In November we are hosting the 4th version of Seedhack at our headquarter Campus in the heart of London’s Tech City. Our past Seedhacks have focused on Fintech, and Fashion and ecommerce. This hackathon will run through the whole weekend from November 8-10th and is dedicated to remixing content.

Seedhack vers. 4.0 is focusing on how disruption could be caused in the space of user generated content. With an increasing amount of music uploaded, photos shared, videos watched and checkins made, problems and constraints are often found when remixing content. We are seeking to tackle this problem!

For everyone who has not attended one of our hackathons before, we are offering all participants help on creating hacks by providing a load of APIs, mentors and inspiring talks throughout the event. We would like to invite you to be part of an exciting weekend where we are planning to create outside the box hacks, disruptive ideas, innovations, cool and fun products.

If you already have an idea – great! If you don’t – not to worry, you will meet many inspiring and talented people that will get your imagination going, and the ‘what if?’ questions flowing. We are looking for developers, however people with UX design, marketers, biz dev, and creative minds to get involved.

On the API front we are planning to have numerous partners and we are open to bring in APIs varying from music to photo. Keep an eye on the Seedhack Twitter account for more API announcements, including a few big names that we think you may have heard of! Updates will follow.

At the end of an exhausting weekend full of coding, pizza and energy drinks you’ve got the chance to present your hacks on stage and get feedback from our high class judges (TBA soon). The winning teams will get not only fame but fun awards. Stay tuned!

In order to get the optimal ratio of skills to form good and strong teams, we ask you to fill out this form, and express your interest in the topic. We would love to have everyone, however we do have limited space, so please make sure you stand out in the application form to get a space! We will let you know by the 25th October if you are one of the participants in Seedhack November 2013.

Apply here!

Interested in getting involved on an API or sponsor level, please give us a shout!

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The importance of feedback can at times be worth more to an entrepreneur than actual funding. Getting advice, mentoring and in-the-flesh experience from presenting your business to an audience made up of founders, developers, and investors is vital feedback for any entrepreneur. This is – partly – what Seedcamp Week is about.

Anirvan from InsightSplash has written about his experience at Seedcamp Week London in September 2013. Anirvan shares some very valuable ‘do’s and don’ts’ about his team’s experience – all very valuable to teams contemplating applying for Seedcamp Week London 2014.

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Prelude

In early 2013, we decided to set about building the Google Analytics of hotel operations auditing and quality management. At the heart of our vision was the conviction that if you can reengineer the feedback loop to make it frictionless, the volume & quality of guest feedback you can generate can approach clickstream data (used in A/B testing) in its depth, breadth and potency.

To test that belief, in July this year, my co-founder and I flew to Johannesburg to launch our first pilot with the Crowne Plaza. Until this point, entrepreneurial bravado aside, we had a fundamental fear:  what if low friction did not drive exponentially higher response throughput? What if we were fundamentally, foolishly wrong?10 days into the pilot and we knew that we were not wrong. We were generating response rates of 70% per week and outperforming the incumbent feedback system by 1000% – this with a first cut, unoptimised, unincentivised version of our feedback tool. Armed with this data, we applied to Seedcamp and in a week we had our answer. We had made it to the final!

We did not win though, so the rest of this blog is a reflection on our failed attempt. Read in that light.

(Note: It is written for the benefit of other, future applicants who presumably would want as much detail as possible (we did). If you are looking for a quick read, this may not be for you.)

The Preparation

To prepare for the event, we did three things. One, we created a business case (spreadsheet numbers), two, we created the pitch deck and three, we created a longer, leave-behind deck. We also looked at a number of great instructional videos on the art of pitching.

If we had to do it again…

With the benefit of hindsight (& purely keeping Seedcamp week in mind), we could have spared ourselves a lot of this work:

What we didn’t do but should have done: spent far more time preparing for the Q&A.

Before Seedcamp, the Q&A ‘threat’ we had in mind was the Curveball – i.e. a fundamental weakness we had failed to spot and had no real answer to. We were both fearful and hopeful about landing a curveball – fearful because we didn’t want to look stupid but hopeful that if a curveball did land, the insight would be well worth any embarrassment and dramatically improve our odds of success.

It turned out, this was the wrong mental frame. No curveballs manifested but there were plenty of bread and butter questions about entry barriers, scalability, team vs. problem fit, etc. that we did not do full justice to.

