26 Mar 2013

Mobile Miscellany, 26 March 2013, Free Trip to France, Next Events and more ...

In this Miscellany: a preview of what we are planning for upcoming events, discounted places for start-ups/students/charities now available for The Mobile Academy, a retro of our last event, an invitation from our lovely friends at Cambridge Wireless to a Blackberry event they are holding in London and win a Business Trip to Normandy!

Last Event - Finance, Incubators and Accelerators

I'm going to ignore, for a moment, that it's something of a British cliche to discuss the weather, but I don't know anyone who hasn't been grumbling about the unseasonable coldness and who isn't hoping that the weather people are wrong about what's in store for the upcoming Easter break.

Last Monday many hardy MoMo Londoners braved the torrential rain to fill the house for our event on Finance, Incubators and Accelerators. Returning to chair this event, after a year, our inimitable chair John Spindler gave a presentation on what's hot in finance and acceleration in London today.

The quality of his information and the number of links in it overwhelmed even the most avid note takers in the audience - I don't think we've ever had so many requests for a copy of a slide deck!  John's presentation is now available from our blog, along with a summary of the event, written by MoMoLo volunteer Rob Finean, as well as a link to the The Fonecast's recording of the proceedings.

So even if you didn't manage to swim over to Centre Point that evening, you'll get a sense of what went on and the amazing contributions of our panellists Alistair HillNic BrisbourneSitar TeliMichel Sabatier and Inmaculada MartinezAlso many thanks to the delegation from The Mobile Academy, the programme that we co-host with University College London, who came along and formed "The Knowledge Exchange".

Mobile Academy Discounted Registration Now Open

Talking of The Mobile Academy, we're delighted to announce that we have opened discounted registration for Start-Ups, those in Education & Charities. Whether you were there to hear the stories from our Alumni or not, now's your opportunity to grab a discounted ticket while they are still left.

At a mere £495 + booking fee for 36 hours of industry expert tuition over 10 weeks of evening classes we reckon it's not only the most informative programme on mobile that you'll find - but easily the best value for money (full price is £1,995) - and because it's an evening programme you can continue to work your socks off, as usual, during the day.

But don't take our word for how good it is (actually we'll be offended, but even so) and check out some graduates' testimonials.  The course starts on Tuesday 23rd April, tickets are selling fast, don't say you were not warned!

BlackBerry 10 Event at British Library

Our friends from Cambridge Wireless have decided to pop on the train to London (presumably because they are fed up with the brutal cold out there on the fens) to work with our marvellous annual supporters, BlackBerry, on a BlackBerry 10 event - The Future for Developers – 30th April 2013, British Library, London. Event kicks off at 5pm and you can register here. If you want to know more about BlackBerry's exciting new offering do check out that event.

Free Trip to France

The Enterprise Europe Network at UCL Advances are offering a free trip to Mobile Monday London companies working on mobile technologies!  This includes a private tour of the Orange Research Centre in Caen and a ticket in to the ROOMN Exhibition to see the latest in the mobile technologies. Contact: m.nazare@ucl.ac.uk to apply!

Next Event

Something we're often asked, and are equally often rather shy about revealing, is what the programme of upcoming events is ... well, in a break with tradition, here's a sneak preview of what we are planning. Something that's been on my mind a while is the whole question of Bring Your Own Device. Talking to some people about this - typically someone in an SME or larger - they'll say, "Wow, what an opportunity and what a headache". Equally - if you talk to folks in start-ups they may well say, "What are you talking about?"

So we're planning an event to explore the pros and cons of this, and how many elephants there may be in the room (or dinosaurs if you prefer). Another angle on this is to observe that corporates are potentially a more interesting and reliable source of revenue for innovation than taking pot luck in an app store with your latest killer app. Can't hurt to know what the enterprise sector is thinking and see if you can't come up with an idea to help.

We're still building the panel for this discussion - and if you'd be interested in speaking and taking an angle on it, then please let us know. Equally, if you have a product or service in this area that you'd like to demo then please let us know.

