Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Online workshop: Venture Capital and Private Equity in the Asia Pacific Region

(reposted from an email)


Online workshop
Venture Capital and Private Equity in the Asia Pacific Region
Tues 16 November 
9.30am -11am Hong Kong time.
Organised by the Asian Finance Association and hosted by the School of Banking and Finance, UNSW.

The Asian Finance Association is pleased to invite interested academics and practitioners to submit papers and/or participate in an online workshop on “Venture Capital and Private Equity in the Asia Pacific Region”

The Asian region has an increasing role in the global venture capital and private equity market. However, there has been little research on the role/impact of venture capital and private equity in the Asia Pacific region. The aim of the workshop is to bring together researchers and market participants to discuss recent research on venture capital and private equity and its broader implications for practice and policy.

We invite authors to submit high-quality research papers on any aspect of venture capital and private equity with a focus on Asia Pacific markets.

Interested authors should e-mail their paper in Acrobat PDF format to:

Contact:       Jo-Ann Suchard
no later than October 19, 2010.

Cost of participation :
Asian Finance Association members : Free
Non members : US$85 for non members to join the Asian Finance Association and includes subscription to the two journals of the Association : International Review of Finance and Pacific Basin Finance Journal.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Lessons Learned from Vancouver: The 4 Stages of a Rockin Startup Eco-system

This post is too good to not simply repost in full. Thanks Danny.

