Off Balance #44

👋🏟 Hi friends!

Here we are mid way through July and the rain is coming down in buckets. In the last week someone tried to assassinate Donald Trump, England lost to Spain in the finals of the Euros and the weather seems to be reflecting the general mood.

And beyond that, I’ve been reflecting on the important stuff in life especially after the news that one of my oldest friends mother, who I had spent huge amounts of time with as a child, had suddenly passed away.

One of the things that I was really conscious of was the wealth of experience that those in that generation have and how so few of us take the time to capture it for posterity – and more importantly – for legacy. So this month I sat down in the studio and recorded my dad’s story over two mega 1.5 hour long sessions.

I would recommend to anyone who’s parents are ‘getting to that age’ to sit down with them, even if it’s with a cuppa and recording the conversation on your phone to do this so as to better understand the life that they have led so you can ensure that your children, and in turn their children, can learn where they came from.

In other news, a good friend of mine – Dr Andrea Isoni – is going to be running an AI Masterclass to help you enhance your business, designed for decision-makers. The course will help you gain a comprehensive understanding of Generative AI, its ROI, and practical applications as well as helping you learn to manage AI vendors, ensure AI safety, and govern implementations effectively. The course includes hands-on experience, expert insights, and a bonus AI use case review. Join Andrea on July 27-28, 2024, to stay ahead in the AI-driven market.

You can register here using the code NOTHINGVENTURED24 to get a massive 50% off.

As you know, I’m well underway writing about all the things I’ve learned from the last couple of decades as founder, CFO and CEO, so sign up for early access to Off Balance – The Book and feel free to share with anyone else you think might enjoy it 😄. I’m setting myself the target of getting through a large portion of it whilst I’m away in Italy during August – wish me luck!

Now let’s get down to business


𝗗𝗌𝗲𝘀 𝗘𝘂𝗿𝗌𝗜𝗲 𝗻𝗲𝗲𝗱𝘀 𝗺𝗌𝗿𝗲 𝗶𝗻𝘃𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗌𝗿𝘀 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝗳𝗌𝘂𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗿 𝗯𝗮𝗰𝗞𝗎𝗿𝗌𝘂𝗻𝗱𝘀?

In this week’s Nothing Ventured, I sat down for a wide ranging conversation with TWICE exited founder turned VC, Jan Reichelt.

An entrepreneur at heart, Jan has spent his career in technology start-ups, online businesses, professional information services and digital media.

Jan is now a founding and general partner of 10x Founders, a network-driven investor backed by over 200 entrepreneurs and angels.

Previously, he founded the scientific collaboration platform Mendeley (acquired by RELX / Elsevier PLC) and Kopernio, a ‘Spotify for research papers’ (acquired by Clarivate).

At Clarivate, Jan was Managing Director for Web of Science, responsible for revenues of over $250m.

In 2013, he was named “European Founder of the Year 2013” by TechCrunch / The Europas.

Top Takeaways:

𝗚𝗹𝗌𝗯𝗮𝗹 𝗜𝗺𝗜𝗮𝗰𝘁 𝗌𝗳 𝗘𝗱𝗧𝗲𝗰𝗵: Jan highlighted the immediate global reach of the education and edtech industry, especially in higher education and academic research. The industry’s common standard and global nature present vast opportunities for innovation and growth.

𝗙𝗌𝘂𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗿 𝗜𝗻𝘃𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗌𝗿 𝗊𝘂𝗰𝗰𝗲𝘀𝘀: Jan shared valuable insights on the success of founder investors in the VC space. Data suggests that founder VCs with successful exits tend to have a higher investment success rate, emphasising the importance of founder backgrounds in making impactful investment decisions.

𝗕𝗮𝗹𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗶𝗻𝗎 𝗘𝗻𝘁𝗿𝗲𝗜𝗿𝗲𝗻𝗲𝘂𝗿𝘀𝗵𝗶𝗜 𝗮𝘀 𝗮 𝗟𝗶𝗳𝗲𝘀𝘁𝘆𝗹𝗲: Jan spoke about the significance of treating entrepreneurship as a lifestyle rather than just a job. He highlighted the importance of designing a balanced life around the entrepreneurial journey, acknowledging the emotional toll and rewards that come with it.

We also covered:

💥 If you can create value and people are prepared to pay, there will always be an exit route.
⛔ Sometimes listening to too much external advice as a founder can be counterproductive – be confident in yourself as a founder.
🪟 How windows of opportunity led to Jan selling his second business.
👌🏜 Why you can’t scale investing as an angel.
⚖ How entrepreneurship wasn’t a job, it was his life; so he designed his life to ensure he had the balance.
💡 Jan’s contrarian advice: You shouldn’t only talk to the partners at a VC fund.

Check it out on YouTube!

Else listen on Spotify or Apple

If you have any feedback, or if there’s something you’re desperate to see me include, just reply to this mail or ping me online – I’m very open to conversations.

If you like what I’m putting out, do give me a follow on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

(If you are trying to connect with me on LinkedIn, maybe read this post I wrote and make sure to start your request with “Off Balance” and, more importantly, tell me why you’d like to connect 💪🏟)

Don’t forget to like, rate and subscribe to Nothing Ventured on Apple, Spotify or YouTube, it really helps more people see what we’re doing – you can find links to these (and more including my Office Hours) right here!

This edition of Nothing Ventured is brought to you by EmergeOne.

EmergeOne provides fractional CFO support to venture backed tech startups from Seed to Series B and beyond.

Join companies backed by Hoxton, Stride, Octopus, Founders Factory, Outlier, a16z and more, who trust us to help them get the most out of their capital, streamline financials, and manage investor relations so they can focus on scaling.

If you’re a CFO working with venture backed startups and want to join a team of incredible fractional talent, drop us your details here.

If you’re a growing startup that knows it needs that strategic financial knowhow, drop your details here to see how we can support you as you scale 🚀

As always, my office hours are open, if you’d like to chat about anything finance, tech or venture releated, just grab some time 😊.

I hope you found Off Balance #44 valuable. As always, I’d love to get your feedback and understand the sort of topics you would love to hear about.

Just hit reply to this mail or drop me a line at hello@emergeone.co.uk and let me know 😊

🚀And that’s a wrap for this edition of Off Balance – I’d appreciate your feedback so just reply to this email if you’ve got something you’d like to say.

📚 If you think someone else might love this, please forward it on to them,

🎧 Finally, if you’re a fan of the Nothing Ventured podcast, please don’t forget to like, rate and subscribe wherever you get your pods – it really helps us spread the word.

That’s it from me so until next time


Stay liquid 🙂

Aarish

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Off Balance #43

👋🏟 Hi friends!

European summer is on, and, whilst the trope goes that everyone is off for the next couple of months, that certainly hasn’t been my experience over the last few years!

I’ve had more meetings packed into the diary over the next few weeks than I have in a while, and despite the fact that the last year or so seems to have been a slow grind, something feels like it has been unlocked over the last few weeks. Maybe as the election drew to a close, confidence was picking up, or maybe it’s just that all the dry powder out there is flowing a bit more freely.

Whatever it is, the UK feels like it’s back in business! So to celebrate, today’s post is a bit of a dig into what are the trends in the UK ecosystem in 2024 🚀

I’m well underway writing about all the things I’ve learned from the last couple of decades as founder, CFO and CEO, so sign up for early access to Off Balance – The Book and feel free to share with anyone else you think might enjoy it 😄.

Now let’s get down to business


In this weeks Off Balance:

🎙 Edward Kliphuis, Partner at Sofinnova Partners on Nothing Ventured
🇬🇧 UK Venture in 2024

𝗪𝗵𝘆 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗰𝗌𝗻𝘃𝗲𝗿𝗎𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝗌𝗳 𝗰𝗌𝗺𝗜𝘂𝘁𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗌𝗻 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗵𝗲𝗮𝗹𝘁𝗵𝗰𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝘄𝗶𝗹𝗹 𝗯𝗲 𝘁𝗿𝗮𝗻𝘀𝗳𝗌𝗿𝗺𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗌𝗻𝗮𝗹

In this week’s epsiode of Nothing Ventured, Aarish sat down with Edward Kliphuis, Partner at Sofinnova Partners, a leading European venture capital firm in life sciences, specializing in healthcare and sustainability.

Based in Paris, London and Milan, the firm brings together a team of professionals from all over the world with strong scientific, medical and business expertise.

Prior to joining Sofinnova Partners, Edward spent close to a decade in venture with Amadeus Capital Partners and M Ventures.

My top takes:

1⃣ 𝗖𝗌𝗻𝘃𝗲𝗿𝗎𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝗌𝗳 𝗗𝗮𝘁𝗮 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗖𝗌𝗺𝗜𝘂𝘁𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗌𝗻: Edward highlighted the significance of the convergence of data and computation in healthcare. Large biology models, akin to large language models, are revolutionising our understanding of biology. By capturing individual variability and isolating cause and effect, we are moving towards personalized and tailored medicine.

2⃣ 𝗖𝗵𝗮𝗹𝗹𝗲𝗻𝗎𝗲𝘀 𝗶𝗻 𝗛𝗲𝗮𝗹𝘁𝗵𝗰𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝗊𝘆𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗺𝘀: We discussed the challenges faced by healthcare systems globally, including rising costs, demographic changes, and a shortage of practitioners. Edward highlighted the need for innovation to address these systemic issues and ensure accessible and affordable healthcare for all.

3⃣ 𝗧𝗿𝘂𝘀𝘁 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗜𝗻𝗳𝗌𝗿𝗺𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗌𝗻 𝗶𝗻 𝗛𝗲𝗮𝗹𝘁𝗵𝗰𝗮𝗿𝗲: The conversation also touched upon the importance of trust and information in healthcare. With the proliferation of information and misinformation, coupled with the rapid pace of innovation, maintaining trust and delivering accurate information to patients is crucial for the future of healthcare.

We also talked about:

🔎 Life sciences through the lens of three strategies – existing tech through new channels, new tech through existing channels and new tech through a new channel.
🔬 Taking healthcare to the individual level.
🊠 Large biology models as a parallel to large language models.

