A week later, as I reflect on the event, I had a number of observations that I thought were worth sharing:
1) Being a CEO is a tremendously lonely job
While having co-founders helps, CEOs hold a unique position in the companies they run and few can truly empathize with the resulting unique strains it creates. Having a few days to dis-engage from the day to day and share these challenges with peers is probably the most valuable thing CEOs get from being part of the Collective.
2) As companies get larger and older, focus shifts
As companies get larger and older, a lot of the focus shifts from markets and products towards scaling team and company building.
Work-life balance (for the whole team and the CEO), bridging cultural differences between satellite offices, hiring and supporting diverse teams and long-term incentivization were all hotly discussed topics.
3) CEOs are a curious bunch
You’d think everyone would talk about their own companies, but actually, many were equally obsessed about new technology – from CRISPR to neuroscience, blockchain to AI, fake news to bio-hacking.
4) Geographical approach is always changing
While the old ‘how to move to the US’ chestnut was, yet again, a popular topic of discussion there are a vocal minority of our portfolio who are heading East, to Asia for funding, large markets and even teams. This is a trend I want to monitor and measure over the next few years.
5) Trends always emerge
Asking people where their angel investments are going and areas they think look exciting for the next few years, a number of clear trends emerged — the overlap between health and computing, the continuing mobile-first revolution in consumer services, growth in real IOT and edge-computing, AI-powered enterprise software are probably all areas where I expect to see new companies and CEOs next time we hold the Collective.
6) We are going to start extending the Collective beyond CEOs
Being an employee in the Balderton portfolio already means that you likely work for one of the most exciting companies in Europe — we can build on that by making it easier for you to meet your peers across the group, in real life and online.
Last but not least, I need to say thank you to the CEOs on behalf of the entire partnership.
It is a pleasure and a privilege to be working with such an incredible group of individuals – each uniquely talented, each building an amazing organization, each pushing against the grain and making change happen. It’s inspiring to watch and we are all honoured to be a small part of the journey from a handful of people in a single room with a first product to large, multi-national organizations going public and providing employment to thousands.
We’re looking forward to seeing you all again already!