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Sep 25 2009

Why I got kicked out of Seedcamp 2009.

by Phil 32 Comments
Seedcamp 2009 Yesterday I got kicked out of seedcamp 2009! Aside from the embarrassment caused by the mismanagement of the situation, and the degrading scene created by being asked to leave in front of a room full of investors I consider friends & colleagues, I now find myself thinking about the entire Seedcamp concept. Why was I asked to leave? Well apparently, I wasn't an investor in the seedcamp main fund and thus not allowed to participate. What I hadn't seemed to realise (and I'm sure I'm not the only one), is that this fourth day is where angel funds and VC's pay upwards of £50,000 to attend (no kidding!), to get exclusive access to the company pitches and detailed business models and plans. Not only that, but these start-ups have at this point benefited from lots of mentoring advice from kind souls who attended the previous days to help. Now of course if I'd paid for an event and someone got in for free, I'd be annoyed to. It's not that I'm objecting too, but rather a lot of confusion over what Seedcamp claims to be. The real question is how it can be trying to be both an open eco-system and a closed investment fund at the same time. Firstly, don't get me wrong, seedcamp gets some great investors and Saul and team have done more than most to promote the startup scene, and I have a lot of time and respect for them. It's just that in this particular instance, I'm not sure the Seedcamp format is right or that it really knows what it wants to be. It pitches itself as "providing access to seed funding but also, more importantly, will expose startups to the collective experience of people who can help inspire Europe's next generation of technology entrepreneurs.". I believe healthy debate should be invited to see how things can be improved.
  • The first day of Seedcamp sees 20 companies presenting their concepts / business in raw unedited format to anyone who wants to see it.
  • What follows over the next two days is a series of sessions and help from mentors gathered from the great and good across the EU tech scene. The mentors give their valuable time (completely free) to provide advice, insight and every now and then a little bit of inspiration.
  • The last day is the final presentations from the Seedcamp businesses where they pitch their full plan (hopefully having been significantly improved by the advice given) apparently only to Seedcamp fund investors, meaning the mentors and indeed all other attendees are prohibited from attending.
  • The winners are then chosen and small amounts of cash invested.
This second to last point is where I believe the concept is flawed, and why there is a lack of transparency about the aims of the project. Why?
  • Firstly, I don't see why mentors are invited at all. They certainly don't get thanked afterwards by the organisers (I wasn't last year), and there is definitely an ungracious feeling of being shipped in and out like cattle to advise and help. If the argument is that seedcamp is doing the mentors a favour by giving them access to the startups- then I don't buy it. I can achieve that quite easily myself with a phone call and a meeting at my office - thanks very much.
  • Secondly, what's with the closed investor day where VC's pay large 5 figure sums to attend - is this also an investment in the main fund? Arguably, all the mentors have done is directly helped these investors by giving the start-ups valuable advice that then benefits their investment fund. If seedcamp is getting large sums of money for this then you could say that the mentors should be compensated too or not invited at all.
  • Thirdly, if it really is purely an investment fund, then there is potential for large conflicts of interest. I did hear a few people say that GigLocator should have won one year but didn't because one of the investors had a stake in Songkick. Whether this is true or not, it is a valid possibility.
  • Having a closed investor day also deprives the companies of an opportunity to present to the widest possible audience and hear the thoughts of other investors and entrepreneurs. Perhaps most significantly deprives Seedcamp the opportunity to broaden their impact. How? Simply put - if any if the businesses were good and didn't win a small group of external / angel investors could step in with financing, advice or indeed both.
To to really dig deep into the core of this issue, we need to understand who Seedcamp aims to benefit. That is, if its aim is to help the companies - it should be completely open and everyone has a chance to help out, invest, and have full access in a competitive way (perhaps with a first right of refusal given to Seedcamp). If on the other hand its primary purpose is to help Seedcamp investors refine the propositions and get some investment opportunities – then they should remain a completely closed event and Seedcamp should pay any advisors or let them invest at the same time. In either case, it should be much more transparent about what it is trying to do. At the moment it appears to be firmly stuck in the middle!