Listen on YouTube, Spotify, Apple or wherever you get your podcasts!

If you have any feedback on the podcast or the newsletter, just reply to this mail or ping me online!

If you like what I’m putting out, do give me a follow on LinkedIn and Twitter.

(If you are trying to connect with me on LinkedIn, maybe read this post I wrote and make sure to start your request with “Off Balance” and, importantly, tell me why you’d like to connect 💪🏟)

Now let’s get into it.

This edition of Nothing Ventured is brought to you by EmergeOne.

EmergeOne provides fractional CFO support to venture backed tech startups from Seed to Series B and beyond.

Join companies backed by Hoxton, Stride, Octopus, Founders Factory, Outlier, a16z and more, who trust us to help them get the most out of their capital, streamline financials, and manage investor relations so they can focus on scaling.

If you’re a CFO working with venture backed startups and want to join a team of incredible fractional talent, drop us your details here.

If you’re a growing startup that knows it needs that strategic financial knowhow, drop your details here to see how we can support you as you scale 🚀

Off Balance

Last time I wrote about what the various political parties policies might mean for the UK venture ecosystem, sticking with the UK theme, this week I explored what are the 2024 trends that are worth keeping an eye on over here.

Whilst headlines often focus on broad trends, this deep dive reveals some of the less obvious, albeit highly impactful shifts in the UK’s VC ecosystem.

It’ll be interested to see how these continue to play out and what impact they might have on as the tech sector continues to grow.

UK Venture Capital in 2024: Trends and Opportunities for Tech Founders and CFOs

UK’s Resilience Amid Global Slowdown

Despite global venture capital having experienced significant contractions, the UK market has shown some strong resilience.

From 2019 to 2023, UK VC investment grew by 19%, outperforming both the United States (-7%) and China (-25%).

This growth trajectory shows the UK’s strong position in the global VC landscape and its ability to attract capital even in challenging economic conditions – though it is worth remembering that the volume of capital deployed here is still a mere fraction of the cash floating around the US and China.

What does this mean for founders and CFOs?

Confidence in the UK market remains high, providing a solid foundation for fundraising efforts.

The UK’s outperformance suggests a maturing ecosystem that can weather global economic storms more effectively.

Startups should leverage this positive sentiment in their pitches to both domestic and international investors to maximise their chance of success.

Seed Stage Momentum

A really interesting trend is starting to show at seed with UK startups. The median deal size for seed companies is rising, reflecting both escalating startup ambitions and increased investor confidence in ‘hot’ sectors. This trend is particularly of note as it suggests a shift in how early-stage companies are being valued and funded.

Key takeaways:

Founders should be prepared to articulate more ambitious visions and growth plans, even at the seed stage.

CFOs need to adjust their financial models and fundraising strategies to align with these higher expectations.

There’s an opportunity for startups to secure more substantial seed funding, potentially extending their runway and accelerating growth, especially as later stage fundings remain depressed.

US Funds Entering UK Seed Stage

In a significant shift, US VC firms are rapidly increasing their presence in early-stage UK deals, particularly in the tech and life sciences sectors. This trend is reshaping the competitive landscape for both startups and local VCs.

Implications:

UK startups now have access to a broader pool of capital and potentially valuable US market connections.

Competition for top deals is intensifying, which could lead to more founder-friendly terms – though this is not guaranteed as I am seeing in live term sheets today.

Founders and CFOs should familiarize themselves with US VC expectations and practices, as differ from UK norms, as does the style of approach and directness of some firms on that side of the Atlantic.

Corporate VC Stability

Despite the overall funding decline in the UK, corporate venture capital has maintained a steady 20% share of all UK equity funding in 2023. This stability in corporate VC participation is a testament to the strategic value that startups can offer to established companies. I’ll be talking to Alokik Advani from Fidelity International Strategic Investors to discuss this later in the year.

Opportunities to explore:

Startups should actively consider corporate VC as part of their fundraising strategy, especially if there are potential strategic alignments.

CFOs can leverage corporate VC relationships for more than just capital, including market access, technical expertise, and potential exit opportunities.

Founders should be prepared to articulate how their product suite or customer base can add value to a corporate partner’s existing business or future strategy.

Impact Investing Growth

The UK is witnessing a burgeoning community of impact investors, often overlapping with traditional VC in supporting startups that effect positive societal change. This trend reflects a growing alignment between financial returns and social / environmental impact. I have spoken to a number of guests on Nothing Ventured about how they approach this and how companies should think about measuring their impact.

What it means for startups:

There’s an opportunity to tap into a new pool of capital by emphasising the positive impact of your business model.

Startups should consider integrating impact metrics into their KPIs and reporting, making them more attractive to this growing investor segment.

CFOs should be prepared to demonstrate both financial returns and impact outcomes in their projections and reports and crucially, create a narrative that shows how one positively drives the other.

Sector-Specific Trends

While broad market trends are important, here are some sector-specific insights that might provide a more nuanced understanding of where the opportunities are in the UK market right now:

AI: Unprecedented Appetite

The enthusiasm for AI startups in the UK has reached absolute fever pitch, with some investors prioritising first meetings over detailed traction for AI-focused companies. This presents both opportunities and challenges for founders in the space.

➡ Opportunity: Easier access to initial meetings and potential funding for AI startups.
➡ Challenge: Increased competition and potential for inflated valuations that may be hard to justify in later rounds.
➡ Action item: AI startups should strike while the iron is hot but also focus on building sustainable business models that can withstand future scrutiny.

Digital Health: Gaining Momentum

The UK’s healthcare staff shortages have created a fertile ground for digital health startups. Investors are increasingly interested in solutions that can address these systemic challenges as well as wider interest in the medical and life sciences space.

➡ Opportunity: Alignment with a clear market need and potential for public sector contracts.
➡ Challenge: Navigating the complex regulatory landscape of healthcare technology.
➡ Action item: Digital health startups should emphasise how their solutions specifically address UK healthcare challenges in their pitches.

Climate Tech: Sustained Interest

Climate technology continues to attract significant interest from UK investors, reflecting both global trends and the UK’s commitment to net-zero targets.

➡ Opportunity: Access to both dedicated climate funds and generalist VCs with climate mandates.
➡ Challenge: Demonstrating scalability and profitability in what can be capital-intensive sectors.
➡ Action item: Climate tech startups should focus on clearly articulating their path to profitability alongside their environmental impact.

Geographic Neutrality

Contrary to popular belief, UK VCs are actively investing across Europe, focusing more on talent quality and future potential than company location. This trend is breaking down geographical barriers and creating a more integrated European startup ecosystem – though as I argue on the pod constantly, more needs to be done to unlock even more opportunity, especially at the later stages.

What it means for founders:

UK-based startups should be prepared for increased competition from European counterparts for UK VC attention.

Startups based elsewhere in Europe shouldn’t rule out UK VCs and should actively include them in their fundraising strategies if they’re not already.

The ability to attract and retain top talent, regardless of location, is becoming increasingly crucial in VC assessments.

Billion-Dollar Deals Driving Growth

In May 2024, two £1B+ deals contributed to a 1.6% YOY increase in total VC funding, despite a 17.3% decrease in deal volume. This concentration of capital in mega-rounds is creating a bit of a bifurcated market.

Implications for the ecosystem:

While headline numbers may look positive, the reality for most startups may be more challenging.

There’s a potential for a “barbell effect” where very early-stage and very late-stage companies find funding, while those in the middle face a tougher environment as we have been seeing for much of the last 12 months.

CFOs need to be prepared for a potentially longer and more challenging path to mega-rounds, focusing on milestone-based fundraising strategies.

Wrapping it all up

The UK venture capital landscape in 2024 still presents a complex but opportunity-rich environment for startups. Understanding these trends and adapting strategies accordingly, founders and CFOs might find it easier to position their companies for success as the ecosystem continues to evolve.

As we navigate these changes, it’s clear that the most successful startups will be those that can align with emerging investor priorities, demonstrate clear value propositions, and build sustainable, impactful businesses – whilst still satisfying the normal VC growth requirements. The challenge for founders and CFOs is to balance short-term opportunities with long-term viability – this is a difficult needle to thread, especially in the current environment where rounds are taking longer to close and runways are needing to be stretched constantly.

As always, would love to hear what you’re seeing out in the market yourselves, just reply to this email and let me know your thoughts.

Sources: Chambers and Partners, Carta, Insider

Gif by metofficeofficial on Giphy

As always, my office hours are open, if you’d like to chat about this or anything else, just grab some time 😊.

I hope you found Off Balance #43 useful. As always, I’d love to get your feedback and understand the sort of topics you would love to hear about.

Just hit reply to this mail or drop me a line at hello@emergeone.co.uk and let me know 😊

🚀And that’s a wrap for this edition of Off Balance – I’d appreciate your feedback so just reply to this email if you’ve got something you’d like to say.

📚 And if you think someone else might love this, please forward it on to them,

🎧 Finally, if you’re a fan of the Nothing Ventured podcast, please don’t forget to like, rate and subscribe wherever you get your pods – it really helps us spread the word.

That’s it from me so until next time


Stay liquid 🙂

Aarish

Intercom for Startups

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Off Balance #42

👋🏟 Hi friends!

Where does the time go eh? First half of the year done and I may just to a bit of a retrospective on the state of the market from my perspective in next week’s Off Balance, but today is all about my conversation with Asif Ahmed, Partner and Head of Early Stage, Tech and High Growth at Cooper Parry.

Last week, I was blown away by the Tech CFO ‘24 event that Asif and the Cooper Parry team held and where they announced their partnership with Founders Forum to create the CFO Forum, which will launch later this year – not only that, but Rory Sutherland of Ogilvy fame gave us a rip roaring romp through his thoughts on how to influence behaviour and why you should only execute on a decision when you’ve made it sober, and then drunk – just like the ancients apparently did!

