The following very thoughtful piece was written by dam in Berlin on his experience at Seedcamp. Great advice for anyone pitching or working with mentors. The full version is here along with a great video from Fred Destin on how to hack VC’s:
Here are the highlights for me:
For those that I only have 0–5 minutes to talk with (at coffee breaks, lunch, in the hall):
* Be confident, simple (it takes strength to be simple) and clear – I am on your team so don’t use more words than necessary.
* I don’t want to talk about me but you may want to know what I have done that makes my advice worth listening to (
* A FAST way for me to relate to the premise (not the details) of your business. WHY? I want to be able to describe your business to someone in my network in a way they can understand in about 7 seconds, e.g. “I met Company X, they are creating this value to consumers this way…” As perhaps an overused concept, think 140 characters or less.
* Explain to me how you are discovering your business model – if you tell me you have one ready at this stage I won’t believe you (for the most part). Why? This helps you demonstrate your product to me in a working, feedback-open manner where you will hopefully turn off that awkward pitch tone you may think you have to use (again, I can’t fund you). Also, I will hopefully be able to help you clearly get a handle on market-accepted metrics/benchmarks that will translate to a further proof of a concept worth funding.
* I want to know your market (and “everyone” doesn’t count) – if you tell me you need “just” 10% of the UK market I will say something to the effect of “interesting”, which is not good. Try to capture how you are defining your specific user or consumer base as you discover your business model (evolve your product).
* Carry a notebook, tablet or something to always write on for SPECIFIC follow ups – make “us” own what we say we can help you with by sending a simple, specific and polite follow up note (within about 48 hours if you want real help) – you may not want to just connect on LinkedIn – you will likely become clutter!
For those that I am lucky enough to meet with in the 45 minute sessions:
* Start with introductions at the table that YOU (the team) should lead – ask if anyone is carrying a business card they would like to hand you when they introduce themselves. HINT: arrange the business cards to correspond with the way people are sitting (facing you) – you should ALSO have a piece of paper for each session where you write down under each person’s name worthwhile ideas that you can mention in your follow up note. I can’t tell you how many people don’t take advantage of simple methods like this to keep organized, and it’s a shame because you meet 100+ people and ideas come from all directions.
* Come prepared with a (max) 5 minute recap that is composed something like the following (in case people couldn’t hear or didn’t see your presentation at the start). “Hi everyone – we are “Company Name” and we are trying to serve “customers” by delighting them with “stuff”. For today’s session I would like some feedback about a few things: our “pitch”, the way we are trying to discover our business model, product applications/extensions (not feature debate) and finally market fit (where we are and where we should be); at the end I would love to open it up for broad discussion and to see if you have any advice, perspective, reactions, introductions, resources, etc. that we might want to consider in order to carry “Company Name” forward. Would anyone like to add anything that they think would be helpful for us to discuss in a group? We are happy to meet and talk afterwards if you think there is a specific topic better served within a one-to-one chat.
* Come with visuals for those that were sat at the back (10–15 printouts of your home page/core offering/pitch deck) for people to write on (and carry home with them), or for you to offer to them to catch up instead of having to bore the rest of us that were paying attention.
* Start organizing your feedback/action items against two major factors – urgency and impact. Make sure to challenge mentors by asking how urgent they think something is (and why) or how they would qualify the impact of their suggestion (actual metrics).
I had the pleasure of spending all day yesterday, from 9am to 6pm, listening to pitches from the finalists selected out of the mini seedcamps from all over europe this year. Seedcamp is Europe’s premier startup accelerator. It is like Y Combinator, Techstars, Seedstart, and many other programs of this sort. Like Techstars, Seedcamp heavily emphasizes mentors and mentoring. It is a big part of the value proposition of going through the Seedcamp process.
I am not going to talk about the companies/pitches I liked best right now. But I will say that I came away with three interesting opportunities (out of about 20 pitches I saw). That is a good percentage. In talking to the other judges (there were about a dozen judges), there were another handful of companies that others took an interest in. So almost half of the presenting companies interested at least one or more judges in taking a closer look. That is a great percentage.
The thing that is most interesting about Seedcamp is that it selects teams from all over Europe and Israel (and now South Africa). They do mini seedcamps in Zagreb, Prague, Barcelona, Paris, Tel Aviv, Copenhagen, Berlin, Lodon, and they just added one in Johannesburg South Africa in a couple weeks (Aug 11th). This allows Seedcamp to find teams that might not fly to London on a whim but will travel to a regional hub to see if their project is interesting to Seedcamp.
I was particularly impressed with the quality of the teams coming out of places like Zagreb and Prague. Eastern Europe, from Ljubljana to Tallinn and everywhere in between, contains a ton of smart entrepreneurial technologists looking to build businesses on the web and on mobile devices. I am not going to leave NYC and focus on this emerging market but someone should. It is ripe.
