If you’ve never heard of Dragon’s Den, it’s a popular British TV reality series, where entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to get funding from business experts — the “Dragons”. One of those Dragons, Doug Richard, a UK-based Californian and founder of investment research firm Library House got a name for himself as a particularly fastidious investor on the show. And now he’s selected 20 of the UK’s most promising web application start-ups to go and try their luck in Silicon Valley.
The initiative is called Web Mission 2008, and it offers subsidized participation in a one-week tour of the Valley, which begins next week. The program includes visits to Oracle, Bebo and the Web 2.0 Expo. For these British web start-ups, many with CEOs in their twenties, it’s a pretty alluring opportunity. The jury, led by Doug Richard, describe the selected companies as highly promising businesses that are well prepared to attract American investors and customers. “Some of these companies are as good as anything coming out of the Valley”, Richard said in a statement.
More than 100 British web companies applied for the 20 available slots, and the winners were announced the first week of March. The program is sponsored by the UK Trade & Investment Organisation, along with some companies from the private sector. The idea is that British web companies in their early stage have a lot to learn — and earn — from entering the US.
The companies span a broad range of web applications (see full list here). Most were founded a year or two ago. Here’s a quick taste of who’s coming: