LinkedIn: Wider or Deeper?

This is a question I have posed to our LinkedIn group.

As previously recorded in this blog, I have always connected only with people I’ve actually met. If I received a connection request from somebody I hadn’t met, I would invite them to meet up. This tactic always worked extremely well and resulted in a number of new instructions. However, perhaps it’s time to revaluate because more recently, I’ve noticed a significant drop-off in its effectiveness.

A cup of tea.

Fancy a cuppa?

Some of those sending a connection request don’t bother to respond at all. Of those that do, about half say that they were only looking to expand their networks (and so, the implication is, they can’t be bothered to meet face to face – what’s that about? And of the last 5 that have arranged to meet, 3 have not shown up. One I never heard from again, one said there was some diary confusion at their end and this morning I wasted 75 minutes on somebody who told me that I hadn’t confirmed the meeting. This despite a chain of emails in which we’d narrowed the options to one date, time and location.

What is this, a transatlantic flight? Do I have to re-confirm meetings?

So I’m wondering how you use LinkedIn. Do you use it to strengthen ties with people you know? Do you use it to connect with people you don’t? And if the latter, does it bother you whether you have actually met and had a meaningful conversation with that person or not?

Am I the last person to treat LinkedIn as online support for real networking as opposed to a business Facebook? Because it’s really starting to feel that way.

Well, I’m not going to change the way I use LinkedIn. Save for the fact that when I receive connection requests in future, instead of inviting the person out to coffee, I’m simply going to ask them to confirm whether we’ve met and if not, why we should. Maybe it’s a consequence of approaching middle age but really, I just don’t have the time or the patience for this charade anymore.

Knuckle Down, Fit In.

About 13 years ago, I had my first appraisal at what was then my new firm: Prettys in Ipswich.  Colourful shirts, floppy hair and a passion for doing things differently, I think it’s fair to say that I was already rubbing my supervising partner up the wrong way.

“You need to knuckle down”, he said.  “You have to fit in.”  I still have the notes I made at the appraisal, which was something of a character assassination.  Those notes contain just four words:

KNUCKLE DOWN

FIT IN

And for a long time I had them pinned to the wall above my desk, as a badge of pride.

I have never “fitted in” to any law firm that I have worked at.  Which is probably why within a year of meeting the right person to partner up with, I had set up my own practice.  We work hard, we love what we do.  But we will never knuckle down.  We will never fit in.

As a result, we will never again get that magical unexpected call from the huge client of which every lawyer dreams.  (It did happen to me once, when I was at Watson Burton, and I ended up handling all the grey trading litigation for Canon UK.)  But that’s OK.  Because what I’ve realised is that even as a lawyer, it’s OK not to fit in, not to knuckle down.  There are enough people out there who like the way we do things that differentiating ourselves on this basis is a good thing.  A great thing.

Two things happened today that made me decide it was time to write this post.  One, we had some wonderful recommendations (one from a client, one about our iTunes podcast, and finally one being a podcast listener coming to our defence when somebody suggested that my post about it wasn’t suitable for a Facebook group about start-ups in London).  All this in the space of an hour and a half.

And two, I read this post by Seth Godin.  Of course, Seth is all about differentiation.  And you’d know that already if you had read Purple Cow.  But what I love about this very short post is that it summarises in just a few words not only why it’s important to be different, but why the reason for that difference is important.  You’ll see when you read it.  And don’t say you haven’t got time.  It’s less than half the length of this one…

Do You Find Lawyers Frustrating? You’re Not Alone.

I just read an interesting assessment of forthcoming changes in European trade mark law.  Rather enthusiastically, it was called “Trademarks: a Hot New Issue“.  I imagine only an IP lawyer could describe changes to trade mark legislation as “hot”, but it was worth a read.

The piece, published on the website of the Law Society Gazette last week, focussed on the proposal to cut the fees for Community Trade Mark applications.  OHIM, the body responsible for administering the system, has been making a sizeable profit despite having  cut its fees substantially a few years ago.  The European Commission, it seems, is not happy about this.

It is generally agreed that Community Trade Mark application fees are too high.  One of the reasons for this is that the basic price for an application gives you the right to cite goods and services in three classes.  If you want to know more about how the classification system works, see my explanation here.  I’m guessing from Mr Goldsmith’s piece above referenced that there are a number of European countries in which this is the standard practice – not being a trade mark attorney this is not something that I have ever needed to know.  However, in the UK it has only ever (so far as I’m aware) been necessary to pay for your application in one class.

