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Steve's ITK: How times have changed


Steve's ITK

March 12 · Issue #17 · View online
Steve's In The Know: Everything I published recently, commentary you won't find elsewhere, write-ups of events I attended or spoke at, and industry rumours.

Entrepreneur First's 7th London demo day
Opening thought: The Magic Pony effect
The big event this week was company builder and early-stage investor Entrepreneur First’s latest demo day in London, which saw 18 newly outed startups pitch their wares onstage to investors, press and other actors in the European tech scene.
Once again, the calibre of founders and startup ideas was high (see my top picks here), and, going by the spew of congratulatory tweets and other backchannel noise, you could almost sense VCs in the audience getting out their cheque books there and then.
One source tells me that pre-money valuations on the day were rumoured to be in the range of £2-4 million, something he dubbed the ‘Magic Pony effect’ in reference to EF’s only notable exit to date, which saw the 1-year-old startup sold to Twitter for a reported $150 million
A few years after Alice Bentinck and Matt Clifford began EF, I distinctly remember asking one high profile VC what they thought of the 'pre-team, pre-idea’ concept, which sees EF recruit the best technical or domain talent in Europe to join its six-month program where they form teams and in turn found startups.
Their reply: 'I absolutely love what they are doing, but I’m not sure they’ll ever make any money’.
How times have changed.
Bonus: Magic Pony Technology isn’t actually EF’s only decent exit. Two companies from the first cohort, Represent and Avocarrot, have also since been acquired for what I understand to be around $120 million in total.
The kicker? That was before Entrepreneur First insisted on taking equity.
Things I wrote this week
Boston-based Localytics, a mobile engagement platform, acquires Berlin’s Tapglue
GeoPost acquires delivery startup Stuart
How the M14 Industries Dragons’ Den deal collapsed
Home care marketplace HomeTouch quietly picks up backing from 500 Startups, launches UK-wide
Meet the startups that just pitched at EF’s 7th Demo Day in London (and our top picks)
Closing thought: That's progress
One thing Entrepreneur First hasn’t always been so good at is recruiting female founders to its programme.
That’s not unique to EF, of course, but was compounded by its original focus on so-called deep technical talent coming out of academia, meaning that it was – and still is, more broadly – competing with Google’s deep pockets, which is also keen to recruit more female engineers and scientists who are in short supply.
In other words, it’s the pipeline, stupid!
However, things are definitely improving. At this week’s demo day, Alice Bentinck, co-founder of Entrepreneur First, revealed that cohort seven sees a third of teams comprising female founders.
That’s also something EF is addressing in the longer term via its sister organisation Code First: Girls, of which I’m a huge fan.
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Till next time,
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