Kudos to Saul Klein and Reshma Sohoni for creating and building Seedcamp. It is building an ecosystem, slowly but surely, throughout Europe and other emerging technology markets that I believe will result in new vitality to startups in this part of the world.
The Seedcamp finalists for 2010 will assemble in London for Seedcamp Week this September. If you are in the VC business and want to see what is going on in Europe firsthand, Seedcamp Week is a great place to start.
Kenneth Morse is a co-founder of 3Com Corporation, Aspen Technology, Inc., and four other startups. He is the former Managing Director of the MIT Entrepreneurship Center, and Chairman of Entrepreneurship Ventures, Inc. In Sept is he leading a unique seminar and workshop in Sligo Ireland for Entrepreneurs, CEOs and senior sales executives from innovative, fast-growing companies
No point building super smart offerings if you can’t sell them. If you want to learn how to sell (or sell better) check this out:
Global Sales Strategies for Ambitious Entrepreneurs
We are delighted to announce the details for Smartcamp Silicon Valley in Sept.
Mentors: To list but a few Rob Theis (Scale Ventures ), Bill Reichert (Garage.com), Ann Winblad (Hummer Winblad), Promod Haque (Norwest Ventures), Deborah Hopkins (Citi), Kevin Effusy (Accel), Ron Weisman (Band of Angels), Colette Ballou (Ballou PR), Tim Conners (USVP) and Gerry Mooney (IBM) and many more…….
In addition to access to the world finals in Dublin in November – DLA Piper, SD Forum and Ballou are offering up a range of awards. We’ll provide more details very soon.
Apply today to make the 13th August Deadline for submissions.
Worldsensing. Worldsensing is based in Barcelona and has developed some very small, robust sensors connected to small radios that can be connected to the Internet. The company estimates that urban motorists can spend up to 15 minutes searching for a place to park, but its technology gives real time information of space availability, so drivers can quickly grab a parking spot. Smart car parking information is also fed to the local authorities, so they can manage usage of city space better.
More details to follow.
3Strata Technologies http://www.3strata.com believes there is a much smarter way to collate and store data on vaccines, such as travel vaccines when people are going to areas where typhoid and malaria, for example, are prevalent. Currently there is no joined up system that links doctors?x2019; surgeries with specialist vaccination clinics, and no way for travellers to check they are covered if their itinerary changes. With vaccines increasing in the control of diseases such as cancer, the company has come up with a way of gathering all the clinical data and storing it in one, accessible system.
A spin-off from Oxford University, ArkMobileFinance http://www.arkmf.com claims to be the first company in the world to come up with a way to find credit for people who do not have a bank account. Traditional credit bureau data is not available in emerging markets such as parts of Africa and Asia, so banks can only guess at which customers represent the biggest loan risks. However, mobile phone usage in these countries has been taken up at a staggering rate, and Ark has managed to link mobile phone behaviour patterns with loan repayment records, thereby giving people access to finance and helping the banks to manage risk.
Kinesense is based on work carried out by one of its founders during his PhD studies into video analytics. The company has developed a product that saves law enforcement agencies spending hours – and devoting expensive resources – to sifting through hours of CCTV footage during police investigations. The company focuses on video retrieval, search and analysis software for the security and law enforcement sector, and has already developed its first product. Visit the website http://www.kinesense-vca.com/ .
Shaspa http://www.shaspa.com has developed solutions for the smarter home or workspace, enabling individuals or companies to improve their green credentials, while cutting costs. Its technology enables devices in the home to recognise when the family car is close, and will open the garage door and adjust the heating or air conditioning. It can also lock the front door automatically if the householder forgets on his or her way out, and can be used to monitor elderly relatives; blood pressure and heart rates.
Worldsensing http://www.worldsensing.com is based in Barcelona and has developed some very small, robust sensors connected to small radios that can be connected to the Internet. The company estimates that urban motorists can spend up to 15 minutes searching for a place to park, but its technology gives real time information of space availability, so drivers can quickly grab a parking spot. Smart car parking information is also fed to the local authorities, so they can manage usage of city space better. Worldsensing?x2019;s devices are also targeted at the construction industry and as a way of detecting oil or gas through seismic sensoring.
Tags: Panoramic Power, SmartCamp Isreal
Panoramic Power is the winner of IBM Israel SmartCamp event, held on June 24 by Global Technology Unit (GTU), in the Israeli IIC. The event brought together five finalist companies and over 30 distinguished mentors from different segments of the Israeli high tech arena.
The mentors and the companies were divided to mentorship sessions, which provided the candidates an extraordinary opportunity to get feedback on their solutions.
In the afternoon the event was open to the public, and attracted more than 150 participants. Saul Singer, the author of “Start Up Nation” and Gurudath Banavar, CTO Public Sector, IBM who described the notion of building smarter cities, Also participated in the afternoon event.
