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Seedcamp in the Valley ’08 – Full trip report

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Silicon Valley, as everyone knows, is home to many of the innovative companies like Intel, Google, Sun, Yahoo and countless others that were all born and raised here.There must be something in the water (or the mineral deposits) which encourages free thinking, innovation and daring.

We firmly believe that in seeding European teams that are building global companies, we should also integrate them in a global mentor network. As such we organized a Seedcamp excursion to this mecca of innovation and introduce the Seedcamp teams to some of the pioneers.

Seedcamp in the Valley

Eleven of the Seedcamp winners and finalists met with over 50 mentors at Microsoft’s Mountain View complex. The format consisted of panel discussions and our signature mentoring sessions.

The first panel focused on founders with Peter Pham, Leonard Speiser, Eric Ries, and Jo Beninato, all speaking with Dave McClure as moderator.

Topics/themes:

  • There was an interesting focus on business models with a nod to the decline in the previously fashionable dependence on ads. As Dave McClure noted, without clear metrics of revenue per customer vs cost per acquisition they can be a licence to burn money.
  • If advertising to customers pay close attention to how they respond to your site, only ramp up when it shows signs that it is working! Plus don’t forget you should be initially marketing to your potential power users, this is a group beyond Techcrunch readers.
  • Think of relationships with advisors and investors as long term ones, you wouldn’t give your money away to a stranger.

The second Angels and VC panel featured Saul Klein, Ariel Poler, Chris Sacca, Jeff Clavier and was moderated by Michael Arrington. This led to an entertaining discussion fuelled by Michael challenging the panellists who certainly had differing opinions.

Topics of contention included:

  • Should a founder be allowed to take money off the table to pay for debts? Arguments raised included that anxious people make anxious decisions, but people being chased by bears run faster…
  • Do start-ups really need to take on 2 years of funding at the moment or are the venture backers taking advantage of low valuations and spare capital?
  • However, most agreed getting to breakeven and reducing burn is becoming increasingly important.

See what attendees thought through our Friend Feed.

Many thanks to The Microsoft Conference Centre, our kind hosts. And Orrick who treated us to some post event drinks and food at their offices.

Investor Day was hosted by our friends at Polaris Ventures and TextMarks at the nautically themed and yet excellent, Dogpatch labs in Pier 38.

At Facebook we met with the guys in charge of Facebook connect and internationalisation.

A somewhat impromptu meeting with Twitter led to the teams chatting with the founders Evan Williams, Biz Stone, and Jeff Veen.

Yahoo lined up some key figures from the teams in charge of the APIs and the Developers Network, you can see videos of the teams here.

At Google teams met the Adwords, Android, YouTube and Analytics for some technical nitty gritty.

The Mozilla Labs also met with the companies, and wrote this awesome blog post!

Down on the Techcrunch ranch teams presented what they are working on and uberVU got TCed! The TC team also shared valuable advice on dealing with the media, product launch, and being very conscious about the timing of everything in order to get the most return for any PR/Media outreach.

In summary the teams met 70-80 experts from Silicon Valley who will be an integral part of their global network and help these companies grow and succeed. Huge thanks to Dave McClure, master of 10,000 hats, and our host for the week.

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