There isn’t a single regional area that I know of who isn’t desperate to building an internet technology industry in their city.  When my wife and I decided to stay in Vancouver to raise our children, we made a commitment to do whatever we can to make Vancouver the best place to start an Internet company in the world.  Lofty goal, yes, but hey, I’m an entrepreneur, and we’re a group who is plagued with unbridled optimism.
I’m not going to get into what mistakes most cities make, but I will say this: If you’re building an incubation/acceleration/mentor program first, and staffing it second, you’re doing it wrong.  Each city has slightly different characteristics and what works for one probably means it wont work for another.  The biggest of these differences is THE PEOPLE. Find the right people, empower them, and get out of their way.
For the first time in the last two years, since I have been working at building the eco-system in Vancouver, I feel like I finally have clarity about how to communicate the stages building and Internet Startup Eco-System, which I’m sure could be applied to any city:
Stage 1: INSPIRE
  • About: This is the top of the funnel. There are many many people who have an interest of starting a company but just don’t think they can, or think they can afford it, or are worried about what might happen if they fail.  At the same time, they probably can’t get thought of it out of their mind either.  These people are entrepreneurs in making. They just need a little inspiration.
  • Goal: 1) Reach new founders and encourage them to learn more about what it takes to start an Internet company, 2) create opportunities for them to meet co-founders and 3) convince them to quit their day job to start the company.
  • How: Inspiration from networking and socializing with other members of the community. Events, Co-Founder speed-dating, Meet and study other successful founders and their companies, Universities. Dispel the myth that failure is bad. Trying is good, failure is experience, success is rare.
  • Where: Inspiration can occur from many sources including: Universities, Trips to Silicon Valley, PR/Blogs, Industry networking events like co-founder speed dating, Stories from successful exits, Educational seminars.
Stage 2: HACK
  • About: Okay, let’s say you’re a founder and you’ve just quit your day job.  You love your idea. You may even have a co-founder already.  What now?  If you guessed that you should test your idea with customers, you’re right!  But for god-sake, do it as quickly as possible with the least amount of money.  In other words, hack something together, test it live, measure results, and iterate it daily.  They’ll be plenty of time for optimizing your code once you find something that people want, but for now, hunt for the perfect user experience. This is NOT the time to raise money, write business plans, give powerpoint presentations, or project your financials performance.
  • Goal: 1) Design mockups and develop prototypes, 2) Test ideas with target customers. 3) Run cheap customer development tests, 4) Educate, 5) Build community.
  • Startup Metrics for Pirates
    Startup Metrics for Pirates, Dave McClure, Eric Ries
  • How: Get a few laptops, fire up a Joyent instance, register a domain, start a blog and twitter account, create a google accounts for apps, analytics and adwords. Build some landing pages and start testing.  And most importantly, start the conversation with your potential customers/users, listen to them, iterate.
  • Where: I know now that any healthy eco-system requires that founders have access to an open public space to hack.  A place with desks, couches, whiteboards, conference rooms, free WiFi, and, of course, the best coffee known to man.  The space would give founders access to limited professional services, tons of advice from mentors, advisors and potential future Investors.  But most importantly, it would be the focal point for the community. It would have a vibe that can only be created by the collective passion of the few who decide they can change the world with a simple idea in their heads.  It would be a place designed by the community, for the community. The space must be subsidized by government, but most importantly, vertically focused on the Internet and operated by passionate members of the startup community.
  • About: Most founders are first-time founders. While extremely intelligent in building products that people want to use, they have a very limited network of people who have been through the experience of successfully starting and exiting a company.  It’s these people who will provide the credibility they need, and help the founder prepare the company to raise financing required to grow. It’s clear, raising money is hard.  Raising money from people who don’t know you is virtually impossible.  Realistically, founders will need a credible introduction to even have a chance. Being accepted into a true seed accelerator is a great start, and the mentors that you work with while in the accelerator complete the picture.
    Startup Metrics for Pirates, Dave McClure, Steve Blank
  • Goal: 1) Provide seed financing, 2) Measure customer acquisition channels. 3) Develop permanent relationships with mentors, partners, & investors. 4) Develop the investor pitch. 5) Transition from iteration to execution.
  • How: There are a few examples of great Seed Accelerators run by even greater people. In my opinion, the team at TechStars, lead by David Cohen, is the leading the way. Seed Accelerators are NOT incubators. Seed Accelerators are unique from Incubators in the following combined ways, 1) Mentorship focused. 2) Provides a small amount of financing in exchange for equity in the startup. 2) Accepts only a small group of companies at a time, 3) Limited time, about 3 months. 4) Have a physical space.
  • Where: Bootup, YCombinator, TechStars, Capital Factory, Montreal Startup, Extreme University, Year1Labs, and tons more. You can also emulate this by working your own professional networks to get introduced and invested in by Super-Angels.
Stage 4: GROW
  • About: By this stage, founders are finalizing the transition into a working company with the goal of optimizing current user acquisition channels, and discovering more.  Although, product iteration never actually ends, it is much more focused on individual feature adds/removes/updates.  Another way to put it: you change from searching for a product that works to optimizing one that starting to show traction.  This is the time to put the peddel to the metel.
  • Goal: 1) Fund the acquisition of new customers as fast as possible in the cheapest way possible 3) develop new acquisition channels  2) Reinvest revenue and/or raise funding.
  • How: Need a $20M Series A venture fund to act as a local lead investor.  Exits of companies within this fund, will attract additional investment funds to open offices in the region.  The fund will invest in the best local companies it can find, but syndicate with highly connected and reputable super-angels and VC firms in Silicon Valley, New York, etc.  This will bring investment from more firms into the local area more quickly than starting up new firms.  This fund must be able to invest in companies outside the local region in order to be focused on making the highest return possible, but it is also very important to build relationships with well connected and experience firms who consistently get invited to invest in the creme of the crop.
  • Where: A modern VC firm in the local area, preferably within the same building that the Seed Accelerator is in.
What's next? (pick one)
  • Series B Financing.  Further equity financing for growth. onward to becoming large anchor technology firm.
  • Customer Acquisition Factoring. A hypothetical future financing model which I project will be available by the time any company starting today is ready for Series B.  This concept deserves it’s own post, but essentially, in the same way banks factor receivables, they will begin to factor user acquisition channels negating the need for Series B VCs.
  • Merger/Acquisition.  There should NEVER be any strings or attempts made to keep the company in the local region.  While the eco-system is ramping up, chances are a higher percentage of companies will sell to US companies, but not ALL of them.  Over time, as the eco-system matures, more companies will stay.
  • Organic Growth/Bootstrap/Lifestyle.
  • IPO (an option, but only in very rare and specific situations)
  • Fail - Entrepreneur gains valuable experience – goto Stage 2.
Net benefit to ecosystem
  • Higher volume of startups started and a higher success rate.
  • More high paying high tech jobs created
  • Angels are created and reinvest.
  • Increased foreign investment from VCs
  • Investor confidence increases.
  • Anchor technology companies.
  • New entrepreneurs inspired, goto Stage 2.
My hope is that companies will start to feel comfortable regularly communicating which stage their in to each other and investors.  Investors should also communicate which stage their interested in investing in.  Aligning these two groups will help to eliminate a point of animosity between these two groups.  Associations, Governments and Universities should communicate which stage their targeting with their programs.  But an eco-system is only actually healthy and functional when all 4 of these stages are fully active, properly funded, and managed by passionate people who care.
One last thought before I anxiously await your comments.  I’m sure you can cite specific examples of companies that “made it” by skipping one ore more of these Stages.  Please keep in mind that I’m not saying that this is the ONLY way to build ALL companies.  However, I am adamant that this is the only way to build a healthy, productive, Internet technology eco-system that produces a high quantity of world-class companies.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

CIE Newsletter (Spring 2010 edition)

Sept Newsletter
In this issue:
:: Entrepreneur's Notebook
:: Entrepreneurial Internship Program
:: Entrepreneurs' Confidence Barometer
:: Diploma in Innovation Management
:: Upcoming Events

 CIE only

Welcome to CIE's emergence into the web2 era of communication!