I’m well underway writing about all the things I’ve learned from the last couple of decades as founder, CFO and CEO, so sign up for early access to Off Balance – The Book and feel free to share with anyone else you think might enjoy it 😄.

Now let’s get down to business


𝗕𝘂𝗶𝗹𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗎 𝗮 𝗜𝗿𝗮𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗰𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗳𝗌𝗰𝘂𝘀𝘀𝗲𝘀 𝗌𝗻 𝘄𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗳𝗌𝘂𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗿𝘀 𝗻𝗲𝗲𝗱 𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝗻 𝘄𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗳𝗌𝘂𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗿𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗞 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝘆 𝘄𝗮𝗻𝘁.

This week on Nothing Ventured, I sat down with the incredibly thoughtful Asif Ahmed, Partner and Head of Early Stage, Tech and High Growth at Cooper Parry, an accountancy firm rooted in working with entrepreneurial, fast growth businesses across the UK to help them grow, become more tax efficient, get up to speed with their Tech and transform their culture.

Prior to joining Cooper Parry, Asif was the founder and managing director of Acclivity Advisors, co founder of The Finance Department™ – a resource for entrepreneurs and their finance teams and is the author of the best selling book ‘The Finance Playbook for Entrepreneurs‘.

Our top takes:

𝗙𝗌𝗰𝘂𝘀 𝗌𝗻 𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗙𝗌𝘂𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗿𝘀 𝗡𝗲𝗲𝗱

Asif emphasised the importance of focusing on what founders need rather than what they want. By providing the right guidance and solutions tailored to their actual needs, businesses can thrive and grow effectively. This approach ensures long-term success and value creation for startups.

𝗥𝗲𝘁𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗞𝗶𝗻𝗎 𝗥&𝗗 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗙𝗌𝘂𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗿-𝗔𝗱𝘃𝗶𝘀𝗌𝗿 𝗙𝗶𝘁

We discussed the evolving landscape of R&D relief and the challenges founders face in navigating the complexities of tax legislation. Asif highlighted the significance of founder-advisor fit, where aligning with advisors who understand the founder’s journey and needs can lead to better outcomes and strategic decisions.

𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗥𝗶𝘀𝗲 𝗌𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗊𝗌𝗹𝗌𝗜𝗿𝗲𝗻𝗲𝘂𝗿

A fascinating trend they explored was the rise of the solopreneur in today’s tech-driven world. With advancements in technology and the creator economy booming, individuals are empowered to unleash their inner artist and creativity. This shift challenges traditional VC models and opens up new possibilities for self-sufficient entrepreneurs.

We also discussed:

🧩 Whether there is such a thing as founder advisor fit.
👩🏌‍⚖ R&D is a term from legislation, not from the dictionary.
🖖🏜 Segregating the business from the founder.
❓ Are we witnessing the rise of the solopreneur.

Check it out!

Else listen on Spotify or Apple

If you have any feedback, or if there’s something you’re desperate to see me include, just reply to this mail or ping me online – I’m very open to conversations.

If you like what I’m putting out, do give me a follow on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

(If you are trying to connect with me on LinkedIn, maybe read this post I wrote and make sure to start your request with “Off Balance” and, more importantly, tell me why you’d like to connect 💪🏟)

Don’t forget to like, rate and subscribe to Nothing Ventured on Apple, Spotify or YouTube, it really helps more people see what we’re doing – you can find links to these (and more including my Office Hours) right here!

This edition of Nothing Ventured is brought to you by EmergeOne.

EmergeOne provides fractional CFO support to venture backed tech startups from Seed to Series B and beyond.

Join companies backed by Hoxton, Stride, Octopus, Founders Factory, Outlier, a16z and more, who trust us to help them get the most out of their capital, streamline financials, and manage investor relations so they can focus on scaling.

If you’re a CFO working with venture backed startups and want to join a team of incredible fractional talent, drop us your details here.

If you’re a growing startup that knows it needs that strategic financial knowhow, drop your details here to see how we can support you as you scale 🚀

As always, my office hours are open, if you’d like to chat about anything finance, tech or venture releated, just grab some time 😊.

Gif by The_Animal_Crackers_Movie on Giphy

I hope you found Off Balance #42 valuable. As always, I’d love to get your feedback and understand the sort of topics you would love to hear about.

Just hit reply to this mail or drop me a line at hello@emergeone.co.uk and let me know 😊

🚀And that’s a wrap for this edition of Off Balance – I’d appreciate your feedback so just reply to this email if you’ve got something you’d like to say.

📚 If you think someone else might love this, please forward it on to them,

🎧 Finally, if you’re a fan of the Nothing Ventured podcast, please don’t forget to like, rate and subscribe wherever you get your pods – it really helps us spread the word.

That’s it from me so until next time


Stay liquid 🙂

Aarish

Off Balance #41

👋🏟 Hi friends!

Well we’re about a week away from elections in the UK where we may well see a significant shake up in the composition of our parliament. I have found myself becoming fairly vocally critical of what’s going on in the governance of this country, but rather than yelling into an echo chamber, I thought I would take a look at what impact the various policies from the main parties may have on the startup and venture ecosystem – read on for the breakdown.

In other news, this Thursday, I will be joining a panel hosted by Vertice the cloud cost opimisation platform co-hosted by Pleo the spend management platform to talk about whether Consolidation is the new digital transformation.

Join me and CFOs from some spectacular organisations this Thursday June 27th at 1000 BST / 1100 CEST to dig into how finance is thinking about growth and spend in the tough funding environment we find ourselves in, as well as the impact of new tools and AI on the finance stack now and in the future.

Sign up to join the webinar or to receive the recording here.

I’m well underway writing about all the things I’ve learned from the last couple of decades as founder, CFO and CEO, so sign up for early access to Off Balance – The Book and feel free to share with anyone else you think might enjoy it 😄.

Now let’s get down to business


In this weeks Off Balance:

🎙 Lyuba Guk and David Gilgur from Blue Lake Ventures on Nothing Ventured
🇬🇧 What impact would the various parties’ policies have on the startup and venture ecosystem

𝗗𝗌 𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗌𝗻𝗮𝗹 𝗵𝘂𝗺𝗮𝗻 𝗯𝗲𝗶𝗻𝗎𝘀 𝗯𝗲𝗰𝗌𝗺𝗲 𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗿𝘁𝘂𝗜 𝗳𝗌𝘂𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗿𝘀?!

In last week’s episode of Nothing Ventured, I spoke to Lyubov Guk and David Gilgur, Founding Partners at Blue Lake Ventures, an early stage firm investing and supporting pre-seed and seed stage exceptional immigrant founders in the UK focussed on b2b and software startups.

Prior to founding Blue Lake, David was founder of the VimesVC consultancy in Kyiv whilst Lyuba was a partner at VimesVC. David also spent 6 years at Bloomberg ultimately as a Strategic Account Manager within Data Sales.

Our top takeaways:

➡ 𝗥𝗲𝘀𝗶𝗹𝗶𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝗗𝗲𝗳𝗶𝗻𝗲𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗚𝗞𝗿𝗮𝗶𝗻𝗶𝗮𝗻 𝗘𝗰𝗌𝘀𝘆𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗺: Despite facing desperate challenges, the Ukrainian ecosystem is marked by resilience. The founders from Ukraine have shown remarkable strength and determination in the face of adversity.

➡ 𝗜𝗺𝗺𝗶𝗎𝗿𝗮𝗻𝘁 𝗙𝗌𝘂𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗿𝘀 𝗕𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗎 𝗚𝗻𝗶𝗟𝘂𝗲 𝗀𝘂𝗮𝗹𝗶𝘁𝗶𝗲𝘀: Immigrant founders, especially from Eastern Europe and India, exhibit a strong work ethic, a willingness to take risks, and a drive to succeed. Their diverse backgrounds and experiences contribute to their success in the startup world.

➡ 𝗕𝘂𝗶𝗹𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗎 𝗮 𝗚𝗹𝗌𝗯𝗮𝗹 𝗖𝗌𝗺𝗺𝘂𝗻𝗶𝘁𝘆 𝗳𝗌𝗿 𝗜𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗻𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗌𝗻𝗮𝗹 𝗙𝗌𝘂𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗿𝘀: Blue Lake is working towards creating a super community for international founders in the UK. By fostering collaboration and support among founders from different cultural backgrounds, they aim to create a thriving ecosystem for startup growth and success – check out their International Office Hours 3.0 here.

We also discussed:

🚀 How they went from working with SMEs, to launching an accelerator to investing first in Ukrainian immigrants then to all immigrant founders in the UK
✋🏌 Too many people being pushed into ‘founder’ roles
🊄 62% of unicorn ventures across the UK and the US were founded by migrants.
🕞 Building a super community for international founders in the UK
💰 Why VCs need to shut up and stick to investing

Listen on YouTube, Spotify, Apple or wherever you get your podcasts!

If you have any feedback on the podcast or the newsletter, just reply to this mail or ping me online!

If you like what I’m putting out, do give me a follow on LinkedIn and Twitter.

(If you are trying to connect with me on LinkedIn, maybe read this post I wrote and make sure to start your request with “Off Balance” and, importantly, tell me why you’d like to connect 💪🏟)

Now let’s get into it.

This edition of Nothing Ventured is brought to you by EmergeOne.

EmergeOne provides fractional CFO support to venture backed tech startups from Seed to Series B and beyond.

Join companies backed by Hoxton, Stride, Octopus, Founders Factory, Outlier, a16z and more, who trust us to help them get the most out of their capital, streamline financials, and manage investor relations so they can focus on scaling.

If you’re a CFO working with venture backed startups and want to join a team of incredible fractional talent, drop us your details here.

If you’re a growing startup that knows it needs that strategic financial knowhow, drop your details here to see how we can support you as you scale 🚀

Off Balance

As we gear up for the 2024 UK General Election, it’s essential we understand how each party’s policies might impact us.

So I took to the interweb sprinkled with a bit of chatgpt to see what we need to keep an eye on.

