I accepted an invite to attend a CEO Tech Forum at Hamilton Bradshaw Venture Partners. Yes, that's right, James Caan's company (as they always seem to point out first of all, d'uh). No, not the actor, d'uh. I thought it would be an interesting way to spend a few hours with fellow tech CEO's and VCs.
The agenda looked promising -
Growing a Technology Business
Technological Excellence & Scaling
If by technology trends you mean chuck around a few buzz words, with no real insight or application.
If you mean growing a technology business you mean "make sure you recruit top people whatever it costs (I know I'm a recruitment company, but come on son, you can afford it)",
By technological excellence and scaling you mean, actually I'm not really sure what the point was here other than it seemed to be very B2B focussed and drew some opposing views from fellow OC member Iqbal Gandham.
If by Realising Value, you mean make sure you pay some good quality consultants to help you through the minefield that is Due Diligence (by the way, is an IPO not an exit strategy anymore?)
If by raising finance, you mean "it's frothy out there, there's loads of money, what do you mean you're not funded yet? There's angel groups popping up all over the place", followed by "let me help you raise money, I'll do the cold calling on your behalf, no win no fee"
All seemed a bit superficial, which was a shame, but not unexpected.
Now, I may be overly critical at this stage, but there was really very little value added by the talks. I'd have been more interested if the expert Venture Partners had actually sat back and asked the people with their fingers on the pulse to cover these topics and educate them.
But it felt more like a polite entry point to the sales pipeline of HVP and that someone internally thought, "I know this'll be a good idea". My feedback - listen more to the guys on the front line, get to know the real issues and don't assume to to know more about technology than us - maybe you do, but perhaps, maybe you don't.
If you pull out a sheet of paper and tell me that "my Alexa ranking is 3m+ and have more work to do there, sonny" like a) Alexa is some fantastic new secret weapon you've found to assert authority over others, and b) talk about the Interest Graph as a "thingy", then seriously, you have to listen more. To be fair, he was probably joking, but I just had a feeling he might not be...
No disrespect intended. The team at HBVP are clearly excellent and their track records speak for themselves. It was the first meetup of its kind and I hope they've got the appetite to push on and improve the format and content.
It was a nice polite event - it was, how can I put it - smiley, there were plenty of smiles. Some people went on a bit too long and diverted off topic for their own cause. The wine and canapes were a welcome site. I'd go again, if only to help improve the format, because although this wasn't great, I appreciate the effort, the sentiment and hope that is wasn't quite as shallow as it felt. The proof will be in the follow up.
James Caan made a brief appearance at the door of the conference room, but didn't stick around (another slight disappointment, for novelty sake it must be said).
For a look at who was at the event, check this out on the mysparebrain blog.