Fast-growth startups are always looking for high-quality talent. It’s without a doubt the single most important ingredient to a company’s success. At Seedcamp, we work hard to help our portfolio fill out their team with the relevant skill sets and expertise. One way of doing this is a programme we started with the London Business School back in 2014. Today, the Seedcamp LBS Internship Programme matches students with Seedcamp portfolio companies, helping students apply their classroom knowledge to real-world problems and giving companies access to high-quality talent from one of the world’s leading business schools.
This year, we were thrilled to have matched 13 students with ten Seedcamp portfolio companies based in all corners of Europe (the benefits of a remote world). Two of these students are second-year Gene Barrett and first-year Nina Cardelus. We asked both to share what a typical day at their, albeit virtual, offices look like.
Intern at Weavr, an embedded banking provider that makes it quick and easy for any business to integrate financial services within their platform.
1. My alarm goes off and I begin my morning routine: Drink a glass of water
2. Throw in my AirPods and listen to The Daily by the New York Times while walking to a local coffee shop (Ok… Pret…)
3. Drink my morning coffee while writing down three things I’m thankful for and three things that I aim to accomplish today (a modified version of morning pages that works for me)
I start my work day by checking Slack, reading my email, and scanning my to-do list. The majority of my morning emails are typically daily news briefs from sources such as The Economist, PitchBook, and Term Sheet. I shamefully admit that I am probably oversubscribed to these at this point, but as an intern in a new and exciting industry, I use these sources to keep up to date on trends, competitors, and upcoming events.
Finally, I organize my day and decide on the first set of tasks I’ll work on by reviewing my to-do list. Although it seems like the list grows faster than it shrinks, I find that managing my tasks in a spreadsheet helps me understand what I’ve accomplished and what I need to close out before the internship ends.
I join the marketing and sales team stand-up led by Daniel and attended by team members located in the UK and Germany. The meetings are focused on executive-level updates (e.g., growth plans, organizational updates, feedback from seed investors), sales and leads tracking, and a round-robin on the top three things everyone on the team aims to accomplish. My three things are typically focused on closing out milestones, meeting a new Weavr team member, and reviewing my project with leadership. I really enjoy these calls as I get to hear recent success stories where the team is focusing their efforts and how I can help, and so much more!
Following the marketing and sales team call, I dive into the work tasks I need to accomplish that day. I am supporting the marketing and sales team with a go-to-market project, researching the verticals within their addressable markets, identifying the most attractive and ready-to-serve verticals, and developing a go-to-market strategy. Example tasks are as follows:
1. Creating a market evaluation framework and scoring model
2. Researching and populating the framework with market data
3. Summarizing the model’s output and go-to-market success factors
As Weavr uses Google Workspaces, I am proactive with sharing my work via Google sheets/slides/docs and highlighting review comments or questions when needed. The team is very responsive with reviewing and providing feedback, so this experience has helped me learn how to drive projects forward with collaboration tools.
Get out of my flat for some fresh air, lunch, and a walk through Hyde Park with my wife and our dog, Rocky!
During the afternoon I typically continue work started in the morning, meet with a Weavr team member, and have a 1-on-1 call with my manager.
My goals for meetings with team members are two-fold:
1. Sharing updates and getting feedback on my project: most of the team has a decade + of experience in payments and/or fintech. I use meetings with them to get a sanity check on the work in general and ask specific questions when I can leverage their expertise.
2. Building a working relationship: my project is only ten weeks but I hope our personal or professional lives cross paths again!
During the 1-on-1 call with my direct manager, Olivia, I share my research results and discuss next steps on the project plan created in Asana. Additionally, she helps provide context into how I can align my work with the sales and marketing strategy. This conversation helps me move my work forward and prepare for review meetings with Weavr’s CEO, Alex Mifsud.
At 6pm, I wrap up work by sharing my latest project files and then I switch over to completing London Business School coursework. My courses complement my internship, including electives on topics such as the Future of Work and Managing Growing Businesses.
Intern at Jelly, the all-in-one platform for chefs in professional kitchens
My alarm goes off, I wake up and I go for a run in Hyde Park if London’s lovely weather allows it. When I get home I shower, have my breakfast, and get ready for the day.
