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Julie Meyer: “Content is the new software”

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Successful entrepreneurs think big, start small and move fast.

Others get it the wrong way round. They think small, have started big and are moving rather slowly. These would-be entrepreneurs decry that they don’t have the luxury of spending other people’s money. Well, it is a luxury. There is a scarcity of capital. But capital follows ideas – always has, always will. And one of the most important things that an investor wants to see before putting money in is what you have accomplished without outside money. Are people following you? Have you done some quick and dirty market research? Have you built a fast demo? Are you articulate about your vision? Do you show the signs of being able to sell that vision?

It used to be that software businesses were nirvana for investors; make one copy and sell millions. Microsoft, Oracle and the other giants were all built on this premise. But the software industry has gone the way of the internet industry of the late nineties; it has morphed into the real industries of financial services, branding, communications etc.

At the C&binet Forum yesterday, Patrick McKenna, a leading media investor and founder of Ingenious Media, said content businesses may have the ultimate scale. There’s a lot to be said for that. Content is the new software; the technology is there to lift content into massive scale. Platforms like Facebook and the Apple App Store drive tremendous distribution at low cost. That, combined with the network effects of the web, is the exciting bit of what’s to come.

The theme at C&binet was: “Where is the money for the creative industries?” We have Simon Fuller in this country, and Nigel Newton who discovered JK Rowling, and many more. I believe the marketplace of money ultimately works. The best rise to the surface. Those who become successful send the lift down to the next generation coming up.

Being an entrepreneur is never easy but some will succeed: David Courtier-Dutton of SliceThePie, Jonathan Lakin of Enrich Social Productions, Lex Deak of Family Fridge and Alex Wrottesley of Near Global are pioneering content businesses with strong potential.

Follow the entrepreneur. My colleagues and I never for a moment fail to appreciate how entrepreneurs make the inevitable happen sooner.

Julie Meyer is CEO of Ariadne Capital, founder of Entrepreneur Country and a BBC online dragon.

Related articles:Julie Meyer on the recession, entrepreneurship and going globalAriadne Capital’s Julie Meyer on the wisdom of Thatcher

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