In addition to an updated homepage, we now have a more automatic way of subscribing to more frequent updates about news and events:
Since last April, the CIE has continued many of the existing programs with increasing momentum, and pursuing several new programs too. We also have a new Program Manager, Linda Glave, to help with the daily operations so Martin can dedicate a little more time to teaching and researching innovation and entrepreneurship in Australia.

Entrepreneur's Notebook

Networks & Networking - Don't waste your time; invest it!

by Dr Martin J Bliemel
Networks and networking are pretty hot topics these days. When exploring a new line of business, product, or market, networking is often a quick way to get rich feedback. I ran my own business consulting firm for a couple years, searched for clients and partners, and recently completed my PhD dissertation on the networks of entrepreneurs, so I feel the need to disseminate some of my observations. Setting aside my rant about the differences between networks, social networks, and online social networks, this column reviews two key things to consider before networking:

·   Is this the right network for me?
·   How should I use the opportunity to network?

Which network is the right one?
Networks (and organizations that facilitate networking events; example) range along a variety of variables. Some are more durable, and others more trendy. Some are more like a market, and others more like a clique. If you are prospecting for customers, why would you spend your time at an industry conference among all your competitors? If your business is relationships based, why would you network at conferences instead of pursuing individual referrals from your existing network? If you are looking to increase sales and want to 'spread the word', then yes, a shotgun approach to networking might be the best one. That might be by handing out more business cards than Darcy Rezac, through to blasting the news out there with all the new social media platforms. However, if you are looking for that needle in the haystack, and can clearly describe that needle to others, a more targeted search is more applicable. With a more targeted approach, you should approach specific people (for specific referrals). Social media platforms can still help, but work better if you prequalify who you contact, and address them directly. Just think of the last time you felt personally compelled to reply back to a "Dear Subscriber" message (ironic that this column should start that way, I know);, asking for something specific, other than selling you a product or service. Learn to think twice about which networking events to go to, and how to leverage them to your advantage (my second point, below).

How to network
For beginners, networking feels awkward at first, but can quickly become second nature. The basics include (i) having a business card, (ii) offering it somewhere toward the middle or end of your elevator pitch so it doesn't appear like you're liberally giving cards away, (iii) handing it over in a way that can be read easily (e.g. with two hands, card face up and oriented the right way), and (iv) respectfully reading the other person's card. The point I would like to emphasize here though is the elevator pitch. In particular I often see two areas in which networkers fall short of their potential: explicitly stating what value they provide, and what they are looking for.

Regarding the value proposition, in addition to clearly stating your name, role, and who you work for, never assume people are familiar with the company or can extrapolate what services the company provides. Don't leave them guessing, and provide a simple, concise example of who a typical (or ideal) client looks like, and how you improve their business/life. A personal story of the impact you have on their business/life is way better than numbing statistics of how many products you sell and how many customers you have.

Regarding what you are looking for, everyone is obviously looking for opportunities. Opportunities are ubiquitous, idiosyncratic and ambiguous. The first implication of your networking is that you are looking to drum up business. If however, you have other needs, it is perfectly ok to admit you are growing your business and looking for help. People have a natural tendency to help, IF they know they can and it does not come at a major cost to them. For example, after your elevator pitch, you might invite the other person to assist you in finding a better recruiting agency, or providing you a direct referral to a potential employee. Don't overwhelm them and ask for them to help you with all aspects of your business, just show a little humility and ask for ideas relating to a currently important or urgent issue you are dealing with. You may not get what you ask for, but you also don't get what you don't ask for.

3rd Year for the Entrepreneurial Internship Program

The Meet-and-Match event for CIE's Entrepreneurial Internship Program was our biggest ever!  A "short"-list of 30 Honour's and Dean's List students competed for 12 spots with our industry partners.  But then, the partner companies were so blown away with the quality of students that 5 additional positions were created and offered on the spot!

This year's partners are:
  • Anittel
  • Atlassian
  • BMDI Healthcare
  • Homestar Finance
  • IPScape
  • Pet Barn
  • ResMed
  • Telcoinabox
Our congratulations to the students and to our partners for their efforts, and we can't wait to see the reports and posters at the March Wrap-Up event! 

