London Tech and TechStars Demo Day

The tech scene in London has developed immensely over the years that I’ve been involved in it, as mentor, advocate, and advisor. Sitting through the excellent pitches (well, most of them were excellent) at TechStars London demo day was a good chance to reflect on what has changed, and what has remained more or less the same (not that one accelerator is a statistical sample, but it’s fun anyway).

The first thing I noticed, and not without post-Brexit irony (apologies if this offends Leave voters), is that the cohort was perhaps more diverse than ever, with very few Brits (excl. naturalised) taking the stage. Yes, this is an international accelerator, but one might expect a stronger local presence from the city/country which was, until recently, championed as “the global leader for ambitious tech companies”. Had the worst case scenario of a closed-off UK happened, it seems like there wouldn’t have been a cohort to speak of in the first place.

Moving on, as Mike Butcher of TechCrunch identified, “Healthtech, Fintech and AI dominated”. On the one hand, I think it’s safe to say that London, perhaps outside of fintech (subject to Article 50 negotiations?), still does not have a distinctive vertical to call its own. This might be fitting a large-scale cosmopolitan metropolis, but arguably would also make it harder for London to emerge out of The Bowling Alley with a clear lead on its so-called European rival cities.

On the other hand, healthcare and AI seem to be behind the fact that a third of the cohort has PhDs. Definitely the most cerebral cohort I’ve seen from TechStars London, previously known as Springboard, and I mean that in the best possible way. (EDIT: I wonder, could this surge in brainpower be connected to a historical low in research funding in academia, especially in the UK?)

ICYMI, Marko Srsan of TS posted a Facebook Live recording of the demos here.

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