Archive for April, 2009

How to secure Angel Funding, by Caelen King of

April 19, 2009 is a healthcare search engine that helps users find and compare health clinics worldwide. With information about 60,000 clinics in the UK and Ireland and thousands more in 50 countries around the world, helps people take control of their healthcare choices and find the most suitable clinic and treatment for their needs.

Caelen King is the CEO, and took part in the panel discussion at Bizcamp Limerick recently as well as giving his own talk on 'How to be wrong everyday, and still be right'. I missed the talk but found the panel discussion very informative with Caelen's insights paticularly illuminating.

RevaHealth recently secured 1.25 million euro in angel funding so Caelen knows what he's talking about and I'm delighted to publish an exclusive guest post from him today, below. 

Angel Investments and Trust

If you are looking for any type of sizable investment from an Angel, it has to be from somebody who trusts you. This is because, while Angels are perfectly willing to invest in a risky idea or business, they don’t want to invest in somebody who might just piss their money away (if you’ll excuse my French!). They need to have the confidence that, at a minimum, you will use their money sensibly. After all, a good angel is investing in you, rather than in the idea. This is because ideas are cheap and value is in the implementation.

In my experience, trust can be achieved in four ways:

1. You know the potential investor.

2 You have a proven track record.

    3. You have something tangible to demonstrate, that proves you can actually implement your ideas.

    4. Somebody who trusts you and knows the angel makes the introductions and vouches for you.

Many of the people I meet just want me to introduce them to angels who have invested in me, hoping that they will be able to convert a simple introduction into an investment. The problem with this line of thinking is that I can’t vouch for them. The conversation would go something like this:

Me: I met this guy, John, and he has a great idea. I think you should meet with him.

Angel: What is he like to work with?

Me: I don’t know. I just met him down the pub, but he seems like a good guy.

Angel: What’s his track record like?

Me: Well, he’s a young guy, not long enough in the tooth for much of a track record!

Angel: Can I see his product?

Me: He needs funding before he can build a product.

Angel: (Stares at me blankly).

— End of conversation —

When I started seeking funding for, I went to the person who knew my abilities best- my boss. I had been working for him for the previous 7 years and he knew exactly what I could and couldn’t do. I also knew that if I could get him on board, I could get him to introduce me to some angels that he knew.

The problem facing most young entrepreneurs is that they are too young to have much of a track record. Also, they are too young for their network to include the kind of person likely to be in the position of an angel investor. This fundamentally means that they have to have something tangible to show so as to get an implementation up and running. A couple of years ago this used to mean a prototype. With the worsening economic climate, however, it isn’t enough to simply show that you can get a technical implementation up and running. You also have to be able to demonstrate sales and/or marketing knowledge. What this normally means is showing that you are able to attract some paying customers and deliver value to them. This is a tough task, but bear in mind that when you are out looking for investment, you are asking someone to trust you with their money. It is not unreasonable for them to ask for evidence that you will use their money wisely.

So, if you’ve got a great idea but you don’t have the track record or network to secure angel funding, then build your product and get some customers. If you can’t do the development, find a developer who can. Remember that you are not trying to build a finished, polished application. Do the absolute minimum you need to sign up a few customers. Once you’ve got a few paying customers, everything becomes much easier. Get every bit of help you can from the various programs that are out there to help young entrepreneurs.

And the best of luck!

UPDATE: have recently expanded to cover cosmetic surgery in the UKand dentists in the UK.

Solo working need not be working solo

April 17, 2009

Vicky O'Connor from Tralee was one of the most interesting people I met at Bizcamp Limerick a few weeks ago. Founder of Cuile Virtual Administration Services she's a “Virtual Administrator who partners with start-up and small business owners to help them manage their daily administration duties while they can spend time building their business.” 

I found the chat with Vicky particularly fascinating because of the synergy I see between the delivery of virtual administration services and the concepts of hotdesking and coworking. As she explains on her own blog -

"For the VAs who work in seclusion, in their own office, these concepts could be of benefit to them, of course they would need to have a laptop, even if it was just for one day a week or month it would get them out and working in a different environment and share time with others."

And I don't see why that meeting place can't be the local community or parish hall, shared with other entrepreneurs. As I wrote on Nomadesk

"Freelancers and entrepreneurs providing and consuming services in a densely interconnected and localized ecosystem could lead to the rise of the eCottage – ‘cottage industry’ for the 21st Century."

One Wild Life – a new book about social entrepreneurs

April 8, 2009

To celebrate the launch of One Wild Life, Clare Mulvaney's book which tells the amazing stories of social entrepreneurs, a launch party is being held on Friday 17th April, 8pm in Odessa Club, Dublin 2.

Clare book 2
Clare is another inspiring social entrepreneur and she'd really appreciate all the support she can get so if you'd like to go along just post a comment below and I'll forward it to Clare to have you added to the guest list and receive a proper invitation. 

Books will be on the shelves late next week and I've already added a copy to my Amazon wish list.

On her Social Entrepreneurs Ireland profile Clare says – "I want to see an Ireland in which young people are given the chance to more fully participate in creating their own future. Also a society in which more people, exercising their personal leadership, look for ways in which they can effect positive change in society and actualize their ideas.”

For eleven months in 2006/07 Clare travelled the globe interviewing people who change our world about their life stories. Through a book, interactive website and tour of universities around Ireland, Clare aims the share the stories of global social innovators as well as individuals in Ireland who are daring to make a difference.
The project is specifically focused on helping college students and recent graduates use their talents and passions to effect social change. By understanding how these social innovators have chosen to live their own One Wild Life, she hopes to help other people define theirs.
One Wild Life takes its title from the poetry of Mary Oliver, ‘So tell me, what do you plan to do with your one wild and precious life’.