Sunday, April 12, 2009

To: Alistair Darling, Lord Drayson - an Open Letter

Dear Lord Drayson,
Put £100,000 into 10,000 startups - not £10m into 100!

There has been a lot of chatter about the Government's apparent initiative to make £1bn available for innovative early-stage companies.
Apparently, Lord Drayson, the Minister of Science and Innovation in the Department for Universities and Skills is driving this.
The BVCA is keen to promote the idea through its influential contacts that this money should be channelled via the large established VC funds.

From where we sit, putting lots more money into the large funds achieves the
exact opposite of what I understand the desired the objectives to be.

What is urgently needed in the UK - in order to promote entrepreneurship and
encourage innovation - is funding at the very earliest stages.

One of the major drivers for Silicon Valley's success has been the readily available, quickly raised seed capital. Its not uncommon, even in today's funding climate to find start-ups funded with $500K in a matter of weeks by angel syndicates led by an agile tech VC.

There is more than enough capital available once companies have proven their
technologies, validated the market need and have real momentum. This capital
is NOT venture, it is development or growth capital.

The so-called funding gap has never been adequately filled and the growth in
size of the leading funds has forced them to move up the food chain and to
back relatively fewer pure start-ups.

We have all been wringing our hands at this gap for many years and in the current environment the gap is noticeably widening.

Seed funds are extremely difficult to make work effectively on the classic
2/20 model since it is important that seed funds invest in a large and diverse portfolio (in order to find the winners) while at the same time need
to provide a lot of hand-holding to these companies (implying a larger organisation - more partners).

The BVCA’s position is interesting in that it looks at the whole issue
from the 'industry's perspective' – you can’t blame them for that – its their job. Its certainly not being looked at from the entrepreneurs perspective!

We at TAG have had terrific support from some of the large tech VCs but their ability to do many seed fundings is very limited. We need healthy and growing seed capital partners to join us in our quest to find and nurture the next world beaters.

One of the most important and effective vehicles for promoting entrepreneurship in the tech arena in recent years has been Seedcamp - the flood of applicants and the rising quality of these applicants attest to the strength of innovation emanating from Europe.

They are deserving of far greater financial backing.

Robin Klein

Partner, The Accelerator Group (TAG)

PS: TAG is an early stage technology investor with 43 investments currently in its portfolio. We invest actively mainly in the UK but also across Europe and in the US.

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Thursday, April 02, 2009

G-20 to change world order?

Forget the high powered talks. What are the wives wearing?
The world's press, hot on all the nuances that matter on these occasions, have analysed in some detail what Sarah Brown, Michelle Obama and others are wearing.
You can imagine how delighted Astley Clarke were when once again Sarah Brown called for her favourite jewels.
In these times of austerity, she chose impeccable design and quality at affordable prices.
As CNN says: "Brown also wore a pair of Astley Clarke earrings, according to a spokeswoman from 10 Downing Street. The Astley Clarke Web site sells earrings from less than $100 to more than $10,000".

Other links: