Well done to all of the pitching companies and their representatives for putting on a great a show on Friday night.
Berlin, it has to be said, put on both a fantastic meetup and had some very high quality companies taking part, none more so than their eventual shortlisted winners Klash, Musicplayr and Kinderfee. Testament to the growing buzz around the Berlin scene and German startups in general, the entrepreneurs were fired up, the products looked extremely polished and the presentations were, let;s say, pushing the boundaries. Ahem.
The London meetup was the smallest in terms of attendance that we’d ever done, but that didn’t stop the 7 companies coming out and showing what they’re made of.
Firstly, from the local side, it was Tray who was declared the winner, closely followed by Shhmoose and Teddle.
When it came down to the Live show, it was extremely close throughout as a highly competent Berlin pitch was met with an equally compelling London rebuttal.
It literally came down to the last pitches as there was not enough daylight between the four preceding companies to break the deadlock. Kla.sh then shook the startup pitch format with a highly disturbing mixture of serial killer stare, mankini and arse tattoo (check the video).
I felt that a combination of off-the-wall pitch and a really great looking product had really put us up against it. Taking one for the team, I decided to even it up in the only way I could. So, in a moment of inspiration, I too decided to get naked and think of England.
Luckily enough, we’d saved the best to last as Tray stood up and impressed both the judges sufficiently to be both of their favourites overall. With Shhmoose a unanimous second, it was confirmed.
And so, on to the next round showdown with which ever city dares stand in our way!
If you want to rummage around the startups, entrepreneurs, This Week In show, presenters etc. you can take a look at it all in my public MySpareBrain chart, with notes, feeds and links galore.
Just click the chart screenshot below and select the TWiSTldn 6 – 29th June tab.
MyChoicePad founder Zoe Peden dropped me this email to keep us updated and thank TWiSTldn for our minor part in the success that followed their appearance in July, where MyChoicePad and Kliqed had Jason and Tyler stumped as to who would be crowned the winner.
We’re so grateful for TWiST:Ldn for getting us off the ground right at the beginning. The exposure and pitch practice worked wonders towards making it through the rounds of the competition.
Hope to see you around.
So bit about the competition from their press release:
What is it?
Big Venture Challenge is a national competition to find 25 of the most ambitious social entrepreneurs in England.
The 25 winners of Big Venture Challenge receive an initial £25K grant and the chance to access up to £150K of seed funding if matched by loans or equity from co-investors, plus first class business support and mentoring designed to keep pace with high growth social entrepreneurs.
These social entrepreneurs have vision, talent and determination. In other words, they are:
people with big ideas to transform disadvantaged communities across England
people who have got what it takes to build credible ventures
people who have the ambition to scale up impact fast
The purpose behind it:
Big Venture Challenge, a competition to find 25 of the nation?s most ambitious social entrepreneurs and give them the chance to fast-track their
ventures to the next level. The initiative, run by UnLtd and supported by the Big Lottery Fund and the Millennium Awards Trust, offers more than £1.2m of capital investment to the winners of the nation-wide „Dragons Den? style competition.
The competition runs in three stages. In stage one, which opens today, the search is on to find 25 winning entrepreneurs. These winners will receive funding of £25,000 each and intensive business support, including support from the competition?s corporate partners, including Deutsche Bank, Hogan Lovells, Coutts and The Supper Club.
Of these 25, the best ten ventures will receive a second round of £50,000, with a final two which demonstrate the fastest growth receiving an additional third round of £100,000 – a potential additional £150,000, but only if applicants can match it with loans or equity from co-investors. This mix of investment capital and grants is unusual in such a competition and reflects one of the
competition?s main ambitions to attract new investors to the social capital market place.
After pitching at TWiST:LDN and TechPitch 4.5 in June/July (joint 1st and 2nd place) I had got the attention of an investment manager at UnLtd who asked me to apply to a competition they were running as he thought we were a good fit. The only issue was I had just 24 hours before the deadline. So I spent 5 hours of the next day filing in forms with not much hope but at least I would be on their radar. A month later I was asked to have an informal chat (which was essentially due diligence in a nice relaxed atmosphere) and I got grilled for 90 minutes on my business and myself. Only then did I find out there had been 636 applications and I was one of 90 or so to be interviewed.
I felt quite impressed by this achievement and was very pleased to talk to someone who seemed so interested in the business and asked intelligent questions. Then I thought nothing more of it until a week later I was asked to provide some references for a phone call chat. I started to get nervous at this stage as this meant getting other people involved and their hopes would be up too. Fortunately I had some wonderful references and from what I heard they blew the socks off UnLtd. It started to get very real then.
