Enlightenment 2.0


There were so many high points at ScotSoft2013 yesterday. Intergalactic legend Vint Cerf being one, obviously; a statistically mind-blowing presentation on mobile by Salesforce.com’s Principal Architect, Larry Cable; and the recognition and celebration of Scotland’s up-and-coming software talent in the form of the Young Software Engineer of the Year awards.

But another great highlight was a venture capital panel discussion with Ann Winblad (Hummer Winblad), Heidi Roizen (DFJ) and Eddie Anderson (Pentech Ventures).

Three years ago, in May 2010, Eddie was on a panel discussion at Engage Invest Exploit (pictured above) which I organised in partnership with TechCrunch. Following this panel an open “Letter to a depressed VC” was published on the techmeetup blog; and it caused a bit of a stir, polarising views amongst the tech and entrepreneurship communities.

Well I have to say that Eddie’s depression, if there ever was any, about opportunity in Scotland has cleared up. Eddie talked about how the barriers to building a business are getting smaller: low cost software stacks, cloud infrastructure, inbound marketing and reaching an international audience from day one is ‘easy’. Through channels such as Google Play and Apple’s App Store. Which linked in beautifully to Larry Cable’s session, reinforcing the last points about scalable infrastructure and reaching an international audience.

Instagram was used as a case-in-point having amassed 100 million monthly users only two years after launch and being acquired by Facebook for $1B three years after launch. With just 18 employees at the time of exit. There is complete belief that Instagram could have emerged from Scotland.

The ‘meme’ of Enlightenment 2.0 was introduced, citing Scotland’s amazing history of innovation and creativity; and a sense of excitement about the ecosystem here, including the numerous incubators we now have, and especially physical spaces like Techcube.

I think the “moaning culture” in the startup community prevalent in 2010, especially about the lack of available equity finance, has truly shifted. In my opinion there has never been a lack of equity finance available to startups who have a great idea, articulated well with the hustle to get out there and find customers and investors. Startups are now “getting on with it” inspired by others, such as Skyscanner, who are intending to double their 250 strong workforce over the next year, and FanDuel (a Pentech portfolio company) who have raised $18 million in venture funding from their Edinburgh head quarters.

But leading up to this ScotSoft2013 panel, Heidi Roizen urged Scotland’s entrepreneurs to ‘think global’. Clearly a message that we still have much progress to make with our ambitions and attitudes.

So have a read through Eddie’s slides and Larry’s slides; think about all the Scottish inventions that Stephen Fry rattles through below; and go build a billion dollar startup from Scotland.

Posted in CleanWeb Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *