The founders of Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Hewlett Packard and even Disney ALL got started in a garage. This is not the only common thread they share as they struggled through the early stages as disruptors; all of these companies started with little investment capital and small physical space.
Wikipedia’s definition of a start-up: “An entrepreneurial venture which is typically a newly emerged, fast-growing business that aims to meet a marketplace need by developing or offering an innovative product, process or service.”
In the late 1990s, some of the billion dollar internet-based companies were founded during the dot-com bubble. These are now household names, and in the news last month Apple (which nearly became bankrupt in the 1990s) became a trillion-dollar company hitting a market capitalisation that is bigger than the GDP’s in all but 15 countries. And how did they get started? In a garage. Any entrepreneur will tell you the journey is never stable, the product will need constant reinvention, failure needs to be overcome swiftly, money will be scarce, but hard work and unwavering dedication can lead to huge success as we know today.
Maintaining and ensuring the survival of start-ups is essential even as it becomes harder to innovate before being swallowed up by the rulers of the tech universe. Start-ups emerged as thought leaders in the business world changing office culture in an endless number of positive ways including social responsibility in their business models, diversity and empowerment, project and results driven work as a few examples of the changes being adopted. Another boom for entrepreneurship referred to as the ‘Gig Economy’ is freelance or on-demand work which is creating a huge impact on small businesses. In the US alone there has been a 42% rise as the flexibility for start-ups to sub contract makes it financially more sensible at the same time enabling the hiring of talent for individual business needs. A report by Lawrence Katz of Harvard and Alan Krueger at Princeton established that in the past decade the alternative work category increased the net job growth by 94% due to the rise of contracting freelance work.
Nowadays with the tech giants ruling the industry most start-ups are built for sale not scale but there are some exceptions Airbnb, Uber, Slack and Revolut are a handful of examples that have survived and become giants in their own right. There is little opportunity to compete on their own so investors and start-ups have started to explore new cyber spaces thus the boom for decentralised technologies. Today investor and Venture Capital interest has shifted toward DLT, blockchain, crypto-currencies and the alternative for start-ups to raise capital ICO’s. But the giants are starting to pay more attention. Daily we hear news of the adoption of these technologies of those who at first criticised and even banned them, including Governments. Rumour has it Facebook wants to buy Coinbase, a cryptocurrency firm. This is an important development for Gibraltar’s DLT regulatory framework as companies seek out the jurisdictions that can provide the legal infrastructure including banking as well as an understanding of the industry.
And they are truly emerging locally with well-known blockchain investors and accelerators like Coinsilium Group becoming household names to our legal, IT, finance, insurance and other services industries also bringing with them some of their emerging start-ups. One of the companies that has made a swift move to accommodate the needs of this emerging new business stream is Specifix. In 2017 they moved to the World Trade Center, the timing of the move was perfect and has enabled the business to continue its growth in Gibraltar, offering a complete range of IT Services including IT infrastructure and development resources, in particular for Blockchain projects. Already they have worked with many of the leading businesses such as Holiday Inn Express, for example, but also further afield working with clients such as Sainsbury’s, Barclays Bank and BUPA developing complete software solutions that are accessed by millions of users each year as they continue to build an exceptional reputation.
As we approach the announcement by the GFSC of at least seven DLT licenses, the applications keep coming. One of those applicants has been quoted by Forbes as “One start-up that is perfectly positioned to capitalise the migration of financial services from the institutional world to the world of crypto assets is London-based Lendingblock.” In April 2018 they successfully completed their ICO sale raising ten million through institutional and private investors. “We are taking a proactive approach towards regulation by engaging and working with global regulators and policymakers to encourage measures designed to protect consumers and investors. We are also working to hold ourselves accountable to governance policies and procedures for financial services and have applied the DLT license in Gibraltar as a first measure. We are also establishing a code of conduct which allows us to adhere to any available best practices.”
As we see the local start-up industry surge, even other industries are making use of the new tech revolution. Ezylet.com set up its Gibraltar base in 2013 and raised capital through an Initial Public Offering (IPO). One of their new products is the rent guarantor service they provide ideal for local students looking to move to UK. They recently entered into a partnership with Revolut, the leading pre-loaded contactless payment card now processing £1.29bn through the platform each month.
Throughout our series, Startup Grind Gibraltar founders and CEO’s of different lucrative companies around the world all having raised capital in the millions share their experiences at the “Fireside Chat” and one message truly resonates. Becoming successful depends on determination, faith, and hard work. No matter where you start your business, or how much money you originally put into it, passion, commitment, and courage are often all you need to make your company succeed.
For more on our monthly events visit: www.startupgrind.com/gibraltar.
BY DENISE MATTHEWS