Startup Now: A Guide from the Seedcamp 2011 participants


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What did you do in 2011?

Here’s what we did, and what we learned building, pitching and growing our own tech start-ups.

We hope it inspires you and others like you to follow your dreams and fulfil your goals in 2012, whatever they are.

Published in: Business, Technology
  • download the pdf -- the text is *not* messed up there like in the online version.
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  • Great tips from Seedcamp class 2011
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  • Jg
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  • Podia ser só amizade, paixão, carinho,
    admiração, respeito, ternura, tesão.
    Com tantos sentimentos arrumados
    cuidadosamente na prateleira de cima,
    tinha de ser justo amor, meu Deus?
    Porque quando fecho os olhos, é você quem eu vejo;
    aos lados, em cima, embaixo, por fora e por dentro de mim.
    Dilacerando felicidades de mentira,
    desconstruindo tudo o que planejei,
    Abrindo todas as janelas para um mundo deserto.
    É você quem sorri, morde o lábio, fala grosso, conta histórias,
    me tira do sério, faz ares de palhaço, pinta segredos,
    ilumina o corredor por onde passo todos os dias.
    É agora que quero dividir maçãs, achar o fim do arco-íris,
    pisar sobre estrelas e acordar serena.
    É para já que preciso contar as descobertas, alisar seu peito,
    preparar uma massa, sentir seus cílios.
    “Claro, o dia de amanhã cuidará do dia de amanhã
    e tudo chegará no tempo exato. Mas e o dia de hoje?”
    Não quero saber de medo, paciência, tempo que vai chegar.
    Não negue, apareça. Seja forte.
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    Your message goes here
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Startup Now: A Guide from the Seedcamp 2011 participants

  1. Start-up NowA guide from the Seedcamp 2011 participants
  2. What did you do in 2011?Here’s what we did, and what we learnedbuilding, pitching and growing our own techstart-ups.We hope it inspires you and others like you tofollow your dreams and fulfil your goals in2012, whatever they are.
  3. Featuring
  4. Bootstrap Your PR The biggest challenge you will face as a start-up is not 3.Arrange a side event technology, not building your app or hiring. If you can’t afford the entrance fee, arrange your own side event. When we were told we couldn’t attend a show we It’s getting people to give a damn. arranged a Tweetup to coincide with the conference that Here’s what we learned about generating buzz from an grew to the point that the conference organizers asked us event at zero cost. asked how they could get involved in our event! 1.Help the organizer promote the event 4.Live Tweet conference sessions Use social media to let everyone know you’re attending. Remember to always use the conference hashtag. Retweet official announcements and post status updates Journalists often follow the hashtags during conferences to LinkedIn. Remember to include the hashtag in all your on the lookout for interesting stories. In our case, our very Tweets. By doing this we’ve been offered massive first piece of media coverage came from a journalist discounts on show pricing, free upgrades and the chance quoting Tweets we sent from a conference. to speak at future events. 2.Build relationships CubeSocial is social CRM for professionals. Since its launch in mid- 2011, CubeSocial has garnered accolades from customers and press Look at the speaker and attendee list. Tweet about the alike. CubeSocial was named a “Top 20 Idea” in The Guardian, speakers you’re looking forward to hearing and the selected as a “Company to Watch” in the TV250 awards and named a people you’re meeting up with. Make sure to use their Top 20 Startup of 2011 by Startups. Twitter usernames so that the conversation can grow. Cast yourself in the role of the jovial party host. Do not sell!
  5. Follow-up Follow-up with everyone you meet. You will find that Add people you meet to Linkedin – Some people like you and continue working with you weekly => engage them – You never know when you need intro – Some people don’t give you any feedback, but Add them to your CRM or address book keep them on the loop anyway, you never know if you need them, but don’t spam! – Write down all that you remembered about them. I have met 800 people this year. If I hadn’t done this I would be in a bad situation Next action – Use tags. E.g VC, London (for next time I need money and I’m in London!) – GO write those e-mails, they won’t remember Send a follow-up e-mail… you next week – Say a big thank you GrabCAD is a community founded by mechanical engineers. It is also a – State your biggest take-away place for engineers to share their talent, expand knowledge, find a – Say what you will work on in next month dream project and work with tools and features that make life better. – Ask – is it ok to keep them in the loop and ask for feedback in future Every month, send a short update – Progress – what you have achieved. E.g “we have launched GrabCAD Challenges and have signed 5 customers” – What are you working on. E.g. “Improving the retention, currently 10% survive and it sucks” – State where you could use some help. E.g “Do you know anyone in Ferrari?”
  6. Managing the Start-up Rollercoaster One of the reasons people start companies is to get the like that. Enjoy the highs, but be aware that they won’t feeling of doing something meaningful with their lives. last, so you keep working hard. Go through the lows They want to experience the excitement of building thinking that they are part of the game and try to learn products that people find useful to the point of paying for from them. And most importantly: Know that you’re not them. The “I’m invincible” feeling that comes when you alone. Seek support from your co-founders, get mentors land your first big customer or when your product gets to lend you an ear. If you’re a true entrepreneur, you’ll featured on a big blog. find yourself enjoying the ride as much as the destination. Well, if you want to enjoy the adrenalinic pleasure of hard-earned success, you’d better be prepared to go José Matías del Pino is CEO and co-founder of Ondango, a shopping system that helps brands to sell their products directly on their through the dark deeps of depression when things don’t Facebook Pages. work out as expected. That’s the startup rollercoaster: You’ll have just as many highs as lows during the adventure of building your business. With Ondango, some days we’d be celebrating the acquisition of a big customer and the next day we’d be managing a PR-crisis due to server crashes or seeing a key employee leave. I can’t remember how many sleepless nights we’ve had, both from euphoria and depression. We have been riding the rollercoaster for a while now and have learned how to deal with it. The key point is to understand and embrace the fact that startup life is just
  7. Better Than Good When building an idea, prototyping it and releasing it to Seedcamp taught us that loosing focus and being the lions out there, you tend not to stop, breathe and confused every now and then is not a bad thing, it is rethink. Adrenaline is high, you and your startup mates actually a vital ingredient of a startup life. are in the zone, productivity is beyond imaginable. No It does hurt finding that you were wrong, though. But that time to pause. But that is exactly what Seedcamp taught is needed if you want you or your startup to become us to do. Not that you need to stop and smell the roses, better than good. This is no army and failure is an option. but you need to stop and rethink what you are doing. Every idea, every startup has an evolution process and Andraž Logar is CEO of Toshl, distance between A and B is always the same. But the way Failed architect, but graduated 3d computer graphics artist; founder and speed of getting there is such an insane variable that of one of the first social networks in Slovenia; partner of RnD periodically one needs to stop and deeply rethink what web/mobile lab, servicing multinationals like Ericsson, Nokia, Publicis; a good guy. and how he wants to get to the B. Seedcamp has given us exactly that: A reality check. And what is even more, these reality checks came in various shapes and fragrances, expending our horizon and field of activity. We came back confused, of course, but with a knowledge platform that allowed us to find opportunities far beyond the expected product fit.
