March issue editorial by James Mawson, editor in chief, Global Corporate Venturing
The Financial Times last month identified the fastest-growing companies from their accounts, and it was an honour for Mawsonia, the publishing company behind Global Corporate Venturing and Global University Venturing, to be among the top 1,000 scale-ups out of the 24.5 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Europe.
Consistent gazelle-like growth for nearly a decade is really hard to achieve, so thank you to the team – both current and former colleagues – chairman Dominic Riley and our growth equity investors led by non-executive director Simon Leefe, co-founder of 24 Haymarket, who backed our vision five years ago and have helped shape our company.
But the main thanks are to the customers and network supporting GCV and GUV, and so the realities of the work remain the same – staying focused on the strategy of serving our customers. We are nothing without the corporations, VCs, governments, universities, angels and others in the innovation capital ecosystem.
But while having customers from more than 500 of the world’s largest public and private corporations is an immense honour, it is interesting to compare the differing corporate purchase systems against their corporate venturing programs’ focus on serving entrepreneurs’ five primary needs – capital, customers, product development, hiring and an exit.
While there has been only a handful of bad debts, the difference in purchasing processes and time to payment remains extreme.
There are the forever-in-my-heart reach-outs by CVCs who say they have a bit of budget left to use and perhaps there are some ideas we can develop, and the heads of unit that can get the $20bn-revenue elephant to dance within days of a decision and agree terms and payment. But there are also the nine months to a year of chasing by finance for other groups, or those that change their 400-page purchase order form every three months seemingly to weed SMEs from their roster.
Sam Altman, CEO of US-based accelerator Y Combinator, in an interview late last month with Tyler Cowen, said: “Years ago I wrote a little program to look at this, like how quickly our best founder – the founders that run billion-plus companies – answer my emails versus our bad founders. I don’t remember the exact data, but it was mind-blowingly different. It was a difference of minutes versus days on average response times.” A variation for CVCs is – how quickly do you pay your SME suppliers and do you work with any of your portfolio?
As we prepare for the GCV Symposium and Powerlist 2019 awards on May 22-23, at London’s County Hall and the UK’s Palace of Westminster respectively, we are conducting a 360-degree review of the industry.
As well as collecting C-suite nominations of their corporate venturing unit’s importance, we launched our GCV Founders Survey and we need your help – we are asking you to leverage your network. Please send this survey link to all your portfolio companies and ask them to take 10 minutes to complete it – anonymity is guaranteed:
We encourage you to send this survey link to all your investees – past and present, active and exited, promising and not so promising, so that we can get a broader and higher-quality feedback from all perspectives. Help us give you more insights by considering the startup founders’ points of view.
Selected members of the GCV Leadership Society are also bringing some of their portfolio companies to the GCV Symposium to meet their corporate peers, leverage the value to portfolio companies and provide case studies on how they support the world’s leading entrepreneurs. This in-real-life network complements the GCV Connect software platform to help corporate venturers to share dealflow and collaborate in a secure, private environment – only corporate venturers will be able to access the platform.
This is all part of the GCV Leadership Society’s mission to help bridge the different strengths and ambitions of investors across industry sectors, geography, structure and their returns – strategic and financial.
Over the decade since quitting my previous job, it has been a humbling journey listening to and working with some of the smartest minds in the world, learning so much about the portfolio companies delivering so much value to corporate venturing parents and realising their visions. So thank you – it has been a privilege to watch the future unfold.