I’ve been ruminating this blog post over the weekend and then an article on Techcrunch just spurred me to put the thoughts into electrons.
I’ve been guilty of using the words “startups need” many times. There’s always something they need whether it is access to better talent, better markets, better funding alternatives. A startup is like a newborn baby; it needs access to certain resources, it wants access to other resources and, despite our feelings on the matter, it can get by perfectly well missing out on others.
90% Failure Rate And Why This Is Still Great
The article states that 90% of incubators and accelerators will fail to provide the massive high-growth companies they aim to. And that is okay. Because the important thing with this market is not the guarantee of success, but the taking of chances. And the important thing to realise is not what startups need, but what “we” need.
In a Northern Ireland context, startups who intend to grow fast will either have a rapid expansion programme based on sales or they’ll leave. Because the sort of cash that enables pre-revenue growth simply isn’t available here. We, speaking as the Northern Ireland private sector collective, need these companies to start here, to develop here, to be funded here and, most importantly, to stay here.
By turning this conversation around, it helps our leaders understand the stakes. This is not about small companies trying to get as much out of the government as possible in a market where local private investment is risk-averse, property-focused and afraid of technology. This is about the government putting in steps to avert their own doom. Governments thrive on taxes and without the taxes gained from “adding value”, from those productivity benefits from expert workers, governments can find themselves unstuck.
There’s a limited window now for the government to do what it needs to do for its own sake. Not for the sake of the startups, not for the sake of a few entrepreneurs or their investors, but for the sake of every civilian in the province.
We need to make smarter finance more accessible, we need to make markets more accessible, we need to ensure that the best people to hire for the knowledge economy are found here. By doing this, and only by doing this, can we ensure that startups will be created here in the volume necessary for our continued affluence.