  8. How to Hack Seedcamp First and most importantly have an answer for the question “Why do multi million dollar companies. Thus I only care about the other you need the money”. Having no answer or not a sufficient answer startups in that space and how I can be the one big enough to either (“We may do some marketing”) may be a deal breaker. Think about partner with the big company or get bought. So stop thinking as a how exactly the money helps your business and why you need the techie. At least a bit. money from Seedcamp for it. Also be honest. If you don’t need the money you won’t fool anyone there. If you need the network, but not See which other Startups from your area go there and book your the money say so. accommodation together. Drive there together and drive home together. Read through the list of mentors and get an overview who everyone is. Think about the questions you have for all the mentor groups Don’t forget to put some numbers about your market into the pitch. (Marketing, Sales, Investors, Tech, …) so you got something to ask No one is interested how your technology works. Everyone wants to anybody. know how you make money. Go through the list of Startups and try to see which ones you would Don’t hesitate to tell someone “Then you will maybe never be my like to talk to the most. customer”. We talked to one guy who would probably never use our service out of very legitimate reasons. Don’t get dragged into an Think about and get Feedback on all the weak points in your Idea. e.g. open discussion with someone who will not use your service. There is Why use your service, what if “big company xyc” does this. The nothing to gain out of having that discussion publicly in front of Investors will ask you those questions and if you don’t have a everyone. sufficient answer they will ask the question again and again and again. Have Fun and go to the parties. Talk to everyone at the parties and dance, dance, dance. When answering a question take your time. Think about the question and the underlying meaning of the question. For example we were asked if a huge company could do the same thing we do with their Railsonfire provides Continuous Integration & Continuous Deployment for Ruby code hosted on GitHub. Follow a modern day development method with current infrastructure. I answered as a techie and said no and listed regular testing & deployment in the cloud. some techie reasons. Let’s say they were not impressed. The real question was what if they step into this market and the answer should have been then the market is already pretty big since they are
  9. Stress Test Your Product Name for $5 So you have your idea? You even know how to call it? To improve the results you can repeat the process Great! Now let’s find out if people will remember the with different names. Don’t expect miracles these name and spell it correctly. We combined a web people are rushed and non-native speakers. But the survey (eg. with a cheap way to same applies to your “prospective” users when get English speaking participants (Amazon’s somebody tells them about your product. Mechanical Turk). For us this helped a lot to drop a name that was hard Step 1 – Setup the survey. Start with a description of to remember and spell. your product and mention the name. Continue with a couple of decoy questions (can be product related, Jan Mechtel @janmechtel, office productivity junky, excel wizard, but don’t mention the name again). Ask a free text founded to build KeyRocket, a smart trainer for keyboard shortcuts. question “What is the name of our product? If you don’t remember what would you google?”. Make sure you deactivate the option to return to previous pages, so people can’t cheat. Step 2 – Setup Mechnical Turk and pay 100 people $0.05 to take the survey. (More than a hundred answers is premium on surveymonkey). Step 3 – Profit. Analyze how many people remembered the name and spelled it correctly.
  10. Jump Faster. Jump Higher. “If you aren’t standing on the edge you’re definitely came to us saying something like “Your model is taking up too much space”. This was our main belief awesome; too bad you don’t focus on Tattoos”. when we decided to start a life-long project of Tattoos? Why not. We’re now building one with our building an awesome startup and we live by it every publishers and many other trendy topics as well. Lots single day. of them! InfluAds started with a simple but powerful vision: Is there something we wished we had known when There are a lot of crappy ads on the web today and we started? It wouldn’t have been half of the fun if we’ll clean it up. We are an ad network where only we knew more stuff. gorgeous, carefully designed ads are served through Jumping faster into your own passion and jumping carefully selected, quality sites. Ads suck and we high is all that really matters, really! It’s not about wanted to be the ad network for the Quality Web so the team of ninjas... or the funds... or… we’re focusing on promoting that quality with only one quality, premium ad per page. InfluAds is the Ad network for the Quality Web. We match gorgeous We were nuts enough to start a lot of stuff and the ads promoting quality products with quality ads and highly influential, trendy audiences. need to be lean introduced another idea. What if we ask our publishers (site owners) to help us inviting others to join? They know about quality more than we do, anyway. The first crowd-sourced ad network was born and now thousands of publishers work with us on turning our vision into reality. A lot of people
  11. Even My Mom Can Do It! Creating a video was not an easy job and not fun at all….until now. public beta just before going commercial. And I’m happy to tell you this. Just the other day, my mom who turned 62 recently, has created I and our CTO Matjaz consider ourselves enthusiastic travellers and her own video using Slidemotion. 100% on her own, no looking over amateur photographers. Naturally, we take lots of pictures on almost shoulders! any occasion. And for the last 10 years we’ve been creating videos from them. Why? To me, it is simply so addictive and rewarding to Challenges? Many of them. Besides engaging the best enthusiastic see people smiling when watching my video. And it’s so much more guys possible, challenges are appearing every day. The biggest one is powerful than just pictures. …speed. We are a small team and it’s a real challenge to o prioritize what you do first. It’s a constant struggle between what we want to But there is a trick. To create a video for people to smile and feel develop and how much time do we have. good, it takes some effort and a LOT of time. Too many times I’ve found myself spending whole weekends polishing one single video. We are now live for couple of weeks and we are welcoming users to Yes, it sure looked great afterwards but I’ve discovered I simply didn’t try us out. But next big step will be mobile! Create a cool video way have the time for this anymore. After couple of months, I’ve found on the fly in just minutes, from a sailboat in Croatia, from a mountain out that I’m having a great amount of great memories stuck on my cottage, the beach and basically wherever you are, payable instantly hard drive. What a waste! via mobile and Facebook credits. Thats where we are going. And we’ll stick to what we said in the first place. It has to be easy so So, last year around this time we asked us: everyone’s mom will be able to use Slidemotion. Does it need to be so depressingly difficult and time consuming to create and share a great video? Slidemotion makes it incredibly easy to create awesome videos from After couple of beers and some napkin sketches… we had an idea. images, video clips and music in just few clicks. Why not create an on-demand video creation as a web service? But not just any service. It has to be incredibly easy to use. We’ve set ourselves a criteria. It has to be so easy, so our moms can use it. No skills or any prior experience required. So, after couple of months of research, we’ve started. We are now in
