Archives for the month of: February, 2011

Those of you who know us well will know we have a passion for helping creative  entrepreneurs.  The big questions are…Are you really an entrepreneur?  What are the credentials required to be entrepreneurial?  Are you prepared for the challenge?

The first essential is a passion for a business idea.  Without passion it is unlikely that you will succeed because launching a business is tough.  It will a involve taking a risk and it will almost certainly necessitate working 60 or 70 hours a week.

Next you will need to check your business idea out.  Will you find clients? How much will they pay?  What’s the competition?  How easy is it to copy your idea?  Why are you the right person to execute it?  These are all obvious questions but it is surprising that many aspiring entrepreneurs lack rigour when evaluating their own proposition.  Be prepared to be challenged by anyone who is willing to invest their time in offering constructive criticism. If you are defensive, you probably won’t make a good entrepreneur.  You need to listen and learn.

Next you need to ensure you have the right mix of skills to execute your idea.   If you don’t have all the necessary skills you will need to build a team.  The quality of the team is the most important success factor in any start-up.  A strong team can make a moderate business idea a success.  A poor team with a great business idea will always fail.

Be proactive. Get out there and network.  Meet collaborators. Line up potential investors, get buy-in for your ideas.  We believe that you can launch many creative digital businesses at very low cost.  However, this involves getting buy-in for your vision. If other people believe in what you are doing it probably means you are on the right track.  If you are on the right track life will become easier. You will find co-partners who will invest their time on the strength of your vision.

Land and Expand - Business Accelerator Programme

This is what DreamStake is all about.  We are looking for members who are serious about becoming entrepreneurs. We want to hear from you if you are determined to launch or grow a business within the next 6 months.  If you have already made your mind up to become an entrepreneur we will devote our time and resources to help you increase your chance of success and accelerate your time to revenues.  We are not driven by a need to make an investment return.  If you don’t need investment we will tell you and advise you on the best way to bootstrap.

We give a lot away free.  Our events are designed to encourage collaboration. We want you to find business partners and support each other.  In addition we offer free mentoring and low cost services.

Our eco-system will only work for you if you engage.  Invite your entrepreneurial friends to DreamStake,  come to our events, share your business ideas and tell us what you need from us.  We want to see some great businesses come out of our Land and Expand business acceleration programme.

Please participate on www.dreamstake.net.  We will help you fulfill your business dream.

Monday morning is a great time of entrepreneurs – at least you don’t work for a bank!  You have control over your destiny and every new week brings new opportunities and challenges. We hope that you will see us as supporting you through this exciting adventure. You will find that we are great supporters of bootstrapping, especially for very early stage businesses. The cost of both technology and marketing have gone right down for most mediatech startups. We can help guide you down this route and advise you of the best route to take if funding really is the best option.

So what’s holding you back?

Lack experience to launch the venture?- we have launched the DreamStart business accelerator programme to help creative entrepreneurs take their venture through from idea to reality. Unlike other such courses the emphasis is on bootstrapping…and we don’t take a stake (unless you want us to). This 6 week course is described in full on the website. In addition to the business acceleration course we have launched a range of support services designed, for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs.

Lack of funding? – do you really need funding? Have you looked at the alternatives?  Often it is better to build a team of like minded individuals who share your passion.  Our networking events are designed to facilitate meeting the right team members, and getting to know them. We can also support you with mentoring, either giving advice on how to jump-start a business with minimal funds or by helping you through the funding maze. Please take a look at the Funding Support or Mentoring tabs on the main page.

Can’t find people to collaborate with? – This is what DreamStake is all about. We believe in the strength of the eco-system. You will be amazed how much experience is available from other DreamStakers and most are willing to offer their advice freely. We have made it extremely easy for you to reach out and meet other DreamStake members. As well as the on-line social network we now hold 2 free large scale events every month. Please check out the events page for Artists-meets-Geeks on 17th February, Startup Conversations 2.0 on 1st March or Female Superheroes on 8th March.  All these events are designed to encourage collaboration, meet new business partners or simply get inspiration from other members.

We have a passion for creative entrepreneurs wherever they are based and want to play our part in helping your business aspirations come to fruition.

