Friday, January 26, 2007

Free private equity seminar..uhhh?

I recently received an email from a well-established company in the travel technology field, whom shall remain nameless, inviting me to attend a “free seminar” on how to secure private equity funding or list on the AIM.

I don’t know about all of you out there, but the minute I hear (or, in this case, read) the phrase “free seminar”, my mind is instantly littered with images of Tony Robbins.

If you don’t know who Tony Robbins is, then you’ve obviously never spent any considerable amount of time in the US—or seen the movie Shallow Hal.

Tony Robbins, for those of you who don’t know him, is the poster boy for “free seminars”, which vow to make you rich, thin, good-looking, and the envy of everyone you have ever known and ever will know.

These ludicrous ads are on the radio and TV all the time, though they generally run at 3 am on a Monday, giving you a pretty good idea of who their target audience is.

Free diet seminar! Free investment seminar! Free property seminar!

Who actually goes to these things?

I have a pretty good idea and, frankly, I’m not particularly interested in meeting any of these people.

Of course, I’m sure there are exceptions.

It’s a bit like internet dating. I always think, “Who would do that?” As it turns out, I’ve got two, happily married, relatively well-adjusted, employed friends who met their partners on the internet. So, you never know, and as my mother always said, you shouldn’t judge.

Fine, whatever.

That’s not really the point of this blog anyway but, as it’s a Friday afternoon, I figured noone would mind if I gave a little perspective here.

Going back to the email—it went on to say something about growing my business (that would be helpful since I only have one employee and it’s me) and planning an exit strategy.

My first question is this: Why did I get this email?

If it is a professional seminar, then would they not vet the recipients of the email to ensure they are reaching the right people?

My second question, and this is really the point of this blog, is, Why are private equity and specialist investment firms soliciting their services to the broader travel technology industry?

Have we learned absolutely nothing at all from the dotcom bubble burst?

There is a glut of venture capital money floating around the travel industry nowadays. Some clear evidence of this is the money that has been poured into the three (count them, THREE) new start-up business airlines, one of which recently secured yet another hefty round of financing so it could continue operating.

This is to say nothing of the new money behind old travel companies (ie the GDSs).

Has anyone looked into what other pots these VCs have their fingers in?

I did some research into the companies associated with the seminar to which I was invited.

Some of them are household finance names, so that does lend some credibility to the seminar. The others seem to know what they’re doing (one, founded in 2001, boasts that it manages funds with equity capital in excess of £900 million).

That sounds good and they’ve got a great website, so maybe I should sign-up.

After all, I’m not quite sure what my exit strategy is. I always hoped I’d go out whilst cliff diving or shark hunting, but I’m open to new suggestions.

Tricia Holly Davis, chief writer, Travolution


Anonymous said...

Yes, Tony Robbins is ghastly. He also gets a great sustained bashing (as 'fictional' lifestyle guru Tom Rodgers) in a George Saunders short story called Winky - worth checking out.

Dan Greaves said...

I once got spam email inviting me to apply for the role of Homeland Security Officer, defending the grand old US of A from all comers.

I must admit, their recruitment tactics didn't inspire confidence.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tricia,

I have also received this email and my first reaction was "ah, that's interesting..finally a seminar to explain how to raise money when you have a good business model to develop within the travel industry"
Correct me if I am wrong, but I have never heard in the past such a seminar dedicated solely in Travel.
Today, It's true that there is a lot of money injected by VCs to help Web 2.0 companies. Will there be another bubble burst? Probably...(see my recent post about Close Ventures on Hotel Blogs
But not all web 2.0 will be failures. Same applies to Travel. There will be successes (who are they, I have already my list of winners) and failures. So why not helping young entrepreneurs to raise money if they had good ideas for the Travel industry...

About your comment about Tony Robbins, I have come across this guy while I was watching different videos on the excellent TED conference ( website and I found the guy quite interesting to give you little tricks to help you to succeed in business and in life in general. So it is not all negative in the end (besides the excessive tone of his voice and gimmicks).

So in the end, are you going to this seminar?


Anonymous said...

The record-breaking fundraising by several large buyout/growth equity funds (“mega-funds”) over the past couple of years has

led to heightened demand for people to help Los Angeles business

those funds. Specifically, the increased competitive pressures for top talent pushed compensation higher at the

mega-funds and had a trickle-down effect throughout the industry pushing compensation up at the mid- to larger-sized funds

which had to keep pace if they wanted to retain and attract top talent.