2 Apr 2008
It seems that several people missed the “Comments” link where Grover posted his materials for the Venture 2.0 Playbook. Therefore, I’m reposting his comments with the link here below. Also, although we’ve had some great dialogue offline about this extremely important topic, I’d like to see some here.
Thanks to Randall for his kind words. It really was a great event hosted by MaRS. I would like to thank Peter Evans and MaRS’ CEO Dr. Ilse Treurnich for holding the event and letting so many entrepreneurs get a change to hear from the heavy hitters at IDC and the in-person speakers in Toronto.
I have posted my slides at the following URL: http://www.imobileinternet.com/pub/mars/MaRS-Grover-Righter.zip
When you download the ZIP file, there is a folder with two content files. One is the PDF with the session presentation and another is the spreadsheet with the pro-forma numbers used in the session examples. (Hint to startup types, you need to put your OWN numbers in the spreadsheet 🙂
If there is interest in a follow-on session, we can have a special Iotum hosted Sqwak just for this topic …
28 Mar 2008
Today, I will expand on an offhand comment I made last week about founderitis being one of the biggest barriers to engagement with the Grover Playbook and, incidentally, probably the number one showstopper for investment we encounter at Verdexus.
As a serial entrepreneur, investor and (ex-)founder in technology startups, I have seen more than my share of experiences showing how fraught founder interactions can be. My friend J Paul Haynes, who is a serial executive (and founder), showed me an interesting article from the February 2008 issue of Harvard Business Review on this topic entitled “The Founder’s Dilemma”. In this article, Noam Wasserman analyzed 212 startups and observed some intriguing patterns. What is great about this article is that it provides a cold, analytic economic framework to assess the “founder’s dilemma” which is the “… choice between making money and controlling the business.” The Faustian bargain to give up equity and control in order to attract institutional (venture) capital that will grow the business faster is a hard one for many founders to accept. And yet, the leverage of external capital …
22 Mar 2008
On Thursday, I attended the pre-launch party for what is an exciting new social enterprise. The guest of honour, Jonathan Howard, a 24 year old (and, I am proud to say, my nephew), is embarking on an extraordinary quest. On Tuesday, 25 March he will, in his RunTheDream charity fundraiser, do what most of us wouldn’t ever even consider attempting – to run across Canada, a distance of over 9 000 km from St. John’s to Victoria.
Why has Jonathan undertaken this amazing, and many of us would say impossible, run? Well, besides proving to himself that he can, Jonathan who is already an accomplished athlete and marathon runner, has had this personal goal since his university days. And, even more importantly, he hopes to raise significant funds for Autism Society of Canada, a rapidly emerging cause, yet one that still lags some of the bigger charities in its awareness and fundraising. In addition to a significant fundraising objective, a CSF for Jonathan’s will be to significantly increase awareness of the Autism Spectrum Disorders across Canada.
How can you help Jonathan raise …
19 Mar 2008
Yesterday, long time friend and business colleague Grover P. Righter who is General Manager Americas for Silicon Valley-based iMobileInternet, was the Keynote speaker at the Mars Experience Tech 2008 Conference. That conference was clearly a highlight of the year and was brilliantly executed by MaRS guru Peter Evans.
And, Grover’s keynote address, entitled “New Playbook for Venture 2.0: How to get from $0 to exit with less capital” easily stole the show. I’m keenly encouraging wider understanding of this topic, as it is central to our core “hands on” investment strategy at Verdexus. In a very detailed methodology, that I’ll dub the Grover Playbook, Grover Righter clearly has best captured the essence of the new world of building more capital efficient knowledge-based businesses.
I’m hoping Grover will provide a more detailed briefing on this methodology in a future instalment, meanwhile I’ll highlight a few key points:with the advent of open source, virtualization, outsourcing, social networks and new web/mobile models into the enterprise, building a web or wireless business from scratch to exit (“new home”) for about $2 million (rather than the more …
15 Mar 2008
Today, I am excitedly watching Ottawa-based iotum‘s Free Conference Calls application on Facebook rocket through the 200 000 net installed user mark. As many of you know, iotum is a Verdexus portfolio investment of late last year when I also engaged with the company as Chairman. Note that I plan to discuss the investment cycle for global and Canadian startups in later blogs. Meanwhile, for those of you near Toronto, on Wednesday March 19th, my colleague Grover Righter of iMobileInternet will present a great keynote on the topic “The New Playbook for Venture 2.0: how to get from $0 to exit with less capital” at the Mars ExperienceTech 2008 conference.
