On 8th November 2011 we hosted our second Startup Masterclass entitled “How to make sure you’re investment and Exit ready”.
The presentations were very informative and we’d also like to say a massive thanks to our presenters, Anastasia, Sean, Richard and Howard for sponsoring the networking drinks afterwards for everybody.
Here’s a run-through of the main takeaways from the session which draws on some of the discussions that took place over and above what is included in the slides. Click on the button to view the slides.
[button url="http://www.techstarthub.com/startup-classes/schedule/titledate/business-plans-dont-be-a-gnome/" ]Business planning for startups: Don’t be a gnome![/button]
Presenter: Anastasia Kovaleva, PwC.
Anastasia has seen hundreds of business plans and one thing that she notes is that people often forget just how difficult it is to sell and market a new product. Just because you believe you have the best thing out there and that completely trumps the competition, it doesn’t mean people are going to flock to buy it. Very good advice and something to be very realistic about when writing your business plan. Anastasia’s presentation also has an excellent slide which guides you to useful resources for business planning.
[button url="http://www.techstarthub.com/startup-classes/schedule/titledate/how-your-pitch-is-received/" ]How Your Pitch Is Received[/button]
Presenter: Sean Owen, Pentech Ventures
Sean took a novel approach and explained to the class what happens behind the scenes at a VC firm when you have pitched them. One interesting observation Shawn pointed out is that once you’re past the initial stages of pitching the VC and you go though to due diligence stage, it’s pretty much a done deal. So your aim is to really shine in the beginning stages and make sure that you have answered all the prospective VC’s questions and overcome their doubts completely. In particular, Sean advised to be proactive in asking questions of the VC you’re talking to ensure you’re on the same page and to really stand out from others.
[button url="http://www.techstarthub.com/startup-classes/schedule/titledate/10-things-you-need-to-know-if-you-employ-people/" ]10 things you must know if you employ people[/button]
Presenter: Richard Cummings, HR Insights
Richard took us through a presentation which made many people’s eyes open – it really is somewhat scary what a minefield employing someone can be! The main points raised included the fact that a job description is actually really important when you hire someone. It might be boring to do but if you get down the line and ask your employees to do something they really weren’t expecting, it really can cause massive problems for everyone. Richard’s main point was that you really must do your homework before hiring someone because the cost of making a mistake can be incredibly expensive.
[button url="http://www.techstarthub.com/startup-classes/schedule/titledate/business-structure-and-tax-efficiency/" ]Business Structure and Tax Efficiency[/button]
Presenter: Howard Weintrob, Jeffreys Henry LLP
Howard’s presentation outlined all the basic facts and figures you need to consider when you set up a company to be tax efficient. Throughout Howard’s presentation, and something which is not so evident in the slides, is the emphasis on thinking ahead when you plan. Your circumstances as a business will evolve so you need to consider how you’ll start out and what changes you can make to remain tax efficient as you grow.
We have more Startup Masterclasses coming soon, please visit us on and for more information. Our next Startup Masterclass, Want to build something of value? Think of Content, Community & Analytics, is on 28th November (Monday) at the Innovation Warehouse.
November 14, 2011 | Techmeetups
Original post by Julia Plevin via VB
Editor’s note: Julia Plevin recently started a job at a startup that’s still in stealth mode. She’ll be posting occasional columns on VentureBeat about her experiences.
I’ve been asked many times why and how I got into working at a startup. I normally shrug it off and say something like, “Oh, just the right time and right place,” but of course that’s not the whole truth.
Like many a young person with big dreams, I arrived bright-eyed and rosy-cheeked to San Francisco with plans to be part of something big and exciting. I even had an idea for a start-up of my own that I just knew would be the next Twitter (actually I’m still kind of convinced it will be).
And so I set out to get a job at a start-up. Easy, right? Not so much.
The first crush of reality came when a seasoned San Francisco tech industry veteran told me that with my interest in editorial content, I’d be better off looking for a job at a start-up in New York City. I was told that techie engineering companies and sales firms mostly dominate the San Francisco/Silicon Valley start-up scene. And I was clearly not an engineer or a salesperson.
A second blow came from my childhood friend who is now a co-founder of InternMatch. He explained that being around the start-up scene – attending demo day events, launch parties, and exciting, groundbreaking conferences – was a lot more romantic than actually working at a start-up. The day-to-day of a start-up is a total grind.
