, top everything. …


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It is a truth universally acknowledged (as Jane Austen once wrote), that VCs prefer to work with Founders as CEOs, and not hired hands.

To the uninitiated, that might seem strange. Many of the founders involved in early stage startups are first timers, learning as they go, like new parents. They’ve read the books, but haven’t yet got the T Shirt, they may not have hired anyone before, and they likely don’t boast a network of a 20-year industry veteran.

Why entrust this potential rocketship to a rookie astronaut? Isn’t a startup risky enough, why not de-risk things by bringing in an experienced person to run things, while the Founder gets on with developing the product or whatever else floats their boat? …


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“Welcome to Durban, you’re about to run the toughest marathon in the world, then you’ll run the second toughest marathon in the world”

I’m just back from South Africa, where I ran, jogged, walked, hobbled, and dragged myself over one of the iconic distance footraces on earth; The Comrades Marathon. 87.6km (it was slightly shorter than usual this year) of monstrous climbing and searing heat on the road from Durban to Pietermaritzburg.

Some things I knew from desk research while preparing for the event; at Comrades, unlike other races I’ve been to, they tell you how long you have to run to the finish, not how far you’ve already travelled; the biggest hills are called The Big 5 (this is Africa, do you see what they’ve done there?) Fields, Cowies, Bothas, Inchanga and Polly Shortts; and the route alternates annually between the Up run from Durban to Pietermaritzburg and the Down in the opposite direction. …


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Jump the Queue. Get ahead!

Just back from an event about Visas. Good speakers, and entertaining panel discussion and thanks to Tech City UK for organizing it. A common observation from attendees was that the qualification criteria were not always clear, so in an attempt to shed light on the rules, I thought I’d précis the takeaways from this morning’s event as I heard them. Any errors are of course, mine.

These Tier 1 Visas are for folks outside the EEA / Switzerland. …


Industries of the Future — Alec Ross

So I’m finally reading “The Industries of the Future” by Alec Ross.

One of the (many) good things about an Easter break on the beach in sunny Florida is that I get to read non fiction. I pretty much always have a novel on the go in London, but for some reason I find I need more time / headspace (call it what you will) for non fiction. And there’s nothing better for that than a bracing sea breeze and Floridian sunshine after a long British winter.

So I’m finally reading “The Industries of the Future” by Alec Ross. …


Brexit — Why and What Next?

On Thursday, the people of the United Kingdom spoke. Well, the less well educated, the economically vulnerable and the old spoke. In a world not short of contradictions, it is those who are most likely to suffer most from any economic downturn that comes as a result of the turbulence that is undoubtedly ahead who set the UK (or more likely England and Wales) down the path to “independence”.

My Social Media feed has been full of Remainers in dismay, devastation and anger, sharing petitions for another vote, independence for London, plucking numbers out of thin air to point out the market crash (so far, a myth. The FTSE closed higher on Friday than it was ten trading days ago, and almost 10% above its 2016 low point), bemoaning the increased cost of their summer holidays and the prospect of having to queue at passport control on their trips to Paris and beyond. …

About

Damien Lane

VC at Episode 1, sports nut, ultrarunner (don't call me a jogger), weekend cab driver and cash machine for two teenage daughters.

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