My Tech Week — Knitting the Threads Together
A week celebrating London’s maturing in the tech world, youth entrepreneurship and the broad contribution of entrepreneurs.
If you were at the event would love you to comment on how it went for you.
This week was a landmark week for many in the tech world in London. It was of course London Technology Week — a convening series of events put together by the local government and others. However for me it was a critical week as it was Founders Forum’s 10th Anniversary Year. Founders Forum was initially set up myself, Jonnie Goodwin, Marc Samwer and Matthew Freud. After 10 years only Jonnie and I remain but Marc and Matthew normally attend as they are still friends. It was also the 10th year since I’d sold lastminute.com. Its a bit over 15 years since lastminute.com floated at once peak Nasdaq — Nasdaq only surpassed that earlier this year. But most importantly it was a critical week for the amount of projects and initiatives we would be uncovering. It was a high stakes week in which so much could go wrong. It was typically ambitious in that had both scale and a to a casual observer a lack of focus. But as I put it back together in my mind — it all made sense and pulled together a dizzying array of strands of the last few years together. It brings together some of my key past learnings especially about talent, who you surround yourself with and fewer smarter people. In other words the new companies we build are built on the premiss of small super smart core teams, outsourcing less critical functions when they are needed. It also highlights that building strong relationships and friendships in your professional world can be a key step to building something powerful.
Out of the Founders Forum events, we have now launched Founders Intelligence (consulting to corporates), Founders Keepers (digital recruitment), Founders Forum For Good (Founders Pledge), Smartup (virtual mentoring), Intros.at (connections from data), and most recently Founders Factory. Clearly Founders Forum and the friends we have made there, who offer us support and insights are critical to all of these. There is a theme that is consistent to all — the intelligence we derive from the network about digital challenges, from the startups at the cutting edge and the corporates at scale — that enables us to have an unfair competitive advantage when we launch businesses that support young entrepreneurs and connect them.
Below is my week — and for brevity’s sake will lack enough endorsements/credit/praise for the critical people in the Founders Forum / Factory team.
June 15th : Monday
Daunting number of emails the first of 2100 I will receive during the week, and send the first of over 1000 for the week.
Guardian Media Group — First call is with the Guardian Chairman to discuss final thoughts on who the next CEO will be. Later in the week it’s announced as David Pemsel the strong internal candidate. In keeping with this weeks theme of course he will be expected to accelerate the digital transformation which his predecessor drove strongly before him.
Founders Forum team meetings : final touches to the events later in the week, when we will have over 500 attendees spread across 3 days of activities from all over the world.
Founders Factory possible first signing. This is the new incubator/accelerator that I will Exec Chair . It aims to be lynchpin for the next wave of disruptive startups to come to and from London. It will be backed by multiple corporates across up to six sectors and has already attracted extraordinary talent (Henry Lane Fox:https://www.linkedin.com/pub/henry-lane-fox/15/b23/80a , Jim Meyerle ( https://www.linkedin.com/pub/jim-meyerle/3/5b9/349) . We were due to sign earlier but many details kept hitting us. The last potential deal blocker was the Governing body of Eton as we were play a significant role in the Joint Venture that MacMillan had been working on with them. I was delighted that having been a strong proponent of soft power of British education brands the Fellows of Eton approved the final structure for the EtonX business over the weekend. One of Founders Factory’s first businesses will now ironically be taking the Eton brand to bring online leadership training to Chinese students. This was my alma mater and I resigned from the governing body recently to ensure there was no appearance of any conflict.
Seating plans for Wednesday dinner for 360 at US Ambassadors… much of the weekend was spent on this and many more hours until 1530 on the day dealing with the incredibly frustrating lastminute cancellations.
Number 10 Downing Street. It always feels tacky to mention meetings DS meetings. But this was a relevant start to the week. The Prime Minister and Chancellor hosted a group of business leaders, to thank them for sharing a pro enterprise/pro business view during the last tumultuous months. My EA, Bella Jupp and I had pulled together (pre election) well over 90 tech entrepreneurs to sign a letter of support for the work the Conservative led coalition had done for the tech sector. This was a chance to see many of those who had stuck their heads above the parapet and many of the top corporate CEOs, and SMEs who had similarly felt it was critical to speak up against the anti business rhetoric during the election. There was a large mix of tech entrepreneurs many women, and immigrants like myself who were passionate about the future of UK tech. The Prime Minister was asked a lot about Europe of course, and even about his own forays into coding. The Chancellor remarked upon how several attendees had told him their suggestions for tech policies had been listened to and acted upon. Again a theme for the week that the open door between government and entrepreneurs would continue over the next 5 years.
