Jennifer Arcuri is founder of The InnoTech Summit and MBA student at Hult International Business School.
The InnoTech Summit is an event launched to bring entrepreneurs and investors together, stimulating growth in the technology sector and promoting small enterprise in the UK, taking place at The Grand Connaught Rooms Hotel on 13th April. Follow news about the event on Twitter.
The event includes a pitching competition for entrepreneurs because it’s a difficult time for startups. How is this the case?
Startups are facing major challenges in today’s market, especially graduates at the onset of their careers. Our goal is to build a platform for entrepreneurs to develop, fund and build their company through the use of disruptive technologies. This competition follows in the spirit of the event by giving these entrepreneurs the stage to pitch their ideas directly to people who can help bring them to life, but also by providing mentors to nurture small business and, in turn, innovate the future of hi-tech.
What makes an idea for a startup a good candidate for investment?
The startup needs to answer a particular need. Whatever service or product, it needs to be commercially viable. Investors look for return on investment and more particularly high returns, so just sales at the break-even level will not attract investors.
Another point: building a network is everything. As we have carefully observed from our recent interactions with investors, the bottom line on the investment comes down to the entrepreneurs themselves. The beginning stages of development and growth for a company undergo too many “changes” to really rely on a startup’s business plan from the beginning; the investor undoubtedly invests in the entrepreneur first and foremost when making the decision about funding.
What other advice would you give to start ups looking for that initial injection of funding?
After talking to many different investors in the City, it really does come down to the following:
- What makes you “investable?”
- Who is your audience? (and why do you think they’ll listen?)
- What is your story? (and how are you going to tell it?)
- Always, always, always know your audience. Do your research. It’s amazing how effective a little intellect and human charm can be.
I come from a film background, so everything comes back to the “story” to me. You may have the best numbers in the world on paper, but if you are incapable of selling the “sizzle” – being excited about your product – how can you expect anyone else to be?
Aside from the competition, what other advantages can young entrepreneurs get from attending the InnoTech Summit?
Entrepreneurs will have the ability to network with venture capitalists, investors, and other professionals in an environment where everyone is accessible to each other. In addition, we have a lot of great organizations attending (Start up Britain, Innovation Warehouse, NACUE, etc) within London who are specifically designed to cater to the needs of entrepreneurs. Our recent updates to the speaker slate are another great reason to attend the InnoTech Summit. Entrepreneurs will meet other digital companies on crowd sourcing, mobile platforms, video content, brand building, etc, as we have lined up an exciting slate of Digital Entrepreneurial Keynotes. In addition, our panels will add another interesting dynamic, some of the pressing discussions within the startup community: could London become the next start-up capital of the world? Is capital the missing ingredient?
Finally, do you think this is generation startup? More and more young people are setting up their own businesses, do you think this constitutes a community of entrepreneurs that in some ways defines the generation?
The “Generation Start Up” trend is a direct response to the opportunities that are created from the amazing, powerful distribution platform of the world wide web. This has unleashed incredible capabilities of people’s creative thinking and virtual intellect. Our panel discussion on London becoming the next startup capital will explore this issue more. However, I do believe this is the same “me” generation that has cracked the music and film industry in the changing of their distribution platforms. This is the same “Facebook” information-aged generation that will continue to shape, innovate, and continuously redefine the future of enterprise and the way we do business.