The two-week judging period is now over, giving our frail and harried judges a week to rest before our interviews next Wednesday, and leaving us with 40 stellar teams for our next round.

We’ve notified everyone who applied, so if you haven’t heard from us please get in touch.

Overall we heard several comments from the judges noting that the quality of the application pool had improved from last year – not to take anything away from those who applied in 2007, as it may be a sign of a rising startup ecosystem tide raising all boats.

We’ve also seen some reactions to our verdicts on Twitter which is to be expected. Cliché as it sounds, it really is hard to disappoint so many people in one fell swoop.

Thanks to everyone who applied. We hope to see many of you again next year.

UPDATE: I forgot to add, if you’d like feedback on your application just email us at – be sure to mention your team’s name.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

We thought it might be interesting to take the several hundred applications we received and look for some aggregate patterns, so I grabbed the answers to some of the more relevant questions and (after a little sed manipulation to strip HTML and make sure no confidential application info slipped through) fed them to Jonathan Feinberg’s excellent Wordle. The results are below. It’s a little dirty (e.g. I wish “open” and “source” were one phrase) but even without too much manual polish it should be a good indicator. Enjoy – and be sure to click through for the full size images.

Q3: What are you creating?

Q10: How will you make money?

Q16: What tools will you use?

We’ve been getting quite a few questions about our application statistics, and we’ve been discussing amongst ourselves what to share.

Why the discussion? What we’re attempting with Seedcamp is to a large extent independent of whether we measured a 5% or 50% growth in application volume compared with last year. Yes, it’s an indication that more people have heard of us, but the primary concern, as cliché as it may sound, is on the quality of those applications, not the sheer number coming in. Quality unfortunately is much harder to reduce to tiny, easily-compared chunks, and since we can’t, for obvious reasons, let you see the level of quality of each application for yourselves giving you nothing but aggregate numbers would be imbalanced, misleading, and distracting. Even internally we’re trying to de-emphasize them so we don’t feel we need to set a false bar to surpass next year. Bad targets encourage bad operating habits and sow bad results.

Of course it’s also unfair for everybody who worked so hard on their applications not to know anything about the nature of the field on which they’re playing. So we will say that we had about 100 more applications than last year, with 36 countries and 153 cities from six continents represented (poor showing, Antarctica – so much for “silicon ice-shelf”). All in all we made the rounds to most of the top 15 places on that list over the past year. We also saw numbers from a few cities that, based on last year’s event and our travels since then, we found to be unexpectedly large: Budapest, Dublin, Gothenburg, Helsinki, and Vienna. We know there’s been a lot of great self-organized activity in these places, and the high number of applications is a testament to that enthusiasm.

Our esteemed judges are now hard at work reviewing applications. As per our schedule we’ll be contacting short-list candidates on August 25th.

Reblog this post

The results are in! Congratulations to Billion in a Year, who have garnered the most votes and officially win the competition.

This video pitch competition was an experiment of sorts for us, and one we consider to be successful – successful enough that we’re thinking of integrating video pitches into our main application next year. If we continue to hold a voting competition we’ll have to try to create something that doesn’t resemble a pure popularity contest, as noted by Chris in the comments of a previous entry – not to take anything away from our winner.

We got a great batch of teams pitching their ideas, and we’d encourage anyone thinking of pitching to have a look through them. For those looking to practice their pitching skills – and almost prospective start-up should – Techcrunch have their Elevator Pitches site with a very active community providing feedback.

Special thanks to both Loïc Le Meur of Seesmic and David Lenehan of PollDaddy for helping to originate the idea, and also for assistance in putting this together rapidly and smoothly.

And of course thanks to all the teams who contributed – if you also applied to Seedcamp we’ll tie your pitch to your application for the judges to see, so it can do nothing but help your chances.

Thanks to everyone who’s applied and good luck.

Being a procrastinator myself I can relate to this particular pattern:

A few days ago we tried an experiment to help teams practice their company pitches and give feedback to each other. As incentive we offered up one spot in our short-list interview day (September 3rd) to the best pitch as voted by the community.

We received 19 entries – you can now vote for your favorite pitch to determine the winner.

Voting will close the same time as main Seedcamp applications – this Sunday night at 23:59 BST. We hope all the video pitch entrants will apply to Seedcamp as well.

It should go without saying that we’re trying to keep this honest, so please no voting box-stuffing or scripted deluges.

Good luck everyone!

Thanks to Disqus, Seesmic and PollDaddy for helping us to put this all together.

UPDATE (Aug 10, 23:59): voting has now closed. We’ll announce the winner tomorrow, Monday August 11th.

Great article in today’s Financial Times by Jonathan Moules. He takes a look at the 2007 Seedcamp winners and the amazing progress they’ve made in less than a year. Very appropriate with 2008 Seedcamp Week right around the corner (don’t forget to apply!). Jonathan also talks about the challenges of starting a company in Europe, things that Seedcamp wants to help entrepreneurs overcome.

Financial Times Start-up Struggles, One Year On 6 August 2008

There is a difference be­tween the ways Americans and Europeans start businesses. In Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs famously launched Apple Computer from his family’s garage. In London, Europe’s internet business hub, companies can begin life in a landmark office building known locally as the Erotic Gherkin.

Zemanta, a web software service devised by a team of Slovenians, came to the UK capital last September after winning Seedcamp, a mentoring programme designed to help Europe’s early-stage businesses achieve the scale and might of companies such as Google.

