Successful start-ups in a game of 'asymmetric warfare'

By Travolution
By Travolution
October 12, 2011 04:00 PM GMT

The web has revolutionised how products are brought to market, leaving opportunities for small firms that can be started up with very little initial capital investment.

Ariadne Capital founder Julie Meyer, who is known for her pioneering work with digital entrepreneur newtwork First Tuesday, said the individual has been empowered.

Speaking at the Travolution Summit this week, she said people under 30 do not consider themselves as working for someone and today’s entrepreneur has a vision of how they can reshape the world.

Being an entrepreneur is a game of “asymmetric warfare”, Mayer said, with the smaller, more nimble firms making use of this advantage to claim their position in the market. She said Ariadne Capital looks to invest in businesses that have understood the “network orientation” that has been created by the digital business model.

“What they see as they look out on the world is a blue ocean. They see how the world should operate and feel compelled to bring that to life,” she said. “We look for companies that think big act small and move fast. They have a game plan for winning the big prize.

“We think the entrepreneur model has really changed. The good news is you do not need a lot of capital to get into the game.”

She said this trend is changing how products come to market, using the example of Skype and how individuals introduced it into their professional lives rather it originating in the business world.

“I do not know anyone under 30 who thinks that they work for anyone else any more. They think of themselves as their own P&L, their own brand. There is probably more right than wrong about that mentality. They think of themselves as business builders.”

She added: “We will have 20,000 years of progress this century. We have to decide what the rules of engagement are for society. In a world where we come across instant demand for products or services we have to be clear about what we are trying to bring to life.”

Despite the natural advantages of being small, however, Meyer said the small digital players will have to deal with established giants to achieve the scale they need. She said what the small players have going for them is that no one thinks they are  going to be successful and so no one delivers the killer blow.

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