How Networking & Collaboration can ease your Key Startup Challenges


L-R Mary McKenna, Clare McGee, Connor Doherty, Gemma Milne

This week I’ve spent a couple of days in Northern Ireland with Clare McGee of NORIBIC, Connor Doherty of CultureTech & Gemma Milne of Ogilvy Labs (@ClareNORIBIC @Culturetechfest @GKMilne1).  We’ve hosted a couple of events in Belfast & Derry & invited all our creative & digital industry colleagues to join us in order to discuss whether there’s any appetite in NI to create an industry led independent body to represent our sector & as part of that facilitate networking & collaboration.  The hashtag in case you want to look back at the Twitter conversation is #CACHE

In this blog I’m going to outline some ideas around how networking & collaboration can help especially digital & creative industry startups get around the key challenges identified in the recent Tech Nation 2016 report (collated & produced by Tech City & NESTA).  NI respondents identified 2 key and common challenges to scaling up their startups here in Northern Ireland & those are access to finance/investment and working within a limited talent pool (in my experience of growing a tech business in Northern Ireland, tech & sales people are especially difficult to recruit when you’re in startup mode).


Our Belfast guests at The MAC

Let’s start with networking.  I was quite pleased when I asked the room last night “who enjoys networking?” and quite a few hands went up.  Usually people pull faces & shuffle a bit when they think about entering a room full of 200 strangers & starting conversations with them.  Then again, we Northern Irish folk are famed for our friendliness.  The other common barrier is that startups think they are far too busy to network.  I know that because that’s how I used to think too when I was working 7 days a week early doors in my own startup.  But here’s the thing.  It’s nigh on impossible as a startup to persuade good people to leave their comfortable, steady, well-paid jobs & join you if they don’t know you and they’ve never heard of your company.  As for raising finance, don’t even bother trying to do this cold.  You are wasting your time.

Cache2As an aside, in the 2 weeks following the publication of this year’s Maserati 100 List in the Sunday Times newspaper last month, my inbox & LinkedIn quickly filled up with messages from entrepreneurs and startups cold pitching me.  After some consideration I’ve sent them back a version of the following note.  “If you don’t have enough of a network to get introduced to me, then I’m not going to read your cold pitch because you aren’t going to make it.  One of the key elements of startup success is an ability to nicely hustle”.  Harsh?  Maybe.  More about this later.


Derry guests in the Playhouse

Remember that all opportunities in business are attached to a person or people – and if you aren’t on that person or team’s radar, your chances of accessing or winning that opportunity are lessened.  Even in the strictest public sector procurement exercise you have a better chance of success if you are known to the procurer.

So – having accepted that networking is a good idea – how is it best to get started?  Here’s my quick primer:

  1. Think about who you already know, especially if you are raising early stage finance. Most of that comes from friends & family (& if you really want to finish the sentence – fools!).
  2. Join some networking organisations – formal & informal. There are loads & loads of these.  Ask around to find out which will be best for you.
  3. Use LinkedIn & Twitter effectively & if you don’t know how, then learn.
  4. Maybe consider joining an accelerator – access to networks is by far the greatest benefit. There are 3 in Belfast & a brand new one within the Northern Ireland Science Park in Derry called Growing Startups.  Hundreds more in London & many specialist ones emerging across Europe & the US that more & more Irish startups are accessing.
  5. Research industry notables local to you & work out how you can have a useful interaction with them. No stalking please.  Try & see what’s in it for them as well as you – not everyone in this life is pure & good although many are.
  6. Recruit already networked people into your small team. I’d take connections over experience any day of the week.  Remember the famous Sun Microsystems quote – “No matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else” – let’s face it – especially true if you only have 3 people in your team!
  7. Build out your own personal brand. This will help your startup when it’s small.  You can figure out later on how to shift the spotlight away from yourself & that’s a nice problem to have.  There are loads of ways to do this.  Publishing content on your own blog or LinkedIn & accepting all public speaking opportunities are a good start.
  8. Simplest of all – do a bit of homework before you bowl up to conferences & events. Find out who else is going.  Contact people beforehand & arrange to meet for a focused chat about something mutually beneficial.  Ask one of the speakers if you can interview them for your blog.
  9. If you’re in NI or Ireland, don’t forget there’s another island next door & less than an hour on the plane that has 10x the population of the island of Ireland & it’s a lot less hassle to operate in than trying to do business in the US.

