Jos White's Words of Wisdom For Entrepreneurs
We’re excited to be joined by Jos White, an entrepreneur turned investor who has spoken at numerous industry events and appeared on both TV and radio including BBC, CNN, and CNBC. Jos is currently a partner at Notion Capital and CEO of Daring Journey Ventures. Prior to Notion, Jos co-founded three businesses (RBR Networks, Star and MessageLabs) turning them all into market leaders each with revenues in excess of $100m. MessageLabs went on to become the first company in the world to deliver anti-virus and anti-spam in the cloud. Jos currently splits his time between New York and London.
What would be the “one thing” that is critical for any startup trying to cut through the noise in the tech space right now?
JW: I like to see a start-up with attitude and personality. What I mean by that is that you have a clear and compelling point of view about what is wrong with the market that you’re playing in and how you are going to fix it. And to speak very much from the customer’s perspective. It’s important also to get this point of view across as constantly and as regularly as you can. It’s also important to have a well defined tone and style for how you communicate. The best start-ups do this. They have something to say and they know how to say it and that cuts through the noise. Try to avoid talking about the product too much and also talking in business speak- this just makes people’s eyes glaze over and is the surest way not to get noticed.
There’s been a lot of buzz around New York being a hotbed for startups, what are some of the main differences that you’re seeing in the digital space now versus ten years ago?
JW: I actually took my tech business (MessageLabs) here to NYC from the UK almost exactly 10 years ago so I’m well placed to answer this one. Back in 2003 NYC was not a tech town at all and some people were surprised that we decided to locate ourselves here. But we decided it was important to be closer to the UK in terms of time zone and journey time and also that NYC was home to a number of our key markets such as finance and media. Now NYC is seen as a legitimate tech market; indeed it is the fastest growing market in the US and now second only to the valley in size.
So much has happened in ten years. There are various reasons for this but I think the main one is that the internet is now disrupting all industries rather than just being an industry of its own. NYC is the center of many of the largest industries including finance, fashion, advertising and, most importantly, media. As the internet plays an ever increasing role in disrupting these industries, NYC becomes an ever increasing force as a tech market.
Describe yourself in one word.
JW: Thoughtful (perhaps too thoughtful!)
Jos White is a partner at Notion Capital, a venture capital firm focused on Cloud Computing and Internet services. He is also CEO of Daring Journey Ventures, a seed investment firm focused on NYC start-ups.
JustWorks is a technology platform that helps entrepreneurs grow and manage their businesses by offering a comprehensive one-stop-shop approach for self-service payroll, compliance, and benefits (including health insurance, commuter benefits, and 401k).