🚀 Navigating the 2024 UK General Election: What It Means for Startups and VCs 🚀

Conservative Party 🏛

Economic Policies: Cutting NI by 2p could enhance cash flow for startups. However, a legal cap on migration might restrict access to international talent, essential for innovation.

Education: 100,000 high-quality apprenticeships and the Advanced British Standard could produce industry-ready grads, aligning with our tech needs.

Labour Party 🌹

Economic Reform: Wide ranging reforms and green energy initiatives could create new opportunities, though higher taxation might affect net earnings.

Carried Interest Taxation: Labour plans to change how carried interest is taxed, potentially increasing tax liabilities for VCs by taxing it like income instead of capital gains. This could affect investment returns and strategies, making the UK less attractive for investment managers compared to other European countries.

Social Policies: Expanded social safety nets might lead to a more stable consumer base, increasing market potential and share of wallet for tech products.

Liberal Democrats 🌌

Healthcare & Mental Health: Investing £8.4 billion in the NHS might improve employee productivity and reduce absenteeism.

Green Economy: Support for green energy investments creates opportunities for startups focused on sustainability, climate and greentech.

Green Party 🍃

Green Economy Transition: Investments in renewable energy and banning fracking open doors for clean tech startups.

Social Justice: Enhanced social programs could expand the customer base for tech products by increasing disposable income across the population.

Reform UK 🔧

Tax Reduction & Deregulation: Lower taxes and reduced regulatory burdens can boost profitability and attract VC investment.

Immigration Controls: Stricter policies might limit access to the international talent pool.

Key Takeaways

Opportunities: Tax cuts, apprenticeship programs, and green investments are all net positives for reducing costs and encouraging growth.

Clearly, none of these can be guaranteed, and of course, many of the policies have been challenged in terms of affordability though for some of the parties – as they themselves have said – these are the themes they’re interested in given they won’t be likely to form a government in the upcoming elections.

Challenges: Immigration caps and higher taxation may restrict talent acquisition and increase operational expenses. Labour’s proposed changes to carried interest taxation could impact investment returns and disincentivise emerging managers.

Equally, whilst these may seem negative on the face of it, one can never be sure of the second order effects that will flow out of these policies though, in speaking with VCs the changes in carried interest are definitely a point of concern. I have long maintained that talent and capital are interlinked, if we see a flight of one, it won’t be long before we see a potential flight of the other.

Obviously I can’t capture it all, for example corporate tax reform might have an impact on whether you choose to incorporate in the UK or elsewhere. And, equally, I didn’t go into the detail of how viable these policies or reforms actually are (and obviously only one party gets to implement anyway).

All I think we can really say right now is that we are likely to see some changes in the shape of UK PLC post the elections on the 4th of July, and only time will really tell what impact they’ll ultimately have on the ecosystem – one thing is for sure, whilst a rising tide lifts all boats, is the tide goes out, we might just be left with a bunch of rubbish on the beach.

As always, my office hours are open, if you’d like to chat about this or anything else, just grab some time 😊.

I hope you found Off Balance #41 useful. As always, I’d love to get your feedback and understand the sort of topics you would love to hear about.

Just hit reply to this mail or drop me a line at hello@emergeone.co.uk and let me know 😊

🚀And that’s a wrap for this edition of Off Balance – I’d appreciate your feedback so just reply to this email if you’ve got something you’d like to say.

📚 And if you think someone else might love this, please forward it on to them,

🎧 Finally, if you’re a fan of the Nothing Ventured podcast, please don’t forget to like, rate and subscribe wherever you get your pods – it really helps us spread the word.

That’s it from me so until next time


Stay liquid 🙂

Aarish

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Off Balance #40

👋🏟 Hi friends!

This week I sit down with Kiran Mehta, investor at Mercia Ventures, we talk about everything from the changing VC landscape to why decks and financial models aren’t the be all and end all and why founders might want to think about them differently.

In other news, I’ll be joining a panel of CFOs hosted by Vertice and Pleo to discuss:

How to balance daily tasks with tech management

Identifying and preventing tech overspend

Tips for conducting tech audits

How to decide on tech contracts

And plenty more
 So if you’re a finance pro working in a high growth venture, join us on the 27th June at | 10AM BST | 11AM CEST | 3PM EST.

Register here to watch live or to get the recording 💪🏟

Register here to join us on 27th June at 10am BST

I’m well underway writing about all the things I’ve learned from the last couple of decades as founder, CFO and CEO, so sign up for early access to Off Balance – The Book and feel free to share with anyone else you think might enjoy it 😄.

Now let’s get down to business


𝗗𝗲𝗰𝗞𝘀 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗳𝗶𝗻𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗶𝗮𝗹 𝗺𝗌𝗱𝗲𝗹𝘀 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝗎𝗿𝗲𝗮𝘁, 𝗯𝘂𝘁 𝗮𝗹𝗹 𝗶𝗻𝘃𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗌𝗿𝘀 𝗿𝗲𝗮𝗹𝗹𝘆 𝘄𝗮𝗻𝘁 𝘁𝗌 𝗞𝗻𝗌𝘄 𝗶𝘀 𝘄𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗮𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗌𝗻𝘀 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝗎𝗌𝗶𝗻𝗎 𝘁𝗌 𝘂𝗻𝗹𝗌𝗰𝗞 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗻𝗲𝘅𝘁 𝗺𝗶𝗹𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗌𝗻𝗲𝘀 💡

In this week’s episode of Nothing Ventured, I sat down with Kiran Mehta, Investment Manager at Mercia Ventures, a national venture capital provider, which has been closing the funding gap across the UK, partnering with exciting start-up and scaleup businesses.

Prior to joining Mercia, Kiran worked at Lloyds Bank and the Real Estate Equity Fund.

My top takeaways:

1⃣ 𝐅𝐚𝐜𝐮𝐬 𝐚𝐧 𝐃𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐘𝐚𝐮 𝐋𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐘𝐚𝐮’𝐫𝐞 𝐆𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐭 𝐀𝐭: Kiran noted the importance of pursuing something you enjoy and excel in. He highlighted the significance of prioritising working with smart people and how venture is chaotic yet rewarding. Good founders will always have a chance in any market, regardless of the challenges they face.

2⃣ 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐄𝐯𝐚𝐥𝐮𝐭𝐢𝐚𝐧 𝐚𝐟 𝐄𝐝𝐮𝐜𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐚𝐧 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐉𝐚𝐛 𝐌𝐚𝐫𝐀𝐞𝐭: Kiran discussed the rapid changes in the job market and the evolving landscape of education. He highlighted the need for students to prioritise their interests and skills, especially if they aspire to head into the world of venture capital. The discussion shed light on the importance of adapting to changing job cycles and market conditions.

3⃣ 𝐁𝐚𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐆𝐫𝐚𝐰𝐭𝐡 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐂𝐚𝐩𝐢𝐭𝐚𝐥 𝐄𝐟𝐟𝐢𝐜𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐲: The conversation touched upon the shift towards capital efficiency and the intersection of venture-style growth with financial prudence. Kiran highlighted the challenges faced by founders in deciding between pursuing profitability or continuing to raise capital. The discussion provided valuable insights into the evolving dynamics of venture funding and the need for sustainable growth strategies.

We also touched on:

🪐 How you can’t live in a parallel universe, do what you love and what you’re great at.
🧠 Why you should prioritise working with really smart people.
🊋 How venture is chaos.
💪🏟 Why great founders will have a chance in any stage of the market
📈 Why founders need to internalise that growth is still very important even as they have to be more capital efficient.
👩🏌‍🏫 Decks and financial models are great, but they aren’t everything.
💥 The disproportionate effect that investors can have by driving support.

Check it out!

Else listen on Spotify or Apple

If you have any feedback, or if there’s something you’re desperate to see me include, just reply to this mail or ping me online – I’m very open to conversations.

If you like what I’m putting out, do give me a follow on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

(If you are trying to connect with me on LinkedIn, maybe read this post I wrote and make sure to start your request with “Off Balance” and, more importantly, tell me why you’d like to connect 💪🏟)

Don’t forget to like, rate and subscribe to Nothing Ventured on Apple, Spotify or YouTube, it really helps more people see what we’re doing – you can find links to these (and more including my Office Hours) right here!

This edition of Nothing Ventured is brought to you by EmergeOne.

EmergeOne provides fractional CFO support to venture backed tech startups from Seed to Series B and beyond.

Join companies backed by Hoxton, Stride, Octopus, Founders Factory, Outlier, a16z and more, who trust us to help them get the most out of their capital, streamline financials, and manage investor relations so they can focus on scaling.

If you’re a CFO working with venture backed startups and want to join a team of incredible fractional talent, drop us your details here.

If you’re a growing startup that knows it needs that strategic financial knowhow, drop your details here to see how we can support you as you scale 🚀

As always, my office hours are open, if you’d like to chat about anything finance, tech or venture releated, just grab some time 😊.

I hope you found Off Balance #40 valuable. As always, I’d love to get your feedback and understand the sort of topics you would love to hear about.

Just hit reply to this mail or drop me a line at hello@emergeone.co.uk and let me know 😊

🚀And that’s a wrap for this edition of Off Balance – I’d appreciate your feedback so just reply to this email if you’ve got something you’d like to say.

📚 If you think someone else might love this, please forward it on to them,

🎧 Finally, if you’re a fan of the Nothing Ventured podcast, please don’t forget to like, rate and subscribe wherever you get your pods – it really helps us spread the word.

That’s it from me so until next time


Stay liquid 🙂

Aarish

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Off Balance #39

👋🏟 Hi friends!

Well last week was a bit of a blur to say the least! After landing late into Berlin on Tuesday evening and getting stuck for an hour waiting to get through passport control, I had a super early start the next day hosting a series of talks at TOA 2024.

I’m going to talk a bit more about the panel I was on further down, but overall, it was great to have had the chance to host the startup pitch competition watching around 20 startups do a 2 minute cold pitch without slides which the TOA audience then judged followed by the final 10’s (slightly!) longer 3 minute pitches to the judges the next day.