You all know the rules of networking but briefly:

Be brave and approach strangers – what’s the worst that can happen; be friendly and pleasant; have a 30 second elevator pitch and be ready to trot it out; related to the last point recognise the part played by serendipity & always be watchful for connection opportunities without being overly pushy, be ambitious in who you reach out to – especially online – hardly anyone ever says No (I can only think of one single person who’s refused to help me with something in the last 10 years – DM me if you want to know who it is!); remember this is a two-way street & karma plays a part – pay it forward & pay it back – no matter how little you have there’s always someone else who is worse off.

Onto collaboration.  This is nothing new.  Members of the City of London guilds have been collaborating for over a thousand years.  I found a great Bill Gates quote on this:

“Creativity is less of an individual characteristic than it is an emergent property that surfaces when people convene around a problem”.


Me with the totally bonkers Gibson Girls of Red Earth Designs – fresh, innovative, fun!

I love that.  Our events this week attracted film makers, artists, actors, publishers and journalists, software & game creators, photographers, ceramicists, artisan food producers, musicians, digital generalists, chocolate makers, people from the fashion industry, STEMettes, all sorts of fabulous creative & digital companies & entrepreneurs.  Jim Murray of Troll games summed up creative collaboration beautifully last night in Derry as he described people with different skill sets & end games working together in a shared space, brainstorming ideas & dipping in & out of different projects in different parts of the industry.  We’d simply like to facilitate this happening for our creatives & digital people on a much bigger scale.

Competition is old hat.  It makes me think of gung ho alpha salesmen in shiny suits driving Ford Mondeos.  Ugh.

Going back to a startup’s ability to recruit for a moment, by 2020 Millennials will make up 50% of the workforce & 88% of them say they prefer to work in a collaborative environment not a competitive one – and you have to make your workplaces Millennial friendly if you’re going to attract the best of the best.

Northern Ireland is populated by thousands of micro businesses.  Collaborating with each other helps you go further & bid bigger – if that’s what you want.  So – if you like the sound of this, complete the NORIBIC survey here and have your say.

We’re launching the Northern Ireland branch of London’s Irish International Business Network at the Digital DNA conference in Belfast on 7 & 8 June.  I’m going to be driving this in Northern Ireland when I return home mid May.  But the good news is you don’t have to wait until then to join IIBN, you can join now & get your international networking kicked off pronto.

Last word – if you’re cold pitching to the people who accept cold pitches, Gemma Milne’s excellent advice is to keep your cover note to the length of two tweets max, don’t include pitch decks and business plans, maybe include a really short explainer video, don’t send generic – think about how what you have is of interest to who you’re sending it to.  Oh & whatever you do, don’t send them to me 😉

I’d love to know everyone’s thoughts around this topic so please do include them in the comments section.

10 under 30 – female fire starters to watch

My gift to you today is a list of the 10 young women under 30 in my own network that I admire immensely and believe are ones to watch.  This blog is loosely connected to my other posts on women in tech and is also a nice precursor to a couple of events I’m speaking at over the next few weeks (Create: 2014 at CultureTECH in Derry on 17 Sept and Digital Women Teacamp at the NAO on 9 Oct).

I don’t think anyone else out there will know ALL the remarkable women on this list so this blog will allow those that are listed to find each other and it will alert everyone else to their existence – so that you can all find and follow them.

The women on this list are very different from each other but there are a number of common threads that unite them.  They’ve all started something interesting of their own, or are poised to start something.  They’re all friendly but tenacious, busy but generous with their time, smart but hungry to learn more, successful but humble.

Anyway, without further ado and in no particular order, here’s my list:

Sheree Atcheson, Kainos

Sheree Atcheson of Kainos

Sheree Atcheson @nirushika
In her day job Sheree works as a software engineer at Kainos in Belfast. She founded Women Who Code UK as one of her many sidelines and she was one of the organisers of the Belfast Technology Conference earlier this year, attracting and engaging with speakers from the US and elsewhere. Sheree works tirelessly to promote STEM career options to younger people and she uses a quote on women in tech that I love – “in order to be in tech, you do not need to be a man, a “geek” or a “nerd”. All you need is to be interested.”
Sheree is an excellent role model for younger women and girls who are considering a career as coders and we’re working together in December at Queen’s University on just such a workshop.
You can find out more about Women Who Code UK & Sheree here

Serena McCrossan @serenamc
I worked with Serena at Learning Pool where she’s a Digital Marketing Exec.

