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NW StartUp 2.0 – Success or Failure? Your feedback is important

The second event of "NW StartUp 2.0" was held on 15th March 2007 at KPMG Manchester, sponsored by KPMG. Many thanks to Steven Livingston of KPMG for providing a superb venue and food, and working with me to make the event successfull. The evening started as planned with a quick introduction by me and Steven.

First to take the stand was Anish Kapoor, CEO of Yuuguu. Anish spoke about Telecity (now TelecityRedbus) he co-founded with Mike Kelly, and other start ups he worked with before starting up Yuuguu with Philip Hemsted. He spoke about the value of having a spouse who understands the level of commitment required by an entrepreneur to get his/her business off the ground (both Robert and Rhys reiterated the same). He also had few points for would be entrepreneurs to consider (some of these are covered by Paul Graham in depth):

  • Don’t start on your own – if you cannot convince other people to join you and believe in your venture, how can you convince your customers to buy from you.
  • Validate your idea – talk to others as much as possible about your idea. Get other people around you as much as possible. This will allow you to quickly validate what features and functions potential customers are willing to pay for before you embark on an expensive product development. Early adapters are very important to any start-ups’ success.
  • Keep the costs low as much as possible. Get free help as much as possible, e.g. free office space, early development assistance, etc.
  • Simplify your message. Yuuguu has fined tuned their message to simply say "we are better than Webex". Anyone who has used or come across Webex (Cisco is in talks of acquiring Webex for $3.2bn) in the past understands this. This gives an opportunity to explain "How" without first having to explain the product in detail.

Then Ed French of local Venture Capital firm, Rising Star entertained the crowd with popularity of buzz words he pulled out from Google Trends. Rising Star recently invested in Yuuguu. Anish was well known within the VC community and especially within Rising Star. Reading between the lines, Rising Star invested in Yuuguu primarily because of the founders, and secondly because of their value proposition.

Rhys Jones is a serial entrepreneur. Rhys spoke about having a pipeline of companies. Rhys is one of the cleverest entrepreneurs I have met (so is Anish and Robert). What he thrives on is developing technology platforms and taking them to market. He has done this twice successfully in Accountis (on-going) and Secure Trading (exited). His new companies include Sanoodi and another.

Robert just about made it after battling with his satnav/google maps. Robert and I share the same office location, and is someone I come to learn a lot from recently, especially with respect to dealing with VCs. Wadaro is Roberts first startup currently seeking seed corn capital. According to Robert, except for one local VC, all others he has approached are interested in investing in Wadaro. The reasons are quite clear: Robert and Clifford (CTO) are well known in their industry, have worked with startups who were funded by VCs, and basically have a demonstrable track record (similar to Anish and of course Rhys). And they have hired a top-notch Chairman to speed up the process. I wish Robert all the best! Robert started his five minutes by saying what a wonderful workplace Daresbury Innovation Centre is (Paul, you have done a good job in brainwashing Rob).

There was plenty of quality food and networking opportunities before and after the sit-down session. The Q&A session covered intellectual property, non disclosure agreements, impact on family, competition (you are not alone), etc etc.

Some of the VCs attended include Malcolm Stewart from Liverpool Ventures and Ged Heffernan from Rolls Royce Ventures. Ged and I completed an Executive MBA course at Manchester Business School about the same time.

Among attendees were (not the full list):

24 out of 37 registrants attended the event. Next event is planned for May 05 and may include speakers from Europe and US. It would be great to get feedback from those who attended the event.


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