As part of the ongoing series of contributed blogs from Seedcamp’s 20 finalists, we hear today from Henry Mori at TagMore, a company that developed a visual tagging technology for mobile phones. Henry started off the week as an Imperial College student, and finished as a co-founder of TagMore. Not bad for a week’s work…
My name is Henry Mori, a final year Biology with Management student at Imperial College London. I am currently the External Communications Officer for Imperial Entrepreneurs, a student-run society founded by Sumon Sadhu in 2006, which now has of over 400 members.
I was only invited to Seedcamp Week on Sunday the 2nd September, with the event starting the next day – my original briefing was to attend and to help with the organisation of the event where possible, but to also make acquaintances with people that I would be in contact with in the next year, through my position at Imperial Entrepreneurs. Following the short notice of my involvement, I was unsure what to expect, having never heard of Seedcamp previously, or really been a part of such an event before.
So, I started Monday the 3rd September with an open but largely naive mind. The event was, by its very nature, contact intensive – I am used to networking events and meeting with Venture Capitalists, having done related work for my father’s business in Silicon Valley this year, but what struck me immediately about the Seedcamp environment was the palpable vigour and excitement displayed by every single Seedcamp finalist. The atmosphere was alive with discussion and rapid-fire outspoken thoughts. This positivity was infectious as well, seeing that by the fourth day of the event, I had already jumped both feet in and become co-founder of Tagmore!
I befriended Alberto and Daniel from TagMore following time spent in their mentorship sessions and offering input where asked. Fortunately, I was already aware of the technology behind the product, being that it is widely used in Japan – a country close to my heart since I am half Japanese. I was very excited by the prospect of bringing this technology and more importantly, usability, to the UK. I got on really well with my teammates and it was not long before I was asked to join the venture…12 hours before we had to give a ten minute business pitch in front of 30+ judges!
That night was one of little sleep – we worked in my apartment from 10pm to 6am the following morning, in the process coming up with a de novo marketing strategy and revenue model at 4am! Needless to say, we completed the proposal, practised once and slept for 1.5 hours before presenting the next morning…
Although we did not receive seed funding at the event itself, Seedcamp 2007 for me will always be remembered as a great accomplishment – an embodiment of what European entrepreneurship should be, and a tribute to what events such as Seedcamp set out to achieve. I had gone from being student to actually joining a startup in the space of 4 days and am now motivated more than ever to continue work with my great team to build a successful business.
The experience itself was immeasurably rewarding, both in terms of the teams’ rapid development and knowledge imparted by the mentors. I would encourage any like-minded individuals to participate in future events in whatever capacity possible, since it will open boundless opportunities.
Wanted to point out a great blog from the team over at Maple & Leek, a social network for the over 50 crowd, about what they got out of Seedcamp Week. Take a read and also check out the video that proves “50 is the new 30.”
As part of the ongoing series of contributed blogs from Seedcamp’s 20 finalists, we hear today from Ryan Notz at Buildersite – an online, reputation-based community connecting tradesmen with homeowners.
I’ve had a busy week. In addition to catching up on things that had piled up during Seedcamp week, I’m coordinating half a dozen programmers and designers to get the new version of the site launched before Monday. Despite the busy-ness, I’m feeling great and have tons of energy. I’ll be working all weekend, so I’ll find out soon just how much energy I have…
The attention from the press has been great, and very exciting (and unexpected). I think buildersite will be reaping the benefits from that for a while yet.
I met with a VC yesterday who suddenly sprung one on me: “What are the 3 most important things you learned from Seedcamp?” I said: “First of all, tube strikes suck.” Having misplaced my prepared answers, I came up with something about the importance of product, smart money, and how to build a team. Those were choice nuggets, to be sure, but what did I really learn from Seedcamp?
The real gem, the revelation, is that entrepreneurs want to help each other and do help each other. We’re all human beings and the human-ness still shines through, despite the labels: ‘business’, ‘entrepreneur’, ‘capitalist’. Even the dreaded VCs want to help entrepreneurs, and sometimes it seems, for unselfish reasons.
All of this helped me connect with why I’m doing what I do: because I love it. I’ve always been that way, trying to do what I love, regardless of how much money I made or how difficult it was. Whenever I think too much about a big payout, I lose sight of who I am and why I’m doing this. Whenever I talk to the kind of people I met at Seedcamp, I remember everything.
As part of the ongoing series of contributed blogs from Seedcamp’s 20 finalists, we hear today from Steve Morley at Avenue7 – a fashion and style social network, created for girls between the ages of 12 and 17.
A week has passed since the Seedcamp phenomenon drew to a close for Avenue7.com. In its wake, a torrent of business cards & short-hand scribblings litter the office. With the second draft of the business plan fresh through the shredder, work has begun on condensing Europe’s collective web wisdom into a 4 page account of our business intentions.
The Seedcamp week itself consisted of 3 days of intense mentoring feedback, followed by a day of pitching, then finishing with a wrap-up on the Friday morning. The ripples have yet to subside with a stream of follow-up meetings with mentors taking place over past and coming weeks. Although “Pitches Thursday” was clearly the most pressured day, the intensity and shear quantity of information to digest in the first 3 days was the most exhausting. The most impressive aspect of the week for me was the panel of experts – the quality and experience across all web disciplines was a true European tour de force. A special mention should also be given to the bearded film crew techies who were constantly lurking and waiting to pounce on entrepreneurs separated from the networking cloud. We have been promised a “good angle” and so are very much looking forward to the final cut (and our invitation to the premier.)
