Entrepreneurs – you deserve better. And you can help us build the future
This week, Web Summit in Dublin was a stark reminder to me of the relentless and often exhausting nature of starting up your own business. Alongside the big establishment tech players were gathered hundreds of ambitious start-ups, looking for their next big idea; amazing networking; the next investor who will share their dream. The halls were jam packed with small stalls where these innovators could tell their story in the most appealing way possible and hope the ‘pitch', their branded giveaways and furious social media activity could attract the right level of interest.
As part of the #SageMentorHours programme we supported at Web Summit, I met half a dozen brilliant companies for some pacey advice sessions: Motion Impossible; MeVitae; HobbyEarth; Waple and SalesSeek to name a few. All of them fired up by their passion for their big idea. All of them working every hour possible, on the go, wherever they are.
In the airport, delayed by the fog, I met the entrepreneur behind baby2body.com. She told me about her business, her ambition and the sense of purpose for one million healthier babies through quick snippets of daily healthy lifestyle advice delivered to expectant mums. It's hard to think of a more noble cause, but that doesn't mean it will be easy to grow from 32,000 subscribers to the first million.
I wanted to use my keynote at the summit to recognise this hard work- and the major contribution these true heroes of the economy make. These early stage companies are run by the Risk Takers and I wanted to highlight the human sacrifice in pursuit of their passion. We know that over 20% of the entrepreneurs work more than 70 hours per week; 70% of the business owners use their own life savings to fund their businesses. The prosperity of the world depends on these heroes – 70% of the jobs created.
These inspirational start-ups deserve the best technology to run and grow their own businesses. But quite honestly, we know that lots of those hours are wasted in inefficient spreadsheets. Surrounded by all of these tech innovators, it was hard to believe that so many of them are using no technology to run their businesses. Perhaps the old adage about cobblers' children's shoes rings as true in this industry as in any other.
I also spoke a little about one of my heroes. Luca Pacioli- the godfather of modern accounting. In 1478, Pacioli's seminal text on the financial processes used by Venetian merchants set the tone for the next 500 years of double-entry accounting with ledgers and journals.
We are overdue for the next revolution fueled by the internet revolution. My message to these entrepreneurs was simple. You deserve better. And what's more, you can help us invent & build the future. We want to work with app developers and brilliant innovators to help us make the sage App Store even better. Apps in business should be as easy to use as the apps we use as consumers – a rallying cry to talk to us.
My visit back to Dublin was a brief one- but it was a brilliant reminder of why we all get up in the morning. The next Uber, Facebook, or even the next Sage, might be securing funding as we speak in the halls of Web Summit. But amazing success comes at the end of unimaginable hard graft for these innovators. We should be supporting and championing them.