I’ve often said – albeit, in slight jest – that writing about technology would be the best job in the world if it wasn’t for the writing.
The point I’m making is it is almost always fun (and sometimes even a privilege) talking to entrepreneurs and, more broadly, those who are building the future, but what people seem to forget is that the subsequent article that appears online doesn’t write itself. And when the words aren’t flowing – coupled with an inbox full of people ‘circling back’ wanting you to write about their thing – it’s hard.
I find it particularly challenging when I’m writing something more long-form instead of a pithy news piece. Not only does it (for me at least) require a very different mindset, workflow and level of creativity e.g. interviews, transcribing, finding the overall angle and story arc, but it also simply takes more time.
The only solution I’ve come up with is to try to ignore everything else and not put myself under too much pressure so that the creative neurones start firing, which is what I’ve mostly done over the last couple of weeks as I finally filed a soon-to-be-published 4,500+ word feature, including neglecting to write this newsletter!
The Hoff backs EF!
No, not that Hoff. The big news in London this week is that company builder Entrepreneur First has raised $12.4 million in new funding led by Silicon Valley’s Greylock Partners.
The fundraise – which is for operational costs and separate from EF’s investment fund – also sees Greylock partner and co-founder of LinkedIn Reid Hoffman join the EF board. I managed to secure an exclusive interview with Hoffman
prior to breaking the news, which was fun.
Despite never talking to Hoffman before, it was actually a pretty easy interview, given that I knew the subject really well – having covered EF and their unique “talent first” investment model almost right from the start – and that Hoffman undoubtedly knows his stuff.
This was followed at the end of the week by EF’s Demo Day for its eighth London cohort. I’ve waxed lyrical in this newsletter about EF before (see ’The Magic Pony effect
’), but what makes the company builder interesting is that it backs individuals “pre-team, pre-idea” — meaning that, as far as I understand, none of the companies pitching on Friday existed just six months ago.
Based on the quality of pitching startups (within the limitations of a 3-4 minute presentation), I remain bullish on EF, although I’d love to see more data and analysis on how well its portfolio is doing further up the funnel.
Here’s an excerpt
from my coverage of Demo Day:
To date, EF says it has helped more than 500 individuals on its program, who have built more than 100 companies with a total (mostly on paper) valuation exceeding $1 billion. As far as I know, it doesn’t break out additional numbers regarding the fundraising success rate of its startups or how many, if any, no longer exist to this day. Now into its sixth year, the program has been running long enough to make that data interesting and potentially quite meaningful, although it is also worth keeping in mind that EF has iterated and grown quite a lot since those humble cohort one and two beginnings.
We were promised flying cars and we got flying taxis? Ok, that’s not true quite yet, but Munich-based Lilium is at least attempting to build something along those lines. The in-development five-seater Lilium jet promises to be a new kind of all-electric vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) device that you’ll be able book almost as conveniently as an Uber.
The company recently raised $90 million in Series B funding, and in covering the news I managed to bag an exclusive english language interview
with the otherwise quite media shy Lilium co-founder and CEO, Daniel Wiegand.
Although a commercial launch is several years away, Wiegand told me that Lilium aims to be “the leading company enabling every person to take a jet instead of using the car and be five times faster to their destination… There’s going to be an app and from day one you’ll be able to book this airplane as a service”.
Who said European tech lacked ambition?