So, we're deep in January 2015, and it's been a few months since I wrote on my blog. There's a reason for that, as after stepping down as full time CEO of King of Shaves in October, I simply wanted to give myself a chance to "come up for air" after 21 years of relentless momentum creating and business building at KMI (the company behind Ted Baker toiletries, fragrances & Fish hairstyling products) and of course at King of Shaves, the last six years spent fund raising, developing our supehydrophilic Hyperglide razor and more.
So, I wanted to step back out of the wood and look at some trees.
What's become clear, is that the UK is deep in one of the most exciting times for business creation, business scaling, and the whole way of 'how business is done'. I've just retunred home after an exhilarating morning at the UK's first Fintech Summit, hosted by the campaigning company, Seven Hills, and supported by Level 39 (the Canary Wharf based fintech company accelerator/hub) and TechLondonAdvocates, a dynamic group of smart people working their best to make Britain THE goto place for new tech startups.
With interest rates remaining at record lows, with unemployment dropping, with more pounds about to make their way into consumers' pockets with the price of oil plummetting (see this by my brother, Doug King) and the dizzying growth of certain industry sectors, especially those in the sharing economy, P2P lending, Alternative Lending and of course Fintech spce, then the UK is actually perfectly poised to actually make rather a good fist of the next few years of things, business wise at least. Of cousre, there are going to continue to be road bumps - the uncertainty around the General Election, the rebalancing of 'bricks and mortar' retailers pivoting into the internet space, the slow, but sure (I'm sure) regeneration of the High Street (startups like Appear Here are really helping here) - but with the economy in growth, we are in a good space.
So, what have I been up to? Well, you'll have probs read about my Savage & King Ltd. vehicle with my wife Tiger, so she (and I) have had some interesting projects to look at and advise on, some pretty BIG, others pro-bono, others close to my heart. But, I've also been quietly talking with a number of senior people about 'what I'll do next' and why.
And one of the things I'm really interested in, is being an "Entrepreneur-in-Residence" at a small number of companies, that I believe could do with my insight (and paranoia) about how quickly change can happen in the 'instant' world we live in, and how they can be extremely well positioned to adapt to it, and benefit hugely from it.
I decided I wanted to hold one of these EIR positions - having seen the appointment of my friend Simon Devonshire to be EIR at BIS, the Government Department for Business, Innovation & Skills. Simon who's been at Telefonica (O2) for many years, now heading up their Wayra tech incubator, was appointed last year, to work with 'civil servants' and their peers on bringing a bit of Entrep into what most would consider a pretty staid organisation. That sounded kinda cool to me, so I did a bit of research on what these EIR's should do, how many there are (NOT MANY!!!) and who I'd like to work for.
Now, an EIR typically is 'hired' by a VC firm (and is typically a successful executive, probably with a number of businesses built, exits achieved behind him/her) to develop/build the 'next' business the VC might invest in. For example, a chap I follow on twitter, Tristan Walker, was at Foursquare, the geo-location internet business, then joined Andressen Horowitz as their EIR, then formed Walker & Co. to launch Bevel (a DE razor & shaving oil subscription business aimed at the African American community) and then got backing from - guess who - Andressen Horowitz!
The EIR roles I'm mooting are different. They're more about going into an established, probably very large company, for a few days a month, and then making sure the exec teams (and others) realise what change looks like, why it might be approaching them very quickly, ensuring they know the impact it could have, and then advising on how to roll with change to come out in a better place. In short, the scare the bejesus out of the CEO, so he (and his team) know how important it is to be healthily paranoid, and "embrace the new"
For example, I was at the Fintech Summit today, and heard one of the speakers explain that "City Fund Managers think Fintech is a form of accounting software!!" Personally, if i was heading up ANY City Institution, I'd be looking at what Fintech really means (again, described today as "The Industrial Revolution the Banking Sector never had") and how it's going to potentially, disrupt, disintermediate and change their business forever.
I've "reached out" (as they say in America) to a few high level contacts of mine, I've met along my shaving the world journey - and the response has been incredible!
At the same time, I've turned down, or not been particularly interested in, a set of 'non-executive directorships' at companies I really had no interest in. In the same way I never wanted to be Chairman of The King of Shaves Company (it made me sound way too old) I've never really wanted to be a NED. But, being an EIR, at the right company, talking about the future, and helping plan, adapt and deliver it, that sounds cool.
And, of course - I'm looking at what to do 'Next...' I've a couple of meetings in the next few weeks which I like the look of, one very early stage (product), one a bit more developed (product too) and one in the space of #Altfi #Fintech #P2P. Ideally with a bit of #cryptoinfrastructure thrown in.
What I do know, is that the internet, and the explosion in the connected economy, is allowing the phrase #Equipotency to evolve. What's that, I hear you ask? Well, why not google it, and then read a book on your Kindle called Bit by Bit by Jeffrey A Tucker.
You'll be glad you did...
And no, I haven't grown a beard!