Alice Bentinck: Entrepreneur First, role model second

Two minutes in the company of Alice Bentinck is all you need to understand why she is more than worthy of her Veuve Clicquot New Generation Award. That, and the plethora of gongs that have deservedly headed her way since 2011, including, amongst many others, the MBE she received last year for services to business.

Executive search provides those of us fortunate enough to be within it the enviable privilege of meeting outstanding individuals on a near-hourly basis. And in that galaxy of stars, trust me when I say Alice is a supernova.

With outstanding ability but absolutely no ego or fanfare, she has overseen the birth and stratospheric growth of Entrepreneur First, the revolutionary, fantastically fluid, free-thinking startup incubator that has changed the face of entrepreneurship.

The numbers tell you all you need to know. Since 2011, EF has created more than 100 companies, with a combined value of well over $500m. In 2016 alone, three EF-born companies sold for close to $300m, with Magic Pony Technologies acquired by Twitter for $150m, Represent sold to CustomInk for $100m and Avocarrot bought by Glispa Global Group for $20m.

Alice and co-founder Matt Clifford built EF around the desire to change the way tech startups are built. They caught onto an insight that anyone involved in any startup will easily relate to – co-founder chemistry matters as much as business ideas.

As such, all of those good/fortunate enough to get through Entrepreneur First’s rigorous application process are thrown together until compatible co-founder teams are found. Full-time resources are dedicated to “breaking up” incompatible pairings, with a liquid group of founders ready to swap in and out until all pairings are made. Only then are business ideas discussed.  

And beyond EF, Alice and Matt co-founded Code First: Girls, a free part-time training course for women who want to take a lead in the digital revolution. Available at 27 different universities, Alice estimates that by the end of 2017, it will have taught 5,000 young women how to code.

We at MBS feel very strongly about the under-representation of women in senior roles, and specifically tech and digital (read here). In a world where access to education, opportunity and resources are beginning to equalise, what will make the biggest difference is relatable, exceptional role models. Alice Bentinck is the person we should laud to the next generation of girls – and boys – and is truly the most worthy winner of the Veuve Clicquot New Generation Award you could find.

Very well done Alice. | @SteRosenthal | @TheMBSGroup