The result of this is that although it costs a base price of €900 to file an application for a Community Trade Mark (otherwise referred to as a “CTM”), in the UK it costs just £170.  (By the way, there’s no VAT on either.)  On the other hand, for your €900, you get not just an extra two classes of goods or services in your specification, but you get trade mark protection across the whole of the European Union, which I believe now extends to 30 countries, following the accession of Croatia, and about 300 million people.

This creates a number of problems.  First, the CTM application is unnecessarily complicated and expensive for SMEs who wish to file applications in just one or two classes (which is most of my clients).  Secondly, it makes the comparison between a UK and a CTM application difficult to explain to a client who is open to the latter but a little short of funds (again, most of my clients).  Third, those clients that do opt for a CTM but who are only really interested in one or two classes feel the need to cite all the three that they have been forced to pay for, filling the surplus classes with an unwanted clutter of goods and services that really they have little intention of using.

Excessive specification clutter (yes, that’s the phrase they use) then causes a problem for businesses who bother to check the trade mark registers before selecting a new brand.  If you’ve never heard of a trade mark or its proprietor and the mark itself is yet to be used in public, how do you know that really the owner intends to apply it only to clothing in class 25 and not for industrial oils and greases in class 4 or non-metallic building materials in class 19?

As you can see, this debate, whilst superficially dull, is actually quite relevant to brand owners and would-be brand owners around the world.  Especially those, like you, who are on a restricted budget.

So why is this an example of the frustration that lawyers create?

If you scroll to the bottom of Mr Goldsmith’s well-written article, you will see that he asks for comments from his colleagues.  However, of the four comments posted, only one partially contributes to the debate.  The other three and a half comment upon or castigate the author for his apparent use of the American spelling “trademark” as opposed to the English version “trade mark”. (In truth, I suspect that the spelling was changed in the sub-editing process.)

One of those comments includes the line:

“If we can’t get these things right, what hope is there for the clients?”

Really?

All around us, the profession is crumbling.  We face hitherto unknown financial pressures and competitive threats.  Lawyers have never been less valued by their clients or more disrespected by the public at large.  But of course what prospective clients are really interested in is whether we can spell the word “trade marks”.

If you’ve ever thought the lawyer you regretted consulting sat in an ivory tower unable actually to give you any useful advice, here’s your proof.  Were I not an aetheist, I think I would be seeking divine intervention by now…

Memory Tapes

This was not quite my first mix tape, but I think it might have been the second.  I came across it the other day.  I think the first one was better and was from about 1983 and had stuff like OMD, Depeche Mode, Duran Duran and all sorts of other good stuff.  I think this was 1984 and is my earliest survivor.  It’s recorded on a TDK D90…

Bird of Paradise – Snowy White

Love of the Common People – Paul Young

Hold Me Now – Thompson Twins

Club Tropicana – Wham

Waves – Blancmange (still think this is awesome)

Electric Dreams – Phil Oakey & Giorgio Moroder

Missing You – John Waite

Hello – Lionel Ritchie (a lot of soppy stuff on this tape…)

Too Late for Goodbyes – Julian Lennon (whatever happened to him)

Against All Odds – Phil Collins (really..?)

White Lines (Don’t Do It) – Grandmaster & Melle Mel (now that’s what I’m talking about)

You’re the Best Thing – Style Council

Small Town Boy – Bronski Beat

Lessons in Love – Level 42

Absolute Beginners – David Bowie

Invisible Touch – Genesis

Happy Hour – The Housemartins

Look Away – Big Country (such a loss)

Is This Love? – Whitesnake

Lies – Jonathan Butler (don’t remember that one at all)

Pretty in Pink – Psychedelic Furs (big sign-off!)

And if that’s not enough, the name of this tape is “Essential Edits”.  This is sooooo embarrassing but somehow I feel much better for it.

In my defence, may I add that the first 12” and 7” vinyl that I bought was Blondie – Parallel Lines and Cool for Cats by Squeeze back in 1978 at the age of 9, so I was a lot cooler in the 70s obviously…

A Stolen Bike and Why You Might Need a Lawyer Some Day

Daniel and Keith Lovejoy, picture courtesy and copyright of The Northern Echo

Courtesy of and (c) The Northern Echo

Seventeen year-old Daniel Lovejoy worked through his summer holidays and at the end, he spent £110.00 on an offroad bike.  Sadly for Daniel (but perhaps happily for those living near where he used to ride it) his bike was stolen when thieves broke into his father’s garage.  The next day, the bike was discovered nearby, having been dumped by the thieves.  Hurrah!

