Your background briefly
I was part of the team that built JUST EAT in the UK from startup to $2.4Bn IPO. I have since worked for various other tech startups, both in an operational and advisory capacity. I am a mentor at Seedcamp and PiLabs in London and I have founded Peace Tech in Belfast.
Does it seem like a logical progression to what you do now?
I have been a judge at several high profile events such as Richard Branson’s Pitch to Rich and been a speaker/ panel member at many other startup events. I enjoy being around talented, hungry innovators and always happy to help.
— Digital Week (@DigitalWeekIRL) November 3, 2016
What inspired you to speak at the event?
I was born in Draperstown in County Derry, Northern Ireland which is a rural village with a similar population size as Skibbereen. I understand the challenges in rural areas to create employment and opportunities, with traditional industries declining. The great thing about digital industries is that it is no longer a prerequisite of success to be based in a capital city such as Dublin, London etc. It has been great to see the work Ludgate Hub are doing to put rural Ireland on the map and it is a pleasure to be invited to speak and share my experience at Digital Week.
What will you be talking about?
On Friday I will be speaking about Startup funding and on the Saturday will be discussing the sharing economy.
Looking back at your own startup experience what would you have done differently?
I look at myself like a startup, I am building, measuring and learning constantly. So the mistakes I have made along the way have always taught me big lessons and empowered me moving forwards. So I wouldn’t change anything.
London / Belfast / Global => how’s that going / what’s a typical day like?
A lot of what I do is done remotely, but I still travel extensively and have to be very structured and disciplined with my time. E.g I was in Paris recently for my anniversary and did the whole romance thing for the first two days but on the final day, my other half had to join me meeting startup CEO’s, who wanted to meet whilst I was in town.
With the current digital tools available to startups does it seem easier to get a business launched in 2016?
The barriers to entry to create a startup are very low, but to scale they are much higher. Startups are capital intensive and unfortunately we lag behind the states in Angel Investment and Venture Capital in Ireland and the UK, meaning many startups struggle to raise enough finance to grow and die prematurely. Which is why it is important to have a clear plan for both growth and unit economics simultaneously.
As a mentor what is the most common advice you give to startups?
Execute quickly, but constantly review what you are doing to ensure that the direction you are sprinting down is not the wrong way.
What are you working on now?
I am working with a few startups in an advisory/operational capacity, advising a few investment funds and I have also founded an initiative called Peace Tech in Northern Ireland, in short the goal of which is to help create a stronger tech and startup ecosystem and economy in NI to help create sustainable peace, as we know the peace process is now in its 22nd year and I believe that lasting peace goes hand in hand with a strong economy and tech startups will be a key to this.
Anything else to add / we should have asked?
I am looking forward to Digital Week and happy to connect to anyone who would like to meet when I am over.
— Henry Joseph-Grant (@speirin) May 18, 2016