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A Conversation with Europe’s Leading Entrepreneurs and Investors at Queens' College

last modified Mar 23, 2017 10:24 AM
Top UK Founders provide inspiration to the next generation

The Founders of Atomico, DeepMind, and SwiftKey joined forces with some of the UK's top investors to present an evening of discussion at Queens' College last week. The focus of debate was around the question, ‘Could the World’s most valuable company be built from the UK?’. Presented by ideaSpace member Ramsey Faragher of Focal Point Positioning, and organised by Queens' College, Atomico and ideaSpace, advice was offered on how to create a successful start-up; from the execution of ideas to pitching to investors.

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Demis Hassabis, Founder of Deepmind and Queens Alumni, commented that the UK, particularly Cambridge and London, rivals the technical development in Silicon Valley. He added, “Europe is the place to be when it comes to Artificial Intelligence, and here we have a pool of talent.” When it comes to founding a start-up he emphasised the crucial importance of timing, he added, “Don’t try to be too far ahead, about 5 years ahead of the curve is enough, just be aware of your competitors”.

Demis and Siraj

Panel Discussion with (from left) Siraj Khaliq (The Climate Corporation and Atomico) Demis Hassabis (Deepmind) 

Building a support network was also a central theme, Niklas Zennström, Founder of Skype and Atomico advised that “it’s important to build rings around yourself and learn to delegate”. He also emphasised the importance of complete trust in your co-founders and colleagues.

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Niklas Zennström, Founder of Skype and Atomico

A panel of investors gave their pitching top tips for up and coming founders. Anne Glover, of Amadeus suggested, “focus on the pain point you are solving, and establish why your solution is unique, better and competitive”. Wendy Tan White of Entrepreneur First agreed, adding that one thing they look for is team performance and team dynamic, to be able to demonstrate that you can work together effectively is crucial when pitching for investors.

Queens investors

Investors (from left) Siraj Khaliq (Atomico), Robert Dighero (Passion Capital), Suranga Chandratillak (Balderton), Anne Glover (Amadeus Capital), Wendy Tan White (Entrepreneur First)

During the interval some ideaSpace founders and alumni gave a 30 second pitch each to demonstrate how to sell their products at lightning speed, including GeoSpock, Undo and Simprints.

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Getting ready to pitch ideaSpace alumni (from left) Steve Marsh (Geospock), Adam Durant (Satavia), Greg Law (Undo).

To answer the question; ‘Could the World’s most valuable company be built from the UK?’ Director of ideaSpace, Stewart McTavish, and Cambridge Angel David Cleevely presented impressive statistics on successful companies founded in Cambridge. The list included flourishing start-ups such as PragmatIC, FreeAgent and Magic Pony Technology, with all 15 totaling to over $100 million raised.

Stew

Stewart McTavish, Founding Director of ideaSpace

The evidence certainly demonstrates a prosperous present, and with the next talent potentially emerging from Cambridge University, suggests a flourishing future.

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