Broken ecosystem: intro

A revealing conversation thread developed recently on Vecosys on the VC contribution (or lack thereof) to the innovation ecosystem and more generally what entrepreneurs feel they need from the environment.  I will write a series of posts exploring the issues raised but wanted to start with an overview of what happened after Sam’s post, originally entitled “Not I said the VC when the community asked“.

Sam’s post, which you should read, is a summary of the usual “why are we not more like Silicon Valley” with a particular focus on why the VC community is not doing more to support and sponsor grassroots efforts.  It’s a good post but the debate that ensued I found also interesting.

Here are some of the comments that were aired to give you a flavour:

  • The Internet industry in this country seems to have a weird preoccupation with meeting up all the time and throwing events, rather
    than actually getting on with work (Peter Cooper)
  • Fred [Destin, Atlas], David [Rowe, Microsoft] and Doug [Richard, Library House] your posts above read like defensive jumps head first into the sand.  […] If anyone thinks that the current contribution is even vaguely decent then I’d say that they seriously lack imagination. […] I want to see innovation. I want to see support. To paraphrase a business partner of mine, VC’s are like fishermen sitting on the bank waiting for fish to appear. Our suggestion is for them to help make the river a better place for fish to breed. (Robert Loch)
  • I can tell all the UK VC’s right now that web Entrepreneurs (not entrepreneurs of biotech startups or large funded uni spinouts) are
    dying in the water because of lack of resources. Arguing that’s not true is like arguing with someone that they’re not actually feeling
    sick. It’s not the investors’ call to make. (Peter Nixey)
  • Your post above reads like you have some god given right to receivefunding. What tractions did you achieve? Why should they have invested?Who should have invested?  I am so bored with entrepreneurs complaining about VC’s not investwhen they clearly have no idea where VC’s fit into the game. Yes, someVC’s will invest (or more likely facilitate an investment) below £1million, but that is not their game. (Robert Loch)
  • VCs belly-aching about how they support startups in the UK and Europe miss the point. They may well chuck a sponsor logo onto a £1,000 a ticket conference web site, but right now some of the real innovation is not coming from conference attendees but young men and women who turn up out of the blue at events like Robert Loch’s / SCT / etc and say “I have this idea but don’t know what to do next”. It is at the grass roots level that many VCs don’t take much interest in the UK, while in the US they tend to, at the very least chuck, some money behind the bar or buy Mike Arrington’s burgers for his legendary BBQs. I agree, we need a DEMO for the UK/Europe, and not just because most UK conferences are utterly terrible, consisting of panels of people who say nothing useful and demo none of their work (usually because it’s not very good). (Mike Butcher)

I’ll attempt a summary of the key issues raised by the community of Vecosys readers:

  • VCs are a non-transparent, cliquey bunch who do not engage with entrepreneurs
  • Most of the conference circuit today is a pale palliative to real engagement, with high price tags and stale, irrelevant panels; they do little to move innovation forward
  • The Government needs to step in and do more to help seed companies (no !!!)
  • Everyone is leaving for the Bay Area, dude
  • Entrepreneurs meet too much and complain too much and should get on with building great companies with what they’ve got

So that’s five posts to come under the broken ecosystem heading.  I will start with the Evil VCs and the cliquey ways (of course).

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