If only it was that simple.

The Police wouldn’t allow Daniel and his father Keith to retrieve the bike.  Instead, they recovered the bike and sent it for forensic examination.  Five weeks later, the justice system having apparently exhausted itself in this particular instance, Daniel was informed by letter that he could retrieve the bike if he paid £150.  And that if he failed to do so, the charge would rise by £10 a day for every additional day that it was stored beyond the two weeks he was given to retrieve it.

It’s funny how long it takes ordinary people to realise that so-called civil servants such as the police, health workers and educationalists etc aren’t actually there to look after us.  They aren’t, of course.  They are there to serve the objectives of the Government.  In my case it happened when, on reporting a break-in, I was told by a police officer that they wouldn’t be sending anybody round to have a look at the scene of the crime because there really wasn’t any chance of catching the culprits.  I was disillusioned.  Unsurprisingly in this case, Keith Lovejoy was furious.  He has written to his local councillor and to his MP but fears by now the bike may have been disposed of.

I’m not sure I ought to tell him this for fear that he might explode, but Daniel’s troubles may not be over.  Daniel may be charged an additional £50 for the disposal of the bike that was stolen from him.  And if that weren’t bad enough, since it’s unlikely that the police would recover at the auction of the bike anything like the storage charges that have been levied, the balance could be recovered from Daniel as a debt.

The case hit the local press this week and in a statement responding to Keith’s complaints, a spokesman for the local police force said that the collective hands of Durham Constabulary were tied.  It is a national scheme and the fees are set by the Government under the Removal and Disposal of Vehicles Regulations.

Actually, it’s The Removal, Storage and Disposal of Vehicles (Prescribed Sums and Charges etc.) Regulations 1989.  These regulations apply the fees applicable where the police or a local authority recover a vehicle under The Removal and Disposal of Vehicles Regulations 1986, which is itself brought about by section 99 onwards of The Road Traffic Act 1984.

But, you guessed it, it’s not that simple.

You see under regulation 4 of The Removal and Disposal of Vehicles Regs 1984, vehicles can be removed by the Police:

“where a vehicle… has been permitted to remain at rest on a road or on any land in the open air in such a position or in such condition or in such circumstances as to appear to a constable to have been abandoned without lawful authority.”

Which is interesting, because the concept of “abandonment” is a legal thing and it relates to the rightful owner of something effectively surrendering his title to that thing.  But wait… Daniel hadn’t abandoned his bike.  It had been stolen from him.  Therefore, he hadn’t abandoned it.  Which means the charges imposed by the Contract Vehicle Recovery Scheme don’t apply.

Now consider this.  The failure of which ever grey sector quango or contractor holding Dan’s bike to return it to him when demanded amounts to wrongful interference with goods – what we used to call “conversion”.  This is a “tort” – a civil wrong that could be the subject of action in the County Court.  Dan would be entitled to damages for the failure of the Police or whoever else may have control of his bike to return it to him upon demand.  He would doubtless also obtain a court order requiring the bike’s immediate release and, if the bike has been “disposed of”, he would get damages to the value of the bike.

This is the sort of thing that legal aid lawyers deal with all the time.  And it’s why you should think twice about supporting the Government’s proposals to scrap criminal legal aid and introduce price competitive tendering just because you think you would never be in a position where you’d need a lawyer to protect you and yours.

Join the campaign against PCT and the abolition of legal aid.  And give Dan his bike back.

 

Read more about this story in the pages of the very excellent Northern Echo

“Tell Me Straight Doc, Have I Caught Open Source?”

I have had no less than 3 different enquiries about the relationship between the GPL and proprietary software in the past fortnight, so I thought it about time I had another look at this. It’s an area that I used to be a bit of an expert years ago but haven’t looked at it in probably 7 years.  And that was before v3 of the GPL was even published.

The GNU FAQs are the obvious place to start but they are a bit dry and they focus mostly on the use and distribution of open source software rather than how you night use it within a proprietary software business model. Which is probably what you’d expect.  But it is the last word on the subject and it’s bang up to date, so if this is an issue, you should have a look here first.  And also have a look at the GPL (or the LGPL as appropriate), because after all, they were originally written by programmers, not lawyers, so you should find them less legalesy and more understandable than most American legal documents.

