BRAIN FOOD: Speaking out - Bernard Frieder, vice-consul for investment in technology, telecoms and the media

BRAIN FOOD: Speaking out - Bernard Frieder, vice-consul for investment in technology, telecoms and the media - Bernard Frieder is not your average British commercial attache. He's an American based in San Francisco and he has his finger on the pulse of Si

by KHALID AZIZ, e-mail: khalida@azizcorp.com
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Bernard Frieder is not your average British commercial attache. He's an American based in San Francisco and he has his finger on the pulse of Silicon Valley. Who better to offer words of advice to a group of young hopeful entrepreneurs meeting under the aegis of First Tuesday, which runs networking events around the country (this one in Glasgow) to help marry off e-business ideas to venture capital?

Frieder bounced onto the stage, immediately drawing attention to his small stature and rotundity. There's nothing like a bit of self-deprecation to get the audience on your side. He has that fast, almost off-hand Californian style of delivery, but he touched the audience exactly where they liked being touched - their wallets - with statements like: 'If you want US venture capital don't ask for too little. The average post-seed capital investment is now dollars 12 million.'

Then he told a story against himself. Twenty years ago he was involved in a start-up that was offered dollars 3.5 million to take it to market. But he and his colleagues argued every point with their prospective investor, so he put his money elsewhere - with Lotus!

But then he started teaching the assembled sons of Silicon Glen to suck eggs with advice such as 'You have to have a business plan'. As he reached for more platitudes, the presentation flagged. Why? He entertained and got a few laughs, but he hadn't planned or rehearsed this presentation.

Key moment: Frieder's revelation that one of his tasks is to advise the Government on what 'pisses off US investors into Britain'.

Key lesson: Presentation skills can be improved with the minimum of planning and rehearsal.

Silver tongue or foot in mouth?

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