Seedcamp 2010

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.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. RichardF

    Saul and Reshma are doing a fantastic job with Seedcamp, they are at the vanguard of seed financing and we need more events like that in Europe. Really pleased to see you taking an interest in some of the opportunities over here Fred.

  2. stuffbuff

    Do you look more at experienced teams or ideas only at this stage?

    1. fredwilson

      i am not sure i am clear on your question. can you elaborate a bit for me?

      1. stuffbuff

        In your post there is a heavy emphasis on the word “teams”. It would seem that ideas not the teams are what should stand out at the early stage.Or is it in fact the teams that stand out….. even at this stage in the game?

        1. fredwilson

          teams always come firstideas are a dime a dozenit’s been a long time since i heard an idea i’ve never heard before

          1. stuffbuff

            That’s a good answer! 🙂

          2. David Semeria

            it’s been a long time since i heard an idea i’ve never heard beforeThat’s disappointing.

          3. fredwilson

            i guess it depends on what “an idea” means

          4. stuffbuff

            What do you think it means?

          5. fredwilson

            different things to different people

          6. aminTorres


          7. kidmercury

            have you seen….they are working on the business plan that saves the world (social networks powered by virtual currencies replace national economies). they are not kooks though and the value of their currency is a composite basket, part of which includes the price of carbon contracts. quite unfortunate. so close, yet so far.i have more faith in, though they don’t really seem to have launched yet, but one of their founders seems to have a pretty high kook IQ, showing a willingness to openly talk about people who talk about aliens and free energy. he even contacted me with a “dude we’re on the same page” type of tweet a while back.anyway, just mentioning to reinforce that there truly are no original ideas! alas, looks like we’re all just a bunch of stupid copycats. damn.

  3. Christian 

    We have been selected in Paris last April with Mobnotes (…, and it was a real important steps to help european startups, we really enjoy the formula which emphasizes mentors and mentoring. It really, really help. The quality of judges and mentoring is absolutely the best part of the formula.Good that you guys have a look in europe as well 😉

  4. Mike

    Are you able to give us an idea of some of the industries / markets the 20 finalists are building products in?

    1. fredwilson

      all over the map really. it was all web/mobile/tech. a lot of cloud stuff. a few marketplaces. a few mobile things. really good mix.

  5. janthonymez

    Nice work. Good to see that Europe is quickly losing its reputation of being unable to keep up with US entrepreneurs. Once that ecosystem gets cooking it could really change our competitive advantage over here in the US. Mentors are so critical and I feel like no enough is being done to prepare and skill them to be effective with new companies or help companies pick the right ones (I wrote a blog about it http://janthonymez.wordpres… Would love to hear your opinion on the state of this critical ingredient to many start-up’s success or if its just something that incubators/accelerators are using to try and differentiate their capital from other seed stage money.

  6. Jan Horna

    Fred, could you please give more details about the team from Prague? I am from Czech Republic but can not figure out who it is. Why/how did they impress you?Many thanks for details 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      i am not going to talk about specific teams right now

      1. Jan Horna

        Ok, I’ll wait then 😉

  7. Mike Butcher

    TechCrunch Europe wrote about most of the teams presenting at Mini Seedcamp London here…We did an extensive interview with Saul Klein last year about how Seedcamp operates…

    1. fredwilson

      thanks for those links Mikevery helpful

    2. Jan Horna

      The links are definitely helpful, thanks. I reviewed the list of companies but could not find any Czech company. That’s reason I asked for details.Mike, could you please name the company from Prague? Perhaps – the winner of MiniSeedCamp in Prague? But this is very local service so I’m in doubt what company is on Fred’s mind.

      1. Mike Butcher

        I’d love to but I am not an investor in seedcamp (I am press) and therefore not privy to their behind-the-closed-doors ruminations. Ask an investor like Fred.

      2. Tereza

        @webnahovno — hahaha — to je teda sranda!

  8. RichardF

    I’m interested to know if the emphasis of the companies you saw was aimed at serving the European market or the English speaking market.The temptation I think for many start up’s is to target the English speaking market with the intention of breaking the US market (understandably) but then risking just becoming a me too. One competitive advantage that European start up’s have over US competitors is intimate knowledge of their home market (and language)

    1. Fernando Gutierrez

      One big problem companies in Europe have is that we don’t really have one huge market accesible like in the US. I’m sure that legislation in the US changes between states and cities, but most things will remain the same and there are +300 million people. In Europe we can have five languages and four borders in just 200 kilometres (around 125 miles). That’s a huge burden for companies. European Union is improving that, but it’s not solved.

