I just attended a Q&A session with Eric Schmidt (Google´s former CEO) today at Google Campus in London. There were about 150 people, all of them young entrepreneurs who want to change the world in one way or another. I felt really humbled and honored to be there, with all those bright people, at the second row, listening to one of the main changers of our world (in my opinion to the much better), over the last 10 years.
I will write on a different post this week the key learnings I got from Eric. Today however I would rather write about how lucky I feel to have my work space at the ecosystem created by Google Campus with Seedcamp. I can condense it in 3 reasons which will lead to my thesis.
Before being accepted at Seedcamp my cofounders and I worked from home and met at a Cafe in Madrid every couple of days to catchup. We met as many people the first 5 months as we can meet in 2 weeks here. But it´s more than that.
The space is brilliant. Lockers, kitchen, tablefootball, pooltable, 6 meeting rooms, full wall-size whiteboards (gotta love that)… and still spaceous and quiet. I have been to a few co-working spaces which look like contact-centres. Uncomparable. This place fosters creativity, and I am quietly and happily writing this post at 9pm knowing I can stay as long as I wish.
Moreover, the UK has made enormous efforts to foster entrepreneurship from a legal and fiscal point of view. It takes a couple of days to file a company and costs near nothing, no capital growth tax on your stock options as an entrepreneur, and the same for the SEIS program for angels investing in UK companies.
2. Being at the Google Campus
Sign up at the Startup Digest London and every week you get a list of the best startup events in London. 70% are here at Google Campus, including hackatons, drinks, presentations, workshops, pitching sessions, etc. In only 3 months this has become the heart of the Startup scene in the UK. I don´t think there is a better place in the whole of Europe to catapult your business, gain visibility and meet the right people.
Today I attended this presentation with Eric, but last week I also attended a Q&A with only 20 people with Google´s CFO Patrick Pichette (key learning from him was “VCs give you money for you to spend it, so spend it quick” which made me smile). How crazy is that.
Furthermore, being in the centre of London has opened me many doors in terms of general coverage and PR, access to decision makers of international companies and investors, and CEOs of other companies. I could not dream of having such exposure from Madrid. And inviting those people to meet at Google Campus is also cool for them which makes it even easier to get meetings. Firstly, because they can meet other startups, secondly because many have not yet seen the Google Campus and they are curious, and thirdly because it´s just in the center of the City. Is there possibly a better location?
3. People in the building:
It´s not just Google´s execs walking around, it´s everyone. The IQ per capita of the people walking into this building is ridiculous, each person working on their own thing, united by a passion to create a better world. I would buy a little stake of all their companies if I could.
Working from the Seedcamp office means that I am meeting, on average, 5 new “key” people per week, including investors from top institutions, advisors, mentors and other entrepreneurs from terribly hot startups. The fact that I might be one minute working on my SEO plans and the next minute pitching to Index or Accel, simply because those people happened to stop by, is just an incredible feeling. Meeting other entrepreneurs who are closing million dollar rounds and talking to them as equals is inspiring and pushes me to work harder and want to be a better entrepreneur.
Having access to the whole Seedcamp staff on a daily basis is invaluale. Reshma, Carlos, Kirsten and Philipp, the new interns (who are just freaking bright and make me wonder what I made with my life when I was their age), and their network of mentors, are always available for 10 minute chats to give me the insights I need to make decisions quick, or to get introductions to people I need (I request many introductions).
Let´s understand how that comes together to create a startup ecosystem that will soon compete with the USA
- Aligning Incentives:
As an entrepreneur, I am taking a lot of risk and have an incentive to be taxed here. As an angel, I would rather invest in a UK company. The UK government does not get my tax or my angel´s tax, but I create jobs, which works for everyone.
- Location, location, location:
We have a place to get together, a heart, where I know things are going to happen, where I know I can meet with new talent, speak with people, learn from each other, have a family. And it´s in the very centre of a lively city and close to the banks, the lawyers and the investors. Besides, Google makes it free or super cheap.
- Making everyone win – The startup ecosystem.
1. Talented entrepreneurs come here. They acquire talented graduates and engineers and create awesome products quick.
2. Angels and accelerators like Seedcamp pick that raw talent and help them create companies with little investment.
3. Such seed money acts as “due diligence” where instead of paying McKinsey to find out whether they are a good team, VCs can see how they deliver.
4. VCs have early access to those companies easily without risk. In change they partner with Seedcamp to provide “free consulting” and mentoring to those startups. Cheap investment. Startups use that mentorship to build great companies.
5. Big exits lead to millionaire entrepreneurs who become angels themselves and invest in Talented entrepreneurs. Happy people.
VCs win. Accelerators win. Entrepreneurs win. Employment wins. Innovation wins. Organic economy wins. And here in the UK, Google wins by being at the very heart of fostering such innovation, maintaining their position of thought leadership.
So if you are a startup find a family that helps you.
Being in Seedcamp affords us being in Campus along with interfacing with the Seedcamp team.
If you aren’t in a program, at least do yourself the favor of finding a place where you can leverage the learning speed from being in an ecosystem.
From this post I want to congratulate Eze, Head of Campus, and the Google family for building this wonderful space, and thank Seedcamp again for taking us into their program, and inviting all startups who have a chance to come here to do so. Yes we spend a big chunk of our scarce seed money on accommodation. Yes our families are far. But hey, we work hard, we play hard and we want to succeed. And this is the best place to make those three things happen. Joga.
Juan holds an MBA from Chicago Booth with high honors and an MSc in Electrical Engineering from UPM.
His hobbies are capoeira, a brazilian martial art, drawing and tennis.
“Reward excellent failures”