We were wearing our “The Dock Club” hats as we welcomed Mass Challenge, the Boston based incubator to our new co-working space in Wapping on Wednesday. You may have heard us mention this before but we are taking charge of a 40,000 sq. ft. space in one of London’s fastest growing and most historical areas. Tobacco dock was built in 1811 and has had many incarnations; tobacco storage, luxury shopping arcade, business centre, and now it will be home to some of London’s finest start-ups!
The space is truly breathtaking, and of course anyone is welcome to come and take a look around, so if you are genuinely interested in moving your business here please do come and see us; we’ll give you the tour and Adam will fill you in on all the history as well as our plans for the future; we’ve got pretty high hopes for this place, to say the least.
Anyway, back to Mass Challenge, the first guys to take the plunge and take a 5 year lease on the space. They’ll be running a 4 month accelerator programme for innovative start-ups, with mentors, partners and investors, plus they don’t take any equity. What a way to announce their arrival! These guys really are pretty incredible; in Boston, they have helped 617 companies create 4,800 jobs, generating $400m of revenue and raising more than $700m. They took over the entire exhibition space, and the guest list read like a who’s who of the UK’s start-up scene. The mayor of London himself, who’s out in Boston at the moment, took time out of his busy, blizzardy schedule to send a personal video message of support. Cheers BoJo!
John Harthorne is MC’s founder and CEO, one of Boston’s 50 most influential business people and one of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders of 2013, alongside Tony Hsieh and Chelsea Clinton. He is a cool guy, friendly and approachable, he even made it to the bar at the end of the night too. Kudos to him!
John spoke about the early days of MC, which began during the recession in 2007 when the Dow was trading well below 7,000. Back then corporate greed was ruining the economy; the focus was all about squeezing as much profit as you could out of companies when it should have been about the better side of business; value creation and sustainability. To put it another way, don’t be stealing all the pie, be making more pie!
We heard from many of Mass Challenge’s alumni; Flatev, the flat bread guys, Drinkwell, solving the global arsenic and fluoride water crisis, Artaic, making mosaics using robotics, and from Pete Dowds, who founded Handy, one of the UK’s most trusted home cleaners which has recently merged with Handy, from the US; he will be looking after the UK alumni. Everyone had good things to say about Mass Challenge, needless to say; these guys have a huge and very active alumni network, and lots of friends all over the world.
So next up Lord Rumi Verjee, the founder of Dominos Pizza, addressed the crowd and welcomed MC to the UK. He was in Boston last year for MC’s awards ceremony and declared himself “stuck by the network and support”. High praise coming from a guy who runs a £50 million business! Parminder Vir OBE, the Director of Entrepreneurship at the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship programme, spoke next, she is a huge supporter of start-up business and has done a lot of cool stuff in the creative and broadcast industries.
The final speech was from Linda Pizzuti Henry. Sports fans might recognise the name, she is the co-owner of Liverpool Football Club! She is on the advisory board at Mass Challenge and sponsors her own prize. Totally cool!
I’m sure all you guys who made it along had a great time, sorry for anyone who we couldn’t accommodate on the day, we had to give the centre stage to our new guests this time! There were a few drinks and some good banter afterwards, just as you’d expect from an evening the HHH were at ; )
Want to be part of Mass Challenge UK? You can apply here!