24 Nov 2014

UK's new initiative for digital entrepreneurship: Digital Business Academy

Online course for free by Judge and UCL; I've got to sign up to see whether the MBA (esp. Marketing) was worth paying for the high tuition.
The Digital Business Academy, a joint venture by Cambridge university’s Judge Business School, UCL, Tech City and start-up course designer Founder Centric (FT, 2014)

Two of the world’s top academic institutions (i.e. Cambridge Judge Business School and University College London*) decided to start free online courses of business topic** for 'those that have shunned formal education in favour of entrepreneurship to obtain some formal business training'. (FT, 2014)

* Where are other two?
**The list as of today covers eight courses:
  1. Size up your idea
  2. Set up a digital business
  3. Develop and Manage a digital product
  4. Make a marketing plan
  5. Build a brand
  6. Understand Digital Marketing Channels
  7. Run a digital marketing campaign
  8. Master finance for your business
Financial Times. Online course opens to sharpen start-up minds. 19 Nov 2014. Available from: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/bc7f0ca2-6e70-11e4-afe5-00144feabdc0.html

23 Nov 2014


Admittedly, the story was a bit long and ended too happily? But that is not the point of the film. I would say, the story (e.g. going through a wormhole to reach another galaxy) and characters (e.g. the captain's son, Dr. Mann, etc.) were rather made up and thoughtfully ordered to just let a person (and a machine) going beyond the event horizon into the black hole (and somehow, however weirdly, he has not experienced 'spaghettification' by the strong gravity of the black hole). Period.
I know people love spacecrafts, but this was not super cool unfortunately.
Our imagination is highly bounded in timespace, or three dimensions and time. This film at least tried to reconstruct the boundaries of audience's imagination. Also, it amazingly showed how a film can show the advanced science of modern physics into the screen (of course with its budget of $160 million and more).

The last quarter or half hour or so was just amazingly structured to put all the mysterious pieces/scenes into one great big, clear picture on how this film ends. That part made it worth seeing the bit boring first half of the film. As some said, a good Science Fiction is also a good Mystery, indeed.

Might be a good idea to see 9 films that inspired the director. I should start with Metropolis as it was also recommended in the Film History evening classes at Imperial College London, as it affected a lot of science fiction films, notably Blade Runner.
    1. Star Wars (1977)
    2. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
    3. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
    4. Alien (1979)
    5. Metropolis (1927)
    6. Blade Runner (1982)
    7. The Right Stuff (1983)
    8. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
    9. The Mirror (1975)
    * Happy is here half questioned because all the scenes after the event horizon could be just an imaginary memory of the farmer-turn-back-pilot who dreams a feasible return to the earth to see his daughter. Who knows?

    20 Nov 2014

    SVC2UK 2014

    The theme of this year's Silicon Valley Comes to the UK was a bit scattered, at least to me, compared with the last year's focus on med tech and how to cope with chronic diseases in the advance economy. I got some good hints on how da hardware startup should grow and learn its operational capability throughout the years of its journey to scaling up abroad. Note: it will take long time (5-10 years to become sustainable) so you'd better be prepared for the longevity.

    Walking through St. John's College early in the morning, while developing my thoughts as follows.

    Another personal finding is that I would not be able to like the Silicon Valley's culture of 'hyper high tension'. It is way too much for me, or I just became too old or introversial to accept it. I do understand that kind of way of making a rather emotional momentum in the market would do good for entrepreneurs and venture capitalists who want money.

    However so, for example, why people think Uber is changing the world? By utilising unutilised vehicles for the era of new sharing economy? As far as people move around, however, the energy consumption would be more or less same. Its $17 bn valuation, or value will be just captured from other transportation modes, unless it starts transportation services by self-drive car, which will be totally something new and existing service providers won't start as it is too risky and legally unclear who in the end is responsible and liable for any damage a self-drive car makes.

    From Uber's blog:
    We have some exciting news to share this morning. We have just closed a financing round with some of the leading investors in the world, raising $1.2B of primary capital at a $17B pre-money valuation. The total raise will be about $1.4B with a second close of strategic investors soon. We are thrilled to have top tier institutional investors, mutual funds, private equity and venture capital partners joining us.