It was probably the first conference I have attended since before the COVID-19 pandemic, and certainly the first I have participated in to this extent and I LOVED IT!

Also thought it was time for a bit of a personal rebrand and refresh so say hello to my new profile pic cross platform!

I’m also super proud to be partnering with the London Venture Capital Summit this Saturday, hosted by LVCN (London Venture Capital Network).

Come along on the 15th of June for London’s premier forum for VCs, operators, and innovators, and make sure you grab a ticket quick, they’re selling out fast!

Get your discounted ticket on me, here!

I’m well underway writing about all the things I’ve learned from the last couple of decades as founder, CFO and CEO, so sign up for early access to Off Balance – The Book and feel free to share with anyone else you think might enjoy it 😄.

Now let’s get down to business


In this weeks Off Balance:

🎙 Tamta Gamezardashvili, founder of Unorthodox Ventures on Nothing Ventured
🔮 Reimagining Work – The Future of Productivity and Value

Do investors have inferiority complexes too???

Check out the latest episode of Nothing Ventured where I spoke to Tamta Gamezardashvili founder of Unorthodox Ventures, an advisory firm that leads capital raising strategy helping VC funds to raise capital by incorporating analysis of explicit and implicit data and human behaviour.

She is also the founder of Founders’ Social, an all-female community of founders and investors bringing together like minded, supportive, high calibre females as well as the host of My Kitchen, Her Story a show that celebrates female leaders whilst cooking their favourite dish.

Prior to founding Unorthodox Ventures, Tamta held senior sales roles at Palantir, Google, Salesforce and IBM.

We got into the weeds of some pretty interesting topics, here were my top takeaways:

➡ Leveling the Power Dynamic in Venture Capital

Tamta highlighted the struggle that many VCs face when it comes to fundraising. The inferiority complex amongst investors can create a tricky situation where ego comes into play. By understanding the psychology behind fundraising and focusing on building relationships, VCs can level out the power dynamic and approach investors with confidence.

➡ Empowering Women in the VC Ecosystem

Tamta’s initiative, My Kitchen Club, and the female-focused community she has built are empowering women in the VC ecosystem. By providing a safe space for women to connect, share experiences, and support each other, these communities are breaking barriers and fostering diversity in the industry.

➡ Understanding the Importance of Empathy and Compassion

One of the key insights from the episode was the importance of empathy and compassion in our interactions. Tamta shared her contrarian conviction that understanding the experiences and backgrounds of others can lead to more meaningful and positive interactions. By taking the time to empathise with others, we can contribute to a better and more inclusive environment.

We also talked about:

💰 How VCs struggle to raise too
⚡ Levelling out the power dynamic.
🀝 How people buy from people.
⚥ The difference between how men ask for money versus how women do.
🔪 How Tamta is bringing women back into the kitchen.
🙋🏜‍♀ Tamta’s contrarian conviction – ask the question first.

Listen on YouTube, Spotify, Apple or wherever you get your podcasts!

If you have any feedback on the podcast or the newsletter, just reply to this mail or ping me online!

If you like what I’m putting out, do give me a follow on LinkedIn and Twitter.

(If you are trying to connect with me on LinkedIn, maybe read this post I wrote and make sure to start your request with “Off Balance” and, importantly, tell me why you’d like to connect 💪🏟)

Now let’s get into it.

This edition of Nothing Ventured is brought to you by EmergeOne.

EmergeOne provides fractional CFO support to venture backed tech startups from Seed to Series B and beyond.

Join companies backed by Hoxton, Stride, Octopus, Founders Factory, Outlier, a16z and more, who trust us to help them get the most out of their capital, streamline financials, and manage investor relations so they can focus on scaling.

If you’re a CFO working with venture backed startups and want to join a team of incredible fractional talent, drop us your details here.

If you’re a growing startup that knows it needs that strategic financial knowhow, drop your details here to see how we can support you as you scale 🚀

Off Balance

My elder daughter has just entered the workforce. She’s not yet in the field she wants to be in, but as we all know, it’s easier to get a job when you’re in a job. Or at least that used to be the standard thinking.

But the reality is that the nature of work has changed substantially over the last couple of decades, even more so since the pandemic and now with the advent of AI.

So it was a real pleasure to try and unpack some of the themes we believed were going to impact how we might think about work in the future on a panel during TOA 2024 in Berlin.

I was lucky enough to be sat with some pretty interesting individuals – Joshua Greene – Founder of Groove, the co-working community app built for a remote world (Joshua used to be Adam Neumann’s Chief of Staff at WeWork), Felix Steffens, Founder of WorkMotion, a remote first business building the EOR built for the DACH region and Megan Knab, Founder of Franklin Payroll the platform that allows you to pay your team in cash and crypto. All masterfully moderated by Caro Henne.

Now 30 minutes is nowhere near enough time to try and unravel the complexity and the nuance around this topic, but we hopefully gave the audience some things to think about. Here’s a bit of a summary and exploration of everything we discussed.

Reimagining Work – The Future of Productivity and Value

Remote work and the skills shortage

At the same time as we are seeing calls to restrict migration from throughout Europe, it’s also never been truer that there is a significant deficit of skills especially in key areas like software engineering. Felix argued that the advent of remote, precipitated and fuelled by the pandemic has meant that Europe has not only had to get its head around the concepts of remote or hybrid work, it has had to embrace it. This has obviously been facilitated by employer of record (EOR) businesses such as WorkMotion, Omnipresent, Remote and others but these tools actually highlight one of the big problems or inefficiencies that as yet has not been tackled – the red tape, bureaucracy and tax systems that are still largely stuck in the old paradigm of working. These make it less viable for smaller businesses to compliantly employ people overseas forcing them to look for solutions in country which may well be more expensive.

What’s happening to careers?

Gone are the days where you would leave university, get a job with a corporate (probably through the milk rounds) and stick with them for most (if not all) of your career. Sure, you may move a couple of times for a more senior title, better money, or more benefits, but the role is much the same, the career is still the career and it’s one job to rule them all. We are seeing the rise and rise of freelancers, contractors, fractional talent and talent from throughout the gig economy as well as the fact that even when an individual lands a full time role they are neither tied to the company nor, in many instances the functional role either. Now I personally think that we are going to see changes as people who entered the fractional world during the pretty bullish 2021 / 2022 period start finding it tougher to secure new roles, but directionally, the whole panel felt that this need for autonomy and to own your own future will just continue. As Josh said, switching jobs is as easy as switching Slack channels nowadays.

Redefining Value

I have long been an advocate for moving away from a model where we charge for our time to one where we charge for our output. But this is easier said that done, it requires firstly the experience to actually know where your value lies, as well as the ability to productise your service. People also are redefining what value they want from their employers, it’s not about the free beer and the ping pong but really allowing them to do meaningful work every day. But taking it back a step even, and thinking about the weird situation where you are effectively providing your employer with working capital via your monthly (or fortnightly) salary is something that can be redifined – precisely what Megan is working on with crypto payroll. Imagine how much more stimulus that would bring to the economy, how much better people could plan and match their income to their expenses on a daily basis and what value that could unleash.

Reimagining how we educate

I am a massive bore on this subject, mention education once in my presence and be prepared to have your ears chewed off for a pretty good portion of time. But, at the risk of repeating myself, we have to change the way we educate our kids, we are not preparing them for the workforce they are going to enter (see below). I have a 23 year old and a 16 year old and I am very proud of the fact that we were able to send them to an IB school which I feel does a much better job of providing them with the skills they’ll need than the standard UK system does. What are these skills? Sales, finance, teamwork, empathy, communication, feedback loops, empathy and many more. Let’s face it, our current system was built to suit the first industrial age 150 years ago – the problem is that we’re now entering the fourth.

The advent of AI

And all of this, of course, leads to the advent, and impact, of AI. None of us truly know the size of the impact that AI will have on the existing and future workforces, but one thing we do know is that it will have an impact. So the best advice for everyone, whether in or entering employment, is to get yourself as acquainted as you can with the new tools that are coming up on almost a daily basis at the moment because whilst the tools themselves may not replace you, the people who know how to use them probably will. But we also cannot underplay the reality that AI will have a dual impact, some negative, some massively positive – on the negative side, it will mean that companies will need less headcount to deliver, but on the positive side, AI means that more businesses will be created as new entrepreneurs embrace the tech which hopefully then means more jobs overall. Whatever the coming reality, the only thing you can count on is that things are going to change fast, so you need to be prepared.

Sadly we only got to scratch the surface of many of these topics given the time we had available, but would love to hear other people’s thoughts on what they think the future of work is going to look like over the next decade and beyond.

Gif by goldenglobes on Giphy

As always, my office hours are open, if you’d like to chat about this or anything else, just grab some time 😊.

I hope you found Off Balance #39 useful. As always, I’d love to get your feedback and understand the sort of topics you would love to hear about.

Just hit reply to this mail or drop me a line at hello@emergeone.co.uk and let me know 😊

🚀And that’s a wrap for this edition of Off Balance – I’d appreciate your feedback so just reply to this email if you’ve got something you’d like to say.

📚 And if you think someone else might love this, please forward it on to them,

🎧 Finally, if you’re a fan of the Nothing Ventured podcast, please don’t forget to like, rate and subscribe wherever you get your pods – it really helps us spread the word.

That’s it from me so until next time


Stay liquid 🙂

Aarish

Off Balance #38

👋🏟 Hi friends!

This week’s podcast catch up explores the interesection of venture capital, startups, journalism, PR and, for a short while, quick commerce too.

I’m in conversation with Steve O’Hear, founder of O’Hear & Co who is probably bet known for the decade or so he spent covering the European tech ecosystem for TechCrunch.

Check out the conversation and let me know your thoughts 🙂 

I’m well underway writing about all the things I’ve learned from the last couple of decades as founder, CFO and CEO, so sign up for early access to Off Balance – The Book and feel free to share with anyone else you think might enjoy it 😄.

