Friday, April 18, 2008

Notes from mEga 180408 workshop


Workshop 3a – Feasibility 1

Private Equity Investors: Business Angels & Venture Capitalists

Noel J Lindsay, PhD FCPA

Professor of Entrepreneurship Commercialisation and Innovations Centre

Faculty of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences, University of Adelaide

Who are business angels and venture capitalist?

Developing an Entrepreneurial Business: Key Drivers need to be balanced:

Based on: "Timmons Model of the Entrepreneurial Process.

Jeffry Timmons, Stephen Spinelli, New Venture Creation: Entrepreneurship for the 21st Century, Harvard Business School Press

- Business Opportunity
- Resources
- Team to take business forward – with a ‘lead’ founder

These need to be adequately balanced
Other considerations:
- Business Plan
- Sustainability: for Environment, Community and Society

Types of Finance:
- External Funds – debt (funds obtained for the company that need to be repaid … generally with interest); equity – (funds obtained for the company in exchange for ownership of the company); Grants – (Funds obtained for the company that do not need to be repaid nor which involved ownership; Banks – (will require evidence of good cash flow and some form of ‘security’)
- Internal Funds – Profits, sale or reduction of assets, extended payment terms, accounts receivables
- Sources of Finance: personal funds, family and friends, bootstrap finance, employees, banks, larger corporates, government grants/loans, business angels, venture capitalists, Initial Public Offering on the Stock Exchange (IPOs), other

Venture Financing Life Cycle (and sources of Finance): Concept, Startup (Friends, Family, Fools), Early Growth (Business Angels), High Growth (Venture Capitalists), Maturity (Merchant Banks)

Playford Capital - Playford Capital invests seed capital in early-stage South Australian companies. We provide funding, advice and contacts for technology-based businesses in a broad range of industries

Newness (Invention) & Value Added – where these overlap you have “Innovations”. Innovations is required as there are plenty of inventions registered at Patent offices around the world which have not ‘hit the marketplace’.

Team is of utmost importance – entrepreneurship of team members is very important. Investors invest in ‘people’ and their integrity and entrepreneurship – and not the ‘widgets’ or ‘inventions’ or ‘ideas’.

Sources of Risk Capital: Business Angels
- high net worth individuals, who use their own money
- people who seek equity in an unlisted company in exchange for their own capital
- tend to be middle aged males with business/professional backgrounds
- goal is to grow the company and hence share in the capital gains
- different from institutional investors (venture capitalists, etc) as they often want to take an active role – look for someone who will ‘add value’or increase the ‘credibility’ to your business

How do we find Business Angels? – personal networks, business networks, social networks, accountants and lawyers, introduction registers

OPR – other people’s resources – always try to use other people’s resources or money – even if you have the resources yourself.

Business Angel Deal Focus:
- can invest up to $200,000 of their own money
- often target earlier stage ventures … often high tech, entrepreneurial ventures
- often heave a ‘psychic affinity’ with the deal
- May use a syndicate

Sources of Risk Capital: Venture Capitalists
- Are institutional Investors (they don’t use their own money – ie OPR)
- Investments size: generally > $1m – looking for a high rate of return on investment
- may use syndicates
- manage funds of large financial institutions
- do not want to have management input but want Board representation
- once they invest, typically they are relatively patient
- relatively easy to locate
- they will ‘add value’ to your business through their networks and expertise

How to we find Venture Capitalist?

Types of Business Risks which Venture Capitalists will investigate: development risk, production risk, market risk, management risk

How the Enterpreneur Game is Played
- grow the pie – forget about the size of the slices (but make sure that no other invester has > 50%) – you grow your business through either the development of products or markets
- don’t worry about voting control
- focus on maximsing profits and an IPO
- understanding rapidly growing businesses are short of cash
- money that is invested in tbe business stays in the business
- increased value of the business comes from increased profitability & converting from a private to a public company
- raising cash is an ongoing process of capital placements: dilution is continual
- divide and conquer investors

Critical variables affecting finance availability and cost
- milestones achieved to date
- investor’s perceived risk
- industry and technology
- upside potential of venture
- timing of expected exit
- expected growth rate of venture
- venture age and stage of development
- investor’s required ROI
- capital required and valuation of venture
- founder vision – should have a ‘time horizon’ and should be measurable, can have more than 1 ‘founder’, but investors will want to see a ‘lead founder’
- relative bargaining positions

