Why do I invest in start-ups? Because they are the job creators and innovators of the future. I am delighted to see so many entrepreneurs taking their start-ups to the next level and transforming the way we do business.
These businesses not only have the potential to become a vital source of employment, innovation and productivity to economies, they are a shining example to younger generations that creativity, passion and hard work can change the world for the better.
Virgin is a brand that appreciates the benefits smart disruption can bring. We love original products that make a positive difference to people’s lives and services that shake up markets. Investing in these exciting start-ups and giving them the funds they need to grow into companies that deliver on their disruptive potential is essential.
In healthcare, Doctor On Demand uses smartphones to connect patients with doctors. This allows people to see a doctor from the comfort of their home and gain immediate care without the need to spend money and time getting to a hospital. It also means that quality medical care is not limited to those that live within commuting distance of a hospital.
There are some other emerging technologies with huge potential. Educational businesses such as Codecademy are needed to enable young people to learn the skills necessary to enter the job market and develop their own new ideas. CreativeLive, an online learning platform that broadcasts live classes to an international audience, is offering a whole new way of democratising education.
3D printing’s ability to reduce our reliance on transportation is another interesting area, as are drones companies like 3D Robotics being used to film aerial footage (see video below) or even stop poaching. Humin, a new contacts platform, ensures I never forget a name. As I travel, the most important people to me in that location surface to the top. When I meet someone new, Humin identifies all the people we have in common and will remember the context of that interaction. It’s a great way of remembering and building meaningful relationships, as is the photo-sharing and messaging app Path.
Silicon Valley has had some enormous success stories over the years and I would like to see European start-up hubs further their support of the brightest and most ambitious founders. American groups have attracted more than five times the investment from venture capitalists this year than in European deals ($41 billion compared to $8 billion).
London, in particular, has a real opportunity to match Silicon Valley’s prowess. One way we can support this is by increasing our appetite for early-stage investments and creating a fantastic environment for start-ups to thrive in. I am delighted to be an investor in Mosaic Ventures, a new Silicon Valley-style fund that is willing to take a chance on aspirational tech founders. Founded by former Virgin colleague Toby Coppel and two other experienced tech investors - I'm sure it will do well.