I live on the west side, so I take the Central Line to Bank and then walk to the offices, which are located on the top floor of a building in Bermondsey St, the nicest street in the London Bridge area!
When I arrive at the office, I first check my email and slack messages. Every day at 9.15 we have a 15-minute call with the commercial team to discuss how we are doing in terms of sales and lead generation. As the company scales, we continuously monitor and test our growth channels to optimize them.
Once a week the commercial team meets again for a weekly sales experiment. We first discuss the previous week’s actions and if they worked, we establish them as new best practices. Following this, JJ, the founder & CEO, brings up one topic that is currently not working and each of us takes a few minutes to brainstorm ideas to improve it. We then vote and discuss the most liked actions and test them during the following week.
Following the morning calls, I get to work on my tasks. One of the best things of working in a start-up like Jelly is that I have a chance to work on different projects from different areas. Some of my projects include defining a strategy for referrals as a growth channel, shipping a survey to gather product feedback, or preparing the company for its next fundraising. As the company grows, we continuously run A/B on most of our tasks to define best practices – e.g. how to maximize the number of respondents on a feedback survey?
Lunchtime. We usually go for a walk and grab lunch at any of the numerous choices in Bermondsey Street and take it to the office. The office is next to a small park so we might decide to eat our lunch there when it gets warmer.
Shortly after my lunch, I get back to work. I usually meet with Tom, Head of Product, or Nic, Head of Commercial, as part of my projects.
I have a weekly catch-up with JJ to discuss the highlights of my week and any upcoming projects.
I head out now! My evenings during the week are spent grabbing a drink with friends or co-workers, catching up with work from the MBA and cooking dinner.
Applications for the Seedcamp x LBS Internship Programme open back up in December. Keep an eye out on the LBS Careers website for more details. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions about the programme!
By 2030, Ikea, Microsoft, Apple, KPMG, the BBC and Burger King all have grandiose aims to become net zero. These companies are not alone in their commitment to sustainability. In fact, 21 percent of the world’s largest 2000 public companies have committed to meeting net zero targets. And regardless of whether these goals are intended as a publicity stunt or an honest concern for the environment, data to make carbon offsetting decisions is instrumental for businesses to take considered action. This is what Sylvera aims to tackle. Founded by Dr. Allister Furey and Samuel Gill, Sylvera is the world’s first carbon offset ratings provider. It leverages geospatial data, machine learning and proprietary climate data to create a reliable and transparent assessment of carbon offset projects.
We backed the team last year with the strong conviction that Allister and Samuel had what it took to bring a new level of transparency to a market that is expected to grow tremendously over the next few years. After months of hard work building and scaling their platform, we are thrilled to congratulate the entire Sylvera team today on raising a $7.8M seed round led by our friends at Index Ventures with participation from SpeedInvest and Revent. Prominent angels include existing and former CEOs of NYSE, Thomson Reuters, Citibank and IHS Markit.
“We founded Sylvera because we believed that in order to reach net zero, the world will require a well-functioning and scalable carbon offset market,” Allister says. “Such a market will only work if all participants can trust in the projects they are trading.” To build this trust, Sylvera is establishing key partnerships with research organisations including UCLA, the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and University College London. These relationships will enhance tracking tools for nature-based carbon offsetting projects and, in doing so, enable the industry to become more transparent for all stakeholders.
“We fundamentally believe that if you can’t measure it or track it, it’s very hard to act on it,” Seedcamp Managing Partner Carlos Espinal comments. “In that spirit, we backed Sylvera for the bold vision they have to provide clarity on offset decisions and confidence in choices companies have in pushing for positive climate impact.”
Funds from this seed round will go toward further expanding Sylvera’s technology platform and deepening relationships with all market participants. If you’re interested in learning more or joining the Sylvera team, check out openings here.
Originally published via Medium by Carlos Espinal
Effective internal and external communications are likely the most critical skills that a startup leader has to develop. To help founders manage this, at times, unwieldy tasks, our Managing Partner Carlos Espinal has decided to share how Seedcamp manages reporting and updates internally. He covers the PPP format and how to adapt it for prioritised action.
Internal (and external) communication are likely the most critical aspects that a startup leader has to develop to both get alignment and clarity on next steps from their team, as well as assistance from those around them.