Structuring the Deal
- Use of Equity Hybrids – convertible notes (loan from investor, interest payable – investor may want to convert to ‘shares’ if business starts to do well – if business runs into difficulty then the ‘lendor’ is likely to get some of their money back during the ‘winding up’ of the business), convertible redeemable preference shares
- tranches – subject to performance criteria – milestone payments
- claw-backs – on performance, entrepreneur gains from investor, investor gains from entrepreneur, no ceiling and floors, can be ‘mutual’
- voting – Board – one vote per Director, shareholders – as per shareholding, special resolutions – winding up

Negotiating the Deal
- the entrepreneur’s bargaining position is influenced in part by the venture’s free cash flow determinants: cash burn rate, time to ‘out of cash’, time to close the deal

What are Opportunities?
- entrepreneurs use thei rcreativitiy to turn ideas into opportunities
- opportunities have the qualities of being atrractice, durable, abd timely and are anchored in products or services that create or add value for buyers or end users
- opportunity is like

Risk/Return Relationships – Low, Medium, High Risks affect the rate of return. The higher the risk, the expected higher level of return

Where are opportunities often found?
Opportuntities are spawned when there are:
- adversity/problems being faced
- changing circumstances
- chaos/confusion/uncertainly
- inconsistencies in the market
- time lags or leads in the availability of information
- knowledge or information gaps

Some Underlying Opportunity Cues
- industry and market issues – customer need, large market, growing market, market share attainable, are a price maker, bargaining power of customers are suppliers is low
- financial issues – high Net Profit after Tax (NPAT) and high gross profit margins, breakeven and positive cash flow within two years, high ROI potential, reasonable capital requirements, low asset intensity, rent roll
- harvest issues – value added potential, high potential valuation multiples, planned exit mechanisms and strategy
- strategic differentiation issues – exceptional proprietary technology capable of spawning multiple products, long lead time needed to copy technology, strategic alliances in place, distribution channels in place, sustainable competitive advantage, entry barriers, few or no substitutes, scaleable, endorsements, no fatal flaws

What do Investors Look for in Deals?
Adversity – Size of the Market
What is the opportunity? – not the product – you shouldn’t on the ‘product’ to sell the business idea.
Why are people going to buy your product? What are the financial benefits? Where are the market niches/advantages?
We have an exceptional team….

What is the Business Opportunity underpinning your Business? Why is it an opportunity?
Opportunity Screening Instrument: Copyright Noel Lindsay 2008
- Need/Issue/Challenge
- Target Market
- Product
- Sustainable Competitive Advantage (SCA)
- Financial Performance
- Harvestability
- Strategic Differentiation Issues

Building the Team: Filling the Gaps
Team composition will depend on
- importance of the team
- insights into building winning entrepreneurial teams
- entrepreneurial team philosophies
- common team pitfalls
– technical know-how; all other functional know-how of the business covered ie sales/marketing, finance, legal, clearly defined ‘leader’; psychological make-up/profile of the team – do you ‘complement’ one another – able to deal with conflict, ie are they: doers, thinkers, carers; team egos – can use the model of ‘Enneagram of Personality
- if you have ‘gaps’ or ‘weaknesses’ in your team – identify them and how you might address them

Key Items in the Shareholder Agreement
- scope of the venture’s operations – now and in the future, shareholder restraint provisions
- contributions of each shareholder – job specifications
- how the venture will be managed – who makes what decisions, majority versus unanimous
- exit and introduction of shareholders – valuation, preemptive rights (to other shareholders), exit mechanisms
- intellectual property – now and in the future

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Developing RPL systems which supports today's flexible and responsive training system

When somebody approaches a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) to enrol in a Qualification, they will often already have some existing experiences/skills related to this Qualification.

Whilst discussing with this potential 'student/client' the type of training they would like to undertake, the conversation will often draw out these experience/skills.

For example: "I have been been the 'Secretary' for my local community organisation, and have been taking the Minutes of Meeting, helping to organise fundraising events, writing letters to local business/councils ... ".
This conversation should automatically prompt the Practitioner to offer an assessment of these existing experiences/skills as part of the 'Recognition of Prior Learning' (RPL) process.
However, this is not always the case.

Traditionally, the process of RPL has been seen as a labourious task, with the responsibility placed onto the student/client, to translate the 'VET jargon' of 'elements' and 'performance criteria' of each 'unit', to gather often hard to get, historical evidence, with the guidance of only a long checklist.

