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8 October Subscribe
Dear *|FNAME|*,
 

“Life is short and then you die.” 

Should have been written about Startups.

The journeys of most young tech companies involve twists and turns around product, positioning, and finance that culminate in a short and brutish life. The vast majority expire before receiving a penny in real funding, succumbing to challenges building something (a few), keeping the band together (more), or meeting customer need (the vast majority). 

This journey, navigating the pre-Seed wilderness, is so hard and so rarely survived that it has earned a common moniker: The Valley of Death. 

Especially in the last six months prior to a major funding event, the pre-Seed company is almost always on near-life-support. If they are lucky, they are growing, with a customer base they understand and who understands them, but less than a year’s worth of bankroll and a team of highly stressed and under-compensated early staff. The ideal is that this team are all startup people, and know exactly what’s happening, but not always. Sometimes they are just friendlies, brought in to try and save the world. Companies at this stage can almost never spend money on marketing, rent, travel, or events. They’re trying to sell something no-one has ever sold before to a set of customers who have no experience buying it. They’re trying to grow the fastest they ever grown on the least resources they’ve ever had.

The only reason one ever even enters the Valley is because of a near-mad belief in the idea or vision of founders (who are themselves intoxicated by the rare opportunity to fix a real problem for a real population in a way that desperately needs fixing). 

Almost always, it is at this stage that the real version of the organisation is exposed, stripped of any fictions in its product, identity, or ideals. This cleaner company, if deemed worthy by an unforgiving market, is what becomes the post-Seed or Series A organisation - the one that’s introduced to the world as the disruptive innovator and written about as alternative to the status quo. The new company is identified and re-identified half-a-dozen times as it conquers the world, and as it is the earliest identities are forgotten and replaced by more mature identities.

You are audience to an organisation almost no-one else will ever know. The pre-Seed HATDeX / Dataswift will be forgotten in years to come, replaced with the upwardly-scalable version we turn into over time and growth (or forgotten, if we were to fade away without raising). 

It has been very nice being here with you in the very beginning, as we muddled through together trying to understand real personal data innovation. 

I can’t wait to meet the company anew.

Yours in HAT,

Jonathan

THIS MONTH'S MAIN STORY

The Valley of Death

"Life is short and then you die."

31 June. The journeys of most young tech companies involve twists and turns around product, positioning, and finance that culminate in a short and brutish life. The vast majority expire before receiving a penny in real funding, succumbing to challenges building something (a few), keeping the band together (more), or meeting customer need (the vast majority). This journey, navigating the pre-Seed wilderness, is so hard and so rarely survived that it has earned a common moniker: The Valley of Death. 

You are audience to an organisation almost no-one else will ever know. The pre-Seed HATDeX / Dataswift will be forgotten in years to come, replaced with the upwardly-scalable version we turn into over time and growth (or forgotten, if we were to fade away without raising). It has been very nice being here with you in the very beginning, as we muddled through together trying to understand real personal data innovation.

MANY FRIENDS

The HATDeX / Dataswift Seed raise still continues, and we have met many wonderful new friends in our travels, including Hambro Perks, ADV, Berlin Innovation, Sumitomo, JamJar, Samsung NEXT, Albion, OpenOcean, Playfair, Episode1, Saatchinvest, Fuel, Force Over Mass, Parkwalk, and maybe 2-3 dozen others. Nothing to report yet, but we are very grateful for all of the support offered thusfar on meeting new investors.

BUSINESS FRIENDS

Of course the wheels of industry don't stop. A warm DataswHAT welcome to the teams at Agilit, Eavetech, Toda, Garantier, Cambridge Uni, IDEO and Not Actually Looking (such a name) to our Sandbox Environment. Great to have you with us.

WELCOME NASI

Fresh from year one of the London Business School MBA, a warm welcome to Nasi Rwigema, who's learning all things Tech Startups with us over the summer. Nasi's a phenom, we're really lucky to have him - thanks for being a part of the team, sir.

SURPRISE SPRINT

Noone expects the impromptu sprint! The team gathered this past week in the Orangerie for a quick chat on the future and plans and who's the best pool player in the squad. Turns out it's the newcomer, and by NOT a small margin.

WILKOMMEN

We're a little more German! Big thanks to the team at WeAreDevelopers Global in Berlin, who invited us to pitch onstage. I think it's the first international startup pitch we've ever been invited to give - yay milestones!

RAMMSTEIN

Are you really a cutting edge tech company if your engineers don't travel to the continent for world-slaying metal concerts? I would argue no, no you are not.

I DESIGN YOU DESIGN

HUGE kudos to Dataswift designer Linda who is so ridiculous she stood on stage in front of two dozen designers and pitched at a design sprint hosted by IDEO, less than 6 months after joining the company. Talent for friggin' days - was amazing to be a part of.

DROPS INS

DROPS met for its June collective and brought together the researchers and industry leads pioneering personalised learning, eReading education, and device personalisation. There is some seriously cool stuff coming out of this team - much more communications thereon to come.

CANADA WALLETS

A huge welcome to one of our newest customers, a Canadian leader in digital assets and digitally-verified smart documentation and contracting. In a new partnership signed just a few days ago, we will be working with the technology pioneer to issue PDA wallets that can hold just about anything you'd use a piece of paper to represent.

WHAT 3 WORDS

Hug-and-a-handshake to Jack Waley-Cohen at What3Words (which is amazing - if you haven't heard of it go take a look) who came by the office last month to meet the team and share insights on building a horizontal tech product and growing it into a scalable API-driven business. Someone to learn from.

TROV

And the same again Mark Dowds at Trov and his friend Jon Bradford, who welcomed us to an excellent shindig in the City earlier this month and between them have made probably dozens of introductions on our behalf. Thank you for believing in a wee startup, early in life.

The Hub of All Things is a way to own your own personal data. It’s a microserver — a database, with a computer brain — that helps you store for yourself the information you give your calendars, social, media, and phone. Here, this video explains it better than we do.

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