  12. Make Your Customers Feel at Home Khojan is a community of boutiques across London, was very web 2.0, very rounded corners which is when we had the idea we were very stubborn with something these boutiques and their customers are our approach. We felt that by providing a platform certainly not. for customers to find and shop from these stores we My best advice would be to research your ideal wouldn’t have to focus too much on the design as it’s customer and profile them in depth. Look at what not the main attraction. websites they use, where they spend time online, Big Mistake. what are their interests, and then begin to build a picture of how to design around that. Fashion is a totally different environment to usual tech start-ups and looks are as we know now are a We are currently re-branding and the re-design is crucial player when it comes to success. We made due within the next 6 months. the mistakes of not researching our customers enough and not making sure what makes them feel Anish Hallan is cofounder of, passionate about ‘at home’. technology, nature and health. - @anishkho – By this we mean making sure they feel comfortable with the site and design, that it’s something they’re used to, or impressed with. Because Khojan didn’t say ‘Fashion’, it totally gave the wrong message to those who landed on the site. Instead of being very professional and high end it
  13. Lean Seedcamping Heres some advice for a successful Seedcamp session. 5. Listen. 6. Take notes. 1. Read The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. 7. But remember: everything you hear in a session is not 2. Figure out what change-the-world the truth. Success is out there, but only you can figure ( out the path to get there. learned-from-steve-jobs.html) business assumptions and hypothesis you truly have. Its just a few distinct I wish we had done the above before our sessions. :) sentences, but take your time here; its an iterative Best of luck! brain-sharpening process, and its supposed to take a while. 3. Build a short presentation Martin Walfisz ( Serial entrepreneur, game developer and gamer. ally_bad_powe.html) around your hypothesis. What Founder & CEO of Planeto are your assumptions? And how do you propose to build a business around them? The Seedcamp experience is about learning (big ears) not about convincing (big mouth). Its easy to become confused, but this is not a VC pitch; your Reality Distortion Field super powers should be checked at the door. 4. Use the Seedcamp mentoring sessions to get feedback on your assumptions. Do the mentors think they are valid? How can you refine them? And, most importantly: ask the mentors to help you figure out how you can test your assumptions quickly and with minimal effort.
  14. Everything takes time… And thats okay. You live in the same universe as everybody else. And that isnt because youre not doing it right. Dont be too hard on universe has laws. Some of them are harder to break than yourself: you are young, and your team is awesome. But in others. A lot harder. Murphy’s Law is one of them. every plan, in every schedule, for every deadline, you should have a line for the unknown s*** that will hit the fan, and you Youre young. Excellent health, fine endurance, you dont mind should put a number in front of it. Not necessarily a big working from a sofa, living on dubious junk food diets and number. But never, ever zero, because you do live in the same putting in (very) long hours. No friction. universe as everybody else, and you dont mess with Dr Youre a small team. Lean, mean and fricking awesome at what Murphy. you do. You know your limits and how long it takes to get things done. No cumbersome hierarchy to deal with, no red Gabriel and Stan, engineers and Stanford grads, cofounded teleportd tape, no complex process. No friction. in June 2011 to allow people to... teleport. More at Youre a startup. Youre building in the cloud, advertising on virtual platforms, selling online… Again, no friction. So this should take exactly the minimum time required to do it, right? Wrong. Even the best engines use lubricant. Even the best-built bridges have expansion joints. Even zero-stock is close-to-zero-stock. And for a startup, that lubricant, that joint, that "extra shot" is time. Mostly because theres really nothing else to bank on. Things take time, and slightly more of it than youd expect. This
  15. If you like this ebook please send it to everyone who needs to read it!Click here to link to the post online,or feel free to email this file to people directly or post it on your blog
  16. Scratch your own itch? Apparently it’s the secret to building a great web app. as potential subscription revenues are significant. We have marketing campaigns and recruitment websites Scratching an itch feels great but if you stop scratching ready to go and despite no real recruitment push we still there’s only a brief moment of respite before it itches attract a trickle of trial subscribers. some more. So have we built a great App? Damn straight we have! How do you follow that second great mantra ‘Release Early and Release Often’ when the itching just doesn’t Do we Release Early and Release Often? Not so much, still seem to stop? trying hard to ignore that itch We are a booking/ticketing agency for adrenalin activities. Does mean our core business makes more We process bookings for over 150,000 adrenalin money? Every single day. enthusiasts every year and place them at partner venues. Our business has been evolving for the last 13 years from is a complete solution for activity venues to publish and an event management company, venue operator, national manage availability, enquiries and bookings whilst helping customers paintball network and finally ticketing and gift vouchers. organize their groups of friends. We built, to solve our own problems and help our business become more efficient and profitable. In so doing we built a great web app. We intimately understood the problems and by using the app on a daily basis to process our bookings we can evolve, develop and improve the app continually. The intention was always to open up groupM8 to subscribers (activity venues and other booking agencies)