There’s a better explanation that is more on point at a resource called Sitepoint but bear in mind that (1) it’s written by an American lawyer and is based on US law (which is directly relevant on the issue of “derivative works”) and (2) it was written in 2001, which was long before v3 of the GPL was published.

Here’s my reading of it.  If you are linking to GPL modules but they don’t form an integral part of your programme, that’s fine.  You’re free to use the output of those modules to your hearts content.  So if you are building an app that sits on top of a GPL’ed platform like Moodle, then your app can connect to that platform and draw data from it via a plug-in, but as long as the plug-in is a discrete programme in its own right, even if you distribute it alongside your programme, you are free to use a proprietary licence for your software – only the plug-in would have to be subject to the GPL.  However, if you are using libraries that form part of a GPL package and those libraries then form an integral part of your software, your software will have to be released under the GPL – if you choose to release it.  However, many open source libraries are licensed under the Lesser GPL to get around precisely this difficulty, so check what the position is.

The other point to consider is are you actually releasing the software?  If you are merely charging people to use services on a SaaS model but you don’t actually distribute the software, you are not actually releasing the software at all so relax, all will be well.

Apologies for the presumption of some basic knowledge of this stuff – I would have written a more detailed introduction for the beginner but (1) I’m in the midst of a to-do list as long as your arm and (2) somehow I doubt there are many beginners out there that feel the need!

How to Make Yourself Unelectable (in one easy step)

The current fuss over a bill to require a referendum in 2017 misses the very first point that all law students learn in their first Constitutional Law session: no Parliament can be bound by the actions or predilections of any predecessor. So the proposed bill, whether it’s a private members bill or is government-sponsored, is entirely pointless.

When we use the word “Parliament”, we mean in essence the House of Commons as it is composed between general elections.  It’s a rule that came about during ‘the English wars’ after Charles I was deposed and the Roundheads were keen not to be bound by the parliaments that he had thrown together to do his bidding before his demise.  And it’s been like that ever since.

Anyway, back to the point.  Why would Tory backbenchers want to introduce a bill that serves no purpose?

What’s really happening here is that the Tories are convinced that if they simply say that they will introduce a referendum bill after the next general election, voters on the doorstep won’t believe them.  So they think that if they create a law that requires them to introduce such a bill after the election and they get back in, we’ll be convinced that they have no option but to introduce the referendum bill.  Even though the bill now contemplated would, at that point, be unconstitutional and meaningless.  And would be ignored were, lawks-a-mercy, Labour to get back in or the Lib Dems be involved in the next Government.

The usual Tory suspects really think you’ll fall for this.  Because they really think you are that stupid.

Are you?  Well, I guess we’ll see when this issue is debated in the run-up to the next election…

Nasty, Brutish and Short

“Solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”.  That’s how the philosopher Thomas Hobbes described life.  Of course, this was part of his treatise “Leviathon”, but it’s one of the few things I took away from the Political Philosophy module I was forced to take as part of my degree. It is a quote that I often reflect on when I hear news of bad things or when I receive knock backs and when I do, it’s invariably the “nasty and brutish” bit that I’m thinking of.

On the subject of the nasty and the brutish, my wife’s work as a barrister involves her extensively in the murky world of child abuse.  She is an expert in the field of historic abuse but in more recent cases, the internet, especially Facebook, plays a very big role.  Acting as an advocate for prosecution or defence is her main job but she also works part-time as a judge in the Crown Court.  While doing so late last year, she discussed this issue with a fellow Judge.  He reflected that Facebook had played a part in every single child abuse case he had dealt with that year.  Needless to say, Amanda is very much NOT a fan of Facebook or of Twitter or of social networking and media generally.

Whilst listening to the radio yesterday (Sunday) morning, a train of thought started in my head concerning Amanda’s old university friend Julie Saville.  Julie and Amanda had driven across America together and Julie had been a bridesmaid at our wedding back in 1996 (here’s a picture of her).  I had met her a few times and in 1998, shortly before emigrating to the USA, she came to spend a weekend with us at our first home, a little terraced house in Thetford.
Julie at our wedding, 7th September 1996.

Julie at our wedding, 7th September 1996.