The FT publish that Europe has produced 13 startups with $1 billion value in last 8 months
June 16th : Tuesday
Tidy up my LinkedIn profile. A few new roles to add. Working on simplifying what I do know but still confusing to many people… Focussing on Founders Factory and the new fund.
In the papers Made.com which I chair and helped found announces its focus on expanding into Germany. Made.com is rumoured to be doing a significant fundraising round.
The Guardian reports that Simon Cowell is helping judge our youth startup competition (supported by TalkTalk) later in the week. (We had meant it be a surprise but were relaxed. Builds the anticipation).
Holtzbrinck/MacMillan sign up to £15m investment into Founders Factory for Education technology. Great buzz for the team on this and critical momentum zone now as next sectors are lining up behind well and complex legals now done.
First engagement of the day is a training session — last one I could fit in for the week. But great to make the time.
More on seating plan — remind myself the opportunity cost of doing these is pretty high. Some tables need to be triangulated with three different teams. That is fine. The challenge is the last minute cancellations which foolishly I take personally. A few weeks earlier Andrus Ansip had cancelled, he’s Europe’s VP in charge of digital, former PM of Estonia. Previously he had committed to be in conversation with Reid Hoffman the chair of LinkedIn. They would have made great intellectual leaders on what more Europe could do to promote startups and scaleups. This was especially frustrating as we had spent a lot of time helping the EU convene tech unicorns… and previously under Neelie Kroes, FF had also helped enlist entrepreneurs to support their Startup Agenda. Ansip had to be in Riga — we of course recognise he was busy but couldn’t quite understand how the Riga trip was a recent surprise. Mike Bloomberg who is still a good supporter had also had to pull out a few weeks earlier. Slight comedy when I spotted the French Minister Axelle LeMaire was to speak at her President’s internet conference on the same days as ours. We duly informed her team that perhaps she should let us know if she couldn’t make it. We understood if her boss called on her she had to jump. They came back — non she had committed to our event, of course she was coming. A week later they seemed to have caught up with the internet and said she could no longer come… we did say we told you so, and would hence accept the French government’s donation to our charity for their late cancellation…
But the event planners shock was to come when Garret Camp’s ( a cofounder and the chair of Uber) PA emailed a terse three lines — that he couldn’t come ‘due to a business emergency’. He and his team had confirmed many times and signed up to all the events. He was on a plenary session on the future of work with top people like the CEO of Vodafone and the Founder of Kiva Systems (robotics sold to Amazon). Cancellations may be unavoidable — but I hope I would never cancel with 2 days notice without personally getting in touch and explaining myself. So we had to change seating plans, find a great replacement for the panel, and stop myself from going to war with the well known arrogance of Uber. As one wise young soul said — the headline “Uber in arrogance shocker” would hardly be news to anyone. I did pause to wonder how Steve Hilton, who just wrote the inspiring book More Human, would feel about his wife (Rachel Whetstone’s) first week running comms for a company where it seemed like the top team found sport in new summits of shock and awe. Later in the week my faith that contagion hadn’t spread across the top of Silicon Valley was restored when Reid Hoffman graciously offered to do the panel on top his multiple other commitments to us and others, and Eric Schmidt was charming as well. I wondered why the chair of Uber would behave like that then the CEOs of BT, Vodafone, WPP, McLaren, Diageo, BBC, Centrica, TalkTalk, Dixons Carphone would never act like that…. Is it that some in the new world were too busy in Faustian striving to learn the fate of Icarus? Can we blame them… ?
During lunchtime Somewhere_to_startup launches an initiative to support young entrepreneurs and match them with office space. This was months in the planning and was a joint project with Dame Tessa Jowell, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Somewhere_to and Founders Forum for Good. http://techcitynews.com/2015/05/26/somewhereto_-to-hold-pitching-event-for-young-entrepreneurs/
A board call about a potential deal has to be fitted in during the afternoon. The caterers are pushing for the final seating plans….
