At the beginning of September, we selected our 23 finalists who made it to Seedcamp week. But we received several hundred applications, so what about the rest? This year, for the first time, we gave teams who didn’t make the cut individual feedback based on the judges’ comments. The goal is to give some constructive points to shape your product/company going forward and to help make sense of the selection process
While digesting and processing the judges’ comments, I noticed some trends. And here they are, along with some suggestions on strengthening your applications be it for Seedcamp or other presentations
“They are entering a very crowded space”
Our judges are experts on web business, so if you are starting a social network, search engine, shopping comparison site etc, they’ll know you’re up against multiple dominant competitors. The best way round this is to demonstrate knowledge of the space: acknowledge your competitors and then tell the judges why you’ll succeed anyway. If you don’t identify your competitors, the judges will – make sure they understand how you can compete and win.
“Is this a big enough market?”
The judges may not be familiar with your target market (academics, gardeners, etc), but need to know that it is large enough to sustain a thriving business. Be honest, and tell the judges how big you think your market really is. And don’t just say that it’s everyone who has a computer..!
“I don’t understand their proposition”
Some applications fell at the first hurdle – the descriptions were incomprehensible to the judges and so it’s pretty impossible to move past that point. To succeed, your proposition needs to clear and to the point. Using demos, prototypes, can all be an effective ways of illustrating your idea.
“Can they really pull this off?”
If the judges don’t believe the team has the ability to execute, even a strong rest of the application is rendered less credible and weak. So, wow the judges with previous project, prototypes you’ve developed, your hacking pedigree and/or a party trick.
“Where is the business?”
Several judges diagnosed some propositions with ‘feature-itis’, don’t forget a cool feature doesn’t make a company! Make sure you know what the pain your product solves is and how you’ll make money from it. Then, just remember to tell the judges as well!
If your application got knocked back for one of these reasons, don’t give up hope! If you can work your way round the problem in a convincing way then you’re probably onto something. Tell us about it in your next application!
We welcome feedback on our feedback, so comment below, twitter (mentioning Seedcamp), or email firstname.lastname@example.org.