Tuesday, 17 April 2012
Posted by Ed French at 21:25
Sunday, 29 January 2012
Why build it?
I've spent far too much time watching teams struggle with how to name their products- it's something that seems easy but is actually fraught with problems so some time ago I set up a checklist of the 8 things I thought you should check. The worst of these is often the domain name- most good ones have gone- so here is really simple tool to produce a bunch of suggestions quickly that can go straight into a domain name bulk service for checking.
How to use it
To use this tool simply start tying lots of "First bits" (based on known words, sounds letter patterns or adjectives), and lots of endings you like in the second. The page will constantly update the third output column with a list of candidates you can then use to copy and paste into a domain name service like this one.
Nothing is stored so do keep the lists you make by copying and pasting them somewhere on your own computer.
|First bits||Second bits||Output|
Wednesday, 6 January 2010
EV – EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIESEV has recently been awarded several mandates for new funds, bringing funds under management to c. £85 million with the capacity to invest up to £2 million in SMEs located across the UK. As a result, three new positions have arisen within its existing EV Tech team; an Investment Director and an Investment Manager are now required to cover the North West and Yorkshire regions, as well as a Fund Administrator to be based in the Yorkshire region.
INVESTMENT DIRECTORCandidates for the Investment Director role will have previously worked for a technology VC house and will have an investment track record. They are likely to have a science-based first degree and MBA and/or ACA qualification as well as being FSA Threshold Competent. The role will largely be based at EV’s Manchester office.
INVESTMENT MANAGERCandidates for the Investment Manager role will have a science-based first degree and could have a background in technology transfer, corporate finance, technology analysis or previous spinout company experience. Experience in working on medical products/ innovations would be advantageous. This is an entry level role into technology VC investing and will be based in the Yorkshire region. In both cases, applicants must have the following key attributes:-
- Financially and technically competent
- Commercially aware with a sound level of judgment
- Sound project management skills
- Proven analytical and problem solving abilities
- Able to manage duties with some guidance and/or technical assistance from Fund Manager
- An effective networker able to positively promote EV and its fund under management and build a strong contact base with regional intermediaries and deal referrers
- A sound communicator, both written and verbally
- Able to build good relationships with investees, clients and contacts
- Energy, enthusiasm and a keen interest in the early stage technology space
FUND ADMINISTRATORThe Fund Administrator will provide support to the EV Tech investment team in all areas of financial management and control, in particular, to ensure the efficient planning and execution of day-to-day administrative functions of the investment team within the business. The role will involve collection of data, maintaining of databases, report writing and basic accountancy/ fund management work. Candidates must have strong Excel modelling skills and ideally have an accountancy qualification. Relevant experience in the financial services sector is not a requirement but would be useful. The role will be Yorkshire-based. This is an outstanding opportunity to join a growing and independent specialist fund manager. Attractive package including benefits
Posted by Ed French at 18:55
Tuesday, 30 June 2009
I really enjoy the RisingStars Portfolio Seminars: it's always great to see gathered together the portfolio company directors and to see the value they get from talking to each other. Jonathan opened proceedings pointing out that there are differences between some of the doom-and-gloom in the current Private Equity market compared to some of the solid progress recently in the RisingStars portfolio. In particular pointing out that the increase in valuations for RSGF1 over the last 6 months is unusual in the market. Second up was Julie Meyer, famous for founding First Tuesday, and now CEO of Ariadne Capital spoke about entrepreneurs with some really interesting quotes. Some key trends she highlighted included:
- A move to smaller A-rounds due to the lower cost of getting started- e.g. £1m.
- Changes in the way early-stage companies align to their ecosystem. In particular startups are taking advantage of "largeco's" inability to take advantage of the changes from social networking generally.
- There are categories left to be built- not all done
- Speed of innovation becoming ever more important
- bview as their local directory play
- gnuTrade- a blend of gaming and financial market trading
- Monetise, a mobile payment play.
- Near, virtual world retail.
- Qire, a Liverpool based enterprise voice messaging play
- SliceThePie, an unsigned artist music site.
- UK companies are cheap to acquire at the momement due to the exchange rate
- Tech acquisitions have dropped less than others (17%)
- It's vital to have clearly documented any reliance and usage of opensource code.
