Over the last few years the UK tech sector has whetted strong investor appetite and has attracted all kinds of service providers who want to seize a piece of the pie from the booming community.
The Silicon Valley-based tech campus RocketSpacehas housed unicorns like Uber, Spotify, Hootsuite and Supercell and recognises now as the right time to give further momentum to British tech growth by opening a ‘state-of-the-art’ campus in London.
Duncan Logan, Founder & CEO of RocketSpace
I met with Duncan Logan, the CEO and Founder of RocketSpace, at their vibrant 7-floor building in the heart of San Francisco to learn more about RocketSpace’s approach to breeding high-growth start-ups.
A high-growth start-up magnet
In January 2011, when RocketSpace opened its doors, the start-up environment was dominated by a few incubators - who typically support young start-ups during their early months or years - and providers of co-working spaces. “I didn’t want to be either of them. I wanted to build an incredible ecosystem for tech start-ups, who have proven ideas and strive toward high growth”, Duncan explains.
His vision is unique and the simple but clever model attracts the best companies from Silicon Valley and worldwide. “I tested the idea of being a different kind of accelerator for tech start-ups exclusively before I opened RocketSpace. The demand of working in a pure tech environment turned out to be strong”, says Duncan. “But we also recognised a different need coming from young tech companies, such as more flexible leasing contracts, for example”. RocketSpace provides an environment where ambitious people are hugely influenced by other members who often come out of amazing companies and transfer their mentality.
[Rocketspace is like Harvard for tech. The real secret is to attract the best start-ups to come and work with us. And obviously it is successful start-ups that attract others]
The nature of high-growth start-ups
Working with the most successful companies, Duncan has observed 3 qualities highly successful start-ups have in common:
- Incredibly good market fit: “You can’t sell your way to 1B dollars with a crappy product but a good sales team. Nevertheless, taking a product to market is essential to every company and having a relentless sales process and coaching mentality in place is hugely beneficial for growth.”
- Exceptional operational excellence: “When a company is growing at hundreds, maybe thousands of percent per year you need to be working on the business as much as in the business. Everything falls apart if you don’t answer your customer service calls, or if you can’t keep up with proposals or you can’t hire quality people. Unicorn companies quickly develop this operational excellence that allows them to scale.”
- Intensely focused on recruiting top talent: “They have the ethos that there is no space for a B player. The interview process to ensure that new hires are a good cultural fit is intensive.”
What corporates can learn from start-ups
One area where RocketSpace has unique strength is linking start-ups with a wide variety of corporations. Big companies need to be innovative, but they often struggle to keep up with the high pace of innovation change. RocketSpace provides a consulting service to all these corporations; working with them on where they need to be innovative, what new products and services they need to develop. “We help them to use start-ups as their innovation pipeline”, Duncan explains further. He notices a good symbiotic relationship between young companies, who want to scale, and big corporations who want to get new relevant, interesting services to put in front of their customers. It’s 100+ corporate clients have included Axel-Springer, Lufthansa Cargo, Schneider Electric and Tata Communications.
Expansion strategy brings RocketSpace to London
Marking the company’s first overseas location, its London site will initially give up to 1,500 entrepreneurs access to office space, WiFi, collaborative workspaces, event venues, and workshops and roundtable events. It will accept start-up teams ranging in size from one employee to 100. Duncan comments: “It’s important to us to add value to the ecosystem. When we look to Europe, the UK is the place where we can do something meaningful together with tech entrepreneurs who are creating some of the most disruptive technologies of the future.”
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