Seedcamp, which is sponsored by the Financial Times, is a week-long series of seminars with some of Europe’s most successful technology entrepreneurs. The closing date for entries for this year’s Seedcamp (, which will start on September 15 in London, is this Sunday.

Zemanta’s experiences, and those of the other five winners, provide some insight into why aspiring European entrepreneurs still find it hard to achieve the impact of their US counterparts.

Ales Spetic, Zemanta’s managing director, says the founders had not intended to start life in the opulent surroundings of One St Mary Axe, the Gherkin’s formal title. But they had so much trouble getting broadband internet connected at their rented house in a London suburb that they crammed six software developers into a Gherkin-based conference room supplied by the Seedcamp lawyers.

“It had a beautiful view,” Mr Spetic recalls, putting an entre­preneur’s positive spin on the irritations of the three-week delay.

Infrastructure problems are not the only barriers to European start-ups. Despite the claims of politicians in Brussels, the European Union has yet to become a single market akin to the US. Ed Spiegel found this was a problem when he tried to expand RentMineOnline, an Ebay-style service for renting items, from his boat on the Amsterdam canals.

Although technically his company remains a European start-up Mr Spiegel has relocated to San Francisco, where he has capitalised on a large US market for private apartment rentals. “It is about establishing the business,” he says, adding that he communicates with his Bulgarian development team using the Skype phone service and flies to Europe regularly to meet his investors.

He insists that he plans to return to Europe and that his location is less important in the internet age. “These worlds are actually quite connected,” he says. His attitude may reflect Mr Spiegel’s American perspective. He was born in the US and studied at Insead business school in Fontainebleau, France.

Back in the old world, entrepreneurs can seem reluctant to travel even short distances. Gordon Guthrie, founder of Edinburgh-based Hypernumbers, needed only to go to London to find investors for his clever idea of doing for spreadsheet numbers what hypertext links had done for words on the web. But the 45-year-old, who formerly worked for the financial services start-up Intelligent Finance, claims that without Seedcamp he would not have known who to contact in London.

“If you want to see a venture capitalist, you need to get an introduction,” he says, adding that he has also benefited from the constructive criticism of his business model by Seedcamp advisers.

Ryan Notz, founder of My­Builder, an online marketplace for construction services, is one of the most successful Seedcamp winners, having started trading this year and attracted the UK building materials retailer Travis Perkins as an investor.

Mr Notz, who had his eureka moment while working as a stonemason in Bristol, moved to the UK from the US. However, he claims it would be better to seek growth in the UK than rush to expand even into other European countries. “If you spread yourself too thin too early you end up getting nothing.”

Not all of last year’s Seedcamp winners have moved onwards and upwards. Anders Fredriksson won investment for Tablefinder, a search and booking service designed to consolidate existing restaurant websites. But his business model faltered after a rival company did exactly what he had been planning to do shortly after the Seedcamp event.

Mr Fredriksson had to fire all but one of his Stockholm-based team and has survived by taking on freelance consultancy work. Failure has not been easy, Mr Fredriksson admits, but it has given him time to reflect on his mistakes and work out how to avoid them next time.

Where are they now?

Hypernumbers (UK)

Edinburgh-based Hypernumbers has created a way to link numbers on the web in the same way hypertext links words, enabling people to check if a plane is full or a commodity price is dropping. It is the brainchild of Gordon Guthrie, a former BT engineer. Since last September’s Seedcamp, his three employees have been developing the product from their homes, surviving on savings and €50,000 (£34,000) in Seedcamp funding..

Zemanta (Slovenia)

Zemanta is a web-based software tool that helps users find pictures and videos to accompany text documents online. Since Seedcamp, Ales Spetic and his co-founders have raised a little over €1m, the largest of any of the winners, from venture capitalists and individual investors. The service is free and has been downloaded almost 20,000 times. Zemanta now employs 15 people, up from six at Seedcamp.


MyBuilder (UK)

MyBuilder is a web marketplace for construction services in which homeowners receive competitive bids for work. It has raised nearly £500,000 from Travis Perkins, the UK chain of builders merchants, the Accelerator Group, a strategic adviser and investor in start-ups. Ryan Notz, the US-born roofer who created the idea, has built a team of six full-time and two part-time employees and two non-executive directors.


RentMineOnline (Netherlands/Bulgaria/US)

From an initial idea to enable people to rent items online, RentMineOnline has switched its focus to residential property. It has also shifted from a peer-to-peer service akin to Ebay to a business-to-business operation. Property managers provide RentMineOnline as a service to residents, offering them referral bonuses to market properties to friends.

Ed Spiegel, the company’s founder, raised €60,000 in the first quarter of this year and is looking to raise another $1m (£500,000).

Kublax (UK)

Kublax is an online personal finance management service that improves on existing software packages, such as Quicken and MS Money, by updating transaction information. Founded by Sridhar Sethuraman, it has raised just under €1m from angel investors and increased its headcount to 14. (Sweden)

Tablefinder was a search engine for restaurant tables, consolidating existing sites. However, the acquisition of several small sites by a rival rendered the business plan obsolete. Anders Fredriksson, co-founder, was forced to fire all but one of his six staff, surviving on €2,000 for six months. He hopes to revive the business in another form, but has taken on consultancy work to pay the bills.