Although the sign on the door said ‘European startups’, I think there was a much broader geographic spattering, with Maddy, of Content Syndicate in Dubai and Ed of, rentmineonline.com who is originally from the States (but now living in Amsterdam). I was also really impressed with how open the teams were with their plans; even those teams still at a very early stage, such as Wall Street Docs were happy to share ideas. For me this was one of the major factors in transforming the week from a teaching course style event into more of a community atmosphere – a concept which is close to the heart of Avenue7.
Seedcamp 1.0 was hosted at Imperial College London, who bizarrely assigned operating rooms at completely opposite ends of the campus, although did provide an unlimited supply of conference sandwiches and the infamous morning kick-start – “brownies for breakfast”. As a whole, Seedcamp was an eye-opener to the support network available to help us move things forward. Many friends following entrepreneurial ambitions have baulked our determination to stay in London, as they jump ship to San Francisco. The European network may not rival that of Silicone Valley yet, although events like Seedcamp and the Open-Coffee Club make huge steps in the right direction.
We’ve asked the 20 finalist teams to contribute blogs about what their Seedcamp experience was like, and we’ll be posting these entries over the next few weeks. The first comes from David Crane at Debatewise.
It’s Friday 7th September and I’m sitting in a university lecture room anxiously waiting to hear whether Debatewise.com, a site in which I’ve invested a great deal more than just money, will be one of the Seedcamp winners. As the names get called and the cameras pan round I grin my best Oscar losers smile (“oh it’s an honour just to be nominated”) and try not to grip too hard when congratulating the lucky six.
We didn’t win, and I really wanted to. Winning would have meant another three month’s mentoring. It would have encouraged extra effort from the organisers to ensure our success. It would have come with €50,000 of investment and it would have delivered much sought-for validation, of which more later.
Besides, it’s the taking part that counts isn’t it? Well in this case it really is. The very act of applying was useful because you can’t answer 32 probing questions in a concise and compelling way without thinking very carefully about your business and how you intend to carry through your plans.
Get through the application and you’ve got a week with some seriously good, seriously smart people. The sort of people who’ll listen to your idea for 30 seconds, totally get it and bang out a stream of great suggestions and next steps (thank you Mike Shaver, thank you Sumon).
It wasn’t a week-long of fantasticness, oh no. Eleven hours of each day is packed choc-full of conversations and insight and pitches and that’s exhausting. Then there are the people who take a cherished idea and with one shrug of the shoulders condemn it to future obscurity.
But ultimately that’s good too. It’s good to be challenged and questioned and probed. It’s good to be faced by people who know their stuff and demand that you know yours. It’s good practice for the time when you need a solid reason why the Group Director of Digital Strategy and Development is wrong and na na na na na na na just wont cut it.
Which leads me back to validation. I’ve always found it very difficult to decide between the ideas to pursue and the ones to abandon. Most of us have a limited amount of cash and all of us have a limited amount of time and I don’t know about you, but I’ve often looked for a sign that this is the idea to devote myself to.
The problem with Seedcamp is that there were no clear signs; some people thought it a great idea others did not. The difficulty is that if you seek validation the tendency is to focus on the people who don’t think you’ll make it. Or in other words seek validation and disappointment is pretty much guaranteed.
So Seedcamp taught me that it’s not important everyone love the idea, in fact it’s impossible that everyone would. If the feedback were universally negative it might be wise to consider something else. As long as some people thing you’re onto something, as long as the idea is good enough to get you out of bed, then it’s a good enough idea. The market will shape it into a great idea, provided you let it of course.
The other great thing I got from Seedcamp was the knowledge that successful entrepreneurs have nothing that you or I don’t. There was nothing in particular about their experiences in life or their attitudes toward life that set them out from the crowd. Apart, that is, from an unwavering desire to succeed.
It’s been mentioned in a thousand self-help books and Anthony Robins seminars but it was never more true until I saw it for myself. Creating a successful business does not depend upon the parenting you had, the school you went to, the brains you were born with or the hard-nosed approach you’ve developed. It depends upon having the courage to change when necessary, the drive to continue when appropriate and the wisdom to differentiate between the two.
If you haven’t got it you can learn it or you can hire someone with it. There’s a whole ecosystem of support which is being developed to help you be successful and there are many people just like you aiming for similar goals and struggling with similar problems. The very existence of which I must thank Seedcamp for knowledge of.
So thank you Seedcamp. I learnt a huge amount in a very short time and one day hope to be able to give back to others what you gave to me.
We’ve been keeping an eye on SeedCamp with anticipation to see how the stellar companies selected fared in last week’s sessions; and we’re very excited to announced that as a partner for SeedCamp, LeWeb3 will be welcoming some of the finalists to the Start-up Competition at our conference in Paris this December!
The winners of the first ever Seedcamp have been announced after a great week in London that couldn’t even be deterred by a city-wide tube strike. The six winning teams come from all over Europe and represent innovative ideas that have the potential to grow into big businesses. We want to congratulate Buildersite (UK), RentMineOnline (The Netherlands), TableFinder (Sweden), Zemanta (Slovenia), Kublax (UK), and Project Playfair (Scotland) and are excited to have such a great group of companies representing Seedcamp 2007. Check out Mike Butcher’s TechCrunch post for more information on each of the companies and why they were chosen.
We also want to congratulate and thank the 20 teams who came to Seedcamp Week and all 268 companies that applied. With more than 80 mentors involved and countless others helping out, it shows how committed the entrepreneur community in Europe is to building the world’s next generation of innovative tech companies. We can’t wait to see what’s to come…
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