I work on early-stage startups. There have been many. Some were sold, some IPO'd, some merged, some failed.
Let's chat about yours. Contact me on my social pages.
Mike Harrop presenting Fifteening.
Born Manchester, August 20, 1945. Swiss and UK citizen.
Mostly lived in Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Scotland.
Fluent English, French, Italian, Spanish, moderate German.
Business experience in many countries.
Music: hispanic, levantine, slav, schlager, tejano, country, early blues, cajun.
Hobbies: growing things, inventing things, reading wikipedia.
Swiss School, Milano, Italy (primary)
Merton House, Penmaenmawr Dwygyfylchi, Wales (preparatory)
Academia Ladislao de Berzeviczy, Barcelona, Spain (cavalry)
Malvern College, Malvern, UK (secondary)
Duke of Edinburgh's Award UK (gold)
Cambridge University UK - linguistics, history, literature
West of Scotland University at Paisley - textile engineering
Clyde Explorers Club - mentoring gang youth in the Glasgow, Scotland area
Chavannes-des-Bois Fire Brigade, Switzerland - volunteer fireman for many years
Civil Protection, Switzerland - NBC Nuclear, Biological, Chemical detector
Until age 10, I lived in Italy, where my father was rebuilding some Scottish textile mills that had been damaged during the war. The mills, and textile machinery, were my playground. I also attended the Swiss School in Milano where most of the kids' Swiss parents were in textiles or sewing machines (Italy was rebuilding itself after the war thanks to its textile industry). In Tuscany my father was a friend of cycling champion Gino Bartali, so I got the bicycle bug very young. Much of the time I traveled across Europe with my eccentric grandmother and aunt. They created chaos in some very grand hotels (very cheap after the war), playing football in the empty corridors and running around in vintage bikinis. I would be sent off to calm the owners.
SWITZERLAND 1st chapter
As a kid, when my father was rebuilding a textile mill at Intra on Lake Maggiore, I would travel into Switzerland from the Italian frontier on the yellow Swiss Post buses (kids alone were normal then), to stay with farm families in the Alps. Deepest Switzerland, long hikes in the high forests, cold nights in cowherd huts, and understanding the dialects spoken by these taciturn mountain people, became a central part of me.
At age 8, this was a bad year. Some childhood friends in Milano died, I spent weeks in solitary quarantine with a contagious illness, I was told that my affection for Italy was misplaced because I had a new queen in a place called Britain, and I was sent to boarding school in Wales. At boarding school things fell apart and I went into full revolt. Physical punishment was routine. Due to this violence, and the constant showing of war films at the school, and the suffering when my friends died, I took the irrevocable decision to not have children. Otherwise, north Wales is beautiful, allowing endless hiking in the mountains, wild horses, and incredible wildlife.
At age 10 my parents moved to Glasgow, which I loved. At age 12, I did my first startup with some entrepreneurial Scots girls, washing found golf balls and painting "Champ !" on them. For a kid with a fast Italian racing bike, Scotland and its beautiful scenery was an exalting place to live. The beginning of a life on a bicycle.
At age 13, we moved to Spain. Spain was transitioning at speed from the medieval era into the swinging 60s. There was lots of work to do for kids with languages and travel experience. And endless empty beaches. And endless rich people who would pay you to exercise their fancy horses. We would live in a tent in the dunes for months. Later I studied across Spain in many musty old colonial libraries and developed a deep emotional bond with Spain and its literature and music.
At age 18, inspired by a sojourn in Andalusia, I went to Cambridge to study arabo-hispanic history and literature, but soon realized that without immersive exposure to Arabic, I would not reach degree level. So I switched to French literature, discovered the beauty of alexandrines, and got the degree. At age 21, I got a job with Coats in Glasgow, the world's largest thread company. Coats sent me to West of Scotland University at Paisley to learn engineering, production management, and ergonomics. After that I trained in their mills in Spain (Coats Fabra), Scotland (Coats Patons), Italy (Cucirini Cantoni Coats), Germany (Mez), and Austria (Harlander Coats).
SWITZERLAND 2nd chapter
At age 24, I married a Swiss girl whom I had met at Cambridge, and got a job with DuPont de Nemours in Geneva in their new products group, working with Nomex para-aramid, Kevlar aramid, Teflon PTFE, Kapton polyimide, and Tedlar PVF. These products were so revolutionary that they often required the companies who used them to re-invent their business models. This was good training for my later work with startups. A week later, tickets to Germany, Portugal, Sweden, and the US, dropped onto my desk, and I was "on the road" as a DuPont salesman.
In 1979, at age 34, I left DuPont and set up a consultancy firm advising companies on modernization of their technologies, and soon became very involved with startups (see Startups page) for the rest of my life.
My consultancy career has involved most industrial sectors so my technical knowledge is varied but generalist.
I have some specialized knowledge of technical textiles and industrial design optimization.
Career landmarks at Coats included:
a. Refurbing vintage silk hank-winders to slow-process knot-free embroidery threads, expanding the market for automated high-speed embroidery in ethnic fashions.
b. Speeding up 3-D spectrophotometry and automated dye mixing for thread-dyeing, facilitating the market for 24-hour color-matched thread delivery.
c. Using the UK's first industrial mainframe computer to map 3-D color-space, so that every color could be given a numeric co-ordinate, leading to better color reproducibility worldwide in many industries.