In theory these should have been simple and some of them were. But when you breathe a startup 24/7, you accumulate a body of arguments and counter arguments and counter counter arguments as to the pros and cons of your startup. To distill that into concise, compressed logic under pressure can be hard if you haven’t pre-framed your answers. The problem is not that you don’t have an answer but rather that you  often have more than one – selecting the right one can be hard.

A better mental frame would have been to treat the Q&A as a behavioural competency interview. If you have been through one, you will know that the trick to preparing for these is to mine your CV in advance to pick up one example for each anticipated question. We should have done this and we didn’t.

Seedcamp Week

The Art Of The Pitch

During the Seedcamp week, we pitched 5 times in total, each pitch lasting 3 minutes. Here is what we discovered along the way

1. Do Tell A Story But Choose The Right Story To Tell:  InsightSplash is a 2-sided concept; we make it easier for hotel guests to provide feedback and we then mine that feedback for insight. Our pitch told the story of how we take away the pain for those guests. Went down like a lead balloon. We were told that we were harping on the obvious. In the next iteration, we took away the story element altogether and that landed even flatter – people told us without a story, it was hard to stay interested in our pitch. We got it right on the third iteration when we figured that we had to tell a story but from the POV of the hotel (who would pay us) not the customer.

The lesson here is that you should tell a story from the perspective of the entity to whom you add the most value. In our case, no hotel guest complains that she can’t give as much feedback as she would like whereas hotels would love to receive far more feedback than they can generate. So even though our customer engagement metrics are pretty incredible, it makes sense to tell the story from the hotel’s perspective, not the hotel guest’s. It is kind of obvious in hindsight but it really wasn’t at the time.

2. It is not the investor’s job to place herself in your shoes: 70% response rate is unheard of. Generating tens of thousands of data points per hotel is unheard of. We were convinced that those metrics alone would lead to an Aha! moment. They didn’t. They were relevant of course but they proved nowhere as conclusive as we expected them to be. With hindsight, this was almost certainly because we were drawing on context that the investors lacked. There was also an element of egotism on our side – these metrics were the crown jewels of our journey so far. How could they not be the centrepiece of our pitch? How could they not resonate with other people?

The lesson I would draw is do not assume that proof points that resonate with you will automatically resonate with investors. Try out your proof points in advance before you work them into your pitch.

3. Practice Your Pitch 50 times Like They Tell You To? Yes. And then some. And then some more.

The Mentoring Sessions

We found these incredibly valuable and scarcely believable that we should have got this for free (thank you, Seedcamp). Things we learned:

1. Control your sales instinct By default you will want to convince people how wonderful you are and that is OK up to a point, especially if you are talking to a mentor with relevant experience who could be a source of sales leads. Just make sure you ask enough questions to learn from these sessions, not just sell.

2. But do be alert to sales opportunities Seedcamp generated 5 high quality sales leads that converted into ongoing sales conversations for us. More actually if you count sales leads that proved to be dead ends (for now). When I say high quality, I absolutely mean high quality; the kind of leads that on our own would have taken us months to crack. Especially if you are a B2B startup, you have to know that Seedcamp can do this for you and seek out the mentors with the right industry background so you can drive this pro-actively.

3. There is negative feedback and there is negative feedback There are two kinds. There is negative feedback that picks up on issues you are already aware of and are actively working on. And there is negative feedback that is based on issues you were not aware of. You need to be open to both but handle them differently.

For the first, watch out for nuances that are incremental to your understanding of the problem space but be aware that the bulk of the criticism may be based on an inadequate understanding of the journey you have been travelling on. E.g. if a mentor says X is incredibly hard to achieve, it is pause-worthy if you thought it was only moderately hard or easy. But if you were fully aware that it is incredibly hard and were actively innovating to deal with the hardness of X then that hardness is a positive, not a negative and you should not let a mentor convince you otherwise.

As for the second, when you find a mentor who after barely – say 15 minutes – of reflection about your start up can identify something unique that you have failed to spot, well grab that mentor and never let her go. Seriously, mentors and mentoring moments like these are what made Seedcamp so special for us.

The Evening Parties

With the exception of Monday and Tuesday, there were after-session parties on all the other days. Keeping in mind that attending these parties has an opportunity cost when you are sleepless and running on fumes, this is what we realised.

1. Evening Party On Founder’s Day Very high signal to noise ratio. Attend and attend till late. Every third person you meet will be a founder that you can learn from so utterly worth the return on effort.

