So, we’ve managed to get into Seedcamp with our white label Real-Time/Mobile/Microblogging solution ShoutEm.
It wasn’t easy, but it’s been an amazing experience, and we’d like to share some of the important things a young startup company needs to have in mind when applying for such a fund or working towards VC investment in general.
First, some brief history. It took us three tries; the first one doesn’t really count, as it consisted of me filling up an application in half an hour, pitching one of the social networks we’ve built; what the hell, we thought, we can give it a try. Of course, that didn’t get us anywhere.
For the second Seedcamp, we’ve worked like crazy for a couple of months trough the whole summer and had everything setup on time. Unfortunately, we’ve got another one of those “Sorry, but no thanks” emails. We haven’t given up hope, because we knew we’ve had a great product. Here’s what helped us succeed on the third try.
1. Launch a web based service, and keep working on it. Well, this one is quite obvious. We’ve launched ShoutEm at LeWeb08 and gave it everything we’ve got from there onwards.
2. Apply to all startup competitions out there. If you don’t try at all, you can never succeed. We were finalists of almost every startup competition in Europe: Mobile 2.0, LeWeb 08, TheNextWeb and finally became one of the winners at Mini Seedcamp Ljubljana in April.
3. Polish your pitch to perfection. We kept it simple and clear, making sure that our audience gets what we’re about – microblogging, real-time, mobile – in no more than a minute. We’ve also cleared up our presentation and demo. We’ve changed the initial design and made it more appealing and fun. Make sure you’ve only got a couple of slides; somewhere after the 5th slide the audience stops paying attention.
4. Now practice it to perfection. Don’t let a lousy presentation ruin your pitch. I’ve practiced our presentation in front of various audiences, such as VCs and journalists, and got rid of nervousness.
5. Build a significant user base. Another one that’s easier said than done, especially if you’re hoping for Seedcamp and similar events will be your starting point for reaching a wider user base. But, if you’re able to do it, it’s easier to convince your audience that your product is valuable. At this moment, ShoutEm hosts over 7000 networks. Ex: HorseTweet, NFLShouts.
6. Don’t forget the business side of things. The people that need to understand your product are Vcs. We’ve worked on understanding how they think and what they expect to hear. We’ve adjusted our pitches to emphasize our business achievements, current and past. When we reached Seedcamp, we’ve already had a couple of deals with major companies such as VIP (Vodafone Croatia), RealNetworks and 24 sata (Styria) and generated some cash income which was reinvested back into development.
7. Some other things that helped us: we’ve never forgotten about the value of good PR, which brought us coverage on TechCrunch, Mashable, TNW. Also, we’ve gotten a lot of friends and users all around a world that are spreading the word about ShoutEm!