Dinner for Ynon Kreiz’s belated 50th — He’s a good friend and a top global founder — currently CEO of Maker Studios which sold to Disney. Hence, I missed the launch of the ScaleUp Institute a dinner and a talk with Sherry Coutu and Reid Hoffman. Several people at the dinner will be at Founders Forum the next day, which makes it hard to switch off…
June 17th : Wednesday
FF Kick Off
Serpentine Sackler Gallery
We start with a CEO/Innovators : intimate breakfast/brainstorm on how corporates innovate (FF/Google) for 80 people mix of top CEOs with relevant top founders. Kicked off with short contributions from Matt Brittin (Google), Sajid Javid (Business Minister) Lord Hall (BBC), Ron Dennis (McLaren), Sir Martin Sorrell (WPP) and Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn) responding succinctly. Brainstorm after, masterfully moderated by Evan Davis from the Today Programme. In the audience are the top leaders from Diageo, GMG, DMGT,TRG, Dixons Carphone, EE, Centrica, British Land, Santander, Pearson…
Founders Factory Stefan von Holtzbrinck (owner of MacMillan) attends the breakfast and miraculously after many months work the timing is perfect for him to announce their investment in Founders Factory and the reasons behind it. It fits in well with the conversation on corporate innovation.
FT EuroTech top 50 supplement distributed. Get first look only then due to editorial independence: we worked with the FT to shine a light on the top 50 active founders across Europe. Helping them compile a top judging panel and what felt like a very credible supplement. The top 50 has come a long way from the lists published in 1999 by the likes of Management Today. As part of the FT Supplement there are some good articles on where we can expect Europe to lead — 2 of the 6 judges were notably women too. There is also a podcast with the FT Weekend Editor Caroline where we discuss tech bubbles then and now http://podcast.ft.com/index.php?sid=29&pid=2798
Winning Together report launched by Nesta with support from Founders Intelligence our consultancy arm. A guide to how corporates can work better with startups — a theme that has been pushed by FF for several years.
Post the breakfast I meet with Stefan and we discuss our new collaboration and some new innovation trends we are both excited about. As we leave we bump into Naveen Jain who amongst other things has acquired the rights to commercialise some extraordinary IP in the US. I have to run much as I would have enjoyed the conversation as its my son’s sports day. He’s competitive and I’m lucky its near by. I catch his last few races and, to my relief, he wins them, all so it was worth the break!
In the meantime, I read that in the spirit of entrepreneurial cultures Wahanda (started by a key exec at lastminute.com, and recently mostly sold, where I was a v small seed investor) raises another $70m.
No lunch today — race back to office — not as fast as my son would have managed. Team are in split locations. Lots of energy in the office. Not long till dinner at US Embassy and a separate team are already at The Grove hotel setting up and planning the days ahead.
Buckingham Palace : A small group who have travelled furthest are invited to Buckingham Palace for tea with the Duke of York — we had hoped this might be earlier so they could then go to Downing Street later but stars were not aligned for that. I had to miss this event due to lastminute preparations (I didn’t give late cancellation, I had always said most likely impossible) as you can’t be late for events there! I managed to catch the end of our reception at 10 Downing Street. The Business Minister gave people plenty of time to engage with him and the Chancellor was late (something to do with “running the finance of the country”) but he did get there just in time to make some timely remarks. The European entrepreneurs are always struck by the vibrancy of our politicians and tech / entrepreneur savviness in contrast to what they witness at home. 120 guests at Downing Street and we’ve taken care that almost no-one who was invited on Monday was there again. High octane conversations. Many taken to the event by more electric Teslas.
