In partnership with Talent Spark, Informatics Ventures launched the Teaming with Start-Ups initiative on the 30th of June at the Informatics Forum. The event attracted 65 attendees and showcased a wealth of company and non-executive talent. This blog will take you through the #Teaming experience.
So why is this initiative important?
One of the biggest issues in scaling a company is the level of non-executive talent, executive talent and experience that can be gathered into the company to guide it through the various inevitable up and downs that will be encountered in the journey to growth. Lack of available talent at the Executive level has been identified in a number of studies as being one of the major issues in Scotland. The Teaming with Start-Ups initiative was devised to see how we might be able to address this gap! In the first event of its kind, Teaming with Start-Ups was focused on how young companies find and bring on board good quality Non-Executive Directors (NED) to advise the executive team in building a company.
Jason Morenikeji from Urban Farming revealed that he had fantastic conversations across consumer insight, tech and commercial areas. “iV has exceeded my expectations, no one else in Scotland is doing this input in the ecosystem…[iV] helps build TEAM.”
We hope you enjoyed #Teaming, we thank you for all the great feedback, now here’s looking at the day:
Sandy Finlayson, kicked us off and noted that every successful company needs a good board. His anecdotes and star team analogy highlighted his vast experience as a corporate lawyer, specialising in advising young high growth companies and their investors for over 25 years. He eloquently explained that the job of a board is to set the company’s direction and make sure the whole company is pulling in the same direction.
Gender diverse companies outperform others by 15% and ethnically diverse outperform by 35% said Dr. Helen Wright, emphasizing the importance to work with people who are different from you! Often a start-ups mentality is to protect the idea it has been nurturing by choosing like minded team members…but you need people who think differently and will challenge you! Diversity of thought is a key factor of success, offering a different perspective to areas which you think you know.
If you don’t know where to start in diversifying try Changing the Chemistry – who are committed to showing the benefits of diversity across Scotland and the UK, preparing you to become a NED, based on the perspective of existing team.
We had 8 companies pitch to the NED panel and audience, with those addressing exactly what they were looking for from the Non-Executive Talent standing out the most! Here’s a wee summary of all the companies that pitched:
ufraction8 tackles the problems with traditional filtration, by using liquid particle separation technology looking to broaden their scope into a globally significant product.
SussMyBike utilises the latest technology monitoring mountain bikes suspension to deliver professional level analysis, allowing for the perfect tune on each bike, through a quick and easy app.
#EIE15 Alumni Jason Morenikeji pitched about Urban Farming Co, which creates balanced growing systems, supporting and educating local communities through applying key principles of sustainable development.
Alexis Viswanathan was next up for Alphabet Babies, delivering cost-effective training, resources and lesson ideas for early year centres and nurseries.
#EIEAlumni16 Kirsten Lord pitched for PhysioMedics, which provides online software solutions to managing musculoskeletal disorders, including the most comprehensive online self-assesment programme PhysioWizard.
Coupling the power of wearable technology and rugby, Sansible Wearables, pitched by #EIEAlumni15 Jack Ng, talked of calculating the force sustained and exerted by your muscles seamlessly presenting these easily in an app.
David Taylor pitched for DAT Consulting Systems, combating infections found in hospitals and other medical facilities, aiming to develop the product to the worldwide market.
Last, but not least, Mark Hedley from Ahoi Life, which provides bespoke interventions directly to your device to deliver lasting positive changes in living a healthy, happier life.
On the NED Panel we had Sandy Finlayson, Diana Easley, Les Gaw, Dr Helen Wright, Eamonn Doyle, Brian Scouler, Steven Moore and Stuart Gilmore introducing themselves and their wealth of experience to the audience.
Each had great feedback and top tips for us to delve into, such as 2 criteria for being an NED talent: you have to create value, and you have to enjoy it. One particularly inspiring reason for becoming an NED was to give something back! Brian Scouler, who has a wide experience in private equity and growing private companies, provided us with the brilliant “Awkward Friend” or critical ally analogy to describe the role of an NED teamed up with a start-up.
The Awkward Friend is there to challenge, be constructive, lend value and ask the daft questions
Finally, we had an open and very informative Q&A with the NED panel, and a break for networking where I got the chance to Interview Paul Reid, managing director of Sigma Seven. He shared with me his reasons for coming to #Teaming which were namely to meet new businesses and find out why there is such a lack of executive talent and non-executive in Scotland. He especially highlighted the importance of networking so we hope this was a fulfilling experience Paul!
Final Choices and Closing Remarks
The pitching businesses each choose up to 3 NEDs from the panel, with the agreement to then go away and have more detailed conversations face to face. We’ll report back at the next #Teaming event as to which conversations led to NED appointments.
During the final networking rounds I was able to talk to Paul Yuskaitis, investor and consultant at PGY Solutions, who revealed the main thing he looks for in a start-up from an NED perspective is the team – “it’s all about the team – work together and work beyond together”.
IV Programme Manager, Steve Ewing closed off #Teaming with this perfect quote from a recent report by Innovation Centres Scotland Ltd:
“The non-executive director is the best kept secret of most successful companies. Whether a temporary appointment or a full time fixture, the non-executive director contributes a wealth of knowledge, experience and contacts to the business.”
We Look forward to bringing you more #Teaming in the future! #WatchThisSpace
Have a look at our Twitter account for the #Teaming feed!
For more event photos click onto our FB page, P.S. For those who attended, you will need to like our page to tag yourself!