We’re sure you’ll agree, every year seems to pass by more and more quickly! 2014 was no exception, so let’s take a breath… step back… and take stock of what our incredible family of startups achieved in that time.
The office is busy as ever as no less than 36 startups joined Seedcamp this year! We love it, and so do our startups; we’re often told how much being in such a close environment with other startups helps facilitate knowledge-sharing and self-development. It’s great to see our strong close-knit family grow even stronger.
The 36 startups span a variety of sectors and while our investment criteria is largely industry-agnostic, it’s interesting to see both Cloud/Saas and Marketplaces grabbing our attention this year; a fair reflection of wider industry trends.
We’ve been particularly interested in supporting the growing eastern-European startup ecosystem, so we’re really pleased to welcome some great startups from those regions this year including Branchtrack, Farmhopping, and GoWorkaBit. In 2014 our investments spanned 13 European countries (and beyond).
Female founders now account for 22% of our startups, which is slightly up on last year. But while any increase is positive, we’d still like to see many more female founders join the Seedcamp family.
It’s a tremendous achievement to be acquired; it’s the culmination of years of dedication and hard work for all involved. So we were super thrilled when UberVU, Compilr and GrabCAD were acquired by three top tech companies during 2014.
Twice a year we visit the US with some of our startups to meet, pitch and learn from the top tech companies and investors on both sides of country. This year’s trips were a huge success and our thanks goes out to Dropbox, Google, Square, Stripe, Andreessen Horowitz, Greylock Partners, Index Ventures, Sequoia Capital, and many many more (wish we could list you all!)
As for us, we raised a new $30m fund that allows us to back 100 new ventures over the next four years, hosted 25 events across 19 countries, and brought in 6 incredible new team members. It was a blast.
To all the startups working hard every day to make a difference, we hope 2014 was a great year for you and that 2015 is even better! Perhaps we’ll even meet you at one of our events. Have a great new year!
Seedcamp Week is our quarterly flagship event. Ambitious startups from across Europe are invited to join Seedcamp and our network of investors and mentors. Throughout the week the startups present, network, and receive feedback on their business. At the end of the week a number of the startups are selected to receive investment from Seedcamp and are welcomed into the family.
We are thrilled to announce our investment in the following teams and by extension their joining of the Seedcamp family – well done, all!
We’re also particularly excited to announce two more investments from previous Seedcamp Weeks;
Fluttr, the music events discovery platform entirely curated by users, actually attended the previous Seedcamp Week Berlin and have been working in stealth since. They’ll be releasing their platform to the world later this week as an invite-only network, so make sure you request your early access via their website.
Divido (previously Invoice House) joined us at Seedcamp Week London more recently in September. They’re the payment option that lets merchants allow their customers to spread the cost of products and services in interest free instalments, boosting conversion rates.
Seedcamp Week Berlin was awesome (and cold!), but nevertheless awesome. We invited 20 of Europe’s top up-and-coming startups to spend several days with us and our mentors. As usual, the atmosphere was electric.
Our hosts Factory Berlin (above) provided the perfect setting to kick things off on the Monday. Seedprep is the first time we interact with the teams as they run through their presentations with the other startups and the Seedcamp team. We use this opportunity to set the scene and help improve their presentations for the week ahead.
On Tuesday the startups were welcomed by our friends at Point Nine Capital to meet the Seedcamp investors – tense times! Investor Day is their chance to impress and receive further expert feedback on their business. It’s also the point where we’ve usually decided which of the startups we’ll be investing in. The pressure was on.
Wednesday saw the startups and over 100 of our world-class mentors descend on Deutsche Telekom’s incubator, Hub:raum. It was great to see the startups explaining their business much more succinctly than on Day 1 – it was great to see the feedback pay off.
We were delighted to welcome Fred Wilson (Managing Partner of New York’s Union Square Ventures and early investor in Seedcamp Startup Zemanta) for a special fireside chat. Before the startups asked questions of their own, Fred shared his thoughts on a range of topics, including; how and why Fred blogs every day; the history of Union Square Ventures investing in Europe; the differences between startup ecosystems and investment landscapes in the EU and US; and the evolution of venture capital. There were plenty of words of wisdom and fortunately we were able to capture them all… you can watch the fireside chat here.
Unlike many of our peers, we don’t have a demo day. We’re proud to say that Seedcamp Week is an experience valuable to all attending startups, not just those we invest in. But while we were impressed with all the teams that attended the week, there could only be a limited number of investments. We’re thrilled to welcome them all into the Seedcamp family and support them through the next part of their journey to becoming a global scaleable business.
Berlin, you were awesome. Thank you.
If you run a disruptive startup with global ambitions, we want to hear from you! View our events page to apply to the next Seedcamp Week or meet with the Seedcamp team in advance. Best of luck!
You may have heard, the Internet of Things is coming…
In fact, the ‘IoT’ is already here. It may still be in its infancy, but that Nest thermostat on your wall? That’s IoT. And the Fitbit activity tracker on your wrist? That’s IoT.
