Special Investment Workshop

And so to the final event of YAIC 2011: a special workshop on how to present your idea/ concept/ business model to a group of investors and business development specialists.

Hosted by Iceland’s New Business Venture Fund, this workshop began with an explanation of who the NBVF are and how they operate, by Helga Valfells, Managing Director of the company. We learned that the company was founded in 1998, has invested in around 150 (Icelandic) companies, are shareholders of around 39 companies, and have made a total investment in the creative industries if around 1700 million ISK.

Among the companies they have helped are Gogoyoko, Grapewire, Nordic Photos, Lazytown (recently sold), Gogogic and design company Nikita.

Ms Valfells explained how NBVF, despite being government owned, enjoy a great deal of independence, and how they tend to invest in technological companies, many of which have a creative bias. She commented that one of the most important element in pitching is showing the strength of one’s team: their knowledge, skill set and/or attitude. “An A team with a B idea is better than the other way around,” she claimed. The company then look at the business concept, what problems the pitching company might be solving in the world, financial planning (“essential, even if plans don’t always follow that path in real life”), plus how the pitch addresses markets and things like competition.

In front of a “Dragon’s Den” style panel that consisted of Ms Valfells, Egill Másson (Investment Manager at NBVF), Svana Gunnarsdóttir (Investment Manager at Frumtak) and Eyþór Ívar Jónsson (CEO of Klak – Innovation Centre and Associate Professor at Copenhagen Business School), YAIC participants were then invited to present their concepts to see how they might be received in a real environment.

The first pitch was by a lady involved in an improvisation vocal and dance project consisting of nine women from four Nordic countries, who wanted to plan musical experiences and perhaps a school that taught improvisation. Not the most obvious pitch, but it was popular with the panel, the majority of whom said they would back it, albeit with an urge to focus more, and be specific about who the audience might be, how the project would make money and how much would be needed.

Next came Christine from NYC, a music writer who had the idea of creating a “musical exchange” between musicians from NYC and Iceland, to help foster creative enterprise as well as travel experience. This was also well received, despite being a very sketchy idea in the first instance, though again the panel specified they would need more information regarding funding, and more specific dynamics.

The third, and most comprehensive pitch was from Icelandic Cinema Online, who have already begun their business without funding, but who are looking to expand and bolster what they have. Again, it was unanimously agreed that the project was a great idea, and had great potential in a variety of ways. Whether real pitches to investment funding companies would be quite so relaxed and full of fun brainstorming is a moot point; but the workshop really did give an insight into the kinds of things potential pitchers would need in order to make a serious bid for money.