Comments

  • neutral
    Sep 25 2009

    by Tweets that mention Why I got kicked out of seedcamp 2009 | Crowdstorm (the blog) -- Topsy.com at 12:51

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Milo Yiannopoulos. Milo Yiannopoulos said: Here's @PJWilkinson on getting kicked out of #Seedcamp http://is.gd/3EZ5G #scw09 [...]

  • neutral
    Sep 25 2009

    by Aristos at 12:59

    I wasn't there but have a lot of respect also for Seedcamp, YC, Techstars and all the others in this space. The changes brought about to both the investment and VC communities by new media/digital/online offerings mean that startup and early stage funding is changing and evolving (some say the VC model is broken for this sector). I am hoping to bring a new 'small' fund onto the scene in the new year with an emphasis on mentoring and support. I've got room for more investors and happy to send you an introductory flyer if you are interested.

  • neutral
    Sep 25 2009

    by Paul Edwards at 13:22

    This is useful to know...amusing!

  • neutral
    Sep 25 2009

    by Gareth Wong at 14:27

    Transparency is key

    good points raised
    hope Saul & Reshma can comment here..

  • neutral
    Sep 25 2009

    by Barry Vitou at 15:29

    Thanks Phil for this interesting post about what is, after the jokes about security guards removing you from the building have subsided, an important subject.

    Namely the creation and development of an ecosystem for the promotion of succesful technology companies in Europe (OK in London and the UK, but then I'm biased) which enables them to blossom.

    Over recent years London has become a hub for emerging technology businesses. I am convinced that part of the reason for that (and the result of that too since it feeds on itself) is the number of initiatives/meet ups/ groups/networking events for start ups that exist. This week for example has seen numerous events (and often multiple events for the community).

    I like to think that I play my part in this with the free monthly meet up I run with Danvers, www.bootlaw.com essential law for emerging tech companies (excuse the plug).

    Seedcamp is the Grand Daddy of them all. It’s an important part of the ecosystem and a fantastic opportunity for Start Ups in Europe. It has done an amazing job to date.

    At the moment there really isn't anything similar. The closest thing I can think of in the UK is the government backed G2i program http://www.g2i.org/ but it really isn’t doing the same thing as Seedcamp and is more focused on making a company ready to pitch rather than the 360 degree approach to the business that Seedcamp offers.

    On the subject of the underlying commercial purpose of Seedcamp Mike Butcher's post on Monday was interesting. http://uk.techcrunch.com/2009/09/21/seedcampweek09-recession-era-startups-emerge-blinking-into-the-light/ where he said:

    "It’s worth pointing out also that the slight ambiguity of past Seedcamp years has now gone. Seedcamp T&Cs now state that a startup cannot go into the programme unless they will take the investment offered. To remind you, that’s 5-10% equity (stakes are flexible) for a 50,000 Euro investment. That’s totally fine. They’ve assembled an awesome network of mentors. It would be a huge waste of everyone’s time if a startup got all that great advice and then effectively threw it back in the faces of the organisers and didn’t take the investment. However, that does leave the way open for an event or a programme or something to create a competition where there isn’t the obligation of investment, but a different kind of business model in Europe"

    If yesterday was the catalyst for a crowd sourced organised event without the obligation of investment with a “graduation day? where companies pitch to angels and VC’s and mentors can see the fruits of their labours. Great. The more the merrier. The more of these programs and initiatives there are the stronger the community will be. The greater the quantity of world beating start ups emerging from it. I for one would be a happy contributor.

    Barry Vitou (@bazv), partner Winston & Strawn, co founder @bootlaw

  • neutral
    Sep 25 2009

    by Nic Brisbourne at 18:38

    Hi Phil - I don't know the thinking behind who is allowed to attend on the Thursday, but here are my thoughts:
    - there needs to be closed forum where the decision on who gets investment is made and confidential views on the startups are shared
    - the Thursday sessions are interactive and might not lend themselves to a large crowd

    So it could be for simple practical reasons that investors and not mentors are invited on the Thursday

    That said, you make a great point, which is that this whole process needs to work for the mentors as much as it needs to work for everyone else, and if that isn't happening then changes should be considered. I also like the thought that non Seedcamp investors might invest in the companies which don't make the top 6.

