SVC2UK helps bridge the gap between start-up and scale-up for SwiftKey
We continue our CEO follow-up series with comments this week from Jon Reynolds – CEO & Co-Founder of SwiftKey:
The Silicon Valley Comes to the UK programme offers a rare and invaluable combination. As the co-founder of a successful startup, it has introduced me to an impressive list of Valley players and enabled me to engage with other UK entrepreneurs facing similar challenges. I’ve benefited from insights from both perspectives and through sharing experiences helping us to learn and progress together.
I’ve attended SVC2UK several years running and each time it’s been a stronger, more valuable event. Unlike many industry forums and roundtables, it has a very open and collaborative style. Small discussion groups with a mentor allow you to listen and learn in a low-key, productive way.
More personally, last year’s focus on growth companies was spot on and couldn’t have come at a better time. Many of the UK-based events have been targeted at a very early stage, but there are now a growing number of companies who feel more established and ready to expand. The UK has a fantastic track record of entrepreneurship and innovation but we haven’t always managed to turn medium-sized businesses into global success stories. I’d like to see more British-born businesses become market leaders around the world, and clearly we’re doing everything we can to make SwiftKey one of the companies that succeeds.
Going global while maintaining our product leadership has been my main priority over the last 12 months. We’ve more than doubled in size as a company and established offices in San Francisco and Seoul. There’s a huge ecosystem on the West Coast so it makes sense for us to be present there and build our profile. Plus, the US is a major market – we’ve been the #1 paid app there for most of the last year and American tech journalists have been quick to grasp the potential of the technology we build. Last month we announced a £11.3m series B finance round led by Index Ventures which will help fuel our global expansion as well as accelerate our product plans.
As we’ve grown there has been a lot of change in business, so to share a few thoughts on our experiences so far: Firstly, it all becomes more fun as your business gets bigger – for example, we’ve set up company sports teams and invited amazing external experts in as speakers, neither have been feasible until recently. Secondly, even as you take on more staff, there are as many (if not more) issues demanding your attention each week! Lastly, I believe it’s vital to keep evolving the way you do things, you can’t stick with the status quo. That’s why fresh thinking and new connections, fostered by events such as SVC2UK, remain so vital.
– Jon Reynolds is the co-founder and CEO of SwiftKey, the language technology startup behind the top paid Android app, the SwiftKey Keyboard. It learns from each user to accurately predict their next word and offer relevant autocorrection. The London-based company also licence their prediction technology to some of the world’s biggest mobile manufacturers.