Tuesday Feb 17, 2009

Sun Microsystems, Cloud Computing and the premier European VC event 'Entrepreneur Country'

Entrepreneur Country At Sun UK we recently supported and attended "Entrepreneur Country" a major European Start Up and VC event.

Acting as a rallying cry to the entrepreneurial, VC and Start-up communities, the event affirmed that now is the best time to start your own company and that entrepreneurs were key to the recovery of the economy from the recession.

Almost 300 of the UK’s leading entrepreneurs, including Caffè Nero founder Gerry Ford and Betfair co-founder and Chairman Edward Wray, shared stories of success at the event. Roman Stanek, a founder of NetBeans, and now founder and CEO of Good Data Corp and successful serial entrepreneur, said "tough times create tough companies", whilst Gerry Ford, urged us to "be restless and relentless" in the pursuit of success. The seminars were held at the Institute of Directors (IoD) in central London and coincided with the official launch of Entrepreneur Country online.

Other highlights of the day included keynotes from Sir Paul Judge (from the Enterprise Education Trust on ‘Risk and Enterprise’), Glen Manchester (Founder and CEO of Thunderhead), Ed Wray (Co-Founder and Chairman of Betfair), Niall Harbison (Founder and Chef at iFoods.tv), and David Courtier-Dutton and Paul Brown (from SliceThePie).

The event was organised and hosted by Ariadne Capital, an entrepreneurial investment and advisory firm. Ariadne was set up by current CEO Julie Meyer; probably best known as being a founder of First Tuesday, the largest global network of entrepreneurs (which many credit for igniting the Internet generation across Europe).

The agenda also included two panel sessions discussing Online Gaming (and virtual worlds) and Cloud Computing (and, to an extent, it's impact on the entrepreneurial, VC and Start-up communities and how they might best capitalise on it). The later of which I had been asked to take part in of behalf of Sun. Cannily I kept mental notes and have been able to write the session up as a separate blog post "Cloud Computing panel interview with Sun Microsystems at 'Entrepreneur Country'" (for further background material on Cloud Computing you may also want to check out my "Cloud Relationship Model" article). The questions we were asked included:

  1. Surely we’ve heard all of this before in various forms and guises? What is different this time? Why will it work? ...response #1
  2. For this stuff to become truly embedded it will need to move from the man in the street to the corporate. Corporate CIOs are a risk averse bunch especially when you move into some sectors (e.g. Financial Services). What will influence the CIOs' buying decision? ...response #2
  3. It was all very easy when you went out and bought or developed software, installed it yourself, ran it yourself, etc. Does working in the cloud bring new issues with regards to data ownership, IP rights, other legal issues, etc.? ...response #3
  4. What is your vision for the future and where this goes? ...response #4
  5. An audience driven Q and A session including responses to "What do you think of Microsoft's Azure Cloud initiative?" and "What is Sun's Cloud Computing strategy?" ...response #5

I really enjoyed the day and had a productive time networking and meeting people, all of whom shared with me their vision, enthusiasm and wonderful business ideas. I met people from MovieStorm, TechnologyDen, NewVoiceMedia, Broadcom UK, SaaSPlex, Spinvox, Teamer, and a quite a few others too. Some of these companies had been funded by Enterprise Ireland and it was very good to see them there as well as representatives from the UK's Technology Strategy Board.

Accompanying the days themes of Invention, Innovation and Entrepreneurism were handouts, books and other resources, and I picked up a copy of Jeremy Coller's new book "The Lives, Loves and Deaths of Splendidly Unreasonable Inventors".

On the night we went to an associated networking dinner where I fell deep into conversation with a number of people including Paul Flanagan, Executive for Digital Entertainment at Ariadne, Declan Cunningham, Director at Ariadne, and Tom Salmon, founder of AfterShow and Traffic Digital.

The event was supported by the Sun UK Internet Business team, led by Paul Tarantino, with additional support from Simon Culmer, Director of Sales from the UK executive management team, as well as myself. Here's the official write up, a variety of photos taken and also a selection of video recordings.

Thanks to Rebecca Temple, Manager of Portfolio Marketing at Ariadne, here's a variety of some of the other coverage of the day, much of it focused on the business messages we heard:

Please note that this article was originally written and posted at my blog and I've included it as a guest article here too for those interested in the 'Entrepreneur Country' event. The original article is hosted here: http://blogs.sun.com/eclectic/entry/sun_ariadne_capital_entrepreneur_country

All the best,

Wayne Horkan

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