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Integral Strategic Funding - It's Time To Get Real

Posted by MalcolmEvans on Saturday 9th of April 2011 | 0 Comment(s)

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I’ve met with three exciting early stage technology companies this week which have become stalled through stop-start funding, or are about to become stalled.

We’re not doing it right.

Projects and capital are seeking to engage too late and in the wrong mindset and, when they do engage, they frequently do so with dangerously vague and destructively divergent objectives.

There’s R&D and there’s execution. There’s market research and there’s development and there’s roll out. There’s blue skies and there’s commercialisation. There’s early stage customer connection, customer acquisition and aggressive marketplace landgrab.

In fact, there are many more terms for many more logical business growth activities. Investment, however, is far too often only vaguely mapped to such stages.

At the moment far too much inherently fine technology is trying to grope into the light, fumbling around to find whatever funding it can.

A burst of activity……a slug of funding; another push…….another dash around to find another desperate slurp of cash to refresh the exhausted effort. Where is the mastery and the momentum in any of that? Where is the verve and panache that inspires funders, staff and customers?

At Funding Enterprise we seek Point to Point Funding: this is matching investment to clear, staged outputs. If it cannot be done with conviction and clarity, then the activity itself is probably not sufficiently ripe to be married to investment.

It may be the case that something that is purportedly market roll-out ready may need to be folded back into an academic-housed R&D project. It may more simply be that the idea has been exposed in this way as too altogether too flaky.

The flipside of Point to Point Funding is Point to Nowhere Funding, where investment is woefully under-mapped to expectations and execution.

Whatever, unless applications for investment are a much closer marriage of great (and, crucially, staged) plans and there is an overall commitment to Integral Strategic Funding, too many bad projects will continue to get funding, too much Point to Nowhere Funding of potentially good projects will continue, and too many really great projects will be hampered by insufficient funding, or may even fail to fund at all.

It’s too loose all round.

We need Integral Strategic Funding. This takes the focus of the funding debate away from the habitual hyperbole of the business founder. It also decentres the habitual minimalism of the funding providers in terms of candid information flow, investment quantum and committed ongoing loyalty.

Integral Strategic Funding places the focus on value creation, which is the only place that in fact really matters to both investee and investor, but which is traditionally under-represented in superficial and adversarial funding relationships.

Those seeking funding need to get totally real and raise their planning game to develop a much fiercer objectivity around their own activities. Funders need to stop thinking about “taking a punt” on projects: they must sign-up to a strong Integral Strategic Funding approach, which will in turn maximise their own ultimate returns.

Only by seeking to make investees and investors perform as contracted and mutually aligned parties to a single value creation project can we start to do justice to our talent, our ideas and our capital.

The author is Techcelerate member Malcolm Evans. He is the founder of Funding Enterprise, an organisation which aims to improve the corporate finance abilities of business builders and to stimulate choice and capacity in the funding markets.

Malcolm is holding a free seminar in Manchester on April 28 on Investment Readiness.

Seeking Investment? - An Investment Ready Masterclass

Posted by MalcolmEvans on Thursday 7th of April 2011 | 0 Comment(s)

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Can you express your value proposition succinctly and compellingly? Do you know what serious professional investors are looking for? Do you have a convincing roll-out plan built around strategic financing?
Isn't it about time you got real about corporate finance and treated it as seriously as your technology and marketing?
Failure to stay ahead of your funding curve and to understand the vital role of capital in rapid value-creation is a major inhibiting factor in the realisation of the North West's tech potential.
In association with Techcelerate we are putting on a free Investment Ready Masterclass.
Delegates will develop and benchmark their plans and businesses against the real triggers to winning investment.
You will assess the viability of your ideas and learn how to present (but not misrepresent) them in ways relevant to venture capitalists and other potential investors.
All serious business builders are welcome and the event is likely to be of greatest relevance if:

• You have an existing tech operation which needs funding to scale.
• You have developed a compelling idea to a stage of advanced pre-trading readiness for a business with major growth potential.
•You are involved with exciting University IP which you are commercialising.

The event is being hosted by Funding Enterprise, an initiative aimed at improving entrepreneurs' corporate finance abilities and stimulating choice and capacity in the funding markets.


5.30pm open networking for prompt 6pm start and 7.30pm finish, Thursday, April 28. Innospace, MMU, Minshull House, 47 Chorlton Street, M1 3FY.

Cost: Free

Keynote Speaker & Contact: Malcolm Evans

Phone: 07939 033225

Venue: Innospace

Audience: Ambitous tech business builders

Useful Tools for Tech Startups by @thulme

Posted by thulme on Thursday 7th of April 2011 | 0 Comment(s)

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