Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Re-education of a gambling angel investor

Would you gamble in a horse race? The area now known as Silicon Valley had a history of horse racing and gambling on horses. If you are willing to bet $10k on a horse, why not gamble on a start-up? €10k is quite literally a SSIA money amount. A pittance in the Irish property arena. Not that much in the horse breeding industry either. It is a risk, but so is a horse race. So where do we send the cheque? There isn't a place.

It's not just the punters (in more than one meaning of the word) that need to be educated in investment. college students leave with the technical know-how (other discussions aside) but they don't get thought about looking for investment.

Is there a need for a convention to get the investors to attend? Actually Damien Mulley is looking in to arranging a big pitching event some time in September, so this might happen soon. However there is an opportunity to have an "Open Coffee" style informal session at an IT@Cork, which is not a pure technical event, as investors don't know where to go. Assuming that investors are out there.

There is an election on. Stamp duty (which canvassers confirm that no one cares about) is being talked up in the media. Can we talk up

Could there be a start-up lobby group? In Cork there is the NSC (and soon a NSC 2), UCC, Rubicon, WebWorks and probably a few we didn't know about. There isn't a central organisation. Not always joined up to the media thinking either. For example, Walter of Sxoop and Pixenate moved into the Rubicon building. That's a press release opportunity which helps to show the creation of a start-up culture in Ireland! Which gets attention in the off-line media world. Sales and marketing of a company beat technical skill when it comes to funding. It's sad but it's true.

All IT start-ups are looking for investment. They have to chase the money. However there is no history of investing in technology in Ireland, except for the Eircom share issue. An education which has not been forgotten. An early start-up is a risk, a gamble. Care to bet?

However investment in property (an investment area with a lot of positive education) is declining, so why not take up investing in start-ups? Does Cork (and Limerick and Waterford) need a 'face' so that investors look here rather than to Dublin?

It might be easier to get small investors too. The perception of computer technology is completely different now. Once computers were these big untouchable room sized machines. Now they are mobile devices with annoying ringtones. He mystique has gone. Few people are afraid of the technology, so they might be willing to invest in the companies looking in to the next technology.

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