Tag Archives for Cambridge

Will Rapportive change the Cambridge Cluster?

Image representing Rapportive as depicted in C...Image via CrunchBase

Great news that Rahul Vohra and his third venture, Rapportive, has gone viral with over 100,000 downloads.  Click here for the full story on Rapportive.  Briefly Rahul opted out of his PhD, helped start www.mo.jo, joined the start-ups at Redgate Software and toyed with a game based on a book and then came Rapportive.  Rahul left Cambridge to join Y Combinator and tap into the Silicon Valley scene.

Y Combinator invests an average of $17,000 in each start up – now over 280 companies – for around 10% of the equity.  Then Rapportive raised some $1 million from Silicon Valley angels.  I asked Rahul if he had given any of his early backers in Cambridge, UK, a chance to invest and he replied on Facebook “Rahul Vohra Philip: yup, there are investors from Cambridge. Neil Davidson, John Taysom, and one other who prefers to remain anonymous :)”.

Redgate appears to have a policy to go for growth and show that you can build a major technology company without offering equity to employees except a tightly controlled scheme.  If founder Neil Davidson sees Rahul grow fast, will this change his view?  Particularly if he sees them then grow new companies with their “winnings”.  As Redgate plays a major part in the Cambridge Cluster, including providing the chair of Cambridge Network, this could have a major impact on the Cambridge Cluster.

Silicon Valley keeps ringing the changes.  First companies were sold that made a profit, then the social network companies were sold which made no profits but had millions of users and now people are buying teams of geeks.  An example is Motorola buying 280 North for the geek team.  Up 280 is another success from the Y Combinator stable.  Up 280 raised less than Rapportive with a reported $250,000 in a 2008 angel round.  Interesting to try to guess at the final equity ownership.  The Equity Fingerprint was: two founders, then Y Combinator, an angel round and hopefully options for the team.

Guesstimates:

Round 1: Start -up:

Two founders – 50% each;

Round 2: Y Combinator arrives:

Two founders – 45% each, Y Combinator 10%

Rounds 3: Angels invest $250,000 and say 10% option pool:

Round 4: Two founders –  22.5% each, Y Combinator 5%, angels 40% and 10% option pool.

Guess that Y Combinator and angels would be paid out on completion with the founders and option pool vesting over a couple of years.  But a great deal for the geeks.  Congratulations.  Not as good as Xensource in Cambridge, UK, but not bad!

The world keeps spinning; will Rapportive make the Cambridge Cluster spin faster?  Will Rahul return to Cambridge with his winnings and tell us all about his business plan resource, become an angel and a serial entrepreneur?  How long will we have to wait?  The clock is ticking……..

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Plastic Logic joins LBO at CES

The BBC’s Rory Cellan-Jones reports from the Las Vegas Consumers Electronics Show on this year’s best new gadgets and includes two Cambridge companies, LBO and Plastic Logic.

Plastic Logic says that the wraps are still on their product but their site but Que has already been announced.  Now the site has been updated with lots of information on the QUE. Lots more on the website QUE.  But who would want to order one until Steve Jobs reveals the iSlate?

I wonder what business plan resource the academic founders of Plastic Logic used as so much money has been raised to launch the product?  I thought that they would be selling the screens to the likes of HP,Sony and Samsung.  A very different business model from CSR and other Cambridge Cluster companies which receive royalties for intellectual property.

Let us hope that there is a special Cambridge Cluster version at a good discount for us locals.

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Physiotherapist in Ambleside and Windermere for knees.

Windermere - from the northImage via Wikipedia

We live in a daft world these days with people in the NHS running scared of providing a rounded public service in case they come a cropper.My old knees are grumbling so where better place to take them than the Ambleside surgery.  “Please can you give me the name of a local physiotherapist or sports therapist, I asked”.  The receptionist replied “No can do in case we are seen to be endorsing the therapists”.  I also noticed that the surgery no longer lends wheel-chairs but refers you to Kendal which is miles away.  Strange as last year the surgery was very helpful and lent Yvonne a wheel-chair.  We had the puncture repaired and returned it after a few days.  I guess now that they are terrified of endorsing a wheel-chair.  It is time that people in the NHS stood up to all this nonsense and provided the service we require, especially in a holiday area.

A very nice patient who was leaving the surgery suggested I tried Boots.  None of the staff could help – they did try – but I was saved by a nice customer who said there was an excellent physiotherapist at the Low Wood Hotel leasure complex.

So Janet Smedley, chartered physiotherapist of Ambleside and Windermere, eased my aching joints and I am most grateful.

However Grant Dain, internet marketing Cambridge, could certainly help improve her website.  She has a nice image with all her contact details so no wonder Google cannot index her and I struggled to find her.

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Cronto makes a sale

Thin Air At Over The AirImage by Rija 2.0 via Flickr

I first met Igor and Elena, the Cambridge, UK, based husband and wife team that runs Cronto (simple strong security), a couple of years ago when they first started working on their new encryption service.  It is a very simple idea and relies on people keeping their mobile phones handy.  Apparently they are rarely more that two metres from us!  When you access your bank account, a pattern appears on a screen, which you photograph with your mobile phone.   The Cronto software decodes the pattern and you key in the code; very simple and very secure.

It always amazed me that you could travel and access your bank account without informing the bank that you were away from home.  With Cronto,  you feel your bank account is safe.

Looking at the website, there is no sign of a VC and so I wonder what business plan resource they are using?  As they are based in the University of Cambridge’s William Gates Building, do Cambridge Enterprise have any involvement?

