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30th January 2020 Events

From business exits and AI to digital marketing and adtech, here’s what was discussed at tech events this week

We’re about to take our first step into a brave new post-Brexit world but, before all of that, the FieldHouse team took many steps all over London last night at a series of tech events – here’s what they heard

Typical isn’t it. You wait ages for a bus and then they all come along at once.

While the likes of CES, LDN Tech Week, Slush and Web Summit are big fixtures spread throughout the year, there are plenty of one-off evening events peppering the ecosystem each week for investors and entrepreneurs to sink their teeth into.

But some truly bus-like behaviour was evidenced in a big way just last night when half of the team was out of the office for the afternoon and evening attending a series of discussions across the capital.

With topics ranging from exiting tech businesses to AI and beyond, we’ve rounded up what took place at each event.

Calling all tech founders who are planning to exit!

Last night I went to Calling all tech founders who are planning to exit!, a talk hosted by UKTN in association with Moore King Smith. It was aimed at providing founders with the toolkit for exiting their startup, including a guide to ‘how’ and ‘when’.

On the panel was a VC involved in multiple sales, a corporate involved in mergers and acquisitions, a startup that recently exited and the corporate finance director at Moore King Smith, who has a proven track record of successfully navigating the sale process.

The well-attended talk provided interesting insight into the two main exit avenues – acquisition and IPO. On top of that, two nuggets of wisdom for startups to take away were:

(1) Always have a back-up buyer.

(2) Understand why your business is desirable and, whether it be product, customers, profit, IP or team, focus on that and nail it.

Natalie Bishop@natalie1bishop

Behind the Hype LDN: AI and Machine Learning

The third instalment of Finastra’s Behind the Hype series was hosted at the Barclays Rise building in Shoreditch last night. The topic was AI and Machine Learning – an area getting a lot of attention from many in the media and financial industry, but a term that remains a mystery to many.

Ben Houghton, Barclays’ head of data science, and Teodor Popescu, data engineer at the BBC, gave talks on the applications of AI and machine learning around tracking and finding fraudulent payments and tagging news articles to give real time information to users. This was followed by a great Q&A with a standing room-only crowd.

An interesting point was raised around the fail rate of many AI projects – indeed, as many as 90% of AI projects fail. However, the learnings from the 90% of failures go into the 10% of successes. Considering the cost associated with AI development, the failure rate is very important, proving a return on investment from AI can be difficult.

Ant Avrili, @AntAvrili

Scale Your Tech Biz with Digital Marketing & Content

For Scale Your Tech Biz with Digital Marketing & Content, I visited co-working space Huckletree in Shoreditch. With speakers from the worlds of digital, video, advertising, marketing and media, there was a lot to digest, which I’ve broken down into four clear takeaways.

(1) Content is key in the B2B decision-making process. It’s especially critical in the early stages when 91% of buyers are consuming content versus 42% in the late stage.

(2) What does your SEO keyword strategy look like? A good start would be to define 100 keywords or phrases that someone would search for when they want to find your business.

(3) Struggling with getting clicks on your social media content? Instead of a call to action “Read our new blog about top tips for IT managers”, can you rephrase it to something more alluring?

(4) What value do you give to your customers when you actually reach them through ads and, when they click, what makes them convert to a client? You might have all the right digital elements and targeting in place but how insightful is the landing page that you link to in your PPC ads?

These things should all be crucial to keep in mind when you plan your digital marketing and content strategy.

Paulina Lundin, @maja_paulina

The Future of Adtech

Attending The Future of Adtech pitch event last night took me to Google Startups Campus, deep in the heart of the East London Tech City. Hosted by Silicon Roundabout UK, an initiative which seeks to connect startups with investors, we were presented three very different pitches from early-stage adtech businesses.

The first, ArGeo, sought to create the “Pokemon Go for ads” in which users explore cities using an augmented reality app to find giveaways and discounts.

Vimma is trying to replace talent managers for social media content creators, by providing an AI chatbot that offers influencers sponsorship opportunities.

ID5 aimed to solve the problem of imperfect identifiers in adtech and the need to synchronise these across platforms, by creating a universal ID for programmatic advertising (all of which went slightly over my head, if I’m honest).

In the Q&A session, it became clear that the dominance of Google and Facebook in advertising was an issue all three had to work around and that the world of adtech is highly competitive as a result. With regulations around advertising, especially digital advertising, constantly changing, there was a distinct air of uncertainty from both the speakers and audience about how this tech niche might look in years to come.

There was also a lot of talk about cookies – but I must have turned up late, because no one offered me one…

Finn Macintyre, @FinnianAMac

Velocity²

This week FieldHouse partnered with Velocity², a new scaleup-centric event created by the team behind the hugely successful Fast Growth Icons. It was held at the heart of the city in Bishopsgate. Throughout the event, I found it refreshing to see that rather than having an event which is steered towards discussions, panels and talks around macro trends or industry developments – such as Brexit or digital skills gaps – this event was designed for delegates to get practical advice and insights from successful scaleup CEOs.

The speakers lifted the bonnet of their businesses and went into the nitty-gritty of the challenges and obstacles they faced in different aspects of their entrepreneurial journey. Working out the right pricing model, diversifying a company’s product range beyond their core product, understanding how to position their brand in the market and recognising when and how to expand to different markets were all among the insider insights shared.

With sessions delivered using tangible examples, it meant delegates could go away with key lessons on what they need to consider in these areas and understand how they could be applied within their own business.

Romana Shah@Romana_Shah

We know first hand just how hard it can be to get out of the office sometimes. And we’ve been in the crowd to experience the delights and lessons events such as Slush can offer.

But as demonstrated from the plethora of events on this one night alone, you never have to look too far for a fresh dose of knowledge, so it’s well worth making the time to book onto these sessions where possible – who knows what you might take away from it. At the very least, you’re likely to get a free drink or a cookie – unless you’re late like Finn, of course.

By Zen Terrelonge, @Zen Terrelonge

.@JamesLiamCook highlights the concern of available later stage funding for spin-outs could mean they're forced to sell up to international giants with insight from @ParkwalkAdvisor and @MorayWright. #investingininnovation #scaleup telegraph.co.uk/technology/20…

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