That event looks like it will run on 15th April - we'll confirm after Easter ... till then have a good break and hope the weather improves ...

22 Mar 2013

What happened on 18 March at Finance, Incubators and Accelerators...

Despite the rain outside, the sun shone at the CBI as our chair, John Spindler, CEO of Capital Enterprise, @capenterprise, took us through a whistle-stop tour of the scene.

Here is his much requested presentation:

The night was full of top tips from our panel and audience. Thanks to The Fonecast, you can listen to Mark Bridge's wonderful podcast of the evening.

Now to thank the panel:

Alistair Hill, CEO of On Device Research (speaking as an Investee) @ondevice
Sitar Teli, Managing Partner at Connect Ventures @sitar
Michel Sabatier, Managing Partner at Crelligo
Inmaculada Martinez, Partner at Opus Corporate Finance @inma_martinez

Here are some great quotes and tips that our friend Rob Finean picked up for us:

Q: How was 2012? What do you expect from 2013?

Sitar: I get excited by apps you give space on your homescreen - last year it was Citymapper www.citymapper.com/router/ that made the grade as an app you use every day. This year expect more games (they are easy to start) and I'd like to see more mobile B2B apps.
Inma: I love Platter, a platform for cooks at home to make "food as good as sex"!
Alastair: I liked OpenSignal www.opensignal.com, crowd sourcing network coverage maps
Mark Bridge gets opening comments from John Spindler
Michel: I like where mobile is changing other industries like mHealth, mobile money and machine-to-machine. This year we're seeing the Augmented Reality trend take root in retail.
Nic: We're seeing the smartphone as a hub for other stuff like sports and health sensors.

Q: Isn't the app market dead? Do we ever see follow-on funding for apps?

Nic: Not dead, just crowded. Need to get the fundamentals right - a solid business model.

Q: What do you wish you'd invested in?

Inma: one Wayra company's automated B2B publisher for tablets
Michel: Codapayments, a Singapore mobile money platform for paying with airtime
Inma meets a business delegation over from Spain!
Sitar: Connecting brands with consumers. And the mid-core games for the 35-45y/o folk who can't play WoW all the time anymore! The UK is a hive of game development.
Nic: Strikead, mobile real-time ads. People have finally started to buy on phones - over Christmas eCommerce was huge.

Q: Should I fund by revenue? Are potential customers afraid of VC/Angel funds running out?

Chorus: If you can fund with revenue you should do! You don't read in Techcrunch about all the successful $10-20M startups that do pay their way with customer revenue.
Nic: Not many businesses need VC/Angel funds. Explore all other types of funding first.
Sitar: VC/Angel is quite an expensive way to fund, only for a special type of business that doesn't have instant revenue but does have a solid business plan that will scale to provide a huge return for their investors to match the risk involved. (Potential customers might be reassured to know about the business plan rather than be afraid of the investors.)
Inma: In Spain I've seen some companies spend all their time fundraising instead of working on their business. Be sure you know your cashflow, what you need and exactly when. Milestones that show exactly what £X will achieve. If you do go to an institutional investor it must be with a proven plan.

Q: John's presentation has a vast range of financiers out there and many of them charge. Where does a beginner start? Is there a way to focus (say on mobile)?

Nic: VC is a referral business. You must network: Come to Mobile Monday; follow investors' blogs.
Michel: Look in your own industry, these people are most likely to understand you.
John: Look at investors' portfolios of past investments. Accelerators will help you to refine your pitch.
Alistair from On Device Research
Inma: Be humble, listen to all their feedback and tweak the product. This can take 3-6months. Founders network and run their ideas past everyone all the time. Referrals happen fast when the idea is good.
Bryan Taylor (of PixelPin): I spend 5 nights a week networking and getting noticed. We've money from Wyra, Technology Strategy Board, Seedrs.comand we're still not ready for VC. You have to get out there.

Q: How hard is Series-A funding to get today?