The website is very busy and Grant Dain, internet marketing Cambridge, might suggest that it is simplified with clearer calls to action.

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The business school of Gloucester Road, Bristol

BristolImage via WikipediaThe daughter and I were walking along Gloucester Road in Bristol when we met Robert Uphill.  Robert is an engaging young man and has just joined the ranks of the self-employed.  He has got his first contract and is/was in the process of registering a company and website under the name Robert Uphill.  But he had met the right people!  We suggested he had a dream of building a bigger business and needed to have a name and website such as Uphill Associates.

Then we started to dream and suggested he explored the business schools at Bath and Bristol and the resources available to help him produce a business plan with a dream of building a technology company similar to the ones in the Cambridge Cluster.  I also pointed out how much he must earn to have parity with the total package offered to the public sector – around three times salary.  That gave him something to think about.

As we were dreaming a nice young man asked us to move away from his jewellry shop as he was about to close the shutters.  We got talking and all he said was that the taxes in the UK were too high.  He wanted to jump in a lorry to get out of this country!  He quite put our friend off starting a business!

And then the Daughter and I crossed the road and entered a Hi-Fi shop were a very pleasant young man with an easy going manner gave us a demonstration of Bose products.  Just got to hope that they will have a good sale in 2009 and I can blast my iPhone.

So a quick walk along the Gloucester Road, Bristol, is recommended to entrepreneurs.

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Selling at the top.

Business Plan in a Day bookImage by Raymond Yee via FlickrLawrence Bailey of Price Bailey in Cambridge has some good comments to make about selling companies.  There is a feature in a Cambridge Evening News supplement sponsored by his firm.  He talks about four different scenarios but the one I like talks about the sale of an Internet based insurance intermediary in January of this year, 2008.

At the time, the entrepreneur felt that the time was not right and the price was too low.  Nearly twelve months on, the same person reckons the company would be worth on third of the price.  Most companies plod along working away and not keeping any eye on the value of their business.  It is understandable as it is hard making a crust.  But every company should have a business plan resource which makes them track the valuation of their company and also makes sure that it is always optimised for sale.

Twenty years ago, one entrepreneur summed it up with the phrase “We could work for another ten years and not be as well off!”.  So keep one eye on the inside and the other on the outside.  But gosh, you have to be clever to close before a market stalls – and very brave! And to have Price Bailey holding your hand!

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Beware the Buffet!

Goldman Sachs Tower at dusk, with the Moon han...Image via WikipediaI hope that there are no entrepreneurs in the Cambridge Cluster who have to take on money at the Buffet’s rates.  His deal with Goldman Sachs was $5billion of preferential shares with a 10% coupon (or yield) plus the option to buy $5billion of ordinary shares in the bank at $115 a share at any time in the next five years.  This gives him an instant $437million profit on the closing price when the deal was struck of $125.05.

Let us hope that most Cambridge Cluster companies have sufficent runway to keep trading, with tightening of the belt, to last out until there are better terms around.  It is a down round leading to dilution of existing investors but not a wash-out round.

Not quite the business plan expected of the likes of Goldman Sachs.

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Haverhill has a Centre for Computing History

St John's College, Cambridge old gatehouse wit...Image via WikipediaJason Fitzpatrick’s passion for computers gave birth to the idea of the Centre for Computing History, High Street, Haverhill.

Jason has been collecting computers for years and with a little help from his friends has put them on public display.  It is a pity that the museum is not near the centre of Cambridge so visitors could appreciate the great contribution made by the Cambridge Cluster to the computer and phone age (phones are getting more and more like computers on the go!).

Perhaps the Centre will put Haverhill on the tourist map – hope that they have the satnavs tuned so people find the centre easily.  You need to book by phoning 0870-895 8606.

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Some of Jenny’s companies in Cambridge

The Kaetsu Centre provides prestigious new con...Image via Wikipedia Each week, Jenny Chapman of the Cambridge Evening News puts together her twelve page Business & Finance section.  This week, the centre page features Mike Lynch, founder of Autonomy which is now back in the FT 100- how I wish I had kept my shares in Autonomy after the crash in the early ’00s.  Business is booming but we never find out more about the “immaculate conception” of Autonomy and how it went from start-up to sales so quickly in 1996.  Where did the product come from and who paid?  Lynch loves Cambridge and it is just surprising that he did not get to New Hall before the Edwards’ – Murray Lynch College has a good sound about it.Jenny Chapman also features Qasara which came out of TTP Comms and is develping “4G” technology which will come to the market in a couple of years. Qasara is expected to move into profit by 2011.  With a team of nearly twenty highly paid experts it is not clear from the article who is fronting the costs.  When Qasara was set up “we got talking to one of TTPComm’s old customers and were able to get funding”.  What does this mean?  A development contract or equity funding?  If the latter, Qasara will be dependent on the investor to keep funding the company as it is not a normal pattern for a VC to come in.  Has Michael Barkway, CEO, and his team thought through the Equity Fingerpint as part of their business plan? How much of Qasara do they own and do they have options?  What are their equity plans?

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A Baddeley goes to the Olympics

The Gate of HonourImage via WikipediaAndy Baddeley has the same surname and also lived in Cambridge for four years getting a starred first in Engineering from Gonville and Caius College.

He comes from the Wirrall not far from Stafford, the ancestral home of all Baddeleys.

Now he is off to the Olympics to compete in the 1,500m – another excuse to watch the coverage.

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