I was then asked to do a “dragon’s den’ style pitch to a panel of experienced entrepreneurs – 41 of us had got through to this point. It was in a big city lawyers office and it felt very lonely to be there with my big ideas, my fledgling business, my mac and my iPad. They then had a tech failure and I had to pitch with my presentation just on my laptop which most people could not see the screen. So I had to become animated to cover up my lack of seeable visuals. I thought my pitch went well (10 minutes) but then I had to get through 30 minutes of questions. Some of them quite merciless and others very encouraging so I came out of the panel very confused and feeling I’d messed it up.
I had to wait another couple of weeks until the winners were announced, I spent the night before preparing to pick myself off the floor the next morning with disappointment (I’m still not great with rejection – my mum says I need to grow rhino skin). So when I got an email at 9.01 am I opened it with great trepidation and when the first line was congratulations I think I just scanned the rest and screamed! The next hour was spent on the phone to loved ones and friends. All the people who believed in me and MyChoicePad from the beginning and now someone else external to them believed in me – a wonderful feeling.
Post-excitement I am now faced with a fair amount of expectation and a substantial amount of time networking and trying to raise more funds to keep the momentum going. It’s daunting but I’ve never felt more alive.
I love getting updates from the guys and gals we get to meet through the TWiSTldn meetups, especially when it’s good news! So if you’re part of the family and got something to update us with, drop me an email
Bath-based Amercian, Ryan Carson of Carsonified and the “Future Of…(web apps, web design, etc.)” events was on the latest This Week in Startups show with Jason and Tyler, to talk about his experiences as a web developer come entrepreneur, building an events business, the desire to build products, raising money and his business/life philosophies (mainly derived from Dale Carnegie at some stage).
The show’s a good watch, and Ryan is a bit of a star. I’m a huge admirer of his companies, mostly, I just love the beautiful design and attentional to detail he puts into everything. I know very well that it can be too easy to skip over design in favour of speed, in a world where he who shouts loudest usually wins. It takes some balls to stick to your guns and apply the same consistently high quality of design to websites and products that Ryan does and I’m a huge admirer of that.
And clearly, there’s a number of people who agree.
Ryan was over in the US and able to attend the studio, since he was presumably out closing the round which included and started with non-other than Kevin Rose, Reid Hoffman, Mark Sustre, Greylock Partner et al. You can see a much better run down of the deal on this TC article.
And maybe it was this illustrious list that made Jason’s competitive streak kick in, and kick himself for originally passing on the deal. Well, it had to happen sometime, heck, we came close a couple of times at TWiSTldn meetups with Tripbod and YReceipts, but Jason finally loosened the purse strings (alright, a little unfair considering the volume of investments he’s been making) on air. What was more surprising was that Jason put out a lengthy email only a few days back explaining why he was cutting back on the Angel investments and so to cave so quickly was quite a surprise.
I think what everyone in the UK and the International meetup cities around the world are waiting for, is Jason to fall in love with one of the global companies and put his money where his mouth is and back some of the TWiST community companies that tickle his fancy.
TWiSTldn has given a platform to many companies to compete for share of voice, to fight for a place on the the live This Week in Startups show. But, such is the fast growing competitive environment we now exist in, it’s only a matter of time before that competition spills out into the streets. We’re talking full-on drunken street-fighting, bandaged fists dipped in glue and nails, baseball bats with nails through the end, winner takes all, fight to the death.
Or maybe not. I may just have a slightly over active imagination, let’s reign it back into reality for a second.
Instead, we’re talking about a prestigious competition run by Venture Candy. Those companies to which we refer are in the “Green” category – that is, companies that strive to make the world a cleaner, greener, more enjoyable place to live. It’s come down to the final three candidates, and proudly we know, you’ll recognise a couple of them.
GoingGoingBike– James Johnson and crew help cyclists to verify that bikes they buy are not stolen, obtain information about bikes through their Bikepedia, and match buyers with bikes through their Bike Match product. VOTE!
CampingNinja– Founders Rhian Evans and Geoff Vaughn have brought the old process of finding, booking and enjoying Campsites online, in a beautifully designed booking engine. No more trawling outdated websites, phoning/faxing/emailing numerous campsites and turning up to campsites to be dissapointed with what you find. VOTE!
GiveaCar – Tom Chance helps people dispose of their old cars in an environmentally safe and legal way (believe it or not, this doesn’t always happen!). A social enterprise, a highly significant 75% of the proceeds go to charity. VOTE!
You may recall Rhian and Geoff pitching their UK Campsite booking engine, at TWiSTldn 2, back in August 2010 and James Johnson, who pitched at TWiSTldn 3 in February 2011 and made it onto the live show. If you liked either of these really great entrepreneurs and companies, take a minute to vote and make a difference.