We’re delighted to bring you part two of our interview with Jennifer Arcuri, @ , founder of London Innotech summit, and major cheerleader for the London startup and tech scene. If you missed part 1 of this interview you can read it here.
We were talking about coding in Dublin, so we’ll pick up at that point …
Children here in Dublin now do scratch (an MIT visual version of Java) in primary schools, which they love, hopefully that that leads them into staying with it. Is it similar in the schools in London also?
Yes. That’s awesome. Excited for children in Dublin about that!
Are you seeing any trends in the type of start ups launching in London and looking for investment?
In London particularly there is a trend for FinTech Technology. MedTech , life sciences and biotech are also big in London and UK- particularly between the triangle sister cities of Oxford, Cambridge and London. For the UK as a whole, I see wearable tech as a big trend.
Eventually you will see M & A like activity with these startups. We wont need 100 different “task” platforms, but as you will see the market start to mature and evolve, these startups will either fold into each other or be acquired by a larger company. First to market will always take the dominate position so I am looking forward to seeing which one of the UK startups will “pop” first… I got some ideas, but don’t want to say as of yet..?
What are you currently involved in?
I am currently working on a piece of new video tech called Playbox Ltd. CrtL F for Video. Playbox Ltd is a video indexing algorithm for audio and visual summarization. Playbox creates the “summly like” effect of watching shortened content online and to create the home for the video to live so that users are able to come back and “snack” on it later.
Playbox essentially meta tags and transcribe video to text. It was born out of the need to distribute content online to help build the brand and visibility of Innotech’s tech policy discussions. I watched the way we would distribute content online from my events, one tiny specific sector of content—and noticed trends in the way users would watch and share Innotech content.
What did you say Boris ?
People like things in “snackable” format. The more we put our policy discussions into “bits” in form of videos online, the more people liked them. And then the ability to search for key words or phrases within that talk became another important element.
Furthermore, there is a growing demand for tools that help condense videos into highlighted packages, to make content quicker and easier to consume. By creating Playbox Ltd as a contextualizing tool, we are then able to take all this digital content online and make it relevant, searchable as a datable, and break it into “playbits” that are easier for users to consume and share.
Playbox is going to be the focus for 2015 as its now my piece of scalable tech to build in the UK. Innotech Live has been awesome, but running events is extremely time consuming and full of effort. Playbox is a piece of tech that I know will be a game changer for national broadcasters and anyone with online video content. So stay tuned for something great. ?
There is a big debate about whether Irish startups are scaling well enough to become global players? Is there anything you think they could be doing better / differently?
Irish startups have a lot of advantages being in Dublin. The more they have access to the quality talent that is brought in from the corporates, the better they will scale. Not to mention the access to capital and the tax breaks! It’s a safe haven for companies to invest!
The best piece of advice I would tell Irish startups is to learn from the American counterparts that have come and set up shop in their city. Use their experience, their knowledge and scaling ability to then direct efforts to Irish companies.
We’re starting to see some interesting tech businesses grow out of Dublin. Do they need to move to California, or can they continue to grow from Dublin / and or London?
Yes absolutely you need to move to USA as a market to trade – and yes, California is one of the best places to start…. but the old adage of only being able to scale in California, will soon change in the next 3-5 years. I don’t think the Americans realize how serious the rest of the world is focusing on entrepreneurship and what that means to talent moving into the valley.
There is too much going on, with a focus from very “switched on” digital governments around the world; the incentives to move to America wont be as grand as they once were. Therefore, what I am really saying is– come to London.?
Do you think there is scope for a Web Summit style event in London?
Hmmm… this is a hard question for me to answer considering that I also have hosted my own series of events. I never succeeded at producing a big event such as a Web Summit like Paddy. What he does is amazing and far too trendy for me. Innotech is a more focused, intimate setting for government to come meet entrepreneurs and innovators. We discuss topics around immigration, digital skills, privacy, listing on the LSE, education policy, etc… Innotech is not at all as cool as Web Summit is.
A few years ago, there was Web Summit and Le Web in London as the “big” tech events here but I don’t think it worked as well. London has too much going on—it’s too busy, and the people are too busy. So if there is going to be “another tech event” it needs to be something different than what is offered here already or in a close neighboring city.
Hence why I tried to build Innotech with a specific tech policy focus. It was mildly successful and a lot of fun. Building an event series took a lot of work and was far too laboring for me to scale and/or continue as just an event. Moving forward we will probably continue to host tech policy discussions live on air via Google + Hangout On Air. It’s the video distribution aspect of my discussions that I was most fond of.
Work / life balance. How do you manage the time demands that brings, and also managing everything else?
I’m actually quite terrible at this. I am leaving to go to Sri Lanka for a two week yoga retreat to focus on this exact point. I do a lot of yoga and dance. Those are my two outlets. I also have a lot of great friends in London who are all entrepreneurs and who can help ground me whenever I feel like I am losing sight of what’s important.
Like Paul Allen, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffet, and a lot of other people who have had a number of successful ventures, they have turned to wide ranging initiatives to help humanity. What’s your own particular philosophy on this?
I have a very strong opinion on this, and my publicist will probably freak out at my frankness, but here it is:
It’s not enough to just exist in this world. It’s not ok to just accept things the way they are. If you are not working to make the world a better place, or to make someone else days better then go home.
I believe that building a company in the 21st century means building something with a conscious. We are tired of inheriting “crap”. Things that don’t work or solutions that were given up years ago.
21st century entrepreneurship is about building a business with a social mind; caring about other people and laying a foundation for suitability and growth. Anything else is just a waste of space.
Finally on a lighter note, London is a hot bed of Ultimate Frisbee. There is a line of argument that this sport provides a great breeding ground for entrepreneurs. Is it a sport you played?
I pole dance. I tap dance. I yoga. I ski and sail. Anything for a strong core! ? And while I love to play sports, I don’t really get competitive with them. I am the world’s worst ultimate Frisbee player and could never take it for anything other than a good laugh. But I love these kind of activities and appreciate the tech community being creatively fit . Anything fun and for a good giggle I am usually into.