The recently concluded Mobile World Congress saw the Grow VC Group, in collaboration with Mobile Monday, host an event on mobile startup funding. Over 3000 people applied to attend this event, from which nearly 600 were approved based on their background and relevance of their startup. The startups were treated to top industry experts sharing insights and answering queries on emerging funding models. Here are some of what was discussed:
Grow VC Group Chairman, Jouko Ahvenainen, in his presentation spoke about the latest changes in the finance sector. It included sharing the more effective models with less of middle-men, and how peer-to-peer models were increasingly becoming necessary. In the startup sector this model could mean crowd funding, while larger finance sector players are becoming more aware of this trend by identifying P2P hybrid models for their businesses. Ahvenainen also spoke about how regional investors and ecosystem developers are becoming more important. Liverpool’s case as you would find below is an example, but another example is Singapore’s pro-activeness in developing the startup ecosystem by being a bridge to the Asian markets and also offering startup investments.
(In picture: Jouko Ahvenainen)
Ahvenainen further emphasized on the importance of startups in economic growth and creating work opportunities, and felt more money was needed in this area. He echoed sentiments that VCs were mainly interested in a minor percent of all small and medium-sized businesses, and the challenge traditional VC funds faced in raising capital, gives room to more innovative funding models. He felt while public funds may play an important role in several places, it was equally essential to raise enough private money.
Gary Stewart from Telefonica Wayra spoke about how it was really important to support startups with several incubation models and help them get funding. He mentioned about how top-level politicians around the world and also Telefonica’s top management were very committed to building the startup ecosystem further. It’s worth mentioning that Wayra operates mainly in Europe and Latin America. He was also of the opinion that Europe lags behind the US in startup activities, and an indicator of this he says, was how large European companies are typically much older than the large US companies.
(In picture: Gary Stewart)
Kevin McManus from Liverpool Region Development Organization offered to share how Liverpool was committed to developing the startup ecosystem. Along with having developed infrastructure and services for startups, they also have their own investment fund for companies that are keen to set up operations in the region. Feynlabs, an education startup on programming languages for kids is an example of startups that have seen Liverpool as an interesting place to start operations. Liverpool is a good example of a global trend, where many governments and regional organizations are willing to develop their local startup infrastructure along with the setting up of local funding models and instruments.
(In picture: Kevin McManus)
Krishna Visvanathan from DFJ Esprit talked about the state of the current VC market. He mentioned that DFJ Espirit were actively looking for new deals all the time. When asked to list the one mistake a startup can make that immediately destroys his interest in the startup, he answered “if they (startup) say they have no competitors, it tells you (investor) they think too narrow about the market or they don’t know their business (well)”.
(In picture: Krishna Visvanathan)
Nokia’s, Microsoft’s and Aalto University’s AppCampus were also represented at the program. They presented grant offerings for mobile app startups that are willing to develop apps for the Windows Phone ecosystem. What’s special with their grants is they don’t dilute the ownership, but the startup must commit to an exclusivity period during when the app will be available only for Nokia’s and Microsoft’s ecosystem.
(In picture: AppCampus slide)
Coming to the panel session, Lionel Slusly from Loft Finance, Rahim Adatia from Paypal and Jouko Ahvenainen‘s discussions revolved around the likes of crowd funding models, differences between Europe and the US, and a look at the most promising new areas in mobile business. Rahim Adatia, who has seen tech and startup business in London and Silicon Valley, emphasized how the funding ecosystem works better in the Valley, including the cooperation between different kind of investors, Business Angels and VCs. Lionel Slusny saw crowd funding as a huge opportunity for Europe to raise more startup funding. The panel also concluded that B2B startups are becoming interesting again and expect to see more exciting new mobile startups offering B2B solutions, especially in the finance and media sectors.
Ajit Jaokar, Serial entrepreneur and author, who hosted the funding event and discussions, concluded it was an excellent event that shared how various models of the startup funding ecosystem are being developed currently around the world.
(In picture: (L-R) Ajit Jaokar, Lionel Slusly, Rahim Adatia, Jouko Ahvenainen)
With the startup funding market going through many changes and the mobile business an important part of this ecosystem nowadays, Grow VC, Mobile Monday and The Soho Loft plan to continue with the series of funding events at upcoming mobile conferences in the Middle-East (Baku), Asia (Singapore) and the US (Las Vegas).
The Grow VC Group, having seen an increasing demand for the Crowd Valley P2P investing platform globally and the need for Grow Advisors services in building this kind of an ecosystem, will additionally launch its own co-investment vehicle in this area of expertise. Watch this space for more.
The Grow VC Group represents crowdfunding, peer-to-peer investment models, global business development programs and service providers for companies and investors. The group comprises of proven global professionals, with real entrepreneur and personal investment track records spanning decades and continents.