Tuesday, March 22, 2011

On the ground, running

Business wrapped up in the US on Sunday, allowing for a leisurely drive up to Atlanta for my Monday evening flight to the UK.  I stopped along the way for discount outlets (jeans) and dollar stores (kitchen supplies), so I felt fully stocked as I headed back to Europe.  The only item missing off my list was a few bottles of maple syrup: Piggly Wiggly and WalMart are not prime outlets for  pure Vermont honey.

The flight itself was uneventful.  I curled up with some work and with The Social Network, a surprisingly good movie.  From an entrepreneurial perspective I don’t think that there are any good lessons in life or business embedded in the narrative, but it is an interesting story of driven personalities, driven by events.  I still think that the path to success is in being persistent and flexible enough that you can be positioned when the big opportunity hits, then talented and focused enough to outrun any competition.  These folks certainly had that to excess.

While in the US, I had one business succeed, another crash, and a third materialize. 

CamStent is now oversubscribed, so the focus is really shifted to operations, making the most of the interest and resources that we’ve been able to generate.  This was an example of continually honing the message and presentation, and of being willing to go anywhere to meet with anyone, to secure investment and resources. I literally jumped off the plane at Gatwick this morning, then onto a National Express bus and a train north to Sheffield for meetings with angels and scientists this evening.  It secured 100K GBP and will assure commitments to April milestones.

The business acquisition arrangement that I’ve been working on for over a year collapsed: there’s an adage that ‘Time kills deals” and it certainly was the case here.  The longer the talks went on and people got wrapped into the minutia of worst-case contingency planning, the more they lost sight of the vision, dampened their enthusiasm, and lost confidence in one another.  Many lessons were learned, and we’ll have to quickly re-orient plans and goals in an austere situation going forward.

In contrast, our founding team for a new device company met in Jacksonville and got off to a roaring start.  This is when it’s the most fun: four people with united enthusiasm and diverse talents sitting around a kitchen table for a day trading ideas and assembling the business product and plan.  The structures, roles, and product description are all in place, and people left with confidence in one another and tasks lists for the coming weeks.  I am more convinced than ever of the value and necessity of face-to-face communication, even though digital media is getting better and better.

The photographs are of flowering trees that I found throughout Georgia: the question was always “Dogwood or Cherry?”.  The orchid-like center confirms that they are cherry trees – the blooms are amazing all along the highways from Florida through Macon and north to Atlanta.

Dogwood                                   Cherry

Dogwood flower Cherry Flower


Alison said...

I'm glad you got your answer as to which was which. I was pleasantly surprised to realize that I can still tell them apart, even though I'm otherwise horticulturally challenged. ;) I do miss the dogwoods, although there are a couple of cherry blossoms here in town that I get to enjoy.

Dave Hampton said...

Hi, Alison, I carried your advice straight to the streets, as you can see: those trees are off the highway just north of Macon, typical of the blooms that were growing everywhere. I'm not sure that I ever saw a dogwood (or a magnolia in flower, for that matter), but I'm sure that as we get deeper into spring, the variety would grow.

I tried to visit the Cherry Blossom festival at Macon, but it was $10 just to park, plus charges for almost everything inside, so I gave up.