This process has been 'supported' through the need of RTO to provide appropriate evidence for auditing purposes of this form of assessment. Often the RPL process was so ownerous, that the Practitioner and student considered it easier to enrol and do the unit than go through the RPL process.

In February 2006, however, COAG made a strong contribution to addressing the Skills Shortages, by announcing that "Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is an essential feature of a flexible and responsive training system. The commitment of additional resources by COAG to increase the recognition of skills in times of skill shortages is an important initial step. All workers should have access to RPL prior to commencing training."

This was a big 'wake up call' for RTOs
But this was not going to be an easy task, and there was the need to identify 'best practice' examples of "RPL Well done".
Each State and Territory was then given COAG RPL funding, 'matched' by the State/Territory Government, "to build the capacity and capability of RTO’s working with industry to value existing skills of workers and enterprises", and develop RPL processes which would:

- develop easy to access and understand (ie non-VET jargon) RPL information processes which supported and guided students/clients through the RPL process, with the lead of a Practitioner/Assessor
- create conversations, through a system of 'training needs analysis', which would help Practitioners/Assessors identify students'/clients' existing experience/skills, as potential RPL, before any training was started
- allow Practitioners/Assessors to use their 'Professional Judgement' to determine whether a student/client was 'competent' and what evidence was required to verify this, and how the Practitionery/Assessor might access this information
The COAG funding has been used slightly differently in each State/Territory, however, the main outcomes have been to:
- upskill existing Practitioners/Assessors/RTOs to develop suitable RPL systems which cater for the needs of their industry
- challenge current Practitioner/Assessor/RTO mindsets and cultures surrounding the RPL process
- enable Practitioners/Assessors and RTO Auditors to develop their understanding of 'Professional Judgement' in the RPL process
- incorporate Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)/e-tools and resources, which support the RPL process - particularly in the areas of information provision and tracking of evidence
- encourage Practitioners/Assessors to share their RPL process through Communities of Practice (RPL Network online RON; My Connected Community MC2)
A range of ICT/e-tools and resources have been identified to support the RPL process:

- pod/vodcasts, e-Portfolios, digital stories, DVD/CDs, Learning Management Systems, blogs/wikis etc
These 'tools/resources' will, however, NOT replace the role of the Practitioner as the RPL Assessor, but could provide guidance and support to aid the RPL process, provided they have a presented in a 'humanistic/user-friendly' model.
What ways are you/your organisation doing to develop systems of RPL which support today's flexible and responsive training system?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Building Capability in the 21st Century

Vocational Education and Training (VET) practitioners provide training across a vast array of industries and enterprises in Australia. Not only do they need to be capable of doing what is required of them as the 'facilitator', 'lecturer', 'teacher', 'trainer' - they also need to be able to contribute towards:

- achieving their organisation's strategic goals
- achieving State and Federal Government Skills Reform Agendas, as well as
- achieving their own professional development objectives

This requires a diverse range of skills from the 'New VET Practitioner' in the 21st Century.

In order for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs), both Public and Private, to help build their own staff's capabilities they will need to:

- develop an Organisational Capability Framework which reflects the organisation's strategic goals
- improve the way they manage their Staff Performance, and
- provide a supportive e-Portfolio system which enables staff to manage their own learning and performance outcomes.

"Building individual capability requires people to value their own worth, build on their strengthens, know what they lack, be self-aware and, above all follow their hearts and passions. They need to take ownership and responsibility, plan their career while keeping their eyes open for opportunities, and be able to sell their ideas effectively. This requires a fair degree of self motivation, as well as an awareness of the wider world in which they are operating. Effective mentoring and support (especially from management) help as well, but people also need to take risks, be innovative with their own learning and prepared to fail. They also need to connect their personal learning to the organisation's goals." (1)

Perhaps it is not only the 21st Century VET Practitioner who needs to build their capabilities - the VET RTO also needs to ....

(1) Hugh Guthrie, Having your say: Views from the Sector on enhancing vocational education and training provider capability, NCVER, 2008

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Connect. Enrich life. And provide comfort

I think I'm at a point in my life when relationship breakups and deaths are more common than weddings and births.

Whilst mentoring some of the TAFE SA Financial Services staff last Monday, I found out that one of our Colleague's husband had passed away on the previous Friday. This shouldn't have been too much of a shock, since the husband has been fight lymphatic cancer for a long time - however the reality of actually hearing that he'd passed away was still a surprise.

