This was a big week for Yo-Da. After a manic few months, my co-founder Edoardo and I secured pre-seed "Launch" investment from Entrepreneur First while simultaneously joining the Public.io GovStart accelerator program. Completing two elite accelerator programs at the same time is a daunting challenge, but we believe the business will improve tremendously as a result.
When building a business, it’s crucial to have backers enabling your strategic vision. We’ve been offered funding from a number of sources to bring the concept to market, but accepting investor money always comes with trade-offs and the best "valuation" isn't always the best "value". In the case of both EF and Public, the most important consideration wasn't the price they were paying but the people with which we were entering into a long-term partnership.
Building a technology business has been a huge learning curve for me. My background is in finance and economics, previously working for several large hedge funds. I have never started a business before, and as a "non-technical" entrepreneur I was lacking execution credibility.
By selling equity to EF, I have not just taken cash to hire engineers and write some code, but also bought into their extended network of literally thousands of super technical entrepreneurs as well as their experience launching hundreds of deep technology companies. Joining EF will dramatically reduce our execution risk, raising our expected value beyond what is visible in the nominal valuation by lowering our probability of failure.
Similarly, joining Public.io enhances the value proposition for our customers while also enhancing our defensibility, boosting our expected value beyond the price. Some of the richest and most valuable data resides in Government coffers, but this data is also some of the hardest to access for consumers.
Founded by David Cameron's ex-staff, Public have unparalleled connections to the key public sector agencies including the NHS, Home Office, HMRC, and others. We believe unlocking the personal data sitting in these will generate huge positive spillovers across areas as diverse as technology, healthcare, law, and politics.
Further, we expect putting this data back in the hands of consumers to enhance the Government's AI initiative by alleviating a key constraint on deeper innovation; the availability of useful data.
Thursday was a red letter day; Yo-Da visited 10 Downing Street as part of a roundtable discussion on GovTech innovation kicking off GovStart 2018. Firstly, if you haven’t been fortunate enough to go, the complex is quite large.
Don’t let the little door and narrow terrace fool you, no estate agency tricks of light needed here! Sadly you’ll have to take my word for it because phones are held at the door. The highlight for me was the stairwell on the way to briefing room with spectacular signed portraits of all British Prime Ministers, from Benjamin Disraeli to David Cameron.
It was truly inspiring to think of the people who also climbed those very stairs in years past. Also, it's comforting to know that if things go south over Brexit there is a decent art collection for a solid contribution to the budget after a luxury garage sale at Number 10.
It was a huge week for us and we are well positioned to execute our strategy. I know from the journey so far that not every week will be nearly as exciting, but we can't wait to get settled and begin building.
Benjamin Falk, co-founder of Yo-Da, was talking to David Savage
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