Nic: It shouldn't be easy. The risks for the investor are huge! So do listen carefully for feedback and follow advice. I try to give everyone feedback but it's true many VCs don't have time to do that.
Alastair: We went out with a team, a product, some revenue but a business plan with not enough growth for the VCs. Those first VC meetings were a battle until we learnt it was a discussion and they were advising us how to make the business scale. We got there in the end with their help.

Q: What about 1 person bands?

Inma: Get your team together first. One-man-bands won't get anywhere.
John: Preferably a Hipster + a Hacker + a Hustler.
Sitar: I can think of only one single-founder business we've invested in, purely because we had experience with him before. Even then the first step was recruiting his co-founders.

Q: Warren Buffet famously says the best holding period is forever. What about you?

Sitar: It depends on the company - Warren Buffet is a very different kind of investor.
John: You don't want to be the zombie that raised capital but never scales.
Nic: The funds are someone else's money and they'll want it back, usually within 10 years. So with contingency 8 years maximum. Sometimes companies are ready to give it back in just 2 years but most are 3-5 year holdings.
Inma: Most of Opus is about selling companies, not fundraising! You can never tell when acquisitions are going to go ballistic in your sector. Learn to use Gartner Magic Quadrant http://www.gartner.com/technology/research/methodologies/research_mq.jsp
Alistair: We had just £1m of investment. Our competitor got £10m of VC but the pressure to try to scale too quickly killed them. The timescale is as important as the amounts.

Q: Can I outsource this?

Sitar: No. I want to speak to you, not your banker.

Q: Is it important to have co-located teams?

Michel, Sitar and Inma
Nic: It's a huge benefit
Sitar: Yes, I haven't invested in any distributed teams.

Q: Pros/cons of incubators?

Inma, loves Wayra
John: Accelerators want to prove a business plan in 3 months. Metrics are vital, the hot-house is great for all this stuff.
Alistair: White Bear Yard is great. All the co-location spaces are good places to get started immediately.
John: Techstars http://www.techstars.com/program/locations/london/ has just opened applications for their summer 2013 programme.

Q: Is there any advantage to being a Community Investment Company (CIC)? How will an exit happen?

Sitar: Be totally honest and open about all your goals.
John: Some investors are exclusively for social enterprises.
Michel: And anyone can be interested if you'll make a profit.

Q: I had a multimedia company that worked well. Now I've a hybrid idea, is this going to be more difficult?

Nic: If you have a prototype to show go for it.
Sitar: Lots of people come for advice, many people have an "office hours" for an hour's meeting.
John: If you want an introduction, send me a slide deck.

Q: Last words?

Inma: Investors are looking for their next investment. They want to. Listen to their advice, your next pitch will be better.
Sitar: Network. Quality, not quantity, this isn't Farmville or Klout.
Michel: Research who invested in what.
Alastair: Be honest. You have to believe it.
Nic: It's an exciting time to be in mobile tech, 50% more money was invested in 2012 than 2011.

Finally, a huge thank you to all those from the Momolo community who contributed to The Mobile Academy Knowledge Exchange drive. From Mobile App Analysts, Interaction Designers and Games Developers, to Guerilla Recruitment practitioners, Sustainability experts and Street Art Event organisers- we received a very big, very mixed bag of offers of industry expertise that Monday's MoMo goers are keen to share with participants at The Mobile Academy.

While for all those lovers of learning from experts, there's still time to register for the next programme which starts on April 23rd. For details: http://moblacad-apr-2013.eventbrite.com

11 Mar 2013

MoMoLo Members on MWC 2013 ...

Brian, Juhi and Sarah from Pixelpin 
For the last few years we've been working with UKTI and ICT KTN to stage a competition to win a place on the UK's stand at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

We caught up with two of the winners of last October's competition for this year's MWC to see how it all went.

One of the winners was Brian Taylor from PixelPin, who I caught up with at The Mobile Academy Alumni Drinks.  He told me how the stand generated a massive amounts of leads and some Venture Capital interest - rock on Brian and Team!

