Highlights from Venturefest WM 2022 – Keynote 1: Ian Vickers, CEO of METCLOUD

In 2017, Ian launched the METCLOUD brand. Since then, the organisation has gone on to be recognised as one of the most secure cybersecurity platforms in the UK, winning dozens of internationally recognised awards for innovation.

For anyone with a hawkish eye for regional innovation success you’ll no doubt have heard the news that METCLOUD recently raised £1 Million `seed’ funding from Midlands Engine Investment Fund.

So, given Ian’s successful career as one of our region’s leading entrepreneurs, we thought he would be the perfect fit for our first keynote speaker at Venturefest West Midlands 2022.

After introducing himself on the main stage, Ian explained how he has been operating in Birmingham for 20 years, developing software, network infrastructure and security and has seen a lot of innovation. Due to this extensive experience as an entrepreneur, Ian gave the crowd some wise words on the journey of an entrepreneur and some stellar advice to those looking to kick start their own business…

Everyone Dreams – Entrepreneurs put their dreams into action…

“We all dream, every person dreams, but the difference with an entrepreneur is that they take that dream and make it happen. They can’t help themselves; they have to do something!

When you first have a dream, taking that leap of faith can be scary. Entrepreneurship is a gutsy career path that takes determination, hard work and confidence. It comes with significant risk and a small chance of success.”

Dreams can come True…

The region has a reputation for being a hotspot for start-ups. In fact, Birmingham has more start-ups than any other city outside London with 18,394 and in 2020 Birmingham was crowned the UK’s regional start-up capital for the seventh year running. But with start-up or micro businesses (9 or fewer employees) making up 95% of all business, Ian’s hope is that with all the support on offer throughout Venturefest and other regional initiatives we can support the development of micro businesses to grow from micro, to small (10-49 employees), to medium (50-249) to create huge wealth and societal change for the better.

“The Midlands is at the heart of innovation and opportunity. We are the youngest city in Europe and the influx of talent from other territories are bringing a new outlook for this region which makes the future bright.”

“We need to take our blinkers off and look at the art of the possible. This is a shared responsibility and investors need to change their outlook on how they invest and evaluate or prepare their valuations. Looking at last year’s keynote, Ben Francis of Gymshark, imagine going to investors saying he wanted to start a sports brand, up against the likes of Nike. He’s now become a Unicorn!”

Responding to the audience question Ian gave some further pearls of wisdom…

On the most important things to consider when developing your business… “It’s always about people and making sure you have the right people believing and following the vision.”

On attracting international talent… “International collaboration is important, and we have excellent tools to enable that, but you still need to be able to meet in person. Humans are a species that need to be amongst each other to gel and collaborate and drive innovation.”

On working better together as the West Midlands for the greater good… “It’s all about dropping egos. Birmingham won’t ever be able to compete with London, it’s the financial centre of the globe. We don’t need to compete against Manchester etc. but Barcelona, Munich, New York, Melbourne and other second cities in other countries. We need to measure ourselves against these places instead.”

On how the public and private sectors can work better together to get our start-ups investment ready… “We are already on the journey. We have the support from the universities, incubators, money available. The businesses need to take the initiative, open their eyes and look out for what is available rather than wait for it to come to you, network, get your brand out there and see what’s available. There has never been such a monumental shift in capabilities, support, integration and connectivity.”

Further reading…

Ready to start you own innovation journey? Wondering where to start? Take a peek at the range of exhibitors from universities to growth hubs and everything in between from Venturefest West Midlands 2022 here.

Want to hear more from Ian? Check out his podcast ‘vanguard’ where Ian interviews entrepreneurs from all over the world.

Find out more about METCLOUD and their Midlands Engine Investment Fund success here.

Author, Iain Mansell

Deputy Director, Innovation Alliance for the West Midlands