"The Day I turned down Tim Berners-Lee"

Ian Ritchie5     Ian Ritchie Imagine it's late 1990, and you meet a young man who starts telling you about his proposed system called the World Wide Web. Ian Ritchie was there. And he didn't buy it. In March 2015, at CodeBase in Edinburgh, the UK's largest tech incubator, Startup Grind Scotland had the privilege to meet with Ian Ritchie, serial tech entrepreneur and investor, and he shared with us his story about information, connectivity and learning from mistakes. Our community of attendees listened as he shared his experiences of disputes with Apple, pitching to Bill Gates and investing in unicorn tech startups such as FanDuel, sharing lessons learned, struggles and answering audience questions in an informal and very candid fireside chat interview. If you missed our fantastic event, you can also view his TED talk here. (recorded July 2011).

We asked some of our community members and attendees to share their feedback and takeaways from the evening......

Claudio Colarossi (Business Head Scotland at Zomato) Ian Ritchie will probably have to be one of the most inspiring, passionate entrepreneurs I have ever had the pleasure of coming across. He could literally talk for Scotland but this just showcases his vast knowledge, his incredible journey and further emphasises his passion for business. I am sure that turning down Tim Berners-Lee may hunt him for a little longer, maybe even forever.  Competition is at its highest now so in order to compete and succeed, your product needs to be unique and you must move quickly. This relates incredibly well with Zomato. Considering we started just over 6 years ago in one single city (Delhi) and now operate in over 22 countries, it emphasises the importance of speed. It is important to always be on the front foot by growing both horizontally and vertically. Raising funding to accomplish your vision and speed is key and this is something that Zomato has really excelled in, by gaining support from Sequoia, Info Edge and so on.  Startup Grind is a perfect opportunity to meet like minded entrepreneurs. It gives you the possibility to build your contacts base, throw ideas at each other and, most importantly, gain feedback for your product from very knowledgeable individuals. 

Megan Vinten (IT Recruitment Consultant Eden Scott) It’s important for me to keep up to date with what is going on in Scotland’s start-up marketplace. As an IT recruiter, every day I advise entrepreneurs on their business growth strategies. I have been attending the StartUp Grind sessions for over 3 months now and get a lot from each talk. The recent event, featuring Ian Ritchie, shared his key experiences and achievements in the start-up tech world. It’s not every day you meet someone who has pitched software ideas to Bill, or met the inventor of the World Wide Web. Ian has done both of these, and it really showcased how Scotland’s tech talent is making an impact on the global marketplace. Scotland is well placed to be the next tech hub, with several start-up technology brands growing at a rapid rate. Ian shared some valuable advice to young entrepreneurs on how and where to find investment, the best way to market an idea to investors and how to build a team. As an Entrepreneur Partner to StartUp Grind, Eden Scott is committed to supporting Scotland’s start-up community. The StartUp Grind events have been an invaluable source for me to meet new people and develop business contacts.

Andrea Bacinska (Community Manager for Zomato Edinburgh) It was very inspiring to hear Ian Ritchie speaking on starting OWL. Especially as most of it happened before I was even born! After his talk I believe that having the right team with a good distribution of skills and having contacts is everything when starting your own business. I learnt that to be able to compete with big players on the market your product needs to be unique, there has to be a market for it and you need to develop it quickly. In order to do this you need to find investments which will give you the freedom and opportunity to grow faster. Ian explained the importance of raising funding and allowed me to realise how much Zomato has already achieved in this sphere. Startup Grind is a very relaxed event that gave me an opportunity to connect with a great variety of people from different industries. Everyone was very helpful and willing to give ideas about our future activities in Edinburgh. There is always space to improve and grow and getting feedback and advice from people who face the same challenges is priceless.

Startup Grind Scotland run monthly speaker events in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen. Please join our growing community of like-minded entrepreneurs and attend an upcoming event - and if you would like to send feedback or takeaways afterwards, you can have the chance to be featured in write-ups on our blog.