US Ambassadors Residence Dinner
Arrive at peak time. Realise we should have had more security at the doors (to let people in faster). Luckily it doesn’t feel like an airport queue more like a street cocktail party while people wait. Most people relaxed — a few unused to queuing, as they are, need to adjust fast to the egalitarian wait policy. We could perhaps have served drinks while people waited and learnt from Disney about making waiting fun…
Once inside, I’d forgotten that Winfield House is regarded as the second best house in London (after Buck Pal), there are 12 acres of grounds… Shortly after we arrived guests could see a rainbow in the distance. The Ambassador did a perfect intro, tying in UK regional successes, i.e. John Venn from Yorkshire, founder of the Venn diagram, a tour of British inventors and US immigrants to these shores like Jimmy Wales founder of Wikipedia. Then we went to some sets from Jamie Cullum in the garden, who struck the right tone of energy and dynamism. Thanks to Ralph Simon who always pulls through in getting talent. One year he only just missed getting Psy of Gangham style to perform Windsor Style at the dinner we cohosted at Windsor Castle…
If you are going to do a dinner for the digerati a key is to make it different. A collision of cultures. We built a guestlist which broadened out to top interviewers Sarah Montague, Kirsty Young, Clemency Burton-Hill (all BBC), actors (Natascha McElhone, Lisa Dwan, Davina McCall, Cressida Bonas), film gurus (David Heyman, Eric Fellner), establishment (Simon Stevens (CEO NHS), Governor Mark Carney, Sir Howard Stringer;politicians (Ed Vaizey, Baroness Shields), reserved place for Dame Tessa Jowell (but mayoral hustings delayed her), near politicians (Lord Feldman, Lord Alli, Baroness Lane Fox, Kate Rock, Claire Foges (wrote the PM speeches for seven years), Samantha Cameron; Top CEOs (Gavin Patterson (BT), Mike McNamara (Flextronics) Tim Davie (BBC worldwide), Mark Read (Wunderman) Stephen Miron (Global Radio), Andrew Miller (GMG), Jimmy Mayman (HoffPo), Archie Norman (ITV Chair); journalists (Robert Peston, Geordie Greig, Caroline Daniel, Jemima Khan, Sarah Sands); creatives (Thomas Heatherwick, Sir John Hegarty, Tom Dixon, Alan Yentob, Nick Rhodes, Grayson Perry); Top founders (Sir Charles Dunstone, Steve Case (AOL), Reid, Jose Neves (farfetch), Riccardo Zacconi (King), Tim Steiner (Ocado), Martin Varsavsky (Fon), Arkady (Yandex), Pavel (vKontactke, Telegram), Mark Shuttleworth (Ubuntu), Toby Rowland (King, Mangahigh), Phil Libin (Evernote), Andrew Fisher (Shazam), Michael Acton Smith (Moshi),Rob Glaser (Real), Samir Desai (Funding Circle), Jim McKelvie (Square), Ynon Kreiz (Maker), Michael Spender (Icap), Morten Lund, Jose Marin (Beepi..), Dan Rosensweig (Chegg), Michael Birch (Bebo), Christian Chabot (Tableau), Pieter van der Does (Adyen), Alex Chesterman (Zoopla), Pete Flint (Trulia), Bernard Liautaud (Business Objects). Top investors (Scott Weiss (A16z), Hermann Hauser, Danny Rimer (Index), Luke Johnson (Risk Capital), Alibaba, Softbank, EQT, Atomico, Accel, Kleiner, Sherpa…) ; Gurus (Ralph Simon, Yossi Vardi), academics (Jeff Rayport) , Esther Perel, Paul Thomson (RCA); supermodel/philanthropist (Natalia Vodianova); Publishers (Dame Gail Rebuck, Venetia Butterfield); sportsmen (Sir Ben Ainslie); retailers (Nick Wheeler, Chrissie Rucker, Michelle Mone, Johan Eliasch, Alannah Weston, Sir Tom Hunter…). There were of course too many inspiring digital entrepreneurs who had travelled from afar to list. In part due to the reputation of Winfield House and the US Ambassador’s legendary hospitality we had a very long waitlist for the dinner so I hope I didn’t lose a few friends who we couldn’t get on (either because they were regulars and we wanted to introduce some new faces or because they were locals).
The mix seemed to work well — the health innovators table mixed with the CEO of the NHS and the fintech disruptors discussing crytpo-currencies etc with the Governor of the Bank of England (the whisper was he’s a believer)…
A key to the night was the celebration of youth entrepreneurship. The US Ambassador and Jonnie Goodwin were both strong supporters of this theme. We painstakingly select 21 top founders under 25 year old. Together we matched each of them with mentors in the room. They would then commit to helping them with their businesses. Its gives great energy to a room of those who have made it — to have those who are at the beginning of the journey. Many of the young entrepreneurs have already written to say that one evening will have transformed their lives. The irony was only 20 could make the evening. Ella Woodward of Deliciously Ella had to cancel due to food poisoning — she obviously doesn’t always eat her own cooking.
As people sat, I checked all the tables were as planned and played policemen to check any no shows. There were only 2 no shows out of 360 in the end*. They will both be getting stern emails a bill. We don’t charge entrepreneurs. The purpose of the event is not to make money. But we have for the first time introduced a no show policy £1000 pounds to support our charity for no shows or late cancellations.
