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Archive for the ‘Startups’ Category

Canadian and American Startup Investors

Posted by Paul on May 3, 2009

Lucky To Be On This Side of The Pond

I recently visited the UK and attended a few entrepreneurial and networking style events. They had somewhat of a similar feel to the events on the west coast of Canada, with one exception – the impression I left with was that I am lucky to live where I do.

Small business support for tech and innovative initiatives is far more limited back across the pond. In 2 short weeks back in Canada, I have met with some great Seattle connections, had lunch and talked with the NRC about IRAP and youth funding, visited with Monica Moore at Telefilm about the Canada New Media Fund and another team member had a successful meeting to discuss MITACS. Coming up in Vancouver we have Pop Vox, the Vancouver International Partnering Forum (VIPF), not to mention Launch Party and a number of other entrepreneurial networking events.

I have only been in Vancouver for 5 years so I am not sure how long this has been happening, but right now there seems to be a hive of startup initiatives, events and tech players. With great companies like Bootup Labs reaching across the border and into US VC land, the barriers come down even further. For a growing tech company like arcalife its key that we don’t hit dead ends when we are just starting to get some major traction. What’s great to see is that people like Brad Feld are prepared to embrace the concept that open borders on tech and investment is the way forward. Despite the differing risks levels in Vancouver versus the Valley mentioned at Beers With Brad last week, we do have a few things on our side : Geographical and time proximity, similar perspectives on the market, a shared history of successes and failures and openness of communication.

For the UK, US contact I suspect requires more work to acquire and are therefore more closely guarded – exactly what is not required for a rapid flow of new and exciting ideas. I am happy to be home again.

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Investor Early Stages: UK vs. NA

Posted by Paul on April 16, 2009

Since returning to the UK to begin arcalife’s 3rd round of funding, I’ve had a number of investor meetings through contacts and friends of friends. There is a definite difference in attitude on this side of the pond as far as VC’s, angels and also investors more generally are concerned.

Clearly the particularly bad state of the economy doesn’t help the situation, but it’s more than that. My observations, (not original I am sure) are that the UK generally seems more risk averse when it comes to tech investment, especially in the early stage. It makes sense to me now that almost none of the worlds large social networks started here. This matches with some of the early experience we have had with PR in the UK market. While we have had plenty of traction and then some since our UK launch at Who Do You Think You Are Live, it’s certainly more challenging to make your voice heard here.

It seems, in general, that more groundwork needs to be laid here, as a matter of course, in both the investment and PR spaces – there is not much shooting from the hip going on by these people. I don’t necessarily think that it’s a lack of innovative spirit that drives this. I’d put it down to greater caution; on account of the complexity/density of the market and the competition here in the UK. Still, from my perspective as a now self dubbed ‘North American Entrepreneur’ the approach seems over-cautious, perhaps even a little ‘nay saying’.

It definitely seems a bit strange to come all the way back to the UK to leverage the extensive network I have here… only to end up with many of the follow-ups being on the west coast of North America. Why does North America have a different risk reward tolerance? How has the UK ended up in a position where its’ banks will invest in unsound liabilities and yet it’s early stage investors are few and far between ?

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