My Week: Julie Meyer of Ariadne Capital

The entrepreneurial investor on her bi-annual forum, the wonders of networking, and the evils of heels...

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Since Ariadne is split into four separate businesses, in any one week I’m playing different roles. I might be meeting with existing clients, with prospective clients and investors, or with the different constituencies these clients need to build relationships with.

Ariadne will be ten years old this December. I can scarcely believe it: my little baby is all grown up. It’s come a long way since I founded the business in my living room – there are 15 of us now and we have 56 challenging investors or shareholders, some of whom are really big names in internet technology (including the founders of Betfair and Hotmail). In any one given week, I’ll have about ten of them on the phone, and I’ll have meetings with three or four of them, because they’re asking me to help them with their investment portfolio.

We’re currently in the run up to our bi-annual Entrepreneur Country forum. It’s still three months away but there are a lot of preparations that need to be made and we’re currently asking a few people to keynote. Entrepreneur Country is a community of 25,000 entrepreneurs, most of whom are based in the UK (but not exclusively), and it’s basically a list of everyone I’ve come in contact with since I came to the country! The forum provides a safe environment where people can share the ups and the downs, the breakthrough moments and the near-death experiences of their companies.

I do a fair amount of writing too. I write a column every Tuesday for CityAM, some of which gets republished in our Entrepreneur Country digest which goes out to all of our members every 10 days. We also include a news section – not just from our portfolio companies, but it covers other interesting things that are happening – and we have some guest columnists too. The overall aim of Entrepreneur Country is to reduce the cost of entrepreneurship, so we also promote things that we think can help people in running their businesses.

One of the things that I find entrepreneurs do really well is networking. The thing about networking is that entrepreneurs don’t even refer to it as such – it’s kind of like oxygen. If you said to someone ‘do you need oxygen’, they’d say ‘well yes of course’. Networking is second nature to them. I believe that a great amount of life is down to serendipity: you almost didn’t go to the party, you did and then you met someone who became your business partner. Or if you’d gone to the hair salon on a different day, you would not have sat next to the person who then became your investor. We tend to forget how much of life happens that way. Entrepreneurs know that they’ve got to be out there meeting people, they’ve got to be talking about their company. That’s how you gain momentum.

I spend quite a lot of time at networking or work-related events in the evenings. I hardly ever eat dinner on my own. If I’m not working I’ll grab a bite with a friend perhaps, or maybe I’ll end up at a cocktail party. I do unwind sometimes though: as I’m wearing heels all week, I’ll be in jeans with my hair in a ponytail at the weekend, and I can’t remember the last time I wore make-up on a Saturday or Sunday. Often on a Saturday I’ll go to a spa and have a massage, a pedicure or perhaps a facial. I do feel the need to recover at the weekends.

That said, people ask me if I think I’ve got the balance right and I think I have it just perfect. The state of equilibrium that we should all strive for, is to do what we want with our lives. It doesn’t matter how tired I am or how much I’ve got to do; I’m doing what I want, so I think I’ve achieved perfect balance and harmony.

Julie Meyer is the founder and chief executive of Ariadne Capital, an ‘entrepreneurs backing entrepreneurs’ investment vehicle http://www.ariadnecapital.com/

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