A recent report suggests that total spending on IoT will climb from $69.5 billion in 2015 to $263 billion in 2020. This is due to the expected number of inter-connected devices rising from 4.9 billion in 2015 to 25 billion by 2020. In other words, IoT is going to be a large part of our lives.
We’re proud to have already invested in some awesome IoT startups, like Teddy the Guardian – the cute baby-monitoring teddy bear, Krak – the social network for skateboarders empowered by an inconspicuous hardware, and Winnow Solutions – the food waste “smart meter” helping their customers save money and the environment. As the scene continues to grow, we expect to talk with many more IoT startups in the near future.
In an attempt to help strengthen the London and Cambridge IoT ecosystems, we’ve partnered with Tech City UK to support the IoT Launchpad. We’ll be providing suitable Launchpad winners with match-funding, business support and mentorship.
But we want to do more!
Seedhack is our bi-annual hackathon, hosted at Campus London. It’s fun, intense, and this year the theme is… IoT! Bet you didn’t see that coming (a bit like the flying fish…)
We’ve partnered with several exciting hardware companies to provide our ‘Seedhackers’ with the tools to build some really awesome prototypes:
We’ll be announcing more partners nearer the event and will have more details about the many fun things we have planned for the weekend!
IoT is an incredibly exciting area because the scope for its application is so varied. So whether you’re developing a home-automation app or are 3D-printing a prototype, Seedhack’s technology partners and expert mentors will be on hand to help make it happen.
We’re moving into an exciting era of inter-connected devices. But what will it look like?
Apply to Seedhack and help shape the future of IoT!
Seedhack is Seedcamp’s annual hackathon, held at Campus London. 2015’s theme is Internet of Things. Seedhack will run during the weekend of 23-25th January 2015. Apply by 13th January 2015 to join the fun!
2014 has been an incredibly busy year for us; We travelled to meet startups in 17 countries, we invested in 43 new companies and we doubled our team. We’re looking for two smart and ambitious interns to join us as we grow rapidly into 2015.
Interning at Seedcamp doesn’t involve menial work or making tea (but if you offer, we won’t refuse!). You’ll be involved in a wide range of projects, from supporting our team and our mentor network, to assisting in coordinating events and raising sponsorship. Here’s how one of our past interns found the experience.
We pride ourselves on being Europe’s leading and most supportive seed investment fund, so you’ll be sure to learn from us at every opportunity.
Since launching in 2007, our family now includes over 140 of Europe’s most promising startups.
Backed by an awesome team and group of investors, we are incredibly active and run events and invest in startups throughout Europe every month.
Seedcamp has a Europe-wide approach to seed investment. Managing our events and maintaining our relationships with startups and mentors is an essential, but demanding part of our core activities. We are looking for one or more self-starting full time interns who can tackle some of these projects and also assist the Seedcamp team with operations. We believe the contacts and experience you’ll gain here will be instrumental in starting your own company, getting into venture capital, or staying with us longer term.
If you say yes to the above, this is the right place for you.
SUPPORTING THE SEEDCAMP TEAM
To apply for the role please send an up-to-date copy of your CV with a short covering note to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include examples why you’re the best person for this role.
This guest post is written by Justo Hidalgo, co-founder of 24symbols – the platform for reading and sharing digital books. Partnerships have played a pivotal role in growing 24symbol’s business. In this article Justo describes the experience of working with one such partner, and the challenges and opportunities partnerships can bring.
Winston Churchill is attributed the statement “There is only one thing worse that fighting with allies, and that is fighting without them.” With this, the statesman crudely defined the challenges but also the absolute need of finding partners to work and grow – or survive.
Madrid, Spain. First months of 2013. 24symbols, the service created by my colleagues and I in 2010, keeps on growing, but not at the desired pace. We’re six on the team. We just launched the 24symbols Infinite UX version, following Pinterest’s design practices, and the feedback is wonderful. We are considered as one of the best cloud readers in the market, and new publishers come on board. But it’s not enough.
In May of that year we sign an investment round and, most importantly, a distribution agreement with Zed Group, a media company that started with two brothers selling a videogame in the eighties, and it’s now the leading distributor of digital content to mobile carriers worldwide, an animated movie producer, a value-added app and service producer, and an arts and technology university.
This partnership came because of one insight: we believe we’re quite good at designing and implementing a top class reading service; we are also good at engaging readers, and understand how to make a compelling proposition to publishers and other stakeholders in the publishing industry. But we needed to improve customer acquisition, big time. A partner that would enable us to access mobile carriers in more that seventy countries, to potentially put our service in the hands of millions of mobile subscribers, looked like a great move. Zed came to the same conclusion.
Eighteen months after this partnership, lots of great things have happened: we’ve launched in Russia, Guatemala, Colombia and Argentina; we are working on lots of projects for EO2014 and 2015, and our own 24symbols is on the way to reach one million users. And I’ve learnt a lot about working with strategic partners. I want to share my main insights, not on how to obtain partners (there’s lot of literature about it) but on the dynamics of a partnership.
A partnership is like a marriage.
