Posts Tagged 'start-up'

LBS quarterly den

One source of fodder for the Next Big Thing is the world of start-ups. Are start-ups the highest risk attrition or a good bellwether of ideas?

It was a trip down memory lane for me to see a real life Dragon’s Den with pitches of new ventures in search for seed capital – having seen so much of this in Web 1.0… The sticky sweat of the pitching process…the difference between unpolished performers with decent gritty ideas versus the swish delivery of potential duffers. How do you choose which ones to back?

Today, off to London Business School’s Enterprise 100 (catchily called E100 by the afficionados) – thanks to an invite from former client Phil Williams, ex Marketing Director of Computacenter and more recently CEO of email marketing tool Rocketseed.

What’s hot? Madame V lingerie designer certainly raised the temperature with requests to improve their funding and bottom line. I ask about my pal Nina Hampson, who made the journey from Dunn Humby analyst to lingerie entrepreneur herself. She founded a competitor Myla which was sold on to some textile entrepreneurs. My sources at Madame V say Myla is now up for sale again. (Lingerie is an interesting sector that has attracted its fair share of female entrepreneurs – it got a written up by Luke Johnson in a recent FT column.)

Nina is now working back in the data analytics for a brilliant Dunn Humby breakaway, 5one. These are the guys behind the Boots Advantage card. A fabulous area for consulting in my view and a business I’d put high on my M&A wishlist if it hadn’t already been sold to a French retail group. 

I’m not the only one to attend these sessions, though. i also bump into David Mansfield, of Ingenious, and my old E8 neighbour Michael Ter Berg. Plus, of course, Loewy was represented – good to see Giles Thomas from Branded supporting his pal from My Dish, a recipe sharing site.

Conclusion: it costs £1000 to be a member of E100, so the quality of the debate was good. And, there was clear evidence that these dragons invest. Any starter-upper ought to try to get to pitch E100 for the experience and the potential rewards. 

 

Entrepreneurship: A state of mind

If there’s anyone who knows where to find the New New Thing, it’s Julie Meyer. She founded First Tuesday, which was the saloon bar in the dot.com goldrush.

She now runs an accelerator business Ariadne which has looked after some of the big names in Web 2.0 and enabling technology… Skype, Spinvox…

So convinced is Julie of the altered state of start-ups that she’s started a conference called Entrepreneur Country.

Star speakers included Peter Bazalgette, longtime senior at TV firm Endemol. And, Sean Phelan, who told the story of how he’d developed and won through with Multimap, to the point of sale to Microsoft in Nov 2007.

Bazalgette has innovation running in his veins, given his forebears created the sewage system of London! Bazalgette made the point that 20 years ago people said that TV innovation was dead, but that it has consistently reinvented itself by cross-pollinating formats – whether ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’ or ‘Survivor’ or ‘Big Brother’… all huge hits created by entrepreneurs who doggedly hawked the ideas around for years before they got air time (and – here’s the key – they listened, adapted and transformed their idea as they progressed it, until it was finely tuned and improved and investable).

To highlight the opportunity for ‘New New’, Bazalgette asked for a show of hands for recent iPlayer users… almost the whole conference has used this 9 month BBC innovation recently. (Ironically, a corporation funded by a tax on television sets, he noted, has produced a breakthrough to view its content without a set!) 

It might be a cheesy reminder from the world of start-ups, but Phelan quoted:

‘The best way to predict the future is to invent it.’


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