Now let’s get down to business


𝘞𝘩𝘢𝘵’𝘎 𝘵𝘩𝘊 𝘳𝘊𝘭𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘎𝘩𝘪𝘱 𝘣𝘊𝘵𝘞𝘊𝘊𝘯 𝘫𝘰𝘶𝘳𝘯𝘢𝘭𝘪𝘎𝘮 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘷𝘊𝘯𝘵𝘶𝘳𝘊?

In the latest episode of Nothing Ventured, I spoke to Steve O’Hear. Steve has played a pivotal role in the European technology sector for more than 20 years, as a journalist, founder, executive, and angel investor.

Steve is currently the CEO and co-founder of O’Hear & Co, a strategic communications agency helping startups, scale-ups and venture capital firms tell their story while reducing risk and increasing commercial success. He also serves as SVP at Zapp, London’s leading premium 24/7 on-demand convenience app.

With over 15 years of experience as a technology and business journalist, Steve spent over a decade at TechCrunch, where he is famous for having covered European startups and venture capital and being the first journalist to report on companies such as Wise, Deliveroo, Monzo Bank and Wayve.

He was also the CEO of the social question and answer platform Beepl, which he founded and led until its acquisition in 2012 and in 2006, he wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary “In Search of the Valley.”

My top takeaways:

➡ 𝗠𝗶𝘀𝗰𝗌𝗻𝗰𝗲𝗜𝘁𝗶𝗌𝗻𝘀 𝗮𝗯𝗌𝘂𝘁 𝗀𝘂𝗶𝗰𝗞 𝗖𝗌𝗺𝗺𝗲𝗿𝗰𝗲:

Steve highlighted the misconceptions surrounding the quick commerce space, noting the importance of understanding the convenience retail model. He discussed the need to attract customers willing to pay for convenience and the significance of serving the right use cases with premium products.

➡ 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗣𝗌𝘄𝗲𝗿 𝗌𝗳 𝗊𝘁𝗌𝗿𝘆𝘁𝗲𝗹𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗎:

We explored the intersection of journalism and venture capital, discussing how storytelling plays a crucial role in attracting customers, investors, and aligning stakeholders. Steve really highlighted the value of a compelling story and the impact it can have on a startup’s success.

➡ 𝗜𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗠𝗮𝘁𝘁𝗲𝗿𝘀:

Steve shared a contrarian conviction about the importance of intent, highlighting the human element often overlooked in debates and culture wars. He talked about the significance of understanding people’s intentions and the role it plays in shaping our interactions and perceptions.

We also discussed:

📰 Whether journalists move through the hype cycle, bullish when startups are small, but critical when they’re bigger.
🚊When an investor puts capital into an early stage startup, that’s a signal where very few exist.
🥎 Can you have too much press.
⚖ The Ideal Balance of Story, Relationships, and Execution in PR.
💻 Steve’s thoughts on remote work and the impact on social mobility.

Check it out!

Else listen on Spotify or Apple

If you have any feedback, or if there’s something you’re desperate to see me include, just reply to this mail or ping me online – I’m very open to conversations.

If you like what I’m putting out, do give me a follow on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

(If you are trying to connect with me on LinkedIn, maybe read this post I wrote and make sure to start your request with “Off Balance” and, more importantly, tell me why you’d like to connect 💪🏟)

Don’t forget to like, rate and subscribe to Nothing Ventured on Apple, Spotify or YouTube, it really helps more people see what we’re doing – you can find links to these (and more including my Office Hours) right here!

This edition of Nothing Ventured is brought to you by EmergeOne.

EmergeOne provides fractional CFO support to venture backed tech startups from Seed to Series B and beyond.

Join companies backed by Hoxton, Stride, Octopus, Founders Factory, Outlier, a16z and more, who trust us to help them get the most out of their capital, streamline financials, and manage investor relations so they can focus on scaling.

If you’re a CFO working with venture backed startups and want to join a team of incredible fractional talent, drop us your details here.

If you’re a growing startup that knows it needs that strategic financial knowhow, drop your details here to see how we can support you as you scale 🚀

As always, my office hours are open, if you’d like to chat about anything finance, tech or venture releated, just grab some time 😊.

Gif by YellowstoneTV on Giphy

I hope you found Off Balance #38 v. As always, I’d love to get your feedback and understand the sort of topics you would love to hear about.

Just hit reply to this mail or drop me a line at hello@emergeone.co.uk and let me know 😊

🚀And that’s a wrap for this edition of Off Balance – I’d appreciate your feedback so just reply to this email if you’ve got something you’d like to say.

📚 If you think someone else might love this, please forward it on to them,

🎧 Finally, if you’re a fan of the Nothing Ventured podcast, please don’t forget to like, rate and subscribe wherever you get your pods – it really helps us spread the word.

That’s it from me so until next time


Stay liquid 🙂

Aarish

Off Balance #37

👋🏟 Hi friends!

As election fever ignites passions in the UK (not entirely sure what is going to get ignited across the Atlantic), tribalism and the fight for the hearts and minds of the population is underway.

Sadly, from my perspective neither of the main parties are really giving me much hope for the future instead trying to galvanise the country around either adding VAT to private school fees or conscripting 18 year olds into National Service.

It’s going to be an interesting 6 weeks, that’s for sure.

Thankfully, I’ll be spending at least one of those weeks far from the madding crowd attending TOA Berlin 🇩🇪 

Actually, not just attending, I’ll be hosting their pitch competition, MC’ing a couple of the mornings and talking on a panel discussing Reimagining Work: The Future of Productivity and Value.

If you are thinking of heading over to join thousands of founders, investors, creatives and leaders – and of course l’il ol’ me – then enjoy a 30% discount on me – make sure you secure your place and book here 💪🏟

Look forward to seeing you there!

I’m well underway writing about all the things I’ve learned from the last couple of decades as founder, CFO and CEO, so sign up for early access to Off Balance – The Book and feel free to share with anyone else you think might enjoy it 😄.

Now let’s get down to business


In this weeks Off Balance:

🎙 Shwetank Verma and Henry Goodwin, Partners at Leo Capital on Nothing Ventured
⚡ Who <really> holds the power in the boardroom?

Talking the India Advantage with Leo Capital 🇮🇳

In the latest episode of Nothing Ventured, I spoke with Shwetank Verma and Henry Goodwin, Partners at Leo Capital, a VC fund investing in early stage, technology centric opportunities investing anywhere from $500K – $2M in early seed rounds or pre-Series A rounds in India, South East Asia and now the Nordics.

Prior to joining Leo, Henry worked at various law firms in London and in Asia, ultimately as Partner and Head of Asia for Taylor Vinters and then as Partner at PwC Legal International setting up their TMT specialist team in Singapore. He worked with Octopus Ventures as their Venture Partner for SE Asia before joining Leo Capital as Europe lead where he is now launching their Nordic fund.

Shwetank is a Co-Founder of Leo Capital and prior to founding the fund, founded MyHealthMate which he exited to Ambicare Clinics. He also worked in the corporate innovation space with MetLife Asia in Singapore, where he led open innovation and partnerships with startups.

Top takeaways:

1⃣ Stimulating the Early Stage Ecosystem in Singapore: Henry shared the concerted effort by the Singaporean government to stimulate the early stage tech ecosystem between 2010 and 2020. The incentives and the introduction of capital into the system have been pivotal in fostering growth and innovation in the region.

2⃣ The India Advantage: Shwetank explored the India Advantage, emphasising the vast talent pool in India and the potential for Indian diaspora to create global impact.

3⃣ Expansion into Europe and Nordics: Henry and Shwetank discussed Leo Capital’s expansion into Europe and specifically the Nordics in late 2023. They emphasised the importance of a global mindset and the strength of talent in the Nordics.

Beyond this, we spoke about:

🇞🇬 How Singapore is stimulating the early stage ecosystem.
🇮🇳 Talent in India is now global.
📈 How loss making startups can now list on the Indian stock exchange.
🌍 Launching in the Nordics and how smaller markets bring global mindsets.
🚀 Why becoming an entrepreneur has gone from shame to game on in India and the diaspora.

Listen on YouTube, Spotify, Apple or wherever you get your podcasts!

If you have any feedback on the podcast or the newsletter, just reply to this mail or ping me online!

If you like what I’m putting out, do give me a follow on LinkedIn and Twitter.

(If you are trying to connect with me on LinkedIn, maybe read this post I wrote and make sure to start your request with “Off Balance” and, importantly, tell me why you’d like to connect 💪🏟)

Now let’s get into it.

This edition of Nothing Ventured is brought to you by EmergeOne.

EmergeOne provides fractional CFO support to venture backed tech startups from Seed to Series B and beyond.

Join companies backed by Hoxton, Stride, Octopus, Founders Factory, Outlier, a16z and more, who trust us to help them get the most out of their capital, streamline financials, and manage investor relations so they can focus on scaling.

If you’re a CFO working with venture backed startups and want to join a team of incredible fractional talent, drop us your details here.

If you’re a growing startup that knows it needs that strategic financial knowhow, drop your details here to see how we can support you as you scale 🚀

Off Balance

For those of you who have been following Off Balance for some time now, you’ll know that there are two elements to raising capital from VCs – the economics of the deal (what is the valuation, how much is being invested for what % ownership) and then there are the control elements (what voting powers, what reserved matters, who gets a board seat and so on).

Currently we’re seeing throughout our client base that control starting to be exerted in a much stronger fashion as investors seek to push back on excessive spending or take a stronger line with poorly performing portfolio companies.

In some instances, that may well mean some pretty big shake ups in the organisation – including potential changes at the senior leadership level – so it is important for founders to understand board dynamics and scrutinise their shareholder agreements to see who is able to do what and when.

But I want to explore a slightly different point, one that many people don’t necessarily appreciate, and that’s who holds the actual power in the boardroom.

Who Holds the Power in the Boardroom?

This is quite the contrarian take, but do bear with me.

So you’ve set up your company, maybe you’re one of two co-founders, you’re both directors in the business and things are pretty breezy.

