Blog

Our Insights is where we share our latest thinking through blog posts, interviews with members of the entrepreneurial community, and external publications.

Now for your first task, I want you to…

Hi, I’m Sheikh, RIG’s shiny, new intern. Here’s my story: It all started with a late-night, prospective email from a sleepy undergrad, no doubt tired from all the procrastinating he did that day. Not 12 hours had passed and I was sitting across from David, still baffled he had caught the first train from London to come and interview me. Though if you ask him, he’ll have you believe he happened to have important business in my engineering department that day anyway. In any case, I did well to convince him, and Shields on a subsequent interview, of my many…

Industrial waste, CEOs, and air-con politics: 2 weeks at RIG

RIG summer intern, Alex Crichton-Miller, tells us about his first 2 weeks with us: Come Monday, I will no longer be the only intern in the office. I feel rather like an only child who, on finding out they will have a younger sibling, cannot help but feel a tinge of regret that it will no longer be simply me. The team at RIG is a very close-knit unit, reminiscing about antics on away days more than a decade ago as often as they argue about the most appropriate way to approach a client. I have been exhilaratingly swept up…

Energy storage: generation’s forgotten twin

In recent years, the conversation around renewable energy sources has grown broader and louder. Although wind, solar, and their lesser-known cousins do not (yet) represent a majority of energy generation in the vast majority of countries, they form an increasingly significant part of the grid’s energy mix. Indeed, in 2017 - and for the first time in its history - Britain generated more of its electricity from renewable and nuclear sources than from gas and coal. Great news. Onwards and upwards! But there’s a small hitch… Renewable energy is famously intermittent. The wind blows when it feels like it and,…

The allure of the ‘data is the new oil’ analogy

The commodities market is no stranger to data; a quick Google search will lead to streams of data showing price fluctuations and percentage deltas. Oil is back up to $70 a barrel and lithium is riding high on the projected growth of batteries and electric vehicles. One thing, however, that is not publicly traded on the commodities market, is data itself. A myriad of recent articles have hailed data as the new oil- the most valuable commodity over the last century. However, while the comparison of data and oil has some use, to label data as a commodity like oil…

Schrödinger’s Mongrel (and pricing equity in early-stage deep-tech)

I’m one of those annoying people that thinks Schrodinger’s Cat is an apt substrate for pretty much any old mixed metaphor that I can drag in. Apologies in advance. It’s an age old question – how do you support valuation, at the point of seeking investment in a tech company that has zero, or very little, revenue, but shows exceptional promise. The reason it’s an old question is because it’s hard to answer, but here’s a clunky stab. The exceptional promise/ the pot of gold/ the cat is either alive or dead – which of these states it is in…

Doing the right deal

Throughout the history of deal-making, folks have conceived of successful negotiations as being the ones where they “won.” Now, of course there is a place for adversarial negotiations, and of course there are times when it’s critical that you look out solely for your own company, but the types of deal that typically constitute the foundations for an early stage tech company, will usually function best when they function as a win-win long into the future.   For any early stage technology company, establishing the right structure and commercial basis for collaboration with key partners is critical. Attempting to use…

How early is too early: knowing when to engage your customer

“But we need to develop 3 phases of prototypes, go through accelerated life testing, and get 10 patents granted”. Or so go the usual protestations against early market engagement. The value of bringing partners and customers into the conversation at an early stage is often trumped by fear. “They’ll steal my technology”. “It isn’t advanced enough”. “They won’t understand it”. There is only one thing that you need in order to commercially engage with companies; a proposition. Something to spark their interest. Let’s say you live in a very rainy country and I’ve invented the umbrella (which for some reason,…

Life is beautiful: in memory of JP

JP had all of the energy and passion of the entrepreneur. He was also a lovely man. Full of good cheer and resilient enthusiasm. Being an entrepreneur and trying  to grow a business is a fight.  There is fun in it but at times the going is hard and the struggle all consuming. JP was up for it all and I admired him for that. In his passing there is reflection. It makes me think how much is sacrificed in the building of a business. Without that struggle it would be hardly worth the effort. It is the struggle that…

Start Small

A CEO we are working with asked me today about how large a deal she should look to do with an agricultural foundation that could become a big partner. As her company’s technology solves a major problem for them, she was aware that there was the potential to do a big initial deal but her instinct was to start small.   I think she was very right.  We had a situation with another company for which we had opened a discussion with one of the largest surface materials companies in the world. We started by talking to one division, but…

Creating International Currencies

Currencies enable commerce, acting as a recognised standard unit of exchange; they are closely associated with nation states – usually being either created or controlled by governments, within their (geographic) spheres of economic and legal influence.  What is interesting about the early cryptocurrencies is they have been able to address very large communities –  crossing many national boundaries in the process – and although we have seen certain countries seeking to dissuade the use of cryptocurrencies (for example China and Korea) – the growth of the populations ‘using’ (in the widest possible sense of the word) continues.  In this respect…