(Above, Carlos Eduardo Espinal, Saul Klein, Reshma Sohoni)
Seedcamp Week, the annual week-long session run by Europe’s oldest tech startup accelerator, has kicked off in London, and it looks like the biggest yet. In particular, this week sees changes to the way Seedcamp has operated in the past which indicates a clear uptick in how the European tech scene is fairing.
When Seedcamp first started in September 2007 – the same Week TechCrunch Europe launched – it funded six out of 20 companies that pitched.
This week 16 of the 20 Seedcamp companies presenting this week have already received the initial Seedcamp investment. Seedcamp normally invest €50,000 (for 5-10%) as standard but sometimes they invest less for less of a stake, (though these exact terms are not usually disclosed).
The contrast with last year is that 13 companies got the investment and there was no follow-on funding.
Another change is that last year there was a competition by all the teams for investment. This year the four remaining that haven’t had the initial investment (out of the 20) will be interviewed at the end of the week.
And, at the end of the week, the companies considered by Seedcamp and mentors to be the top three of all 20 will receive a cash prize, which they can use as a part of a ‘follow-on’ round. The winner gets €25,000, second place gets €15,000, third place wins €10,000.
Lastly, there are no “new” teams at Seedcamp this week. All of them have appeared at Mini Seedcamp days already at events around Europe. In years gone by there were always a few wild-cards – this year, this is the “creme de la creme”, if you will.
Now, after four years you would think we would be starting to see some exits among former Seedcamp companies and a new eco-system develop around it. But only Mobclix was acquired last year for a reputed $50m – a pretty good “European” exit.
Meanwhile many former Seedcamp companies are still going, though exits are, as I point out above, thin on the ground.
However, we shouldn’t worry. As a Seedcamp investor told me yesterday “We might see an exit soon form a former Seedcamp companies, but we’re relaxed about that. We’d rather see these companies build up to the point where they can knock it out of the park.” I think that’s the right take on this. It’s unusual for companies to see liquidity events in this short time period, and it’s better not to focus on an exit anyway.
In addition, the trend amongst the companies chose this year are a mix of evolution on existing business models and disruption of traditional industries.
So thus, GrabCad is targeting the traditional sector of engineering. Farmeon is about targeting the agriculture sector. Vox.io is about the evolution of the third generation of telephony – you get the picture.
But I’ll be exploring the startups selected in a separate post shortly.