Helsinki Startups

So another brain dump about startups in various place. Back in 2001 I had an interview in Helsinki for Bitboys. In the end I did not take the job but it did give an interesting look inside the local start up scene when we went out for drinks in the evening.

The big names in the local scene were Bitboys (graphics hardware), Futuremark ( benchmarking software) and Remedy Entertainment ( games), all of which came from the core members of Future Crew. Alot of the other people were friends or at least other people from the demoscene.

The attitude was very different everyone seem to have the same idea that if one of the companies made it big, then they would all make it in some way. They also had very low burn rates, Bitboys only used around two million over five or six years, which when production cost for a test chip (which they made more than one) can be in the $100,000, is very good. They used cheap simple office without any fancy furniture, took good but not huge salaries, very different to the dotcom silicon valley big office, lots of money approach. All very low key, very little management. Assembly acted as the big yearly event where everyone caught up. Lots of the other guys played Salibandy each week with other companies and also out drinking on the weekends, all very sociable. Finland also great for cheap places to live with fast broadband for compared to the UK very cheap prices and such a good public transport system you really did not need a car. It had a real buzz about the place.

More on Startups in UK and Bristol

Just is mostly just a brain dump of some extra bits and bob that I thought of after a big thread about startups in Bristol and the UK this afternoon.

In a lot of way the Uk seems to be better at being the best in a niche not in the mass market. If you take cars as an example, lots of racing cars are developed here or use British staff, Prodrive in rallying and endurance racing and Mclaren in F1, plus all the various small sports car people, Lotus and TVR.

Should we in Bristol, the UK or elsewhere be aiming to create a few blockbuster startups to sell out to some large company a few years down the line or instead working to produce an good environment for a much larger number of smaller lower key businesses. Having a nice, say 5 to 10 person business. That gives everyone a nice lifestyle good work life balance as the goal. With maybe the chance one of these smaller companies does end up going huge.

I guess this is the movie industry model, the big studios with the blockbusters, only a few of which pay off vs. the indie films which cost less, so need to sell less tickets/DVD/downloads to make a profit.

If you only define success as making million of pounds then you have the blockbuster high risk route, but if you define success as being paid decent money to work on interesting problems then you many be happier taking a lower risk route with still the chance of the millions and a profile that seem a better fit for what the Uk is good at.

Anyway this is just a quick brain dump of what popped into my head after the twitter thread, I’m sure I’ll have more thought in the future and probably end up changing my mind.

Bristol and Startups

This is just an archived version of a thread on twitter a few people had about startups in the UK and Bristol in particular. This mostly is so I have an easy to link to version for a braindump of some more links and thought on the subject.

johnbradford: Giant Were-Rabbit to convince commuters to set up business in the South West *sigh* marketing gone mad?

t1mmyb: @johnbradford there’s a bigger issue of London-centricity throughout politics and business that a marketing gimmick won’t solve

Z303: @t1mmyb @johnbradford Reminded me of a post by Tom Coates that in part asked why Bristol did not have more startups

t1mmyb: @Z303 😕 at comment by kawt “Bristol thinks too much of itself and is too arrogant to survive in a business that changes hour by hour.”

paparatti: @Z303 – hasn’t the UK only really just started producing great start ups now? And those were in London.

johnbradford: @t1mmyb not sure I’d agree with kawt on that – if anything Bristol needs be a bit more self-promoting and joined up

Z303: @t1mmyb Just read it, Bristol being right wing! most people I meet are left wing or centrist, maybe if I moved in different circles

Z303 @paparatti I guess the big one is, Someone had a good post about how the BBC should be helping like it did with the BBC Micro

mikedunn: @paparatti Hence I’m always surprised Twitter hasn’t taken off more in the UK- we’ve been obesessed with our mobiles for years here.

paparatti: @Z303 – re: right wing, I think it’s a 50/50 split between racist bigots and hippies in this city.

johnbradford: have to agree with @z303 perhaps if we were *more* right wing and bolshi we’d have more Valley style start-ups 🙂

johnbradford: or at least commercially minded rather than hippy lifestyle – commercial hippies?

Z303: @paparatti That would explain why we get strange mixes

Z303: @johnbradford Should have used quotes, I was saying that find kawt’s comment does not ring true of the people I know here

Z303: @johnbradford And being bolshi is nothing to do with being left or right wing, more to believing in something

johnbradford: @z303 do you find Brizzol folks collaborative or commercially driven enough (ignoring political leanings) to start-up business rather than lifestyles?

johnbradford: @Z303 I know some very cool and creative Bristol companies but they’re aren’t putting themselves on the growth curve you see in the US

Z303: @johnbradford commercial but things like fairtrade/green issues being a larger driver

johnbradford: @Z303 FrankWater being a great example I guess

Z303: @johnbradford Another thought UK has always been better a small bespoke places, more 37 signals than yahoo!

samharding: @johnbradford that’s bonkers

johnbradford: @Z303 true, but can you build a bespoke service that scales? Ning? Mobile apps?

johnbradford: It’ll be interesting to see if the Pervasive Studio delivers anything scalable/sustainable

Z303: @johnbradford perhaps niche would have been a better word, I was also thinking about race car vs. road cars, lots of F1 work is UK based