Have a great week and hope to see many of you very shortly,

Paul Dowling

CEO and founder

DreamStake

 

We hear a lot about Silicon Valley and it’s unique eco-system for supporting tech startups. We also hear about organisations such as Y combinator that nurture very early stage businesses through to launch. Does Europe need similar support structures? I believe the answer is clear yes, but of different kind.
London is undoubtedly the startup capital of Europe, although there are a whole host of structural weaknesses in the support eco-system. In terms of nurturing there are too many sham ‘dragons den’ type contests and too few opportunities for long term relationship building. The formal funding mechanisms are also very weak in relation to those of Silicon Valley. Here, for example, VCs are dominated by investment managers from a financial background rather than experienced entrepreneurs. Furthermore, there aren’t enough angels who have experience of technology startups.
All this leads me to believe that we do need to strengthen the support eco-system for very early stage businesses. However, it is no longer all about funding. The low cost of technology and the ability to create markets at virtually zero cost through social media has reduced the need for early stage finance. The age of bootstrapping is with us, especially for creative internet based business propositions.
The emphasis is moving away from funding as the predominant focus to other support requirements. The most important of these is the ability to network efficiently with other elements of the eco-system. This is also one of the great strengths of Silicon Valley. It is a truism that in the Valley it is possible to go into any cafe and run into useful contacts who are happy to spare time to discuss and engage in interesting projects. In London the creative entrepreneur community is more fragmented and business does not flow so freely.
We are in the process of tackling these issues. We have set a goal to establish a support eco-system that can add value by bringing together entrepreneurs and link them with vital services. The web-site has been completely revamped to reflect this vision. We have added a number of services targeted at helping the emerging entrepreneurial community. Our events programme is also part of this philosophy. We are now running two major events per month with the aim of bringing entrepreneurs together with the collaborators they need to successfully launch their business ventures. This is particularly important in the bootstrap economy where it is essential to find business partners who will often work for sweat equity because they believe in the vision of the entrepreneur and the quality of the project.
Our next event on the evening 17th February is all about collaboration. This time between creatives and technologists. We are convinced that some very interesting business models will emerge from the fusing of these two communities.
Please sign up on the events pages and come and join us on Thursday. It will be a great opportunity to hear about all the initiatives we are launching.

There has been a lot of talk of Silicon Roundabout recently but it is a pointless label that is undermining the importance of London as the centre of European tech/media innovation.  Firstly the Silicon’ tag’ only leads to unfavourable comparisons with the Californian original when emulation is not necessarily the answer.  Secondly, the ’roundabout’ is an over-hyped micro-cluster that only represents a tiny part of London’s amazingly vibrant start-up scene.  Small scale but welcome initiatives such as TechHub have only gone to further fuel the hype.

We debated this very topic on Tuesday at the first of a series of ‘Startup Conversations 2.0 being run by DreamStake in conjunction with ThinkPLANK.  The evening was organised by @moni_gi and moderated by @Ved_ThinkPlank assisted by @pragnasen.  We had fantastic input from @ptegelaar, @ioloj and Jeanine Athas. as well as the audience of around 35.

I believe we are in for a sea-change that will ultimately make the silicon valley comparison redundant.  The reduced cost of technology and ability to address a global market at minimal cost will reduce the need for early stage capital and decrease some of the disadvantage of London over capital rich areas such as the valley.  The main driver of success will move to maximizing the effectiveness of human capital.  This is where DreamStake come in, by providing the opportunity for collaboration across London and beyond, and by providing training, mentoring and other services to make the human capital effective.

I love the idea of taking the debate away from the VCs who are not investing early stage in any case.  We strongly support the following ideas;

- By Entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs

- Long term relationships with members, not funding contests and dragons den,

- Nurturing through hands on intervention such as training and mentoring

- Developing human capital rather than depending on Financial capital (bootstrapping)

- Developing the eco-system rather than limited single location solutions

I would like to see a distributed accelerator model that can really provide London with what it currently lacks; places where entrepreneurs can go and meet other entrepreneurs, develop business through serendipity and gain access to other essential components of the infrastructure.