It’s been an interesting few days here following my Top Ten UK Startup Finance Myths (IMHO) post on TechCrunch, in which I boiled several months of grouchy blog posts here down into a meaty 1500-word stew. But now that it has rolled off TCE’s front page, it’s arguably time for a mini post-mortem: so… right now, is UK angel funding honestly as bad as my article made out?
The proposition that it is is a lousy argument to want to win – and in fact I quietly hoped to be proved wrong, that someone would eagerly stride forward to demonstrate that UK startup investing is indeed alive and flourishing, though perhaps not in the way I expected. Sadly, I don’t think anyone did (but even so, a huge thank you to the many people who very kindly left comments there (and also emailed & phoned me)), so there you go. It is what it is.
But look – blatantly inspired by this year’s Doctor Who Christmas Special, here’s a message from The Ghost of Startups Future (lobbed in our direction from a passing Tardis), which – very surprisingly – is addressed directly to us. It reads:
A Merry Christmas from the glorious future to all you dismal startups, angels & VCs of 2010. Sitting here toying with this year’s diamond-studded iPad 9’s while dipping our toes in Courvoisier-filled plunge pools, our minds randomly flashed back to all your long faces and pervasive negativity, and we thought: someone really ought to put you out of your misery. So why not us, given that (since the Wayback Machine was hacked to send data back in time) we now can?
You people suspected you were in an impossible impasse – and you were! All that ridiculous sense of entitlement to finance (on the startup side) and that ludicrous fire-sale mentality (on the finance side) was clearly going nowhere fast. So why-oh-why didn’t you two sets of idiots ever think to work together from the start of development (when you can make a difference), rather than at the end (when it’s basically too late to do any kind of rational matchmaking)?
Here in the future, you’ll be pleased to hear we don’t have VCs any more (the mezzanine securitization market wiped them out long ago): but we also don’t have anything you’d recognize as angels, startups, or even pitch meetings (and by the way, what on earth is “pay-to-pitch“? None of us here can make sense of the concept, even with our Google Brains implants. Just a historical footnote, it probably doesn’t matter.)
The way we work nowadays is painfully simple: massive, hugely diversified Internet funds identify emerging opportunities, super hungry entrepreneurs, & kick-ass product teams and stitch them all together at high speed, kind of the way VCs used to do back when they had a clue. The daddy of them all is IncubateTheWorld.com: apparently, before they pivoted they used to be called “IBM” – but don’t worry, they’re making really serious money now.
What should you do? Oh, you crazy, useless guys – “bang the rocks together” isn’t even close. So here’s your starter for ten: money makes money. That is, to make money, you need to start from a position of having money – which, even you can work out, means working together. If you want to speculate on ideas, feel free to go all retrotextual (you know, “write books”, or “take a degree”, ha!) to get them out of your system. But honestly, don’t waste your time thinking anybody will ever buy your ideas, no matter how much you ‘develop’ them: no, that’s just plain delusional.
Hope this helps a bit – have a good life, and see you by the pool!
Happy New Year to you all!