Yesterday the five winners of Mini Seedcamp Paris met with some of Seedcamp’s investment panel.

So what happened?

Firstly we were impressed by the speed at which the teams had taken on board advice given the previous day. Investors pay a lot of attention to how teams receive, process, and ultimately iterate feedback so it is an essential element of an investable team.

We are going to continue working with some of the teams with an eye to investing in the future, and have invited them to other Mini Seedcamps to see how they develop and allow them to receive more advice.

We are still considering a more immediate investment in one of the start-ups, this is a work in progress so watch this space.

It is worth stressing that investment isn’t the be all and end all of a Seedcamp. Winning teams also gain:

• Validation – Future partners and investors are attracted by the seal of approval provided by winning a Seedcamp.
• A network – During the course of the day, teams meet with tens of successful entrepreneurs, investors and product experts. And Seedcamp works with the winning teams, helping to make introductions and open doors.
• Advice – Four hours of intensive mentoring really helps a team define and improve their proposition.

So congratulations again to the five winners and watch this space for further developments.

Today saw the 20 finalists and over 70 mentors join for an intensive day of mentoring, presentations, and panel discussions at the Microsoft Technology Centre Paris.

The high standard of teams resulted in 5 winners rather than the customary 3! They are (drum roll please)….

Art and You

Tomorrow morning they will be joining a committee of Seedcamp investors who may decide to make an investment.

Full trip report soon…

Instead of just updating the blogpost I thought I’d write a quickie to mention Techcrunch Talk has confirmed the venue for this Wednesday, Feb 25th.

La Cantine
12 passage Montmartre
Galerie des Panoramas
151 rue Montmartre

Also, we are here in Paris and geared up for Seedcamp tomorrow. The 20 startups seem ready and eager and we have our biggest mentor group yet. We’ll kick off with a small dinner tonight and really look forward to tomorrow bright and early!

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We are very happy to announce some of our top teams that will be attending Mini Seedcamp Paris on 24 February 2009 hosted by MSFT|idEES.

We had a breadth of applications from different regions and we will continue to encourage more cross-regional participation. There was a lot of focus on business models and sectors where “how you’ll make money” was straightforward and prominent. There were several Ideas in shopping, gaming, solutions for SMEs, and even some for social bookmarking. Once again there are only 20 spots, so we pored over the applications carefully and selected the ones where we see a lot of market potential and where we could get a good understanding of a team’s background.

For future applicants, we would strongly recommend that you spend a good amount of time filling out the application comprehensively so that you can communicate with us as clearly as possible the critical strengths of your team and idea.

Here are some of the teams de jour chosen so far:

3rd Eye Solutions Ltd – iDesktop.TV ADN: Mobile – iFrame Art and You Brainient Calcul Plus GameTube jiwa KPIWeb Kwaga Musicovery MxM MyVocal PrestaShop SimplySim rtgi – linkfluence SimplySim Weem Wozaik Yoolinkpro

Along with our own Saul Klein, teams will be engaging with esteemed mentors from MSFT and Sun to the founder of Kelkoo, Remy Amouroux and Brad Gillespie, Advisor & Board Member at various early-stage technology ventures, along with 50 other top industry movers and shakers including VC’s, Investors and product specialists. A few notables are:

Mike Butcher, TechCrunch Alain Caffi, Founder & General Partner, Ventech Philippe Herbert, Partner, Banexi Ventures Xavier Lazarus, Partner, Elaiaa Marc Menase, Co-founder of Nextedia and Business Angel Andreas Schlenker and Philippe Colombel, Partech International

We look forward to coming back to Paris and the MSFT centre to check out the fresh web-tech talent, mingle with the some old friends and make new ones over a glass or two of vin rouge.

In just the past 3-4 years, we’ve seen many great resources and events for startups organized. We are seeing a vibrant community emerge all across Europe. Yet there can be overlap and entrepreneurs with already a lack of time are overwhelmed with the question… how do I choose where to go?

In an effort to minimize the pain, Techcrunch , Seedcamp, and OpenCoffee applied the principle of open conversation to the scheduling of our Mini Seedcamps, TechcrunchTalks, OCC meetups by aiming to connect with the networks and events which bring together the entrepreneurial ecosystem in a region.

The first kick-off will be in Paris!

So the morning after our Mini Seedcamp Paris we have hooked up with Open Coffee Paris to create a special OpenCoffee Club meetup for entrepreneurs, developers and investors to chat, network and grow.

TechCrunch will then be hosting (as part of the Euro Tour ’09 ) a “TechCrunchTalk” panel discussion event as well on the day, 3pm-6.30pm followed by drinks and networking in conjunction with the Mini Seedcamp and OCC.