  17. Your Life Should Be a Game idea was born exactly year ago when couple of friends Advice meet on a beer and realized that check-in for owning places is • Start-up life is the way of living. not enough fun. Connecting existing check-in services in one • Begin your start-up if you truly believe in it and you are spot and making fun of check-ins (creating territories) was our prepared to sacrifice a lot of your free time. Keep in mind first goal. We build a team of seven, that started to produce that having a full day job and running a start-up is very game. exhausting. • Running start-up costs money. Getting a seed capital is History far from easy, so be prepared to open your wallet big • 04.11.2010 - the idea was born time. • December 2010 - planning, researching, studying • Stay in contact with your potential investors and inform • 30.3.2011 - private beta start them often about your progress. You never know, who • July 2011 - registering company Teritorij d.o.o. will you need sometime. • 14th of July - Participation on Mini Seedcamp Ljubljana • Listen to your users. Theirs feedback is worth of gold. where we were one of two winners • Stop waiting and go for it. You only live once. Share your • 5th to 9th September 2011 - Participation in London idea and try to succeed with it. Seedcamp Week 2011 • 1st of October - going live (very silent) • 6th of October - scoring Future goals • 31. November 2011 - first game OusteRisk • December 2011 - first campaigning using as platform • 2012 - continue adding games, challenges and improving for you to have even more fun
  18. Legendary Insights I dont have a magic formula for success or solving coming the tough get creative. Remember one thing: problems. I do have a tip: learn from others that have there are no bad ideas - and with a great team you can been there, done that. To be honest thats the only way. sculpt your venture until it’s perfect. With this advice in So when you listen to people that have various opinions, mind, dont be afraid of rebranding your solution or for ask yourself: what experience do they have? Have they that matter changing your customer group. started companies? Remember, age is just a number in See you in the trenches! business, just like everywhere else. When youre a lean start-up not many things are certain SurveyLegend is the world’s first engaging picture-, video-, text- and and thats also an important part of the journey you have audio-based survey app that can be integrated with a to take. Avoid creating a corporate environment to soon, company/individual’s website, blog or social media presence. with fixed policies and no room to move. You need to be able to adjust quickly (changes in development, testing new audiences). Flexibility is one of the biggest strength as start-ups. Working with a small budget, the difference is like night and day compared to having a big investor behind you. As a company with limited resources, your time is your currency and simultaneously the most important asset for success. Dont waste it. An entrepreneur’s journey is a wonderful journey, but there will be hard times. But when the tough times are
  19. How to Pitch in the Wardrobe With all the work around selling our hosting business and what a cloak room was, until I remembered playing Diablo finishing our last web development projects it seemed to 10 years ago, where you wore cloaks. And the guy us that all the info regarding Seedcamp came in the last laughed, and commented how games can be educational. minute. We really didn’t have that much time to prepare I responded that was true, and the first time I realized for the perfect pitch. But that’s the whole point, you that was in high school when I was the only student to never have enough time for anything. In Seedcamp know what “congested” meant. (English isn’t my mother Prague we had 3 minutes. Seriously, 3 minutes? But tongue). And when the teacher asked me to explain the technically that’s all the time you have to grab the VC’s word and how I knew about what it meant, I explained attention, and trust me, that’s all the time you need if you and said I knew this from playing Sim City 3000. So are any good. naturally the guy laughed again. Than he asked about my The point of the 3 minute pitch is to be direct, stay on startup, and he (Thomas Preuss from VC fond Neuhaus point, learn how to prioritize and say whats downright partners) ended up giving me his business card, and asked important! to send him the info and to update him. So you see, stay sharp! Everybody is a potential investor, client, partner, you name it. Seriously, be alert all the time! When you go to the “cloak room”, when you eat, when you go to the Goran Duškić is an online marketing strategist and online business consultant. He co-founded a game development team Generation toilet, all the time! I am dead serious! When we arrived at Stars 10 years ago, a web development - hosting company GEM the Cervo institut where main event was held, one of the Studio 5 years ago. He is currently co-founder of IT startup WhoAPI. hostess told us where the cloak room was. Shortly after me, another person entered the wardrobe, and I started a conversation how I couldn’t remember
  20. Talk to customers! “Seedcamp is just a factory on start-ups!” or “You show some story, make them laugh, make them grab can´t get anything from just one day startup event!” a pen and make some note for later. You need it, Well… we did not listen much to these and many because otherwise they will not want to talk to you others opinions on Seedcamp, the early-stage seed during the mentors sessions afterwards. investment fund, and applied to Mini Seedcamp Seedcamp helped us to get international feedback, Prague 2011, one of the start-up competition taking support from marketing-oriented high profile place at various cities in Europe. And it was worthy – managers and investors and little exposure thanks to we got support from high-profile people, the TechCrunch Europe blog post. Not bad for one- international exposure and things you might not day no-fee start-up event, right? expect… Some advice to the start-ups applying to Seedcamp: Brand Embassy helps companies to talk to customers on internet. It People, the co-founders, are taken even more provides a full solution of online customer engagement to large companies. seriously than what your start-up do. So spend a time to make really impressive personal profiles (skill set, mind set, career history, experience, etc…) and easy to understand explanation why your team is the right one for your project to become successful. We realized that the pitch is mainly about the SHOW. There are 20 startups one after the other… You have to make difference to awake the crowd. So