  • neutral
    Sep 25 2009

    by Jonathan Markwell at 20:17

    Thank you for this insight into another aspect of Seedcamp I hadn't previously appreciated. I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago about the differences between Y Combinator and Seedcamp that you might find interesting:

    http://madmotive.co.uk/2009/09/13/differences-between-y-combinator-and-seedcamp/

    I'm also part of a collective of 8 startups in Brighton trying to recreate aspects of the Y Combinator / Seedcamp approach but without the cash:

    http://bootcycle.com

  • neutral
    Sep 25 2009

    by John Siegrist at 21:45

    Hello Phil,

    It sounds like you have a pretty clear idea of what would be required to do the open startup ecosystem correctly. Why not start an open and transparent competitor to Seedcamp? If you can't join them, beat them at their own game.

  • neutral
    Sep 25 2009

    by Saul Klein at 21:48

    @Phil - sorry it's taken some time to get to your post, as I'm sure you can imagine its been a pretty busy week with the 22 teams at Seedcamp. Also sorry you couldn't make it last night to connect at the Techcrunch, it would have been good to talk in person. I did have a quick chat to Mike Butcher that I'm delighted to discuss this and any other questions folks have on Seedcamp in the next few weeks - see http://bit.ly/mWAQx

    One quick factual point - of course mentors are able to attend the judging sessions, several did this year and have done every year. I think what happened yesterday was a pretty innocent misunderstanding - you came into the room mid-pitch and as you'd not been a mentor during the week, I guess that's why Reshma asked very politely for you to not join the session.

    @Nick - we also love the thought of any investors putting money into Seedcamp finalists who don't make the top 6 or in fact the top 6 as well. This year (as every year) investors from all over Europe joined us throughout the week meeting and mentors the teams; including William from DFJ, Sandy from Pentech, Lukasz from Team Europe, Sean from ProFounders, Fred from USV, Will from Amadeus, Ashish from Partech, Mario from Eagle Ventures to name a few. While most of the teams love Seedcamp for the advice and networking, I'm sure they'll be delighted to hear from any of the above - or the other investors who have been following up with teams from the great coverage Techcrunch (http://bit.ly/vECkN) has given to all 22 Seedcamp Week finalists and the 140 teams we've mentored throughout the year at seven Mini Seedcamps (http://bit.ly/mWAQx)

    Signing off now for the long weekend - looking forward to spending time with the family and doing penance on Monday for my year's indiscretions (http://bit.ly/13ou3W)

    Apologies you felt slighted. Reshma and team have done and amazing job this year with Seedcamp, I know no offense was meant. I'm looking forward to chatting with Mike about the issues you raise and any others people want to throw to him.

    In the meantime, lets celebrate 22 awesome teams and 6 very special winners from Jordan, Estonia, Cambridge, Romania, Poland and Birmingham looking to build world-beating companies from the hub we are building in London (http://bit.ly/2xj9fb, http://bit.ly/1ZTK37).

    We should be proud and have lots to look forward to. Peace.

  • neutral
    Sep 25 2009

    by philip.wilkinson at 22:32

    Saul - you're craftily trying to get round the key point here. Reshma outright told me that I had to leave the judging session as I had not put money into seedcamp, as had all the others sitting in that room. She asked me to leave before the next pitch began too. Mentors were not allowed in full stop.

