Liverpool Slush’D, the much-talked-about event that brought the city’s startup community together, is still fresh in our minds. To get an inside look at what went on behind the scenes and what the future holds for this exciting initiative, we sat down with Jonny Clark, the event’s organiser.
Q: Were you happy with the Slush’D event?
A: Jonny Clark: I was buzzing with it. It was what I like to refer to as ‘type two fun’. It is like completing a Tough Mudder event —it’s a challenge while you’re doing it, but the sense of satisfaction that you get is immense. I would say I would do it again, but we are!
Q: What has been the feedback around the City?
A: Jonny Clark: “Chicken wings are not for networking” – that’s one piece of feedback we got. Jokes aside, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. We achieved our objectives to educate and inspire, and it has left the community with a can-do energy to keep Liverpool startups driving forward. The only thing you have control of when growing a startup is your mind and it makes a world of difference believing ‘we can do it’.
Q: What was your highlight of the event?
A: Jonny Clark: The day was a blur fuelled by caffeine. Steve Rotheram’s enthusiasm definitely stood out and was infectious. Yoni Health’s presentation was incredible and despite being up against tough competition in the Angel Network pitches I felt they were deserving of their win and I look forward to seeing them in Helsinki. It was just an incredible day seeing so much entrepreneurial spirit in Liverpool.
Q: What would you do differently?
A: Jonny Clark: There’s always room for improvement. We’ll work on some admin stuff to make the event run smoother, but the main challenge is to go bigger and better. We’re starting with finding or creating a larger capacity space and hope to add to the main stage with some side events, one idea I am keen on is having a marketing corner.
Q: What is the future of Slush’D in Liverpool and plans for next year?
A: Jonny Clark: The future of Slush’D in Liverpool is exciting. We plan to go bigger, better, and offer a wider variety of content. Expect more fun stuff like Easter eggs and dinners, all designed to further connect our vibrant startup community. We also aim to build on our Helsinki connection, not just in terms of the event itself but also in terms of community outcomes and helping local entrepreneurs go global. I love the customary saunas and ice dips in Helsinki but I am not sure if Liverpool is ready for them yet!
Q: What can the business community do to support start-up and scale-up in Liverpool and what can greater collaboration achieve?
A: Jonny Clark: The UK has one of the most centralised economies and fiscal systems in the world, which affects everything we do – from building houses and roads, to being able to start a company, hire the right talent and secure the right funding. That said, there are loads of success stories across the regions of high growth companies, particularly tech ones.
Building a startup and achieving great scale means building out a strong network of supporting services. This idea of the ‘solo entrepreneur’ who is good at everything is a myth. Behind every good founder or co-founder there is not only a solid team, but a whole raft of supporting services; lawyers, accountants, tax advisers, recruiters and so on. The challenge that companies face is that startups, for the first few years, have to scrimp and save and often do everything on a shoe string, which doesn’t make them very attractive client prospects for other companies. You’re starting to see a lot of Professional & Business Services firms develop startup-specific offers now, understanding that getting in there early with a company and doing a bit of a ‘loss leader’ could pay huge dividends in the longrun if that startup grows into a large enterprise.
Support local founders, be mindful of the pressures they face and encourage the next generation of would-be entrepreneurs to take a calculated risk and start a company.
Q: We were delighted to be legal partners for Slush’D and look forward to continuing that partnership and being able to support start-up and scale-ups – why do you think it is important for businesses at an early stage to engage with professional advisors such as lawyers?
A: Jonny Clark: There are so many things that can go wrong early-on, and getting good legal foundations in a business is, unfortunately, usually one of the last things most first-time founders think about. Whether it’s getting your SEIS/EIS tax reliefs sorted, drawing up license agreements for your software, or drafting your first employment contracts and founders/shareholder agreements; you need a high quality legal professional from a firm that knows what they’re doing.
I have honestly lost count of the amount of times people have come back to me and said “I wish I hadn’t skimped on the legal docs… now XYZ has happened and we’re in a stalemate argument about who gets what.”
Q: Do you see the LCR as capable of being a leading place in the UK for start-ups and scale-ups?
A: Jonny Clark: Absolutely. I have a lot of confidence in the LCR, but people also know I don’t overhype things and don’t do inappropriate hyperbole. We’re a small city in terms of population compared to many other places around the UK and Europe – but I think for our size and position, we can punch well above average in terms of our tech economy.
We have clear strengths in several Deep Tech areas such as Health & Life Sciences or Industrials, and we also excel at Impact or ‘Tech for Good’. The infrastructure is increasingly well developed – you see a good variety of coworking spaces and small offices on the market, we have first class incubation and acceleration options in ‘Lyva Labs’ and ‘Baltic Ventures’, and an increasingly developed supporting financial infrastructure with our revitalised Angel Network and a Seed Fund in the late stages of development. All of this has taken a little while to get going, but has succeeded because of the successes of entrepreneurs who took a gamble here a decade ago and have sold their companies in recent years – and us having been fortunate to secure the public sector support to add stimulus to the sector. It has been a ‘right place at the right time’ case study that I think other places around the UK will look to in the coming years as a blueprint for tech-sector led economic regeneration.
Liverpool Slush’D 2024
Liverpool Slush’D is a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit and creativity of the city. With Jonny Clark’s determination and vision, it’s clear that the event will continue to inspire and connect Liverpool’s startup community for years to come. We look forward to seeing what surprises and opportunities the next Liverpool Slush’D event will bring!
Startup and Early Stage Business is a specialist sector for DTM Legal’s team. Our experienced solicitors can provide the full spectrum of commercial legal advice covering Corporate & Commercial, Dispute Resolution, Commercial Property and Employment Law. Speak to Edward Barnes and our Corporate & Commercial team by calling 01244 354 829 or email email@example.com.