We recently had the pleasure of hosting our second Meet & Greet event at Campus London this January. It was great to see so many entrepreneurs keen to learn more about Seedcamp and the many ways we can bring value to startups that choose to apply.
Seedcamp’s own Carlos Espinal (Partner), Tom Wilson (Investment Manager), Dave Haynes (Business Development), and Sia Houchangnia (Portfolio Analyst) were joined by two Seedcamp startups; eMoov‘s COO, Taylor Wescoatt and Now Native‘s co-founder & CEO James Routledge. Together they answered a range of questions fielded from the audience; from what we look for when investing in startups, to more general startup advice. For those who couldn’t make it, we’ve listed some of them below.
Q1. How important is a startup’s team when considering an investment?
A. Very. We spend a lot of time with the teams during Seedcamp Week figuring out how well they understand their market, their users, their competition, and how they went about finding the people they hire. But while all these things matter, the most important thing ultimately, is having the right team in place to execute your ideas. Having a great team is going to greatly improve your chances of investment.
Q2. What’s the most important attribute you look for in a founding team?
A. There are actually three key attributes we look for. Firstly, we’re looking for positive and proactive people; you’re going to get knocked down a lot, so you need to have the attitude that pushes you to pick yourself up time and time again. Secondly, we’re looking for execution-orientated people – people who are more focused on the details of making their idea a reality than just the idea itself. Third, we’re looking for people who are good at building relationships; we put a lot of effort into making introductions within our network, so you’ll need to be able to capitalise on that. We discussed this in detail during our recent reddit AMA.
Q3. How do you know when your startup is ready for Seedcamp?
A. Being exposed to Seedcamp is a big boost – when you join Seedcamp, people’s expectations of you go up a lot. If you’re the right sort of person and your startup is ready to capitalise on that, then that’s great. If not, then you end up having a lot of pressure and expectation that you’re going to struggle fulfilling. It’s difficult to say, “If you don’t meet criteria X then you’re too early.” but if you feel that having a rocket-booster strapped to your back is something you’re going to have trouble coping with, then you’re probably too early.
Q4. What’s the least- and most-developed team or product you’ve invested in?
A. We recently invested in a startup that hadn’t yet figured out what its product was, because the founder was an experienced entrepreneur who had already founded a successful business. So that was down to the individual. We also recently invested in a startup that was generating over a million a year in revenue; for them we provided a source of the best innovation from across all our other startups, and provided the expertise to help them scale their business. To be involved, for us, was a no-brainer. Our investments span a wide range of startups, each at different stages of their development.
Q5. How far along are startups who get invited to Seedcamp Week, typically? Would you discourage very early-stage startups from applying?
A. It varies a lot depending on the average level of all the applications we receive. For example, if the majority of applicants don’t have a prototype but you do, then you’ll likely have a higher chance of being invited. But if the majority of applicants have a prototype then it’s going to be more of a level playing field. Our decision will be based on the unique circumstances and conditions of your company, so we wouldn’t discourage anyone from applying if they feel they’re going to benefit from being part of Seedcamp.
Q6. Have you ever invested in someone who’s still working in a full-time job?
A. We have invested in some teams who are a mix of part-timers; we have founders who have families, who haven’t even graduated yet… we have a broad spectrum. But our follow-on investors want to see full-time commitment, and we want see you get the most out of Seedcamp; so if you’re not regularly available it will be difficult to make the most of our Academy and our network. We encourage founders to become full-timers as quickly as possible after joining Seedcamp.
Q7. If a startup applies without a long-term monetisation strategy, is it a disadvantage?
A. Ultimately, if you want to be a part of Seedcamp you have to want to build a business; and key to building a business is generating revenue. We don’t expect an exact plan in place for making money, but what is important is to see how you think about the ways your business can generate revenue. So demonstrating long-term monetisation potential of your product is essential.
Q8. Do you favour B2B or B2C startups?
A. 63% of our investments so far have been in B2B, but we don’t actively favour one over the other. You can take a look at our infographic for a broader view of our investments.
Q9. Do you need to be a UK-registered company to receive investment?
A. Even though we invest in companies from all around Europe, we tend to help them relocate to locations that follow-on investors will appreciate – that’s usually the US or the UK. Unless there’s a specific circumstance why a startup should stay in a specific location (receiving a grant on condition of staying in that location, for example), we tend to recommend relocating to one of those countries.
Q10. Can Seedcamp assist in helping startups secure an Entrepreneur’s Visa for an employee?
A. Yes, we’ve done it before. Essentially, we consider whether we want to invest in your team, and if we do and one of you requires the visa then we take that into consideration.
Q11. If you’re building a consumer-facing product, do you need to be based in the US to have the best chance of raising investment?
A. One of the benefits of being part of Seedcamp, compared to other organisations, is that we visit the US twice a year to meet the country’s top investors and tech companies. The US Trip lasts two weeks and each visit we bring a dozen of our startups along to pitch their business and join feedback sessions. It’s one of the ways we level the playing field for our European-based startups; if you join Seedcamp, it doesn’t matter where you’re based – you’re going to have access to the top European and US investors. We discussed this in more detail during our recent reddit AMA; take a look.
Q12. You have a later-stage seed fund now. How does a startup apply for that?
A. The fund allows us to follow-on in the companies we invest in at pre-seed stage. It also allows us to join VCs who want us to be part of a round they’re funding; one example that you may have seen announced recently was Property Partner, which is looking to democratise property investing. The easiest way to get our attention is to approach us through our network, whether that’s a Seedcamp mentor, alumni etc. Contacting us through those channels gives you more credibility than approaching us cold.
If you run a disruptive startup with global ambitions, we want to hear from you! Take the first step towards joining Seedcamp by applying to one of our events.