2. Evening Party On Product Day Poor Signal To Noise Ratio. The event had a mixed attendance with many people who were neither founders nor investors and it is too much work to figure out who is who. If you are sleep deprived, this would be an easy event to miss. I walked out after 30 minutes.

3. Evening Party On Investor’s Day Final event in the Seedcamp week so absolutely worth attending. Lots of investors around plus first real chance in the week to let down your hair and fraternise with your co-applicants

In Conclusion

Fantastic experience that we absolutely loved. It is a bummer that we didn’t win but then again we got so much out of the week itself that it is hard to look back at the week as anything but time well spent. If you are a startup considering whether to apply, don’t hesitate. Just do it.

Mini Seedcamp Lisbon has historically displayed great and talented teams, that have joined the Seedcamp family: Hole 19, CrowdProcess, Qamine, and SimpleTax. We are looking very much forward to partnering with Beta-i  to host Mini Seedcamp Lisbon 2013

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Guess what? Seedcamp has already chosen the 12 startup participants of the Mini Seedcamp Lisbon at the Beta-I headquarters.

These 12 lucky ones are going to be accelerated up through master classes, networking and immediate feedback to their pitches from the Seedcamp team and international investors on September 26th at Central Station. This is going to be huge!

Find out more about the top 12:

  1. CASHTAG (Lisbon, Portugal)
  2. COPILOT (Madrid, Spain)
  3. DR. PHI (Lisbon, Portugal)
  4. MONITOR BACKLINKS (Romania)
  5. OMNIPASTE (Romania)
  6. PARCELMIX (Lisbon, Portugal)
  7. STARTUP DASHBOARD (Lisbon, Portugal)
  8. TUIZZI (Oporto, Portugal)
  9. Unbabel (Lisbon, Portugal)
  10. WHALE (Lisbon Portugal)
  11. WIZDEE (Coimbra, Portugal)
  12. ZERCATTO (Oporto, Portugal)

Beta-i, a non-profit organization promoting entrepreneurship and innovation, plays a key role on bringing Seedcamp to Lisbon. Beta-i is organizing Explorers Festival where the brightest founders, artists, designers, astronauts, social entrepreneurs, big wave surfers and the most amazing explorers will meet in Lisbon, November 2013. Check it out Explores Festival!

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Seedcamp weeks are always a crucial time for Seedcamp: besides uniting Europe’s most important entrepreneurs, investors, and tech community, it’s also when we traditionally invest in a new batch of Seedcamp companies. Additionally, this year we’ve gone from just one to now four Seedcamp Weeks per year (2 each in Berlin and London).

Last Monday, we announced a treasure trove of data and stats on how the past Seedcamp companies are performing and doing building great businesses all over Europe and the world. We are proud to publish this data, and appreciative of the incredible feedback we received from the community on the transparency and the level of success achieved.

Throughout the rest of last week, we presented more than 20 new companies to the wider tech community and gave the startups the chance to meet some of the best and most engaged mentors in our network. They also had the chance to listen to exciting keynote presentations and talks from people who’ve been there: on Wednesday with Founders’ Day, Jan Reichelt of Mendeley shared his own founder story and background on how he and his cofounders built the company from early days to exit this year. Thursday was on Product and Marketing – Matt Webb of Berg London talked about the new and upcoming wave of hardware startups and connected devices. Both days had around 100 mentors roaming Campus and connecting with the founders who had come from all over Europe.

Last Friday, we hosted a huge investor day with more than 150 angel and VC investors, the biggest Demo Day we’ve ever had in the history of Seedcamp. Friday was also the day we announced the new teams that are joining the Seedcamp Family – and we’ve announced more teams than ever before: 12 teams are moving into Campus and will work with us for the next months, joining our Seedcamp Academy program, our upcoming US trip, and of course benefiting from the long term support Seedcamp provides.

In addition to the new teams, we also had four of our recent teams that joined us recently attending investor day, as they had not yet been part of a big Seedcamp week:

This brings us to a total of 104 Seedcamp teams – a new record, and a number to be proud of.

After announcing our results of the last 6 years yesterday, today we’re excited to share details and the selected finalists of Seedcamp Week London with you.

We’ll have over 300 mentors joining us from inspirational founders, product experts, marketing gurus and corporate partners to over 100 investors and angels.

Jan Reichelt Co-Founder of Mendeley, Matt Webb of Berg London and Ash Fontana of AngelList will be joining us for masterclasses and to share their stories. To top it off, there will be an evening event each day for further informal networking.

