(Written on Friday 7th December on the train down to London — wobbly 3G connection and poor memory = delayed posting)
Last night was the first Manchester event for Mashup Demo, an opportunity for tech start-ups and entrepreneurs to present their ideas to a crowd of fellow entrepreneurs, consultants, facilitators, and investors. It provided further evidence that the web and tech industries in Manchester are booming. Not only was there an abundance of good ideas and interesting companies, there was also a good showing from the highly sought-after money men.
This has been true for a number of the Mashup, NW Startup 2.0, and OpenCoffee events over the last year. But this was the first event designed explicitly as a pitching opportunity, so it was pleasing to see a London-based VC there.
I was originally meant to be presenting Net Records in one of the three minute slots at Mashup Demo, but a late drop out meant that I was handed a longer slot further down the agenda during the subsequent NW Startup event. Ten minutes flies by when you’re in front of a crowd and talking about something in which you have a passionate belief.
Though we’re not actually seeking funding for the company, it was great to get some external feedback. The consensus seemed to be that the idea is sound — which is reassuring — though one person questioned why we hadn’t built the site with Web 2.0 tech from scratch. My answer was that we had turned an idea (almost) in to a business in three months and that was the next stage. But I could equally have answered — a little more rudely — that a pretty interface does not make a business.
My explanation of the site was a new one, originally written based on the belief that I only had three minutes. But it’s one I think I will use increasingly.
Net Records is the long tail record label. Those familiar with the long tail will know that it describes one part of a curve plotting products against the volume they are likely to sell. Most businesses are built around selling high volumes of just the few most popular products. Record labels are the same: their cost base means that they can only afford to focus on the most popular acts. Net Records takes the opposite approach. Because of the web infrastructure we have only a marginal cost for each additional band that signs up for the site. We can be the record label for all those bands that might never have more than 20 fans. Or be a proving ground for those who might one day have a million fans. The cost is the same to us.
The site is now at a usable stage. Though it may not say so, it remains very much in beta, and beta means testing. So if you’d like to go to http://www.netrecords.co.uk, sign up and give me some feedback, that would be great. Just don’t tell me the band sign-up pages are clunky. We know, and it’s a priority.