Register to the event: Apply now! (registrations close 23rd June)
Seedhack is our 48 hour hackathon and over the weekend of 4-6th July we are bringing you another slice of the action! This will be our 5th Seedhack in our headquarters based in Google Campus, right at the heart of London’s Tech City. Our past Seedhacks have focused on Fintech, Fashion, and Content but our next hackathon is dedicated to Lifelogging. (For a 5 minute intro to Lifelogging, there is this great TED video.)
Lifelogging, or Quantified Self, is where technology and personal data unite in order to improve our everyday lives. There is currently an increasing amount of wearable technologies, sensors, and applications that are designed to track our movements for a variety of outcomes, such as improving our fitness, sleep habits, or what to wear. Such devices generate big data sets that offer limitless possibilities to learn from and optimise ourselves. Our Seedhack vers. 5.0 is focused on exploring the creative ideas and clever usage of technology in this field.
This broad theme allows plenty of freedom and we encourage participants from all different sectors to join our Seedhack. You might want to innovate healthcare with real-time baby monitoring, shake up sports with tracking body performances, or save time when shopping by automatically knowing what clothes will suit you. But hey! These are all just examples of a subset of quantified self technologies so let your mind run wild.
If you already have an idea — cool! If you don’t — no worries. By joining our Seedhack you will be surrounded by inspiring and talented people that will challenge you and your idea allowing you to pivot, pivot, and pivot again until you get the right idea! We are looking for developers, however we also need people with UX design, marketers, biz dev, creative minds and everyone else to get involved!
On the API front, we are planning to have numerous partners and we are open to bring in APIs varying from healthcare to wearable. Keep an eye on the Seedcamp Twitter for more API announcements, including a few big names that we think you may have heard of! Updates on this to come very soon.
At the end of an exhausting weekend of coding, pizza, and energy drinks you’ve got the awesome chance to present your hacks on stage and get the feedback from our high class judges (TBA soon)! The winning teams will get not only fame but fun awards – our Seedhacks are famous for this so stay tuned!
In order to get the optimal ratio of skills to create 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 secure your place! We will let you know by the 25th June if you are one of the participants in Seedhack July 2014.
Are you interested in getting involved on an API or sponsor level? Please give us a shout!
Register to the event: Apply now!
We reached a new landmark last week with our first ever Mini Seedcamp in Italy. With 10 startups and 12 speakers, the stage was set for a day filled with fantastico startups, experienced entrepreneurs, and lots of learning.
Cool stage today at @seedcamp Rome pic.twitter.com/oOyZxE6ANb
— Luca Sartoni (@lucasartoni) June 5, 2014
After Carlos explained the history of Seedcamp, there was a lively discussion about the new technologies in health care. The Health 2.0 movement is rapidly gaining steam and traction, propelled by established and startup firms. It was great to hear from Roberto Ascione, President at Razorfish Healthware, Mario Merlo, Director Diabetes Business Unit at Sanofi, and Josipa Majic, Co-founder of Teddy the Guardian.
Then for the startup companies it was their moment to shine! Ten startups pitched and received immediate feedback from the panel. The companies who presented were:
Next up was a panel discussion on the digital startup ecosystem in Rome and how it can grow into European hub. Luigi Capello, founder at Luiss Enlabs, and Gian Paolo Manzella, the Regional Advisor to President of Lazio, provided some excellent viewpoints on this, including the importance of collaboration and transparency.
After a networking lunch the audience were treated to a lesson on Growth Hacking. Luca Sartoni, Growth Engineer at Automattic, explained the marketing technique developed by technology startups which uses creativity, analytical thinking, and social metrics to sell products and gain exposure.
Carlos with some of the teams, giving them last minute advice
A highlight of the day was hearing from Nicola Mattina, co-founder at Stamplay, who shared some tips about startup story telling. This is the art of talking about you, your products and your company to different audiences, changing the details but mantaining an overall coherence. It’s a tricky skill that many struggle with but becomes increasingly important when meeting potential clients.
Overall it was a fantastic day and Seedcamp will definitely return to Italy soon! A big thank you to our partners that made this event possible.
We’re heading to Scotland for the first time and throwing a Mini Seedcamp Edinburgh to celebrate. Taking place on the 6th & 7th August, we’re looking forward to meeting the local startup businesses and seeing them pitch to the audience.
