That Perdie Alder and Margaret Anne Coyle have named their new venture Spice Startups is not surprising. Alder and Coyle themselves have brought spice and flavour to London’s Tech ecosystem for the past five years. And now they’re looking to share that je ne se quois—their secret sauce—with Tech ecosystems across the UK. The team’s vision is to be a unique voice in the ecosystem. They are eager to work with quirky and non-traditional founders who are looking to disrupt the start-up scene. That’s what brings them to Birmingham for this year’s Tech Week.
Introducing Accelerators as a Service (AaaS)
Their goal is to create a model they’ve called “Accelerators as a Service (AaaS)”. Spice designs and delivers custom accelerators for businesses and investors whose clients include Tech startups. Alongside this, Alder and Coyle plan to equip groups of founders to map out their city’s ecosystem. This skill set will enable regional founders to access free and low-cost support. With this in mind, Coyle emphasises the “importance of [founders] having a crowd-sourced pool of resources” at the start of their journeys when they have more time than money.
Alder and Coyle met a few years ago when they were working side-by-side to build London’s Tech startup ecosystem. Alder and Coyle created a “black book” of important people to know across the city. They then used this book to connect founders with relevant support resources.
Founders from regional cities travelled to London to access resources. At first, Alder and Coyle thought this meant that the other cities did not have their own growing ecosystems. But after some intensive research, including Alder’s work with major universities across the UK, the pair realised this was not the case. Alder reflects that “there’s a Tech ecosystem everywhere there’s a good university” because “good universities kick out good talent.” Alder and Coyle realised that founders just needed some help finding local support. And that’s the problem they have set out to solve.
A Pivot and a New Beginning
Alder and Coyle launched Spice Startups, LTD in August 2020 after being made redundant as a direct result of COVID-19. Their decision characterises the “COVID-19 pivot” five months into the UK’s national lockdown.
Shortly before lockdown, Alder and Coyle observed that Venture Capitalists (VCs) across the country had started treating community as an “ROI-able tool”. These VCs hired community managers to help them find new customers and engage existing customers. The social restrictions enforced during lockdown fundamentally altered the shape of those community interactions. Alder and Coyle then recognised the importance of bringing key stakeholders together digitally to support, grow, and sustain ecosystems across the country. And that is precisely what they are doing now.
Diversity and Inclusion
Notably, diversity and inclusion play a major role in Alder and Coyle’s vision; by connecting founders and aspiring founders with resources that had previously been considered exclusive or inaccessible, Alder and Coyle are levelling the playing field and making it possible for more people from a broader range of backgrounds to enter into the UK’s entrepreneurial ecosystems. This commitment to diversity and inclusion is one of many reasons Birmingham Tech Week is excited to learn from the Spice Startups team’s expertise.
Why Birmingham Tech Week?
At Birmingham Tech Week, Alder and Coyle will equip attendees to map out the local ecosystem for themselves so that they can access the support that is readily available across the city. They will do this by celebrating the work that is already happening across the city, inspiring new and aspiring founders to join the ecosystem, and encouraging further collaborations across the city.
In short: If you have any interest in Birmingham’s Tech ecosystem, you won’t want to miss this.