Seedcamp, the European-wide competion for startups, ended on a high this week naming a record seven winners rather than the five they originally set out to award. The seven will each get €50,000 seed funding from Seedcamp’s conglomerate of venture backers, but the stake in each startup will vary, along similar lines to the Y-Combinator model. This is a change from last year, when Seedcamp took a 10% stake int he startup, and a change which has been widely welcomed and applauded by industry sources I’ve spoken to. In fact, Seedcamp has tweaked its event so well that it almost looks like becoming the dominant event in Europe for early stage startups. The calibre of mentors, angels, VCs and CEOs passing through Seedcamp this week was astoundinlgy high – from Bebo co-founder Michael Birch, to Brent Hoberman from Lastminute/MyDeco and a host of faces from Europe and the US; from Google, to Facebook to Microsoft. Basically pick a name and they were there.
I put this to Seedcamp Chairman Saul Klein but in characteristic laid-back fashion Saul pointed out to me that “The most valuable network the Seedcamp teams will get is not meeting Brent Hoberman or all those named people but each-other as they are going through this process. A typical example is Anders Fredriksson from Tablefinder who started out as a young startup last year but came back this year and was mentoring other teams. That’s what we want, we want entrepreneurs to support eachother. The goal here was to be inclusive not exclusive. I feel strongly that you need networks and then you need to create hubs. It would be great if every major city on Europe was a tech centre, but we need to create the networks first.” Reshma Sohoni, Seecamp CEO said “Seedcamp is very open, as long as you want to help. It’s always been transparent. We even say to the teams that they should go back and start things on their own back in their home cities if they want.”
So Seedcamp is, in fact, poised to create the kind of network effect across Europe, tied-in with city-based hubs, that Europe’s startup eco-system is going to need. In fact, the whole scene is at this very moment having it’s own “industrial revolution” and although Seedcamp is pretty much the first of its pioneers, it is likely to become an engine of growth for many more. And this is reflected by the incredibly pan-European winners this year:
BaseKit (Chepstow, Wales)
Kyko (Oxford, UK) (no site yet)
Currently in stealth mode, but I’ve seen what it does it’s pretty good for a 21-year old founder.
Mobclix (San Francisco, US)
Mobclix are trying to become the “comscore with an ad network for iPhones apps” said the judges. We are talking analytics, network and monetisation for iPhone applications. They were a TechCrunch 50 company, and frankly, anyone who can monetise iPhone apps this early is probably on to a winner.
Soup (Vienna, Austria)
This is Tumblr for the rest of us. Personally when I first saw their pitch I wondered what they were doing that was new, but looking at their “stress-free” tumblelogging platform you realise that it really does lower the barrier to publishing. It has a Twitter-like interface enabling feed imports/lifestreaming, bookmarklets, you name it.
Stupeflix (Paris, France)
This is similar to Animoto but where that site takes hours to convert video Stupeflix does it in real time on a massive scale. This team is coming out of DailyMotion and Exalead (which means serious street cred in the French startup community). Stupeflix automatically generates professional looking videos out of pictures, music and videos. So a real estate agent could convert all their video for distribution onto all socials platforms. And unlike Animoto they are developing the API before the site and intend to integrate the payment system within the API, as Amazon does with its web services. One of the co-founder got sacked from Daily Motion the day after they were finalists in Seedcamp Paris, but they have happily come to an arrangement now!
Toksta (Berlin, Germany)
This is white label IM and video for social networks, so socnets don’t have to create it themselves. This adds stickines and increases user activity. But before you ask, no they are not going after Faceook, but the mid and long tail social networks. So either offering a SAAS solution or revenue share on advertising. The judges said this was literally “cut and paste integration” and makes build or buy an easier decision for socnets.
uberVU (Bucharest, Romania)
uberVU keeps track of context from all over the Web (responses, comments, trackbacks, diggs, etc.) around a story so you can see what people are saying about it on different sites and services. The Seedcamp judges said “PR people are will gonna love this” since it tracks any given topic across all of the conversations on the web. Not just comments on blogs – which sites like CoComment do – but Twitter, Facebook, YouTube etc you name it. The founders say they are “mapping the conversational graph” – pretty cool stuff for three guys from Romania, and is this one of the first significant Romanian startups to appear.
The rest of the Seedcamp finalists were Zoombu, Szuku, Decisions for Heroes, Adtaily, Saplo , Yoose, Quillp, Entrip, scred.com, tickerTXT, Speedsell, ThoughtTrail, Tripwolf, Deepmemo, FDream and Uniki.