Report: How Can We Access Finance to Enable Innovative Creative Projects?

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Words by Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone, photos by Nicole Kavanaugh.

Everyone knows that Byte the Book is the place to come and talk about technology in publishing and media. If you have a creative project Byte the Book can help you think about how to realise and fund it. Tuesday’s event took this specialism to another level offering an expert panel and a Dragons’ Den style series of pitches. Not only were the panel and pitchers a sizzling bunch of talent, so was the evening, with everyone in their summer gear and windows open onto a bustling Dean Street.

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Our sponsors Harbottle & Lewis from left to right, Sam Purkiss, Charlotte Pym, Tim Parker, Tony Littner and Sophie Giblin. 

Ruth Jones, Director of Business Development at Ingram Content Group, chaired the panel, introducing them and asking each panelist one pertinent investment question to whet our appetite for the pitches.

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Our fabulous judges from left to right: Michael Spalter, Tony Littner, Ruth Jones (Chair), Ilona Simpson and Ricardo Fayet.

Michael Spalter, Entrepreneur and Angel Investor, was asked what he looked for when investing. Though he needed to see the spreadsheets and check that the product was protectable and scalable, Michael said he wanted to invest in something he would enjoy being a part of and was particularly interested in fields he wouldn’t have the skills to work in himself.

Tony Littner, Head of Start-Ups and Venture Capital at Harbottle & Lewis the sponsors of the evening, was asked what legal pitfalls people needed to be aware of when seeking investors. Tony felt that psychological rather than legal pitfalls were the more pertinent as you needed to decide whether you could work with your investor. Could you have them in the boardroom? Would they be on your side? For Tony, more difficulties arose from clashes in personality between founders and investors than from legal issues.

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Busy but happy to be back in the more spacious Soho Bar.

Ilona Simpson of Ariadne Capital was asked when, in the development of your idea, it was best to look for funding and she made it clear that having a minimal viable product with key customers was essential. She went on to explain that Ariadne Capital looks at businesses who are changing the dynamics, melting the boundaries, between industries. To which Ruth added that investors needed to be sure that the product was solving a problem that people actually wanted to be solved.

Ricardo Fayet, Co-founder of Reedsy, was asked what it felt like to have investors. Of course, Ricardo said that having investors felt good. However, he did stress the differences between investors. Some provide nothing but money and others provide additional services. Each relationship with an investor is different.

Having introduced the topic, Justine got out her timer, and the pitchers were ready to begin. With only 5 minutes to pitch each project, then 5 minutes for questions from the panel, the atmosphere was charged.

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Nico Cary of Snaxapp facing the dragons.

Nico Cary, Co-founder of Snaxapp went first, showing us the importance of entrepreneur experience with his previous company Sportlobster, and wanting to give us a product that would once again make content king. Social media doesn’t guarantee views of content, snaxapp will. Adverts and sponsored channels would create revenue.

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Madeleine Weightman of The Work Crowd delivers her pitch.

Nico made way for Madeleine Weightman, Co-founder of The Work Crowd an app connecting businesses to local expert freelancers in marketing, communications and PR, financed through a 10% charge of all work freelancers receive through the app. The Work Crowd is market specific offering freelancers the benefits of a community network and businesses access to expert freelancers in their local area.   

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Tristan Abbot of Howdy says Howdy.

Next up was Tristan Abbot, Co-founder of Howdy, a community and events organiser networking app. Byte the Book partnered up with Howdy for this event allowing attendees to connect with each other through the app. The event will remain open for the next week if you still want to connect! Whilst many event organisers offer networking apps for single events, Howdy is developing advanced artificial intelligence to recommend people and events to users across a whole network of events and communities.

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Richard Mason of Orson & Co shows us how to do an Orson.

Finally Richard Mason, author and Co-founder of Orson & Co, talked to us about the revolutionary touch-screen reading experience of Orson books in which a storyteller can deliver their story through text, audio, images and references in beautiful high-definition quality creating a reading experience unlike any other. He promised that soon everyone would be wanting to ‘do an Orson’ with their stories and that it would be Orson books we would all be reading on the move.

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Byte the Book – it’s all about the networking (and hair accessories…).

What a night. The pitchers and panel were inundated after the formal proceedings and there was enough creative energy to fuel these and many more new projects. There was a real buzz of entrepreneurial spirit. I’m already looking forward to next year’s pitching night. By then Tuesday’s pitching companies will surely have become household names.

If you enjoyed this report and want to keep up with the latest happenings in publishing as well as network with publishers and authors alike keep yourself posted by visiting our events page here. You can join us from £30 a quarter here

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