I’ve just watched fledgling UK-based PC maker Very PC put in a cringe-worthy performance on Dragons’ Den.
This company is valuing itself at 50 times earnings and has a range of computers that contain no proprietary technology and offer energy-saving features that can be achieved by anyone looking to build a PC themselves.
Very PC’s machines do offer energy savings over some of the equivalent PCs on the market, and the company has won awards for its efforts. But at this point the products offer nothing unique, and nothing that can’t be replicated easily and cheaply.
I desperately want to see a British PC maker do well, and would love to see Very PC grow and thrive even more than it has. However, performances like the one on the show just make our once proud computer manufacturing (or more recently assembly) sector look like a joke. Peter Jones, a guy who does know his tech, was annoyed – and so am I.
Five million quid – for what! Please, tell me, where is the value? It isn’t in the size of the customer base (at just £300,000 turnover, the company was clearly not selling many machines at the time the show was recorded), it certainly isn’t in the brand (Time and Tiny still have more street cred than this start-up right now), and there is nothing special about the products. They don’t look good, and they are all made out of off-the-shelf bits.
If you want a eco-friendly PC, you can actually go down to a computer fair and buy the bits to make one. If you live in London, I encourage you to visit the British Computer Fair every Saturday in Cleveland Street at UCL. If you have a car, get along to the big fairs at Bracknell Sports Centre and Tolworth Rec. Both are on once or twice a month on a Sunday.
Really – building your own PC is a doddle, it’s like playing with Lego. You will save a fortune and almost certainly achieve the same, if not better, ‘green’ results.
Very PC – before undertaking such a publicity stunt you need to acknowledge a realistic view of the market and a realistic valuation for your company, a business that builds computers that are no more energy-efficient or recyclable than the ones I or anyone else can build at home. On the basis of the sales and profit figures disclosed on the show, I’d say the business was worth, at most, about £600,000 – that’s why the panel of dragons were so unimpressed.
Please spend some time and money developing some unique energy-saving BIOS or motherboard technology you can patent and that will allow you to move away from just relying on generic PC parts alone. Then you can really make a name for yourselves globally as well as make a positive and lasting difference to the PC industry.
Go on – it’ll be good for the environment, good for the company and good for Britain.