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Showing posts from 2018

Even Churchill Favoured an EU

The British bulldog himself, Winston Churchill, is universally regarded as our national hero. The embodiment all things British. It might therefore surprise the nationalists who voted for us to leave the EU that Churchill argued strongly for its creation. On 19th September 1946, he made a speech at Zurich University. The corrected full text is below (amazingly whoever made the original transcript, included a number of mistakes). You can listen to the original recording here . Any highlighting is mine. So if you don't want to plough through all 17 minutes, you can get the gist from the bold text. " I wish to speak to you today about the tragedy of Europe. This noble continent, comprising on the whole the fairest and the most cultivated regions of the earth; enjoying a temperate and equable climate, is the home of all the great parent races of the western world. It is the fountain of Christian faith and Christian ethics. It is the origin of most of the culture, arts, ph

Angels use more than a wing and a prayer

We're all familiar with Dragons Den, the popular TV series where all manner of weird and wonderful ideas are pitched to a panel of wealthy self-made business men and women in the hope of attracting investment. Well Dragons are not mythical beasts who only exist on TV for our entertainment. All over the UK there are clubs of relatively wealthy people known as angels, not dragons, where businesses pitch their ideas in much the same way as you see on TV (usually 5 or 10 minute Powerpoint presentations). The better ones attract angels to invest typically £10,000 to £20,000 each, or occasionally more, in exchange for shares in their companies. It's fun, and it's vital for the economy. It's also immensely satisfying for those of us who were fortunate enough in our day to have had help to build our own wealth, to assist younger men and women to do the same - hopefully. I'm a member of an angel group called The Surrey 100 Club. It operates under the auspices of Surrey Uni

Angel Investing - My Playwaze Experience

I'm a member of a local angel investment group known as the S100 Club . It's part of SETsquared , the world's largest university incubator network. We meet every other month to see half a dozen pitches from businesses seeking funding in the £200k-£1m bracket. Banks won't lend to high risk start-ups, and investment funds tend to only be interested in established companies needing upwards of £2m to accelerate their already proven potential for growth. So angels are a vital source of funding between Family, Friends and Fools risking their savings and mortgages on their homes, and the larger, more risk-averse venture funds. About 2 years ago the club had a pitch from a company which was then called Playcaddy. Basically it was a website that managed sports activities like leagues, competitions, teams and other group events for clubs. Impressively their system was already being used by several high profile clubs, especially tennis (the founder is a keen player who built

The New Priority - Getting Organised

Have you realised how excessive almost everything has become? Today we are literally overwhelmed by choices and by stuff. What to watch Which app to use Phone to buy Tweets to follow and read News Transport Clothes Food Education Holidays, flights, hotels Careers Sports Friends Choice choice choice Reading, buying, watching, doing, meeting, exploring, finding etc etc. So much more to do, to own, to use, or to waste our money on than any generation has ever experienced - and it's relentlessly getting worse (or better if you relish excess). The global marketplace has only just begun to assail us with all its offerings, and it's limitless. So how do we control this overload of decision making? And it's not just individuals who need to become better organised to manage this deluge. Organisations are called this for a reason too. We assign values to each and every element trying to impinge on our lives. Will it resolve a problem? Will it look good on me? Can

Phishing Attack. Clever!

During a recent board meeting I was informed that one or two of our larger clients (car manufacturers) demanded that our email passwords be renewed every month. Every bloody month! I hit the roof. Like a lot of people these days who live sleep eat and breath emails, I access them on every device possible including phones, tablets, laptops and other PCs. Each one would need the new password entered (assuming I could remember it!) 12 times a year. The world's gone mad. But despite the fact I own the company and therefore chair the board, I had no option. Comply or lose clients. The next day I received the notification I was waiting for to renew my password. It was a typical Microsoft Exchange notification to click here and type in my current password which I duly did, followed by a web screen asking for my new password, which it confirmed had been changed. Now all I had to do was change the password in all my other devices which I would get around to doing later. Total pain in the

How to Encourage Angels to Invest - Advice for Entrepreneurs

After a fairly short but traditional crawl through big company management structures, I decided someone else's rat-race wasn't for me. I wanted to try my luck at creating my own. So at the age of 29 I became an entrepreneur. How hard could it be? Think of an idea, borrow some money, make lots, pay it back, invest in more ideas. Several decades later I can look back and compress my experiences into precisely that chain of events, but oh boy it was neither as easy nor as fast as I ever imagined. But in a way, if I'd been more prepared, I either wouldn't have bothered or I wouldn't have experienced the pitfalls that helped me meander my way to where I am today.   What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. This post is not about how to come up with ideas that stand a chance. I've written plenty of posts discussing that - click here to read them . After a series of decent successes (and some failures), I reached 50 and decided to start investing in other peopl

Why Become a Business Angel?

Putting some of your hard-earned savings into start-up and early stage businesses is one of the riskiest investments you can make - other than backing a horse perhaps. Although at least with a horse you'll quickly know whether it was a good idea or not, and the horse won't keep pestering you for more money if it loses (unless you own it of course). So why become a business angel (or Dragon as the TV chaps like to be known)? Why do I love doing it despite the high risks? The short answer is because:- It's fascinating and you might help to change the world (quite apart from possibly scooping the jackpot).  When we're in the twilight of our career or perhaps we've retired, some of us don't want to just stop working or feeling we're still useful. Whilst I love relaxing or playing golf in the sun, I don't envy the legion of prune-skinned Algarve émigrés. Through angel investing alone, I'm closely involved with VR, sports management, telecom surveil

Angel Delights

I've been a business angel for a number of years. An angel is someone who invests in young companies (usually), even pre-start-up (occasionally), in exchange for shares in that business (typically), in the hope they'll one day be worth more than we paid for them (rarely). It's a very risky game, so why do I do it? I'm an entrepreneur myself. Salaried life frustrated my need to challenge myself. I was easily bored by process and reporting. In short, I became unemployable. I grew up in a house full of my father's wacky inventions (holographic fires, carburetor balancers, jet nozzles, squirrel-proof bird feeders etc), all of which lost him the money he'd made consulting for other people's companies on boring things like process and reporting. Dad's creativity missed one vital component that successful entrepreneurs discover. It's not about what you want to sell, it's about what people want to buy. I too learned this the hard way. Fortunately I p

Has security gone too far?

No-one would suggest that we abandon security measures that are designed to frustrate fraud. But we all hate passwords, and we are all driven mad from time to time by security questions, photo IDs, queues at airports and now endless 'opt in' requests to enable holders of our data to use it. GDPR... OMG! I am currently screaming at brick walls in a crazy loop that's preventing me from accessing my own money. It all started simply enough. I use a gold trading service called Bullionvault . To start trading, you deposit funds from your personal bank account, buy some gold (or other precious metals) which they store 'digitally' or physically for you, and then sell some or all of it while hopefully making a profit (fully taxed of course). Any money that you want to withdraw is then deposited in the same bank account that was used to open the account. All well and good... until you change your bank account. Here is what I have to do before I can get hold of my own mone

Awesome Pictures!

I enjoy photography - both taking pictures as well as marveling at inspired and perhaps lucky examples taken by others. All copyrights of the pics below are those of their respective owners, so, sadly, I'm not claiming any are my own. They all make you think about things in a different way... which is why I'm sharing them. Enjoy and be inspired.