There was one unavoidable frustration at the dinner. Ed Vaizey, a friend and our sharp and entertaining Digital and Culture Minister, had his place hijacked. By a fellow guest. He handled it with customary grace but less force than I would have done in his position. Luckily earlier in the day he was only one of two tables I had sent out beforehand (The Ambassadors the other one), so at least he knew what was meant to have happened. Im still a bit stunned who sits in a Ministers seat (or anyones for that matter) then sees him turn up a few minutes late and doesn’t go back to their assigned seat…? ) People are full of surprises…
The dinner was due to end at 10pm but the Ambassador didn’t throw anyone out and as I said goodbye to him at the end of the evening he was relaxed with a beer in hand and we briefly spoke about next steps that we could do to encourage young founders in the UK and US. Then it was a trip to the Grove in a Tesla offered by our sponsor.
Thursday 18th June
The main event. Including sponsors, demos, youth entrepreneurs… over 450 people will be part of the day. If the event seemed a bit less chaotic than our signature style we owe a debt to Rupert Gavin not just for his booming voice over PA system on the day marshalling people though, but for his attention to detail pre the event, analysing the flow of the programme.
Throughout the day the demo room played a starring role — from flying cars to amazing speakers, (Devialet), alarm clocks that wake you up with smells, realistic robots, VR… http://video.ft.com/4307581527001/Tech-leaders-visions-for-next-10-years/Companies Its wonderful that the team and I can read about amazing projects and then have them appear at the forum. (thanks to beth/susannah and henry)
We introduce two of our new projects on the day — Smartup.io — a virtual mentoring app. Intros.at, a business backed by one of the largest conference businesses to help you meet the right people at events.
The day kicks off with an optional early breakfast with CEO of Flextronics in conversation with Ravi Mattu of the FT. Its company worth $7bn and with 200,000 employees. A business that a lot of founders can use if they want to make things… Google used them to help design and make ChromeCast.
The day then builds its on momentum — 10 teams youth entrepreneurs pitch at the FFactor first thing — Davina McCall moderates brilliantly with wit and warmth and allays most of their nerves. Its a deliberately intimidating experience and they each only have 90 seconds.
We then have 5 Rising Stars present (FiscalNote, Juicero, Mad Street Den (AI from India), Mainframe (ex spatch), Quanttus). A strong group.
Future of Work follows — great to have the contrast of Kiva robots/Amazon with CEO of Vodafone and AI from leader Sentient…
We then take a gamble and have six concurrent sessions — the idea is we want no more than 50 in each room for there to be an intimate conversation amongst peers. The people leading each panel are truly world class — will call out only a few but could have mentioned all — Gavin Patterson (CEO of BT ) and an early supporter of FF on Connected Home, Dan Kraft/Jack Kreindler helped pull together a great group on wearables. Future of Fintech (Henry Lane Fox CEO of Founders Forum lead an allstar cast) , Productivity (Claire Burge pulled together a great group including Phil Libin (Evernote), Design meets Tech (Aza Raskin/Jim McKelvey, IOT automation (disruptors like Herman Narula with Hermann Hauser and cofounder/CTO of Arm Mike Muller). Definitely a lot going on — so we filmed it all and hopefully panelists will be ok for us to publish their sessions.
After the break — they never seem long enough and some people only come for the breaks (here’s looking at you Liz M) -
We reconvene everyone and David Goldberg of Founders Forum for Good does a great job of explaining how he has progressed with The Founders Pledge. He hits the right tone — not patronising but here to help people do good, improve their company culture, help them join a great club and simplify their giving strategy. http://thefounderspledge.org/ A wonderful number of founders sign up on the day and many others also volunteer to donate to support the running costs of the Pledge.
Eric Schmidt always draws everyone in. He did a 10 minute intro and then opened to the floor and about 25 mins of questions. First one of course from one of the 2 journalists allowed in the room… it was later suggested that perhaps we don’t allow journalists to ask questions as they can be too negative. The key to Founders Forum from its roots 10 years ago of 70 entrepreneurs in one room is the family spirit. The idea is not to trap people but that everyone feels a community spirit and tries to see how they can help each other not trip each other up. Don’t get me wrong, we realise journalists are critical members of the ecosystem — thoughtful and important to give oxygen to the founders in the outside world. They are also often some of the smartest people I know! They also help us keep a record of the event. We need them to ensure people not in our immediate network understand that founders forum is a different type of event — still intimate and pays a huge amount of attention to people curation as they do to thought curation. They can help us raise the profile of London tech scene to Silicon Valley, Asia and beyond…
More queues — next time we should stagger the 6 sessions just before lunch and serve more food during the breaks… lessons to learn.
