There’s more happening in Copenhagen, Denmark than just climate change talks. In 2010 Copenhagen will host two of the more interesting micro-seed investing programs in the region.
We all know the London born Seedcamp and what’s its shooting for: To bring together the European startup scene. At least from the startup financing point of view. Now Seedcamp has released the new dates for 2010 (See below). There’s also a new Copenhagen based player entering the micro-seed investing scene, Startupbootcamp.dk
There’s clearly many more seed investors across the Nordic and Baltic countries (and more coming soon), but Seedcamp and now Startupbootcamp.dk are the only ones that are structured as programs and can be compared to the interesting Y Combinator style model operating in the US.
Seedcamp is going to be tweaking their model a bit for the 2010, putting more focus on the distributed model, where Mini Seedcamps held across the region get more attention whereas in the past most of the magic has happened during the Seedcamp Week in London (see our coverage from the 2008 Seedcamp Week here). Here are the Seedcamp 2010 dates:
Zagreb – 11th February
Prague – 2nd March
Barcelona – 23rd March
Paris – 15th April
Tel Aviv – 6th May
Copenhagen – 27th May
Berlin – 16th June
London – 20th July
In 2009 Seedcamp was in Sweden and in 2010 the Nordic Mini Seedcamp will be held in Copenhagen on 27th May. Here’s a ton more information why you should apply and how to do it if you think this is for you.
There’s also a new kid on the block here in the Nordics. Startupbootcamp.dk has come out with a model very similar to Y Combinator in the US. They run their first program in June 2010 and interestingly offer two different kinds of deals:
For those who bring the team and the idea, Startupbootcamp gives DKK 25,000 (€3,360) seed capital per team member, a three month program, mentoring, and the investor day where the startup is presented to investors in Copenhagen in hopes of getting an investment. Here they take 5% to 10% of equity. The other option is to come only with a team and Startupbootcamp gives you the idea, and everything as in the first option except no seed capital
Here they also take the 5% to 10% of equityand you get 5% to 10% stake at the company as an incentive. Startupbootcamp keeps the 90% to 95% Here’s more details on program.
This is quite different from the Seedcamp offering where Seedcamp gives out €50,000 in prize money, in return for taking a stake worth between 5-10% of the company. Here’s a great insight into the Seedcamp model where Mike Butcher of TechCrunch interviews Saul Klein, the founding chairman of Seedcamp , Founding Partner of The Accelerator Group (TAG) and Partner at Index Ventures.
Startupbootcamp.dk on its part is put together by Alex Farcet, a Copenhagen based entrepreneur and Rainmaking, which is a Danish startup factory. You can read more about the team here. Seedcamp is largely run by Reshma Sohoni and Saul Klein with the help of a bigger team.
Another distinctive difference between these two programs is the reach they have and the network they facilitate. Whereas Startupbootcamp.dk is largely still a local one with a (in our understanding) local network, Seedcamp is as global as it gets. Here’s the list of Seedcamp investors and here are the massive list of Mentors.
To say something about the success rate, within 3 months of graduating from Seedcamp 2007 and 2008, 11 of the 13 startups have received follow-on funding. For Startupbootcamp.dk this is not a fair comparison, since they are just about to kick-off.
In no way is it fair to compare these two programs since Seedcamp has been going for two and a half years already and has pan-European focus, whereas Startupbootcamp.dk has a more local Nordic focus and is only just about to kick-off with less resources, but at the end of the day for the startups themselves this is irrelevant. They just want to get the best deal that will maximize their chances to succeed. And that’s exactly what they should do.
Lastly, to put the micro-seed investing in perspective, here’s an insightful quote from Klein (also from the TechCrunch interview):
“It depends on how well the startup is heading towards revenue. I think in the case of HyperNumbers, I think €50,000 has lasted two years for those guys. So it depends on how you play it. Your equity runway is as long as you make it. Some people never need to raise money. I was reading recently that in the Inc. 500 [Inc. is a small business magazine in the US and the Inc. 500 is the top 500 small businesses in the US] well over 60 percent have never taken any outside financing. The myth that start-up are about raising money is absolutely bullshit. It’s like, you raise money because you need capital to grow and if you haven’t proven to yourself that you have a product for which there is a market then obviously you’re going to have to take on board more capital than it’s necessarily.
But I think my experience of having made 75 plus seed investments, having been an entrepreneur myself on both this side of the pond and on the other side of the pond is that what people should focus on is the outcome: how big can the outcome be and what value do my fellow travellers bring along the way. And I think being generous with your co-founders and your earliest investors in effect makes them like co-founders because they are going to work really hard for you. The more equity, the more skin they have in the game, the more motivated they are going to be to support you. Their network is going to be invaluable to you in terms of your initial deals, your initial hires, etc. So it’s a trade-off every entrepreneur needs to make but I think every great company from Apple to Cisco to Google to Oracle has already taken outside capital, to a greater or a lesser extent.”
But I do feel strongly that taking money is not an end in itself. It’s something that people should only do when they need it and when they know what they’re going to do with it and making sure that they’ve chosen the right partner.
So the reason to apply might be very different from just taking in money. Like Joobilee, a Hungarian travel company that took part in Seedcamp said, “Just filling in the application form is a learning experience for us because it helps us to clarify what out business is about. It sets us a deadline we’ve got to hit.”
There’s no better time to put your ideas on paper, choose to one program that fits your startup better and get the application ready than the Christmas holidays when your boss is not looking over your shoulder.