But still I persevered, writing cover letters out my ears and sometimes even meeting people for an interview. About two months passed before I finally found a start-up that wanted to hire me. And that’s the thing: If a company has job postings online, it’s almost too late.
When a start-up is looking to hire, they need people fast. They don’t want to spend a lot of time recruiting. They trust people already in the industry and value referrals highly. So I was lucky enough to find a friend who had a friend who had a start-up that was about to launch and needed more hands on deck, (really, fingers on keyboards).
I promptly took the job. And then I learned another lesson: Not all start-ups are created equal. Some are more serious while others more chill. Some are more engineering heavy and others less so. Some are on ambitious growth trajectories and others just chugging along. And so on
The one I landed at, let’s call it Bleu Project, was filled with great people, but it was not a perfect culture fit for me. Ask anyone in the start-up world and they’ll tell you that finding a culture fit is totally key. At Bleu Project, people talked about math equations during happy hour, and eating lunch anywhere other than in front of your computer screen was considered sacrilegious. Moreover, the product was something I found interesting, but not all that relevant to me.
November 13, 2011 | Techmeetups
Original post by Brad Feld via Feld
I recently spent some time with a long time friend and entrepreneur who I’ve funded in the past. He’s working on a new company which I think is really neat and I’m already a user of. He called me for feedback on his fundraising strategy as well as to see if it’s something that we’d be interested in investing in.
It’s outside our themes and different than the type of business we invest in. Given our long relationship and the fact that he’s an awesome entrepreneur, I squinted hard at one of our themes, turned my head sideways, and decided to take a look. We spent a few days applying our process to it (each partner touches it and we give each other real time qualitative reactions) and quickly realized that it really wasn’t something for us as it was far outside anything that we felt like we could help much with beyond money and moral support (which my friend is going to get from me anyway.)
So – I sent my friend a note with my explanation for why we are passing. I offered to help with introductions because (a) he’s an awesome entrepreneur, (b) it’s a very fundable business – just not by us, and (c) I have a lot of confidence that he’ll build a successful business and there are several VCs who I know that I think would like what he’s working on.
His response was dynamite. It was
November 12, 2011 | Techmeetups
“No sweat. I knew it was a longshot, so I appreciate you even considering it. I know how many deals you have to pick from.
I’d like to take you up on your offer to help us get funded, but I have a better idea … help us avoid the need for funding (700 clients gets us to profitability).”
Original post by ANITA HAMILTON via Time
A look at the innovative ways small businesses are adapting and growing in a changing economic climate
The BodyMedia Fit CORE armband BODYMEDIA
How do you launch a consumer gadget that doesn’t fit into any established niche? While one of the biggest challenges for entrepreneurs breaking into mature markets is figuring out how to differentiate their wares, the problem with trying to pioneer a new niche is that your idea can seem too different. Venture capitalists are squeamish to back a wild card, retailers are worried that no one will buy, and consumers either don’t get it or write it off as a gimmick. A handful of startups in the emerging market of wireless fitness gadgets for non-athletes have all faced these challenges in the past few years and prevailed. Here’s how they did it:
When David Wang approached venture capitalist Ronald Chwang of iD Ventures America last fall to ask for an investment in his new startup, Chwang gave the same answer as the 15 other VCs Wang had hit up before him: No. “They all said it was too risky, and they didn’t fund us,” says Wang, who hoped to market a pocket-sized, keychain gadget embedded with motion sensors to track users’ daily activity levels. But unlike the other VCs Wang had pitched, Chwang held out a small carrot. “I said build the prototype so I can believe these things can do what you claim,” says Chwang.(See the 25 best financial blogs.)
That’s when Wang, a former marketing director at the social gaming startup Booyah, learned that launching a one-of-a-kind, consumer hardware device was much tougher than getting a software startup off the ground. While buggy code can be tweaked in a matter of hours, hardware flaws need fixing weeks, if not months, before full production can begin, and manufacturers expect a hefty infusion of cash up front.
Wang’s challenge was made doubly tough by the fact that he was trying to crack a market that most people don’t even believe exists: portable fitness gadgets for people who don’t really exercise. “It was really, really risky. Everyone who got funded before was doing technology for athletes,” says Wang, who adds that he couldn’t even give would-be investors projections for the potential market size for such a device because the data simply wasn’t there.
