Reflections on Seedcamp

I attended Seedcamp on Monday as one of the mentors and also to talk to the group about my experiences with being an entrepreneur and building MessageLabs. In a nutshell, Seedcamp is a funding and mentoring programme for start-up tech companies across Europe, Middle East and Africa. It’s run as a kind of competition (think American Idol for tech) where events are held across a number of major cities and from these 23 finalists are selected and assemble in London for an action packed week of mentoring sessions, presentations, workshops, drinks, etc. On the Thursday they all present in front of a panel of judges and a handful of winners are chosen. The winners receive around £50K in funding plus on-going mentoring and support together with all the brand benefits of being one of the chosen few. It was great to meet so many exciting start-ups in one day and hear about their hopes and dreams for the future. I think there were some really high quality prospects amongst the group that will go on to become successful businesses and it’s really fun to get to see near the start of their journeys.

I was impressed with the whole set-up at Seedcamp, which is testament to the great job Saul, Reshma and the team do to bring it all together. I was also struck by how the whole eco-system necessary to drive the success of young tech businesses was well represented, including VC’s, LP’s, entrepreneurs, media, subject-matter experts and of course the start-ups themselves. So all the Seedcamp winners are able to start laying the foundations of an eco-system around them that they will need, not just now, but over the coming years, to help sustain and accelerate their success. It’s precisely this eco-system, on a larger scale, that Europe needs to further develop and strengthen to compete with the US in terms of creating market leading tech businesses.

Seedcamp is not just a seed financing programme. It is also helping to develop a better eco-system in Europe that will not just benefit a few start-ups in Seedcamp week, but the wider industry as well. Seedcamp is probably the kind of thing that governments should be doing, but ironically, could never do as they would not have the credibility to attract the right levels of support that are so crucial to its success.

Seedcamp is a great programme and anything that is able to strengthen the early stage tech scene in Europe, bring people together who can help to sustain this success and maybe even make a bit of money at the same time will always have my support!

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