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Thursday, February 09, 2012

I was at Venturefest Yorkshire yesterday and sat in on a session discussing the key findings from a recent Entrepreneurs' Survey.

Whilst the findings of the survey weren't exactly ground-breaking (top challenges were "cash flow and funding" and the need to generate greater sales) the discussion surrounding the survey was really interesting.

On the funding front, the room was surveyed with a quick show of hand of who had previously pitched for VC funding. Only 3 people put there hands up and, of those 2 had successfully raised funds through VC.

This corresponds with the survey data that said 81% of Entrepreneurs self-financed their business and only 1% raised finance through angel investors. Considering the event was heavily sponsored by Yorkshire Business Angels Association, that's an amazing number.

With regard to revenue and growth opportunities an upbeat 75% of the survey expected to achieve or exceed projected revenue growth. Growth strategies that came out of the survey included developing new products, technology and innovation (8%) and expansion into export markets (8%).

That last number could be a reflection on the type of businesses surveyed but it doesn't look great for UK plc in terms of export, which was a point picked up by one of the panel, Lara Morgan (founder and ex-CEO of Pacific Direct).

An interesting comment for me (which relates to the above growth strategy of product development) came from panelist Ed French, Investment Director for Finance Yorkshire. Ed made a point that many mid-sized companies often have a "product in the cupboard" that they fail to invest in bringing to market. He felt that the UK should be more like the US in this respect where there are far more spin-outs from business.

Key skills shortages that Entrepreneurs felt they needed to address were primarily in finance and sales & marketing, which really comes back to the key challenges identified in the survey.

Overall, whilst the finding may not be a big surprise, the panellist debate was excellent and Venturefest put on another event that just keeps getting better.

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Posted by: David Regler @ 1:53 pm |  0 comments  | Links to this post  

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Wednesday, February 01, 2012

To all those idealist who thought that social media has heralded a new age of selling.

No more spam, no more push marketing... yeah, right.

Yesterday I received 2 messages from advertisers straight into my inbox on LinkedIn. One was from HP and the other from Microsoft (not sure why I got them since I'm not in IT, but whatever).

They appeared in my inbox alongside other network messages. When I clicked on the link I'm sent to micro site on LinkedIn. Right at the bottom it tells me:
Why did I receive this message? This partner message was sent to you based on non-personal information, such as the title of your current position, your primary industry, or your region. Per our privacy policy, your name and e-mail address have not been disclosed
And there's an option to change my contact settings.

No more today so far, let's see what happens.

Now LinkedIn usually tests things in the background before launching and, when they do, there's little fanfare or announcement, they just slip in it.

But it looks like they're trying the equivalent of "promoted tweet" ie: good old fashioned direct marketing.

Personally, if it's relevant I don't really care but in this case it wasn't. Possibly because I have the word "technology" on my profile but that's it. Hardly targeted with laser precision.

And, even though I use LinkedIn every day, these 2 ads made up 22% of my inbox messages yesterday. Hmmm, wonder how long it is before those contact setting get changed?

On a similar note, there's been a round-robin style message going around Linkedin about the fact they've changed their privacy settings and can now use images and details of you in their advertising campaigns.

While I'm dreaming of my 5 minutes of fame on prime time TV, others are up in arms spreading the word that you need to change your settings to stop this happening.

Ah, social media.... it's so social.

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Posted by: David Regler @ 11:22 am |  0 comments  | Links to this post  

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