Acceleration

Bryce Keane

Bryce is Atomico’s Communications Partner at Atomico, based in London, where he focuses on helping our founders tell their stories to the right audience on a global scale. He is our in-house storyteller, media strategist, wordsmith, connector and fixer; as well as our resident Aussie. 

Start-ups are all about storytelling. Your job, as a founder, is to make as many people as possible believe that something that may currently seem unbelievable is in fact inevitable...long before it happens. My job is to help you do that.  It’s a skill that can be taught, and it is as fundamental to success as having a superior product. 

Being told ‘you can’t do this’ is the greatest motivator I’ve ever had

I hail from Melbourne, Australia. I don’t have an ivy league education (we didn’t even have that term when I was growing up) - in fact, my university rejected my initial application to study communications because my final marks in high school weren’t high enough. There’s certainly nothing like being told you’re not smart enough to do something early on in life to drive you to constantly raise the bar.

My dad was in the Australian army for 30 years

That meant a new hometown every two years until I was 15. He taught me three things - work hard, be nice to people and always polish your shoes. 

Beards changed my life

I arrived in London with no network and no contacts. Somehow I accidentally started a community organisation with a few friends called 3beards (we all had beards; it was a good name). 3beards would go on to become the social heart of East London’s blossoming “Silicon Roundabout” start-up scene circa 2012 - eventually running events every week in 52 cities around the world by 2017. I’m still sh*t at polishing my shoes though.

I was a founder too

Thanks to all the people I met in my community organising days, after 3beards I was able to start my own communications agency Albion Drive, which was acquired after two years. Much like today, our goal was to help founders tell their stories to the world. One of those companies I was lucky enough to work with was a $1B Swedish upstart unicorn called Klarna, which I helped launch in the UK (where nobody had heard of them or BNPL, how times have changed!), and a tiny start-up of 5 people that I shared my office with called Transferwise. 

“Pay it forward and play the long game. Not to get something in return but because helping people out is fundamentally the right thing to do and we’re all building this ecosystem together. How hard is it to send that extra intro email? When I think of the people who have had a really meaningful impact on my life and career, it was because each of them simply wanted to pay it forward and help out. They didn’t have to, but they did and it had an impact on me. I apply that same ethos today.”

People’s stories are precious, and helping tell them is a privilege - which is why I give it everything

I don’t think of myself as particularly special. I’m just willing to work hard and run through walls to achieve results for the people I work for and with.  The best written strategy doc in the world is only as good as your ability to manifest it in the real world. At the end of the day, results still matter. To me, and to our founders that I work with. 

Even now, I still feel like a bit of an outsider - which keeps me motivated

I’m an immigrant who started in this city from scratch in 2009, knowing no one. I’m still not sure how I ended up here over a decade later, but what I do know is that experience has meant I don’t take a single day in this role for granted. As long as I’m here, I’m going to continue running through walls to achieve great things for our founders. I can certainly say, for better or worse, there are not many people quite like me in VC.

I may not have made Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list

But I’m gunning for a place on the inevitable 80 Under 80 list. At least I’ve got time to work on my application. 

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