By Joe Krancki
What does a 19th century French journalist have to do with 21st century entrepreneurs? Well, as Jean-Baptise Alphonse Karr penned in 1849 and the 100+ guests at our annual summer party proved … “the more things change, the more they stay the same”.
We held our last summer party on the eve of the Brexit referendum. Since then, the political landscape has been dramatically altered. However, despite remarkable election results in Britain, USA and France, the entrepreneurial spirit remains strong. Against a backdrop of heightened uncertainty, we gathered again on June 28th to keep the flywheel turning.
Our summer party has always been a celebration of our collaboration with London Business School to put on the TELL Series, which showcases entrepreneurial success stories to help inspire the next generation of entrepreneurial leaders. This year we proudly surpassed 100 talks since TELL’s founding 8 years ago.
A big thank you to the speakers who shared their journey this season:
– Paul Lindley, Founder of Ella’s Kitchen, the UK’s No 1 food brand with a global turnover of more than $100 million. Paul sold the company to Hain Celestial in 2013.
– Uri Levine, Co-founder of Waze. Google acquired the community-based traffic and navigation company in June 2013 for more than $1.1 billion.
– Charlie Bradshaw, Founder of Matrix, a £50+ million revenue product design and procurement company that creates and sources products for retailers and brands worldwide.
– Tony Wheeler, Co-founder of Lonely Planet. Started at a kitchen table in 1973, Lonely Planet is now a major publishing house having printed 54 million copies of its 600 travel guides in 17 languages.
– Andrew Ritchie, Founder of Brompton, which sells over 45,000 iconic folding bicycles a year in 45 countries.
– Sharan Pasricha, Founder of Ennismore, a global hospitality developer that acquired The Hoxton in 2012 and Gleneagles in 2015.
– Philip Blackwell, Principal of Blackwell Ventures. Now a serial entrepreneur and investor, Philip was CEO of Blackwell’s, the family-owned publishing and bookshop business, until its sale to John Wiley & Sons for £572 million in 2006.
– Demetrios Zoppos, Co-Founder and COO of Onefinestay, a platform for booking short-term stays in exclusive homes, which was acquired by Accor for €148 million in 2016.
– Scott Button, Co-Founder of Unruly, a video advertising technology company acquired by News Corp for £114 million in 2015.
– Zia Chishti, Founder of Align Technologies, the creator of Invisalign. Zia led Align from start-up to over a $1 billion valuation on the NASDAQ.
– Nigel Newton, Founder of Bloomsbury Publishing. Started in 1986 and listed on the LSE since 1994, Bloomsbury publishes 2,500 titles a year worldwide, including the Harry Potter series.
– Will Shu, Co-founder & CEO of Deliveroo, an online food delivery company with operations spread across eighty-four cities around the globe. Founded in 2013, Deliveroo has raised $475 million.
– Nick Leslau, Co-founder and Chairman of Prestbury Investments, which invests in and manages over £3bn of property assets. Nick is also a co-owner and director of Saracens Rugby Club.
For us, TELL is our way of planting seeds, many of which we may never see bloom. That’s OK. Our investment strategy is deliberately concentrated on software and tech-enabled businesses at the scale-up stage across Europe. We don’t place lots of bets. We don’t go wide. We focus. That way we maximise our ability to support our CEOs and see them through their journey. We recognise that doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and TELL is an example of how we embrace our broader role to help the ecosystem grow and thrive.
There will always be cycles. There will always be challenges. But, the trendline for innovation and entrepreneurship in Europe is strongly up and to the right. We are convinced the best days lie ahead. At Frog, we couldn’t be more excited to be a part of it.