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Roger Wood

Roger Wood

www.midven.co.uk 0121 7101990
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Roger is a Director at Midven, a specialist venture capital company focused on investing sums of up to £1m into early stage and fast growing SMEs in the West Midlands.

Midven currently manages five venture capital funds, representing a wide ranging portfolio of over 60 companies. The two most recently launched funds; the Early Advantage fund and The Exceed Partnership, are actively seeking investment opportunities.

Roger has over 15 years experience providing advice and funding to SME’s within the Midlands. For the last 4 years his investment day job has been combined with grappling with the day to day issues of running Midven.

Latest Posts

Thursday, 21 April 2011

In their latest post the Soshi Games chaps relate their experiences of video conferencing with potential investors. It sounds like they had a positive experience but prompted the question would an angel investor part with their cash purely on the basis of video conference meetings.

Angel investors certainly have the ability to be idiosyncratic so I would not dismiss the notion of them investing via this route. I  suspect it ultimately depend on what their key driver for investing is e.g. your operating in their 'pet' sector, they are merely seeking the tax shelter etc.

Institutional investors however are very much a different breed...
In general terms a golden rule of investment remains 'management, management, management'. It is a well trodden path that good management can turn a bad business round in the same way that bad management can ruin a good business. People invest in people. As such I would be surprised if any institutional investor would invest without the proper face to face interaction to be able to make a personal judgement on the individuals behind a business.

Video and web conferencing is however becoming more and more common place, and with the technology improving rapidly could be a good way to progress to a later stage in the investment process before a face to face meeting. Would reduce car or air miles too! We see this approach a lot with our portfolio companies where Webex is increasingly being used in the earlier stages of the sales process prior to face to face meetings.

Technology always moves the world on and so I am sure it will only be a matter of time before an investor fully embraces this approach and proves me wrong!

Post investment is a bit of a different matter though. It becomes a bit more difficult to have valuable interaction between investor and investee via video conference. This is important because, although over quoted, it is true that good investors provide more than just money. The ability to be able to meet with them over coffee to discuss strategy or sales opportunities in an unscheduled informal manner is often invaluable.

 So - video conferencing good or bad? Anything that helps widen access to finance for small and growing businesses can only be a good thing.

 

Thursday, 14 April 2011

I thought Matt's post on his most gruelling week ever gave an interesting snapshot of the life of the entreprenuer. "Too busy dashing from place to place" or "not enough hours in the day" are common 'complaints' from those trying to start their own business and yet I note not one word of complaint from Matt merely statements of satisfaction withwhat he managed to achieved. I take great encouragement from that and consider it to be a postive sign that he has what it takes to make a success of his business.

Aside from the mindset issue Matt's blog brings to mind the matter of prioritisation. It is absolutely true that anybody trying to make a success of their own business will have a huge number of things to do and never enough time so they must avoid the common pitfall of becoming a busy fool. At the start of every week I have a long list of things to do. The first thing I always do is sit down and categorise things into 'must do', 'important', 'can wait' etc. It is important to identify and prioritise those tasks which are are consistent with the company strategy and will add most value to the business. To be able to do this it is imperative to be thinking about where and what shape you want the business to be in 1,3 and 5 years time, and where will your market place be at that time - i.e. to a large extent what is the end game? Without thinking this through it is impossible to identify those things which are strategically most valuable and therefore should be prioritised. 

The same principle applies to the significant numbers of leads and contacts that the Soshi Games guys picked up from their trp to SxSW. Trying to follow up on all of these over time may over time (a long time!) be possible but they should sit down and analyse which of them are best positioned for their strategic direction and could bring most value to the business and focus their initial efforts on those. The scattergun approach very rarely brings success even when you are tryiing to achieve your first big breakthrough.

In summary work smart as well as hard!

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