Russian to judgement…

A winter’s tale of my failure to find anything good and new to justify international expansion in a Russia-British trade event…

Highgate, North London. Dark, bitterly cold, snow in the air. I slowly pulled into a driveway I’d passed so many times, but never noticed before. Guards approached. Greatcoats, dour expressions. All they were missing were fur hats. After all, this was a little piece of Russia in London. Guard 1 scanned his list of names, looking for mine, a task frustrated by the dark and wind. Guard 2, clearly the boss, put him out of his misery, deciding that my car looked the part, even if I didn’t, and waved me forward onto a narrow winding drive uphill through trees.… Keep reading...

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Global Thinking for Digital Health and MedTech

I’m getting ever more excited by the new businesses that I’m seeing in the healthcare sector. Whilst the introduction of new drugs largely remains with established companies, there’s a proliferation of new technology and software, promoted by some really smart entrepreneurs, that will bring real benefits to all of us.

The most visible are physical devices, which have acquired a class label of MedTech. There’s already a vast number of patient-centric apps, covering everything from lifestyle improvement to self-management of medical care. And behind the scenes, there are new apps and software tools for professional use in hospitals and care homes – classed as “Digital Health” – destined to really improve patient outcomes and healthcare sector efficiency.… Keep reading...

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Timbale of Spicy Tuna, Avocado and Smoked Salmon

My food artistry skills are limited, but I do think that making a meal look attractive actually makes it easier to accept the fact that it’s diet-conscious. Although oily fish like tuna and oily fruit like avocado are relatively high in calories, they contain lots of things that are good for you, and this dish makes for a very pretty dinner plate that, and with accompanying green salad, comes to just 320 calories by my calculation.

INGREDIENTS

For each person:

  • 120g tuna
  • 50g smoked salmon
  • ½ medium avocado
  • 1 spring onion
  • (Optional) 1 dessertspoon capers
  • Juice of ½ lime (or lemon)

For the marinade:

  • 5ml (1 teaspoon) light soy sauce (or fish sauce)
  • 1cm squeeze ginger puree (from a tube)
  • 5ml (1 teaspoon) sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon hot paprika
  • 3-4 drops Tabasco sauce

METHOD

  1. Chop the tuna into small pieces (e.g.
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Chicken Afghani Kebab

This recipe was inspired by my favourite Indian restaurant in Mumbai, Gaylord. It’s not that it is a particularly good restaurant, but it’s rare in being the only one in the centre of town that has three things I like – an outside terrace (Indians crave air-con!), they have non-veg food and they sell alcohol. I’m trying to stay off the latter now I’m dieting, and in the case of Gaylord it’s easy as I’m not going to Mumbai so often any more.

But back to food. Like so many, I love curries. Unfortunately, they (well, restaurant curries) can be around the unhealthiest food you can eat.… Keep reading...

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Frustrations of an Angel Investor #4 – Some Angels rush in where fools fear to tread

Where one leads, others follow. New start-ups are therefore desperate to get one or two substantial initial investors, especially those that they can “name drop” to motivate others to invest too.

This has led to a proliferation of “assistance”, some clearly very professional and helpful, but much of it just parasitical.

The growing numbers of Angel Funds attract investors by appearing to amortise risk. They do due diligence to filter the start-ups, and investments are pro-rated across multiple companies to reduce risk. I’m sure there are really good ones, but I’ve been discouraged by meeting some where the due diligence is clearly minimal, and some of the companies in their portfolios appear to be chosen on the basis of quantity rather than quality.… Keep reading...

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Frustrations of an Angel Investor #3 – Brilliant Inventors, Copycat Deniers, Lazybones and Serial Failures

Angels meet them all. In my experience, too few of the first, and too many of the others.

Of course, it’s not necessary to be a brilliant inventor to have a wonderful business idea, and, with the help of Angel funding, go on to success. There is very little that is new under the sun, but there are always ways of developing, updating and improving existing concepts. So I’m always happy to meet enthusiastic would-be entrepreneurs with a sound business plan, who are prepared to dedicate themselves and work hard to build a business, and never mind if their concept is derivative.… Keep reading...

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Diet-conscious Spare Ribs

It’s barbecue season, and even if it weren’t, you might, like me, find yourself craving ribs now and again. On the face of it, this should be a complete no-no for those conscious of their diet. Pork meat may be relatively low in calories compared to other meats, but ribs have lots of fat (bad) and are usually marinaded, and then eaten, with barbecue sauce (sugar, so arguably worse).

So this is not a recipe that “helps weight loss” as such. Of course it doesn’t. But if, like me, you succumb to temptation, by following this recipe you are at least doing so in the most diet-conscious way possible.… Keep reading...

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Superfood Salad

The simplest and quickest of all diet-conscious meals, requiring no culinary skills at all, but utterly delicious, and psychologically satisfying as it ticks all the boxes! The Asian-influenced dressing spices it up.

It feels a bit silly including this as a recipe, as it doesn’t involve any cooking at all, and the ingredients are imprecise and infinitely variable – but it’s become a favourite and has been important to me in helping resist my carnivorous tendencies. For the quantities here, it makes a meal on its own, but it can, of course, be served as a side salad, perhaps omitting the prawns or adding other veg ingredients.… Keep reading...

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Duck with Blackberries

Duck is fatty and bad for you, right? Wrong – if you’re very careful about the preparation. A duck breast with skin is over 400 calories, but without skin and fat is just about 200 calories – no more (and according to some listings, less) than skinless chicken breast. And, unlike chicken breast, it’s much more tasty and can be served rare or pink, so doesn’t get dried out and tough. I cooked this last week with fresh blackberries that I picked in the alleyway at the back of my London house – but you could substitute blueberries, raspberries, kiwi fruit (chopped small), kumquat or perhaps other fruit….… Keep reading...

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Frustrations of an Angel Investor 2: More thoughts on Business Plans

In the last month alone I have received 4 proposals from start-ups for Angel funding, seeking between £150,000 and £750,000. Not one of the principals presenting their decks could explain exactly how the money would be spent, or detail what revenue was expected, or when, or how.

The problem is, of course, that neither they nor anyone else knows. Every startup entrepreneur wants to present their idea as a “Disruptor” and dreams of it being the next “Unicorn” like Uber or Airbnb.

But creating a new app or website to deliver a service is only, at best, disruptive with a small “d” – it’s really just modernisation, adapting new technology (developed by others) to meet an existing need.… Keep reading...

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