With an ever expanding startup ecosystem in London, it’s getting more and more interesting to see what’s on offer for early stage seeds trying to prove tangibility and revolutionary character of their product. Having started nine years ago, Seedcamp has substantially added to London’s status as a tech hub. Seedcamp, also dubbed as Founder’s First Round Fund, focuses on investing in pre-seed and seed stage startups, being largest of the kind in Europe. The proposition is a lifelong platform for learning, networking and capital which provides up to €200k support to the brightest ideas.
Part of Seedcamp, startups have access to a leverage network of venture capitalists, mentors and alumnae companies. To date, the firm has invested in over 200 companies across a wide range of sectors. We asked Seedcamp how does it function. As a bonus, investor and Business Development lead at Seedcamp, Dr. Ricardo Schaefer shared with us learnings from his very first investment and marked out trends he observes in London’s startup landscape.
What sets Seedcamp apart from other companies operating in the same industry?
Seedcamp started very early back in 2007, when the European tech ecosystem was a lot less developed. Since then, we’ve invested in over 200 companies and have played a very active role in building the wider European tech scene and in nurturing new tech capitals. We started in order to bring together the different building blocks we felt could help create the next billion-dollar businesses, evolving over time into being an early stage investor. As we’ve been growing over eight years, we have a lot of first-hand experience that we can share with the Founders of the companies we support, and a vast network of mentors and investors from around the world, to help them scale.
Whether we’re travelling to conferences, speaking on panels or working with local ecosystems, we’re always finding new ways to share our knowledge and skills with the wider community, whilst always on the hunt for standout teams we can invest in.
All the startups we invest in have access to the full Seedcamp platform, which is built on three key pillars: learning, network and capital.
In working with them to help them scale, we’re creating new jobs and helping the economy grow.
What’s current mission & vision of the company? Where do you see Seedcamp in a five years’ time?
We want to be at the forefront of investing in passionate entrepreneurs, helping them to grow and remain the first institutional investor to back them. We want Seedcamp to grow as we continue to invest in these great companies, and look at investing in teams using emerging technology to build great businesses. Such as virtual reality, artificial intelligence and wearables. We’ve already accepted the challenge and work hard to achieve our goals.
Competition is high, but where you can stand out, is how you execute the idea.
What’s the biggest challenge that Seedcamp faces right now?
There is an increasing amount of capital available to choose from for founders. This is generally great, but not every source of capital is necessarily smart money. We compete with more and more non-traditional sources of money, which do not always bring value add to startups.
What does it take to be an innovator? How do you recommend a company can stand out from the crowd?
Execution, execution, execution! It is very hard to actually be innovative in a growing market with multiple people working on similar ideas. Competition is high, but where you can stand out, is how you execute the idea.
Dr. Ricardo Schaefer currently overlooks Seedcamp’s Business Development. He participated in the Funding Your Business VC panel held in the framework of startup and careers event EXPAND London organised by Jobbio. Discussion unfolded around the challenges entrepreneurs face when trying to fund their ideas, including what do VCs look for in a business plan and how can you convince them their funding will bring your product to life. We met Dr. Schaefer after EXPAND London to get even more tips.
How has your story with Seedcamp started? I was introduced to the team by a founder friend and I was thrilled to join a great fund which has helped shape Europe’s tech scene.
What changes have you observed in the investment landscape over the years? We see more impressive founders emerging, a growing number of serial entrepreneurs and more capital pouring into Europe. Success breeds success and this is having an impact on many cities.
What did you learn from your very first investment? In the early stages, you can not take shortcuts when it comes to the team. Ideas are useless without any value, unless they are executed by an outstanding team which is able to master daily changing challenges.
Deriving from your experience, what trends do you see in the UK startup market? London, in particular, is becoming a hot bed for Fintech and Proptech startups, two areas where we have multiple investments. Over the next few years, we expect to see more startups using emerging technologies such as VR or AI in order to revolutionise existing markets.
What should be every newbie investor’s handbook? I love Mattermark’s daily newsletters …and of course, if you are on the run you should listen to Seedcamp’s podcast series.
Missed EXPAND London? Watch the videos from the event here
See you at Expand summer 2016 – register interest at firstname.lastname@example.org