To help with that communication process, the Skype team came up with a weekly reporting structure called the PPP, which stands for Plans, Problems, and Progress. In it, team leaders, using this skeleton structure, share updates with those above and below them in the organization for more clear communication. At Seedcamp, we further pioneered it as a way to help us and our founders communicate, and many startups currently use it for both internal and external purposes.
Whilst there is no hard and fast rule on how to format a PPP, or even message/transmit one (some prefer simple emails, whilst others use tools like Google Docs or Notion) to receiving parties.. over the years, I’ve seen one trend that spurred me to write this post.. the lack of prioritization in PPPs. This lack of prioritization sometimes leads to PPPs that are too long, read like train-of-consciousness writings, or read more like an activity log, rather than an actionable set of concrete thoughts. The negative impact of this is that for the reader, be it an investor or a fellow team-member, it can be distracting at best, or overwhelming and confusing at worst. Therefore, the new first ‘p’ I’d like to suggest stand for ‘Prioritized’ PPPs.
A friend of mine, Jase Miller, Product Manager at G2, wrote a post about a modified OODA loop (based on Eric Davis’ work) that can be used for product management, called IAPE. From Jase’s post (reduced), IAPE stands for:
IDENTIFY. What do we know about the situation we’re facing? What are the unknowns? Map them out.
ASSESS. Looking at each part of our “map”, begin turning open questions about the unknown into assumptions or hypotheses we can test.
PRIORITIZE. There are a lot of methods for prioritization. When it comes to ambiguity, and most other things, I agree with Eric Davis that we should “prioritize by power, not importance”. Sometimes I also call this prioritizing for impact. Looking at our “map” and the assessments we’ve made, ask which of these areas of ambiguity would provide the most power/impact when it comes to handling the situation.
EXECUTE. Test your prioritized hypothesis. Write and publish the article. Build a prototype. Talk with a customer. etc.
The key to take away from the above is that through marrying an IAPE approach with the PPP format, you’ll have a more effective use of everyone’s time (and likely feel more clear about your thinking as well). Rather than simply stating a list of actions done or to be done, you take things deeper by assessing them for impact. Let me elaborate with example questions to ask yourself for each part:
*What have you identified from last week’s plan that you had perhaps not realized might impact things in the future? Is it a problem or is it a benefit to your stated goals?
*What have you assessed that might need revamping, changing, re-prioritizing?
*What of the progress that’s happened since the last pPPP is ‘worth’ highlighting, in that it had a more material impact on KPIs/OKRs/Goals you’ve previously stated? How will this affect things going forward?
*Which of the problems you encountered this week (or interval of pPPP) are worth sharing because they impact the prioritized plan? (every day there are little problems we all encounter, but they don’t all materially impact the bigger picture).
*What is the timeliness of action required for this problem? Is it a problem that will negatively impact you if not actioned this week, this month, this year?
*Is this a problem that is worth sharing with the readers? (will it generate anxiety or lack of clarity with the readers without any tangible action they can take)?
*Is this a problem you are sharing to showcase you have problems or are good at solving them (be careful to not let your ego get involved with what you share to showcase you are ‘busy’).
*Is there clarity in purpose for the problem and its resolution?
*Is there something you can pose as an ‘ask’? Once you have a level of prioritization in the PPPs it is helpful to also ask help from those receiving the PPP. By making sure the ‘ask’ is of maximum prioritized impact, it also increases the likelihood of someone wanting to do it!
*After having assessed and reflected on your progress and problems above, what will you prioritize to execute during this interval?
*Of the prioritized problems you will now tackle, how do they alter any previous plans you might have had?
*What are the actionable plans from today’s pPPP, and until the next one, that will materially impact your stated goals (delays, advances, changes in budget)?
There are likely many more questions you could ask yourself to complete each of these sections, and of course, you can divide each section by the functional areas of your company (eg. team, product, finance, etc) but you get the idea…
The key concept is to really think more through what you share. It’s not about over-sharing, it’s not about simply journaling what’s happened in a time-interval, but rather the (p)PPP is a useful tool to help you organize what you’ve identified and assessed as important, and prioritized for maximal impact, and lastly, to keep you (and those around you) honest, on a weekly (or other time interval) basis, on how it’s really coming along.
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