  21. Discover New Books Our journey started at Seedcamp NY 2011 when And so after few months of hard work we did it! we’ve launched BookLikes for the very first time. It TechCrunch, The Europas, Startup Week … BookLikes gave us tremendous heads up. was chosen as one of Europes 50 most innovative Thanks to events like Seedcamp we’ve got a lot of startups and one of The Best Social Platform or useful feedback from mentors, VCs and Networking Startup. entrepreneurs that practically helped us save a lot of And we’re still on the road - BookLikes is constantly time and money. Here are few tips: growing and successfully monetizing. In next 12 months we are expanding to other • focus on the user not only the product - listen countries and languages. to your users because they now what they really need; Booklikes is a social platform for real readers who want to discover • fight for your product every day instead of new books, organize them on their personal bookshelves, share their planning releases for next 6 months - don’t get reading passion with their friends and find great books in best prices. lost in visions and focus on what should be done today; • monitor traction every single day - you’ll see if you are doing it right; • don’t stop learning - read books and not only blogs; • product should solve your own problem - be the user and not just the creator;
  22. Tell me a story As a startup, you tell your story a lot, with every and makes it easier to fix the bugs. conversation offering the opportunity to refine and Pitching to a large audience in 5 minutes was a improve. And as tiring as it sometimes feels, the different story. Experience in the boardroom or a repetition and picking apart of the story makes us mastery of product and market does not necessarily continually think about customers, competitors, translate to an audience-grabbing delivery. Both of us coding and complement. And our message is getting had years of industry and business experience - better. All businesses need cash to operate. Bilbus banking, treasury and financial technology. gives businesses visibility to work out when they will need cash and simplifies how they will meet funding After a few botched attempts to get it right, we got gaps. some very good advice: simplify what you say, as if you were explaining it to a kid. Surprisingly (to us), it We realized quickly how our particular audience’s worked. No matter how good the idea or reference point (and occupation) defined whether proposition, how clear and important the problem, eyes glazed over or lit up. To get the proverbial ‘light getting a large number of people to understand and bulbs’ to ping silently, we needed to find a way to realise that is hard. make working capital and business finance sexy. Amidst a sea of mobile, geo-location, social media- Sanjeev Chhugani derived apps and tools, this was easier said than done. Through Seedcamp, we were able to pick the minds of some amazing people. Validation lifts the spirit above the mountain of challenges yet to come
  23. Machine, learn! For the last few decades we told our computers does the user adjust the volume? Is there a pattern exactly what to do and they mindlessly followed our in geo-location, time, day and played songs? orders. But this relationship is about to change. Think of these questions as a starting point: Take a Finally our devices start to behave in ways interaction minute and imagine where in your own product the designers have always dreamt of. machine could make sense from the human’s The concept of a device that just “knows” when to behaviour and how this insight could enhance the do what and accomplishes tasks independently has user’s experience. always been floating around the interaction design community -- along with the realisation it wouldn’t Ben Freundorfer is passionate about user experiences and co-founded quite work in reality yet. But recently our devices - a software that learns and makes smart suggestions for email replies. started to have access to interesting data (location, calendar, your communication with others, etc) and have become powerful enough to make sense of this data mess. Imagine for example a smart-phone’s music player: Without knowing it the user actually inputs data: Skipping songs, turning the volume up, being at a specific location. All this tells the application a lot about our preferences. Which songs are skipped at which time of day in which order? For which songs
  24. Pivot or Die One of the most painful experiences for the the survival and growth of them depends on the entrepreneur is the pivot: a fundamental change of ability of the entrepreneur to pull those pivots off. direction in the development of a product or service based on the discovery of a new, enhanced truth. It The successful entrepreneur learns to embrace can be the discovery that his product is unwanted on change and program pivots as a part of his DNA. He a market or that the opportunity window he has is humble to the voice of the marketplace and been pitching for the last six months just ceased to understands that its words must stand above his own exist. The point is that this new truth partly or ego at all times. completely distorts the current world view of the Forget servers, system administration and expensive IT bills - deploy entrepreneur which can cause intense pain and a your websites and apps to Omnicloud and relax while our platform deep sense of regret. makes them scalable, swift and secure. In that moment, it is important for the entrepreneur to stay true to the pivot. The accumulated knowledge of the customer and the market up to that point is what matters, and if the marketplace is telling him that something is wrong then so be it. For most entrepreneurs it is natural to value ones own opinion above any other and to admit that one was wrong can be highly challenging. Pivots are however a natural part of building products and services, and
  25. Lessons for Hackers As a team of two talented hackers with intimate Find someone that likes talking to strangers, and knowledge of our target market Jack and I were another that knows how to run a business. perfectly aware that we had all the skills one could We know you like perfection (to the points of OCD at possibly require to launch a successful start-up. We times). This is your enemy. knew what we were going to build, why we were going to build it, and most importantly how to build The ‘M’ in MVP stands for “The least or smallest it (in a beautifully elegant manner). So we did. amount or quantity possible, attainable, or required”. Try not to forget. Once we were (eventually) at beta we thought it prudent to whip up a social media frenzy; one tweet You + social media != a marketeer. and two facebook status updates later we sat back to Working 30 days in a row is not cool, and doesn’t catch our breath and watch the users (and $$$) roll help. (Turns out Kent Beck was right). in. Inexplicably this didn’t happen. Something must have gone wrong, but what could it have been? All of Tim Sherratt is one of the co-founders of Globe, which is dragging our bases were covered. travel blogging (kicking and screaming) into the 21st century: Although I’m being somewhat facetious we did learn an awful lot in our first few months, so here follows Globe’s Lessons for Hackers: If you are worthy of the term hacker you do not have the requisite skills to build a successful start-up.
