Archives for the month of: January, 2011

Last week was varied and busy with a combination of networking events, R&D tax clinics, client meetings and lot’s of other interesting activities.

The Sky is not the Limit event with James Caan and Matt Brittin

On Monday evening I attended ‘The Sky is not the Limit’ at RBS in Bishopsgate. I met @Jamescaan who was presenting on behalf of Hamilton Bradshaw Venture Partners and listened to @mattbrittin, UK head of Google.  The presentations were a little superficial and didn’t do much to increase my understanding of the start-up scene.  It was interesting to hear how Google is helping niche businesses achieve global reach through e.commerce and also how advanced the UK is in this domain. During networking I met several interesting people who have now joined our network.

On Tuesday I meet Louisa Moger from Richard Edward cards before attending Fastrack run by @anikozagon.  I learnt something about using the government’s  apprenctice scheme.  I don’t think this is really appropriate for very early stage businesses but could work well for companies with an established structure.  There is a need to have proper offices and have some kind of payroll.  I believe that interns probably offer more to small techmedia firms.

On Wednesday I met with Harry Platt, CEO of @workspacegroup for a catch-up around our joint initiative.  We are both passionate about London as a vibrant cluster for creative entrepreneurs.  I really admire Harry’s enthusiasm for the sector and everything The Workspace Group is doing to help entrepreneurs.  We are working on big plans with Harry and his team. These will be announced shortly.

On Wednesday I also met Mia Harper and Shiten Patel from Square and David Nahmani and Conrad Poulson from Orange  for sponsorship talks. Square have already sponsored our last DreamStake event and we would like to do more with them.

Thursday was the first day of our Workspace Group R&D roadshow.  We are undertaking a series of clinics at Workspace locations to increase awareness of the R&D tax credit.  I visited The LightBox and Barley Mow centre in West London with @moni_gi and we were able to find several companies that are unaware of their entitlement to substantial refunds under the scheme.

In the evening I went to The London Silicon Roundabout networking event in Hoxton.  The event was well attended and we heard a series of pitches from very early stage businesses.  I am very eager to support all such activity because it only helps to increase the profile of London Startups.

Next week will be a very busy week .  I will attend the 3rd funding and investment summit on Tuesday with @moni_gi and @steveverhard, a creative networks event on Thursday evening in Birmingham and Minibar on Friday both with moni_gi.  We are also planning our own ‘artist-meets-geeks’ event for 17th February which can be found on www.dreamstake.net.

The New Year started with a buzz of activity on Dreamstake.  Much of last week was spent developing our new service offer for entrepreneurs.  We have carried out a survey to find out more about members and now have a clearer view of how to help accelerate their business dreams.  We also spent a lot of time in face-to-face discussions with entrepreneurs trying to help with their business plans.

One of the pleasures and benefits of being in my position at Dreamstake is having a perspective on the development and evolution of our entrepreneur friends and collaborators. Just this past weekend I had a chance to catch up with Maria Constantinescu, founder of Curious Quests and the Slick Flick app, which is a mobile/tablet app that will deliver general entertainment type content in the format: photo + text. There are multifold aims and benefits to this app, mainly helping emerging writers/ filmmakers to promote and distribute their work in a simple affordable format and get revenues for it. Of course, the film world, consumers and investors as well, all stand to benefit from this business that thrives on bringing creativity and originality to light.

Operating under the mantra that any successful project requires obsession, where obsession is the sum of passion and endurance, Maria has indeed hit a great deal of developmental milestones in the short 5 months that Curious Quests has been operating.

First, and most importantly perhaps, CQ has secured an association with Apsmart, a venture started and run by Rahul Powar (formerly with Shazam), that has developed some of the greatest apps on the market (Daily Beast, Just Giving, to name just a couple). Young CQ has found in Apsmart just the right partner to give some weight to its momentum and also a reliable supporter that has been fast to create the app prototype, coming out this week.

With the app was underway, CQ didn’t waste time to get the word out to the film industry. Their play is securing support from top film industry players (directors, producers) for the emerging filmmakers that are their contributors. One example is the Short to Photo Story competition they launched at the London Short Film Festival last week, with some attractive cash prizes and a great support programme in place not only for their winners, but for all participants. Details  can be found Maria’s blog on http://www.dreamstake.net/profiles/blogs/slick-flick-short-to-photo..

Finally, CQ also contacted investors early on with a draft business plan and an exec summary infused with enthusiasm. This gave the investors a sense of perspective in watching CQ progress over the months. Hopefully now, putting together the app with the content will create the necessary magic to sway these investors to fully get on board.

With a heart for art and mind for business CQ is one of our our favourite budding ventures at the start of this year. We look forward to watch it grow!

We want to hear more about similar business ventures.  We are always happy to meet and will feature one or two companies each week, in this blog, and on our various social network sites.

The next week looks like being extremely busy.  We are running a campaign to make more entrepreneurs aware of the R&D tax credit.  This EU funded scheme typically pays out between £10K and £200K to companies that have spent out on product development over the past 2/3 years. We have now processed over 40 claims and are looking to help more firms to receive this benefit.  Companies with less than 3 people on full PAYE are unlikely to qualify for this particular initiative.

Our campaign is aimed at getting the word out.  We have a referral scheme and will be rewarding any introducers, who bring us eligible opportunities, with an Apple voucher worth £300  (on sign-up).  Please contact me on [email protected] if you are aware of any companies that may be eligible.

Finally, @moni_gi has been busy launching 2 new events, The Start-up Convention 2.0 on 1st February and Artists meets Geeks on 17th February. Details of both these free events are posted on www.dreamstake.net.