Technology guru pitches in with advice for entrepreneurs
SCOTTISH technology entrepreneurs need to clarify their business pitch to investors in order to capitalise on the advantages created by universities and incubators, according to a Silicon Valley “guru”.
Bill Joos, a former Apple executive and venture capitalist who now runs a consultancy for early and mid-stage tech companies, is in Scotland to present his “Life’s a Pitch” workshops to SMEs as part of the entrepreneurship education programme led by Informatics Ventures.
Joos said that programmes to encourage entrepreneurship and university spin-offs, plus a society that does not overly stigmatise failure, mean Scotland has a steady stream of new technology ventures. He told Scotland on Sunday that Edinburgh enjoys similar advantages to Silicon Valley, and he is encouraging both businesses and investors to adopt “best practice” systems developed there in relation to funding.
He said: “I’ve worked with hundreds of start-ups around the world and helped them clarify and polish their messages, while refining their fund-raising and customer presentations.
“Exposure is key to success for these start-up companies, but to get in front of your investors and fail to deliver can make an already hesitant funder lose faith.”
He said in many cases, “geeky” technology entrepreneurs – the term is one of endearment in California – end up teaming up with someone with a business background, something which can easily happen within a university or an incubator programme run for early-stage businesses.
Firms should be able to pitch their idea in straightforward terms in 20 to 30 seconds, Joos says, but also need to be prepared for the kind of questions hard-nosed venture capitalists will ask.
Joos also helps early-stage firms plan their expansion and says many should look abroad to expand. But he says the US is not necessarily the place to go. He says emerging destinations such as Brazil may be more relevant for some businesses.
“It’s realistic that they need to grow outside of Scotland and one of the options is to come to the US,” he says. “But I discourage as many as I encourage.”
Joos’ workshops are being held in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Informatics Ventures, which is funded by Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Funding Council to encourage start-ups and early-stage companies to meet investors, plans to double the size of its annual flagship event “Engage Invest Exploit” next year.
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