Just over a year ago, I went to my first Entrepreneur First Demo Day.
The EF model was pretty unfamiliar to me. At that point, the concept of what it meant to co-found with a total stranger and build a company in the space of six months was nothing more than that — a concept. One that, to be completely honest, seemed like it couldn’t actuallybe true.
Could it? Could two complete strangers get into a team, find something meaningful to work on and end up there: onstage, in an investor-filled room, pitching an idea they love with a co-founder they didn’t know six months ago? It just didn’t seem possible.
Three days later, I joined the EF team. The ninth London cohort was about to begin. The tenth London cohort didn’t exist yet.
Entrepreneur First was created to enable the world’s most ambitious people to realise their maximum possible impact on the world. From day one on the team, the mission was clear:
Find those people.
Help them build teams.
And then help turn those teams into companies.
I’ve spent the past year following EF on a pretty insane journey. I’ve watched us go from two global locations (London, Singapore) to five (London, Singapore, Berlin, Hong Kong, Paris). I’ve met individuals at careers fairs and seen them go from PhD student, to EF applicant, to CTO.
This Demo Day was different; a pan-European Demo Day, the first time two EF locations (London and Berlin) were presenting together.
The build-up to Demo Day was an intense time for the companies and EF team alike; Berlin’s first cohort (BE1) flew to London to join LD10 for a week of pitch prep, delivery practice and multiple late-night pizza deliveries. As the day itself drew closer, the anticipation was palpable.
I worked closely with LD10 from before the programme even began, first helping to bring together this group of exceptionally talented individuals, then supporting them as they formed into teams with world-changing potential. As such, I felt particularly tied to their outcomes — and hopeful that Demo Day would run smoothly.
But on the day itself, watching from the side of the stage, the apprehension and nerves, the thoughts of ‘will they forget their lines?’ ‘will they say the right market-size figure?’ all disappeared. Instead I found myself remembering…
The moment, three months ago, when the founder now onstage and delivering their pitch full of confidence, said to me:
“I don’t think I could ever be CEO.”
The Sunday evening that a team rang me to say:
“We did it! We got our first paid trial.”
And the hours before Demo Day, when I heard these words backstage:
“I never, ever thought that someone like me would be doing something like this.”
These stories are only possible because EF exists.
One year on, the magic of EF is no longer a mystery to me. In fact, it’s now crazy to think back to that Demo Day when I wasn’t part of the EF Team. I remember how it looked from the outside, and I now know what it feels like from the inside. I understand the pace, the pressure, the excitement.
Above all, I know what it’s like to work with amazing people, doing amazing things.
Having had the unique experience of working with LD10 from pre-recruitment up until Demo Day, I couldn’t be prouder to be part of their journey.
During our team debrief, Matt Clifford — EF’s CEO — took a moment to remind us that EF isn’t just building companies. It’s changing people’s lives.