- Mentor had purchased as a third option, after playing with software deal, or investment.
- Ben admitted to being a bit seduced by the earn-out on the table from the acquisitor. Although as part was pre-paid it worked out OK, he'd be much more wary another time.
- Ben counselled to watch for the way the options appear to narrow as the deal proceeds. The people he had to deal with changed and increasingly it can become the only deal in town- very tense. One way of mitigating this Ben suggested was vital was to make friends with the person tasked to do the deal on the corporate acquisition team, don't rely on your existing internal champion.
- It felt like they were approaching a finish-line, but "you gotta take a holiday" because this is the start of an intense process of trying to make the product work for the corporate. You find out just how un-bought-in the vast bulk of the company is going to be- they've not been involved. It's political and tough to get things moving in the largeco. It took 3 months to get a part number, without which the sales guys couldn't actually get any of the sales people to work on it.
- Ben provided plentiful advice on how to deal with some of the internal politics- expectations you have no knowledge about have been set internally- "a tough world".
- Finally, with a knowing grin, Ben advised not to try and change the company culture to be more like the start-up. You've got to embrace the experience. He's really enjoyed it, but now...
Friday, 3 April 2009
Seth Godin's latest post "First, ten" highlights a classic start-up mistake, but for me misses an important step.
He suggests that you find ten people to use your service who "trust you/respect you/need you/listen to you...", that, " if they love it, you win. If they love it, they'll each find you ten more people (or a hundred or a thousand or, perhaps, just three). Repeat."
Seth Godin makes a key point here which we've seen many start-ups, large and small, all miss: if you require that your business grows virally, then all that spend on launch and PR is wasted if you do so when the product is not yet good enough to be viral by itself. That's not to say that PR etc. can't be great when you want to pour some petrol on that fire, but you're better saving up that fuel for when the fire is already spreading by itself.
However, I'd have to suggest some qualifiers. The test is not those "first ten", but whether those first ten start to "spread the virus" by themselves. That might well mean that they need to be considerably more than ten so that you can measure and understand them, but it certainly doesn't have to be ten thousand. Key to that viral spread is the communication from an existing user to a new one, and that's a tough barrier because the user chooses it, not you (how many different ways have you heard Twitter described?). My view is that Seth Godin's definition of the "first ten" might prove a little unrepresentative- they're clearly going to listen, and therefore give you the chance to communicate much more sophisticated and subtle ideas, you can "teach" new things, or even "un-teach" perceived wisdom. You could also get those first ten to think about what the service could mean to their lives and how they might use it, and it will be much more memorable. So I would suggest that the "first ten" test is necessary but not sufficient.
My suggestion, based on our portfolio, would be to aim for a larger group of people, grown gradually, and iterate the product, messaging and experience to the point that you start to see that demand is spreading "all by itself". Then go and get the petrol can!
Monday, 23 March 2009
This post will doubtless expand as people make suggestions, but I have meant for some time to get round to posting a checklist I can refer people to look over.
|Have you removed as many superlatives as possible and replaced them with numbers/facts (e.g. changing "Joe has been a leader in user-interaction design for many years" with "Joe has lead user-interaction design projects for BigCorp, and SmallHouse for 10 years and produced the interaction for the WebThingy service used by 200,000 people a month.")|
|How would your customer describe the problem that your service/product solves?|
|How do your customers solve that problem now, and how will they solve it in the future without you?|
|What do your customers pay to solve that problem today, what will they pay for your solution?|
|How will you to teach each of your customers about your solution to the point they will buy and how much will that cost (don't forget to allow for those that never get round to ordering/paying)?|
|How will your competitors react to your early success? How much will it cost them and how long will it take them to catch up?|
|How long has it taken other companies entering this space to build up customers?|
|Have you identified a clear route to market, is there a beachhead market segment you have in mind, in what way is this different from the mainstream?|
|What more must be done, what will it cost, and how long will it take before the product/service is ready to generate revenue?|
|What have the team done before (illustrated with numbers where possible)?|
|What other businesses have made good money and/or exits working in the same problem space? What steps have you taken to learn from the people who did that?|