In an environment where start ups and scale ups are encouraged to think out of the box and break the rules, compliance and regulation issues can be a hard burden to face. Silicon Valley comes to the UK (SVC2UK) spoke to Penningtons Manches corporate partner James Klein about the current demands on scale up companies and how they can tackle them.
SVC2UK is a not-for profit programme of industry supported events led by business leaders, investors and entrepreneurs and run by volunteers. It is designed to improve the environment for entrepreneurship in both the UK and Europe and to drive sustainable growth by helping promising businesses, inspiring students, and fostering relationships with Silicon Valley and Europe. As a leading technology-focused law firm, Penningtons Manches is a corporate partner of SVC2UK and James will be a mentor at its CEO Summit taking place at the London Stock Exchange on 6 November 2015.
HAVING PARTNERED WITH SVC2UK FOR THREE YEARS NOW, WHAT CHANGES HAVE YOU OBSERVED?
SVC2UK has changed in nature over the last few years and has “grown up” somewhat in what it stands for. The companies which attend now are true “scale ups” rather than senior “start ups” with an even greater emphasis on global expansion/new markets than in previous years. Senior management seem more sophisticated and able to deal with the challenges of growing their workforce as well as selecting the right roles for the right people.
WHAT ARE THE KEY CHALLENGES SCALE UP COMPANIES ARE FACING IN THE UK, IN YOUR OPINION?
From my perspective, as a service provider, I hear of two common hurdles to expansion – the first is access to mentors/experts who can advise on “what to do next”. Too many founders/CEOs lack confidence when making decisions as they do not have those around them who have done it before/experienced it before. Knowing in advance what the challenges are and how to face them is the best preparation. The second common hurdle is access to talent – not just to talent generally but the right talent. This point goes hand in hand with the point above – it’s knowing who the right people are for the growth of the company and then finding those individuals.
HOW DO YOU HELP SCALE UP COMPANIES GROW AND WHAT ARE YOUR PROJECTIONS FOR INDUSTRY GROWTH?
We help scale up companies grow by making frequent introductions for them to customers, suppliers, distributors and investors in particular through our presence/networks in California.
WHAT IS ONE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU WOULD LIKE TO GIVE TO SCALE UP COMPANIES PARTICIPATING IN THE CEO SUMMIT THIS YEAR?
Concentrate on key strengths – look at Evernote recently and the changes/decisions it has made in order to focus on core skills/products and the desire to become more agile/nimble. It is important to identify one or two key areas of strength rather than trying to grow too quickly for the sake of growth. Concentrate on one or two markets to get it right.