Seedcamp goes to Barcelona
Seedcamp is now in its fourth year, and it's been gratifying to see the maturation and evolution of the concept over the years.
ERPLY is the current poster child of the Seedcamp after announcing a $2M round of funding from Redpoint, Index and the founders of MySQL, DaveMcClure etc. adding to a list of startups that obtained funding including MyBuilder (TAG), Basekit (Eden), Zemanta (USV, Eden, TAG), Toksta (TeamEurope, TAG). Ironic that it may take a West Coast investor for folks to take notice :-)
Anyway, after speeding through Bofill's stunning terminal 2, here I am at beautiful IESE for Mini Seedcamp Barcelona in gorgeous Pedralbes, home to magnates, football players and, apparently, MBA students, listening to the opening pitches. Companies from Spain, Portugal, Romania, Poland, etc are pitching their wares. The steady process of improvement is showing: entrepreneurs are crisper and on message, and the pitches are (mostly) credible. It's gratifying to see how far this initiative has come, and I am now convinced this is the best seed platform that we have in the European market. The teams are sometimes fully formed and the best entrepreneurs have put together great advisory boards too.
Take Luke Collins from Offset Options. By being authoritative, crisp and passionate, and showing some great early customers like U2/LiveNation, he managed to get me excited in under 5 minutes about his voluntary carbon offsets marketplace. Great job. Shockingly, one entrepreneur (Peter at R1ng.pl) even stepped away from the pulpit to engage the audience. He pitched well, helped by some very stylish shoes. Unfortunate name of the day goes to the "close but no cigar" Rankswers (though Jobsket came a close second in my mind). Future magnate of the day: Lyonel Scapino, who called his peer lending company "SCAP". Most intriguing company of the day: Siine; Ed Maklouf: "I can't really explain what we have developped, you will have to try it and love it"; the Dude talked semantic absorption and was wearing a hat. Cool. "Don't fuck with the Jesus" (no prizes for guessing that one). Best intro line from Pablo: "we are Teambox, from Barcelona, and we are based here 'coz it's sunny". He went on to provide the best pitch for my money, complete with "rockstar developers" who "yes, do walk on water" and a great tip : "you want revenues, get a sales guy". Top marks for weaving humour to build a credible pitch
The main difference from early events in my mind is that we now see companies much further along on the maturity curve, companies with live products, paying customers and some funding. Seedcamp attracts not for $$$ but for its intangibles, network and advice. This is particularly true of the main event and the challenge is always to keep this up in the Mini Seedcamps.
The pitch sessions was followed by a VC panel (I always feel like I am saying the same old pedestrian stuff but entrepreneurs seemed to derive some value from it); then came the mentoring sessions. Difficult to get real value across in 30 minutes, but I hope some of the startups derived insights from all the fast and sometimes contradictory advice they were given. For some businesses at least, you really felt you were zooming in fast on defining key issues and helping them focus on achievable, critical-path progress.
I did a little wrapup at the end and it felt like the startups enjoyed the day and found it valuable. We talked about "pivot" and how few companies get through the early years without shifting strategy at least once.
I missed the voting to catch my flight, sounds from twitter chatter like uvinum, teambox and bloosee were three of the top 5. Well done guys !
"VC Robot running Founder Transition routine": Courtesy of excellent Seedcamp participant RobotMedia (comics for your Android)
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