Interview with Antoine Baschiera, Co-founder of Early Metrics, the startups’ rating agency.
Why did you decide to expand Early Metric’s activities to the United Kingdom?
The UK is one of the biggest startup ecosystems in Europe. Expanding Early Metrics’ activities there seemed only logical given that our clients are investors and entrepreneurs. Our goal is to become the main authority when it comes to assessing the development perspectives of startups and SMEs. In the middle run, having no presence in one of the biggest ecosystems in Europe would clearly have been a great mistake for us.
The necessity to expand to the UK came naturally. We had more and more clients asking us to start rating British startups. We, therefore, decided to test if the local ecosystem was actually responsive to what we had to offer and carried out a careful roadmap of our potential development in Great Britain.
How did you test the potential of this market?
To do so, we did several road-shows to understand the main differences between the British and French startup ecosystems and see if we needed some drastic adaptations or not. After that, everything went pretty fast. We had several appointments with local influencers and decided that we were ready and should go forward, register our company in the UK, recruit a team and find offices.
Did you develop a local network?
At several moments, we had to resort to outside help because of technical difficulties that we could not manage on our own such as opening our bank account or setting up our payroll. Our network was just not big enough to find the right people to help us with these particular tasks. This is where mercurr proved really helpful as they found us really reliable advisors and not only executants, effectively bridging the gaps we had in our network.
What difficulties did you have to overcome?
I must say that from a French perspective, the British system is a bit misleading. Everything looks simple from the outside, but in fact, you have to stick to a very precise and inflexible procedure. Not doing so can have negative consequences on the installation process and things can rapidly come out of hand. Finally, in the UK nothing is free. Every single minute people spent with us was billed to us… So keep that in mind too!
During the development of our expansion strategy in the UK, I always kept three main parameters in mind: Trust in the market’s reactions to us entering it, which resources we could afford to use and the ones we actually were willing to deploy. This method proved very helpful and made us take the right decisions at the right time.
Speaking of resources how did you decide on the resources you were willing to allocate to your expansion in the UK?
We started with roadshows for 6 months. Every month we would stay in London for a week and try to close our first deal. Which we did after a couple of trips. All in all these roadshows costed us less than 10k euros.
Once we made the decision to set up shop in London, it took us around 2 months, not really rushing things, to settle everything down. Pretty quick but quite complex as our structure is really specific. We spent another 3k to 5k pounds to make sure everything was compliant and future-proof.
Then came the operational set up! A whole other story… We were looking for office space, opening the bank account, recruiting the core local team and so on. I’d avise any entrepreneur to carefully pay attention to the space they’re going to live in! Find someplace you really like and it may be worth, at first, to pay the price of flexibility as you don’t know the growth rate you’ll get.
The bank account, itself, took more than 3 months to open! Everything that’s related to money can be quite tricky and not being local residents, at the time, made the amount of forms & other red-tape go through the roof.
Recruiting was pretty easy as we found the right recruiters (special thanks to mercurr by the way) and took advantage of the really flexible local employment market.
Needless to say we didn’t stop developing the business while doing all of the above! We never faced any deal breaker and were amazed at the way they only consider the cost/benefits equation of your product, not giving much thought to the size of your company or where you’re coming from. Finally, the pretty fast decision cycles helped us a lot as it quickly confirmed our decision and comforted us in pushing things forward.
Early Metrics is a rating agency focused on providing investors and corporates with reliable and objective data on their potential future investments and their development potential. Their final aim is to become an authoritative quality label and a trusted third party for the startup economy, being endorsed by the entrepreneurs themselves.
Their rating methodology, which was developed with investors, C-Level Executives and academics, aims to provide a comprehensive grade that takes into account other criteria as only pure financial data. The final report shows every important aspect of the startups they audit, analysing their financial statement and using a matrix which aims at streamlining the three main extra-financial components: the Managers, the project and the ecosystem.
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