      1. RichardF

        I see that as an opportunity Fernando, particularly for Spain and Spanish start ups because it opens up the South American market

        1. Fernando Gutierrez

          I’m not so sure. It makes you less vulnerable to attackers, but it also makes things very difficult. In the case of Spanish, it should be an advantage, but it’s not enough even in Spain. We have several regional languages and you need them to work locally (as an example, in Barcelona you can’t open a shop and put the signs only in Spanish or you’ll get fined). And working in several languages is expensive and messy, especially when you are starting.And regarding South America, I agree, it a huge opportunity, but it’s also very different and diverse. I’ve worked with Chile, Brazil, Peru and Argentina, and you can’t have only one strategy, you need a few.

      2. Ed Freyfogle

        That’s not the problem, but rather the opportunity.Most US companies build things that are great for the US and think intl only much later. At that point, doing intl well is much harder because you have to rewrite existing systems. If instead you can find a way to thrive across many “small” markets (bearing in mind that EU includes massive markets like Germany, France, UK, Spain and Italy) from the beginning, despite each being unique, you’ve created a great business.BTW did I mention we just launched our sixth country this week ;-)…

        1. RichardF

          nice one Ed

        2. Fernando Gutierrez

          Yes, but you have to create something more complicated in the beginning. I’m sure it’s terrible to have to rewrite everything when you are already successful, but you’ll probably have the means then. Having to do it before being successful is a burden IMHO.BTW Congrats on your sixth! your site looks impressive!

      3. ShanaC

        Do you see over time a sort of massive language death happening because of the very issues you bring up?

        1. Fernando Gutierrez

          I’m not sure what you mean by massive language death. If it’s that minor languages are going to disappear because they cost too much, I don’t think so. I see more and more small languages used as a way of creating identity and being overprotected.What I do think that will happen is that English will be the common language of most of the world (even more than now) and will evolve as we, those with another mothertongue, mix/transform/corrupt it.

  9. Ask

    Anyone knows anything similar and reputed in India or Srilanka?

    1. Chris

      Seedcamp has provisionally announced that it will do a mini-Seedcamp in India in November.

  10. andyswan

    Very cool. There will always be demand for bringing people on opposite sides of a trade together!

  11. paramendra

    Web companies are like music bands. Every town should have one. Exciting stuff.Btw, the Disqus Like button has made me lazy. For the past week I have been reading posts and pressing that button instead of leaving comments. Used to be I would register my presence by leaving at least a one liner.

  12. Monkv (The Moscow startuper)

    Why there is no one from Russia? Is there no hope for this country. They do it in Zagreb and South Africa. Why not in Moscow. What is economical/political motivation behind this exception?

    1. Fred Destin

      Monkv we have a small team and the schedule is already very stretched so we decide not to add more locations for now to keep it real. That’s all. Would theoretically love to do Moscow

  13. Donna Brewington White

    Good to see this example of you spreading the “wealth” (i.e., your knowledge/experience/example) to the world entrepreneurial scene. Encouraging to hear these developments.

  14. Mike

    Just got done listening to the inaugural pitch day at Tech Wildcatters (another mentorship driven incubator) here in Dallas.As a new entrepreneur its nice to see mentors willing put their hat in the ring and offer their expertise all over the world.Next step, tap into said ring.

  15. Tereza

    Very cool. I had that feeling about E Europe but validating to hear you say it.I’m going to be there Aug.20-31 for a family wedding and I’ve planned to spend time with some kickass developers while there — specifically Facebook App, mobile and gamers. Also a guy who’s probably the best SEO person I’ve ever met. (we found each other through AVC, btw)Very clever, and they have a good handle on smart marketing concepts.These guys/gals have decades of experience creating something very cool out of nothing. Love it!

  16. jkaljundi

    Great feedback. Nice to see US VC’s and angels becoming more involved with Seedcamp, much needed.

  17. P. Moehring

    It was a pleasure having you and seeing a more US-focused view on the specific markets. I think your feedback was valuable to a lot of the presenting teams.

  18. Kostis Mamassis

    Hi, we were one of the teams that had the opportunity to pitch and get interviewed. It seems that seedcamp did a very good job in gathering quality people in the audience. Well done.

  19. WTFdailynet

    We don’t have many activity like this in our Country

  20. Olivier

    This was a great event indeed. It was fascinating to see many interesting, professional and creative companies coming not only from London but from across Europe.Reshma & The team @ Seedcamp are building a very interesting ecosystem and setup a well thought Seedcamp process to move these start-ups forward..Lots of self-publishing tool, cloud/SaaS based solution, communication and collaborative products, data analysis and forecasting, finance, memory enhancement, games & market place and other web/mobile apps and tech. Not a lot in the advertising or television space but I am sure this will change soon. Most certainly a few of these companies will definitely come out on top.I believe, everyone in the technology sector should support this type of entrepreneurial spirit and innovation drive.Cheers, Olivier Wellman

  21. fredwilson

    Zemanta did come out of Seedcampyou have the general outline correct in #1i was less impressed with the teams from israel. that may be because israelis way more developed and the talented entrepreneurs have many more ways toaccess networks, mentors, and capital

  22. ShanaC

    Do you think over time Eastern european comapnies will develop over time?