What prompts a Global Investment Banker, with all the corporate security of a Diplomatic Passport, to jump ship and leap into the unknown and run a technology start up?
A question I find myself asking as I fly back and forth from the USA to Hungary every other week, clearly it’s not for the air miles or the money. Running a start up is fraught with challenges and dangers and a great deal of stress so it’s not for everyone. BUT trust me it’s as much fun as you can possibly have with your clothes on.
Lets wind the clock back a little to put my experiences into context. This is not for self congratulation, as I’ve made lots of mistakes along the way, but rather as a stamp of authority to even write on the subject.
My purpose is to reflect on the challenges, highs and lows of running a cutting edge International software company as the world tries to claw its way out of a Global melt down (caused by those in my former profession – the Bankers).
My career started with a degree in design and advertising, before computers mind you, so I learnt to set type with “hot metal”. I remember seeing the first desk top publishing app and being blown away. Since then the technology and Moores Law has never stopped or even slowed.
My journey into the “start-up” world began as I created my first design company in a dark and distant UK recession somewhere in the late 70’s. Within 5 years the company proceeded up to the high point of being Eastman Kodak and Johnson & Johnson’s Global brand custodian. At this time I also took my company public on the UK market.
Seeing spending shift to the web, I left the PLC and joined another start up – clearly this foolishness can be traced back to an early age. I joined a seven person team and created ‘Reality’, which turned into Europe’s highest profile web design and build company within eighteen months. We sold the business right at the height of the Internet boom. It was amazing, if you could spell Power Point, you could raise millions in venture capital.
Again I joined a start up in a business I knew nothing about – Web hosting, where I bought and sold three companies in close succession.
With this success I then became a banker!!! Well not really but I spent four years as Senior Advisor for Strategic Planning and Investment for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Visiting countries I had only heard of in school and scrutinising the good, the bad and ugly in terms of thousands of business plans. I had the chequebook and it was great fun. But my love of technology and design was pulling me back to the world of the start-up. I couldn’t resist the allure for long and this ultimately led me to VIMtrek.