    I'm disappointed you made your post into a marketing pitch - rather than answering the points in the post

  • neutral
    Sep 25 2009

    by Kristoffer Lawson at 23:19

    As one of last year's finalists I believe it is correct that the Thursday pitch day is not open to everyone. For many startups it is a completely different proposition to be pitching and talking about ideas to the media and an open audience, and to be pitching to a more closed set of investors. The details revealed can be very different. Having said that, I was not aware of the arrangements made between those who were allowed into the room and those who were not. That is to say we were not told about the relationship between Seedcamp and its investors and this, I believe, should be made completely clear to the companies involved. It is only fair that they know what the deal is and that Seedcamp's model is open to those intimately involved. I also believe mentors should be made to feel extremely valued, although any lack of thanks was probably because of the huge process involved. Ie. Reshma, Saul or Alasdair just didn't properly get round to it.

    From a startup's point of view, I would love nothing more than to have as many serious and trusted investors as possible in that Thursday session, and any other pitch sessions organised by Seedcamp, but I would keep it closed to everyone else.

    In fairness I believe Seedcamp is still very much working on their formula and steps like the enforced acceptance of conditions are good ones. I am confident it will improve. Seedcamp Week was one of the most useful experiences we had as a young and inexperienced company. It brought us to the next level of awareness, so to speak. In fact, we could do with a couple more!

  • neutral
    Sep 26 2009

    by Edward at 13:07

    I should think that part of what adds value to the seedcamp is the mentorship aspect, therefore it is unfair to expect mentors to pay to attend the thursday event. Further, i agree that seedcamp should pay advisors if they want to be a closed system.

  • neutral
    Sep 26 2009

    by Amir Chaudhry at 14:38

    @ Barry Vitou Actually there is something similar. A programme called Springboard based in Red Gate Software, Cambridge UK. Unlike others, we're not taking any equity in companies and we've got no legal paperwork or commitments that people have to make (other than a verbal promise to actually work on their business while here).

    We're focussed on B2B software ideas and the benefit to Red Gate is having good people people doing interesting things. If it goes well there might be potential deal with the business sometime down the road, but we'll have a better relationship by then.
    You can find out more via our website at http://springboard.red-gate.com or send me an email at amir.chaudhry@red-gate.com

    @ Jonathan Markwell and @ Aristos It might be good to have a chat about what you're doing at some point. Maybe we can help each other.

  • neutral
    Sep 26 2009

    by Max Niederhofer at 19:31

    To squarely address the concern about transparency: I think the model is highly transparent and has previously been well communicated.

    The issue you raise, i.e. that the investors in Seedcamp are the ones choosing the winners on the final day of Seedcamp week, seems a fair arrangement: these investors have invested money in Seedcamp to provide capital for the winning startups. Hence they should have an input on where their money goes.

    Note that investors do not pay to have exclusive access to Seedcamp companies on the final day. Seedcamp does not sell its services as a "gatekeeper". Instead, the investors have put equity into Seedcamp and Seedcamp invests in the winning startups. The amounts invested in Seedcamp are about 50K for individuals and 200K for institutions. Everyone is free to invest in Seedcamp (talk to them!).

    Saul's point that the final day is closed except for the investors and invited mentors/advisers makes sense to me. It's a special day where the winners of Seedcamp are chosen, i.e. Seedcamp makes its investment decision. This needs to be a small session and behind closed doors.

    Finally, any mentor or investor is absolutely free to invest in any company accepted to Seedcamp week or part of the final 6 - or indeed those that have been rejected by Seedcamp. You can invest before, during or after Seedcamp week. Everyone is totally free to choose where to put their money. The one exception is that as part of the selection process, Seedcamp does not want companies in Seedcamp week that already know they don't want investment from Seedcamp. Seems sensible.

    So I guess this whole thing was just somehow handled badly or you were invited on another day and it wasn't really clear when that was. I am sure no one meant to "kick you out of Seedcamp". Part of the reason Seedcamp thrives is that there is this awesome network of mentors and advisers who aren't investors in Seedcamp and see the non-financial benefit of donating their time - for the ecosystem, for karma, for encouraging entrepreneurs, for improving startups. This is a completely voluntary process and mentors do it because it's fun. I think startups can benefit immensely from the advice, but I also find it hard to believe that any individual advice from a mentor can be measured in a potential equity return to Seedcamp and the Seedcamp investors down the road. The companies that deal best with mentors' advice are the ones that would probably have been successful anyway. And as noted above, you should seriously consider seed investing in some of them - there are ones in there that will be great.

