Archives for category: Product Management

drinkersTo build and scale great product startup founders need access to substantial funding.  However, building a funding round can take 6 months and this assumes that the startup is investment ready. On the other side of the table investors are sitting on a huge pile of decks and can’t see the wood for the trees. At later stage, this is not such a problem because the founders can afford to pay trusted third parties to get involved and make introductions and even take a strategic deal-making role. Their involvement cuts the process and brings investment ready startups to the attention of the most appropriate source of investment. At early stage it is difficult for third parties to undertake this role because the founders have no money to pay for such a hands-on approach. Platforms such as bring down the cost of each fund-raising transaction and can therefore support the founder in a more efficient way.

Corporate Finance houses normally get involved in funding rounds at around about £1m -£2m or when founders have enough money to pay a substantial retainer. Although founders may find the retainer a deterrent it focuses the advisor on putting resource into the task of getting the startup funded. It is rare that any startup is 100% ready for funding and the role of the advisor is to work with the founder to refine the deck (and the proposition) to the point where it is ready. The next step is to match the startup with the most appropriate form of funding. VCs are invariably sector and stage oriented and therefore a ‘spray and pray’ approach to distributing decks rarely works.

The beauty of platforms, is that they radically bring down the cost to serve. Look at how Airbnb and Uber are transforming their sectors. They do this by building efficient markets where consumers are matchedwith providers at a fraction of the cost. We have brought the same principles to funding startups and use algorithms to sort the deal-flow and match with the most appropriate form of investor. We can therefore, engage with earlier stage startup founders on a performance fee only basis or later stage at a greatly reduced retainer cost.

Blog by Paul Dowling – Co-Founder of Dreamstake  the world’s first tech startup platform to match founders with the most appropriate investors using a unique startup rating system. This allows entrepreneurs and investors to monitor startup progress and inject capital and support when most needed. Startup founders can create profiles on the platform and get direct introductions to investors. We are constantly looking for great early stage tech startups. Investors please contact [email protected]

We have also recently launched an exclusive tech angel investment club in partnership with The Hoxton. HoxTech Angels will run invitation only angel investment evenings every month.


Data protection and information security have always been top priority for startups, but recent media coverage has brought home the importance of compliance. Incidents involving data breaches from high profile companies around the world combined with new, proposed EU Data Protection Regulation, have sparked greater awareness and encouraged startups to take data protection more seriously.

Data protection is governed in the UK by a law called the Data Protection Act 1998. As a business it is vitally important to obey data protection regulations, as the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the body, which is responsible for enforcing the Act, has significant powers to crack down on non-compliance.

Most relevant to startups, as governed by the Act, is the use of personal information held about individuals and retrieval systems. This Act gives people the right to know what information is held about them, as well as access to that information. So, if you hold personal data about individuals, the Data Protection Act will apply to you.

Here are three important things for startups to keep in mind when it comes to data and information security compliance.

#1. Stay away from security hardware as much as possible.

Today, you don’t need large IT expenses and hardware to protect your data and digital assets. Powerful, cloud-enabled “managed security as a service” solutions are available to startups for generally very low monthly expense. These services are effective enough to achieve compliance with rigorous digital security requirements.

Your startup can effectively outsource all data security compliance by utilising cloud-based technology.

For example, SalesFore is a CRM tool that is Data Protection Act compliant. By using a service like SalesForce, you can ensure technical security without maintaining expensive internal systems for data management. Additionally, applications like SalesForce are easily able to scale with your business as you grow.

#2. Maintain IT Visibility and file sharing guidelines.

Regardless of your company’s size or life stage, it is imperative that your IT department maintains visibility over what your employees are doing with your company data, and which tools they are using to store, sync and share it.

At a minimum, your company should establish data security policies that include guidelines for file sharing. Issues tend to arise when consumer cloud file sync and share tools introduce risk for data breaches, with employees often unknowingly introducing risk to your organisation by simply syncing data across devices.

#3. Be sure to train your employees on data protection regulations and compliance.

Many startups today operate in a virtual environment, where employees are scattered across different regions and time zones. Training all employees on cyber security doesn’t have to take a lot of time or money, yet it is essential.

Talk to employees about using trusted WiFi networks, maintaining control of all mobile devices, and utilising good password protection. Vulnerabilities are often a result of human error, including unintended issues as a result of an employee’s tech security habits.

Teaching good habits can go a long way to protecting your company’s data long term.

About the Author
Keir McDonald MBE is Chief Executive Officer and Founder of EduCare, an online training solutions company that specialise in short, jargon-free sessions on essential business topics. The company’s training programmes for businesses are all written or endorsed by subject matter experts including Skills Platform and EdNext.

London has established itself as a great place to build a fashion technology startup. The fusion of a vibrant fashion sector with a growing tech scene makes the city an obvious place to launch. Funding fashion technology is a very different from investing in fashion designers.  It is more like funding a traditional tech business but with a few subtle differences.

Fashion tech is very diverse - The sector spans both software and hardware; from e-commerce, image recognition, artificial intelligence and big data through to wearables such as Google Glass or Fitbit.  Some of this hardware based technology is more capital intensive which may deter certain investors.

Fashion tech is sexy - This means that everyone wants a slice of the action. The scene is highly competitive and there are many look-alike products. Fashion tech startups need to be very good at marketing to get noticed and should enlist celebrities to get noticed. Investors should invest in startup teams that really understand the industry

Fashion e-commerce is big - Fashion is the fourth largest global market. Everyone wears clothes. Even relatively simple e-commerce businesses like Net-a-Porter and Asos have been very successful. Companies such as Lyst have secured significant investment and are expanding rapidly.

There are still problems to solve - This is an opportunity. However,  the problems are not trivial. On-line sizing remains a challenge and ordering through affiliate networks on mobile is very cumbersome and not easy to solve. Twotap and UB are both interesting startups working on this.

There are still plenty of business models to explore -  Startups such as Farfetch and Rentez-vous are stretching the e-commerce boundaries and exploring new models. However, it is a dynamic sector and there will be many other new models such as tinder for fashion from Grabble.

Design is important - This is a sector where style is crucial.  The early fashion tech startups were launched by geek teams and failed to gain traction.  Graphic design, UX, photography and video all have be to professional quality or the brands and consumers will not engage.

Smart money is very useful in this sector.  The fashion industry is closely knit and insiders can open doors very quickly. Most of the major tech VC’s have experience with at least one fashion tech startup.  Founders should ensure that their startups are investment ready before seeking funding. This means, making sure the product looks good and solves real problems in a user friendly way. Make sure the team is strong and includes at least one member with fashion experience.

Blog by Paul Dowling – Co-Founder of Dreamstake  an online tech startup platform that matches founders with the most appropriate investors. The unique startup rating system allows entrepreneurs and investors to monitor startup progress and inject capital and support when it will make the most impact.