Whether your attending as startup or audience member, this will be a great chance to network and learn something new. Our keynote speaker for the event is Gareth Williams, the CEO and co-founder of Skyscanner, the Scottish company currently valued at $800m. There will also be masterclass by Seedcamp and a panel debate including Q&A.
At our first ever Seedcamp Week back in 2007 we invested in Scottish company HyperNumbers, and ever since then we have been keen to add more Scottish teams to our family! If you take a look at our companies we’ve already supported, you’ll see they come from all sectors; B2B, B2C, FinTech, AdTech, and many more. Whether you’re pre-revenue or post-MVP, if you’re ambitious and have a startup than can disrupt on a global level, we want to hear from you.
Mini Seedcamp Edinburgh is organised in partnership with CodeBase. CodeBase is the newest and lagest technology incubator in Scotland. Based in Argyle House, Codebase is entirely built on private equity and their mission is to build and grow the next great tech companies.
This is a guest post by Lucy Stonehill, founder of BridgeU, a startup that democratizes access to the world’s best universities for globally mobile or international students via its SaaS platform. BridgeU joined the Seedcamp Family out of Seedcamp Week Berlin last month. Following Onboarding Week, Lucy reflects here on what she learned at the Sales session with David Clayton of True & North.
Amongst the more compelling speakers throughout the week was Dave Clayton, from True & North, speaking on the topic of sales. If anyone could turn sales, which otherwise seems to be rather a cloudy art, into a science—fully equipped with variables plotted out on X and Y-axes—it’s Dave.
He began speaking about the nature of the B2B sales cycle. For a B2B provider, he explained, the logic behind the sales strategy boils down to how you can help them help their customers.
Dave spoke about the key factors that distinguish mediocre sales people from the greats (think: Don Draper). A mixture of authenticity, approach and application is Dave’s secret recipe.
Authenticity: give something of yourself, show you care, that is transferable across cultural, and language boundaries
Approach: frame of mind you’re in and the sales tactics and strategies you adopt
Application: the method used to sell someone (phone, in person, meeting), and how much you do it
Dave asked the Seedcamp companies what we thought made a good sales person. We offered a variety of responses: charisma, charm, knowledge of the product, pearly white teeth? While these are all “factors” in creating a successful sales person, they’re not crucial contributors.
Two most important contributors to a successful sales person? Alignment with the customer and the ability to build trust. Dave explained. The more you can position yourself in your prospective customer’s shoes, and the more you can align your interests and experiences with theirs, the more likely a sale will result.
Furthermore, it’s crucial to know your client and her industry inside out, back to front. What does your client do? What are her KPIs (key performance indictors)? What are the outcomes she is trying to achieve on behalf of her customers and what are the existing barriers preventing those outcomes? Bridging the gap to success for other businesses begs the question: “where does my client need to go and how can I help her get there?”
Dave’s insights about the nature of the sales cycle were both surprising and interesting. The riskiest point in the sales cycle? When the customer is about to hand over her credit card details.
Plotting milestones on a whiteboard, Dave walked us through the typical customer journey. At the beginning of the sales process, the salesperson needs to control need, where as later it is about managing the customer’s perception of risk. Another slightly surprising insight about consumer behavior is that customers tend to feel risk even after a purchase, so truly successful salespeople need to influence and alleviate risk after the purchase has been made, guiding his or her client to feeling value, at which point risk goes away. Cost, also, is far less important than we tend to think. If we can speak to need and manage risk, we can hold price.
Whether running a direct-to-consumer or B2B company, mastering the art of how to sell, and how to communicate value to prospective buyers, is an undeniable component of every business’ potential for success. There’s sometimes a myth thrown around the tech-startup world that’s very product-centric – “if you build it they will come.”
At BridgeU, our mission is to democratize access to the world’s best universities for globally mobile or international students. Our software platform offers a variety of tools that better prepare and position applicants for foreign university programs. Our value proposition lies in the quality of our offering as our software tools are the result of input from admissions consultants & international educators from 5 continents. But our uniqueness lies in the accessibility and affordability of our platform. Despite what we feel to be a powerful standalone offering, we at BridgeU still need to coach and support students, families and schools through our sales process, demonstrating exactly how and why BridgeU will result in better university results, and ultimately happier life outcomes.
Dave’s lecture about sales strategy and process shed some light on just how complex (and frankly difficult) it is to get anyone to buy anything—regardless of the power of your offering. Without a carefully nurtured and well-thought out sales strategy focused on the client, it simply ain’t happening!