    Disclaimer: I unfortunately wasn't at Seedcamp this year, so I also wasn't in the room when this happened. My employer, Atlas Venture, is an investor at Seedcamp. Usual disclaimer on personal opinion and the like.

  • neutral
    Sep 27 2009

    by links for 2009-09-26 « Blarney Fellow at 02:06

    [...] Why I got kicked out of seedcamp 2009 | Crowdstorm (the blog) (tags: vc startup) [...]

  • neutral
    Sep 27 2009

    by Fabio De Bernardi at 15:49

    I believe that there's not only one true truth here and Philip has some good points as well as others commenting here.
    At the end of the day I think that it all goes down to the fact that, despite being a truly praiseworthy initiative, Seedcamp isn't a charity, so it's ruled by the rules of business - and we all know that business, even if praiseworthy and enlightened, isn't always 100% transparent and fair. To me it ends here and as long as Seedcamp will attract hundreds if not thousands of participants they will succeed and some mentors may get pissed and withdraw their time/effort/goodwill but in the end the machine will keep carry on. Whether this is right or wrong it's not up to me to say and my personal opinion should stay personal indeed.

    Cheers

  • neutral
    Sep 27 2009

    by Reshma at 16:46

    Hi Phil - we don't know each other but I am the CEO of Seedcamp. I know you weren't a mentor the past Seedcamp Week so hopefully some of the facts about Seedcamp can better be understood once I explain how Seedcamp works. As everyone has said, there's a fund that was created in 2007 to invest in startups and there are no fees. And all mentors that were at Seedcamp Week know this. In any case, comments on posts are always one way.

    So, could I invite you to meet up for coffee and I can tell you exactly what Seedcamp is? Let me know if you want to meet week of October 12th as I am traveling till then.

  • neutral
    Sep 28 2009

    by Paulo at 12:12

    None of the companies are worth investing in, you didn't miss anything.

  • neutral
    Sep 29 2009

    by Paul Walsh at 11:22

    I'd like to see Reshma comment here and respond to Phil's points - or Phil to post a response following the meeting.

    I'm not taking a side. I am however, very keen to learn more about the workings of Seedcamp so I can see where the synergy could be when it comes to htt://angelsden.co.uk

  • neutral
    Sep 29 2009

    by Paul Walsh at 11:23

    Sorry, just checked the box so I'd get notifications of comments being posted after mine.

  • neutral
    Sep 29 2009

    by philip.wilkinson at 11:45

    @Reshma thanks for the comment. I think it would be much better if you could answer some of the points raised in the blog post itself to contribute to the discussion. It's not going to serve any purpose just telling me directly. I know Saul has kindly volunteered to do a chat with Techcrunch later, and my questions are:

    1: What does it take to be an investor in seedcamp? What is the criteria and what benefits do you get?
    2: Do the seedcamp companies have to take the investment if they win?
    3: What is the incentive for mentors to contribute - do they know that at the end of it, the advice is beneficial to the seedcamp fund as they're the ones who get to make money out of the start-ups?
    4: What is the difference between the presentations done on monday and the ones done on thursday - in terms of quality, length, detail...?

  • neutral
    Sep 29 2009

    by Aidan Fitzpatrick at 12:02

    @Philip There's some interesting discussion here.

    I had thought from your original post that you were a "Seedcamp mentor" at the week and were asked to leave, but Reshma's comment suggests that you weren't.

    Why were you there? Were you attached to one or the startups, or mentoring privately for one, or were you let in as an interested potential investor?

    I'm presuming one of the three, as I know people who fall into the 'other' category weren't let in, otherwise I would have been there too!

  • neutral
    Sep 29 2009

    by Amir Chaudhry at 13:48

    @Philip your questions are interesting but are they all relevant? My queries on your questions are:

    For Q1. Is this really relevant? I thought it was clear that Seedcamp invests in companies and raises that money from others. The deals there may be as diverse as the number of people involved and I don't see how knowing that will aid the discussion.