Julie was one of those unfortunate people born with no conventional sense of humour.  That’s not to say she was a very serious person.  With her blonde hair and ready smile, those who knew her informally might reasonably have described her as “ditsy”.  I spent most of my time with her cracking jokes, trying to get her laugh instinctively.  However, the outcome was invariably that the delivery of the punchline was followed by a brief silence after which Julie would rock her head back, close her eyes and issue forth a breathy laugh.  I am not sure that she was aware that I knew that her laugh was false but whether I did or not was not the point.  The point was that she didn’t want me to feel bad because she hadn’t understood the joke.

But the glint in those green eyes of hers betrayed a steely sense of determination.  Julie was a teacher but her ambition was to run a school as soon as possible, she was already by that time acting-headteacher of her school in West Yorkshire.  She was barely 30.  My recollection is that she was offered the chance to take a role as deputy Principal of a school in New York and that the role came with a green card.  That might not have been quite how it was, but whatever the situation, she jumped at the chance.  We didn’t hear from her after she left but we would occasionally joke that she probably had no time at all, that she was likely running the education system there now and probably had met a nice local man and married him.

I thought: what a lovely opportunity to demonstrate to Amanda that Facebook could do wonderful things, like reconnecting old friends, rather than just being used by evil people to manipulate and harm.  So I set to Googling for Julie and I soon found her.  She had been appointed as the first head teacher of the newly formed British School of Boston.  On 23 September 2000, just a few weeks into the school’s very first term, Julie drove home as usual.  Taking the exit from the motorway, she came face to face with an SUV being driven in the wrong direction, chased by police cars.  The car ploughed into Julie’s VW Golf.  Julie was taken to hospital and died there later that night.

The driver of the other car, a woman named Martha Powers, was drunk.  It was the third time that she had been found drunk at the wheel of a car.  She was convicted and sentenced to three years imprisonment.  The local paper described what followed as an “outpouring of grief”.  A charity, Julie’s Fund, was set up in her name and every year the children of the British School of Boston raise money for the fund, the proceeds of which go to schools in deprived neighbourhoods.

To have discovered this about an old friend unexpectedly would be shock enough.  But to find that it had happened over twelve years ago, literally a lifetime ago – our eldest, now 11, did not arrive until December of the following year.  That has sparked in my mind such a curious combination of emotions that I don’t know quite where to start.  My first concern was for Amanda.  Would it be better to leave her thinking that one of her old friends was still doing what she loved in the country she had adopted as home?  And that one day we would reconnect and reminisce about that wonderful weekend in the Yorkshire Dales?  But those that know Amanda won’t be surprised to hear that she soon realised that there was something on my mind and with her years of experience, it didn’t take her long to drag it out of me.

I didn’t know Julie very well, but I knew her well enough to know that she was a lovely, friendly woman but one who was clearly also single-minded and talented in her chosen profession.  And I, as somebody who didn’t know her particularly well, feel a sense of being bereft, but at the same time, something of a sense of shame that I hadn’t tried to make contact with her before.  And somehow, it feels a bit odd, to feel quite so unsettled by the loss of someone we had last seen almost 15 years ago and who died 12 years ago.

So here we are, with Julie long gone, wondering what we are to make of it all.  It’s a bit much to take in, I suppose.  But one thing I am sure of is that for Julie, life was neither solitary nor poor and it was never nasty or brutish.  But it was short.  Much too short.

Julie, we have only just started to miss you.

“I’m From The Government and I’m Here to Help… Finance Your Business”

A piece in this morning’s Guardian gives voice to the criticisms of businesses and commentators over the use of funds by the Technology Strategy Board.  It’s slow, it’s bureaucratic, it’s unaccountable. Yada-yada-yada.  Oh, where to start…

The Guardian reports “entrepreneurs are complaining that the significant amount of time it takes to apply for [a TSB grant] is an investment they can’t afford”.

There are 3 ways to raise money to finance your business, people.  Three ways.  Debt finance (people lend you money), equity finance (you sell some of your business in return for money) or grants.  They each have benefits.  They each have drawbacks.  If you want to raise money through grants, yippee, it’s free money.

Well, no, it’s not free money.  It’s not free at all.  You have to jump through hoops to get it and when you’ve got it, you have to account for how it’s spent.  Sometimes you spend days preparing the paperwork and you get knocked back by some bureaucrat who hasn’t bothered to get to grips with your business and your needs and there’s no right of appeal.  What do you want? A medal? Stop your whinging and get on with finding an alternative to fulfil your plans.  Jeesh…

The Guardian reports the words of Andrew Carroll (founder of Paperless Receipts, who, and we’ll take this one step at a time, it quotes as saying:

“We went to the Government for our first round of funding…”.

