When Net-a-Porter launched in 2000, Natalie Massenet, the company’s inspiring founder, faced considerable scepticism about the very premise of her new venture. Why would women ever buy expensive clothing online? Wasn’t the internet the realm of mass market, cheap goods—the antithesis of what exclusive brands like Louboutin and Chloe stood for?
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I recall three things about my first visit to the Socialbakers team in Prague, in the autumn of 2010. The first was the size of their office: they were working in a cramped cubby-hole in the loft of a six storey building, shivering through the winter.
When Guido and Kyle were looking for a name for their newly founded company, they were struggling to come up with something that captured the breadth of their vision for what they foresaw as the future of the networking business. They could have found another randomly-generated five or six letter Latin-sounding name, but that didn’t seem to do the vision or the company justice.
This month Gianni is retiring. We have been working together for almost 10 years. Gianni is a top level immunologist, with several claims to fame in his career: former head of biology at Human Genome Science and, before that, head of the cytokine and monoclonal antibody groups at Roche, where he also headed the interferon gamma group. He brought to the clinic the first ever drug from genomics research (MPF1). Finally, he's a relentless tailor of so many academic collaborations and he was responsible for extramural research at Merck Serono, his last corporate job. Then, for the last 10 years Gianni has been active in venture capital, having joined our Geneva office, as in house scientific advisor.
The ‘campaign’ to kickstart the London tech IPO market has kicked off. The blog posts that Neil Rimer and I both published have attracted a lot of press attention. The engagement we’ve had with No10 and the LSE should result in some small but important regulatory changes that should be seen as important steps towards making London a major hub for tech IPOs.
Yesterday, over 130 people, largely drawn from Cambridge, London and Oxford, attended the first ever ‘Playground’ event, aimed squarely at young academics thinking about biotech start-ups. We figured the best way to shine a spotlight on this world was to have five experienced entrepreneurs talk about how they got into the business and how they’ve dealt with the ups and downs along the way. This turned out to be a good call!
He turned 46 years old last week and at the end of 2011 he chose to leave a coveted academic position as Principal Investigator in the Department of Medicine at Cambridge University (UK). Really? Has he done that? Is this guy crazy? Even his beloved mum told him before prematurely passing away last year: "How can you be possibly do that, dear? What is more exciting than being faculty at Cambridge University?" True. It was tough, but he wanted to go. David Grainger had to go because he needed to follow his logic.
When Ursheet and Guru started their venture, StorSimple, in the summer of 2009, it wasn't always so obvious that they would be the winners in Cloud Storage market. In fact, it wasn't entirely clear that there was a market for cloud-integrated enterprise storage. Certainly, the segment was hyped. With the advent of Amazon S3 and the prospect of other entries into the cloud storage provider business, it seemed like it was a terrific idea to leverage the scale of these clouds for the enterprise market. But, there were many roadblocks ahead: everything from realizing a credible technical solution to overcoming a plethora of competitors.
Here at Index, our conference rooms often play host to ardent debates. Robust discourse over where we should invest is an ingrained part of our culture. But when it comes to the fundamental issues that allow us to act on our mission of promoting the entrepreneurial ecosystem, we are generally in violent agreement. Over the last few months, we have mobilised around one major issue: to open the London IPO market and allow homegrown companies to realize their full potential.
In his book, The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail, Clay Christensen authored one of the most influential thought pieces to impact the technology community. His core thesis was the successive generations of technology coming from the low-end market niches disrupt mainstream market leader as they attack incumbent products by improving the low-end technology to subsume the price/performance of the mainstream products.