Sunday, March 30, 2008

3 TAGsters make Red Herring 100

Congratulations to Fizzback, Wonga (currently trading as SameDayCash) and Zemanta for making Red Herring's top 100 in Europe.
All three have strong technology at their heart and are backed by first class VCs:
Fizzback (Advent), Wonga (Balderton) and Zemanta (Eden Ventures).
The full Red Herring list is here.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Zoopla! gets off to a cracking start!

Alex Chesterman, Simon Kain (both ex-Screen Select/Video Island/LoveFilm) and the Zoopla team have put together a really superb service addressing the needs of property owners, buyers, sellers and agents.
Very few subjects in the finance arena touches so many people as residential property. Nor do many generate the emotion, the column inches, the TV hours as does the great house price debate.
Until recently getting 'sold prices' on any property has been difficult or costly for consumers. Sold prices are, after all the one 'stake in the ground'.
Zoopla is a cleverly put together service. Its aim is to create a more transparent property market and to empower users by making information free and easily accessible. Its goal is to become the must-use resource for all data related to the property market.
Its interesting that people often spend time intensively researching the prices of PCs, TVs and Cars but when it comes to Property (by far the biggest investment of all) getting a discount off the asking price is the extent of the due diligence!

Zoopla! offers:

• Current value estimates on ANY home - using a carefully devised algorithm AND consumer generated data
• Sold price data on historic transactions
• Local information, trends and statistics
• For sale listings – agent and direct listings
• TemptMe! – owners set a magic number to tempt others to make offers
• AskMe! – find out anything you want to know

Zoopla! provide data on ALL homes – over 26 million – not just homes for sale. Users can find out about any home – theirs or anyone else’s – and participate in the community by sharing information

It has elements of a community website in the true sense, where everyone can participate by adding content and where usage and contribution helps improve the service.

Not everyone is delighted by this transparancy. Some estate agents, instead of using Zoopla to the full - its rich data set is a great tool for them and they can list their for sale properties pretty easily - seem concerned that their hitherto exculsive position as valuation experts is undermined. Of course, there is no substitute for an actual careful examination of the propeerty itself and Zoopla can only ever be a guide - accurate as it is.

The Telegraph has picked up on Zoopla's potential as a voyeur's paradise. Ever wondered what your boss's house is worth?

Meantime consumers appear to love it.
The site has been live for only 9 weeks and it has:
* Over 50k registered users already
* Over 250k visits so far in March alone
* Over 1m unique property searches so far in March alone

Zoopla is backed by Atlas Venture and TAG with William Reeve and Simon Murdoch as angels and board members.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

We LOVE entrepreneurs

My recent post has caused something of a flurry. I am just not used to that. Then again, I don't normally craft my sentences that inelegantly or ambiguously.
I wrote: "Funding business plans from first time entrepreneurs just won't happen anymore!"
What I meant, but didn't spell out clearly enough, was that in my view, first time entrepreneurs who simply have a business PLAN (ie a PowerPoint + spreadsheet) would find it very difficult to get funding. They will need to have built something - a demo - a basic service.
In fact TAG loves first time entrepreneurs and makes a habit of backing them.
If you look down the list of our investments, more than half were first timers.
We particularly like those who can demonstrate the tenacity, invention, persistence and sheer bloody mindedness that has enabled them to get their product together with little or no external funding. Those are the guys who when they do raise cash use it wisely and well.
So, please be assured, TAG would not be one of the originators of Seedcamp or OpenCoffee if we didn't believe in and back first timers!!
Apologies for any confusion caused by a sloppy posting.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Innovation continues apace

Despite the generally uncertain economic climate, we have seen no diminution in the flood of interesting new ventures being launched.
In common with others who are investing in start-ups, I receive at least 2 or 3 propositions per week.
Its undisputable that the bar has been raised pretty high now for new tech companies. There is so much outstanding innovation about and the volume of new businesses is so high that fairly tough criteria are having to be set in order to filter.
For example, the companies we are favouring are those:
1. Founded by 2nd and 3rd time tech entrepreneurs
2. Aspiring to build global businesses with scale
3. With genuinely original ideas which are game changing or a significant advance on current state of play
4. Where the founder(s) have built prototypes or are already demonstrating momentum in customer/consumer adoption
5. Where founders have shown an ability to considerably ‘bootstrap’ the business with very little or no external cash (outside of friends and family).

Funding business plans from first time entrepreneurs just won't happen anymore!

For businesses with some or all of these attributes, there is still a large amount of money available.