  26. The Place to Be?!? A success story is Heineken, the Dutch brewer that started in 1864 in find where there are people just like you. Amsterdam and is ranked as the third largest brewery in the world, with an annual beer production of 139.2 million hectolitres. The Respect of intellectual property: You will be more at ease to share success of Heineken beer can be granted to Alfred “Freddy” your knowledge since you know that people are focusing on a Heineken, a brewer and salesman. Just after the World War II he different scope and do not have time to copy you, but instead think went to live in New York for two years. There he was taught the of a win-win situation. ropes of American advertising and marketing. In its green bottle, with A capacity to celebrate failure: It takes less time to find out if your “export” on the label, and priced to match its suggestion of start-up is a failure since others surpass you in success. Lesson learnt- exclusivity, it caught on in the United States and elsewhere as a beer start a new one with all the knowledge you gained from your last for special occasions. start-up. If you want to be the best fashion designer, you go to Paris or Milano! Worldwide attention: Who reads local tech blogs from a country? If you want to be the best banker, you go to London or New York! If Not many. The best tech blogs will be where there is action. You have you want to become an actress or actor, you go to Hollywood! If you a better chance hyping your start up in a famous tech blog since the want to start a successful and thriving start-up company, you go local ones will refer to them and it will be translated into 15 different where there are people just like you. Why? Because you will find the languages! following: A culture of collaboration: You have to build networks! People that Alexander Börve, Founder & CEO, iDoc24- Ask a dermatologist understand how difficult it is to start a start-up will listen and share anonymously in any device 24/7. their experience, they will also help where they can as they enjoy iDoc24 started in the STING (Stockholm innovation and growth) seeing others succeed, it is magic that rubs off, which gives new incubator in 2009 and took home first place in the Mobile Healthcare energy and momentum. University Challenge at last year’s mHealth Summit in London. Critical mass of talent: You need to network with engineers, marketers, investors, venture capitalists, lawyers and stakeholders that you can share and discuss your start-up with. It is like dating you have to find someone with the same chemistry, which you will only
  27. Ziv’s rules for start-up survival MyWebees is now one year in the making; we’re beating talk with domain experts but remember that an expert is our own forecasts with over 10,000 sites joining our a person that optimized existing process which mostly platform since Jul 13th but with every milestone reached makes him less capable of understanding and embracing the next ones are looming even higher. So when disruptions. Listen to the few who offer actionable embarking the hazardous startup road with the odds advises on how to overcome your challenges and simply stacked high against you I’ve tried following few simple ignore the rest. rules that make survival just a bit easier. With point 3 in mind don’t drink your own cool-aid if Raise money fast – some VCs will tell how much they love things don’t work out as planned and you think you know bootstraps; building a product on your spare time may be how to fix them don’t hesitate making changes if you do a necessity but it also means you’re wasting precious time not know it’s probably time to move on. and time is the one resource that runs out faster than Wear sunscreen. money. Forget about valuation – an important factor if you want Ziv Koren is Prime Webee @ to raise money fast; pre-money valuation is a fictitious Start-ups veteran turned corporate VC turned entrepreneur number that represents what YOU think your company is worth; most investments will cost you 25% - 40% so don’t waste time optimizing; if you can, raise what you need to reach the next meaningful milestone, if you can’t, raise what you can. Apply selective hearing – You will mostly hear why your idea will not work / attract customers / make money; do
  28. Don’t Give Up Margn took part of the Mini Seedcamp event held in Instead remember what T. A. Edisson said: “Genius is Prague October 2011. The event was amazing and one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent experience was memorable. It gave a lot of ideas for perspiration.” We have perspired a lot, but the developing and marketing our product. journey has been really fun. It is worth living in the World of start-ups! 2011 has been breaking year for us as we finally could introduce Margn to public and do some Margn is super simple online accounting software for small marketing besides coding. The whole process has organisations. been real challenge for the team, as it took more than one and half a year to go live. But now it seems, although we made our first revenue one month ago, that it has been worth of all the effort! We already feel that we have done something that makes the World better place, including the part that nobody currently likes: accounting. If you think you have a good idea then start working with it. Do some market research and put a lot of effort on finding the perfect people around you for your journey. Always try and if you fail, don’t give up.
  29. Wait no more! “Predicting the future of the Internet is easy: anything it hasn’t learning from my #fail’s and having the determination to go on yet dramatically transformed, it will” regardless. - Chris Dixon I am 22. I dropped out of college, I have never written a CV, I What are you waiting for? For the idea? For the charitable am currently at a startup garage, sleeping on the floor and investor? For the time when you have “time to focus”? Waiting reading an article about my startup – – in to get some magical insight on information that would give you The Wall Street Journal, shared on Facebook by the President a competitive advantage? of Estonia. A startup eliminating waiting. The harsh truth is that by reading this you are most likely The thing I wish I had known before I started is the knowledge wasting your time. You should be out there getting this that I could have started sooner. I already had what it takes - information yourself - everything cannot be put into words. Do and by reading this e-book it is more than likely that so do you! or Die. Don’t get me wrong - doing a startup is hard work, but not But on the positive note – by reading this you are already more because of the reasons most of you expect it to be! likely to succeed! The simple fact, the simple step that you took by obtaining this e-book and reading it, gets you a step closer Wait no more and find out for yourself! to #winning On average, I read 600 articles, blog posts, e-book pages, etc. per day, but what got me to the writing side of the spectrum, was the step to actually do something. It was stepping out of my comfort zone and taking action! I did it without any special or highly relevant technological expertise or connections or education, but rather by disrupting my comfort zone and going all in with the acceptance of
  30. Upwardly mobile? Ok, let’s start with the thing we wished we known at the So we refocused our app (Sylphone) on its original goal – start. Actually, we did know it. Everybody knows it. We to make sales calling fast, easy and efficient. And we set just didn’t know it: the app to integrate by default to just one CRM – the most popular and fastest growing. Less is more. Be specific. Build a niche. Narrow your focus. This meant we were also able to position our app within the sphere, get access to appexchange Call it what you want. We didn’t do it, not at the start (their app marketplace), etc. anyway. Our big challenge over the next year is going to be very Why was it important? Well, trying to develop an much a customer-focusing one. The shift will be away application that everybody could use meant: from development and onto getting our customer • we were slower than we should have been interactions right. Scary. • the app we were developing was less simple than it should have been Sylpheo makes apps that make business – customer relations better. • we were spending way too much energy on stuff we More calls + better data gathering + less sales admin + more up-to- shouldn’t date CRM = more sales. And it wasn’t working for us. But the plus side, I guess, was that it took all that slowness, over-complication and wasted energy for the message to really hit home. And when it did, we could begin to strip back everything the app didn’t need. And then focus fully on the stuff it did need.
