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The Apprentice – Keeping Europe Firmly in the Valley’s Shadow.

So, the results are in and Ricky Martin is Lord Sugar‘s new ‘apprentice’. This is a bad decision. The UK’s Enterprise Champion, responsible for promoting entrepreneurship, should be a catalyst enthusing more people to ‘poke the box’. In short, he failed. Here are the 4 finalists, their business plans and my thoughts…

Nick Holzherr – Online Recipe Ordering

I think it’s fair to say that Lord Sugar didn’t understand the concept. Fair enough, investors rarely get involved with something they don’t ‘get’. However, recipes are big. Ever more sites, apps and shows are appearing that centre around cooking. There’s a lot of money to be made from product placement and commission from sales. Nick fell down by not referencing the existing market with examples of profitable counterparts. Also, if he’s written a working prototype ‘button’ hosted on existing sites then why not evidence the traction achieved?

Jade Nash – Lead Generation Call Centre

Jade did well during the process; clearly, by reaching the final. However, her business plan sucked. So, no surprise that she wasn’t ‘hired’. On the assumption that business plans were part of entrants’ submissions, though, I find it extremely disingenuous that Jade was allowed to enter the process. Why allow someone to go through an 11 week ordeal, with the associated opportunity costs, if she was never going to win?

Tom Gearing – Wine-based Hedge Fund

An innovative idea that combined two existing markets to create a new one. Nick Hewer commented to Lord Sugar that it could be an extremely exciting and profitable business. Lord Sugar’s criticism were based around not knowing the market and his discomfort about investing other peoples’ money.

Ricky Martin – Niche Recruitment Agency

Ricky is a very ‘backable’ individual; but his business plan should not have won. If this was The Apprentice 2009 then he would have triumphed easily. He will no doubt create and run a successful business. I agree with Lord Sugar here; it’s a safe bet.

Conclusion

I remember, vividly, a conversation I had with a Cambridge-based entrepreneur/investor about scale. He said “If you want to be huge, go to the valley. Europe and the UK doesn’t have the capital or stomach for ground-breaking, risky startups.” Ricky’s idea is not entrepreneurial. He knows the market well, but that’s because it already exists. Entrepreneurship should be about creating new markets, pushing boundaries and inventing new ways to solve old problems. The Apprentice should have excited and inspired us. It didn’t.

So, enjoy the continued coolness of the shade cast over us by our US cousins. If our Enterprise Champion cannot shine a little sunshine on us then who can?

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2012 in Startups

 

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