Serena McCrossan Learning Pool

Serena McCrossan Learning Pool

Serena started her own business, Innov8 Marketing, in her final year of university when she was 21 and ran that for a few years. She wrote a very honest blog about her own startup experience that you can read here I like the way Serena managed to take the positives from her Innov8 experience and she’s definitely living proof that walking through treacle only makes you stronger.
Serena’s one of the most confident and self-assured young women I’ve ever met & she also knows more about SEO and web lead generation than anyone else I know. It’s great that she’s working at Learning Pool but a little bit of me wonders from time to time how awesome the next business she starts by herself will be.

Olwen Sheedy, PWC Dublin

Olwen Sheedy, PWC Dublin

Olwen Sheedy @OlwenSheedy
Where to start with Olwen! She’s the most organised person I know and a definite contender for the person who has achieved most, lived in the most places, knows the most people and is still well under 25. Hey – she’s even appointed her own “personal” board of directors. Isn’t that a cool idea – think of all the support you need in the various parts of your life & then slot people in. You don’t even have to tell them if you don’t want to!
I met Olwen when she was working for Enterprise Ireland in London, helping Irish businesses get a foothold in the UK market, but she already had a US track record under her belt long before she got here and she’s now joined PWC in Dublin. Olwen – London’s missing you already & I’m expecting great things from you.

Immy Kaur @ImmyKaur

Immy Kaur, Hub Birmingham

Immy Kaur, Hub Birmingham

Everything that Immy does is about using her own considerable personal energy to make positive change happen for other people and society. Her projects have all been deeply seated in social good and it’s remarkable to see such a gifted young person focus her energies in this way. The world would be a very different place if only there were a few more like Immy around.
In the short time that I’ve known her I can just tell she’s one of those people that gets things done very quickly without much in terms of resources – the best sort of person but one that’s in short supply.
She’s Co-Founder of Hub Birmingham – and I quote “Hub Birmingham is focused on making Birmingham more equitable, more democratic, more wondrous and a home for the 21st century. Made in Birmingham, Made by Birmingham, Made for Birmingham.” Keep on keeping on Immy – I can’t wait to see what you have in store for us when you’re the PM.

Charlotte Jee, ComputerworldUK

Charlotte Jee, ComputerworldUK

Charlotte Jee @CharlotteJee
Charlotte is senior reporter at ComputerworldUK covering government/public sector and how they use (and abuse!) technology. Like Elaine (see later) she gets to mix with and interview a lot of cool tech people in her job. Charlotte starting working whilst she was still at university, writing newswire (three-sentence ticker stuff you see at the bottom of Reuters screens) on the pharma industry for a couple of years.
I feel as if I’ve known Charlotte for years but that’s probably because she’s a networker and a party goer with her finger right on the pulse of government. I love that she calls herself a “government botherer” on her Twitter bio.
My hope is that Charlotte is going to collect lots and lots of scurrilous information about Whitehall personalities and then publish a no-holds-barred book for us all to enjoy.

Elaine Burke @CriticalRedPen

Elaine Burke, Silicon Republic

Elaine Burke, Silicon Republic

Elaine is a Dublin based tech journalist who works for Silicon Republic, Ireland’s awesome online source of technology news. She writes for traditional print media too and has authored a couple of chapters of a book coming out later this year on Dublin’s Silicon Docks. When she’s not writing about tech, she’s talking about it on the radio. Elaine was named Tech Journalist of the Year in the 2013 Journalism and Media Awards (also known as the JAMs).
We first met in real life when Elaine was interviewing me on camera about my views on women in tech. What a job as I hate being filmed. I was so impressed by Elaine’s thorough preparation, quiet composure and command of her technical team.
Basically Elaine has one of the coolest jobs in tech where she gets to meet lots & lots of tech startups, tech glitterati and even better, sample and review all the latest gadgets. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens when she starts something herself!

Sarah McBride, Create: 2014

Sarah McBride, Create: 2014

Sarah McBride @SMB_Business
Sarah is one of the youngest women on my list. I’ve worked with Sarah on the Create: 2014 conference that’s happening at CultureTECH festival in Derry on 17 September (it’s not too late to join us) and have been thoroughly impressed with her professionalism and level of ambition.
Sarah just got her “A” Level results this summer (I know she’ll hate me saying this but she got 4 As) and is starting at University of Bath next month. It’s wonderful to meet such a motivated young person and I have no doubt whatsoever that we’ll see Sarah starting her own business before too long.


