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Cheat Sheet: Second Chance Tuesday

It's got nothing to do with missing your favourite shows on Channel 4...

'Second Chance Tuesday', what's that all about then?
Well, you remember First Tuesday...

No.
Oh, OK. Then it's time for a bit of a history lesson. Back in 1998 four young guns of the dot-com boom decided to set up a networking organisation. It started off as an informal gathering where would-be entrepreneurs could share ideas. Eventually the VCs joined the party. It was a speed dating organisation, if you like, just with investors and entrepreneurs on either side of the table and serious sums of cash up for grabs, rather than dates.

By the peak of the boom years it had nearly 250,000 signed-up members worldwide and had spawned countless start-ups. And in case you haven't guessed, they met on the First Tuesday of the month.

Hence the name. I get that. So what is 'Second Chance Tuesday'?
When the bubble burst it goes without saying the value in continuing to stage First Tuesday meetings waned somewhat along with the enthusiasm for attending. We all know what happened next - many of us lived through the dot-com downturn to tell the tale. But over the past 18 months – say it quietly – the signs have been looking really rather good for the dot-com sector and now the format is being resurrected. So, Tuesday 7 February is set to be the first First Tuesday style meeting in nearly six years. The second coming, or less grandiosely, a 'Second Chance Tuesday'.

What are these signs of which you speak?
Well back in 1999 the internet was something of a wild frontier still. Everybody knew there was gold in them there hills but nobody really knew the right way to mine it. Since the flash-in-the-pan days of Boo.com and Webvan things have matured somewhat. Take broadband. The persistence of dial-up only access in many areas hampered great ideas – such as those using video or rich media websites. It seems likely that with more people on broadband some of those ideas might actually hit the ground running, with a better chance of survival.

Is it the same gang arranging it?
It isn't. We're told original founder Julie Meyer – the 'first lady' of the dot-com boom - will be in attendance and giving it her full support but it is being organised by Michael Smith and Judith Legg.

Who they?
Michael Smith is the founder of the rather excellent 'boys toys' gadget site Firebox.com. He is one of the school of '98 though and actually raised his first round of funding at a First Tuesday event back in the day. Judith Legg is the founder of networking group, The Glasshouse.

And who else is going to be there?
Michael Smith is promising the event is already over-subscribed beyond the 250 capacity of the venue.

So, a lot of people with ideas are going to be in some nice central London venue, drinking champagne, eating canapés and enjoying themselves. Will the world be a better place on Wednesday morning?
Ha ha! I see your point. You could easily be forgiven for thinking this is some shallow excuse for a few drinks and nibbles, and on one level it almost certainly is. But whatever you think about such events, the potential turn out and the fact anybody even thought about staging it, given its history, should be take as a further affirmation of the health of the dot-com sector.

But surely nobody is going to bring their chequebook. Once the VCs have had their fill of finery won't they beat a retreat, having been stung once before?
It's true that a lot of ideas which were born out of First Tuesday gatherings didn't exactly embody 'the Midas touch', in fact many went down like concrete kestrels but Smith believes investors, a little sharper and wiser to the dot-com pitfalls, will be open minded about bringing their chequebooks to the event. It seems likely that some of the businesses being represented may be a little further down the line in terms of maturity than some of the chancers who turned up in 1999. Smith accepts many investors may be 'once bitten twice shy' but not so shy they'll steer clear altogether.

Isn't the bottom line that we have enough ventures covering all things 'interweb'? What else could somebody possibly come up with...
Ah, if we knew that... however, never rule out the possibility of not knowing you needed or wanted something until you are using it. And for all their battle scars there will be plenty of VCs who would like to add the next Amazon, eBay, Google or Lastminute.com to their CV. And growth in innovative areas such as podcasting and blogging might be just the spark needed. Watch this space.

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