Panoramic Power is developing a very low-cost, self-powered, wireless, easy-to-install solution for precise monitoring of electrical consumption at the individual circuit-level.
The solution allows owners and managers of existing commercial buildings reduce the consumption of electrical energy as well as predict and prevent equipment failure, system overload and electrical closet fires.
SmartCamp Israel 2010 was very successful, with 100% responsiveness of mentors and judges. The activity and publication around the competition generated tens of applications to the Global Entrepreneurs Program, leaving the right impression regarding IBM’s attitude towards smart start-ups.
Watch the video interview of PanoramicPower- the winner of SmartCamp Israel 2010: http://www.smartcamp.co.il/finalists/33
Watch the videos of the other 4 finalists:
For more information please contact Yifat Turbiner
The finalists and winner of IBM SmartCamp on June 3rd, 2010 held at the IBM Innovation Centre in Waltham, Ma. talk about their experiences of the event.
Panoramic Power which is developing a very low-cost solution for precise monitoring of electrical consumption at the individual circuit-level. Their solution allows owners and managers of existing commercial buildings reduce the consumption of electrical energy as well as predict and prevent equipment failure, system overload and electrical closet fires.By combining inexpensive, non-intrusive, self-powered, wireless, circuit-level sensors with hosted, energy intelligence software services, the company’s patent pending solution is easy-to-install, scalable and versatile. Here’s the video interview of PanoramicPower- the winner of SmartCamp Israel 2010: http://www.smartcamp.co.il/finalists/33
Overall, it was a very successful day, with 100% responsiveness from the mentors (34!) and the judges’ end. We had more than 150 participants at the event itself and all in all the activity around the competition and the vast local publication around it generated tens of applications to the Global Entrepreneurs Program and created a very positive buzz in the Israeli high tech industry, while leaving the right impression regarding IBM’s attitude towards smart start ups.
SmartCamp Semi-Finalists Announced
Posted: 21 Jun 2010 06:53 AM PDT
Last week saw the close of the selection phase for IBM’s SmartCamp competition, and the ten start-ups that will move on to the semi-finals have been selected. The semi-final will be held on June 24th, and the five start-ups most fitting IBM’s SmartPlanet initiative will compete for the right to represent Israel in the finals in November.
Joining the already announced Gnrgy and Panoramic Power are the following 8 start-ups:
TruMedia specializes in analyzing videos of human crowds, and transmitting multimedia content which fit the analyzed footage. Applications can include displaying commercials which address a particular audience, marketing networks who identify specific parameters for potential buyers, or information kiosks.
Greenlet Technologies is a start-up which specializes in energy consumption solutions for electrical products. Greenlet’s solution, which makes use of hardware which easily plugs into the electrical grid and various electrical products, combines analysis features of the amount of energy consumed by each product, the ability to control electrical flow into that device and a web-based application and dedicated databases which can be used to determine the correct energy consumption profiles for each device.
The fifth entry in the Israeli semi-finals is Joliper, a start-up which sets out to turn the cell phone into a mobile security center, and provides the ability to connect, through the mobile device, to cameras located anywhere in the world, and view their feed, no matter where you are, all through the cellular carrier network.
Xsights, is a start-up which provides image analysis technology and prides itself on its ability to identify any static object a cell phone camera is pointed at. That is, assuming one of Xsights users has already taken a picture of that object before and created a database link between that object (such as a url for a cinema) and the object picture he or she inputer (such as the façade of that cinema).
Blabbers is a company which provides a service that adds an extra layer of data linked to standard web-page addresses. Users will be able to add annotations, charts and even dedicated applications that will be linked to specific web-pages, and these add-ons will be available to other Blabbers users who surf to the same URL.
The start-up Fooducate offers an iPhone application which scans bar-codes on food products, connects to an external database which contains alternative information to that which the manufacturer provides on the packaging. The information provided includes alternative suggestions, which, according to Fooducate personnel, provide a healthier alternative.
eViglio is a start-up which provides a platform for emergency information dispersion. eViglio specializes in mass messaging a large crowd with urgent messages, according to geographic and demographic sects, and make use of a plethora of communication methods such as SMS, the internet and other mass communication channels.
Lastly, Way Better, is dedicating its efforts to improve modern cities’ transportation. Through a unique algorithm, the entrepreneurs promise to analyze the need for passenger transport and the transportation options available in the field, and identify the most efficient, and cheapest options available at any given moment. The company’s products, which are aimed at large public and private organization, large transport services and private clients who require transport services, strive to locate efficient and cheap “rides” from one location to another, all the while finding the most suitable driver and vehicle for the situation at hand, and connecting them with the passanger who will make the best use of the route.
If you’re involved in the start-up field, and active in work in the Israeli start-up relam, or working with a promising Israeli start-up, you are hereby invited to register to the upcoming SmarCamp event, where you will get some networking done, experience the five finalists’ presentations and hear lectures by IBM guests.