Greville Commins, previous Entrepreneur in Residence: SETsquared Interviews – what the best prepared companies show us

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SETsquared Bristol

When high growth technology start-up companies apply to SETsquared Bristol, the confidential online application is reviewed by the team and qualifying companies are invited in for interview. A lot of people ask us why do we do interviews and what are we looking for.

Why do we do face to face interviews?

To get to know the founders of a business and for them to get to know us. The interview allows us to hear the story in person and ask and answer questions, if needed, to get a clear understanding for both sides. If successful, we offer the company a place on our incubation programme.

What are we looking for?

Exciting companies, with great founders doing great products that have the potential to turn into big companies. Our mission is to accelerate high growth technology companies and we are looking for those who are the best fit and people we can help.

What the best prepared companies show us.

We love to see and get excited by new products that push the boundaries of their target markets. We want to see people with ambition; so, be ready to tell us, what you want to achieve, what’s the ambition of the team? High growth ultimately means bigger businesses so tell us where’s the big number; in terms of forecast volumes, growth rates, revenues, profits? What data do you have on your market to substantiate your business goals? We often ask what do you want to be when you grow up?

What excites us are new disruptive (killer) products, which give us the wow factor; we still get excited by people and products after all these years!

We love people who tell a great story (everyone does), one that is easy to understand and memorable.

Over the years and after helping hundreds of companies, we have become good at seeing the future potential in people and companies, and even take a risk in some cases where there’s not enough evidence. We’re not looking for a fully baked cake (with all the answers) as that’s where we can help.

Delivering value – knowledge, experience and support

We’re able to deliver the most value to people willing to listen, learn and take advice. We exist to use all the knowledge, experience and support we have to offer to gain the best growth for our companies.

The SETsquared recipe is to choose a small number of companies to pour all the resources we have into making sure they succeed, to accelerate growth and reduce risk of failure. We have a finite resource to utilise, we must get the balance right between the number of companies we take on and the bandwidth of our resources. In this respect, you should not be surprised to hear that we do not accept all the companies that we interview.  We are looking for a two-way fit beneficial for both parties as we want to ensure it is the right fit for both you and us. And you only have to look at our roll call of successful SETsquared Alumni to see why this works.

Before you apply, ask yourself, is my company a technology business with high growth potential, and are we ready to apply? If you don’t succeed, we’ll advise on other support options, we may even give the opportunity to come back and try again. It worked for Gareth Williams, Founder of YellowDog.


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