It starts with a honeymoon, because, well, you just got married! In order for a newly married couple to succeed, you need to stay physically close to your partner. Someone from your team must always be close to your partner. Is there an office nearby? Even better, can they rent you an office inside of their company headquarters? It doesn’t need to be a full team office, but a place where part of your team can spend part of the week working with them. Of course, you can always arrange weekly meetings, but the serendipity happening when you walk towards someone while heading to the restroom who happens to be working on a project where your company would be a great match, is invaluable. From a stage development perspective, this helps advance the partnership evolution, and a deeper understanding about how your partner works.
After a few months, like it or not, both sides will start to complain about minor things. It’s ok, these are two disparate organizations and, specially if the relationship is asymmetric (e.g. different company sizes), the way things are done differs a lot. If things go well, partners get to accept each other, but it requires efforts from everyone. This is what Hilda Heady defines as the evolutionary stages of a partnership. For me, at this stage it is critical to be on the trenches with your partner. In a strategic partnership, the VPs and CxOs usually get involved. But while that is a critical step towards giving the partnership enough priority throughout the whole organizations, it’s the day to day what is critical. Find the people on the partner that are actually making things happening. Who is acting on behalf of you at your partner’s internal meetings? Who are their sales/marketing team members thinking on you? Go talk to them, engage them. This of course, requires a key action on your side.
In partner relationships, having the same goal doesn’t mean rowing together all the time.
Partners should always have the same goal: creating value on shared clients, working together to create the best possible product, … but this doesn’t mean everyday tactics of, as I call them, subsystem priorities, are the same. There are many reasons (strategic, political, organizational, philosophical, …) why two partners may disagree regarding how to act on a specific issue. It is critical to fully understand each other’s motives, before getting into fights that are not good for your shared objectives. Just as couples who might love each other, but in different ways, partners need to find the common ground from which to continue growing together.
Having kids is a great feeling and a typical outcome of becoming a couple. For a strategic partnership, these are the projects outlined and executed together. When a ‘child’ is born, the happiness is incredible. But then the challenges come: is it growing up as expected? Aren’t we hiding our own issues by focusing on their welfare? This is an important and often unseen problem, as projects push both teams to focus on the short term, on the urgent rather than important tasks.
But, if things are done right, a startup should get the feeling that the partner is really helping growth happens, without really hurting the vision and mission of the project itself. And the partner gets the results expected, after so much work. That’s when you may realize that you have found a long-term companion. Or not 😉
This is an ongoing process, and we are learning every day how to optimise a relationship that is key to our growth as a company and a business. We haven’t gone through other stages like “Stop looking at that girl over there, you’re with me!”, or “Kids misbehave so badly I can’t stand it”, but I’ll surely return here if I ever find out how to handle them!
This guest post is written by James Swanston, Founder & CEO of Voyage Control – the platform for businesses to manage, optimise and track their freight deliveries. Voyage Control joined Seedcamp in September 2014 and like all Seedcamp companies, participated in Onboarding Week. In this article, James shares his experience…
In time for the next lot of teams to start Onboarding, I thought it would be good to write about the experience. At face value, Seedcamp’s Onboarding Week is all about mentoring sessions with some amazing individuals – a veritable list of Europe’s finest entrepreneurial brains.
It was almost like cramming a course on how to set up the world’s best startup into a few days (and thus highlighting all the mistakes that many of us had made thus far). There is a dawning reality that you’ve been picked for the 1st XV (to use a rugby analogy), and hopefully all the hot girls will like you (or in this case, all the VCs will like you).
But to be honest, it is more like when Neo picks the red pill in the Matrix (or is it the blue pill).
Still somewhat ebullient from getting into Seedcamp, the reality is that there is still a huge amount of work to do for each of the teams; Is the product/market fit right?; Does your messaging work?; What is needed to get investors really interested?
I think that we realised early on that while our product was working (thankfully), our messaging was teetering dangerously between abysmal and appalling. But for the grace of God, we were still getting a lot of businesses registering every day – though it was clear we needed to do something.
For me, the big thing was that at the end of Day One I realised that we had not been explicitly stating perhaps the biggest benefit to a client (or now that I know the correct terminology, the DMU or Decision Making Unit)!
Having laboured over branding for weeks, it took about a day to realise that all that effort was sadly misplaced – and a discussion with Carlos, courtesy of beers sponsored by PWC, resulted in us very quickly searching Godaddy for options. Fortunately, our product name in the end was cool enough, so we are transitioning over to Voyage Control.
The weeks that have followed have again meant more great mentoring and sessions with many fantastic people from highly successful companies. And of course, a few trips to Meat Mission (which new founders will grow to love).
Postscript – the first rule of Seedcamp is still key. Trying to do normal work while taking on all this knowledge during Onboarding Week is a pretty tough ask!
We’re honoured that Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures joined us at Seedcamp Week Berlin (Dec ’14) for a fireside chat. During the conversation he shared insights into:
We host Seedcamp Week four times a year, twice in London and twice in Berlin. The application process is competitive; throughout the year we receive 3000+ applications from 70+ countries. Each Seedcamp Week we invite 20 startups from across Europe to join us to receive invaluable business advice and mentorship from experts at the top of their industry.
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