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NW StartUp 2.0 – 5th Event on 17 Jan 08 at KPMG Manchester

I am proud to announce that the next NW StartUp 2.0 event will be held on 17 Jan 2008 at KPMG Manchester. The event details were published last night with one confirmed speaker. Without a doubt, it will be better than the 4th event held yesterday. Why? Simply, I am gaining confidence and experience. In addition, I am gaining a loyal attendance. And the hosts, KPMG are beginning to understand how to interact with the community they have hosted four times.

Here are some great pictures. All can be accessed through flickr.


So here is the story from the speakers:

  1. Lee Strafford – Lee spoke of growing up in Sheffield, and leaving school at the tender age of 14 to join his father’s london based Structured Cabling Company. By 16, he was project managing large contracts. However, his father’s business went under when one of their large client’s business went into financial difficulty. This brought Lee back to Sheffield. Sometime after this, Lee got involved with a business, which eventually created the as we know now. Lee spoke about the pressures of operating a fast growth business with profitability targets and how he created an open transparent culture without group/divisional boundaries. In one aspect, his company was developing software for deriving significant internal efficiencies, on the other hand, it was operating in the retail dial-up and then later broadband market. Only thing they had was that it was a fast growing market, allowing them to ride the wave. Lee also spoke of hiring the wrong team and learning from that experience. Hiring Dean Sandler from Sheffield Hallam University has allowed him to tap into an immense fresh talent pool. Lee had matrices for measuring every bit of the company. This has created such a focussed team environment, that they continued to out perform the incumbents, grabbing the attention of BT. A truly remarkable and accomplished individual, I am certainly privilege to know him. He spoke of Project Sahara, which I will blog about later. In the meantime you can access seven documents on the project through here.
  2. Chris Astle – Chris spoke of setting up his company 3 yrs ago. What he did was to tap into his network to find a very wealthy business angel. This has allowed them early to focus on the business without having to continually worry about capital. Now Chris has international aspirations with a three year plan. 
  3. Peter Leather – Peter joined Liverpool Ventures few months ago after a successful carrier at ICDC, etc. He has worked extensively with startups, which has helped them to understand their needs.

So who attended the yesterday event and what are their stories – let’s start with the loyal attendees first:

  1. Alexander Goldstone from IDINSO – third time. It seems that he has not slept for three days as he is helping my friend Anish and Philip put final touches to Yuuguu‘s launch for DEMO. Its nice to hear such a successful story of a North West company. Alex seems to be doing number of things whilst also trying to get his own business off the ground. What I realised yesterday was that I know very little of Alex – well this has to be corrected, don’t you think? He might in fact be a good source to help me construct top 25 web 2.0 companies in the North West.
  2. Muditha Gunatilake from Doubleclick Seychelles – Muditha is a family friend, another sleep deprived individual – 2 days this time. He is completing a MBA at Manchester Business School. Muditha and his family was at my place last Sunday – last summer BBQ. He is taking today off – going to Knowsley Safari Park.
  3. Tony Bray of Version Two – second time – having exited from Version One sometime back, his new owner’s Cedar OpenAccounts are getting Tony to work 7 days a week! Poor Tony! We spoke in the past of working on my third company idea. Unfortunately I have not been able to find thinking time. So, I am afraid it has to stay that way for a while. I am interested in finding out what Tony would do under his Version Two brand.
  4. Stephen Morrisey of Clipstar – second time – Stephen has an extensive network of investors and has recently put together Clipstar, a YouTube type venture he plans to launch in the City with celebrities, etc. Suppose to be the next big thing! I do not know much about Clipstar, but there is certain excitement around the company at Daresbury Innovation Centre. I wish Stephen and the team all the best.
  5. Valerie De Leonibus of Inventya – Valerie plans to run Girlie Geek Dinner, possible kick start in Nov 07. Can’t wait to get an invite!
  6. Mark Rahn of Enterprise Ventures – Good to see Mark – We both completed our MBAs at Manchester Business School around the same time. There was also another wannabee VC in the room, on whose behalf I asked the odd and silly question of “how does one become a VC?”.
  7. Fiona Barker of Baker PR – Did not get much of a chance to speak with Fiona, but I understand from Valerie that Fiona loved the idea of Girlie Geek Dinner.
  8. Roderick Kennedy of Simul – Rod has just left a full time job to concentrate on Simul and was wondering whether to move to the South East than stay in the North. Knowing the real reason, I think we probably going to loose another good brain to the South.
  9. Manoj Patel and Kamlesh Shah from UES – Working on JD Edwards systems, they are looking for investment to bring a new product to market.
  10. Tom Cheesewright of IO Communications and NetRecords – Nice to see Tom again. Another individual I need to spend time understanding.
  11. Mick Carter of m-send
  12. Dominic Wood – CEO of 15secondTV – good to see Dominic. I hope you had time to network with Stephen and m-send.
  13. Steve Shinn – one of A team of Plus.Net with a new idea around URLs – building a multi million pound business. I actually owns about 8 or so URLs – three I bought to build social networks for kids on behalf of my 7 yr old daughter. Anyone out there want to get involved?

Andre Maljaars flew in from Amsterdam to attend the event, but never made it to the event at the end due to another meeting.

Big thank you to Steven Livingston of KPMG for providing the venue and catering. I also met Paula Holland from KPMG. I now need to sit down with Steven, Paula and others to work out a programme of how KPMG and others could support startups. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could put together a package of assistance from KPMG, solicitor, bank and PR. Maybe a format similar to Dragon’s Den with 3 companies winning the package. Might need a big sponsor to pull this off with using a venue such as G6 of Manchester Business School. Let’s watch the space.

Where am I going to find time to run these projects, get ebdex and edocr off the ground and also start thinking about company 3? And Andre wants me to run his UK operations, which I had to decline! And then another European buddy rang me just before midnight wanting advice on whether to sell his company to a British or Swiss buyer – very emotional affair! Life is getting crazy at the

moment. Need to reduce noise and concentrate on the overall core objectives, which is simply ebdex + edocr. Everything I do must fit into these and should be revenue generative. If not, perhaps its time I hand them over to someone else. And there is also 1st Tuesday knocking on the door!

Please note that the next event will be priced at £35, but if you pay 2 weeks before, it will be £25. This should give me the ability to predict the number of attendees better and reduce the food wastage. These events need to be revenue contributing, but I do not see break even at any stage when I bring cost of my man days in to the equation. In fact, I spent too many man days organising last event due to last minute planning. So I need to be more efficient and find ways to justify return on investment. If you got any ideas of how to improve this series of events or want to become a sponsor, please do get in touch.  

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