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!