The People First Approach To Building The Next Wave of Wildly Successful Startups
Talent is evenly distributed, but the opportunity isn’t — here’s what Matt Clifford, CEO of Entrepreneur First, is doing about it.
Over the course of the last decade, we have witnessed a remarkable amount of tech innovation and growth, spanning virtually every industry and niche imaginable.
And yet, to this point, Silicon Valley and a host of other major cities around the world have largely been responsible for giving birth to some of the most successful companies on the planet.
While the innovation seen in the current startup landscape is in many ways beneficial, the lack of opportunity for founders to thrive outside the major tech hubs is increasingly problematic.
How would the world improve if individuals from all backgrounds, cultures, and locations, had a fair chance of becoming the founder they were born to be?
Matt Clifford, CEO of Entrepreneurs First, recently sat down with Michael Gasiorek, Founder of prominent go-to-market agency for emerging tech startups Truth Cartel, and shared why his company’s unique vision for the future is aiming to allow new founders from all around the globe make a dent in human progress.
Overcoming The Barriers of Entrepreneurship At A Global Level
If you were to randomly ask ten people you pass by in Silicon Valley whether or not they have ever considered starting a company, the chances are incredibly high more than half of the people you surveyed would say yes.
For those who reside in the key tech hubs of the world, starting a company is often seen as common as getting a 9–5 job.
Unfortunately, not all countries and cultures have the opportunity (whether internal or external) to give the “founder thing” a try.
In various countries in Europe for example, choosing to start a company might receive a few laughs from family and friends. For those living in developing countries, the option to start a company often comes at the expense of not being able to provide food or roof of their head.
This isn’t to say, founding companies outside of the tech hubs are impossible. Of course, there are successful founders from every country on the planet.
However, for those who do not have the resources and social systems to build their ideas freely, the idea of founding a company is often never seriously considered.
For a large portion of the world, becoming a founder as a career does not commute.
The Problem With The Current Startup Model (Not Accessible To Everyone)
One of the driving forces behind Entrepreneurs First is that there’s no better teacher of how to start a startup than by building one. As Matt Clifford shares in his talk, “There’s no way you can learn to be a founder from reading a book or video. You just have to get going.”
EF is one of the worlds largest talent-driven investment firms. The goal of the EF is to help some of the most ambitious individuals in the world start and run their own companies in areas where founding a company is not often seen as a realistic option.
With cohorts in six countries around the globe, EF selects individuals who they believe have what it takes to build one of the next revolutionary startups.
Paying each accepted applicant a living stipend, the program provides a 12 week intensive of workshops, resources, and support as they launch their idea.
“What makes Entrepreneur First different is we don’t invest in companies, we invest in people before they have a company.” said Matt when asked how EF is unique compared to other investment firms.
The reality is, many people around the world have great ideas, but don’t have the ability or resources to explore their vision due to lack
Many people around the world across all backgrounds have great ideas but don’t have the ability to try their ideas due to lack of resources / social support.
Investing in people first gives “non-traditional” founders the chance to test their ideas and change the world through what they build.
Additionally, one of the major benefits that Entrepreneurs First aims to provide to those in its program is a world-class network of incredibly driven and intelligent individuals.
Because not everyone has access to the network effect in say Silicon Valley, EF works to bring that network to those all around the world regardless of their physical location.
Since its founding, Entrepreneurs First has helped over 1,000 founders create 200 companies and their portfolio is a combined worth of 1.5 billion. They are also leading in AI Ecosystem and have successful exits like the one where Twitter paid $150M for Magic Pony Technology, which uses neural networks to improve images. This is also a great example of how AI technology could massively save cloud usage which is bringing the rise of the novel AI startups working on sustainability such as iSize that was one of the selected startups to exhibit at Startup Grind global conference 2019.
Same Story Different Tech
When asked about the importance of striking a balance between technical knowledge and “founder” knowledge to build a successful company, Matt replied, “One of the things entrepreneurs obviously need to have, is very high levels of the agency. They need to be people who get stuff done…. We do want to see something that people who got up and done that gives them the edge.”
While tech continues to change at a rapid pace, the foundation of all startups and businesses come down to the people that run them.
Investing in people first, rather than the startup idea, continues to prove incredibly successful for the team at Entrepreneur’s First.
Although, solving the right idea is important, having the right founding team can mean the difference between an idea becoming reality and never realizing it’s full potential.
The World Is Missing Out On Some of The Best Founders
There’s no denying that the last several years have seen incredible growth in the tech ecosystem, specifically companies founded in the major tech hubs.
And while all success should be celebrated, there still remains a vast amount of untapped startup and founder potential. That is why I’m focusing on the untapped markets like the Balkans to bridge the post-Brexit economy gap between the ecosystems with a little help from our friends at the UK Government and Super-Connectors such as Supreme Factory.
There are people all over the world who are currently built to start the next world-changing company but have yet to realize that opportunity.
Entrepreneurs First hopes to continue to unlock the potential of all those who are founders at heart.
As Matt remarks in his recent talk, “It really matters what the most ambitious people in the world do with their lives.”