Er, hello?  Grants should never be seen as a first round of funding.  NEVER.  You simply cannot build a business plan for a growth-oriented enterprise that is based on the availability of a grant.  If the only way you can get your business moving is with a grant, it’s not a business.  I don’t mean that it’s not worth doing.  It’s just not a business.  Not yet, anyway.

Grants are subject to the whims of politicians and the career ambitions of civil servants.  They are used as a power play by the grey sector – that sphere of business that exists somewhere between the public and private sectors, notionally private or at least independent of government but entirely dependent on the flow of public sector capital.  NONE OF THIS SHOULD BE NEWS TO YOU.  If it is, go back to your lab or your studio and leave the business to the grown-ups.

Andrew Carroll continues:

“… and found the process of doing it laborious and lengthy, to the point that it’s just impossible to actually get [eek split infinitive] anywhere in any reasonable timescale.”

First, see above re. the cost of using grants to finance your business.  Second, just what is a reasonable timescale?  If the development of your project depends upon the availability of grant funding, you had better build the requisite timescales into your planning.  Those timescales are the timescales that an organisation like the TSB works to.  That could easily mean a year passing before you get the green light to proceed with a really adventurous project.  You, supposedly being in business, might consider that “unreasonable”.  In reality, it is neither reasonable nor is it unreasonable.  It is what it is.  Stop whinging and get on with it.

“I have a number of friends who have had to turn to venture capitalists because they’ve found the TSB process impossible.”

Really, venture capitalists?  Surely it’s not that bad?

Are you serious?  This guy needs a reality check.  If a VC (or a private investor) is prepared to invest in a project, it’s because s/he sees a return.  Here’s the rub.  You may not yet see the project as a business, but the VC/investor does.  Ergo, it is a business.  And if somebody is prepared to give you money because they see a return, then that’s the appropriate source of money for you, not the Government.  Grants from the likes of the TSB should only ever be for instances where no private sector finance (by which I mean equity finance, since debt finance will not be appropriate at this stage).

Why wouldn’t a VC invest in this situation?  Usually because the prospect of a return is too distant or the technical risk is too great.  Or maybe because the market is too small and does not justify the investment, in which case there could easily be merit in public sector finance provision.  But if this doesn’t apply and you still can’t raise the money, guess what.  You’re on your own.  Or you would be, were it not for the curious notion that the welfare state should extend to business-building.

Now, you might think that these things are pulled out of the Guardian in isolation, given it’s particular reputation for views on these things.  But the Huff Post carried a story this afternoon headlined “British Science Faces ‘Valley of Death’ say MPs”.  The piece reviews the publication of a report by the House of Commons Science and Technoloy Committee.  The Huff Post summarises the report as saying:

“it was “troubling” that so many British technology start-ups have to be acquired by foreign companies before they can grown into thriving businesses”.

Committee chairman Andrew Miller is reported as saying:

“British entrepreneurs are being badly let down by a lack of access to financial support and a system that often forces them to sell out to private equity investors or larger foreign companies to get ideas off the ground.”

Curse those private equity investors and larger foreign companies with their pots of money and willingness to finance our ideas.

And the TSB is criticised for having a lousy record in backing winners.  Good, I say.  I WANT the TSB to give money to things that only have a remote chance of success.  Because that’s the best way of making sure that the person whose ideas are being financed really doesn’t have a more appropriate option for raising money.  So, it’s the best way to guarantee that when there’s a success, it is something that would never have seen the light of the day were it not for the funding.

I have spent a lot of time listening to the Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders podcast series, which is part of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program. (I think that should be “Programme”. Tsk, colonials…).  It is very interesting to compare the approaches taken by businesses growing out of Stanford’s enterprise programme and the contrast with our own approach.  There are grants available in the USA in order to encourage beneficial research for which no equity finance is yet ready to support.  But you would NEVER hear a Stanford graduate describe grant funding as their “first round of funding”.  If equity finance is not available, a Stanford entrepreneur might be encouraged to seek finance from a ‘foundation’, that being an organisation set up by philanthropists to support certain ideals.  But grant funding would never be the first option.  Apart from anything else, life is too short.  Especially life in Silicon Valley.

I am no apologist for the Technology Strategy Board.  But if you think they are there to be a conventional source of finance because you don’t want to give away any ownership or you’re not prepared to bootstrap or not willing to keep schlepping the finance trail, it’s you that’s wrong, not them.