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Peter Day from the BBC writes today about ‘Celebrating the joy of craftsmanship' highlighting Cremona's violin makers and their burgeoning Asian clientele.
“My brief stay in Cremona was a vivid reminder of the value of craft and the handmade in a world which now prizes superbly mass-produced goods, and instant networks of friends and communication.
Individuality is an important component of being human. Craftspeople have wonderfully individual stories to tell about the things they make, slowly and carefully. In an industrialised world, they still have a lot to tell us about being properly human.” 

Peter Day from the BBC writes today about ‘Celebrating the joy of craftsmanship' highlighting Cremona's violin makers and their burgeoning Asian clientele.

My brief stay in Cremona was a vivid reminder of the value of craft and the handmade in a world which now prizes superbly mass-produced goods, and instant networks of friends and communication.

Individuality is an important component of being human. Craftspeople have wonderfully individual stories to tell about the things they make, slowly and carefully. In an industrialised world, they still have a lot to tell us about being properly human.” 

30 tests from one drop of blood. Theranos is ushering superfast diagnosis and preventive medicine.
Caitland Roper from Wired explains "Elizabeth Holmes (30), dropped out of Stanford and founded a company called Theranos with her tuition money. Last fall it finally introduced its radical blood-testing service in a Walgreens pharmacy near company head­quarters in Palo Alto, California. (The plan is to roll out testing centers nation­wide.) Instead of vials of blood—one for every test needed—Theranos requires only a pinprick and a drop of blood. With that they can perform hundreds of tests, from standard cholesterol checks to sophisticated genetic analyses. The results are faster, more accurate, and far cheaper than conventional methods." 

30 tests from one drop of blood. Theranos is ushering superfast diagnosis and preventive medicine.

Caitland Roper from Wired explains "Elizabeth Holmes (30), dropped out of Stanford and founded a company called Theranos with her tuition money. Last fall it finally introduced its radical blood-testing service in a Walgreens pharmacy near company head­quarters in Palo Alto, California. (The plan is to roll out testing centers nation­wide.) Instead of vials of blood—one for every test needed—Theranos requires only a pinprick and a drop of blood. With that they can perform hundreds of tests, from standard cholesterol checks to sophisticated genetic analyses. The results are faster, more accurate, and far cheaper than conventional methods." 

Niel, impostor or hero? Is Free the most innovative telco in the world? He just pitched T-Mobile for $16B. 
CITEworld explains ”France’s Iliad S.A. has made a bid for T-Mobile, the Wall Street Journal reports. Haven’t heard of Iliad? I can’t blame you. But they are the most innovative telco in the world. Iliad, whose consumer brand name is Free, has been shaking up the French telecommiunications market since it was founded in the late 1990s.
Free Mobile didn’t just lower prices in the mobile phone industry, it also changed the game by endeavoring to free people from expensive and locked long-term contracts. At Free, you don’t buy a phone with a contract. You just buy the subscription. You can buy expensive smartphones on credit from Free.
Xavier Niel, a high school dropout and technical genius who began his career making hook-up sites for the Minitel, France’s forerunner of the internet. In many ways, Niel’s playbook follows Jeff Bezos’s: cut prices. And then cut them some more. And then cut them some more. Like Bezos, Niel even owns a major newspaper.”

Niel, impostor or hero? Is Free the most innovative telco in the world? He just pitched T-Mobile for $16B. 

CITEworld explains France’s Iliad S.A. has made a bid for T-Mobile, the Wall Street Journal reports. Haven’t heard of Iliad? I can’t blame you. But they are the most innovative telco in the world. Iliad, whose consumer brand name is Free, has been shaking up the French telecommiunications market since it was founded in the late 1990s.

Free Mobile didn’t just lower prices in the mobile phone industry, it also changed the game by endeavoring to free people from expensive and locked long-term contracts. At Free, you don’t buy a phone with a contract. You just buy the subscription. You can buy expensive smartphones on credit from Free.

Xavier Niel, a high school dropout and technical genius who began his career making hook-up sites for the Minitel, France’s forerunner of the internet. In many ways, Niel’s playbook follows Jeff Bezos’s: cut prices. And then cut them some more. And then cut them some more. Like Bezos, Niel even owns a major newspaper.”

Boom. @Xiaomi announces $13 USD #MiBand. More at Xiaomi Facebook.
"A fitness tracking wrist band that monitors your fitness and tracks your sleep. Featuring the industry’s most power-efficient Bluetooth chip and accelerometer, the Mi Band can be powered for 30 days on one charge, and also doubles up as an alarm clock. You can even pair it to unlock your phone without a password."

Boom. @Xiaomi announces $13 USD #MiBand. More at Xiaomi Facebook.

"A fitness tracking wrist band that monitors your fitness and tracks your sleep. Featuring the industry’s most power-efficient Bluetooth chip and accelerometer, the Mi Band can be powered for 30 days on one charge, and also doubles up as an alarm clock. You can even pair it to unlock your phone without a password."

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.

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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.

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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

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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 www.wearecolony.com 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.