‘Watch’ This Space…

for some cool timepieces. As today is my 24th birthday, I’ll share a lifelong goal of mine: to have a cool watch collection as I grow up. Now, I’ve picked out a nice simple (but elegant) silver Skagen watch for my present this year, but I thought I’d share three other cool watches that have definitely caught my eye:

ONE. Mondaine (I have mentioned them a million times before) have a new edition to their Helvetica range. Who doesn’t love a good font and a classy colour? This is their Helvetica No1 Light Graphic Edition. 

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TWO. By the luxury brand Jaeger-LeCoultre, their Reverso Classic Small. I haven’t explored square watches nearly enough…

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THREE. A cool new company, GroveMade, based out of Portland, Oregon. They’ve created this unusual Round Maple Watch that I would love (but it only ships in the US… darn!)

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Happy Holidays and watch this space for more time-related inspiration in 2017! X

 

Venture Capital

I recently hosted a Tablecrowd dinner with speaker, Simon Menashy from MMC Ventures… and boy did I learn a lot!

Here are my favourite remarks about the fantastic world of venture:

  • Remember that VC’s also have to fundraise for their fund
  • Venture Capital is not right for every founder and business.
  • The fund has to return profit to investors despite the majority of start-ups in the portfolio failing, so VCs are on the look for companies that are:
    • SCALABLE: Can increase it’s business without increasing the operational costs
    • ACCELERATABLE: If the VC puts $1 mil into the business, it should grow faster and deliver more return than if the $1 million investment wasn’t there.
    • 10x RETURN – VCs are looking for exits that sell the company for 10x the original evaluation (a few need to reach the potential to support all the failures)
  • This stuck with me the most: Every time you take capital, you are limiting your options. For example, Simon mentioned that if you take money from him at a $5-15 million evaluation, you are agreeing to ONLY build a $100million company (no smaller growth or earlier exits).
  • Always plan and alight your current funding round and evaluation with future rounds and evaluations. As in, what can you realistically achieve with this money? And then, what are you going to need and look like?
  • VCs want to see what guidance founders will need in the future and if the founder has mapped out the journey ahead.
  • Series A is a larger fundraising round and later in the company lifecycle. Simon mentioned a huge gap between seed and Series A in the UK marketplace at the moment.
  • Series A investors are looking for: tenacious founders, solid teams, consumer traction, revenue growth, and ROI from their companies.

I’m slowly learning more and more about the funding side of start-ups (whereas I mainly work with their advertising and product development). A great resource if you haven’t discovered it yet is the podcast 20-minute VC! Each podcast interview today’s most successful and inspiring venture capitalists, delving inside the funding game in an easily digestible audio format. I must admit, I’m a little bit in love with its founder Harry Stebbings.   

Mr. Stebbings also started a blog recently, so if you’d prefer to read over listen, check out Mojito VC.

And now, I’m off for a white Christmas in Bulgaria! X

TEDxBrighton

It’s always been my dream to speak at a TED conference. Second to that is actually getting to attend one… and this year, that dream came true at TEDxBrigton on October 28th 2016. The theme for this event was ‘We Can Be Heros’: a celebration of impact.

My top 2 talks were:

  1. Rory Sutherland – Rory is a change maker at Ogilvy. He gives fascinating talks on marketing, human psychology, and choice. This time he focused on the paradox of choice and wealth because we now live in an era where wealth doesn’t always come from having more products and services, but from having a better way to choose between different options. Read more about it here. 
  2. Sarah Giblin – Sarah was a commuter with a problem: with the backpack behind her, she constantly felt threatened by the people around her. After deliberating the design of backpacks, she realized… that maybe… just maybe, backpacks were designed the wrong way around! So, Sarah set out to design and manufacture a backpack that includes the zipper against the users back, rather than being exposed to the rest of the world. RIUT stands for Revolution In User-Thinking because she believes that as consumers, we all have the ability to solve the pain points we experience on a daily basis.

