The headliner is a complex question. I mentioned in my last post that there were quite a few changes in direction that took place over the period where I went MIA with this blog. If I had to summarise the time in one sentence I’d say ‘I learnt a lot’. Really, a lot. Anyway, lets list what I got up to:
- Puls8 (which I discussed here)
- Attempting to start a venture fund
- Consulting with very early stage startups
Ok so the list doesn’t seem long, but all 3 topics are huge in scope.
Lets start with Puls8 – technically this venture hasn’t totally died. I have to say I have been lucky my co-founder Albert and I have gelled well. But we haven’t had much traction and the few projects we’ve had have laboured for various reasons and not really taken off. Some of the issues we’ve faced: project offerings have been boring, our clients have at times not been clear enough in their wants/needs and thus as a consequence this has ranked quite low on both our priority lists.
In addition we learnt about needing to be more consistent in our presentation and branding – particularly in simplifying the message for what we actually provided as a service. Also we should have been very firm with our Clients and chasing them up when we hit decision points. We spent at times far too much time waiting due to indecisions.
We did a number of things right – namely our process/approach was flexible enough and appropriate for the work we wanted to do. This is one reason why I haven’t completely written off Puls8 – if we get an interesting project I have confidence in our ability to deliver it – but as I said, low on our priorities.
Bigger and more ambitious
This actually tied in to my ‘grander’ plan when I first left Shell – exploring a venture capital (VC) seed fund. My vision was as follows –
‘Helping early stage IoT (Internet of Things) and hardware startups to develop innovative products that enable the future while building sustainable growth companies in Amsterdam.’
While hunting for potential Puls8 clients I realised there was a gap in the market. We could use our skills and have a mechanism to fund startups too. Now at this point in time I was totally out of my depth in knowledge and understanding relating to venture funding and startup funding in general.
So I began a self learning crash course in how VCs worked, how startups raised money, term sheets (both economical and structural), raising money for a VC fund, working with LPs and a vast array of other topics that diverged completely from Drilling.
At the same time I wanted more hands-on experience with similar stage startups I was targeting for the Fund. I was lucky to get a few leads that were interesting and frustrating too.
How did I progress with the above? Much better than expected and maybe not so much. Regardless, as I said earlier – I learnt a LOT. I’ll get into that next week!