As you know I have been writing about Seedcamp going on the Road and we’re finding a great level of interest from start-ups all across Europe wanting to apply and be a part of the September event. In the meantime though we have realized that we also have an opportunity to continue to help build the ecosystem connecting entrepreneurs, investors, and mentors all together. Therefore we decided to do both: provide a forum where this ecosystem can come together across Europe and identify up and coming entrepreneurs/teams with some very ambitious business ideas.

One such geography where we see a lot of great technical talent but where start-ups need more nurturing and support to expand their companies beyond 2 big markets is Ukraine. We all know there are many talented developers and tech experts in Ukraine but we see fewer companies emerge into the more mainstream global sphere. We are hoping to help change this by taking 15-20 mentors from W. Europe over to Ukraine and immersing everyone in an intensive 2-day Seedcamp session where the mentors and teams will have a chance to interact very closely and start to establish closer ties. We will also gain a better introduction to startups in Ukraine and they’ll have a valuable opportunity to interact with 40-50 of the best mentors across Europe.

Seedcamp Ukraine is open to start-ups across Ukraine and Russia who can come for this event in Kiev on May 21 and 22. If your team is from Ukraine/Russia and you are ambitious about solving problems on a global scale and are looking to start your company to do this, we’d love to have you apply to participate. Through this event we will also be choosing 1-2 teams out of the 20 that attend to directly participate in the main Seedcamp event in September in London.

If you want to participate in Seedcamp, live in Ukraine/Russia and have been thinking through how to get exposure for your business/idea and who to approach, this should prove a phenomenal opportunity to learn a lot. Do check out the Ukraine link and apply!

Have been meaning to write on progress of the Seedcamp 6! Fortunately they haven’t been waiting for me and have been coming along quite well. 4 out of the 6 have raised their next round of funding and all are feverishly working on launch, re-launch of their services. For this post I wanted to focus on Zemanta and hopefully this will serve as a mini case study on key levers a very early stage company can pull in order to go from prototype to a full-fledged business. Disclaimer – The Seedcamp network has helped them immensely so a lot of credit goes to the Europe and US ecosystems. Also, am not going to describe what Zemanta does but try it yourself for your blogs!

Zemanta have sped along over the past 6 months. From their application, to the short-list interview, and throughout Seedcamp Week, everyone kept talking about the Zemanta guys. They came as 2 guys (a solid team of a brilliant coder who could actually communicate very well and his best friend the visionary) to London with the attitude of fully going for it and with a product that was in Slovenian only. Yet they communicated their passion, their ability to develop very quickly, and their understanding of their target market (building something useful that people want) so well that they became one of the Seedcamp winners.

They moved their entire team (5-6 folks including a biz dev guy who knew the ropes quite well) to London for 3 months and brought the same attitude of complete dedication and going for the total win. They leveraged every opportunity we gave them to expand their network and at every event or interaction I saw them, they knew exactly what they wanted and who they wanted to meet. Soon throughout London, Germany, and France I kept hearing about these Zemanta guys. One of these was a fortuitous meeting with Scott Rafer (who sold Mybloglog to Yahoo) and Oren Michaels, now of Mashery, who have been with them ever since and have helped the company an enormous amount. Who better than blog experts to help a company starting in the blogging space.

Without revealing too much of the secret sauce, the Zemanta team has taken every opportunity to be honest about what they don’t know, ask lots of advice, work at all hours of the night and day, be mature enough to make changes in the team as needed, to work together through difficult times, and ultimately to be immensely passionate about building a product that their users would want. They have been helped tremendously along the way in better targeting their market, getting the mad first adopters on board, starting to figure out a business model, and in attracting high quality investors.

In the end they are showing how much execution matters, have built a complete working English version along with a platform within 5 months, gotten critical content and distribution relationships, and are enjoying the early wins: getting Seed funding from Eden, being acknowledged as a Red Herring Top 100 European company, and most visibly getting bloggers using Zemanta.

We wish them continued growth and success and may they never take their eye off the ball and continue to make our lives on the web easier! Especially lazy bloggers like me!!