Lyra McKee @LyraMcKee

Lyra McKee, Beacon Reader

Lyra McKee, Beacon Reader

Lyra is a Belfast based investigative and independent journalist. I first met her at a Barcamp in Derry back in 2009 when she was an achingly young startup founder & CEO but I was immediately struck by her passion and fire. At that time, Lyra had founded (and self funded with 3 of her friends) a startup called NewsRupt, an intermediary company that allowed news editors to bid on stories created by freelance journalists. I’ve since watched her get a number of her own ideas up and running as well as working in other people’s startups on the side to earn a bit of cash.
Lyra is full of great ideas and she’s forever rooting for the underdog. I know that one of these days she’s going to pull off something big. You can read her blog here

Lily Dart, dxw

Lily Dart, dxw

Lily Dart @Lily_Dart
Lily is a graphic designer and front end developer for public sector web design business dxw. She describes herself as a “geek and feminist”. We’ve recently been working together on the preparation for the second #DigitalWomen Teacamp event that’s happening on 9 October at the NAO.
I first encountered Lily at one of the UK Govcamp events a couple of years ago and was impressed by her straight talking about what it’s like being a young female web developer working in a largely all male environment and her useful advice for other young women.
I love that Lily (like Charlotte) started working as a freelancer whilst she was still at university, earning money and building her network. We need more women like Lily in tech.

Emma Leahy @emsiememsie

Emma Leahy, Get Invited

Emma Leahy, Get Invited

I first met Emma when she was the Editor at Sync NI, Northern Ireland’s most respected technology, science and innovation magazine. I was bowled over by her energy and positivity. No wonder she was the person chosen to profile tech giant Steve Wozniak when he graced the Province with his presence and I will be forever jealous that she got to meet one of my absolute favourite entrepreneurs, Sir Tim Smit.

These days Emma is Marketing Manager for online ticketing and event registration startup Get Invited. The guys are going great guns and currently have almost 400 events advertised on the platform with gross ticket value approaching £3m – wow!

I’m always delighted to run into Emma at events because she has the sunniest personality and she knows all the best tech gossip!

Samantha Sparrow, Task Squad

Samantha Sparrow, Task Squad

Samantha Sparrow @SamRSparrow
I couldn’t write a blog like this without including Sam, even though she’s ever so slightly past 30 (sorry for telling everyone that Sam). Sam is a force of nature and a complete one-off. In my long and varied career, I’ve never worked with anyone else like her.
A lawyer and a social entrepreneur, Sam is the driving force behind Task Squad, a social innovation startup from national youth volunteering charity vInspired. Sam has worked in the 3rd sector for 10 years and daily brings to bear all the skills she gained as part of her legal training in a positive way to help bring about social change. For the first 4 months of this year the two of us met with hundreds of people across London and without fail, every single one of them said to me afterwards “Wow – she’s impressive!”

Sam’s a blogger (check out the High Tea Cast) and a Hoxton Radio DJ, she ran the London Marathon for 2 children’s charities this year, she’s a chatterbox, a multitasker, a visionary and a livewire with a heart of gold. Cross her at your peril!  If we had more people like Sam in charity innovation the world would be a very different place.

Olivia McVeigh @omcveigh15 & Shelly McVeigh @mcveigh_shelly

Olivia McVeigh and Shelly McVeigh

Olivia McVeigh and Shelly McVeigh

At 16 and 17 respectively these are the youngest women on my list and they’re also the ones closest to my heart as they’re my nieces. To say I’m expecting big things from these two is an understatement. They’ve just received their GCSE results and are starting out with A Levels next. They’ve both been brought up to believe 100% that they can do ANYTHING with their lives and that opportunity exists at every turn in the road. I have no idea yet what Olivia and Shelly will choose to do but I know it’s going to be huge – and for that reason I’ve sneaked them in at the end of my list.

OK – the eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed that I’ve listed not 10 but 13.  I hope I haven’t missed out anyone from my circle…

Please continue the conversation and make your own nominations in the comments below.

10 Cardinal Rules of Business Networking for entrepreneurs (and others)

GIEF Crowd

Assembled crowd in Dublin Castle when I arrived

In my world it’s quite common for entrepreneurs who are a bit further ahead than the rest of us to put something back in terms of the people following in their trail.  This can happen via formal networks (Digital Circle, Irish International Business Network, Global Irish Network, Chambers of Commerce, CBI, etc – we all have plenty of groups we’re members of) or it can be more informal – people you already know or meet along the way or via events that provide access to the Great & the Good (Culturetech in Derry is a recent example of a fabulous event that was bunged full of tech world glitterati as was the EBN Congress event run by NORIBIC in May with illustrious keynote speakers such as Steve Wozniak and Tim Smit).