November 9, 2011 | Techmeetups
Original post by Tammy Kahn Fennell via socialmediatoday
One of the best things about the start up mentality is the hunger. It’s the “can’t and won’t fail” attitude that keeps you going, even when there’s little or no money in your pocket. As companies grow, complacence sets in, and people often forget what made them successful in the first place.
A little background on my Startup story: My startup’s background is interesting -MarketMeSuite was founded by a New Yorker (me) and a tech geek (Alan) from Norfolk who met online. After working remotely, I (the CEO) moved my entire family to the UK, so I could be with the tech team. We now work as a team of 4/5 from an office in Gorleston near Norwich and are creating a global success story.
So here I am, living the experience, and here to remind you how to find that “startup drive” in your business.
1. Stay Relevant
One of the biggest challenges for a startup is not being left behind. Often success depends on being first or second out of the gate. Apply this to your business, even if you’ve been around the block a few times. What are your competitors doing? Do you have your finger on the pulse of your industry in real time? If you’re not signing into Twitter at least twice a day to see what is going on in this crazy fast paced world, you’re missing a trick.
2. Get Seen
General awareness is huge. As CEO of MarketMeSuite I often have crazy daydreams of running through the offices of Mashable naked just to get the attention I feel we deserve, but you have to constantly think “Where can I get my company featured?” There’s a lot of sites that accept contributions. SocialMediaToday.com and WeAreSocialPeople.com accept guest posts and center around social media, so why not write a story about how social media is working for your particular business?
Do some search for industry publications and offer to “guest post.” Much of my day is spent finding places I can contribute content. All it costs is time! (And I haven’t completely ruled out the ‘streaking through major publications office’ approach )
READ 3 to 5 HERE
November 6, 2011 | Techmeetups
Original post by brandXpress blog
Setting-up a start-up, especially online, needs attention to a lot of details, brandingincluded. The enthusiasm of a new beginning is indispensable for a new endeavour but can put some important things in the blind spot. There are DO’s and DON’Ts, things to look up for or things to avoid. While there are no definite rules or sometimes is worth breaking some of them, here are some notes you should take in consideration before you “go out” to the real world.
7 To Do’s for Startup Branding
DEFINE YOURSELF AND YOUR PRODUCT
Before you go out to your customers be specific and honest regarding your purpose. What are you going to provide? Clearly define your product/service in detail. Think what are the benefits for the potential customer, what’s the need that you cover.
KNOW YOUR CUSTOMERS
… and know them better then anyone else. Know their needs, their habits, their way of life. Every decision you make from the style of your homepage to locations of your ads will depend on who you are targeting. This is not simple task, but it must be done. Start by describing for yourself the person who would be most likely to need your service or product.
POSITION YOURSELF AND YOUR BUSINESS
Who are your competitors. How are you satisfying your customers better/different that your competitors
November 5, 2011 | Techmeetups
Original post by iBusinessAngel
Launching the first phase of a startup business – or for a business angel, preparing to invest in one – requires an assessment of three things – product, market and team.
Equally, it is well understood that the first stage of product development is a prototype, a beta version, or more recently, a minimum viable product.
But, does the same apply to the market and the team too?
So what would a minimum viable market look like?
Steve Blank is the person who came up with the concept of ‘customer development’. This was because he used tech developer concepts of agile development to argue that the product needs to be developed rapid and quickly and that equally customers need to be developed too – quickly and rapidly.
In effect, Steve Blank argues that customers are developed through a series of contacts or product developments or iterations.
So, what would count as a minimum viable market (customer) or minimum viable team?
Let’s start with the minimum viable market. Steve Blank says that this is not a focus group. In other words, it is not about collecting desires or wants from potential customers. Instead, it is about selling a product.
The best description I’ve heard is; one product sold, one happy customer, one referral.
… and the happy customer can’t be your mum (or dad). Instead, it has to be a real / non-family / customer without vested interests who pays and is willing to provide a referral (ie a lead to another potential customer).
The referal bit is critical, as it confirms that the customer is still happy after they’ve bought the product. Hence, slick marketing and a poor product won’t deliver a happy customer after the event.
