It’s my favourite networking group 3Cs Community again and the May meeting at solicitors Simmons & Simmons doesn’t disappoint. Investing in start-ups is pretty cool, much more exciting than the pathetic return you might get in an on-line account where the interest rate often reduces significantly after 12 months and usually doesn’t even match UK inflation on either measure CPI or RPI. Investors tend to be established people who are prepared to take a high risk BUT are typically not risking more than 3-5 per cent of their total wealth. According to investors’ network Angels’ Den 59 per cent of people lose all their money, mentioned in previous blog Your Own Worst Enemy so we are not talking of investing for widows-and-orphans. Investors are not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme either. Want to know the secret of investing in start-ups? see Fat Angels and Too Much of a Good Thing
The business ideas aren’t always exciting either, like a company which wants to send people into space or is designing the fastest microchip, gizmo or widget. But as someone said, most businesses are basically doing something rather ordinary, but better than the other guy.
What’s the Problem?
First speaker Iqbal Gandham whose previous venture Nivio won an award in Tech Pioneers at Davos World Economic Forum 2009 puts the above in a slightly different way. Most businesses operate on Freud’s Pleasure Principle helping people enjoy life or move away from pain or stress or more simply, solve a problem or provide a benefit. His current project is Addpiks an iPhone application. If you need funding, the most fundamental question you will be asked is: What problem does your business idea solve? Apparently, all VC companies ask this one.
Your favourite chore?
Second speaker is one of the 3Cs founders, Mark Inskipp. 3Cs is so-called because the founders included 3 guys called Colin, some of them having worked in Investors in Industry later renamed 3i and privatised. Problem was that the minimum investment was relatively high for many start-up businesses so the founders decided to form a separate group to cater for these entrepreneurs. Mark’s latest venture Xpenser allows business people to update expenses on the hoof, or away from the office thus avoiding the chore of going through the proverbial shoebox of receipts to get the books up to date at the end of the month. Some companies will not pay their reps unless their expenses are up to date which can cost one or two days a month business time. Having started in the USA, Xpenser has 50,000 users and there is a free version.
Keeping in touch with Granny
Stuart Arnott of Mindings offers a solution to keeping in touch with families far away. Of course, there is always the telephone or if your family is really up to date Skype but there is a limit to how much you can say at any one time. In Stuart’s case, he was taking daily pictures of his children and sending them to his parents when it occurred to him, that there must be a better way, especially as he was a techie. Answer is Mindings allowing you to send images and information directly your friend or relative’s digital photo frame using captioned photos, text messages, MMS and calendar reminders. At £99, it undercuts the competition.
Keeping your hands clean
While the above would have been enjoyed by one of my relatives when he was in a nursing home, it was MRSA which finally killed him shortly before his 100th birthday for which we were preparing a special treat. In the UK 5,000 a year die from MRSA and HIA (Hospital Acquired Infections) spread by contact, resulting in hospitals and care homes having gel dispensers and is the subject of the fourth presentation by Adam Sutcliffe of Orbel
For medical/care workers, there are 5 scenarios where hands should be cleaned, which include: moving from one patient to another, moving from one part of a patient to another and moving from one room to another. But we are not perfect, and people forget. Personal dispensers are likely to result in better cleanliness than having walk over to a wall-mounted one, but some are not so comfortable to use.
Orbel’s dispenser addresses this and recent trials in a Hammersmith hospital resulted in a 300 per cent increase in gel use. Scary or what?
Next 3Cs Community meeting 5th July 2011 at City Business Library and if you have a business idea and want to make a pitch, there is a vacancy for this meeting – following one will be 14th September.