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5 January, 2019 - 15:57 By Tony Quested

Cambridge technology giants back ‘Unicorn’s Den’ event

Leaders from some of Cambridge’s top technology companies have united to help ambitious startups scale their enterprises through a cutting-edge ‘Unicorn’s Den’ initiative.

Now a challenge has gone out in the UK and Europe’s top science & technology cluster to find three startups willing to share their biggest growing pain with a panel that includes the CEO of Darktrace and a co-founder of Arm. The event is on Friday 1 February.

The Cambridge Start-up Billion Pound Scale-up Challenge brings together fast-growing startups with experienced senior executives who have been instrumental in scaling a tech company. More than 80 startups, investors and support services are expected to be part of the audience at this interactive event.

Organiser Adelina Chalmers, founder of The Geek Whisperer explained: “Cambridge has a thriving startup scene but few emerging companies grow to a billion pound valuation. 

“It’s a huge challenge to go from startup to scale-up. Should you focus on building the tech or the market? How do you lead a rapidly-growing team? What’s the right pricing strategy?

“If your startup meets the criteria, get in touch. In contrast to many events in Cambridge, this is collaborative, not competitive. The panellists aren’t there to judge you but to listen to your challenges and give you concrete advice, based on what worked in practice for them.”

To be eligible for one of the three places, startups must be based in or around Cambridge and have secured a minimum of £350,000 investment (or client income). They must be open about the challenges they are facing as a result of growth.

In return, the panel will provide at least three specific actions they should take and the audience will also offer informed suggestions.

On the panel will be Poppy Gustafsson, CEO of Darktrace, which has reached a $1.65 billion valuation in under five years; Arm co-founder Jamie Urquhart, now with Pond Venture Partners; Elly Hardwick, incoming chief digital officer at UBS Bank; Helen Adams, CCO at Focal Point Positioning; Monika Biddulph, former general manager at Arm; and Lauren Kisser, Director Amazon Web Services and former Director of Operations for Amazon Prime Air.

This will be the third gathering of its kind. Lyric Jain, CEO of Logically, which uses AI to help readers spot fake news and misinformation, won a place to pitch at the October event.

Jain said: “The event was an incredible opportunity for Logically to have a genuine, relaxed, and meaningful dialogue with a diverse range of industry experts and leaders. As a result, the discussions delivered a tremendous amount of value, insight, and direction for us a business.”

The value extends into the audience as Karl Gibbs, CEO of Acticheck, a personal alarm that helps keep the elderly well, explained: “Attending the event helped me focus on aspects of the business that would have otherwise lacked it and highlighted that the scatter-gun approach to marketing and sales is not good. I sold a system to one of the audience members, so that was good too.”

The event takes place at the Bradfield Centre on Cambridge Science Park, from 9.30am to 1pm, with tickets and sponsorship opportunities on Eventbrite. 

The event is organised by The Geek Whisperer and Cambridge Wireless, hosted by the Bradfield Centre, and supported by Exact Sourcing and Connected Cambridge.

The Geek Whisperer works with technology companies to prevent or resolve conflicts between technical and non-technical employees. Any startup wanting to be considered for one of the three pitching places should contact Adelina Chalmers adelina [at] geekwhisperer.co.uk or Rosa Dos Santos rosa [at] exactsourcing.com

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