November 5, 2011 | Techmeetups
Original post by Bill Clark via MASHABLE
If you think you have what it takes to invest in startups, but are unsure of where to target your first seed investment, it may be worth your time to profile some other successful angel investors. By studying their strategy, the types of investments in their portfolio and the trajectory of their investments over time, you will start to develop your own strategy that works with your pace and desired investment outcome.
Don’t be discouraged if you’re unable to quickly and exactly mirror successful investors. Their strategies have most likely been developed over time; and they have learned from their own mistakes.
Below I summarize the strategies of some of the most successful angel investors, which should help as you start to build your own investment strategy and begin looking for the next big opportunities.
Ron Conway: Google, Twitter, Square and Paypal
Ron Conway is probably the best known and most successful angel investor in recent time. He has invested in some of the most successful companies in the past 10 years. Conway has focused his investing strategy on early stage, high-tech companies, and continues to examine current social, social commerce and mobile markets.
The most important factor for Conway is the team. “We start with the people first. We think the ideas that entrepreneurs start with evolve and change dramatically from the beginning and sometimes end up unrecognizable, so we believe in investing in the people,” he says.
Conway makes a lot of small investments too, a tactic commonly known in the industry as the “spray and pray” strategy. He is then able to make additional investments in the companies that perform the best. Since he invests in most of the best early stage startups, and is able to spread his money around, only a portion of his portfolio needs to succeed for him to continue earning.
When Conway makes an investment, he doesn’t worry as much as the typical investor about the valuation he is getting. He has publicly offered startups convertible debt with no cap, which is very favorable to the startup. When he is investing at a seed level, it doesn’t matter if the company is valued at $3 million or $5 million — when you are looking for the big exit, the end result doesn’t change that much.
An investment from Conway doesn’t guarantee your startup will have a successful exit, but because his network is extensive, his investments certainly catch attention of a wide group of potential investors interested in getting on board.
November 4, 2011 | Techmeetups
Original post by TechCity UK
The second of the Guardian Tech Weekly Podcast talks on Tech City took place on Monday evening, this time focusing on the issue of innovation and entrepreneurship and looking at ‘what government, investors and the people at the coalface believe is necessary to inspire innovation and to generate globally competitive enterprise’.
As with the recent debate on skills, the panel and the audience (and Twitter) engaged in a lively debate which covered off a variety of topics around the issue of how best to encourage and foster an environment in which innovation and entrepreneurship are second nature.The podcast is now live and available to listen to or download here, but in the meantime we’ve summarised some of the key points raised below. Please note that it is intended to be an indication of the lines of argument rather than a verbatim transcript – those seeking quotes should refer to the podcast itself.
This week’s panel consisted of:
The inherent individuality of businesses, particularly in the creative industries, and as such the difficulties involved in finding a strategy which can assist all of them within an area / cluster, regardless of size. Key to doing this is to establish a rapport / dialogue with local community businesses to establish their goals and needs. This has worked well in Brighton over the past decade, especially in terms of the gaming industry, which drove the development of the South Coast’s technology cluster by choosing the city as its home (Tara Solesbury)
October 29, 2011 | Techmeetups
Original post by Jennifer Larino via CityBusiness
Editor’s note: This marks the debut of Startup Close-Up, a series of profiles on new companies in New Orleans. In an August report, the Brookings Institution noted that nearly 450 of every 100,000 adults in the city was starting a business, a rate more than 40 percent higher than the national average.
Pollbob team members, from left, Aditya Shukla, Adam Schleich, Ben Jacobson and Zach Kupperman. (photo by Frank Aymami)
The Small Business Administration has found that about half of all new businesses don’t make it past their first five years. Will this be one that does?
Because New Orleans is fostering an engaged community of entrepreneurs, we encourage comments on whether the business being profiled will succeed. Recommendations and critiques are welcome. Cheerleaders are nice, but the goal of the Startup Close-Up is to share useful information with the entrepreneurs at hand and the community at large
Established: September 2010
Product/service: Web and iPhone applications that allows users to poll their friends about various topics in real-time
Founders: Ben Jacobson, 29, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Georgia and helped found Old Harbor Outfitters, a high-end, offshore fishing apparel company, in 2006. To start Pollbob, he teamed with his childhood friend, Zach Kupperman, 28, a lawyer with the Steeg Law Firm and founder of PolicyPitch, a website that allows users to propose public policy ideas and track legislation.
October 28, 2011 | Techmeetups