The parties are over for First Tuesday founder Julie Meyer. The European e-commerce matchmaker is launching a new venture to save start-ups from becoming shut downs.
Meyer has turned to Greek mythology for the inspiration for her new company. Ariadne Capital is named after the Cretan princess who loved Theseus and gave him a sword and a golden thread to help him find his way through the labyrinth and kill the minotaur. In the same way, Meyer hopes to help Net companies through the difficulties now facing them, ensuring they are in a better position to fight off the increasing possibility of North American dominance of the European digital economy.
“I’ve enjoyed telling the First Tuesday story and seeing the surge of entrepreneurial activity taking off,” Meyer told The Industry Standard Europe. “But I see Ariadne as the opposite to First Tuesday. I see us in stealth mode, working behind the scenes to make things happen. The market is not about access to capital anymore, it’s really about how you expand across Europe efficiently. I see the leveraging of networks now as the real opportunity to build Europe.com.”
This is what will make Ariadne Capital different from not only First Tuesday but also from being just another venture capital firm, company-restructuring consultancy or incubator, according to Meyer.
“Ariadne will be a tight community,” she says. “We’re trying to be a bolt-on for companies. Come to us and we’re your extended advisory board across Europe. We are not trying to be an incubator. I would rather set up a cooking school.”
Meyer is an icon of new economy enterprise in Europe. For two years now, she has overseen the birth of Net companies at exclusive gatherings on the first Tuesday of every month in a growing number of major cities across the world.
But times and fortunes have changed dramatically. Meyer’s new venture will represent a role reversal, where she will be tending to the sick and dying start-ups starved of cash after the collapse of confidence in the high-tech market.
Building Europe.com is about establishing the connections to create companies and support systems that can span the continent, she says.
To achieve this, Meyer plans to practice “shuttle-networking” of Kissinger-like scale and secrecy, rather than First Tuesday pan-European partying.
Meyer may be uniquely qualified for the task ahead. She is constantly travelling between European cities making the contacts between capital and ideas, and aims to link up companies in trouble or looking for partnerships. She will also hook up big corporates, major financial institutions and US firms coming into Europe with suitable start-up partners. Often, they will not be in a distressed state.
“I don’t see this as a rescue business,” she says. “I see it as a repositioning of objectives. You should be building multiple scenarios for your company.”
Meyer is chief executive of the new company and plans to double the staff of seven in the next few months. She is keeping details under wraps, but it includes a former head of finance with a major corporation, the former chief executive of a b-to-b marketplace and a company-restructuring specialist. As with First Tuesday, she is providing the seed funding herself but will seek more than