PSFK Presents The Future of Health by Piers Fawkes "Given the rising costs associated with the treatment of chronic lifestyle diseases and the looming shortage of doctors, the healthcare system is at a tipping point. The current model can no longer sustain the inefficiencies associated with business as usual, leaving an industry ripe for innovation."

Interviews with 13 leading innovators in the fields of medicine and health technology, including Jay Parkinson, the CEO and co-founder of Sherpaa who talks about “Orchestrated Care”, one of the four main themes of the report.

You can buy the full The Future of Health 2014 report here.


I dropped in for the final hour of the Wearable Technology Show 2014 at Olympia this week to do some scouting for clients. Tucked away on the third floor of the Conference Centre, it was an intimate affair. 

A handful of big brands like Intel, Samsung and Garmin were mixing it up with up-starts and hackers. The sports theme runs strong, so no suits here. Strictly jeans and tees.

The energy in the maker space is palpable, and as a trained product designer and sports fan, I find the physicality addictive.

The show had three distinct tribes:

  • The Accelerometer Crew
  • The Embedded Brigade
  • The Imaging Meisters

The Acceleromonitors still have to make the R&D jump from sports mode/activity to tracking the specific manoeuvres of a specific sport. Once prices drop and power rises the hardware can be loaded permanently into our footwear and equipment…and us.

Embedders are easily identifiable as chunky tech strapped awkwardly to shiny Lycra. More seamless integration will come but until then the Embeddeds are the Frankenstein monsters of the wearables world. Mbody is less ugly than most, and their analytics for quads/hams looks promising.

The Imagers is where all the action is. Optinvent is carving a niche as the workers Glass. Likewise the Kickstarted vrAse is the poor mans Rift or Morpheus, leveraging smart phones for virtual reality.

The fourth group was The Watch Weirdos, but we don’t talk about them.

For anyone with a good idea this summer, Intel is launching Make it Wearable. A global competition with $1m+ in cash prizes. For “tech makers” that want to build a following plus a bank balance, then CrowdRooster launches in April.

Guardian coverage here, and a blow-by-blow account from ITProPortal here. Also a commentary by Charles Lowe from Telecareaware here.



I’m doing a lot more work with London startups, and a common question is "How to spot a good VC?"

The answer is that a good VC knows how to says “No”.

Let me explain…

The European tech scene is hotting up, with London very much at the epicentre. Super exciting times. US king pin @pmarca proposes “the historian will detect in the decade of 2010-2020 a period of tremendous significance”.

The number of VC’s is also growing, but quality is variable. With very few exit-hardened tech entrepreneurs, their ranks largely comprise former execs from the corporate, M&A and finance worlds.

The problem here is that at first glance the new school of Euro VC’s appear tooled-up because, for a finance guy, raising a a large fund is easy. But mostly they have no clue. No mental model of what success looks like. No idea about partnership based on capability, respect and good times. No idea of what it takes to craft and nurture a new idea to a successful exit. No decent invest themes beyond “mobile, social and data”. No model of what authentic rock star founders look like because they’ve inhabited worlds of drones.

Instead of being able to respond to a pitch with a clear “Yes” or “No” they fumble forwards. Going through the motions of burdensome requests for plans and projections. All the time burning the start-ups precious runway and frantically trying to understand what the hell they’re looking at, and what they should do. 

A good VC knows how to says “No” because they have the experience, have done their background research, they know the themes they want to invest in, and because they want to build a high-quality low-volume portfolio.

So, in short:

  • A good VC meets 300 prospects a year and backs 3
  • A good VC is fresh because they are calm, polite and in control
  • A good VC comes back with an answer quickly, and why
  • A good VC keeps a manageable sized portfolio

Good luck out there.

Image - The loved Australian statesman Alfred Deakin famously said “No” to a knighthood in 1887 because he knew Australia would be a republic


Massively proud. My sister Sarah’s start-up Colony has been selected for investment by Seedcamp

Colony provides early and exclusive behind the scenes access to great independent films. A video-on-demand platform focused on early and exclusive access to great films. For filmmakers, it is the new place to launch films earlier and build a following. The platform launches in late Spring 2014. Sign up for beta access now at and follow on Twitter @wearecolony. 

Colony was primed by forward-looking management at the leading digital agency Zone, alongside the TSB and others.

Sarah, Rich and the Colony team are crafting a beautiful product to house the best films on the planet. I have no doubt that Colony will delight film fans and be a huge success.