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Other interesting speakers that grabbed my attention:

  1. Beau Jessup – a 17-year old British Girl that has named over 250,000 Chinese Babies through her ‘Special Name’ website.
  2. Dave Perrins – A man who saw felt males were not properly trained to become fathers, so he created ‘The Dad Course’ (a relaxed environment meet-up to help first-time dads prepare for fatherhood and become more engaged, more confident and healthier fathers.
  3. Cat Fletcher – Cat gained national recognition when she sourced the materials for the University of Brighton’s award-winning Waste House, a two-story building constructed almost entirely of re-used waste materials.

More insider information from a Farmer.

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I bought some quinces this week because they’re now in season. My grandfather also grows the fruit in Bulgaria – but his are way more delicious and juicy than the ones I found in the UK supermarkets. Discussing the topic with him today, here are some interesting facts about growing quinces:

  • You plant the seed and the tree begins producing fruit after two years.
  • The plant very much looks like an apple tree.
  • The fruit starts to bud in May and they’re ready for picking  in October (through to November).
  • They can be stored in cool environments and thus, can last through the winter as a supply of fresh produce.

Also – I did not know that Black Radishes exist! My grandfather casually mentioned that he picked some up from his fields… and so I discovered a new variant of a well-known vegetable!

I love learning about the seasonality / production of fruits and vegetables because living in a big city can disconnect you from understanding where your food is coming from… and agriculture still is a basic building block for life.

TableCrowd Dinner – learning from DN Capital Investor

For this particular investor, the sweet spot for making investments was in series A for UK-based companies that were looking for amounts between 1 and 5 million pounds.
If you’re a start-up looking for an investment, he recommended asking yourself two fundamental questions:
  1. Do you even need to raise money? (Is there potential to scale? Can you realistically return a profit to your investors? Are you diluting your shares without a necessary purpose?)  
  2. What is the best source to raise money from?
There are many different groups to go after when raising money:
  1. Family and Friends
  2. Angel Investors
  3. Family offices that diversify from their main industry.
  4. Accelerators and incubators – who are used to helping start-ups
  5. Crowdfunding – good idea if you need user acquisition and have brand advocates
  6. Strategic Pots of Money – VCs within multinational corporations (like Unilever)
  7. Grants – R&D credits, government funds, etc.
Ways to think about each group:
  1. Amount they can give you varies (frame who you go after otherwise you’re wasting 95% of your time)
  2. Due diligence process is different for each group
  3. Terms – shareholding, join the board, have veto rights, etc.
  4. Value added. Crowdfunding adds marketing scale, VCs add more strategic vision and various business connections
  5. Time – how much can your investor commit to you? What if an angel investor has 200 companies?
  6. Speed – corporate and crowdfunding takes longer than a couple of months
  7. Return/Exit – What does success look like for your investor? Put it into context? How high is their bar?
 Our speaker also brought up two very good points:
  • Be very aware of the fact that raising and accepting external money sparks behaviour change. Companies typically shift its criteria, vision, scale, and business models when raising capital, which has an impact on the work culture.
  • 90% of the decision for Venture Capitalists is the TEAM – how passionate are the founders? Who have they decided to hire? Are they capable of executing their vision? Have they experienced and learned from past failures? Do they understand their product’s marketplace?
Another interesting dinner from Tablecrowd… if you’re in London, you should check us out! Who knows – I might be your host :)

‘Mentor A Female Entrepreneur’

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The program continues with our second event tonight – focused on decision making in business environments. But as an art project, we also took all pictures of all the women and asked them ‘what’s the best decision you’ve made so far?” Generally, the answers fell into three buckets:

  1. I’m happy I moved to London/the UK.
  2. I’m happy I pursued a career  that I’m passionate about even though it was different from my university  degree/previous job.
  3. Deciding to get married/have a family

For me, I wrote: Investing time in learning other languages

Why? Because I now realise the power and cultural awareness that comes with being able to speak to people in their native language rather than always relying on English. The Bulgarian language is fundamental to my identity and my ability to connect with friends and family back home. Meanwhile, French was a great push into a language that I chose to learn for my own curiosity and passion.

Couple interesting articles discussed at the event: