Thursday, 17 January 2008

Startup 2.0

Manoj threw another great event tonight with interesting speakers and audience alike. Stuart Scott-Goldstone of Aaron and Partners gave a thorough introduction to the range of legal issues that startups face on raising their first round of venture capital. the long list or issues seemed seems like it must be scary to any startup listening! Doug Stellman of YFM Private Equity started his presentation with a disclaimer of small print lest any of us fancied investing. Interestingly the proportion of Software and IT deals had shrunk from around 35% in 2006 to 20% in 2007, apparently due to concerns about the ease with which software companies could be established. His presentation focused on the management team as a key driver for their investment decisions. He cited that he sees applicants with a management team with a prior record of success "more often than you'd think". Paul Barraclough of TecMentor praised the Crossing the Chasm approach to getting to early sales momentum in startups. For me, Pam Holland gave the star presentation- starting off with a video (link to follow if I can persuade Pam to let me upload it) portraying how rapidly Telecity had grown pre-dotcom crash. She explained how they'd managed the spectacular growth in staff numbers and the attendant HR issues. I loved the story about how she had to persuade the founder to go home for his meal in the evening to encourage the staff to go home at night- even if he returned later each night! She explained the "competency based" recruitment approach she used, biased towards the attitude and raw capabilities of the individual rather than solely their technical skill-set. She also related that it was a "little bit disappointing" when the share price slumped from £23.00 to 2.3p, and she had to handle a new set of challenges!

Monday, 14 January 2008

So...Facebook is evil. Adverts are evil. Investors to be next?

Tom Hodgkinson at the Guardian has just published a bizzare piece about Facebook. Others better qualified will, I'm confident, tear it to pieces on a line-by-line basis, but I do get a little nervous that this view of the world it portrays. I recently met a very bright and capable young technologist, who'd done great work for charities on fundraising using some really creative techniques. Whilst he expressed interest in doing his own technology start-up one day, he came to the table with such a slanted view that "advertising was fundementally evil", that it makes me worry that Mr Hodgkinson represents a significant part of the population. Facebook is dammed in this piece by loose association (via a shared investor and a specialist fund) with the CIA- and thus makes the implication that Facebook is really a CIA vehicle. Is this level of paranoia really so far from being clinically recognisable?