It was quite shocking to hear last week that the most difficult part of the start-up process for a UK high-tech start-up was getting an introduction to a venture capitalist. In the end the company had to pay to get an introduction.
In a world of incubators, national microelectronics initiatives, networking organisations and business stimulus bureaucracies, it is awful that a fledgling engineering company should have to pay for an introduction to a VC.
The company in question was Silistix, which produces software for the design and synthesis of customised on-chip interconnect using clock-less circuits.
If Silistix had been in Bristol or Cambridge would it have had this problem? Somehow one can’t see it. Someone close to the founders would know a VC, or would know someone who knows a VC.
Stan Boland, who has probably raised more VC money for a semiconductor start-up ($230m) than anyone else in the industry’s history, points out that that all four of Icera’s founders had existing links to VCs when they founded the company.
He reckons “It is important to either have an existing link to VCs so that they trust you, or to link into VCs via a trusted third party who has pre-vetted the pitch. This is very key. If you hit the wrong note on the first slide you’ve probably lost the pitch.”
Silistix’s problem seems to have stemmed from the fact that it’s based in Manchester.
Some of these governmental agencies entrusted with encouraging UK high-tech start-ups should go and get this situation in Manchester sorted.