But surprisingly many of the worlds top entrepreneurs didn’t realise there was another queue that they could cut through round the back. Perhaps a good sign they were at their least competitive in this culture. The weather held so one of the bigger challenges is how to stop everyone talking and bring them back in after lunch…
Towards the end of lunch I joined a small group we helped for the Dean of Oxford Said Business School (Peter Tufano). Top mainly Oxford alumni founders were in a small brainstorm of 10 people to
think about what could be done to make all Oxford students better entrepreneurs. They had positive outcomes — watch this space (literally).
Back to six breakout sessions : Corporate HQs (Rohan Silva, Thomas Heatherwick, Carlo Ratti, Bjarke Ingels): Innovation is everywhere : see Niklas Zennstrom in the FT on the day http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/9ef3b4e2-0e2c-11e5-8ce9-00144feabdc0.html and founders of PicsArt, Farfetch, Inome, GeneU): HealthTech (NHS England plus the disrupters, led by our friends Daniel Kraft/Jack Kreindler): Second Acts (group therapy what do you do after the big exit Bernard Liautaud/Pete Flint (trulia)/Kevin Ryan/Thor Bjorgolfsson): Smaller session with on the Future of Content: and from left field Alain de Botton and Esther Perel in conversation for the first time — one tweet — said this was the best conference content they had every heard — who said conferences can’t confront intimacy?
Rising Stars — Asana/Dispatch/Dubsmash/Improbable/Jukedeck/Premise.
A plenary session led by Jeffrey Rayport and again and Jamie Drummond founder of one.org — a group brainstorm with top social entrepreneurs , founders and creatives.
a the same time in side room somewhere — the AI session was solving the worlds problems in another way…
AI : a packed session with standing room only with great content — lead by the inimitable Hermann Hauser (Antoine Blondeau/Demis Hassabis/Martin Rees/Murray Shanahan)
The Fireside chat — Reid Hoffman with Lionel Barber (FT editor): The conversation went from Reid’s journey as an entrepreneur, to his successful investment track record and approach and most interestingly on what he is focussing on now: a new book (scaling up), philanthropy, AI… How to leverage his impact. He always gets entrepreneurs to pay attention and listen intently…. Afterwards Lionel had to run off onto Question Time.
Then we had the final of the FFactor — won by Gyroglove http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2015-06/19/founders-forum-f-factor-prize — to help Parkinson’s sufferers — the number 2 and 3 companies also had plenty of investor and mentor interest and hopefully the day will have changed the course of their companies for the better. We also had Simon Cowell video in from LA with his views on his top 3 — he was definitely more positive than his normal X Factor stance — he seemed to enjoy thinking about the digital models and was a great sport. We were grateful to our other star judges Martha Lane Fox, Charles Dunstone, Peter Gabriel and Adele Savarese who got the surprise judge spot by winning the smartup quizzes during the day.
At dinner the highlight is the premiere of the World Wide What? film — showing great generosity with their time from some of the top global founders and wonderful creativity from our Poppy Gaye and the team from Freuds and elsewhere. http://techcrunch.com/2015/06/18/founders-forum-just-posted-this-video-of-huge-entrepreneurs-and-its-hilarious/ The short film gets great reviews and laughs from a potentially sanguine audience — a risky time-consuming project paid off !
As people leave they pick up their goody bags with a dizzying array of gadgets to try out and see the future once more in the comfort of their own homes… Again a huge amount of work goes into these and thanks are due to those who contribute. I will post a picture of mine…
Friday 19th June
Most people will just recover
The team pack up
Ship bulky goody bags…
But some continue on to our partner Mclaren for a factory tour and more. This a corporate that is cracking the innovation code…
We will post a summary of that trip too.
Focus is on Founders Factory next steps. Refining the model on how we attract top entrepreneurs and work with the top corporates worldwide. Continuing to build the team. More on that at http://www.foundersfactory.co/ Getting to the next stage of the fund so many inspiring entrepreneurs we would like to invest more in…
Founders Intelligence — our corporate consultancy business has had an extraordinary year led by Henry Lane Fox and Rob Chapman. Its a great network effect model of consulting we get better the more work we do as we build barriers in understanding corporate needs and around 30,000 startups worldwide.
