As a mentor at Seedcamp I knew what I was getting into when I applied to Seedcamp Berlin, November 2013 with my startup, BuzzTale. I knew the mentor pool was great and that the year-long Seedcamp program is ideal for a small startup from Riga that has ambitions to go global. But I did not expect the impact on our first customer and our pivot to our current direction to be so clearly driven by the decision to apply to Seedcamp.
In my past startups, especially at AeroScout, where I was the first business hire in 2001, I spent plenty of time doing customer development: talking to early prospects trying to figure out which ones are giving me the critical information that tells us where we should go as a company and which ones are leading us down unproductive side tracks. For a B2B startup this is very important and very hard. I learned the hard way to keep asking “why?” so that I could really dig down into the motivations that people have in businesses for buying the product or service that you plan to sell to them (but don’t yet have, we are talking vaporware of course!).
When I started pitching BuzzTale’s real-time content marketing solution to businesses, I also got some interesting feedback that while BuzzTale looks like a great public marketing tool, private stories for businesses internally could be even more interesting. So when I met one of our mentors at Seedcamp Berlin, Roxanna Zea, Chief Strategy Officer at Tele2, her feedback fit a pattern I had heard already. She had a vision for how to change the internal communications at Tele2 and BuzzTale fit right into that vision, providing a very visible way to kick-start a different mode of group interaction that traditional email & phone cannot provide.
Within a couple of weeks we had agreed with Roxanna and Tele2’s EVP of Corporate Communications, Lars Torstensson, on the scope to deliver for Tele2’s Extended Leadership Team Summit, a two day event in Stockholm in January. Anthony and the developers got cracking to add private story functionality to BuzzTale – until then all stories and all content had automatically been made public, but for enterprise use, of course, confidentiality and security were key requirements.
Roxanna summarized the impact on the event as follows: “BuzzTale enabled real-time active engagement with the audience, not just from those on stage with the audience but also between senior Tele2 managers sitting in the audience, who otherwise would not have been actively participating. Based on this pilot, we saw huge potential to expand usage of BuzzTale internally – beyond a group event setting and into every day usage – empowering employees across functions & markets to actively engage with one another on whatever topic they are passionate about.”
Tele2 is now on board as a paying customer, along with other businesses using BuzzTale for enterprise stories. We provide the Enterprise Story Network: a set of safe, easy-to-use tools for businesses to create, curate and share in an engaging manner the stories that build strong corporate culture. Our customer development work, also inspired by the Seedcamp Academy sessions, especially Saul Klein’s “Know your customer” session, led to our decision to focus all our attention on this segment. The support from the Seedcamp team and mentors like Roxanna has been critical to get us on the right path for customer success.