Humble in the presence of greatness (or how to feel inadequate really quickly)

By Stephen Kellett
2 March, 2011

Last week I had the pleasure to attend a conference organised by Cambridge Wireless at Cambridge University Møller Centre, Cambridge. The event was free to attend and sponsored by EEDA, a UK government organisation that is due to be closed down due to the economic cuts happening in the UK following the election of a new coalition government.

The conference was titled “Discovering Startups, Show us the Money!” with the topic being how to deal with Angel Investors and Venture Capitalists. Speakers included various successful entrepreneurs turned VC/Angel and a lawyer presenting his views on how banks think about lending money to startups.

The speakers were very impressive in their acheivements and knowledge of this area. By the time Hermann Hauser had finished talking I was feeling rather humble and inadequate. I guess thats the difference between having been there, succeeded and doing it again and just doing it for the first time and not sure if you are succeeding.

It was quite interesting seeing the variety of methods used to record and take notes during the conference. Some people recorded the session on their PC (good luck with that battery life!), a chap with a iPad with the whole screen converted into a ssh text session using the iPad and his htc phone a the same time, myself recording the session on a Edirol-R09 and most people writing notes with good old fashioned pen and paper (no batteries required!).

The event started with a networking session which made me realise why I hate nightclubs so much. I really didn’t enjoy that aspect of the event, but I guess that is a personal thing. I’m sure some people loved it and others just think its business and get on with it. It was interesting after the talks realising that some of the others in the room that were not comfortable with the networking were actually some of the speakers! They may have insightful viewpoints and even forceful points of view, but they may still be shy.

The speakers were introduced by Dr. Ir. Leo Poll of Phillips Research.

(Edit: 2022 – the MP3 source recordings have gone missing. Sorry. If they are found I will reinstate the links.)

Hermann Hauser

Hermann Hauser opened with a keynote about what characteristics investors look for when contemplating an investment. I did not realise just how impressive his achievements are – the only European to found 6 startups each of which is worth in excess of £1 billion. Most of us would be happy with doing that once! Truly impressive. His fundamental point was don’t worry about the technology – in his personal experience he has only had a failure due to technology 1% of the time. Its the non-technology aspects that are important – the people, the team, the business model, the potential market.

Some nice tidbits of the technology industry came out in his keynote. Did you know the ARM chip was invented out of necessity because Intel would license Acorn computers the 80286 core?

Listen to Hermann Hauser.

Listen to Hermann Hauser take questions from the audience.

Jack Lang

Jack Lang is a serial entrepreneur and business angel. He is currently Entrepreneur in Residence, Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning at the Judge Business School, Cambridge University.

Jack has also written The High-Tech Entrepreneur’s Handbook: How to Start and Run a High-Tech Company.

Listen to Jack Lang..

Alan Barrell

Alan Barrell is a serial entrepreneur, business angel and is currently Entrepreneur in Residence, Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning at the Judge Business School, Cambridge University.

Listen to Alan Barrell..

Matt Meyer

Matt Meyer is CEO of Taylor Vinters a firm of lawyers in Cambridge that have been involved in many aspects of technology company investment deals.

Listen to Matt Meyer..

Jamie Urquhart

Jamie Urquhart is a business angel, venture capitalist, self confessed geek and the implementer of the first bug in the ARM chip.

Listen to Jamie Urquhart..

Ray Anderson

Ray Anderson is CEO of Bango.

Listen to Ray Anderson..

Mathew Mead

Mathew Mead is Managing Director of NESTA Investments.

Listen to Mathew Mead..

Question and Answer

After the talks, the panel answered questions posed to them via SMS during the various talks.
Unfortunately I had run my Edirol-R09 with its screen at the brightest setting, thus reducing the battery life. The battery ran out part way through the question and answer session.

Listen to Question and Answer session..


Full slides from the conference can be found at

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