With hundreds of billions of dollars in play, last year set a new high-water mark for venture capital fundraising. We saw an impressive uptick in the number of unicorns, funding rounds, and the availability of finance. In the words of Brent Hoberman, our dear friend and board member, "There hasn’t ever been a better time to raise money!" What a fascinating time to work in the start-up space – there are so many opportunities and challenges on the horizon.
Last year, the tech sector adapted well to interruptions in everyday life. We witnessed the decentralisation of our teams whose places of work shifted from the office to the living room. Despite that, traditional hubs - like London, New York, and Shanghai – will continue to attract investors and talent while fledgling hubs – like Berlin and Texas – benefit from a healthy influx of tech workers looking to forge their own path. Work patterns will continue to change thanks to a better understanding of when and where we’re most productive. That will be aided by a plethora of tools and platforms designed to streamline processes and open the doors to new opportunities to collaborate with our teams (Personio and Spendesk's services spring to mind!).
This year, we expect to see more of what we got in 2021. Marketplaces and products that offer personalised and sorely missed community experiences - like Getir and Nextdoor - will thrive. All while businesses, and by extension their leaders, have profound impacts on the ecosystems that surround them.
It’s no longer a debate, every business leader is now a tech leader. Customers, employees, and suppliers all expect you to operate and deliver services that make their lives more convenient. Now, we should be asking decision-makers how they'll be using technology to stay competitive! Some will slowly and methodically embrace transformation while others will dive in head-first.
Opportunities in emerging fields will bleed into mainstream markets as more ecomm brands and more talent give into their Web3 curiosities. We’ve already seen Adidas launch a series of NFTs, a boom in retail trading and the crypto-economy, and the shake-up of how content is created and sold thanks to platforms like OpenSea (now valued at $13.3bn) - what next?
The world has entered an unprecedented period of disruption. Unsurprisingly, the way is much clearer for those willing to experiment. High-performing, value-driven talent and bold, daring, high integrity brands will come out on top. How will investors and established leadership teams navigate through all the uncertainty? Start by accepting that times have changed:
- Recognise that executives and workforces are becoming more representative of consumers (and society as a whole).
- Understand the role of employers and employees in addressing both mental and physical health issues.
- Acknowledge that leadership can be a stressful and lonely road. That’s why communities like the CPO Forum, Mentor for Growth, and CEO/MD Forum continue to grow.
- Reflect on why destroying the planet in pursuit of profit is no longer an acceptable business model. Especially if you want to resonate with new consumers and attract top talent.
Loads of companies are already getting it right. It's been a real pleasure partnering with brands like Allbirds and Pangaia, who are driving change in sustainable fashion and the D2C market at large.
In 2022, everything is up for grabs. Employees will continue to seek meaning and purpose in their work (and rightly so), as decision-makers consider how best to maintain company culture in a decentralised workforce. All while increasing competition for top talent becomes a larger hurdle to achieving success.
What can you expect from Founders Keepers this year? Our role hasn’t changed. Initially, we set out to understand talent better than it knows itself - and that remains our mission. We’ll keep on connecting the most compelling, investor-backed companies with the best and brightest problem-solvers around.
Thanks again to our fantastic clients and partners for continuing to work with us, having faith in us, and providing FK with opportunities to build world-class leadership teams.
We’re looking forward to an incredible year with you all.
Richard Segal, Co-Founder of Founders Keepers
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