Michael Acton Smith: Building a European brand that will rival Silicon Valley

Michael Acton Smith on the magic behind London’s tech scene

Can Europe position itself as a leader in the technology industry? Is startup culture enough? Only if we play the long game according to Mind Candy’s Michael Acton Smith.

We caught up with Michael at the Dublin Web Summit. In this exclusive video he gave his advice for startups and an insight into the future of Mind Candy.

Dream Big and Learn From Mistakes

Michael says it’s vital to dream big, but when you’re starting out its important to focus on one problem. Once you’ve cracked the solution and you’re the best you can be, then you can expand. “I see too many startups trying to juggle too many balls” he explains.

His advice is to learn from other entrepreneurs even if they’re not in your industry, what you learn is that everyone makes mistakes.

Michael calls for sustainable businesses on European soil:

Don’t necessarily sell out when the first person comes knocking, let’s show in Europe we can build billion dollar companies that compete with Silicon Valley

Silicon Roundabout

When Mind Candy moved to East London in 2011 they were joined by the likes of Songkick and Moo. With cheaper rents and coffee shops popping up Michael describes there was ‘something magical’ happening in the area.

He describes how the digital world may be changing the ways we work but human beings will always be social creatures. In London’s tech scene he says there are “so many serendipitous meetings, investors, journalists, other entrepreneurs, I love it”.

Breaking into the US

Mind Candy have big challenges ahead, one of them is cracking the great potential of the US market. For startups wanting to make the leap ‘The best advice I can give is to go over there. We speak the same language but there’s an awful lot of cultural differences.”

Find out more about the working culture at Mind Candy in our @Work company profile

The Future for Mind Candy

Mind Candy’s not just building a website or an app, they’ve now launched an entertainment franchise. Moshi Monsters is 5 years old, Michael explains that most children’s brands don’t last that long:

What we’re trying to do is turn it into an evergreen brand like a Lego, Barbie or Hot wheels that lasts for decades

Michael revealed he plans to develop more brands and products at Mind Candy before considering going public. With 200 people at the company they are constantly looking to expand, and the only way to do that is to hire amazing people.