Saturday It is 6am. After a tiring week in Pre-X’s Finsbury Square offices, I am dodging spray-trails in the middle lane of the M25, en route to Heathrow. Ahead, I have a flight to Philadelphia followed by an unfeasibly tight transfer to Houston, followed by a flight to Austin, Texas – all booked in economy.
Arrive Austin, 14 hours later, having been upgraded for an hour to first class (courtesy of a wonderful cabin crew keen to help me make my 45-minute transfer) and run a mile across a snowy Philadelphia airport only to find that the plane to Houston had yet to arrive.
Sunday A day of rest? No way. Wake up at an ungodly hour despite tiredness and dream of lazy breakfast with newspapers. First call of the day is from our American partner who arrives in town 12 hours early and wants a briefing. We’re raising a pre-IPO [initial public offering] fund investing in both America and Britain and he wants a progress report. Then an invitation to lunch with a man who wants to introduce me to Texan Greeks. Asleep by 9pm.
Monday Does anybody else wake up in America at 4am? Is it the time difference or is it forgetting to turn your mobile off? Hmmm. More meetings with companies looking for an Aim [alternative investment market] listing – Sarbanes-Oxley is certainly bringing some interesting businesses to the attention of the British markets.
Further discussions with our American partner on the processes required to run a transatlantic fund. Jump into a car to go to Dallas. I’m deputed to organise a hotel, and pick one called the Southfork, naturally. But it’s in clear breach of the trades descriptions act – not even a sign of Miss Ellie.
Tuesday Set out early to visit two Dallas-based businesses with medical applications. One makes amazing machines for the “cosmetic procedure” business, the other has a great idea to produce oxygen from mixing chemicals in a lightweight apparatus rather than storing it in heavy bottles – a potential boon for several vertical sectors. One company covers itself in glory, the other doesn’t. A five-hour drive back to Austin in time for dinner with a group of investors.
Wednesday Early flight to Houston – 30 minutes in the air and 40 minutes of taxi-ing. Get picked up by Donald, who at 6ft 11ins drives a gigantic SUV as if it were a pedal car. Almost too glamorously for the credibility of my diary, we fly in a private jet to Harlingen on the Mexican border to see our next company. Nopal, a business that remediates oil-polluted soil – producing reclaimed oil and reusable earth – is set to “clean up” in a huge market. We see, at first hand, that the process works. Evening flight back to Philadelphia
Thursday Breakfast meeting with an east coast fundraiser who presents a bleak view of the market for small caps. My next meeting has been switched to New York, so have to jump on an Accela train and arrive an hour and a half later. It’s disconcerting to be in a place as amazing as the Big Apple when you weren’t expecting it and I feel somewhat overwhelmed – and cold: I have clothes only for Texas. In the evening I join the rush-hour out of New York and head to Philadelphia airport for the night flight home.
Friday It seems only a few hours ago that I was travelling the opposite way on the M25. I have seen snow and deserts, good businesses and bad businesses, and on both sides of the Atlantic there seems to be an air of acceptance that difficult times are ahead. And the M25 is no place to cheer anybody up.