Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Agreement Reached on Fostering Research in Angel Field: AIA at Masaryk University

Today, AIA's Michal Kohoutek was invited to hold a guest lecture at Masaryk University's Faculty of Economics and Administration at the invitation of the Department of Finance chairman, Dr František Kalouda (the two are portrayed on the left, after the lecture).

The lecture was held in a jovial atmosphere thanks to Dr Kalouda's rapport with his students and their trust in his expertise and his supportiveness. Michal started his lecture by asking the attending students how many were running a business and how many would like to. From about a 10% positive response to the first question, the share jumped to more than 60% after the second.

To the question if they had heard of the concept of "business angel" or "angel investor" before, only a handful answered affirmatively, which led to a presentation of who such investors are and to examples of successful angel investments. Many passionate questions were asked by the students about the mechanics of how entrepreneurs initiate angel fund raising and how investors approach their decision making, which showed both the interest in this form of financing and the need to educate the future Czech business leaders about it.

After the lecture, Michal Kohoutek and Dr Kalouda agreed about the need for a reliable assessment of the weight of angel investments in the Czech economy and for creating a local research point analogous to the American Centre for Venture Research led by Professor Sohl. They agreed on specific steps about how to improve the situation, to be disclosed soon.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Feast for Entrepreneurs: European Forum with 200 Angel Investors!

From February 25th to 26th, Milan is going to host the third European EASY forum, where up to 200 investors attend presentations of 22 entrepreneurs trying to raise angel money for their projects, to be selected by an expert committee by December 15th. This is an unmissable opportunity for entrepreneurs who are serious about starting their business or are trying to expand it, and are in one of these four sectors:
  • Med-tech and Healthcare (technologies and service applications for health and medicine)
  • Design (products across all sectors which focus on design)
  • Transportation and logistics (technologies and service applications)
  • Cleantech (environment and energy technologies)

If you want to apply for attending, visit and email me at by December 15th. The Angel Investor Association is a partner of the EASY project and will be submitting its candidates.

Don't miss this opportunity!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Ekonom Article on Angel Investing in Czech Republic

Ekonom, the most read economic magazine in the Czech Republic with a readership of 129 000, has published a cover story on angel investing in the Czech Republic. It interviews the most active business angels in the country and reports on AIA's September match-making forum. The point running through the article is that business angels have begun to sprout in the Czech Republic only recently, as the entrepreneurs who started their successful businesses in the 1990's have cashed out and thus become able to invest not that long ago.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Start Ups Plan to Move Slow, Says The Economist

There are two basic forms of entrepreneurship: the life-style kind, where you have your safe source of income but don't want more, and the big-plans kind, where you want to conquer the world (or at least your country). Of course there are shadows in between. The latter kind is understandably in a minority, but they create the most jobs and wealth, of course. And entrepreneurs of this type is what angels look for!

Only 6.5% of new firms are likely to grow quickly enough to need more than 20 employees within the next five years, according to a report by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor and Mazars, an accounting firm. Entrepreneurs were asked how many people they expect to hire in their early years. Based on the responses, 90% of jobs will be created by less than a quarter of new firms. Nearly half of all start-ups do not expect to hire any staff at all. China has the highest number of entrepreneurs per head, with 17 per thousand. Russian start-ups are the most confident about creating jobs. America scores well on both counts: it has lots of entrepreneurs and many of these expect to employ at least 20 workers.

(From The Economist,

Thursday, November 22, 2007

AIA at the Student Business Forum 2007 in Hradec Králové

Today, Veronika Špačková of Inovia and Martin Dittrich of the Technological Centre of Hradec Králové University have organized an engaging and inspiring day for students fancying financial indepence and starting up their own business. They put together some 11 savvy speakers who tackled the issue of start-up entrepreneurship from each angle.

When I entered the room, Václav Bittner (in the picture below), founder of Et Netera, was speaking. I was impressed by the frankness and ease with which he was talking to the students and sharing his experience of starting his first business during his college years. He was recounting meetings with his classmates when ideas would float in the air about what kind of business to start first. He encouraged the attending students not to be held back by fear and to be entrepreneurial while still at university.

Mr Mareš of the Bohemian-Moravian Guarantee and Development Bank (ČMZRB) presented the possibility of obtaining government-backed loans for beginning enterprises, but lamented the end of the requirement for applicants to attend the Basics of Entrepreneurship course. He mentioned receiving a big amount of... badly prepared business plans after it was allowed to apply without attending this course. Also, he warned of the increasing strictness of criteria for granting the loans: whereas until last year 80% of applicants were successful, the reverse is true now. Undoubtedly, he said, dropping the entrepreneurship course requirement is part of the reason.

On my part, at the start I made an informal survey among the students to find out how many were familiar with the concept of business angels. Given that only a minority knew what is meant by this phrase, I described the typical angel profile of the entrepreneur who successfully sold his first business with a nice return and who can now mentor new adventurers, whilst enjoying the benefits of a share in their promising firm. I illustrated the concept through the shining examples of the Body Shop, Apple and Amazon, together with one of the best angel investments in the Czech Republic, Eduard Míka's Internet Mall. I mentioned the EASY project where AIA is a partner, with the upcoming February Milan investment forum (more information above).

To learn more about the Student Business Forum 2007 in Hradec Králové, please visit

AIA's mission is entrepreneurship promotion, and if you have an audience eager to learn more about angel investing, we'll be more than happy to assist you. Send me an email at to learn more.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

AIA at the National Assembly of Cohesion Regions

In the magical setting of Litomyšl's UNESCO Heritage castle, today AIA spoke at the 2nd National Assembly of Cohesion Regions, organized by Regionapartner. Among the speakers at the two-day conference were Tomáš Studeník of Westminster s.r.o., David Petráček of Atlantik Asset Management, and Michal Kortyš, Litomyšl's mayor. The event presented a unique opportunity for discussing cooperation schemes between public and private sector for the promotion of grassroots entrepreneurship.

To read more about the event, click here.