Category Archives for Cambridge

Veridian Solar wins national award

It was good to hear from Martin Davies that his latest start-up, Veridian Solar, is doing well. Viridian Solar was named the Building Entrepreneur of the Year at the biggest construction industry award event – Building 2008. Veridian has designed solar panels which are easy to install as part of a new build in a house.

It is good to see successful entrepreneurs going for a second deal. Although not as hungry as the first time they are not as raw. Will they be raising VCs funds this time or, as with last time, grow from cash generated? I guess it all depends as their first business was high margin technology whereas this second time round, it will be a lower margin business. Let us hope that the building industry pays promptly and allows them to fund growth internally. Will the major builders be willing to rely on a young company for such an important component of a house as part of the roof?

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Prelude Trust has no place to hide

Prelude Trust has failed to back the winners and cannot raise further funds. You think it is tough being an entrepreneur, try being a VC. So Prelude follows Gateway, TTP Ventures and Avlar leaving Amadeus as the sole survivor in Cambridge now that 3i has closed down their local office. The new technology business is the toughest of the tough and even some angels are cutting back.

You have to admire the style of the VCs who are taking over the management contract. Important things first – let’s get the carry percent worked out:

"certain members of the New Manager will indirectly make
capital commitments equal to 1 per cent. of the total capital committed to the
Purchaser, and, in addition to their pro rata share of the proceeds received by
the Purchaser on realisation of the Portfolio, will receive a carried interest"
calculated by reference to the Purchaser's total profit.

Ask for the order! Again

Steve Smith (American Dad!)Image via WikipediaFred Wilson repeats the wise words we all need to remember:

Words of wisdom from Steve Kane (actually Steve’s dad):

btw, the best advice my old man gave, and the advice he drilled most emphatically and repeatedly was, ASK FOR THE ORDER. you’d be amzed how many people talk to customers forever and never actually say ask for the order…

I saw Steve’s comment right after I read a long email from an entrepreneur (way too long, emails should be no more than three paragraphs) that went on and on about his business but never once asked us to consider an investment.

Ask for the order.

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Modest Twist runs with Velocix

The Mathematical Bridge over the river Cam (at Queens’ College)Image via WikipediaAdam Twist bills himself as astute businessman and product innovator” on the Velocix site – sounds as if he should be on The Apprentice. In the 90s, he started Zeus Technology from his University of Cambridge college room and built it to over 200 people before missing out on the top of the dot com market whilst hanging in, I guess, for the big time.

His latest ideas use P2P technology in the same way as Skype to get large video files humming round the net. 3i is an investor so hopefully Continue Reading »

Regulations – winners and losers

Always the best way of increasing sales is for the government to introduce legislation that moves your product from the desirable category to the necessity.  90% of Artimi sales for its search software are driven by regulation and the business will do well from the crisis engulfing the financial services sector, according to Mike Lynch, founder and chief executive.

It reminds me of the 80s when Domino Printing “date stamping” ink jet printing technology was spot on for tremendous growth fueled by new legislation.

Perhaps Artimi should open an office near the home of Norther Rock in Newcastle to offer work to the thousands who will lose their jobs hope.

Preparing to sell a company the Hewitsons way

The Spring 2008 Business Briefing from Hewitsons lists the preliminary issues that vendors need to sorted out at early stage.  They do not mention share agreements, options and VC terms so let us get these in first.

Surprisingly top of the list is the website.  It is the first thing the purchaser will look at so make sure it is easy to find and gives a good impression.  It does not need many or jpgs!  Then it is all about the paper chase and making sure that everything is in order from the IP to the staff contracts.  When establishing a business, try not to have any contracts, excluding shareholder agreements, which have any clauses about change of control or else you may have to show your hand early and ask permission of third parties.

And take good legal advice along the way.

Searching Autonomy, True Knowledge and Grapeshot for a common Equity Fingerprint

They are all search engines and each has their own Equity Fingerprint, a business plan resource, as well as being based on algorithms. Mike Lynch claims an “immaculate conception” for Autonomy or he did at his talk at CEC8. Apparently Autonomy spun-out in some form from another source so there were very few start-ups costs (a bit like Microsoft who bought their initial software) and they could get down to the business of selling. Unusually Continue Reading »

Budget papers to help the entrepreneur

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This is a diagram from two excellent budget papers mentioned by CandidCapital in their post on Of Budgets and White Papers. First, the Innovation White Paper: Innovation Nation and secondly Enterprise: unlocking the UK’s Talent. Both have much to recommend them and provide good background material.

The diagram above is similar to the work done by the Director of the Judge Business School on clusters. There is little reference to the importance of Active Equity Companies and clusters are relegated to a minor role rather than something to be understood and replicated.

Can Spinvox help Doble Quality Foods?

A previous post mentions how Spinvox has turned to the Cambridge Cluster to accelerate their software. Gigaom says that “London startup SpinVox raised $100 million today in a round of financing that values the company at $500 million. That’s big money for a company that translates voicemails into text, but SpinVox Continue Reading »

Cambridge quiet? Go to London OpenCoffee Club

A team from ARU went to London OpenCoffee club and reported back that most “had set up their business for a period already, and they just came to the coffee meeting for  social networking and see what is going on.

What I’ve found interesting was there were 5 people I had spoken with doing business with Online shopping, bidding and payment for specific industry Continue Reading »