You’ve seen them around. It seems there is a whole new spirit of entrepreneurial programs around and in particular around the funding process. Currently it is the turn of Innocent Drinks‘ Richard Reed on BBC Three with ‘Be Your Own Boss‘, first aired this week. In the first episode he spoke to several hundred entrepreneurs before whittling it down to just three of which he thought could make a fist of it. Ultimately he decided only one was worth funding this time round.
Now first of all, it would be wrong to say it isn’t good television. This is especially the case for those interested in startups. An intelligent individual striking down incredibly poor ideas will always have residual entertainment value (an idea of a cup with a bag at the end to throw up in as well as a ‘bubblegum’ chicken seller without any chicken to sample were particular highlights). Also, seeing the stories of good ideas, people and businesses is compelling and rewarding.
Secondly, it’s obviously great that Richard is committing a proportion of his fortune for funding for small businesses This is money well needed in this economy. Even more important than that, we at Up and Funding love the idea of encouraging entrepreneurial zeal in all its forms.
However, you’ve guessed it there is a but. Funding is put on an absolute pedestal as a goal unreachable to almost Everyone. The number of references to the ‘life changing moment’ of whether Richard would actually invest in a business he has shown interest in was staggering. Now obviously a funding round is a huge step on the ‘make or break’ front, but it’s not an insurmountable one. Earlier in the episode Richard mentions that ‘anyone can run a business with a good idea and hard work’. This seems counter intuitive to the elusive regard in which funding certain types of businesses is held. Working hard to get funding is just the same as working hard in any other capacity, just because of a certain competition, television show or by chance investor contact it isn’t the only chance an entrepreneur has got. If they’re not successful the first time round, an entrepreneur can refine, try again and eventually succeed with the drive and the idea. In addition, it makes exotic and unusual a process that hundreds of angel investors do every day, and with the rise of crowdfunding potentially thousands.
Maybe this is a slightly pedantic criticism and that on balance these shows do a service in inspiring people to take the plunge into a startup (and maybe even investors to take a punt). However, it is certainly worth bearing in mind the normalcy of the funding process, we shouldn’t try to hint at its exclusivity.