NextTECHnow Expansion

There are some exciting times ahead for NexTECHnow – the start-up outreach program for Publicis Media. We’ve been a global capability (Business Transformation) since the summer, and the past 2 weeks have shown us continuing to go through hyper growth. This means growing laterally – across the Publicis media brands such as Zenith, Optimedia Blue 449, Starcom – and globally – across new countries. We even have a new logo and website. (Yes, for those of you keeping track… this is our third logo iteration).

http://nexttechnow.net 

On the 3rd of November, NextTECHnow launched in Singapore:

And today – the 10th of November – we officially launched NextTECHnow @Zenith here in the UK.

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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 :)

Chess, Courage, and Business.

The Unthinkable… and the Mundane. An article in Fast Company on business + Innovation. It’s DEFINITELY worth a read – takes just about 7.2398 minutes!

 But then the board became messy and complicated, and suddenly it was too late. I realised that I was losing because I didn’t have the daring to make a rudimentary move.

This is the beautiful tension that defines chess — that distinguishes between the unthinkable and the mundane. 

And for all my talk of boldness and daring, great chess players cannot lose sight of the mundane details. In business, you might call this blocking and tackling — the everyday operations that, if left untended, will undermine your organisation.

Written by: Garry Kasparov (#1 ranked chess player in the world)

RECTEE.com

While doing my Google SquaredOnline Program – I came up with an idea for a new digital disruptive business. My product is RECTEE – from merging the words Receipt and Guarantee. A place to digitally store important receipts and guarantees (for washing machines, etc.). It provides each user with a digital, searchable, and trackable database of their purchase and household product guarantees, so they don’t have to keep track of and physically store paper receipts and manuals in the house.

The main target audience is digital-first millennials that are taking on finances and housing responsibilities for the first time. My assumption is that this audience is dissatisfied with clutter and paper trails. Thus, the market opportunity is to digitise a service that has typically been only paper-based and to combine different paper trails for the end user.

The Consumer-Centric Planning:

Consumer Wants – comfort, convenience, and digital-first experiences

Consumer Fears – clutter, having to pay for repairs, wasting time to search for manuals/appliance model numbers/etc.

Consumer Needs – a way to hold manufacturing companies to their product guarantees and centralise all their main receipts/warranties

The Lean Start-up

So I recently read The Lean Startup: How Constant Innovation Creates Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries.

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To caveat the ‘fail faster, learn faster’ mentality though – individuals should only start companies if they truly believe these businesses can create value for consumers and profitability for investors. Although there is a lot of seed money and angel investors at the moment looking to take advantage of the thriving start-up scene and promise of ‘unicorns’, I would remind people that most new businesses still fail or grow to a marginal level – therefore not returning on the initial investment.  ‘Doing A Start-up’ seems to have become an ambition or goal with the same emphasis and occurrence as ‘running a marathon’ or ‘living/studying in a foreign country’. However, owning your own business is not a tick-box off necessary millennial life experiences. It’s a lifestyle, career choice, and full commitment. So yes, Build, Measure, and Learn faster. But also be persistent, committed, and faithful to your start-up. If you plan on giving up easily, it wasn’t a business worth starting in the first place.

Eric also has a blog: http://www.startuplessonslearned.com 

 

MAFE…

… stands for ‘Mentor A Female Entrepreneur’. It’s a program that pairs managers and directors in our media agency with women who have founded a start-up. My inspiration for our opening session was Sheryl Sandberg:

“Presenting leadership as a list of carefully defined qualities (like strategic, analytical and performance-oriented) no longer holds. Instead, true leadership stems from individuality that is honestly and sometimes imperfectly expressed… Leaders should strive for authenticity over perfection.”

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Our mission statement builds off this idea of leadership and raw conversation:

Create a prolonged authentic conversation between two women that are similar enough to relate, but different enough to inspire each other and fill knowledge gaps.

Open Innovation + Digital Catapult

I recently met some people form Digital Catapult UK. I was blown away by their core value of ‘open innovation’. The ‘openness’ comes comes with inherent risks and benefits that both sides must understand, but it is designed to encourage ‘serendipitous innovation’. In a world of patents and trademarks, they believe: “You can benefit from ideas that you do not own.”

He had a beautiful quote that I think describes what innovation teams within large organisations should do:

“We are here to start movements that will grow on their own. We are here to create self-sustained ripples.”

ABOUT Digital Catapult: a not-for-profit organization with a trading division. They have been tasked with a target of growing the British Economy. They started from scratch 18 months ago and are primarily funded by Government, but their goal is to have a third of their income come from the industry to balance out their dependency on any one body.

  • Industry needs to “bring challenges to them”
  • Connected to 2,500 innovators (new name for start-ups and entrepreneurs)
  • Digital Catapult run about 1-event per day and their target is innovators
  • They can also doo proof of concept/product prototyping
  • They are located in the R&D quarter (King’s Cross)

Their Innovation Focus is on how companies get value from their data (including secondary/tertiary value from data) in these four areas: 

  1. Personal data (Banking, browsing)
  2. Closed corporate data (banks, new value)
  3. Licensed data (Creative content, IP)
  4. Machine generated data (IOT)

You should check them out and their work in the UK innovation space!