Co-Founder of Entrepreneur First
Alice Bentinck MBE is cofounder and General Partner at Entrepreneur First. Entrepreneur First invests in top technical individuals to help them build world-class deep technology startups from scratch in six locations across Europe and Asia. Since 2011, Entrepreneur First has created over 200 startups worth over $1.5bn including Magic Pony Technology, Tractable and CloudNC.
EF’s investors include LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman and Greylock Partners, alongside Mosaic Ventures, Lakestar and Founders Fund.
She also set up Code First: Girls, a not-for-profit that has taught 5,000 women to code for free while at university.
Alice started her career at McKinsey & Co. She was awarded an MBE for services to business in the 2016 Queen’s Birthday Honours. Alice is also a member of the UK AI Council, representing the UK AI Sector on the international stage.
1. Best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Just before I founded Entrepreneur First I read about Jess Bezos's Regret Minimisation Framework. Jeff said "I wanted to project myself forward to age 80 and say, “Okay, now I’m looking back on my life. I want to have minimized the number of regrets I have.” I knew that when I was 80 I was not going to regret having tried this. I was not going to regret trying to participate in this thing called the Internet that I thought was going to be a really big deal. I knew that if I failed I wouldn’t regret that, but I knew the one thing I might regret is not ever having tried. I knew that that would haunt me every day, and so, when I thought about it that way it was an incredibly easy decision.”. I was 25 at this point and wildly under-qualified for the company I wanted to start, but I also knew if I didn't do it, I'd kick myself for the rest of my life.
2. Worst piece of advice you’ve been given?
"Founding a company is way too risky, why don't you wait until you have more experience?”
3. What would you tell your younger self?
Working hard solves many problems, but as a founder it's a marathon, not a sprint, so invest heavily in working smart.
4. What excites you most about the future of your industry?
The constant decline in the cost of becoming a founder. Companies that are being built today with a seed round of £1m, would have needed 10x as much 10 years ago. The cost of producing an AI company has fallen dramatically and we're now seeing that shift in other areas too, such as biotech.
5. Who or what is your biggest inspiration?
The founders I get to work with through EF. They constantly inspire and challenge me - after 8 years and 2000 founders I could never get bored of this. Working with individuals who are building the latest technology in their fields who want to apply it to big chunk problems is pretty addictive.