What’s that saying… What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?
Seedcamp is frequently described as “the original and best UK boot camp for start-ups”, and it certainly enforces a strict disciplinary regime.
It started last Wednesday afternoon, when London Seedcamp’s Top 20 start-ups met to practice their pitches. The feedback was insightful, helpful… and brutal. As new boot camp recruits we needed to be taught acceptable social behaviours!
I was told that the start of my presentation was amusing and engaging, but didn’t tie to anything else. Another start-up was told that his content was great but his delivery was so boring that “I stopped listening after the first slide”, while a modest, softly-spoken individual was told to “sit by the door tomorrow, and run up and down the stairs three times before you present – we need to see your blood pumping”. We were all told to rewrite and to practice, practice, practice. There was no doubt how seriously Seedcamp took their boot camp reputation.
Harsh though the feedback was, it worked. Every presentation was much better the next morning. I was thoroughly impressed by all the smart start-ups that were keeping a packed room captivated (that’s Mark in the bottom left hand corner). Having survived the practice run together there was a great sense of camaraderie amongst us – we’d all learnt a lot together in a very short time, and there was a strong shared sense of knowing that we’d all taken a step up.
Pitches over, we got to kick back briefly while the Seedcamp panel (@ahansjee @christianhern @tomall @glyndot chaired by @ceduardo) discussed “From Business Development to M&A”.
Then it was onto what I’d been really looking forward to – mentoring – five 45 minute sessions with groups of entrepreneurs, product experts, VCs, and angel investors. Traditionally boot camp requires hard physical exercise. At Seedcamp, physical exercise is replaced with mental exercise. We had been warned to expect challenging conversations, and the mentors didn’t disappoint.
As I write, the winners haven’t been announced, but I think all 20 of us won.
The process and people are amazing. A week on I’m still digesting the huge amount of fantastic advice we received. Mentors have been incredibly proactive at getting in touch since – making introductions and removing barriers. New meetings and opportunities are going in the diary.
And there are worse things than being referred to as a “top idea” in the Guardian
Seedcamp – I’d thoroughly recommend applying, participating and surviving!