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Focus on a Founder with Steve Brierley - Celebrating 10 Years of Community

last modified Aug 19, 2020 10:06 AM
We are continuing to celebrate a decade of community with our ‘Focus on a Founder’ series. This week we spoke to Steve Brierley of Riverlane who joined ideaSpace in 2018.

Steve Brierley focus on a founderSteve Brierley - Riverlane 

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’ve always been fascinated by computers and physics and so was hooked at an early age on quantum computing which combines both.

A pivotal moment in my career was in 2013. I was working on algorithms for quantum computers at the time – trying to figure out what a quantum computer could do best –  when, at a Quantum conference with many of the top people, there was a straw poll on  ‘Who thought there would be a useful quantum computer in 20 years?’ Surprisingly less than a third said yes. It made me consider whether I was in the wrong field!

I began speaking to the research groups who were building quantum computers and collecting data on how good each device was. Looking at the data, I saw a kind of ‘Moore’s Law’, every year quantum computers had been getting about twice as good. It was when I projected this trend out that I got really excited and devoted myself to harnessing this coming wave of computational power. I had to figure out what would be the implications both in terms of making large scale quantum computers a reality and what they would be used for. The result is Riverlane, the company I founded in 2017.


How is your venture doing?
Riverlane is building the operating system for the quantum world. We connect the application/ algorithm layer with the underlying hardware which helps hardware vendors build better quantum computers and users to benefit from their computational power. It has been an amazing journey, raising a £3m seed round last year from CIC and Amadeus, and an amazing achievement for the team to know that by next year we will be on 20% of the world’s quantum computers.


What advice would you give to a founder starting out?
You need to think about the big picture – your vision for the world in 10 years’ time – and the next one or two steps that you are going to take in order to build the business in the coming year.   

There is nothing better than real product feedback – get someone to use an early version of your product as soon as possible.

Plan for the things going wrong and things going well – what will be your next move as the company plays out?

You’ll get lots of advice (from people like me), take it all in, but then you need to make a decision. It’s your company.


How was being part of the ideaSpace community helpful to you?
ideaSpace is a fantastic place to start a company – you get an almost instant network of people willing to share their experiences of doing the same and I’m still in close contact with many of the people I met at IdeaSpace. I would often ask a fellow founder over coffee/beer about the problems I was trying to solve or ideas I had for business development. That could be from grand plans to things as simple as recommendations for a good accountant – it all helps and I think adds up to a significant advantage. 


To find out more about Riverlane visit their website here

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