Then after slogging away fuelled by ramen, hope and stale coffee you start seeing some traction and decide it’s time to open up your cap table and invite some investors on board.

You go through a few months of rollercoaster emotions, one VC in the data room, another talking about diligence, more rejections than you can count, but the glimmering of hope.

Until finally you get a term sheet – and they’re willing to lead!

It all seems ok, the valuation is more or less as you expected, you’re going to have to carve out some additional equity for the team, which is fair enough and the investor want a seat on the board.

But of course they’re not taking the whole round. So you’re going to need another investor, and they will come in on the same terms.

Fast forward another month or two as dilligence is done and long form legals are inked and you finally have cash in bank and it’s time to put that money to work.

You file all the necessary paperwork and add the two Investor Directors to the board but now you’ve got a slight problem, there are now 4 of you on the board – what happens if you get to a deadlock?

Well that’s solvable through a number of ways, but maybe, to keep everyone honest, it’s worth bringing in an external Chair to run the board and hold the casting vote.

Wonderful, this feels like a pretty grown up place to be in doesn’t it?

You’ve set up quarterly, maybe even monthly board meetings, where you can strategise how you’re going to take over / disrupt / create the market / competition / industry.

This is going to add so much value to how you run things, finally you have the support you need on the big stuff.

But at some point, you wake up with this nagging question in your head. You’ve now got 2 co-founders, 2 investors and 1 non exec Chair on the board.

So who is running things?

Who actually holds the power?

Some might say it’s the Chairperson, after all, they hold the casting vote, they are able to change the trajectory of the business and influence the rest of the board as the neutral voice at the table.

Others might say it’s the Investor Directors, after all, it’s their cash on the line, and for lots of startups it’s their cash they’re going to rely on to some extent in the future – it’s really hard to convince new investors to come on board when you’re existing ones either don’t take up their pro-rata or don’t like where the business is heading.

You may even think it’s the CEO especially if things are going well (though it is always worth remembering, it’s probably going to be easier to replace the CEO than it is a board member – remember what happened to Travis Kalanick at Uber?).

But often it’s the last person you might imagine it to be.

So this is my contrarian take:

Having sat through 100s of board meetings from startups to corporates there is a truism that emerges…

The person (or potentially people) that hold the most power in a board meeting are the following:

📝 The person who sets the agenda.

✍🏟 The person who writes the minutes.

Why is this the case?

Because if you set the agenda you direct the flow of the meeting. You shepherd people in the direction you want the discussion to go.

You can tackle hard topics tangentially rather than head on and steer the conversation towards the outcomes you’re looking for.

People rarely question the format, progression or detail of the agenda so, once set, it is quite easy to steer the board meeting in the direction you want to.

Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean you can steamroll the meeting, if you try and do something that is clearly contentious, be prepared for push back.

But all other things being equal, setting the agenda gives you a great deal of power to influence the flow of your board (or any other) meeting.

The second powerful role is held by the person writing the minutes.

Your role is to record salient points from the meeting and the pertinent actions that arise.

Think about this for a moment. You are writing the definitive record of a meeting that people will refer back to over subsequent months, if not years.

You essentially dictate how people ‘remember’ the meeting in the future.

In fact, it may not even be the case that the people referring to your minutes would have even been present at the meeting because board members change on a regular basis.

The other thing about minutes is that very few people truly understand how to write a good set of them. Most people default to some university style notes with lots of Person A said x and then Person B responded with y – much of which is peripheral to the actual core message that needs to be recorded for posterity.

I have, over time, gotten very good at writing minutes, mainly because I have spent A LOT of time in board meetings over the years. The trick is to write short form notes in the meeting in the style of your finished minutes and then condense and circulate within 48 hours of the meeting having wrapped up – this allows for maximum contribution to ensure that the record is straight.

When I wrote about this topic on LinkedIn a while ago, a lawyer came back with this comment:

Now I’m by no means suggesting that every person that sets the agenda or writes the minutes has some sort of Machiavellian desire to hijack the meeting for their own purposes, simply that most people would assume that power only ever sits in the hands of the people either making the decisions or investing their cash.

The reality is that you’ll almost always get others’ inputs into both the agenda and the minutes.

But how you write the way the meeting flows and what the outcomes were is more powerful than most people understand.

Gif by FTX_Official on Giphy

As always, my office hours are open, if you’d like to chat about this or anything else, just grab some time 😊.

I hope you found Off Balance #37 useful. As always, I’d love to get your feedback and understand the sort of topics you would love to hear about.

Just hit reply to this mail or drop me a line at hello@emergeone.co.uk and let me know 😊

🚀And that’s a wrap for this edition of Off Balance – I’d appreciate your feedback so just reply to this email if you’ve got something you’d like to say.

📚 And if you think someone else might love this, please forward it on to them,

🎧 Finally, if you’re a fan of the Nothing Ventured podcast, please don’t forget to like, rate and subscribe wherever you get your pods – it really helps us spread the word.

That’s it from me so until next time


Stay liquid 🙂

Aarish

Off Balance #36

👋🏟 Hi friends!

This week’s short and snappy edition is all about the super cool team at the super cool SuperSeed – an early stage B2B venture fund. Check out the conversation I had with founding partners Mads Jensen and Dan Bowyer, hope you love it as much as I loved recording it!

I’m well underway writing about all the things I’ve learned from the last couple of decades as founder, CFO and CEO, so sign up for early access to Off Balance – The Book and feel free to share with anyone else you think might enjoy it 😄.

Now let’s get down to business


From boy bands to venture investing 👚🏻‍🎀

Check out the latest episode of Nothing Ventured where I spoke to Mads Jensen and Dan Bowyer, the amazing investors behind SuperSeed a seed fund investing in technical founders who are transforming how the world works and helping them hit their first million.

Prior to founding SuperSeed, Mads was co-founder and CEO of Sefaira, a company developing software for sustainable and high-performance building design whilst Dan built and exited 2 startups as well as having spent time as a boy band member and host on children’s TV.

Some top takeaways from this pod:

➡ Hunger for AI in Business Transformation: Mads and Dan highlighted the massive interest and hunger in how AI is transforming businesses. With AI becoming more prevalent, there is a fundamental shift in how businesses are perceiving and utilising this technology to drive innovation and growth.

➡ Need for European Nasdaq: The discussion touched upon the idea of creating a European Nasdaq to support tech businesses in Europe. The lack of strategic buyers in Europe often leads to companies seeking exits in the US. Establishing a European Nasdaq could provide more opportunities for companies to grow and scale within the region.

➡ Focus on Building Big Independent Businesses: While the goal is for companies to build big independent businesses, the reality often leads to exits to US trade buyers. This trend highlights the importance of companies being structured to work with US markets and partners to achieve significant growth and success.

They also talked about:

🚀 How Dan and Mads went from a boy band and IBM to raising a fund.
 Whether there is a lack of risk appetite in Europe
📈 How European venture was only 2 – 3bn a decade and a half ago and we’re now 10x of that.
🏎 Speed of sale speed of scale

Check it out!

Else listen on Spotify or Apple

If you have any feedback, or if there’s something you’re desperate to see me include, just reply to this mail or ping me online – I’m very open to conversations.

If you like what I’m putting out, do give me a follow on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

(If you are trying to connect with me on LinkedIn, maybe read this post I wrote and make sure to start your request with “Off Balance” and, more importantly, tell me why you’d like to connect 💪🏟)

Don’t forget to like, rate and subscribe to Nothing Ventured on Apple, Spotify or YouTube, it really helps more people see what we’re doing – you can find links to these (and more including my Office Hours) right here!

This edition of Nothing Ventured is brought to you by EmergeOne.

EmergeOne provides fractional CFO support to venture backed tech startups from Seed to Series B and beyond.

Join companies backed by Hoxton, Stride, Octopus, Founders Factory, Outlier, a16z and more, who trust us to help them get the most out of their capital, streamline financials, and manage investor relations so they can focus on scaling.

If you’re a CFO working with venture backed startups and want to join a team of incredible fractional talent, drop us your details here.

If you’re a growing startup that knows it needs that strategic financial knowhow, drop your details here to see how we can support you as you scale 🚀

As always, my office hours are open, if you’d like to chat about anything finance, tech or venture releated, just grab some time 😊.

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I hope you found Off Balance #36 v. As always, I’d love to get your feedback and understand the sort of topics you would love to hear about.

Just hit reply to this mail or drop me a line at hello@emergeone.co.uk and let me know 😊

🚀And that’s a wrap for this edition of Off Balance – I’d appreciate your feedback so just reply to this email if you’ve got something you’d like to say.

📚 If you think someone else might love this, please forward it on to them,

🎧 Finally, if you’re a fan of the Nothing Ventured podcast, please don’t forget to like, rate and subscribe wherever you get your pods – it really helps us spread the word.

That’s it from me so until next time


Stay liquid 🙂

Aarish

Off Balance #35

👋🏟 Hi friends!

It’s been a sunny week in London, though sadly, having been in meetings all weekend I didn’t really get much of a chance to enjoy it 😢 , even more frustratingly, I also managed to miss out on the spectacular light show that the country got to experience on Friday and Saturday evening as the Northern Lights came to the UK. Fortunately some of my neighbours got snap happy, so check out this incredible shot from the weekend 🀯 

I’m well underway writing about all the things I’ve learned from the last couple of decades as founder, CFO and CEO, so sign up for early access to Off Balance – The Book and feel free to share with anyone else you think might enjoy it 😄.

Now let’s get down to business


In this weeks Off Balance, I’ll be chatting about:

🎙 Ash Arora, Partner at LocalGlobe on the Nothing Ventured Podcast
🇪🇺 eu/acc – what’s the movement all about?

Why Ethereum is the Hugging Face of Blockchain…

In the latest episode of Nothing Ventured, I had a wide ranging and fascinating conversation with Ash Arora, the youngest Partner at LocalGlobe, a UK-based venture capital firm that focuses on seed and impact investments leading their web3 and blockchain practice.