The TechCrunchTalk event is aimed at bringing together the web 2.0 startup and VC community to debate the next phase of the startup world. It will feature three quick-fire panel discussions with the hottest entrepreneurs and investors selected for their leading views on the market, and with topics focused around the following themes:

* What are the strengths of the French tech scene?
* Where and how can it be improved?
* Should French startups concentrate on France or scale across Europe?
* Is the VC community doing enough for entrepreneurs?
* What is the VC community looking for from French entrepreneurs?

The panel discussions will be followed by casual networking over drinks.

Find out more and buy tickets here .

We look forward to meeeting a diverse group of folks in Paris and get more connected across the short Eurostar distance!

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Further to Reshma’s post on 4th February, applications are now open for Mini Seedcamp Warsaw being held at the Agora Center on 18th March 2009.

Whether you’re from Eastern Europe or the Baltics, or if your start-up team has the next best web-tech product ready to take the industry by storm and the timing is right for you – feel free to apply for Mini Seedcamp Warsaw.

Once again, Mini Seedcamp Warsaw will bring 20 top quality, early stage web tech start-ups up-close and personal with over 50 regional and European industry leading and highly experienced entrepreneurs, investors and developers to participate in a day of mentoring, panel discussions and presentations.

The teams will benefit from engaging with and listening to, esteemed mentors and industry leaders from product designers and marketing specialists and venture capitalists to serial entrepreneurs. Through a series of interactive panel discussions and informal 1:1 sessions, the selected teams will gain invaluable insight and a solid foundation to help kick-start a viable business in Europe today. Not to mention being inspired by fellow entrepreneurs and a chance to broaden their scope within the European start-up ecosystem.

Our goal is always to help as many great start-ups as we can to have that initial capital to kick-start their business and of course to make the most relevant relationships possible. As such, Seedcamp may also invest through the Mini Seedcamps or the teams may be invited to apply for Seedcamp Week in September 2009 held in London, whereby 20 teams are selected from around the EMEA to attend and compete for seed funding and garner world-class connections for start-ups.

Applications are now open and close at midnight on Tuesday 3rd March 2009. For full details, updates and how to apply go to the mini site.

It’s a question I think I’m getting daily, so it’s a good one to answer. Maybe because of articles like this FT piece and rumors of a NESTA £1Bn fund or maybe because Seedcamp has recently funded 13 companies in a short space of time, I assume it’s fair to ask. Like us, you’ve probably been reading about how 2008 actually turned out to be a great year for raising money and that we should expected much glooom for 2009. In the spirt of getting on with business, I wanted to offer a few tips to make this year a bit easier to navigate.

In short, at the early stage it’s always been difficult to raise money and that’s inherently why we started Seedcamp. It’s a brief answer, but there it is. It’s always been an uphill battle and sure, the weather has gotten stormier but we feel it less than for those who are going from an easier terrain. So maybe I have a more optimistic view that things aren’t so bad. Therefore my response is that most of the Seedcampers that want to raise money have been able to do so in the past few months and those that can afford not to raise money right now are baring down the hatches and focusing on product, customers, and revenue. Yes, there are a couple that are choosing not to because they have paying customers. Based on their experiences, we thought it worthwhile to share some tips which are not easy but worth the while

1) Look internally – everyone else is tightening the purse strings and so should you. Look to cut or keep costs low and negotiate where possible. Everything is up for negotiation right now. If you don’t ask, you will never know what’s possible. As long as your product and customers don’t suffer, you have to get as lean as possible. Everyone talks about cutting costs, so I won’t belabor this point any longer.

2) Stop wasting time complaining about the state of affairs and opining about whether we’re on the right part of the bottom of the U or if next week or next month it will get better. If you catch yourself talking about this you are not spending enough time on your product or the right investors. Your time is better spent working on your product and bringing on the best people into your team.

3) Go after the proactive, aggressive investors – there are several investors out there both in the US and Europe who believe this is the right time to invest in early stage businesses. I agree they’re not easy to find, but if you ask the right questions you will find them. Do note that they are therefore even more closely scrutinizing your likelihood of success, so you have to be well prepared to explain your story

4) As ever, the most important elements are your story and your progress. Make sure you have a clear story to tell and convince your audience WHY what you are building is so important and then back that up with how you are measuring or how you will measure your progress/milestones

5) Finally, stop wasting time going after the wrong investors. As Fred and others mentioned in the FT article, more funds are being set aside for portfolio investments and many investors will be quieter in 2009. Therefore it’s even more important for you to hone your story fully. The quicker you can tell your story the quicker you can find out whether a) that investor is intrigued by the story or not and b) whether they are investing at all or not. If you’re wasting 5-6 meetings with an investor and you have no idea whether they will put in any money or not, you are not spending that time on your product or meeting the right investors.

This is what we’ve mostly been advising Seedcamp companies to do as we all figure out what to focus on in these turbulent times. Hope it’s somewhat helpful to others in the early stage venturing world.

So, back to you… would you agree/disagree w/the tips or the sentiments? Anyone else want to talk about success stories in the recent 3-4 months?

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