Investing has taken a bit of a battering in Jersey in recent years. Mention the Jersey Innovation Fund in some political circles, and you’ll be knocked over in the rush to take cover, batten down the hatches and hope the various investigations pass overhead quietly. Some of the characters involved have turned ‘buck- passing’ into an Olympic sport. And that’s a real shame, as the core principle behind it - helping local business get the start-up funding they need to become a success - is clearly sound, and in fact, essential for the island’s economic health in the future.
But most investors don’t do it for that reason - they do it because picking a winner is a challenge; and one they love to be involved in. It’s a test of judgement, of character, of expertise, and in many cases, of nerve. As either of the two well-known local investors on the cover of Connect this month will tell you, the path to success often lies in the most unexpected direction.
Here at Connect, we are on that path, and would quite openly say that we still have some way to travel. But we are at the point where we can look back and give others a helping hand, which is why we launched the Bailiwick Business Academy, to help other start-ups secure the funding they need. With the support of our partners such as Carey Olsen, Jersey Business, Start Up Guernsey, Envestors, Sancus, Natwest, Regus and Orchid, the Academy has now whittled down a big box of applications to the final four, who will present to our potential investors, and win a significant amount of start-up support.
We profile those final, fab four on page 4 of this edition - and if you have views on who should win the top prize, you can feed that into the process by voting for your favourite online with Bailiwick Express through our daily news email. The characteristic you’ll find amongst all of them is determination. I interviewed a very senior politician once at his home, and noticed the following words inscribed on a keep-sake on his desk: “Great leaders are ordinary men, with extraordinary determination.”
It was a while ago, so hopefully you’ll forgive the implicit presumption that great leaders are male - but while we’re swapping words to polish it up, you might also consider replacing “leaders” with “entrepreneurs,” as the sentence would still be true. It is the determination to carry on regardless which often wins the day (KBO, Winston?). All of which bring us to Phil Sharp.
If we are agreed that it is determination which underpins much business success, then there is plenty to be learnt from the extreme sailing races in which Phil (and his team) excel. On page 28, you’ll read his views on how to lead a team (and maintain your own motivation) in a physical environment which most of us will never experience. The final ‘success’ is different, but the qualities needed to get there are much the same.
But it’s not all hardship. In fact, sometimes, you need to take a break, take stock and enjoy Connect. Over to you.