Before joining LocalGlobe, she was Investments Lead at Polygon Labs leading the $100Mn Polygon Ventures’ Fund where she focussed on early-stage web3 startups with global LPs across the US, and Europe.

Three takeaways from this episode that are worth thinking about:

1⃣ We are Soooo Early in Blockchain and AI

Ash noted that we are still in the early stages of both blockchain and AI technologies and adoption. Despite the hype and excitement around these fields, there is still a lot of infrastructure work yet to be done. The challenges of security, scalability, and cost have not yet been fully addressed, leading to immense potential for growth.

2⃣ The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle in Blockchain

Ash introduced the concept of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle in blockchain, drawing parallels to the famous physics principle. She discussed that in blockchain, it’s challenging to achieve security, scalability, and cost efficiency simultaneously. This fundamental problem underscores the need for innovative solutions and infrastructure development to overcome this trilemma.

3⃣ Blockchain Use Cases and Real-World Adoption

We discussed the importance of real-world adoption of blockchain technology, focusing on practical use cases like land registry on-chain. While the technical aspects of implementing blockchain solutions may be feasible, the legal and regulatory frameworks need to evolve. The intersection of code as law and traditional legal structures presents a complex but promising landscape for adoption.

Beyond this we talked about:

🐇 How Ash went from knowing nothing about VC to going down a 3 month rabbit hole writing a paper on Bitcoin for Citi
🪙 Getting into crypto because she was restricted from investing anything else whilst at Citi.
🀷🏟 How 99% of the crypto community back in the day didn’t know what they were doing.
🎡 Feeling at home in London after landing for the first time for 20 rounds of face to face interviews with LocalGlobe.
🀝 Choosing LocalGlobe having 7 job offers in her pocket and using her 50+ question framework!

Listen on YouTube, Spotify, Apple or wherever you get your podcasts!

If you have any feedback on the podcast or the newsletter, just reply to this mail or ping me online!

If you like what I’m putting out, do give me a follow on LinkedIn and Twitter.

(If you are trying to connect with me on LinkedIn, maybe read this post I wrote and make sure to start your request with “Off Balance” and, importantly, tell me why you’d like to connect 💪🏟)

Now let’s get into it.

This edition of Nothing Ventured is brought to you by EmergeOne.

EmergeOne provides fractional CFO support to venture backed tech startups from Seed to Series B and beyond.

Join companies backed by Hoxton, Stride, Octopus, Founders Factory, Outlier, a16z and more, who trust us to help them get the most out of their capital, streamline financials, and manage investor relations so they can focus on scaling.

If you’re a CFO working with venture backed startups and want to join a team of incredible fractional talent, drop us your details here.

If you’re a growing startup that knows it needs that strategic financial knowhow, drop your details here to see how we can support you as you scale 🚀

Off Balance

There is a bit of a movement going on at the moment – you may have come across it on Twitter / X – lots of folks with a variation of e/acc or 🇬🇧/acc or some variation on that theme in their bios.

And while the movement is already a couple of years old, I thought it would be valuable to unpack what’s going on from the lens of eu/acc which has struck a chord with people throughout the European ecosystem.

eu/acc

To understand eu/acc (or any other ?/acc) you first need to understand the overarching movement that surfaced in 2022 and gained momentum in 2023 amongst prominent people throughout the tech ecosystem.

That movement is e/acc or Effective Accelerationism.

The concept of effective accelerationism (e/acc), posits that civilization should align with the universe’s inherent tendency towards increased energy utilisation and entropy.

e/acc draws on principles from physics, suggesting that life and societal structures like capitalism are manifestations of these thermodynamic processes, optimising energy extraction for growth and replication.

e/acc advocates for a laissez-faire approach, arguing that open, competitive systems are better at evolving and adapting than those tightly controlled by top-down regulations.

This perspective envisions a future where human limitations are transcended, advocating for a dynamic and flexible framework that encourages innovation and evolution towards greater complexity.

It’s proponents summarise it themselves as follows:

Stop fighting the thermodynamic will of the universe
You cannot stop the acceleration
You might as well embrace it
A C C E L E R A T E

Notes on e/acc principles and tenets – Beff Jezos and Bayeslord

At a broader level, e/acc is a progression of accelerationism (developed by British philosopher Nick Land and since fallen out of favour due to perceived or actual racist views including nods to eugenics and far right undertones). It is also a push back against the effective altruism movement which proposes a much more cautious approach towards AGI (artificial general intelligence) which it frames under ‘longtermism’ and again, e/acc is also a response to the degrowth movement which expounds a philosophy of reduced economic activity and consumption.

Now, while you only have to head over to Reddit to get a feel for the pop-pyschology vibes of the movement with plenty of physicists and PhDs showing their disdain for the movement as slightly nonsensical, probably the best quote I have seen about it is from this article in the New York Times:

Julie Fredrickson, a start-up investor, said that e/acc is “a fun shorthand for a future that prioritizes progress and solutions.”

Kevin Roose

Because what e/acc really is, is the seed of an idea that people can take and interpret how they want to. It has allowed for a plethora of sub /acc movements to take off, and this is where my interest really lies.

European Accelerationism

Let me preface this by saying the following:

I think it sucks that the UK exited the European Union.

I think that the European Union has some significant challenges and issues.

The ecosystem in Europe is not homogenous (which is kind of the point).

On 30th April 2024, Andreas Klinger (formerly CTO of Product Hunt, Head of Remote at AngelList and currently investor at Remote First Capital) posted a blog entitled: Dear Europe, please wake up – eu/acc.

In it he uses the the general objective of the e/acc movement but in a European context arguing for certain changes that could take Europe out of its (perceived and actual) malaise on the pathway to startup and technological growth.

The first part of his essay deals with probably the most prevelant problem in the European startup ecosystem, one that comes through in the podcasts I’ve recorded with VCs across Europe – though never as explicitly, nor providing the ultimate rationale, as Andreas does, as being the self doubt that Europe has driven by tropes and memes driven predominantly by our US counterparts.

🇪🇺 Dear Europe, please wake up – eu/acc

If you live in Europe (the continent not the political organisation the EU) and have spent any time in the tech and venture ecosystem, I’d warrant that you have come across at least one of these statements either overtly or in meme form at some point online.

Andreas makes the case against each one whilst accepting that to some extent there is no smoke without fire and that, the continuing ‘belief’ in these tropes has the potential to become a self fulfilling prophecy.

He suggests that all the big themes – tech, AI, space-tech, climate etc. are all already being tackled in Europe. We don’t lack the ambition. Instead, according to Andreas, what causes us the most problem is friction.

And because of that friction, he proposes two issues that need to be tackled to help ‘unleash’ European accelerationism.

Creating an EU Inc.

Teach English as early as possible.

Europe has 750m people, the EU 450m all spread across over 40 countries. That means 40+ different legal systems, regulations, corporate law, employment law, tax regimes, customs, cultures and, of course, languages.

And as many investors I have attested to, one of the reasons that it is so hard to invest in certain jurisdictions is the bureaucracy that goes with that. Andreas talks about investing in a German GmbH as an example, requiring notaries, physical presence and all sorts of other friction that makes sure investors think twice before parting with their cash.

Norway has recently shocked the startup ecosystem with tightening of rules around their exit tax which would levy 37.8% on unrealised assets over Euro 43k that had been built up in the country. This has very specific and costly implications for founders looking to scale up and out of the country whose population currently stands at just under 5.5 million people.

So the case for an EU Inc is a strong one, if founders (and importantly investors) had a standard vehicle they could set up wherever they were based in Europe, this would lead to a far smoother process to launch and raise capital.

It is no surprise that in the US, the Delaware Inc has become the vehicle of choice for investors, and, as Daniel Glazer stated in my interview with him, it is with good reason that if you are a European based startup looking for US investment pre Series B, you are likely going to have to flip to a Delaware topco. Investors simply don’t want to have to figure out the regulations that will bind them in some other jurisdiction.

A Europe wide structure would definitely remove some of those challenges (though this would need to be tested over time as case law is explored and precedent is formed).

The case for teaching English from an early age is also not that controversial (at least in principle if not in practice). It is understandable that individual nations do not want to lose their cultural and linguistic heritage but the reality is that English is the lingua franca of tech, business and – especially in the venture ecosystem – the US is the most likely destination for growth.

As a linguist myself, you will never hear me arguing against the value of learning second and third languages, it expands horizons and allows for better understanding of those from other cultures and backgrounds.

But English, especially in Europe, comes with connotations. The backlash against linguistic imperialism is real. We have all heard the stories of the French wanting to ban ‘le weekend’ from the vocabulary in the early 2000s, and it still surprises me when I travel to Italy how few people have a functional understanding of English outside of the cities.

This has real implications if you are building in the venture space, you will rub fewer shoulders, glad fewer hands and generally struggle to expand outside your home nation.

Obviously this is not always the case and you can be successful without learning or being fluent in English, but when all is said and done, as Andreas states, doing so provides optionality for future generations whilst standardising media and networks as opposed to maintaining disperate and patchy nodes across the ecosystem.

Just a few days ago Andreas launched https://eu-acc.com/ alongside a Discord which quickly garnered several hundred members with the starting ambition to tackle the issue of the EU Inc.

I have interviewed many VCs across the UK / European ecosystem and beyond and there is something quite enticing about what Andreas is proposing. Not just because there should be so much more optimism around tech in Europe, not just because we want to ensure we don’t fall behind the USA, China and other emerging ecosystems like India, Israel and elsewhere but also because his approach is to work with regulators and standardise rather than attempt to overturn or antagonise. Collaboration is always a better way to effect change if you can.

But also, I am attracted to it because (unsurprisingly) Andreas doesn’t approach this with the techno-libertarian overtones that the US advocates of e/acc seem to promote.

And as he says, if the EU could adopt the Euro across the bloc then anything is possible.

What do you think, does he make the case for European accelerationism and do you subscribe to the thesis?

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Stay liquid 🙂

Aarish