Monday, April 27, 2009

sfeed at the Seedcamp

Never give up

Six months ago as our team started developing, we had quite a different perception about Seedcamp - sort of a marketplace for ideas, where anyone can put up their stand and join in. Soon enough we found out this clearly was not the case and realized we are looking at a closed event and a tough competition for making into the top 20 finalists. We missed the application deadline for Warsaw event and decided to apply for one in London. As the time passed, we were told to be a "reserve team", which clearly gave the impression that our battle is still ahead. While already working on the next event application, we suddenly got promoted to the final 20 in London SC - which was in three days! Obviously it was a chance that we could NOT miss.

Serious & fun

Seeing the pitches and meeting the other entrepreneurs there was an amazing experience. The teams were excellent, quality of presentations high and the whole spirit of the event very positive. The entrepreneurship level in Baltics and Eastern Europe is very low and most of the VC deals get made already in high tiers. Probably there are still some heritage issues involved. People still believe the "flying solo" and "hermit in the basement" stereotypes and think that sharing information is futile. Especially on the seed level, there is so much You can win by just talking with fellow entrepreneurs, exchanging information, getting to know industry experts and so on, which makes the roadmap much clearer and makes it all much more interesting and worthwhile. Luckily we can see that things are starting to change also in this part of the world - so, hopefully lots of hungry startups will start crawling to the market.

Why mentor a perfect idea

People have a way to fall in love with their ideas. Pure self-defense instinct, especially when Your prior experience is limited. You are building something, its unique, it has to work. Explaining the business concept four times in a row, to groups of very experienced people with different backgrounds, can do wonders with that. You sense patterns - some things that are very clear to You, do not make too much sense to others. Some less-important thoughts seem to be interesting and catchy. The direct result was a really sore throat, four hours of recorded discussions, a lot of notes and heads full of ideas on what can be explained better, what should be tested more etc. Making sense of this is a huge help to get the bearings right. Its not about changing destinations, its about choosing the right path.

Back to Seedcamp...but why?

Its addictive, that is why. The organizers are doing a fabulous job with the event (special thanks Reshma and Alasdair!) and in the end our thinking was like "if we can now fix this, prove that this makes sense, improve our pitch with this here, then we will definitely take another shot". It is very hard to get similar condensed "package" of feedback, network and fresh energy. There are already serial-campers out there and now we understand why - for Seedcamp the best time is always.

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