First up was the iVenture Tuesday event organised by Informatics Ventures at Edinburgh Napier University’s impressive campus. Clearly Informatics Ventures knew that they would need some entertaining speakers to compete with the Champions League semi-final being played the same evening. So rather than Barca v Chelsea, we were treated to a heavy weight match-up between John Waddell of Archangel Informal Investment, giving the view of the angel investor, and Sandy McKinnon of Pentech Ventures fighting the corner of the venture capitalist.
Although standing podium to podium like a presidential debate, the tone was more informative than adversarial, however an audience comment that angel money was for developing the product and VC money was for developing the business was not one John subscribed to. Both felt that there was a lot to be positive about in relation to the technology industry in Scotland, particularly John who felt recent years had seen a marked improvement in the quality of companies and products his company was seeing.
Both speakers stressed the importance of having robust IP and clearly to generate any investment a company has to consider its IP strategy very carefully. It is a key asset that needs focussed on and properly developed and protected.
For businesses involved in mobile app development, it was suggested that generation of income was not always going to be the most important factor for investors. Traction, user numbers and brand awareness could be just as, and in some cases even more, important. A current and quite incredible example of this of course is Facebook’s recent $1billion acquisition of photo sharing service Instagram. Instagram had only 13 staff and wasn’t generating income, yet Facebook paid £1billion for it. However what Instagram had was an easy to use service, a good brand and a remarkably quick take up rate.
On Wednesday night, the battle between Real Madrid and Bayern Munich was eschewed in favour of the Business Forum Scotland event held at the Corinthian in Glasgow. The two companies looking for advice and feedback were Treat Ticket, a Northern Irish based online discount buying service provider, and Tern Television, a successful independent production company which had developed a fascinating interactive story telling platform which could herald a new genre of entertainment. Both made extremely professional and passionate presentations. For Treat Ticket their cleverly developed brand was fundamental to their success, while Tern had created technology which genuinely deserved the overused term of cutting edge.
Two very different companies with very different products but both conscious of the value of IP to their business, and aware that whether that value was in the brand or in core technology, it was an asset which had to properly managed if angel or VC investment was going to happen.