Entrepreneurs' Confidence Barometer 
Entrepreneurs lead the way back to growth
A recent survey of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year alumni has found that 74% of respondents defied the market and grew their businesses in 2009, with 60% expecting to achieve double digit growth in calendar 2010.

The Ernst & Young survey found that the respondents - some of Australia's most successful entrepreneurs - are increasingly confident about their business growth prospects, with 72% confident about the Australian economy in 2010 and 67% believing the availability of capital will improve in 2011. Seventy one percent expect to employ more people in the next 12 months, 62% plan to raise funds in the next 12 months and 68% plan to expand operations overseas. In addition, the entrepreneurs surveyed overwhelmingly agreed that passion, determination and vision are the key ingredients for success, with 80% believing that this has not changed in the past 10 years and will not change in the future.

The survey respondents had started on average four businesses each, creating their first business at the average age of 25 and were motivated primarily by the desire to create a business, with wealth creation as a secondary driver. These are a few of the many findings contained in the 2010 Entrepreneurs' Confidence Barometer, a survey conducted to mark the 10th anniversary of the Entrepreneur Of The Year program in Australia.

Ernst & Young partner Greg Logue says the responses illustrate that successful entrepreneurs are more than simply higher achievers.

"They are the ones who seek out opportunities and turn their vision into reality, creating a flow-on success for those around them through employment, export growth and social contributions," says Logue.

"The confidence and focus of these entrepreneurs is both inspiring and heartening - these are the people who continue to drive the economy forward and create the future."

The survey findings also suggest that there is a greater appreciation of the contribution entrepreneurs make to our economy and communities. Fifty six percent of respondents believe the Australian culture supports entrepreneurship - a significant shift in attitude compared to a similar 2004 survey that found that only 38% of respondents held the same view.

Diploma in Innovation Management 
Now open to
ALL UNSW undergraduate students!
Diploma WordleThe Diploma in Innovation Management has been successfully migrated from the Faculty of Science to the Australian School of Business.

The Diploma is a unique undergraduate offering that is open to students of any Faculty, AND is taught by academics from various faculties, further supplemented by presentations and lectures from industry experts and government officials.

Course material covers areas such as creativity in enterprises, business principles, business planning for new ventures, funding, management and commercialisation of intellectual property, and valuation and assessment of innovative businesses. Students engage in exercises to set up and run their own new ventures and participate in case studies with Australian and international entrepreneurs. The lectures, workshops, case studies and tutorials in each of the program's courses are delivered by a well-balanced mixture of university academics and expert industry and government professionals.

Upcoming Events

Meet the Entrepreneur: Ernst & Young  
When:    Thursday 23 September
Meet the Entrepreneur is a semi-annual event; this session's topic is CleanTech, and will be moderated by Dr Marc Newson, Partner Oceania Cleantech Leader, Ernst & Young.

Click here to register by Thursday, 16 September

Peter Farrell Cup - NEW website!!
The Peter Farrell Cup provides students with the opportunity to bring their innovative business idea to life by pitching to a panel of experts from the Sydney entrepreneurial community.  The competition is open to teams containing at least one currently-enrolled UNSW student.  Teams submit a business plan and finalists are selected to pitch their ideas live to the judging panel.

Want to team up with a student to help you represent in the competition?
Meet-Mix-Match Event - Tues 21 Sept

Click here for details.

Entrepreneur of the Year Award
Join us to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year program in Australia!  This is the world's most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs and celebrates building and leading successful, growing and dynamic businesses, recognising them through regional, national and global awards programs in more than 135 cities in 50 countries.  Over the last decade, Ernst & Young has recognised the achievements of over 800 extraordinary business leaders in this country.

Click here for details. 

We are currently seeking sponsors for Diploma Scholarships, internship opportunities, and the Peter Farrell Cup. If you are interested in being associated with these innovative initiatives in our newsletters, press releases, website, and at the event, please contact us. Sponsorship may be in the form of general sponsorship for the event (cash or in-kind), or by sponsoring a student intern at your organization.

We are pleased to confirm AusIndustry, Ernst & Young, NewSouth Innovations and RosesOnly as sponsors of the CIE.  Likewise, we would like to thank Peter Farrell and Gary Zamel for their generous donations. Their continued support helps provide the means to host networking events, award prizes, and reimburse our suppliers and service providers. In exchange, our sponsors receive good karma and public recognition as supporters of innovation and entrepreneurship. If your firm is keen to engage with UNSW students, faculty and alumni, and our members from industry, please contact us.

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