The tables have turned: VC Pitches @ Money Talks #IFweek

Big turnout today at the Innovate Finance event at Level39, where entrepreneurs, FinTech enthusiasts, interested parties have come to see who and why is channeling money into finance innovation projects.

Of all the intros, I found Gerard Grech’s (Tech City UK) to be the most noteworthy, with him presenting the UK VC funding landscape: 20x increase since 2010, high growth segment on AIM.LSE, 42% of EU unicorns are in the UK, two 500 million + exits – Deepmind, Naturalmotion Games – to Google & Zynga. And that the Future Fifty program raised 22 rounds and 675 million in 16 months. Pretty impressive achievements given its relative short lifespan.

5 minute VC pitches

After the intro sessions, we moved on to the 5 minute pitch sessions by VC representatives, which was sort of a ‘turn the tables on the investors’ endeavor. The organizers made it very difficult for them by keeping a strict time check with personalized (and somewhat ridiculous) music that was turned on at the end of each pitch. Many entrepreneurs who participated in pitch events were happy to see their judges going through the same things as they did. Long story short, here’s a summary of what I deemed worthy of mentioning from each of the pitches:

Zach Tan at InfoComm (State-run Singapore initiative)

  • He’s here to promote the opportunities in SE Asia – middle class (consumer class) growth and wealth expansion
  • They are privatizing former public sector legacy service and infrastructure providers & expanding the e-commerce sector
  • UK has a natural mind-set advantage in SE Asia, thinking beyond the homeland
  • “American companies are like aircraft carriers, EU start-ups are like speedboats”, the waters may not be suitable for the first ones

Nicolas Sharp at Passion Capital (early stage tech VC)

  • Announced a 45 million fund, strategy similar with the first fund – small seed investments (invested 124 million in 42 companies at a valuation of over 400 million)
  • Invested in 10 companies last year out of 3000 they see
  • They claim to treat people really well and want to help
  • All numbers are public, the term sheet is one page plain English and used in 5 MBA classes

Michael Treskow at Accel Partners

  • 300+ investments, 30+ years’ experience
  • Invested all over the world (25 countries)
  • They focus on increasing the percentage of NON-US companies in the fin-tech sector

Mariano Belinky at Santander InnoVentures

  • They released a Fintech 2.0 paper with some key trends:
    • Smart data
    • Friction-less processes
    • Internet of Things in banking
    • Distributed Ledger (blockchain)
  • Entrepreneurs shouldn’t struggle with compliance and ma banking quirks
  • Santander’s OpenBank – .8 million customers, 5.5 billion in balance

Rob Moffat at Balderton Capital

  • YOOX and Betfair IPOs
  • European focused VC
  • Former Goldman Sachs and Google employees, a couple of entrepreneurs
  • Invested 4 million in Crowdcube

After all the pitches were over, we witnessed a feedback committee Q&A, withBill Simmons at Crowdcube – CFO, Nezahat Gultekin at Atlantic Bridge Capital (Senior adviser), Russ Shaw at Tech London Advocates (Founder), Louise Beaumont at GLI Finance (PA and Marketing), Alain Falys at Yoyo Wallet (Founder). This was a bit less structured and the VCs received further grilling from the Q&A guests. Again, I captured what I deemed worthy to remember.

  • VCs don’t see themselves as in competition, but in collaboration especially at early stage – seed / series A. More competition can be found at series B or larger rounds, when your graph goes hockey stick.
  • The entrepreneur needs to do the work, the VC needs to be the part time psychologist, mentor and financial stake provider, you want to partner with someone that has been in your field
  • The Chairperson that manages board relationships is crucial so that entrepreneurs can work together with investors
  • Risk & how VCs manage it: is this team right for now, 1 year time and 5 years’ time, cofounders and why they have chosen them, credibility of the founders
  • Metrics are crucial for Series B, preIPO stage
  • Check for the first questions that VCs ask, check for the personality fit, investment strategy, follow-up rounds, business understanding
  • Entrepreneurs need to ask more questions, grill the VCs more
  • Don’t build growth on high CPAs, but on technology investment focus and competitive CPAs to drive growth

Last but not least, what is an industry event without some predictions? Here’s a take at the opportunity in FinTech from the VC representatives:

  • Asia – payment, block chain
  • “Plumbing” – SaaS, IaaS – allow other companies to build on what you build
  • Frictionless data, IoT banking, Smart data (yes, that’s Santander)
  • Selling to financial institutions themselves
  • Insurance

Tutor @ The Alchemy Diploma of Digital Marketing – April 2015

Proud again to announce something cool that I am going to do this year in London. I’m going to put my Digital Marketing, MBA and Entrepreneurship skills & experience to good use mixed with the seasoned methodologies of the Digital Marketing Institute to create the space for Londoners to take the first steps in the digital world. Here’s the blog post I wrote for the class earlier in the week. Please feel free to share 🙂 And use the EARLY BIRD code when registering.

Update 6/3/2015: Supersaver code expired, please use Saver 🙂

Update: 24/3/2015: The Saver code is gone now!

alchemyclass

We believe in giving before taking, so here are our 10 key digital marketing tips that will help you build amazing campaigns using the best digital mix.

1. Be helpful, honest and open – the rise of the internet & mobile connections have brought people closer together & closer to brands. It’s now more important than ever to stand out with a helpful message. Give before you ask.

2. Write for your customers, not for Google – too much we have focused on keywords and link-building for search engine optimization and forgot about the power of digital PR, organic mentions and fresh content.

3. The click is just the beginning of the journey – use today’s wide variety of pay per click networks, but don’t forget to track your customer all the way from the banner/link ad to your thank you page. You will learn a lot.

4. Email is king – if used correctly, email is still a very powerful tool, even with the rise of social media. Gets people clicking and gets people buying. What would you do without all those travel deals, Timeout offers or cool discounts that you get every day?

5. Display advertising enriches brands – pictures are worth 1000 words, especially in display advertising. Show what’s great about your product of service, make people smile, laugh or go “aha” with that design and copy. Clicking isn’t everything here.

6. Use that mobile connection wisely – our (smart)phone is the most intimate communication tool of them all. We carry it around with us every day and use it regularly. Do everyone a favour and don’t be intrusive. Connect with a purpose and add value.

7. Measure everything – the internet was a big leap forward from the TV or print ads because we now can track each and every marketing tactic. So we know what works and what doesn’t and focus just on the stuff that works. Analytics tools have to be part of every digital mix, no matter how small.

8. Social media is about being social – Don’t just start a social media channel to broadcast, use it to connect and engage with your customers, answer their questions, post useful content and entertain them. Oh, and use photos and videos a lot, it works.

9. Not all social networks are useful for your business – or for yourself for that matter. Learn how to choose from the wide range of networks and go where you can best provide added value and reach your customers at the same time. I know, a tricky one.

10. The strategy pulls it all together – the mix of tools is not a campaign unless we make strategic choices and establish a clear path, a tone of voice, narrative, approach, network mix and a set of indicators that will tell if we are successful or not. Never start a digital marketing effort without a strategy. You’ll never know if you are successful.

This is just a 5 minute taster of a 10 module Professional Diploma in Digital Marketing, an accredited course we are running this spring in London. Just to give you an idea of its scale, over 9,000 professionals from 36 countries have graduated and taken enhanced digital knowledge back to their businesses. So why not join them in April?

We have two types of classes, both full time and part time, run by two experienced tutors, Mike and myself.