Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A game of two halves

I nick, and probably mis-requote the original, but it kind of sums up my day.

Mostly, I was in Birmingham, and using some mental athletics I soon hope to turn to the common good with a program addition to and/or tripsplitters, managed to combine two meetings.

The latter, from which I have just returned, was my first tentative step into the hairy world of Venture Capitalists and Business Angels. As I say... a step. It was not with anyone with whom I might end up working or is going to introduce me to all the right FMCG folk or wads of wonga, but rather a broker. Very nice chap, who gave me a fair and considered hearing. Thing is, I really had no idea how it went. I may never hear again (which I doubt, but it won't be the first time), or I may find myself on another roller-coaster. Quite disconcerting. There was so much I wanted to share and to ask, but it was just the pertinent facts, little reaction or feedback... and then wait for the call.

In contrast, my first appointment was a very different affair. I was meeting the Technical Manager and crew of the Jewellery Innovation Centre, part of Birmingham City University.

The purpose was to see what they could do for me to help with selling RE:tie, by way of prototyping.

I was there for a few hours, and had a ball. We toured every nook and cranny of the facility, and they have toys and skills you would not believe, to make just about anything out of just about anything. And they are keen to help if you qualify and the idea seems fun.

There were big boxes that housed lasers that burned away. And little boxes with inkjet layered powders that built up. The one that really blew me away was a hi-tech version of an ancient Chinese ivory carving craft whereby a lattice ball is created within another lattice ball. Only this fellow was a ball within a ball... times 6! They had things in metal, things in aluminium and things in plastic. From 40cm cubed down to the size of a pinhead, with angels dancing upon it... and a logo stencilled on their tushies.

What was quite funny, and I guess interesting, was when they showed me a tray of stunning creations (try a sailing ship with full rigging... the size of a fingernail), and the one I zeroed in on was a gorgeous structure composed of rows of rods, which I thought would make a stunning piece of stationery ware. Turns out it was a waste mould and was to be thrown out! I think they understood where my reuse mind was at once this happened.

Of course we went off topic and roamed all manner of other things they could do for the inventive mind, and I was keen to repay the commitment with anything I could offer in return.
Links all round and features at the show stand to start!

Because it's all looking good. They don't see any problem making not just a prototype but a fairly large number of demo pieces of the RE:tie for the March show. A few design challenges to sort out, but from the patent drawings through CAD-CAM to an on bottle-top mock-up or score.... to not just claim what RE:tie can do, but show it doing it to those who will hopefully be an audience with an imagination and chequebook to match.

Here's hoping.

It's just interesting that when it comes to these aspects I was in my element, but when it came to the related, necessary and highly complementary issues of taking business I go from being a Orca doing flips above the ocean to a beached whale gasping on the shore. So now, more than ever, I need that all too missing piece to my commercial structure. With luck, if this finance guy sees merit I may be en route, but I honestly have no reading.

But here's hoping.

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