Bernies Blog
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At the top of the Centre Point building, there is a great venue called Paramount, where the TechCrunch Europa Awards were held last Friday. It's only their 2nd year. There I was thinking I was late arriving onto the scene, but obviously not at all. I arrived into a room with a great vibe, mostly full of guys, with a few pioneering women, working with UK/European Start Ups. The evening progressed quite quickly through to the awards. I've been working as a Mentor this year, and I noted several Seedcamp winners in the Europa nominations/winners, (Erply/Brainient/PatientKnowsBest/Codility/Seedcamp itself too), but also many new businesses I was unaware of from other Investment stables like White Bear Yard (Flattr). Pleased that a UK company won the Grand Prix (Moshi Monsters/Mind Candy), because there is so much talented competition from elsewhere in Europe, well displayed by SoundCloud who won the music award, amongst others. In my own specialist sphere, digital marketing, CognitiveMatch scooped the advertising/marketing tech award. There was even an award for best service to Start Up's, won by Bootlaw, an award that I would like to be nominated for sometime ahead. Mike Butcher, Editor of TechCrunch, shows great leadership in his promotion of the UK/European Start Up/Entrepreneurial sector. I missed out on the food, but made some great new contacts. I enjoyed reviewing it all online yesterday, studying the companies involved further. It's a great way of assessing what's going on, and having immersed myself in by attending, I feel that I am more involved.

Attended this event at the Light Box in Chiswick last night. Bit of a struggle for me to get out there and find location, slightly nervous of walking around this area in the dark at this time of year, but was glad that things started late and I did not miss anything.

Big crowd, grabbed a glass of wine (but no food, was starving after a long day beforehand in central London), got going by chatting with two friendly attendees, Levi Russell who runs Zonerider and Matt Sneddon at Ciklum, en route across the room to say hi to Kevin Farrar, who I have met before at IBM SmartCamp. We did'nt have long to talk before the evening started proper with Speaker presentations. Procedures were very well managed by the excellent Mistress of Ceremonies, Monika Gierszewska. All the Speakers were splendid, although there were a lot of them, and the audience had the stand throughout which was uncomfortable. Maybe, 3 Speakers would have been the optimum number to allow for time for networking/travelling etc. However, I hung on in there for Steve of Dreamstake to conclude since they were the Hosts for the evening, and he did have some solid advice to offer, and I am interested in how Dreamstake is rolling out, but I did not like his bathroom joke.

Rob Moffat, of Balderston Capital, with very impressive cast iron academic and professional credentials, presented the perspecitive of institutional investors. I'm did not get a chance to talk to him about my work with Google, as a customer whilst working for Ask.com.

Inma Martinez, of Stradbroke Advisors, presentation, a la Steve Jobs, was a wonderful story, and very entertaining and educative. She also knew her audience and made the laugh. I loved her feedback on the unusual businesses that had succeeded (later she mentioned the Finnish dolly/clothing fetish amongst 8 year old girls). I looked for Inma at the end, as I wanted to say hello, and that I have a mutual contact, Colette Ballou of Ballou PR, specialists in tech start ups.

Glenn Shoosmith and Lucien Tamowski were both fantastic representations of innovative UK Entrepreneurs. Full of youthful confidence, and advice to offer from the hard school of knocks from successfully launching their respective businesses Bookingbug.com and BraveNewTalent.com. They were inspiring, and generated a very positive vibe around the room, just what everyone needs now.

At the end just time for a quick hello to Lucien (sorry to miss Glenn though, as I wanted to mention my mutual contact, Duncan Dunlop of Oodle), Kevin Farrar, and thanks to Paul Dowling of Dreamstake for his efforts, before dashing off in slight trepidation towards the overground in South Acton, 20 mins walk, and onto WestHamspstead and home in St. Albans, Herts, by 11.00pm thanks to lovely Husband who picked me up from the station. Hit the toaster and fridge as soon as I got in!

Plenty of food for thought today from all that was presented last night, and some new connections to follow up on, I wish there had been time to make more. I look forward to reviewing the video material on the Dreamstake.net platform. I will go along to the next one, if they will have me!

This week I have been involved in an inspiring project with Irene Bejenke Walsh, who runs MessageLab, a training business that is specialist is providing expertise on how to approach the investment community for funding for new businesses/ideas.

I collaborated with MessageLab on Monday as part of a mini biz school week, devised with London base of Wieden & Kennedy, a leading creatively led agency who work with Nike, Nokia, Honda, and The Guardian amongst other leading UK Marketing businesses. They have designed a schedule of training sessions for their employees, offering a supportive environment to encourage them to develop their own entrepreneurial ideas. Later this week, the W+K Entrepreneurs will present their biz ideas at a "speed pitching" event.

My part in this exercise was to introduce a concept as a tool for use this week for "Idea Validation". I introduced The Business Model Canvas, with 9 Building Blocks of consideration to scope out the validity of new business ideas.

The business model canvas is the first part of Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur, and 470 crowd sourced practitioners from 45 countries. It was recommended to me by Leonardo Camiciotti who was a fellow mentor in my group at mini Seedcamp London this past summer. Leo is working in Turin, Italy, developing new tech start ups businesses with Top.ix.org, and I am increasingly involved with this work in London.

I went cold turkey at Wieden & Kennedy on a new idea I am validating called Grassrootstars.com, a community/platform to match up new businesses with multiple mentors. I am exploring the need and willingness of established businesses to open their doors to selected new business ideas, all currently from the digital marketing/tech sector. I'm interested in the area prior to investment when businesses really need help to acquire customers. If successful, Grassrootstars.com will be a pre-investment filter for Financiers and perhaps a fund as well. I am field testing it this week with both established and new businesses to test out my idea. More later.............

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