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Catapults, subsidies, and benefits: Bongonomics explained

Our VC's on FIRE at Burning Man and the Paralytic Games

By Steve Bong, 31 Aug 2012

¡Bong! "Investigation may be likened to the long months of pregnancy, and solving a problem to the day of birth. To investigate a problem is, indeed, to solve it"
- Mao Tse Tung from Oppose Book Worship (1930)

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. Greetings, fellow entrepreneurs!

By the time you read this I shall be on the playa at the Burning Man Festival with my personal assistant มาลัย (which means Garland of Flowers in Thai) - the birth place of the Gift Economy and an endless stream of Class A chemicals. Since มาลัย is now employed as President of Crowdsourcing Outreach (Mentoring) at Bong Ventures we were both fast-tracked through US Immigration, as befits the vital status an internet capitalist has in today's global knowledge economy. Thanks to Rohan at No.10, once again, for greasing the skis, so to speak. FULLSTOP NEW PARAGRAPH.

Nevada is but a short-hop from Wyoming, from where I am dictating this column. STOP. The Central Bankers Conference officially begins today, but by the time the Nobel Prize-winning economists and the titans of fractional reserve banking line up for their first barn dance, I will have departed. For the real movers and shakers, guys like me, Jeff Jarvis and Peter Thiel (along with Mumford and Sons, naturally), the important work is done behind the scenes, before the event officially starts, and the dead-tree media arrive to transcribe Benny from the Fed's speech.

Our primary concern this year, we agreed, was the increasing lack of faith in quantitative easing. These banker guys literally print money, and nothing attracts a red-blooded, go-it-alone, Ayn-Randian capitalist like free money rolling off a printing press.

Let me be clear. I'm philosophically 100 per cent against Government intervention in the economy, of ANY KIND. It saps the MOJO right out of capitalism, as surely as that Samsung guy in The Bible had his strength drained by the hairdresser chick.

(Speaking of Samsung, I'm lighting a candle for my Korean campadres who have been so cruelly mugged by Apple shills in the so-called independent justice system of California. Back at Bong Ventures, a candle has been lit for CEO Oh-Hyun Kwon, and it's burning right next to the candle มาลัย has lit for the albino fugitive, Mr Julian Assange.)

So subsidies are bad. Bokay?

But not if they're Community Investment Catapults. Or Enterprise Capital Funds Or RVCFs. Or IIFs.

Subsidies are what dinosaur-era metal-bashers and boffins get to prop up their old-world businesses, or muck around in the chemistry lab with their silly and pointless new materials, like graphene. Catapults are what vital new social media agencies and innovation imagineers - like BongVentures - get to deliver the weightless, frictionless post-profit new media open data economy.

So, if there's any money going round, then I'm at the front of the queue. I call it pump-priming. And I'm quietly confident that 2013 will be the year of the Catapult.

Paralytics

I shall confess the real reason I have spent a couple of silent weeks since my triumphant Olympic Opening Ceremony: it's one of logistics. I haven't been able to get to the Bong Ventures HQx in Shoreditch. Literally.

The Bong Ventures loft complex normally provides a laidback and congenial co-working hub for my start-ups. But for the past month it's been chaos. I've had guys in wheelchairs throwing things at each other, and one particularly scary dude who is half-man, and half a gigantic-spring, vaulting through the ceiling. It's caused havoc with my feng shui and there are broken bottles of Puyehue water everywhere.

Nobody told me that after the Olympics was over, there would be another games festival - this time for people on Sickness and Invalidity Benefit. And nobody thought to tell the Bongster that Bong Ventures HQ had been designated as a training camp. What the FUCK?

This is doubly embarrassing, not just because of my long and mutually fruitful relationship with LOCOG as social branding enforcement consultant, but because I have been doing some strategic consulting for a fine outfit called Atos. Atos performs a vital role in ensuring that Catapults which should rightfully go to start-ups in Shoreditch are not being frittered away on spongers.

So far the Incapacity Benefits claimants haven't found the iPad app we developed for Atos, which creates a mobile geolocation-aware Benefit Integrity Centre for inspectors which is fully Retina Display™-capable.

Look, I'm as compassionate as the next Shoreditch Venture Capitalist, but unless you can make a meaningful contribution to the Post-Profit Economy, such as being able to write a social media engagement strategy, and show some real Hashtag-Traction, then it's money down the drain. You have to earn your keep. It's called tough love.

Bong Out. ®

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Steve Bong is the founder of Bong Ventures, an early stage investor and incubator focussing on innovative new technology startups based in Shoreditch, London. He enjoys parties, foreign travel, Open Data and draws his inspiration from Ayn Rand and His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. He advises No.10 policy guru Rahul Sativa on mindfulness and innovation, Mark Zuckerberg on the Perfect IPO, LOCOG on brand enforcement, and imagineered the Olympic Opening Ceremony with Danny Boyle.