It was important for me to attend the funeral. I have known this Colleague since starting at TAFE SA in 2001. She was the lady who actually picked my resume out of a bundle - and thought I remindered her of herself - ex-High School Teacher, traveller, etc. She 'took me under her wing' and mentored me into the 'TAFE way' of doing things. She always had time to help me and always showed me the unmost of respect and encouragement. And, she often would tell people that she 'employed' me and I'd reply with - "yes - you were the one who 'let me loose' in TAFE", which we both would laugh about.

I hadn't see her much recently since moving out of TAFE SA Business Services into roles with the Australian Flexible Learning Framework and TAFE SA Teaching & Learning, however, I needed to show my support to her by going to the funeral.

As funerals go - this was a 'beautiful' funeral - a heart warming eulogy of this man's life - highlighting how his show of positive strength throughout his illness allowed him to live 14 years from first being diagnosed. My friend and her 2 adult children also showed strength throughout the service.

And it was a 'reality check' of our mortality - he was only 57 years old.

There was a beautiful 'wake' held in the gardens of the Church following the funeral and there were a few other Colleagues present who I hadn't seen for a while - funny how funerals can do that - bring people together . The other funny thing was, that I would be seeing some of these Colleagues the next morning - as I was running a Moodle workshop for the TAFE SA Financial Services Quality Assurance Group (QAG).

So driving home in the car I got to thinking: how could I help the Colleagues feel 'inspired' at this Moodle workshop when they were probably feeling just like me - flat, exhausted and wondering why? life's too short anyway....

These thoughts continued through the evening and I tweeted "wondering how to inspire colleagues at workshop tomorrow after attending a funeral with them today" and the wonderful Diane Cordell shared her wisdom - she tweeted: "include something about connections to enrich life and provide human contact and comfort" - and these few words opened up my 'ideas' door.

Of course - make a connection between what we were doing and the people involved in the workshop and who attended the funeral and the poor Colleague who had lost her husband.

So at the start of the workshop on Friday I:
- described how we think of a QAG as the 'official' quality assurance of TAFE SA Financial Services, and how it was important for 'auditing' purposes, but also how the Group acted as a Community of Practice, providing support, encouragement, strength, inspiration, friendship and comradery.
- then I asked the participants to tell at least one other person in the room 1 positive thing they have gotten from being a part of the QAG -and then we shared these as a whole group - in true 'Marie Jasinski' style - there were lollies for everyone who shared.
- and then I tied all of this together by saying: "There's a Colleague who couldn't be with us today, who also has given us all support, encouragement, strength, inspiration, friendship and comradery - and she now needs all of us to do likewise for her - pls - give her a call, send her a message or card or simply say a pray or have a thought for her - she needs you to give her support, encouragement, strength, inspiration, friendship and comradery over the next couple of months.

I also realised on the way in in the car to this workshop that it was this same Colleague who also encouraged me to my first QAG meeting in 2001 - and the funny thing was - there were still some members of this group who were at my first QAG meeting at the workshop on Friday ;).

Connect. Enrich life. And provide comfort.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Notes from mEga 120408 workshop


Workshop 2: Idea Generation and Evaluation Workshop:

Idea Generation Method #1

Graeme Kennelly


Why is it important to have objective?
- What do you want to do?
- A measure
- Are we there yet?
- Pathways
- Targets

What type of objectives do we need - three ‘You’s’ in your objectives:
- mEgaSA
- My Team
- Me

mEga objectives:
- increase the size and capability of the mobile applications and content industry
- increase exports of mobile entertainment and applications produces

Making Objectives:
- Where do we want to be?
- What do we want to create?
- What do we want to achieve?
- What do we want to earn?
- What do we want to learn?
- What do we want for our families?
- What do we want others to do?

