Web Mission exemplifies everything that’s wrong with the UK and European web start-up scene.
The description from their site says:
“Web Mission 2008 will see 20 UK Web 2.0 companies travel to San Francisco to explore new opportunities for growth with key people in Silicon Valley. This event will showcase innovative UK web talent, seek meaningful assistance for companies ready for expansion, and provide a platform for those involved to gain valuable media and business exposure.”
This is being backed by some pretty smart people, including UK Trade & Investment, Oracle, Mike Butcher, Paul Walsh, Oli Barrett, Huddle, Doug Richard (ex Dragon’s Den), Atlas Ventures, Michael Birch (founder of Bebo), HSBC, Sun Microsystems and James Murray Wells (GlassesDirect.com) … so why is it such a bad idea?
We’ve got everything we need here
I believe the intention for Web Mission was great – networking and exposure for UK web start-ups. That’s fab, but here’s the problem – this project is declaring to the whole world, loud and clear, “We don’t have what it takes over here.”
If we’re ever going to create a healthy start-up culture in Europe, we need to stop running cap-in-hand to American entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. Why couldn’t we have spent the thousands of Pounds that it’ll take to run Web Mission and do something exciting in London?
This is exactly why we started Future of Web Apps in London in 2006 – to encourage web start-ups that they can do this, here in the UK and Europe.
Why not just focus on building a profitable business?
I just finished watching DHH’s talk at Startup School and I think it really sums up my position. Instead of working your ass off to get noticed by Google, Mike Arrington and Mike Moritz, in hopes of getting acquired, finding funding or getting TechCrunched, why not work your ass off to build a profitable ‘lifestyle’ business that services a specific niche?
As DHH points out, if you want to do $1M in revenue, all you need is 2,100 paying customers at $40 per month … and who wouldn’t mind being a millionaire? 🙂