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Archive for September, 2013

Crowdfunding, does it really work?

Friday, September 27th, 2013

20130916_180726Everybody is talking about alternative sources of funding, because banks have restricted the ready access to finance for most businesses.

There are several ways a business can find funding for growth; asset finance, invoice finance, venture capitalist funding, angel funding to name a few. With Crowdfunding, there are two main types; donation based where the projects are funded without loss of equity for the business. Rewards could be based on mementos from the project or exclusive access to something. Equity based crowdfunding means that shares are issued in return for cash, so there is a financial stake, and risk associated with this form.

Listening to the Panel at the RSA , most views on crowdfunding were positive as a way of  raising finance for social and commercial businesses. There are an increasing number of crowdfunding sites; Kickstarter and Indigo being two of the best known. The concern was to ensure that sites have credibility and credentials. The UK government are looking at regulation to help ensure validity of the services. From the company that is looking for growth finance, they must accept that normal business practices prevail, such as business plan and cash flow. They can be ambitious but they have to deliver. Agreed milestones have to be achieved.

Trust is so important in this market. The crowdfunding ‘tribe’ is,to a certain extent, self-regulatory and the trust must be both ways. When asked about trust and the future of this kind of growth funding, the panel agreed that the one thing that would knock crowdfunding off the rails was the abuse of that trust in the form of scams or fraud. With this in mind the interpretation of the debate was cautious optimism.

How do you create the cycle of innovation

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

20130909_181147A widely regarded leading expert on innovation and growth, Clayton Christensen, who is a Professor at Harvard Business School, was talking to a group of us at the RSA in London recently, and posed a question based on his knowledge of innovation creating growth and therefore jobs.

Between the end of the second world war and the turn of the century, it was taking an average of about six months for the economy to recover to its pre recession employment level. Since 2000, it’s taking longer and longer to reach the pre-recession employment levels, after a recession. He argues that there are three areas of innovation; Empowering, where capital is needed and jobs are created; Sustaining innovation, where fewer jobs are created and the business model is streamlined and Efficiency innovation, where the same products are produced, but much more cheaply, creates very few jobs, but freeing up financial capital. The problem arises because this financial capital  needs to get a good return for its owners and the owners of that capital, instead of encouraging innovation that leads to the need to employ people, they see a way of using the capital and obtaining a quick return, by investing in innovation that drives efficiency. Therefore how do you now use innovation to reduce unemployment after a recession?

Although it maybe an academic argument, the realities are there to be seen. More governments are finding it increasingly difficult to create an environment which encourages businesses to invest in people.

Over time, as Clayton Christensen agrees, the capital most sought after by businesses, could be people, but not yet. In the meantime, the greater the numbers of unemployed, for longer, the more frustrated everybody becomes.



Social Media, get the balance right.

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

This ‘Thought Bite’ follows on from the last speaker.

After listening to the very inspirational speaker Martha Lane Fox, the broadcaster, Declan Curry invited a number of entrepreneurs to join Martha on stage, for a panel discussion.Panel members  included Edwina Dunn, Founder of Dunnhumby.

The theme coming out of the debate was all about a balance of social media and professionalism. The argument was yes, use social  as much as possible, but concentrate on what’s relevant, not gossip or trivial.


Always remember there’s a human being at the other end, so be professional.

Wise words, especially as social media is now becoming the ‘norm’. Businesses will have to balance between the professional and the personal and some will do it better than others.


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