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!

GOV.UK has some good Design Principles.

Government Digital Service in the UK outlines their design principles – which I think are applicable beyond their remit.

  1. Start with needs
  2. Do less
  3. Design with data
  4. Do the hard work to make it simple
  5. Iterate. Then iterate again.
  6. This is for everyone
  7. Understand context
  8. Build digital services, not websites
  9. Be consistent, not uniform
  10. Make things open: it makes things better

**Side note: I am increasingly loving the word design in a business model/consumer-focused context. 

Intrepreneur or Entrepreneur

I got recommended the blog of Australian business man Les Hayman... and it’s a great source of knowledge, insights and stories for the world of business and management.

He also uses WordPress – so it’s slightly comforting that I might be doing something right in my life.

Great expert from his blog:

“what I missed most by being in a small company was the interaction with my peers and those around me who would stimulate, challenge and even oppose me, and I believe that this is one of the key differentiators between en- and in-individuals. True entrepreneurs are self-sufficient and tend to measure themselves mainly on personal success, whereas I have tended to measure my career success mostly by how many successful managers and leaders I have helped to build.

True entrepreneurs can go it alone, which is something I readily choose not to do, so I am obviously not one myself. I have always needed to be able to mix with smart, energetic, capable, enthusiastic, slightly cynical, optimistic, success-driven, non-political, life- loving, eccentric and ambitious peers in large numbers in day to day, equal to equal relationships. This is one of the reasons why in my retirement now I choose to be involved mainly in non-exec board roles so that I can keep satisfying this need of not doing it on my own.”

Read the whole thing here. 

Today’s agenda: Coconut Pancakes and the Start-up community

If there are two things I like more than anything else: it’s breakfast and lists.

Today’s breakfast: Coconut Pancakes. Recipe here. 

Coconut Pancakes

Today’s list: 10 things I’ve learned from working with start-ups

  1. Start-ups exist in a COMMUNITY and the more you participate, the easier it gets to network and meet others in this community.
  2. Authenticity is needed for ‘commercially-minded corporates’ to successfully enter this sector
  3. An idea is worth nothing, but a company with actual products, strategy, and a team is worth something (potentially).
  4. The definition of a ‘start-up’ is impossible to pinpoint. And that’s never going to change.
  5. Corporates and start-ups are not enemies; they just don’t know how to speak to each other. It’s a classic lost-in-translation situation.
  6. Money is not the issue; execution of ideas and scaling up past ‘shiny new start-up’ is a problem.
  7. It’s a numbers game – the number of start-ups, investors, mentors, accelerators, brands, clients, etc.
  8. There are two types of people in this world: entrepreneurs and curious observer. Having or not having a start-up is NOT the defining characteristic. It comes down to personality – there are people who build and people who support.
  9. There are a lot of bad ideas, confused business plans, and inapplicable pieces of tech that have hundreds of thousands of pounds in investment funding. Again, how much money you’ve raised is secondary to the monetization strategy.
  10. Both breakfast and the start-up community involve a lot of coffee.

Samedi matin à la start-up.