This week was my first time at Seedcamp, I wasn’t able to go for the last couple of years due to Yahoo!, Switzerland and personal commitments and it has been a bit of a sour point for me. This year, thanks to a very kind intro, I was able to go as a product and marketing mentor. I can definitely say it was worth the wait. Three main reasons why:

1 – Great teams and entrepreneurs, it was so great to see some companies from across Europe (and indeed the world) doing some great things. I personally got to see Editd, Hypezoo,, GIS Cloud, Cognition, and Garmz and all of them had a spark and all, all of them also had revenue and costumers of some sort. On average the quality of teams was high.

2 – Great mentors, not to toot my own horn, but almost everyone I met yesterday was really impressive. There was a great number of people that I had either met in the last couple of months or had tried to meet since moving back to London. My mentoring team was pretty impressive with Alex Hunter (angel investor and ex-Virgin dude), Lisa Rodwell (Moo VP and ex-Yahoo), Rachel Bremer (Spark PR) and me. Everyone added some value to almost all the groups and I have no reason to believe this wasn’t the case with most of the mentoring groups.

3 – Great flow, the day was balanced with a good mix of networking opportunities with other mentors, workshops and mentoring the teams. This was key for me, as someone who can add some value to the teams (I hope) but is also starting his own company, it was great to get a chance to meet other people and get some mentoring and connections myself.

As much as I enjoyed the day there were three things I would have loved to have seen:

1 – Less mentoring sessions with more time, seeing seven groups in one day was a bit extreme, there were some sessions where we could have given the team a lot more information and feedback and there were some sessions were 45 minutes or 30 minutes might have been enough.

2 – More preparation and feedback as a mentor, would have been great to have more structure around the mentoring sessions. I ‘m not sure if the Seedcamp team did this with the teams, but I would have preferred not to have spent more than half the time going through the business proposition and the company’s performance. Some teams were definitely more prepared than others. There were two occasions where I stopped entrepreneurs and said, “okay, we get it, what do you need, how can we help”. Would have preferred the entrepreneurs to be prepared and have more information about us so they could be more prepared for the mentor session. Think this might go back to point 1.

3 – Some really early stage companies – every company (or at least all the companies I met), had product out and had either investment or revenue. It would have been great to meet some companies that were team, idea, prototype stage so you could be really creative and add some serious value to a potential company. It’s hard to convince a company that’s been going for 2 years, with revenues that they need to pivot, it’s easier to meet teams earlier in their start up lives and say “have you thought about this market”.

Overall, this was one of my best days since moving back to London, the caliber, organization and execution was exceptional and I think Saul, Reshma, Phil and the rest of the Seedcamp team are doing a phenomenal job and are helping the European start up community beyond words. I can’t wait for next year!

p.s. – For more on seedcamp here’s an angel’s view and the techcrunch article

  • Reshma

    Great to see this feedback so transparent. Some v good points raised. We continue to iterate!

  • Nicholas Hawtin

    Great points.

    1. It is harder than it looks to provide value in a 30-minute session – especially seven times in a row.

    2. More mentor preparation would be great, but a lot of mentors are very busy. More team prep would be good – especially if someone could help them prepare questions for the mentors and tequests for help. Some teams get pretty defensive.

    3. Help pivoting is even more necessary when the teams have invested a lot of time and effort in something suboptimal.

    Last note: yes, it is a lot of fun. I definitely dig it.

  • Permjot

    Excellent post and well balanced. I am sorry we did not get to meet – I only mentored Monday – and Editd were the only company we both mentored. I have not been in this space so found it great to meet so many backable companies in one room in one day

  • Farhan Lalji

    Thanks for the comment Nicholas, totally agree. On the pivot point, totally agree, but it's super hard to convince a team that's further along that they may need to pivot in 30 mins – 45 mins.

  • Farhan Lalji

    Thanks Reshma, think you guys are doing a tremendous job. Looking forward to getting more involved in the future.

  • Farhan Lalji

    Seedcamp's doing a great job of connecting people like us so even if we're not at the week on the same day we can still meet up later :)