Category Archives: California

Radio 4: The Value of Failure

I collaborated on one of these five pieces for BBC Radio 4 on The Value of Failure.BBC

Doctoral thesis published

I graduated from Cambridge University with my PhD in April 2013.Keith Cotterill PhD Thesis

My thesis can be downloaded here. Enjoy !

IEEE Conference

I will be presenting my research in a paper at the IEEE conference in San Jose, California later this month.

Its the first in (hopefully) a number of opportunities to present my views on entrepreneurial failure and receive scrutiny from my academic peers.

June 27-30, 2011.

East and West

I was struck today by what is happening in Silicon Valley software. Currently, most new startups are consumer and social network-related, a frenetic hub of activity which is distracting us from the shift in the global economy. Sure, the consumer sector (e-commerce) is important, and technical innovation is always cool, but while the cream of western society in the US (and the UK) fixates on high-risk, fast-paced startups, Asian entrepreneurs are building things in massive quantities. Crash

Massive shifts in global affairs appear to be preceded by an elevation of the trivial: decadence in pre-war Berlin, a peak in imperialist sentiment before the Great War, before the fin-de-siecle crash. I think we are seeing it now in technology: massive excitement in a new wave of social network services, preventing us from concentrating on the fundamentals we will need in a decade or so.

On (BBC) Radio Four this morning, an analyst explained how in Asia, the 2008 Global Financial Crisis is now referred to as the North Atlantic Crisis. This is true. Technological innovation in the trivial distracts us from what we really need to be doing. Building things.

Angel attitudes

My PhD research looks at entrepreneurs’ attitudes to failure in Germany, UK and USA. An article by Jeff Lynn in TechCrunch talks about a UK angel focus on investment levels rather than returns, a total contrast to recent Ron Conway press. In Silicon Valley, returns are more clearly a driver: having fun along the way and making a contribution are more important than tax breaks and financial planning.

The angel investor culture surely has an impact on entrepreneurial attitudes to failure. Perhaps there is an holistic “portfolio theory” at work here – UK angels tend to see investing as a numbers game involving risk mitigation, tax sheltering and hedging the market. Silicon Valley investors may have a broader range of variables beyond the alpha and beta to drive their investments. What about Germany, too? Does the presence of early-stage support from organizations such as the Fraunhofer institutes distort the motiviation for non-family related investing?

Just a thought. I need to come back to this after some interviews.

Silicon Valley update

I am back in Menlo Park for the summer. I lived in the valley for fifteen years and still consider myself virtually resident, although I’m studying in Cambridge.

This week I remembered why Silicon Valley is so great. Within days of arriving, I plug into a network of people who are creative, enthusiastic and active, Its a big network and investors overlap with entrepreneurs in many sectors. Jobs, consulting positions, advisory roles, startup opportunities are here in numbers that simply don’t exist in the UK.

Its not perfect, but it is wonderful.