  31. Be Passionate and Dream! Universator is a real company with 9 employees right abroad. We would also like to help poor people to now but it took us more than year from the first get top education thanks to online courses and our thought to build it up. support in the future. We think we can do it, we need to start and step by step make others believe in To make a decision of leaving all other activities aside it as we do, so they help us. (school, other work) is a real challenge. But once there is some project you are really passionate Our second tip is: find where your strengths, about, you have strong intention to do something passions and opportunities cross each other and you useful and if there is a big need for a change, go for will find something that you will love working on. it! You will enjoy working on something which makes Dream big, go for it, dont let others stop you! sense to you. Universator is a global project with a mission to help international Our first tip is to not forget to find others who will students with their life decision of choosing the right university. follow you, help you and support you in tough times that will come. We have just started and we have big plans: to be the first to help people find their education anywhere in the world, to bring the biggest added value to our users. We want to change the whole process of finding higher education abroad, help people in a new social environment when studying
  32. Enjoy the ride! Nothing is permanent, except change. For us that wandering through the exciting so-called Valley of meant getting ride of our beloved name egoarchive Darkness with a half smile of confidence. and shift to archify. The rules: you need an awesome team & you have to There are no “markets” anymore - there is really just deliver. Besides that rules - there are no rules. only one big market. However in our case the cultural Remember, the future’s so bright, we gotta wear differences of the various “regions” do matter. shades. Especially since our home “market” Austria and the next logical bigger one, Germany, are more Team egoArchive - aka archify challenging to conquer for our product due several Gerald @geraldbaeck, Max @karli & Walter @vavoida reasons. Not just by the missing openness of the - your memory in the cloud aka - making search personal again culture itself but also by the surroundings and the certain mindsets. Be aware of time wasters, people with a blinkered view and those who just talk and not listen. The solution is to move on, literally. The quicker the better. We got out of Austria and got a really great international network to begin with. Be analytical (rely on stats, the feedback-loops ...) as well as relentlessly self-critical, identify your weaknesses and make sure you have great team member(s) who can compensate those - so you enjoy
  33. Planning Global? Start Local A beautiful evening on a snow-white 31st December 2008; the CHAKKR team, a group facilitate over 1000 deals between customers and couriers in Germany. We thought of expat friends, got together to celebrate New Year. But the mood was not the best as we were doing great, and as the bootstrapping cash was almost getting over, we they were missing their families abroad, and their Christmas gifts had not yet reached decided to start a fund-raising round for “smart money”. It was a privilege to get them. Because of the heavy season, many national and international parcel deliveries selected for Mini Seedcamp Prague 2011; but the event really made us think a lot. The were getting delayed. mentors made us really sweat and gifted us with sleepless nights about the flaws in our business-model and distribution strategy, with optimization suggestions and The start – Global Big-Bang potential partnerships. We found a solution which we thought was unique and useful for millions like us worldwide → an online travel-courier community where people can help each other to The second change – Partnerships are keys to the treasures send and take parcels, especially on international level. That was CHAKKR; first We got a lot of VC contacts and potential “partner contacts” from Seedcamp. We knew launched to public during next Christmas night, in 2009. we were in the radar. We sensed a common tone → “You guys are doing good, but small. If you want us, show us something BIG; we want to invest a LOT of money → but The first kick – World is BIG and not everyones the same show us a BIG vision”. A phone-call with the legendary business angel Morten Lund We started getting kicks on butt within a few days after the first launch. Not a lot of really gave us concrete ways to go. We are now making our platform BIG, by opening traffic (only 300 users in 3 months, for a FREE community platform); no “viral effect” up our courier-capacity-matching engine for online shops and marketplaces for use, as among expats contrary to what we had expected; CHAKKR user-distribution was a shipping-solution (SaaS) to their customers. This helps and “saves” us of the almost like a random spread of 300 dots around the globe; and most of all more Himalayan task of end-customer oriented marketing, and simply slip-in into the “negative” approach and negative publicity → it was a platform quite open for mis- existing markets which others have created. → easy money, and potentially easy exit. use. The exercise turned out to be the first eye-opener → we were not the FIRST one VCs are knocking on the door now, and we hope to be ready and useful for many who tried this model; many had seen this before and view it is a high risk solution. people during Christmas 2011. The change – Localize and Monetize We were emotionally attached with the “international” aspect of CHAKKR, as it could CHAKKR is “Shipment 2.0”; it’s a smart way to transport what is bought and sold online, really solve the problems we (as expats) had, if it could build the volume and through couriers already on the road, with half-empty trucks. international networks. But soon after the first kicks we got, we had to find and work- out ways to make the platform more practical and profitable. The solution was clear; focus on “safe-zones” → convert CHAKKR from an international “community” to a regional “courier market-place”, where we connect customers with local/national couriers. On another cold and snowy Christmas night in 2010, we launched a revised version of CHAKKR → a commercial courier marketplace; focused on our “safe” region→ EU. The second kick – Local is not BIG We had a nice ride with the online courier-marketplace → in 6 months, we could
  34. Customers know it better Here at PressLabs we are a team of three software and then your startup will rock. developers, dealing with WordPress in the past four A second thing wed recommend is to get out there. years. Starting late 2009 we entered the hosting Go outside your city, your country or even your business as our development customers asked for a continent. Go to events and meet other people face- reliable hosting service and we couldnt recommend to-face. Discuss your project with them. Only saying any at that time. what you do can lead to new ideas for improving Since then everything we did for this service was your product. Get feedback, share thoughts, follow- challenging, really challenging. Going from one up and good stuff will come out of it. customer to two, then to three and so on, meant a So stop creating the perfect product and get huge learning curve for us. We realized quite fast customers tell you what they want! that every customer is unique and we learned a bunch of stuff with every new customer. PressLabs is a white-glove WordPress hosting provider, targeting Our key learning for 2011 is that customers tell you professional publishers and large sites that need heavy optimization. We focus on getting the best possible performance out of a what to do, so GET CUSTOMERS from day one and WordPress site. then tune your product according to what they need. There is a huge waste of time planning features that maybe nobody will ever use. Besides that, you get frustrated for not getting real results and this can tear apart the team. Get customers feedback, prioritize their needs, focus on one feature at a time
