Start Up Britain officially launched this morning and it has been the top trending topic on Twitter for the UK most of today.
Startup Britain has been founded by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs. It’s endorsed by government but not in any way funded or owned by them.
As with anything that gets a lot of attention, some cynics have been having a snipe at it and pointing out its flaws. This is an idea that has gone from conception to launch in a matter of weeks. So it’s not perfect – what is? – and there are some parts of it that could have been done better. But as good entrepreneurs know, it’s better to get something out to market now rather than wait to perfect it. If this was being done by the public sector it would have been over a year in the making and still not be perfect.
There’s nothing wrong with constructive criticism, or even just not buying in to the concept. But there are a couple of points I felt compelled to pick up on.
Some of the moaning had been about there being too many “business celebs” involved and too much Government (David Cameron was there to give a talk, along with George Osborne and Vince Cable). Errm, why do you think they’ve managed to garner so much media coverage? If you were kicking off something like this and could get government and dragons at the launch, are you telling me you wouldn’t?
The fact that those behind the initiative have pulled this together so quickly and got so many high-profile people involved bodes well for the future of the project.
But the stupidest criticism I’ve heard of it so far is from people that have complained that others will benefit financially from it. There are dozens of companies offering discounts etc and being promoted on the site, so yes, they’ll earn from it.
Ironically, when I said on Twtter:
Resisting tweeting the critics to ask what they’ve done instead (answer: nothing). Easy to snipe from the sidelines #startupbritain
one of the more active keyboard warriors that has been slagging it off today responded by linking to his ‘enterprise’ event that costs £120 a ticket!
Yes, companies and individuals may do well from their involvement and support of Startup Britain. Some directly by shifting more product, and many more indirectly. For example members of The Supper Club (founded by Startup Britain co-founder, Duncan Cheatle) are between them pledging 1,000 hours of mentoring to new start-ups. (disclaimer: I’m a member and have pledged some of my time).
Whether directly or indirectly, the same concept is at work here: enlightened self-interest. As per Wikipedia, it’s the concept that people will do well by doing good. Some sort of rationalised version of karma I guess.
If startups benefit by getting discounts and advice they otherwise wouldn’t have got, so what if someone makes a few quid in the process?
If you’ve got an aversion to seeing people making money then perhaps being an entrepreneur isn’t for you.