Being able to ask questions of the people further ahead is mission critical to an entrepreneur (and corporate world managers I guess).  Even better is using networking to find yourself a small number of mentors and advisors with whom you can start an ongoing relationship.  Having personal access to leaders with proven success is a well known piece of the entrepreneur puzzle and one which significantly improves a startup’s chances of making it to the end of that all important first year.

Yesterday I attended the 3rd Global Irish Economic Forum in Dublin Castle.  It was hosted by the Taoiseach & the Tanaiste and is a biannual gathering of 250 of Ireland’s most influential & successful people.  This year the Tanaiste decided to include some Northern Irish businesses amongst the 100 SME businesses that are invited & that’s how come I was there.  It was terrifying.  I only knew two people there out of two or three hundred when I arrived.

One of the most frequently used phrases I heard yesterday was “I will help you if I can” – but as an entrepreneur how do you respond to and action that offer in order to get most benefit out of it for your company.  I thought about this a lot on the way home last night & decided to write a quick blog.  As usual, the list below is not finished or complete so please do add your own tips in the comments section & we’ll all be pleased to read those later.

  1. Have an elevator pitch and be ready to trot it out anytime & anywhere.  Keep it brief or you’ll lose your important audience.  Be able to flex it so that you can give a different version dependent on what sort of person you are pitching to and what country they are from – are they a potential door opener, investor, mentor.  If you aren’t good on your feet you need to practice this to the point where it just rolls out effortlessly freeing you up to watch their body language & listen & respond to their points/questions.  If you can’t do this, don’t put yourself through the pain of going to this sort of event.  Instead find someone who can do it for you.
  2. Don’t be afraid to approach people and always ask for help – when you get to a place where you feel you are comfortable to ask for some support just go ahead and ask.  Hardly anyone ever says no.  I’ve only been turned down by one person – it’s someone you all know so DM me if you want me to spill the beans – I can’t do it on here!  But it was only one person and I’ve asked hundreds for help.
  3. Don’t be afraid to be ambitious – in my group yesterday someone asked if a couple of the US heavy hitters could help her secure Hillary Clinton as a keynote speaker for her conference next year.  Time will tell on that one!
  4. Before you ask, be very clear about what it is that you want them to do for you.  I have a couple of “open” offers right now where people have offered to help me with “something” – but I don’t yet know what I can best use that offer for.  Help could be making an intro to someone to joining your board or investing in your company – and anything on the spectrum in between.
  5. Never expect someone like this to do any heavy lifting or grunt work for you, that’s your job.  What I mean by that is you have to do the homework and present the information to them so that all they do is give you an opinion or a steer – don’t expect they will do your market research for you.  If for example you were looking for a channel partner in an overseas territory, research who the players are, what their characteristics and pros/cons for you are & then ask for some advice in which 3 out of the 10 in existence are best for your company to approach.
  6. Be 100% serious when you execute on whatever it is you’ve asked the person to do.  If someone opens a door for you at your request then do your homework & don’t screw up the sales pitch when you get there.  It’s not just your own chips you’re using – it’s the chips of everyone similar to you that’s following on behind you.  I heard one US mentor describe this yesterday as “political capital”.  I’ve also heard it called “reputational capital”.  What does that mean? – I make an intro for you, you show up half prepped or don’t turn up, I’m now in a much worse place with the contact I’ve sent you to.  No pressure but be careful what you wish for and only engage if you know you are ready.
  7. Some access is for a one-off offer & some might lead to an ongoing relationship – be careful to work out which it is early doors.
  8. Related to the above point, if it’s the start of an ongoing relationship you probably need to meet a few times before both parties are comfortable.  The first time you meet just establishes that you like each other & possibly have a common interest.  You now need to get to know each other a bit better.  As the “recipient”, you need to do the running to make sure the relationship develops.
  9. When you have a new advisor in your circle, don’t just use the red phone and ring them when you need a decision made or have a crisis.  You’ll get far more out of the relationship if you keep them up to speed with what you’re doing & how things are going as you go along.  Again, it’s up to you to find a way to do that & put the work in to make it happen.  These guys are never going to be chasing you.
  10. Finally – when you’re at this sort of event, be brave and approach strangers and start up a conversation.  Everyone is there because of one or more vested interests of their own and they want to talk to you.  Never forget that people prefer to do business with people they like so at initial brief meetings like these be pleasant, don’t argue and regard it as a way of “interviewing” and filtering those that you will follow up and keep in touch with.  I came away yesterday with a handbag stuffed full of business cards and today will be spent following up with the people I met.