    For Q2. Tricky question. Seedcamp want teams who will take the investment. Teams will rightfully want to know all the T&Cs in advance. As long as the communication on this is clear between the teams and Seedcamp then it's fine. If there's no legal commitment made in advance then why would Reshma want to publicise the fact that teams could easily pull out at the end of the week? I don't think that helps their program at all. As I said, as long as the teams and Seedcamp have an active and open dialogue about this then it should be fine.

    for Q3. This is related to Q1 and has as many different reasons behind it. It's no secret that Seedcamp invests and hopes to make a return from those investments. All the mentors should already know that and they still choose to take part. As for Q1, I don't think this question aids the discussion.

    for Q4. This question may be relevant but perhaps not the specific info you're asking for (quality, length, detail etc.). I think it might be helpful if the intent and purpose of the presentations were clearer since that seems to be the source of confusion. In fact it may have been answered already somewhere.

    Overall, I think you should take up Reshma's offer of a coffee/chat and then you'd be free to post another comment with what you've learned.

  • neutral
    Sep 29 2009

    by philip.wilkinson at 14:51

    @Amir

    Q1: of course it's relevant - if the whole point of seedcamp is to be an investment fund, then it needs to be transparent in how it works if it wants others to join in

    Q2: The feedback everyone has been giving me is that they can't afford to get the legal terms looked at by any professional. It's hardly fair that they have to understand and sign up to a series of terms - kind of reminds me of X-Factor! Also, the companies would benefit the most by being able to have other investors pitch money in a competitive environment along with the seedcamp offers, would it not?

    Q3: I've spoken to 15 mentors about this and every single one of them said they didn't realise there was a closed fund working in the background. Each of them thought they were helping "seedlings" grow and nurture as a company, not that it was benefiting a group of investors. If this is made very clear on the seedcamp website and in the communication sent to mentors - I'd like to see it

    Q4: No idea what you're talking about there. An earlier argument was that anyone can attend the presentations on monday to see the start-ups - but they are 10 mins top with very little detail - nothing like the professional pitches given on "closed thursday"

  • neutral
    Sep 29 2009

    by James Proud at 15:20

    Hey Phil. Saw you mentioned GigLocator. Just to clear up, we've never been in Seedcamp and had the chance to win. We simply did not get into this years shortlist.

  • neutral
    Sep 29 2009

    by Kristoffer Lawson at 15:31

    Phil, I really don't see a problem with it being a closed fund, as long as this is made as clear as possible to everyone involved. Ie. what companies are involved and with what criteria. Nobody is forcing anyone to take part in Seedcamp so if a company chooses to do so, that is their prerogative. The terms we saw were very simple and straightforward. I believe they should be the same for everyone (and could this be put up beforehand). I also see it being rather one-sided to state the nurturing only benefits the investors. Many at Seedcamp Week were not chosen as winners but still benefited greatly from that mentoring, and surely the winning companies do too.

    Seedcamp is a business so it's obvious they want something out of the whole process, just as any investor would. I see no problem whatsoever having to then pitch for a closed set of people who finally make that decision.

    To be honest we need more Seedcamp level activity in Europe, not less. Getting started is hard enough as it is.

  • neutral
    Sep 29 2009

    by Amir Chaudhry at 17:21

    @ Philip. Thanks for responding.

    1. If I understand correctly, then you want mentors or those otherwise directly involved in the week to understand the set up. Specifically, the investment side of things. Fair enough.

    2. All start-ups will have to face legal issues at some point. Yes, it sucks when you don't have money to pay legal fees but that isn't Seedcamp's fault. Teams applying to Seedcamp presumably knew that there would be legal stuff at some point.

    3. Interesting. It doesn't take long via the website to find that Seedcamp will invest €50k in the winner with a stake between 5-10%. (http://seedcamp.com/pages/weeks_program). Not sure what info the mentors are actually looking at though. As Kristoffer says, there are many Seedcamp teams that don't 'win' but have probably made useful connections and do quite well out of the week.