This has nothing to do with products or ideas

My Team’s Original Objectives:

1. To ‘get the vibe’ of mobile application product development – 20%
2. To ‘hang out’ with what’s current in the area of m-learning - 20%
3. To ‘ride the wave’ of a workable system, using m-learning principles – 80%

Our Team didn’t need to ‘compromise’ their objectives with the individual’s own objectives. We felt that our own objectives were all very similar, and included:

- achieve rich media multimodal delivery
- achieve delivery of content to mobile devices
- achieve engaging educational mobile platform
- to learn and grow
- to inspire others to achieve their potential
- to become competent in the process for developing mobile applications
- to get a ‘vibe’ for the state of mobile technology and applications
- to learn how to ‘surf and ride’ waves
- to improve my knowledge of mobile industries
- to become enthused and passionate about what to do again
- to find an interesting job that meets no 2 & no 1 if my learning meet no 2
- be really useful
- use my brains and talent
- travel and share above

The Art of Business in not ‘necessarily’ the same as the Art of War

Often it is better to come up with a consensus for the benefit of the team

Generating Ideas:

Step 1: state the objective

Step 2: brainstorm – DO: speak up, expand on each other’s ideas, write down ideas; DON’T – evaluate, attach names, don’t say: ‘it won’t work’, ‘that’s a dumb idea’, ‘it will cost too much’

Step 3: prioritise: A = MUST DO, B = SHOULD DO, C = Could do later if we don’t have anything else going on.

Did each team get some ideas? Did you get some ‘A’ ideas? Use ‘red’ dots to vote which objectives our team should evaluate/investigate.

Rapid Evaluation Method

Health Warning: Not to be used as a basis for any form of financial analysis or business plan or even for borrowing from your mum or dad.

Back of the Envelope (BOTE) Exercise

Units x Price/Time = ____ units x $___ = $_____

Total Sales: $________


Development $_________

Production $_________
Total Costs: $­­_________

(Sales-Costs) /Sales = Your Gross Profit Margin > 40%? – “Graeme’s Margin”

Why 40% Gross Profit Margin?

Revenue = Sales

Production Costs 60%, therefore 40% Gross Profit need to over [General Selling and Admin 20%, R&D 5%, Net Profit 15%]

This activity will help you think about: How much do you think that you can sell? How much will the idea cost to produce?

When presenting your ideas….
- choose a spokesperson
- don’t contradict
- keep it simple
- tell a story
- solve a problem
- use an analogy
- and most importantly – keep if brief

Idea Generation Method #2

So.. we have an idea! – looking good – but have we missed something?

Think outside the BOX!

From the moment we are born we are building boundaries to creativity

Innocence: ‘you don’t know what’s not possible’ to ‘boundaries of reason’ – the problem: we can’t control these - how do you get outside the box? – chance, accident or mistake, madness – Provocation – we deliberately provoke our thoughts

So … We can provoke some creative thinking. Where does this creativity come from? Any thoughts?

Exercise in Provocation:
- take one of your ‘B’ or ‘C’ ideas from before and one of the cards from the deck (generated from a random word generator)
- Now start thinking of things you might be able to do with both of these together
- Write down all the ideas generated

Other ways of trying to ‘get outside the box’: visual, physical, comedy, pain/feeling, stimulants, anarchy, taste/smell/touch/hearing/see,

How others do it –

Che Metcalfe, Founder
Kukan Studio and Podmo mobile

Generating ideas:
- allow naivety to lead you
- don’t be constrained by what you ‘should’ do – just do want feels natural
- be market driven – what’s needed

More on Evaluation
What else do we need to evaluate? – can we do it? Is there a market? Match your objectives? Are there any Competitors? Development costs? Do we have the technology? Has someone already thought of it? Profit? What resources do we have?

Competitive Advantage
- who else is doing this?
- Are they good at it? Why? Why not?
- Why would we be good at this?
- Can we sell it?
- Who needs it?
- Why do they need it?
- How much will they pay for it?

- What do we need to make this happen?
- Have we got it?
- Where, when, how can we get it?
- How much will it costs?
- Do we have the skills, structure, capital to be able to do this?
- Can we get it? What, where, when, how?
Who do we know that has what we need? Or do we know someone who might know someone?

Group Presentation of our Team’s Idea:
Target Customer
Number of Sales ____over ___ years
Price per Sale (Average) $_______
Graeme’s Margin = ___ %
# 1 Competitive Advantage:
# 2 Competitive Advantage:
# 1 Resource Issue:
# 2 Resource Issue:


How does the idea make you feel?

What would your family and friends say about how you will feel about this idea?

How will you feel about this idea at various steps along the way? – development; pitch; launch; breakeven; growth; exiting

You will need to live and breathe this stuff, choose something that you are passionate about.

The Difficult Choice: When it gets difficult – go back your objectives; when that gets difficult – follow the money; and when that gets to difficult – follow your values