As you might have read from the data we shared yesterday, our teams are achieving incredible growth and we’re expecting nothing less from the selected companies participating in this Seedcamp Week. Sectors represented range from finance to kids to events to fashion. We’re happy to see such a strong representation from our base in London as well as a number of teams we met at Mini Seedcamps in various cities across Europe. Please meet the teams:

Our gratitude goes to our event partner, Barclays, for their support and sponsoring of Investor Day. We would also like to thank our event sponsors, SoftLayer and Complete Accounting Solutions, who are sponsoring lunch on Wednesday and Thursday. And AWS and Torch Partners for sponsoring the evening events. Not forgetting Silicon Valley Bank for providing everyone with seasoned entrepreneur and mentor, Rob Fitzpatrick’s, new book, The Mom Test. We would also like to thank our yearly sponsors; Google, Microsoft BizSpark, Qualcomm Ventures, Paypal, Barclays and Nokia.

Be sure to follow our blog, Twitter and Facebook accounts to follow the event on the day!

 

SC infographic teaserOn Monday (today), Seedcamp Week London kicks off and we traditionally announce our future plans during one of our most important events of the year. In the interest of openness and transparency, which we believe benefits everyone in the industry, we are sharing 6 years of results. This year is markedly different in that we are able to share impact in hard numbers. The statistics show that Seedcamp has now clearly established itself as one of the leading seed investors in the world.

We’ve been awarded the title of Best European Startup Accelerator five years in a row, an incredible honour that was bestowed upon us by several of Europe’s leading technology entrepreneurs, investors and industry pundits. And yet, we know Seedcamp is much more than that, and we have the numbers to back it up. Seedcamp aims to provide Europe’s most ambitious founders with the means to raise the most money, in the shortest possible timeframe, from the best investors in the world. It’s a straightforward goal that allows us to help grow world-beating businesses from Europe, and the numbers show that we’re well on our way.

The Numbers

We’ve prepared an infographic that contains the most important Seedcamp results to date, but here’s the gist:

A Bright Future Ahead

The future of venture capital has Europe firmly on the map with Seedcamp at its center. As the FT noted earlier this year, Europe only has 20 percent of the venture capital that’s available in the United States, from about 25 percent as many VCs. This makes Seedcamp’s position among the leading seed investors in the world all the more significant. Also important is the speed with which our companies raise follow-on funding. Competition remains as fierce as ever, and startups need to be able to raise growth capital fast in order to achieve or maintain global relevance, and to find product market fit and scale event more rapidly. To compete with the more capital-rich US market, Seedcamp is challenging the rule of thumb that has American startups raise twice as much money in each round, twice as fast, as in Europe.

Our program is carefully crafted to ensure our startups raise sufficient capital within 3 to 6 months, giving them a shot at building market-leading companies fast. When our companies raise follow-on funding, they work with the world’s leading investors, from top funds in Asia to some of Europe’s premier venture capital firms and business angels. But it’s important to note that more than a third of our startups have also raised money from 103 investors from the United States, including superstars like

Redpoint, USV, SV Angel, Betaworks, Atlas Ventures, Index Ventures, 500 Startups, Lerer Ventures, Matrix, NextView, Valar Ventures (Peter Thiel), Felicis Ventures, IA Ventures, and Horizon Ventures.

The point is: you don’t have to start a company in the US to raise from US investors. Seedcamp helps ambitious European founders build globally competitive businesses, by continually building bridges and connections with the best entrepreneurs, mentors and investors worldwide.

Ongoing support for companies

The Seedcamp program doesn’t end after 12 weeks, which is one of the many ways in which we are different from the many startup accelerators that seem to be mushrooming all across Europe and the globe. We continue to support our companies across a full year and then some, working alongside the founders and their investors to help them scale and grow their businesses. We think it is crucial to support the founders at inflection points throughout the life of their business, as we have insights and connections that go far beyond the seed stage.

Where do we go from here? In the same direction, with the same determination, and as the data shows we’re clearly heading the right way. There is a lot of work to be done, and we’re proud and eager to help Europe’s most ambitious founders achieve their dreams and entrepreneurial success through our programs and network. On that note: applications to Seedcamp Week Berlin are now open!

The infographic

We have worked with the talented Gearóid O’Rourke to make sense of the data. He helped us visualize the most salient points: see below for a scaled down version or go to Seedcamp.com/infographic for the full size.

Seedcamp infographic