Career landmarks at DuPont included:
a. Developing dyeing of para-aramid fibers to open new markets in worker-protection and fire brigades.
b. Developing quilted para-aramid clothing for F1 motor-racing, extending fire-protection times.
c. Organising the first European Hot-Gas Filtration Symposium in Düsseldorf, leading to improved filtration of pollutant emissions at asphalt and TiO2 plants.
d. Creating a purchasing club of German industrial laundries to develop high-tech calender felts, reducing waste.
e. Developing the first Kevlar anti-ballistic vests and helmets. Orders from all countries followed.
f. Working with Louis Vuitton and designer Clino Castelli on futuristic luggage materials for the America's Cup Challenge trophy. The fabrics used a Kevlar/Polyamide wrapped-core yarn technology, originally developed for the first Lycra swimsuits, woven and 'locked' by heat-fusion. The concept was later used for fused racing sails.
g. Working with the European Space Agency on ultra-thin polyimide film with vacuum vapor deposited gold coating, used to wrap satellites, significantly reducing payload weight.
h. Working with polyimide and PVF films in many industries.
i. Working on some of the first ultra-light drones (yes, in the 1970s !), made viable for the first time thanks to the lightness of Nomex paper honeycomb and Kevlar/Carbon composite structures. This is a very long story.
TRANSPARENCY, FREE SPEECH, INTERNET SEARCH AND CACHES
I have been a heavy user of internet and videotext for 40 years and have always posted in a free-speech manner and in my own name. I am relaxed and un-paranoid about privacy and my life is run open source. As part of staying in touch with the latest software, social, organizational, design and marketing trends, I support new, experimental, weird, off-the-wall, artsy, minority, political, loony, or disruptive sites, blogs and fora. All these references may be picked up by search engines. Nothing ever dies on the internet, and search engines make no distinction between fun and professional remarks. In general on page 1 they show the remarks I would prefer to forget, whilst the stuff I'm happy with doesn't appear until page 23. Internet searches may find aged information which, if taken out of context, appears strange. They may also cache versions of my internet sites which were temporary, experimental, parodic or that were modified aeons ago.
CREATIVE MISUSE OF WEBSITE INFORMATION
With much useful and useless information available via the web, investigators, attorneys and competitors can easily generate amply documented positive or negative impressions of a target person, thus justifying their fees or salaries or existence. Please ask me for clarification before jumping to conclusions or allowing anyone to convince you that you have a basis for legal action if you disagree with me or any affiliate. Once again, the easiest way to solve problems is to ask for any information you may need, before silly damage is done to both parties. This is especially true for anyone who has not litigated often, or who is unfamiliar with the internet and how it can be creatively misused.
AUTOMATED COLLISIONS OF INTERNET LINKS AND REFERENCES
Increasingly, web platforms and search engines such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and others automatically generate potentially deceptive and manipulatable associations between pieces of information that were born separate. Please ask for any clarifications you may need.
SPAMMERS, MAILERS, PHISHERS
Spammers and phishers can 'borrow' real or simulated identities and email addresses. Please check with me before opening any unannounced email that appears to come from an email address similar to mine. Although my grandfather in fact died in west Africa, it is unlikely that he left you a million dollars.
WARNING and DISCLAIMER
This website constitutes neither a recommendation nor an endorsement of any company, nor an invitation to participate in any situation, financially or otherwise. Investors should not invest anywhere unless they can easily afford to lose their entire investment. My company, my affiliates or business relations may at all times have interests in companies, some being pure financial investments, some being strategic investments where affiliates are visibly involved, some being small preparatory investments where the position assists in tracking a company's behavioural patterns. Affiliates are at all times informally researching private and listed companies, both for themselves and in liaison with third parties. This involves unsecured exchanges of information, hypothetical deal scenarios, site visits and publications on the internet. However in keeping with regulatory guidelines, if affiliates enter into formal discussions with a company, there is an announcement. If there is no such announcement, there is no meaningful involvement. Investors should be wary of companies, websites, media or sales groups that attempt to create links or purported relationships between affiliates and themselves or other entities. Affiliates and their partners, being systematic value advisors specialised in re-structuring and preparing special situations prior to the involvement of others, are routinely named in litigation, bankruptcies, and judicial procedures in the course of their normal business, sometimes accompanied by unfavourable media attention (affiliates' objectives for a situation may not be aligned with the short-term interests of company management, other shareholders, suppliers or competitors). Investors may at any time contact affiliates for confirmation of any subject. Affiliates are not authorised financial advisers in any territory. Affiliates do not give investment advice to, nor take deposits from, members of the general public. This document is not a source of investment advice. Nothing here may be construed as investment advice or as an invitation or inducement to invest in any situation where affiliates may be involved or not. Readers should always consult a licensed financial adviser in their relevant territory or regulatory environment prior to making any decision about anything. This website you are reading may not be the latest version and may have been changed significantly since its previous versions. Affiliates reserve the right to change any published or draft materials without notice at any time, and without updating previous versions of the materials or websites. For enquiries on any subject or personal or employment questions, please email the appropriate affiliate or project company. This warning and disclaimer is applicable in its entirety to this website.
Products and concepts referred to in this website may be the subject of international patents or patents pending. Company and product names in this website may include registered or pending trademarks. Please check appropriate sources before using any information or names. Contents of this website may not be copied without permission. This website replaces all other existing documents. Mike Harrop's and partners' websites and business processes are continuously modified and optimized, as is normal when operating in new markets and new technologies. Web-pages and links give indicative information and are almost certainly not up to date.
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