To stimulate exceptional technically inclined people to develop and start their own business, KPMG and McKinsey & Company have committed their support to Entrepreneur First. The initiative offers a comprehensive six month programme in which keen technical minds are able to develop the next big idea, with support from a bevy of experts and modest funding. The programme seeks to help develop the skills of candidates in the areas they may be lacklustre, such as business acumen and network contacts.
In a world of disruptive technologies and exceptional minds, entrepreneurs are quickly able to create multi-million dollar businesses. These businesses have the potential to create huge economic value as well as huge economic surplus value for consumers. Yet the pitfalls in creating a new business are many. And while having a strong technical mind buzzing with ideas that would for instance see the development of a search algorithm that rivals that of Google is key, without an attuned business acumen the idea may find difficulty blossoming to full realisation.
To support the development of people with exceptional technical abilities that are looking to create start-ups, Matt Clifford and Alice Bentinck left their safe job at McKinsey & Company in 2011 to realise their dream, and co-founded ‘Entrepreneur First’. This initiative is aimed at attracting highly skilled individuals in technical fields that have the background and drive to create stellar businesses. EF offers a six month programme in which the whole early lifecycle of a start-up is supported – from “day minus 100 to day 100”. The guidance includes the initial development of an idea into a practical solution, the business case development as well as funding for the initial phase of product development and scale up.
Yet rather than provide a “business guy” to the “engineer”, the programme seeks to support brilliant minds in developing the skills required to succeed on their own, thus providing the skills missing to becoming the CEO of a new multi-million dollar start-up. To achieve this, the programme draws on expertise and generous funding from six partners: McKinsey & Company, KPMG, City of London, Microsoft, Sky, and Workspace. These stakeholders each have extensive knowledge in various technical and business areas that participants are able to draw on for the development of their new offering.
From a financial perspective, EF provides minor support. With the first three month the ‘Team and idea development’ phase offering a stipend investment of £1,000 per person, per month. The ‘Growth’ phase, offered in the last 3 months, brings an additional £10,000 investment per start-up. The long term agreement sees EF take an 8% stake in the company as return on the investment built through the EF programme.
The programme has since its launch built several strong testimonials, with the 60 candidates joining the programme teaming up to create 20 start-ups that have attracted venture capital to the tune of £20 million with the companies now valued at more than £100 million. The programme accepts entrants year round, from diverse backgrounds – from no tertiary training to PhDs.