Having invested in the company because of a great team and a deep intellectual property portfolio driving an application aimed at the emerging market for business-oriented applications on Facebook, it is indeed gratifying to witness this robust level of end user adoption. Not just a typical “light-weight” Facebook application, iotum‘s Free Conference Calls is a professional grade, full featured new take on the conference call. It fuses iotum‘s expertise in presence …
15 Mar 2008
And, don’t worry, with modern hand luggage restrictions, I didn’t have my sword to open the oyster to extract a pearl! In fact, Oyster is a Transport For London brand for their payment system. Many here in North America feel we are at the epicentre of the technology universe and have a monopoly on great technologies empowering the connectivity behind our increasinly always on lifestyle. With a different work-life cultural balance, Europe has much to teach us about deploying state of the art technologies, especially those we might encounter in daily life. But, too, not all are absolutely without flaws. I will share a few experiences from a recent pan-European sojourn.
Although deployed for a few years, this convenient contact-less payment card, containing an RFID chip, has in the last year or so taken off to the point that it is now used by around 90% of all trips on London Underground, buses and even some National Rail services. While, in North America, we think of RFID’s use in logistics and as a more active version of all those UPC …
6 Mar 2008
As part of a European trip through Vienna, Munich, London and Berlin to meet with some tech startups and key tech investors, yesterday I stopped in at CeBIT in Hannover Germany.
For those who don’t know CeBIT, this massive Information & Communications Technologies (ICT) show remains the largest computer show in the world. I’ve attended CeBIT off and on over the last 25 years, with my first one being in 1984 to launch Coherent on a prototype Commodore C900 machine. At that time, CeBIT was a “show within a show” of about 5 buildings in the 25 buildings that comprised Hanover Fair (HannoverMesse, in German). The rest of the show was chock full of large industrial equipment, construction technology, mining equipment and the like, so incredibly diverse. Today, CeBIT consumes 27 buildings (plus a number of smaller pavilions), each building the size of a large convention centre/trade show facility in itself.
Today, before heading out to Berlin, I wanted to share a few impressions:The show is still going strong – while the web is disintermediating large US shows and even reduced to …
4 Mar 2008
For those from the 1960’s such a pairing might trigger nostalgia. But in the new millennium, what does this mean? Believe it or not, the former is hot, emerging branding strategy for a media-saturated populace.
This week, en route from Vienna, via Munich to CeBIT and on to Berlin, my European Verdexus partner Suresh Patel, and I had an opportunity to see the mantra of “free love” marketing techniques playing out on the strassen and autobahnen of Austria and Germany.
Niki Lauda‘s eponymous and innovative car rental cum advertising company LaudaMotion in Vienna, rents a brand new BMW Mini car for an amazing €20. And, given Suresh’s obsession with carbon neutrality, a Mini is definitely planet friendly. Our Mini came painted out in the badge of the same Niki Lauda’s FlyNiki.com, which includes flights between London and Vienna for as low as £1. The business model of such low cost airlines is probably a topic for another day. As well, today we saw Smart Cars and Minis advertising SkyEurope, Allianz, etc.
Clearly this business, of transforming rental customers like us into moving billboards, …
18 Feb 2008
Well, perhaps I have the answer for that …
On Saturday, I had the very good fortune to hike through an amazing wilderness reserve and research centre, named rare with London-based artist and filmmaker David Buckland who has created Cape Farewell as well as several naturalists who interpreted this wonderful reserve. The experience was a special one for me, beyond the great outdoors and the people I was with.
Firstly, I love the outdoors, and this is the first time I’ve really been out in nature (the rough ground being a bit of a challenge) since I recovered from a broken leg. So, Saturdy was like a new beginning.
Secondly, at the end, we had a chance to hear David Buckland talk about Cape Farewell and some of their programs. Here is how they describe themselves:
“Cape Farewell brings artists, scientists and educators together to collectively address and raise awareness about climate change. “
David, as a visual artist and film maker definitely has a unique approach. They take boats, with artists, educators and students into the arctic, many through passages that were, prior …
16 Feb 2008
Technology is a passion.
I have, over the years, had the good fortune to work in researching key technologies, designing and building great products based on technologies, founding and growing great companies built around technology, and now investing (in a “hands-on” way of course) in great technology businesses.
I also happen to have a passion for the arts, the environment and entrepreneurism. And, in recent years, business models, approaches and systems coming from technology-based business, is starting to transform the social sector.
What used to be called philanthropy, is definitely becoming more business like and, in fact, the boundaries are blurring. Is innovative micro-lender Grameen Bank a charity or a profit making business? Well, to short change a long discussion, it is a bit of both. And, that’s what’s exciting about the new work of technology and the social sector. Rules are being broken, new businesses cannibalize old, and it is the human intellet, well applied, that wins the day.
I’m a pretty opinionated guy. And, I like nothing more than to share and debate those opinions. Feel free to …