My investment outfit Sibley Tech Ventures is a backer, and is supporting Colony on customer acquisition while they build out their own team. Sibley funds disruptors, innovators and hackers. Since 2001 we have backed the UK’s best data-driven early stage ideas. Businesses with new models of working, high potential to scale and real-world impact.

TNW has covered Colony as “the Netflix of indie film” here.

Colony announces Film London Partnership here.




Richard Ballard and Steven Dring have created Growing Underground, a 2.5 acre aquaponic farm in disused London tube tunnels that are sterile and stay at a steady temperature all year round. 

This is a very smart example of blending spare capacity, sustainability and urban explorer curiosity into a great new business and brand.

FastCo covers @GrownUnder here

LA based men’s product delivery company Dollar Shave Club has raised a smooth $12m in Series B funding to expand its portfolio to more than a dozen products. DSC has raised over $20m in funding and serves over 330,000 subscribing customers. And their short film remains the best video viral on the internet.

LA based men’s product delivery company Dollar Shave Club has raised a smooth $12m in Series B funding to expand its portfolio to more than a dozen products. DSC has raised over $20m in funding and serves over 330,000 subscribing customers. And their short film remains the best video viral on the internet.


"Which mobile payment (mPayment) solution should we be backing?" is a common question from TFC’s clients. Our response is that mPayment is a tricky space because it’s difficult to build a critical mass of buyers and sellers simultaneously.

In 1999 PayPal broke ground for payment start-ups by enabling payments and money transfers to be made through the Internet on a global scale. PayPal was acquired by eBay in 2002 and ever since its alumni have been helping fund the next generation of mobile payments startups. Square was launched by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey in 2009 to replace traditional chip and pin card terminals and cash registers. There are a number of interlocking elements to the solution:

  • Square Reader plugs into a sellers smartphone to swipe cards
  • Square Register allows sellers to manage the transactions
  • Square Market allows sellers to create a free online storefront
  • Square Wallet allows customers to view sellers menus, do mobile payments, receive virtual receipts and find other Square sellers

Square charges a 2.75% card transaction fee but there is no monthly fees or set-up costs. The company’s valuation in September 2012 was 3.25 billion dollars. Square has prepared the ground for mobile payment (mPOS) start-ups by enabling smaller merchants to accept card payments.

The glut of Square mPOS clones in the UK include:

  • Handpoint - 2.65% to 1.49% transaction fee
  • Intuit - 2.75% transaction fee
  • iZettle -  2.75% to 1.5% transaction fee
  • PayaTrader - 2.9% to 2.3% transaction fee
  • payleven - 2.75% transaction fee
  • Shuttle - 1.4% transaction fee
  • SumUp - 1.95% transaction fee
  • WorldPay - 2.75% to 1.95% transaction fee

(All require a card reader, ranging from £16.62 for SumUp to £82.50 for Handpoint, iZettle, PayaTrader and Shuttle)

In August PayPal finally hopped the pond to spoil the party by launching Here in the UK with 2.75% transaction fee (reader £99.00) or 3.40% + 20p for magnetic swipes or card not present (CNP) transactions.
Based on current pricing mPos readers are a poor option for sellers with an annual card turnover of more than c.£15,000 per year where a traditional terminal hire solution will be more cost effective.

Bleeding-edge UK teams are experimenting with mobile money apps (mWallet) - that do not require additional hardware - as a private comms channel between seller and customer. These lean platform-as-a-service (PaaS) teams are constraining themselves to making money without the traditional transaction fee. They are looking to surpass Apple’s transactionless Passbook and Placecast’s 10m users and Venmo’s $26.2m acquisition by Braintree.

The mWallet UK start-ups to watch are:

  • CloudZync zWallet - Tiered monthly service fee whereby sellers buy credits. Credits buy services including vouchers, loyalty units and messaging. Ranging from £40 per month for 500 credits to £160 for 3,750 credits. Base of 280 sellers in London and Essex.
  • Droplet - Fee free. Customers preload their account by card or direct debit. Base of 250 sellers in Birmingham and London. TechCrunch thinks Droplet will make money from interest on deposited funds.

TFC thinks that focussing on vouchers, deals and loyalty in the UK is a good angle given at least 60% of customers carry Clubcard or Nectar. mWallet is a leapfrog technology so watch out for any UK start-ups with connections to countries with low payment card penetration, such as India (20%). A start-up with connections to Mobikwik for example would be really interesting. The next frontier for mWallet is integration with Bluetooth Smart retail beacons and virtual currency, but more on those in a future post.

This field guide was a collaboration between Ro and Neil.

(The Monty Python Life of Brian Haggle scene is here)