Paul Miller

Partner at Bethnal Green Ventures helping technology startups working on stuff that matters.

Peak Nation State?

You can’t really avoid the Scottish Referendum this week whether or not you live there. But I think the response to the surge for ‘yes’ from London’s politicians has missed the point. This isn’t just because people care about independence for Scotland – it’s a chance for them to stick it to Westminster. Mure Dickie has a good column in the FT Magazine today: In my ideal world, nation states would actually fade in importance and emphasis shift to a wider range of political units that would allow genuinely global co-operation on issues such as climate change and truly local ...(Read More)

Good things this week #5

Catching up with friends and making new ones at SOCAP – it’s great to know that the impact investment community is growing up strong in the US and around the world. The conference organisers getting Off the Grid on free vend to feed us at the opening party. The fantastic Interval created by friends at the Long Now Foundation in San Francisco. Buying new kicks at the Darkside Initiative. Reading Player One by Douglas Coupland in a couple of sittings – including in an airport bar which was odd because that’s where it’s set.

Gadgets I’ve had for a while – Fairphone

When we first met Bas, Miquel and the team at Fairphone on Skype for their BGV interview a little over two years ago, we couldn’t quite work out whether they were mad. They were working at the Waag Society and had become experts in the negative impacts of the mobile phone industry. From the conflict exacerbated by the minerals in the electronics through to the conditions of the workers who put them together and the designed in obsolescence and failures to consider proper recycling, it was obvious that your standard iPhone or other mobile was not good. The problem was that when ...(Read More)

BGV Winter 2015 applications are open

We opened up our Winter 2015 Call for Ideas yesterday at the Tech for Good Meetup in London. Once again we’re looking for 10 great teams with ideas to use technology to solve important problems in health, education or sustainability. We’ll invest £15,000 into your venture, give you free office space in (very) Central London and a programme of support . We’ve come a long way from the first BGV in the Winter of 2010/11. Back then, we kicked off on a Saturday because that was when we could get a room and cooked vegetable lasagne for about 30 people. ...(Read More)

Good things this week #4

A beautiful walk in the Peak District around and up Chrome Hill. I was amazed how much lycra and road cycling kit was on display as well – really glad Britain has got the bike bug. BBC’s Horizon on meat – convinced me that there’s nothing wrong healthwise with eating meat in moderation but that the environmental impact means we need to cut back a lot. Having a series of meetings that made me realise quite how far we’ve come with BGV since we kicked it off over homemade lasagne in Bethnal Green in late 2010. Flying to San Francisco ...(Read More)

Hacking inequality

Each week I have the pleasure of meeting quite a few founders who come and talk to us about their ideas. They want to find out more about BGV and I want to help them in whatever way I can, whether or not they go on to become a BGV team. It’s most intense just before our application deadline but we’re always up for a coffee, even when the programme is running. Recently I’ve noticed a new theme in the ideas people are coming to talk to me about. We usually say that we back ideas in health, education and ...(Read More)

Good things this week #3

Chris Hoy’s BBC ‘How to win gold‘ including an interview with his hero Graeme Obree The BBC documentary about the building of Crossrail – The Fifteen Billion Pound Railway Swimming at the London Aquatics Centre – feels like a massive privilege two years on from the game Getting into The Last of Us – wow, what a game The Hungarian Grand Prix – it’s the best season for a long time I reckon

Good things this week #2

Bit late this week but here are my highlights: All the pictures of the lightning storms. Running around the Olympic Park – it’s looking really good these days. TEA from Hogback – lovely caramel hit. Brunch at Mare and Beck – good eggs. 7 hour lamb shoulder at Great Queen Street – nom. Finishing Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson – such an amazing book, gives you a sense of what London would have been like in the late 1600s. Rewatching Delicatessen – over twenty years old but still fresh.

Tricky business: awkwardness

[Also posted over on the BGV blog] If you make the choice to go into startup life there’s something you should know – things are going to get awkward. You’ll have to have lots of awkward conversations as a team. You’ll have to talk about money, about who gets the credit, about whether people are doing a good job or not. You’ll think it’s easier to avoid these conversations but don’t – short term awkward is better than long term resentment. You’ll have awkward conversations with friends who just don’t get why you’re going it alone. They’ll nod politely and ...(Read More)

Reshuffle kerfuffle

It’s reshuffle day in the UK as Government Ministers get hired, fired and moved around. It struck me as I looked through the ups and downs this morning that it’s the first major one of this Government. A lot of Ministers have been in post for four years and quite a few held the same brief in opposition. Compared to the Tony Blair days, that’s a lifetime. Most summers would involve moving people around and the whole of the think tank world (where I worked at the time) would spend the day working out where it left them. Four years ...(Read More)