Founders Keepers continues to work on great projects and recruit a broader team itself
Founders Pledge has ambitious targets after the recent strong momentum
Founders Forum events — will work out where to go next year and on NYC and work out if we can do Tel Aviv. We also aim to recruit a had of content for the event. This will be a key role and can really help us make Year 11 continue in the tradition of being the better than the last…
FFactor — lots of enthusiasm for us to make FFactor bigger and better and a real celebration to youth talent
World Wide What? — strive to make the film more viral as a celebration of the values of the open internet and Tim Berners Lee’s Web Foundation. See if other top entrepreneurs want to now submit their cameos…
Smartup.io Our virtual mentoring for entrepreneurs can help support the next generation of entrepreneurs and surface top talent.
Intros.at Our networking algorithms can be included in top apps and break new ground in introductions at top corporate events.
We still have to release the BBC Worldwide film of our Rising Stars and how they progressed over the last 10 years.
PS we often get asked -
Who gets invited to the main day?
We believe in excellence not elitisim. FF is a meritocracy. We solicit nominations from most of the top global VCs and angels. Other top founders can also nominate. People can even nominate themselves. Its anything but an old boys club — to keep it dynamic each year we work hard to refresh the list and ensure the bright new global talent attends. We publish the criteria here http://www.ff.co/#!apply/c2385
Many amazing people don’t get invited — we will never get it right 100% noone does. If you should have been asked get 2 great founders to support that on email and we will do our best to get you in. But the issue is as the tech sector takes off there will always be fascinating people that we can’t invite. We have to preserve the intimacy of the event.
We try and stress the international nature and give people flying in from abroad money can’t buy experiences. We also ensure that all top female founders that fit the criteria get invited as clearly women are still underrepresented in tech. This year in fact we had of the 21 founders under 25 invited to the US Embassy 8 were female which is a strong ratio and perhaps reflects a change in the younger generation.
Lots of debate about how to get more women speakers… I’ll leave that for another thread! Our ratio of female attendees was actually pretty high. Will add it here in a bit.
What does Success look like ?
Its about a great atmosphere, people making useful connections, improving their businesses, making new friends, being intimidated, but feeling relaxed. Wanting to come back. Constantly learning.
Everyone wanting to help each other. It should feel like a family a community even though it will refresh itself so that it represents the future not the past.
Lasting contributions to younger entrepreneurs and impact through initiatives like the Founders Pledge.
There were even wonderful stories of reconciliation and improbable connections like when I introduced Pavel Durov (VKontakte/Telegram) to Niklas Zennstrom and found them still engaged in conversation an hour later…
Thanks again to :
All our partners (the model is the event is free for founders, we try and break even, so we do get money from investors and sponsors).
HSBC, Pictet, Flextronics, McKinsey & Company, Lepe Partners, GREAT (UKTI), TalkTalk, Audemars Piguet, Adyen, BSkyB, McLaren, Tesla, Osborne Clarke, NASDAQ, NetJets, Diageo and The FT
Our talented and amazingly perfectionist and dedicated team : Henry Lane Fox ( who runs FF), Poppy Gaye (who embodies the community spirit, and risk taking and creativity), Anais & Beth for incredibly hard work on nailing a very complex event, Susannah for being an unsung hero and of course the rest of the team and last minute helpers. Lisa,Amicie for stepping into the breach. Michael Healy for his help with social media and more.
Pierre for helping with the youth entrepreneurs and more
David Goldberg from driving through the Founders Pledge with integrity and passion. And Dafna Bonas who laid the groundwork with David.
George Northcott and David Hickson for their critical support for Founders Factory.
The core team at Founders Intelligence who helped out on the day, the 3 Robs, Rebecca,Nancy, Jessica…
And of course to Jonnie Goodwin — who has been at FF since the start and helped drive it to where it is today.
Thanks also to the tools we use to get the job done
Perfect Table Plan (not claiming its perfect just great software)
Evernote, Instapaper, Sanebox, LinkedIn (when we read about great people we connect on linkedin), Twitter…
Anyone want to do a post on the amazing lastminute.com alumni — I’m not stuck in the past but as a group they’ve had an amazing journey since ….? My investment strategy could have been just to invest in all of them…