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Seedcamp Week 2009 Day 2 Highlights

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Day 2 of Seedcamp Week was all about Product and Marketing. We kicked off the day with a panel discussion on Product, featuring a few friends from Silicon Valley. Moderated by Dave McClure of 500 Hats and “Geeks on a Plane’ fame, he poked and prodded the best out of the likes of Eric Ries, from TheLeanStartup.com, Ian Dodsworth of Tweetdeck, Ali Mitchell from Huddle and Matt Ogle of Last.fm.

A recurring theme from yesterdays panel emerged around validating your product and the importance of customer feedback.
A few juicy bits from those who know the game when it comes to Product are:

– “..what is the one thing (about your product) that will make you grow as a business”
– “there can’t be any product development without customer development”
– “Act on their (customer’s) behalf – not their request”
– “you haven’t completed an iteration until you learn something about your product”
– “Know, not guess, if the features you’re building are making a difference – using split testing is essential”
– “people don’t mind bait & switch IF the switch is better than the bait”
– “get customer feedback integrated into your release process so it’s a NATURAL process”
– “I don’t think your capital structure should drive your startup strategy”
– “all startup advice is contextual…”

After an intense discussion, teams immersed themselves in morning mentoring sessions, where no doubt the above was front of mind.

Post lunch saw us back in the main lecture theatre and being enlightened by a Masterclass from Eric Ries on The Lean Startup. Both teams and mentors were treated to his insightful trilogy of ‘Shadow Beliefs” and how these can hamper any startup from the outset. Slides from the same talk he gave at The Web 2.0 expo are embedded below.

Here’s some meat from Eric’s tough-talking Masterclass:

*Shadow Belief #1*: “We know what customers want.”
*Shadow Belief #2*: “We can accurately predict the future.”
*Shadow Belief #3*: “Advancing the Plan = Progress.”

– “The biggest source of waste in startups is building products nobody wants.”

As if that wasn’t enough food for thought, we went right into our Marketing panel on ‘Growing Users and Turning Users into Customers’ lead by our own Saul Klein. We were very lucky to have with us Thomas Gensemer, whose agency ran the Online campaign for the Barak Obama campaign, Lisa Rodwell from Moo, Andrew Hunter from Qype, Sean Ellis (advisor to Xobni and Dropbox) and Anders Hallin of Stardoll (exSkype). A well-rounded discussion was had from positioning and pricing to partnerships and SEO and the importance of email marketing and cohort analysis.

Key takeaways were:

– “email was the backbone of the Obama campaign”
– “If you’re treating everyone (customers) as equal, you’re not spending you’re marketing money wisely”
– “Critical component in marketing is pricing”
– “it’s important to develop SEO in-house and educate (employees)”
– “..wait for the right partner…the one that is the most enthusiastic, not just the big ones”
– “Partnerships can be a big distraction for a start-up”
– “…implement best practice with SEO…don’t look backwards”

The general view from the teams is that today has been one of the most valuable days so far on their Seedcamp journey. They’re taking it in and processing all the data! We look forward to the output on Thursday’s final pitches.

Bring on day 3 where we get to dig into technology issues in the morning with a Panel on ‘Scaling Through Ups and Downs’ and get thrown in front of some of the heavy hitting European investors who will talk about the ‘Ins and Outs’ of raising funding.

We’d like to say Happy Birthday to Moo who is 3 today and throwing a party tonight where no doubt many Seedcampers will be present. And a big thanks to Atlas Venture who once again treated Seedcamp to a swanky opening party in London last night…hopefully we’ll all make it back in tomorrow!

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