From 14th-17th of November, CEED organized the second European Startup Study Tour to one of the most vibrant startup communities in the world – London. During the four-day program, 15 companies from 9 countries (Serbia, Macedonia, Kosovo, Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia and Armenia) met with investors, accelerators, entrepreneurs, executives and visited various co-working spaces. The aim of the trip was to learn about opportunities of London as a startup hub for scaling ones company.
The program kicked off with an internal meeting of the group where participants got acquainted with each other’s companies, they were introduced to the program and logistics of the meetings.
While in London the start ups had an opportunity to meet with:
Valentine Hutchings, Community and Communications Manager at Rainmaking Loft http://www.rainmakingloft.com/uk/ who gave a tour of the co-working space and talked about the imporance of community for their membership.
Francisco Gutierrez, Investment Sourcing Manager, Startupbootcamp https://www.startupbootcamp.org/ where the group learned about their programs around the world and their focus on FinTech, InsurTech and IoT Connected devices in London.
Tom Previte, Manager Center, at Launch 22 http://www.launch22.co.uk/london-home. Launch 22 Charity helps early stage entrepreneurs get their companies off the ground by providing work space, events and a network of mentors.
Anthea Creco, Head of Partnership and Chelsea Popadur, Partnership Manager at Wayra, https://wayra.co.uk/, Telefonica’s startup accelerator where the group learned about their industry focused programs through which different partnerships are formed. At Wayra the grou p met with a Ukraine founder who launched his company, Wishround https://wishround.com/uk/ and shared his experience at the accelerator.
Claire Cockerton, CEO and Hermione Way, Head of Marketing at Plexal http://www.entiq.com/ , who took us around the 68,000 square foot innovation center at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and previously the press center of the Olympic games. The Center is now being transformed into one of the largest tech hubs in Europe. The vision is for the space to be a “mini city” for startups, innovation labs, corporations, and universities with affordable housing available in the area.
Sitar Teli, Managing Partner at Connect Ventures http://connectventures.co.uk/, a London based firm that invests in early stage internet and mobile startups throughout Europe, with who the group discussed strengths and weaknesses of startups from Eastern Europe
Martyn Davies, Program Director at Ignite Accelerator.http://ignite.io Martyn presented Ignite Accelerator, an angel-led accelerator program founded in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and with accelerator and pre-accelerator programs in London and cities across the UK and Ireland.
Iulia Tudor, Head of Community at TechHub London https://www.techhub.com/
TechHub offers flexible workspace facilities, organizes events, workshops, advice sessions that meet the needs of their members, PR and press opportunities and connection within the network – among their members and with venture and corporate partners. They also partner with Google for Entrepreneurs to create Campus’s in London, Warsaw and Madrid
Daniel Heaf, SVP Digital Commerce & Digital Marketing of Burberry https://www.burberry.com/,. Daniel shared the story of Burberry and how they use digital media to reach new audiences.
Hristo Boyadzhiev, CEO of Despark http://www.despark.com.Despark is an award winning full-service digital agency with offices in London and Sofia. Hristo shared his experience and specifics of setting up and doing business in London.
Chryssanthos (Chrys) Chrysanthou, Principle at Notion Capital http://www.notioncapital.com
Notion Capital is a VC firm that invests in B2B SaaS startups at Seed & Series A stage across Europe. Chrys gave participants an insight to the investment process, how to reach and estabish relationship with VCs.
Simon King, Investment Manager at Octopus Ventures http://www.octopusinvestments.com/
Simon presented Octopus Ventures, which is part of Octopus group, one of the UK’s fastest growing investment management companies with more than £6 billion of assets under management and shared cases of their investment cmpanies
Virutal meeting with San Francisco based Thomson Nguyen, Data Science Lead at Square Capital https://squareup.com/capital. Thomson was Founder/CEO at Framed Data, a predictive analytics company funded by Y Combinator, Google Ventures, and Idea Bulb Ventures which was acquired by Square in early 2016
Michael Elborn, Innovation Strategist and Charlotte Leuw, Head of Marketing and Communications at The Bakery, http://www.thebakery.com/, an innovation accelerator, whose purpose is to bring new technology to market at rocket speed. They work with brands and corporations who are looking for innovative solutions and they match them with startups that can help them solve their problems and our entrepreneurs has an opportunity to pitch solutions to this group.
Galahad Clark, Managing Director and Owner of Vivobarefoot
http://www.vivobarefoot.com/. Galahad is a seventh-generation shoe maker and member of the Clarks dynastywho launched three different shoe brands UNITED NUDE, WORN AGAIN and VIVOBAREFOOT. Galahad shared how they approach digital marketing and media, their international growth through e-commerce, which presents nearly 80% of their sales.
Jaka Levstek, CEO of Dlabs http://dlabs.si and British entrepreneur, Jozef Wallis, COO of Booxscale http://www.booxscale.com/, who shared their experience with investors, strategic partnership, e-commerce and also did one-on-one mentorship with participants. Dlabs specializes in building and supporting technology companies in their early stages. Booxscaleis the next generation transaction platform of aggregated on-demand businesses to surface within publisher websites, directories, apps and technologies. With Booxscale, Jozef was is among the finalists of Great British Entrepreneurs Awards Tech 100.
One of the participants, Marcel Sobieski, CEO & founder WPmatic from Moldova shared the most important ideas he took from the tour:
- Before submitting to any Accelerator or VC, a startup must have some traction; only ideas are not enough. An MVP with sales is mandatory, Investors want to see the results and sales.
- To succeed on the British market – the presence of the sales team or Product Owner is a must. Britain is a relationship driven market – No remote success is possible.
- Issues among the founders and »bad market timing« are one of the main reasons why startups fail.
- It’s important to know the potential investor before asking an investment. Be in touch with them and develop a relationship, this will give a higher success rate to get funds.
- Lack of Validation will destroy the startup if planning to go big. First results and then scaling.
- A deep relationship with customers is a must.
- In 2017 the startups with real numbers and traction will succeed. No mumbo-jumbo anymore. Only the connect, the good product and good pitch will make it happen. Real things, no talks.
- VC are not giving an easy life despite the myth that they do. They give a colossal opportunity, but the startup must work and prove it self at the same time.
- London is great, but also consider Manchester or Liverpool. Cheaper living costs, same tech and social quality. Few hours train to London. Not that overrated and expensive. This will give more chances for the startup to be on a positive balance, by saving the costs.
- Main directions of startup for 2017: AI, Foodtech, IoT, Digital Health, FinTech
Participants were contacts three weeks after the tour and here are some actions resulting from the tour:
- I became a member of women founders group “Blooming Founders” (http://bloomingfounders.com/) – learned about them during the program
- Working on putting our products on a platform we learned about from one of the speakers (https://clippings.com/)
- We’re considering the UK as a cheaper region to test the Product/Market fit before looking to the US market
- The meeting with Burberry helped us better understand our product Based on the discussions with several people in London, I decided to change one technical part of the product so that we can start selling it earlier
- I’ve made a decision to move to tier 1 city (London, New York, San Francisco) till the end of the year. London really blowed my mind, there are so many great entrepreneurs, events and businesses! Also we’ve made some changes in our product, thanks to the feedback from mentors
- Participants are working on potential cooperation among themselves and those they met in londonOne participant had several interviews with an acceleration program we met at the tour
This trip was a part of the Regional Economic Growth project funded by USAID.