At the Consumer Electronics Show, which took place in Las Vegas this month, Gary Shapiro, the president of the Consumer Technology Association, which represents nearly 2,500 tech companies, and also runs CES, called out the UK government for not doing enough to back British startups.
But should entrepreneurs have to rely on government support when there are so many opportunities for forward thinking founders? Asks Momondo’s Hugo Burge in a recent blog post.
And he should know – as well as leading the buyout of CheapFlights, his family are amongst the richest in the UK.
“I believe the answer should be an emphatic: no”, says Burge. “What are we expecting them to do exactly? Host fancy drinks events?
Entrepreneurialism is all about self-sufficiency, he argues, and spending company money on an event or business trip “can focus the mind on making the most of it.”
Great entrepreneurs are “proactive”, and ought to be “wholeheartedly invested in their company”, he goes on.
But that is not to say the government should do nothing; Burge lists “tax support to reward entrepreneurs”, “investment reliefs to encourage bolder investments, and being “committed to creating conditions which allow entrepreneurs to set-up and grow in the UK and abroad” as ways in which HMRC can lend a hand to bootstrapping, lean startups.
So, is he right or is he wrong to say that “we don’t need introductions, fancy conference stands and drinks parties”?
Some might say that government can help grease the wheels of founders’ efforts as they travel the world trying to boost their businesses, but equally, any entrepreneur worth their salt should be able to back their ability to get deals over the line without having to rely on external backing.
The answer may lie somewhere between the two extremes. As much as we may not need networking drinks hosted by diplomats who have never had to perform the dreaded “elevator pitch” in their lives, it would be churlish for a startup to ignore a helping hand when it is extended.
Every entrepreneur is different, heck, some of them even support Brexit!
But when push comes to shove, if life gives you lemons, you make lemonade, and if life throws up a government drinks party, you grab a glass of bubbly and start pressing the flesh. Some of us see opportunities everywhere, others wait in vain for the permission slip that never comes.