A few weeks ago at Culturetech festival in Derry I was lucky enough to meet & chat with Wilson Kriegel (former COO of OMGPOP, creators of Draw Something) and he said something that has stayed with me.  You start forming relationships the day you are born; growing and nurturing those relationships is key to the success of an entrepreneur.  Yep – at the end of the day business is all about people – nothing else really matters.

If you’re just getting started with networking, here’s a link to an earlier blog I wrote a couple of years back


10 things crowdfunding investors want most from digital media investments

Tim Brundle presenting at Culturetech

There was a lot to like about last week’s CultureTECH festival held in Learning Pool’s hometown of Derry.  So typical of Derry that our city’s event managed to combine both culture + technology.  Many attendees agreed it was the culture element that elevated the festival way above the millions of other web summits that every man, woman & dog hosts.  A lovely taster of some of the magic we expect to see for 12 months during 2013 when Derry becomes the first ever UK City of Culture.

I enjoyed listening to many of the speakers on Friday (especially Andrew Dubber (who advised us to invent the future rather than trying to predict it), Fiona McAnena, Sir Nicholas Kenyon and of course lovely Ben Hammersley) but the speaker who gave me the most insight into one of the topics I’m most interested in was Tim Brundle.  Tim is Director of Innovation at the University of Ulster where over the past few years he’s made investments of between £5k & £328m in over 60 tech companies & seen returns on investment of 0.8x to 42x.  I suppose what I’m trying to say is that he knows what he’s talking about.

It’s a well known fact that everyone suddenly wants to be in digital.  According to this presentation, by the end of 2011 87% of the top 100 VC firms had digital media funds or portfolio investments.

For the purpose of this blog I’m going to share with you the 10 things Tim believes people investing through crowdfunding schemes are looking for in digital media investments.  While Tim was talking I thought about our own company and how attractive we would have been starting out if we’d been scored against these criteria.

  1. Business Model is first up and most important – people want to believe that they’re going to get money back.  Giving thought to your business model & revisiting it from time to time is something every business should do & I’ve written on this topic before.  For new businesses and teams seeking investment it’s incredibly important to spend time getting it right as a small change in your business model can make big differences in the shape of and priorities within your eventual company.
  2. Location – most people seeking a project to invest in via crowdfunding look for something that’s local to them.  With the internet I’m not sure why that would be.  Even if you’re close by you won’t be able to influence what they do – but I guess it’s something to do with local knowledge & familiarity.
  3. What Tim calls True Grit in a team.  I heard him say a few times during the course of the day that early start up success does not necessarily guarantee success in subsequent ventures and because of this crowd fund investors want to try out with newbies.
  4. Goes without saying investors look for a Smart Idea.
  5. More interesting is that they look for an idea that will generate a Big Splash.  This means something that people think can be rolled out quickly, catch on fast & generate rapid user adoption.
  6. Investors look for a product that is Beautiful – doesn’t everyone?
  7. Kentucky Windage – a term which originated in rifle shooting & is about compensating for your shot when using a hinky shotgun by trying to second guess where the bullet is going to go.  In this instance it’s about how people try to second guess what the route to market of a new product is going to be.
  8. Personalisation – people base attractiveness of the investment around what the product or idea means to them, how it appeals to them & how they imagine use of it would enrichen their lives.
  9. The product itself is quite low down in the list of considerations but crowd funding investors are interested in whether or not it appears to be Authentic and Real.
  10. The last one I like.  Does the idea or product have a Future & Enduring appeal.  Tim told us the well known story about Zhou Enlai’s take when asked about outcomes of the French Revolution 200 years earlier – of course he believed it was “too soon to tell”. 

I’ll leave you with this pic of Tim & me taken on Friday night after a fabulous day at CultureTECH.  We’re very lucky to have someone like this in and around the Northern Ireland investment scene and so accessible to companies starting out.  I know Tim has been a great help to many fledgling startup tech businesses and like me, he love, love, loves to see teams pitching.

I’ll finish by expressing my thanks to Mark Nagurski and the entire Digital Derry Action Team for giving us such a great event last week and for sealing the exciting twinning deal with London’s Tech City.