Image courtesy of Horia Varlan, CC, via Flickr
This is a guest post by Maciej Krupowies, co-founder of one of the newest teams to join Seedcamp, Gaming Live. Maciej shares his take-aways from the Seedcamp Academy Onboarding session on product led by Shawn Zvinis. Seedcamp first met Shawn in 2012 in the basement of Google Campus where he was testing out his prototype and building his startup, Tab. Shortly thereafter, Shawn and the Tab team joined the Seedcamp family with big ambitions and a loyal and loving customer base. But the nut just couldn’t quite be cracked, and several months and many learnings later, Tab shutdown. Parlaying his skills and learnings into a different startup tackling payments, Shawn now looks after product at Yoyo.
This is something we learned during Seedcamp’s onboarding week at Google Campus London. Shawn Zvinis led us through his experience at Tab and the beginnings of Yoyo: he shared with us his knowledge of building a startup and product management. Shawn has also been a part of Seedcamp not so long ago and it was inspiring to learn about a success story coming from one of the program’s previous participants.
Yoyo is a marketing platform for modern retailers powered by mobile payments which has recently acquired $5M in funding. We were all interested in learning more not only from someone who, obviously, did things right, but from someone who had to shut down his previous startup. We do not learn from experiences, we learn from reflecting on them.
There are a few key points we learned that I would like to point out.
The vision of Minimum Viable Product is changing and is very often set individually in accordance to the product and its market. Although the methodology is just few years old, its concepts, “MVP” and “pivoting”, have quickly taken root in the startup world and business schools or accelerators have already begun adapting their curricula to teach entrepreneurs how to optimize the risks, and adapt to dynamically changing environment based on things like user behavior and user engagement.
Developing an MVP means learning, improving and gathering the maximum amount of conclusions for the future strategy and value which solves real problems.
Some companies never really pay much attention to it — our roadmap consisted of a huge bug list and new features that were continuously integrated based on our development schedule. The list was actually growing day by day and we simply over-planned the job. We wanted to put as many features in as short time as we could.
Our roadmap literally started to look like a Star Wars Universe. Thanks to the intense and useful workshops, and a few suggestions from Seedcamp Partners, we have decided to change the way we roll out our product as well as our core story and brand positioning. We immediately understood that over-planning means being over-ambitious, and being over-ambitious may often cause death of your project.
We have adopted the thought that the potential success is not only based on delivering, but also making a promise, especially during the pre-launch stage. So instead of asking, “How can I get traction?,” one should focus on solving people’s problems or providing them with an awesome experience once they start using one’s product.
“Write user stories as if they were perishable food items” — that’s the sentence I remembered from the workshops with Shawn. When you launch, provide at least the same amount of features your competitor offer or provide your users with only one feature, but it has to be a killer.
We understood that the way we approach people and potential customers is as important as a good product. We stopped being “Live-streaming platform for games and eSports” and became “an arena for gamers, where we capture the pure passion of people who live out their dreams playing video games and showcasing the best content for the world of eSports”.
Implement features which will show early adopters the path you want to follow and test it. If you are not sure of implementing a feature, put it on the website even if you have to add a sentence saying “This feature is not available yet.” You can easily add tracking code to button or a section on your website and see if people engage with the information.
This way, you will save some of development resources which are very important at the early stage of your product life cycle. The sooner you launch your product, the sooner you start learning and getting traction — it’s better when mistakes dont cost too much.
In addition to the previous point — you do not know what to expect from the future and therefore should not plan more than you need for your pre-launch phase. It is better to validate a few things first and not to lose time on features which will become just a waste of time. You do not know what kind of bugs you will have to deal with or what will be the user-behavior; expectations are not always met. Your product strategy may need to adapt and change based on the market situation.
When you are testing your product, make sure that you check at which point users leave. They often drop out at certain levels: e.g. registration or providing credit card details. Rather than knowing that some users are no longer using your product, it is good to know why they don’t do it. If 90% of people leave during providing credit card details step, it means that they are not willing to use the product that way. Watch users’ behavior closely and improve the top of the funnel first.
“In a startup, you very often need to have a designer, developer, manager, marketer, analyst, recruiter, customer support agent and janitor. These are the tasks needed to deliver the best product and in most cases, in a startup, you are responsible for all these roles.” Shawn said that at the end of his presentation and I believe that we, entrepreneurs, are the ones who will understand his words best.
For more on product from Shawn, check out his post here.
Image courtesy of The Road Ahead by mkrigsman, on Flickr.
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