    14 Nov 2014

    The Imitation Game

    We saw the film in the first day of its running. It was a good entertainment film for a Friday evening, but not a thing that moves you, indeed. I enjoyed how Benedict plays one of the most intelligent people the world once had (and miserably lost). Frankly speaking, without Benedict Cumberbatch, the storytelling was rather boring and could not go beyond my expectation. Yes, maybe I was not the target audience of the film, since I am a big fan of Turing Machine etc. as a Science Fiction lover.

    The Imitation Game (3.5 stars out of 5)

    13 Nov 2014

    Seed funding situation in the UK 2014 Q1

    According to Beauhurst's Equity Investment Review (free part), in 2014 Q1,
    there were 72 deals at the seed-stage and investment amounts were disclosed for 46 of these, totaling £52m.
    So the simple average was £1.13m per seed deal, which seems a quite reasonable target for us after a year or so. What's more, 14 deals were done by Crowdcube and Jenson Seed EIS Fund, managed by Jenson Solutions. I am not familiar with those guys, so I should follow up those two key players.

    Other VCs, including venture or growth investment players, mentioned in the report are Business Growth Fund, Index Ventures, Albion Ventures, Balderton Capital, Accel Partners. The Cambridge MBA programme had exposure to Index Ventures and Accel Partners, if I remember correctly. Not too bad.

    4 Nov 2014

    What's different between entrepreneurs and turnaround managers?

    As I worked in a boutique consulting firm which is good at a hands-on turnaround of a distressed firm, I have witnessed successes and failures of several turnaround managers. Now I step into an entrepreneurial world, I just summarise how I learnt would be beneficial to my entrepreneurial career going forward.

    Entrepreneurs and turnaround managers appear quite different; however some important characteristics would be shared: especially, both of them have to demonstrate strong leadership to face and overcome difficult situations.

    What is different?
    • Obviously, entrepreneurs are those who make one from zero, while turnaround managers are who turn minus into plus. Especially in the initial phase, turnaround managers would focus on streamlining existing operations and cost bases, while entrepreneurs try and error how to make revenues.
    • In other words, turnaround managers have to decide which existing business, products, and customers to be terminated; whilst entrepreneurs have to figure out where to start its business.
    • Entrepreneurs can do hands-on management on everyday operations as the size of the team should be small; yet turnaround managers usually have to manage multiple layers in the organisation which could have several hundreds or more employees. How to mobilise the organisational, or internal, resources  is a key for successful turnaround managers; while how to leverage external networks of different expertise is required for successful entrepreneurs. 

    What is shared?
    • Sooner or later, business development, or how to make revenues, is essentially crucial to grow the company (for the first time, or again), which should deliver a good momentum among employees. Without such a momentum, initial enthusiasm will be fade out or worn out.
    • It is all about how to attract, engage, and motivate people involved; both entrepreneurs and turnaround managers have to make stakeholders believe that the company will become successful in a short time-frame. Thus a deep understanding of the nature of stakeholders are necessary to be successful.
    • Both are financially restricted very much; so a well-balanced control of money is beneficially to the firm, whetherever it is in the early development phase or distress.
    • Everyone is neither perfect nor a superstar, therefore a team of management, especially how top two or three people interact and communicate, would determine the success or failure of the firm.
    This view should be changed after my entrepreneurial journey, which I look forward to experiencing now!!

    I hope I won't die like this, after working too hard and long :-p

    1 Nov 2014

    Who do we think we are?

    When I was in Japan, I used to watch plays at theatre every two to three months. Yet this was for the first time in the UK. This opportunity came from a network of my high school; one of the actors is my senior, senpai, who is very attractive and charming; I want to be like him after 30 years.

    The play is about different lives from 1914 to 2014, the period when people experienced a bunch of cruel wars, ideological conflicts, changes of social cultures. It was like condensing 10 stories of 100 years each (or 1,000 years in total) into just 2 hours. For example, it featured WWI (trenches in France, Siberia camp etc.), the communist revolution in East Europe, WWII (the ghetto by Nazi, atomic bomb at Nagasaki, India and Gandhi etc.), Woodstock, Apollo on the moon, Vietnam war, and even dementia issues at NHS. It gave me a real touch of the world's 'history'. Maybe only lacking viewpoints were about Africa and China.

    While seeing it, I just wondered what my great-grandfathers and great-grandmothers was doing in 1914, when the WWI commenced. They should have been doing something alive, otherwise I won't be able to be here now:-p I have to question my parents and uncle/aunt about it.
    The poster of 'Who do we think we are?'