The cautionary note comes from Jeb Buckler, the founder and chief executive of Startup Giants plc, which invests in 60 tech and manufacturing ventures, as wannabe self-starters look to 2022 to forge their commercial destiny.
“Clearly the appetite to go it alone is strong here in the UK – March 2021 recorded the creation of more new businesses in any other month since records began in 1989, with nearly 726,000 start-ups overall in 2020 despite or because of the labour market disruption caused by the pandemic.
“We are a nation of entrepreneurs – but our digital age of instant gratification has created a sense of entitlement where some founders expect unrealistic valuations and riches with little input and graft.
“An abundance of online apps has also made it easier for new enterprises, compared to the Noughties when entrepreneurs were very much techie, with software developers beavering away for months at an end before seeing light.
“In some ways you can see how the sense of entitlement has evolved – a number of social media influencers are making extraordinary amounts of money and people might watch Dragons’ Den or The Apprentice and think that their own idea can be easily scaled up into the next Deliveroo or Depop.
“The harsh reality is that starting up a business is tough going and it may be years before the founders earn a decent salary, make a profit or sell to an interested party, if at all.
“Business angels want to see entrepreneurs with skin in the game. What is it they are actually doing? If they have just done a pitch deck [a presentation] and getting free money off some public fund, what is it they are actually doing?
“The angel wants to see them work and sweat – that’s why it’s called sweat equity. Where is the sweat? How do you make sure you, as an investor, are not putting your money into a deal where the entrepreneur will flip-flop and walk off and do another business as soon as it gets hard?
“As an entrepreneur, you need to have evidence that there is a demand for that particular business and that he or she can steer the business through problems because there will be problems – we all do in business. It’s about personal sacrifices and attitude. A sense of entitlement will put investors off from the go-get.”
Startup Giants, with offices in Covent Garden, London, and Poole, Dorset, supports entrepreneurs with financial acumen to bring their ideas to life and apply for further investment in the UK.
The company sifts through thousands of applications each year; only a few make it through the selection process to receive vital investment.
Latest founders being nurtured by Startup Giants include London-based hardware start-up Sküma, which has launched a compact countertop water system for households looking for personalised mineral water.
Over a three-year period, founders benefit from investment, grants, IP protection, R&D tax credits, mentoring, strategy, marketing, product development and other business support.
Startup Giants was founded in 2015 by Jeb, 57, who went self-employed at the age of 22, carving out a successful international consultancy career in data-led software processes.
Startup Giants is registered as a small UK alternative investment fund manager by the Financial Conduct Authority and listed on the stock exchange (NEX Exchange Growth Market in London) to provide a more regulated environment for investors; private investors can also participate in funding rounds via the company’s syndicate.