  35. Seedcamp Saved us 6 Months Time is the most valuable commodity when running Pitching at Seedcamp helped refocus our feature a start up. Wasting time on the wrong product set/development list, simplify the language we used feature, marketing strategy, target sector, can be the to help connect better with our audience difference between momentum and luck or a slow (independent retailers/mostly female shoppers, who death. don’t use tech language) and most importantly decide what not to do. Without external mentoring or validation it can be Since Seedcamp, our marketplace has grown rapidly, lonely and even dangerous. Group think? Feature our social loyalty app is coming soon and we’re Creep? Customer Closeness? What problem are we excited by the future. solving again…? Maybe your team knows but can you And after much discussion, here is frooly in a tweet: communicate it in one tweet to the rest of the “Earn money by shopping with Britain’s best luxury world? That was the value of Seedcamp to frooly. and unique sellers” Like a baptism of fire, Seedcamp was 6-12 months of learning in a day and half. Where else can you pitch, What’s yours? be mentored and given direct feedback from tech industry A listers? – People who really know how to Frooly is an award winning online marketplace for Britain’s best luxury and unique sellers. get things done. Frooly is trying to save choice on the high street – a social commerce marketplace, loyalty facebook app and self serve, simple online shops to you and me.
  36. 1000 Mile Run! If you ask a successful entrepreneur, what made his show after a few months or years, when not startup a success or if you ask an investor, what is he everything has turned out as planned and you need looking for to invest in, you will always get the same to admit that not every decision taken was the right answer: TEAM. one. It is that special thing, that after all the setbacks, still makes you believe in what you have The more often one hears it, the more shallow and started together and in each other. A startup seldom fake it seems. Nobody would invest into a great team is a sprint, but very often a 1000 mile run, which you with a very limited market potential! And nobody can only finish together! Therefore TEAM is the only would care about a big business opportunity, if the correct answers to all those questions. team does not have the right passion, commitment and skills to exploit that opportunity properly. is a social shopping service for helping buyers find the What one needs to understand is that there are right product with custom advice from people they trust. several types of passion, commitment and skills that need to prosper in the right team. It is one thing to have enough passion to start working together on an idea or enough commitment to quit a job and invest all available time into that idea. High on “first-weeks- adrenaline” this is quite easy compared to the challenges that lay ahead. It is all about the passion, commitment and skills you
  37. Ruti Said Yes! When I was two years old, I spent the summer in the This past year I had to go through many changes and US with my family in Baltimore. Now two-year-olds hurdles in my startup. There was a big transition to the world over are famous for saying “No” at every Ive encountered many people opportunity. And I was certainly no different. shouting “No” throughout the process. But, as when I was a toddler, I said Yes! Naturally, when my grandmother tried to stop me from climbing a ladder for the "big kids" at the Because no matter what others say, a true playground, I ignored her. My grandmother, horrified, entrepreneur says Yes! shouted: "No! Ruti, no!" Ruti Polachek, Named Promising Young Entrepreneur (TheMarker I kept climbing all the way up to the top. A 14-year- Magazine), Chairman & Founder of the Hebrew University old had to help me down. entrepreneurship club; Selected in TLVs Seedcamp as Founder and CEO of Flakkes; former Lehman Brothers Banker; Equities Trader; My grandmother (a child psychologist, by the way) Secretary General of National Youth Group; Brown University Entrepreneurship Program Scholar; Economics Summa Cum Laude BA. was convinced that I did not understand English. Why else would I have ignored her? I did grow up in Israel after all. When we got back home, she told my mother about my dangerous endeavor in the playground. I immediately exclaimed: "Savta said ‘No!’ but Ruti said ‘Yes!’". Obviously it was not a language barrier.
  38. Positively Brutal It’s all about the feedback. The easiest thing you can them lead me to rethink the product and the do as an entrepreneur is to think of an idea and business proposition, the result of which is UserPulse develop it. The comfort of progressing through the aka ‘Live Chat without the Time Wasters’. development of your own idea, even with some We won a Technology Strategy Board grant to customer traction is deceiving. A far more difficult, develop the product that reduces the need for an but worthwhile experience is to expose your idea to army of sales support agents by qualifying website a brutal reality check. That was mini-seedcamp 2011 visitors in real-time, enabling agents to focus on for me. converting the best prospects. The mentors, ranging from VC’s, to successful Now I’m working through one type of feedback even entrepreneurs, from marketing gurus to business more brutal than Seedcamp; that of our 4000 leaders all contributed. “We won’t invest in a single customers as they respond to our lean startup person, don’t you have any friends?” stated the VCs. validation experiments “We tried live chat in our business but all we got was time-wasters - how do you know it works?” claimed With a background in Computer Science, and an M.B.A., Adi spent the business leaders. “Who is your target audience?” many years building great software and successfully engaging with asked the marketing experts as they fired a barrage customers. of questions trying to understand the product and its intended use. Those questions rang in my head as I left the UCL building at the end of a long day. Working through
  39. Make something happen. We need your help.Post this, email it, tweet it.Spread it freely.But please don’t sell this content or change any of the entries.
  40. Credits Photography (CC license): • Tony Armstrong • Bindaas Madhavi • Aaron Brown Start-up Now was conceived by Mark Bower and the team at CubeSocial, and authored by the talented start-up teams that took part in Seedcamp during 2011. Please share this ebook with anyone and everyone, but do not charge for it and do not change any of the content.