The demo area in the Pod
Brian has been on the Wayra programme, won an ICT KTN bursary place to The Mobile Academy (subsequently paid for a place for another team mate) and is a walking advertisement for a lot of the resources we are going to talk about on 18th March at our Finance, Incubators and Accelerators event (register here).

I also asked James Rosewell of 51degrees.mobi about his experience and he wrote the following:

"Exhibiting on the UKTI (UK Trade and Investment)  stand was the perfect way to exhibit at Mobile World Congress - made all the better by winning the place as part of the Mobile Monday London  competition.

The pod design worked well and the 9 businesses helped each other meet and greet both passing visitors and the large number of attendees specifically visiting the stand.

Thomas Holmes, Joe Davine, Paul Robinson &
James Rosewell of 51 Degrees
Having the meeting space immediately above the ground floor exhibition area allowed us to arrange both pre-booked meetings, and also hold impromptu meetings where a more focused conversation was required. The on stand coffee machine was also a super boost, particularly after heavy nights ‘networking’ at the many parties and events in the evening.

The UKTI representatives helped us open doors under the ‘Great Britain’ brand, including one with a Senior Vice President of a large handset vendor which we would otherwise have been unlikely to meet. I’m pleased we worked with them beforehand to raise awareness.

We also met CXOs from target network operators, analyst organisations, and advertising companies who were impressed that we already help 500,000 web sites embrace mobile, and at the depth of our Mobile Analytics product.

I will never forget the look on a certain visitor's face when I showed him how his company compared to competitors when measured by share of web traffic, and then went on to show him which of his handsets were performing better than others.

The hard work now starts turning the 100s of opportunities generated in Barcelona into orders and partnerships..."

It's great to hear how well this went for James, Brian and teams, and we're thrilled to have played some part helping them on their journey.

We hope to see you on 18th March at our next event or perhaps taking part in our master class The Mobile Academy.  Many thanks to James and Brian for sharing their experience.

6 Mar 2013

Finance, Incubators and Accelerators, 18th March

The Mobile Academy
With MWC behind us and sunshine in the streets of London, with seed funds, accelerators, incubators and more popping up like spring flowers, is it a Spring-like outlook for companies seeking investment?

We return to the subject of funding for start-ups and SMEs on Monday 18th March having last visited it back in November 2011. Back then we foresaw the arrival of a range of new seed funding and other initiatives as well as the re-emergence of incubators, after a long absence ... with many such initiatives well under way, how has the picture changed, what difference have we seen and what can we expect by way of further initiatives of this kind?

In this context, Mobile Monday London and UCL Advances have been doing our own bit in this area, and started The Mobile Academy, teaching the business, design and technology aspects of mobile. The Mobile Academy opens its doors for its second course on April 23rd, and to celebrate, is supporting this event. There's some more info about that course here

John Spindler, CEO of Capital Enterprise - who so brilliantly chaired the last event has kindly once again agreed to chair this event. He's going to set the scene by outlining the options all the way from grants through seed investment and more ... in an update on his comprehensive whirlwind tour at the last event. 

Following that, John will be joined by a distinguished panel representing a range of perspectives on funding, to discuss where we are and where we are going. 

Alistair Hill, CEO of On Device Research (speaking as an Investee)
Nic Brisbourne, Partner at DFJ Esprit
Sitar Teli, Managing Partner at Connect Ventures
Michel Sabatier, Managing Partner at Crelligo
Inmaculada Martinez, Partner at Opus Corporate Finance 

We're looking forward to another extremely lively discussion with the typical Mobile Monday London contributions and questions from the floor - where we expect several alumni from The Mobile Academy to be present and contribute some of their own experience of their journeys.

As usual the venue is CBI Conference Centre at Centre Point. Please use the entrance at street level. Nearest tube is Tottenham Court Road (Central Line and Northern Line).

Also as usual, the event is free to attend, but registration is required and registration is now open at Eventbrite.


6.00 pm Doors Open
6.30 pm Presentation by John Spindler
6.45 pm Panel Discussion chaired by John
8.00 pm Networking
9.30 pm Close