High tech hopefuls at the Founders Forum

3D printer It's claimed that this 3D printer could create copies of itself for everyone on the planet in just 18 days

Where do you go to find the hot new start-ups that could be the next big thing in technology?

In Europe one answer is the Founders Forum, an extraordinary event which brings together successful entrepreneurs, business angels and chief executives to network - and to meet firms they might invest in.

Amongst the start-ups that have laid out their wares in previous years in front of the big money crowd that the Founders Forum's impresario Brent Hoberman assembles in a five star country hotel are success stories like Tweetdeck, Shazam and Playfish.

At the end of this year's two day event, which had started with an evening in Downing Street, a small group of journalists was allowed in to watch the high tech fashion show.

On the catwalk, as well as some nervous entrepreneurs explaining why their firms were going places fast, were scientists with some ideas for the next decade, plus a couple of projects that were already known success stories.

We heard from the founder of Angry Birds about the 51 unsuccessful games his firm had made before creating its huge worldwide hit.

We heard the story of M-Pesa, the mobile money transfer system which is transforming banking in Kenya. And we saw German scientists wrestling with technology that might drive a car with brain-power alone.

But I've picked out three presentations from businesses that seemed to impress the jaded crowd of gazillionaires the most.


Efe Cakarel Efe Cakarel believes he can succeed without breaking the US market

Mubi aims to transform the experience of watching movies online, and its exuberant founder told us that he could do that without conquering the US market.

Turkish-born Efe Cakarel was educated at MIT and Stanford, started his business in Silicon Valley, but now runs it out of London. If you want to be in the entertainment business London and New York are the places, he told me later.

Mubi is a social site for sharing your love of independent movies, or in its own words an online movie theatre where you watch, discover, and discuss auteur cinema.

Despite the American spelling Mr Cakarel isn't aiming at the US - he told us that only 13% of the world's internet users were now American, leaving a much bigger market to be addressed elsewhere. And, to whoops from the crowd, he announced that a deal had just been signed with Sony to put Mubi on its internet-connected televisions.


Spencer Hyman, formerly of another successful London start-up last.fm, told us about the one form of media which has yet to find a proper digital marketplace.

Many more people visit museums and galleries than go to football matches but where online can you share, discuss and buy art, from the old masters to new work by aspiring artists?

Artfinder aims to be the digital space for both artists and art lovers, with a big and growing database of works from galleries around the world. It will offer its community of users a place to share their favourite pictures, buy original works, even print out limited editions.

There will be an iPad app, and an image recognition system which will enable you to hold up a smartphone to a picture in a gallery and learn all about it. You can't help wondering just how the site will deal with copyright issues - what's to stop me printing out my own copy of a modern masterpiece without paying?

But Spencer Hyman says at the heart of Artfinder is provenance, giving everyone assurance about where works of art come from. And the firm has some big name investors including Reid Hoffman - as the founder of LinkedIn and an early backer of Facebook, he knows a bit about tech trends.


But the entrepreneur who both wowed and charmed the audience the most was a man who confessed he was nearer 60 than 50, a boffin far from the image of the pushy young entrepreneur.

Adrian Bowyer was showing off a 3D printer, a technology that is currently exciting enormous interest, along with a certain amount of puzzlement about its end purpose.

His RepRap though had an intriguing twist - the machine can print out the parts to replicate itself. Mr Bowyer painted an intriguing vision of one machine being replicated within 18 days to provide enough printers for every person on the planet - though just as we aren't knee-deep in rabbits that was unlikely to happen.

He showed us products made by the printer, from children's plastic shoes to a model of a gothic cathedral. You can even print out a key - keys are actually alarmingly simple - and use it for a week or so before you need to print another. It's like MP3 sharing but for real solid stuff, Mr Bowyer told us.

Will his vision of a new industrial model where £500,000 machine tools are replaced by home printing of anything we need ever be realised? Maybe not - but the inventor of the RepRap intrigued and amused us with a glimpse of a different way of running the world, and you can't ask more than that.

Rory Cellan-Jones Article written by Rory Cellan-Jones Rory Cellan-Jones Technology correspondent

Zuckerberg - the unasked questions

Mark Zuckerberg's appearance at the Mobile World Congress was a missed opportunity.

Read full article

More on This Story

More from Rory


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Imagine printing a broken part for your cooker or washing machine as and when things go wrong or maybe printing out a a specific tool for a one off job that you may need to fix something....

    3D printing has allot going for it if it is managed right but the problem will be the typical DRM and Copyright issues which we have seen big business bungle far to often.
    Design your own stuff or buy it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    London is a great place for advertising, marketing and media, better than Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley is better if you have a Tech start-up. We are to risk adverse here in London. Tech start-ups need people who take big risks. Mostly young people. This again is something that the UK markets are not good with. How many 20 year old guys get funded in London? Not many.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    Two blogs in a row no mention of apple? Whats going on?

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Graphis :
    "Our stupid copyright law insists that copyright in a photo belongs to the photographer, REGARDLESS of what the photo is actually of."

    You raise a separate issue. How easy it is to spread misinformation via the internet.

    There is an exception to photographic copyright law in the UK, which states that a significant object in a photograph must not in itself be protected by copyright.

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


Comments 5 of 10



  • Mukesh SinghNo remorse

    Delhi bus rapist says victim shouldn't have fought back

  • Aimen DeanI spied

    The founder member of al-Qaeda who worked for MI6

  • Before and after shotsPerfect body

    Just how reliable are 'before and after' photos?

  • Woman with closed eyeStrange light show

    What do you see when you close your eyes?

  • Sony WalkmanLost ideas

    What has happened to Japan's inventors?

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.