    4. I guess we might not understand each other here. The current set up of talks appears to make sense to me (unless I've misunderstood).

    AC

  • neutral
    Sep 29 2009

    by Andrew Mulvenna at 18:53

    @Phil, I presented on Friday at Seedcamp.

    Although we were not selected as one of the final 5 ventures, the week was an astounding experience and I consider us fortunate to attend. I recommend that all tech start-ups with a big vision apply for Seedcamp next year.

    The calibre of the mentors was impressive and the quality of their feedback during the mentor sessions was valuable.

    When I presented on Friday afternoon, there were mentors in the room who were not VCs... it was a small room. I'm not sure if they sneaked in. If only Seedcamp investors were invited to judge, I would understand it and accept the obvious reasons why.

    I'm glad the organisers made sure no one walked in whilst we presented.

  • neutral
    Oct 6 2009

    by What is wrong with the UK Startup scene? | OoTheNigerian at 11:38

    [...] investment vehicle for them that benefits all who participate. This has resulted in situations like this. That said, I find it discouraging that people that are trying to create their incubator like [...]

  • neutral
    Nov 10 2009

    by Fred Destin at 22:14

    Very late on this but hey, here is to answering your points step by step:

    1/ Mentors expose themselves to young entrepreneurs and get some ideas, get a kick out of helping, extend their network with other mentors. If your concern is that this is all a crowdsourcing scam for the benefit of the investors, are you kidding ? Atlas Venture put sthg like £250K in the fund to make it happen alongside others, this has no impact on our fund return under any scenario. If an initative like this has no money, it's not real. Sure I am hoping Seedcamp does decent investments, but because it will show WE CAN PRODUCE GREAT COMPANIES, not because it's going to make any difference to the $385M Atlas Venture VIII fund. do the math. The time invested in helping Seedcamp would not come close to justifying the investment.

    2/ 50K to attend ? No, there is no fee involved. Source ?

    3/ Conflict of interest? Judging session at the end is a closed session. Which still means there are 25-odd people in the room with a transparent voting system. Some companies are clearly at the top, others at the bottom. For the ones in the middle, it's a culture of "champion and challenge" i.e. some people make the case for and some against. Healthy debate ensues, sometimes heated. Votes get counted again, and so on. There is no dominance from venture firms, e.g. Oliver Beste or Sean Park were quite passionate and vocal. There is always a potential for conflict of interest but the broadly distributed nature of the voting system is an effective control. BTW the primary investors in Seedcamp companies are probably Eden Ventures; they were not an initial founding member but they have leveraged Seedcamp well to source investments, and we thank them for it !

    As for gigLocator versus Songkick, there are also people who believe the CIA had planted explosives in the Twin Tower. Beggars belief huh ?

    4/ Is the closed investor day detrimental? The closed investor day is probably the single privilege awarded to the investors; they get an early and privileged look at the final article. But the Seecamp exposure goes way beyond that event. Ask Seedcamp companies if they feel they got a raw deal. They can get incredible access and learning very quickly. They get unique exposure. By the Way, if you feel like you have seen a gem in mentoring, nothing stops from funding them BEFORE they get to final pitches, right ?

    I also think the legal point is misguided -- these are braindead simple terms, as is suited to microseed investments.

    You can always nitpick for flaws, but I think you are trying to hard. For once, a non-governmental for-profit initiative that plays a transparent game, and you get all upset because one session is closed to you ? C'mon, we are all bigger than this !

  • neutral
    Nov 11 2009

    by Kristoffer Lawson at 09:37

    @Fred, hear hear!

    Please keep Seedcamp going. It is beneficial to the whole European ecosystem and was one of the highlights of our startup experience.

  • neutral
    Nov 14 2009

    by Marcin Grodzicki at 01:59

    Phil, just a short note from one of the winning teams. We did ask specifically who is attending the final presentations, as we were supposed to share pretty detailed information and future plans for our projects. Considering that, I think it was quite crucial that confidentiality was well protected.

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