Posts Tagged ‘BizSpark’

2
Jul
2012

Red Badger–A Bizspark Summit Finalist–Top 15 of 16,000.

by Cain Ullah

It’s just over 3 weeks since the BizSpark Summit on 7th June. I’ve been so busy it has taken me this long to write a blog post about it. So here’s a summary.

16,000 Startups

There are 16,000 startups that are part of Bizspark in Europe so we were honoured to be nominated as one of the top 15. There was a really good bunch of talented startups presenting and lots of interesting people. The event as a whole was fantastic (I have written a little about the build up to the event here). There was an incredible amount of organisation that went into the event from the event organisers Forgather, to the input from Microsoft’s European Bizspark representatives spearheaded by Bindi Karia and the coaching from Mike Sigal. It was a busy couple of weeks leading up to the event (I think I must have changed my pitch about 10 times, the last change being on the eve of the event) with a full day of rehearsals (one run through per startup) and final feedback at Microsoft’s Victoria offices on the day before the summit. Drinks and food were put on by Microsoft that evening so that all of the startups and Microsoft Bizspark folk could mingle and get to know each other.

On the day we arrived early at Ravensbourne college (where we were former incubatees) to prepare our stands before the main event kicked off around 9:30. It was actually quite daunting as there was a crowd of approximately 300 people in the auditorium and all presentations were up on a big stage. This was a definite step up for me when it comes to presenting.

David Rowan, Editor of Wired UK expertly moderated the whole day with Dan’l Lewin (Corporate Vice President Emerging Business Development) doing the opening conversations and getting the day started.  I won’t give a running commentary of the day, you can find more info on that here, but I will say that the day was expertly delivered and there were some really interesting keynotes including Bob Dorf, author of the Startup Owner’s Manual. In-between the keynotes were the three sessions for the startups to present with five startups presenting in each session. I was relieved that I was in the first session so that I could do my presentation and then enjoy the rest of the day.

My Experience

Bizspark Summit

As I mentioned in my previous blog we were slightly different to the rest of the startups that were presenting because we didn’t have an actual product to show and the day was very product focussed with a large contingent of VCs in the audience.

So, I had five minutes to introduce who Red Badger were, describe the problem, paint a vision of how our product idea would provide a solution, describe the market, the business model, the competition, the team, and finally a closing message to the VCs. It was a hell of a lot to fit in and despite lots of practice, I ran over as did most of the other startups.

It was a very good experience though. The hardest bit was painting a vision. Quite a few people in the audience (and the judges) didn’t get what our idea was trying to do. It would have been much easier had I been able to show them what we had done. However, when we were in the breakout sessions, we had a lot of interest from people with experience in the industry who completely got our vision. So, overall it was a successful day for Red Badger. I personally have taken a lot out of the day and the whole process. I have learnt a lot from the coaching, taken some good feedback on board and look forward to doing things different when I am next presenting to a large audience like this one.

The other startups

I think one of my favourite things about the whole event was spending time with the other startups. Apart from them obviously being very talented entrepreneurs with some excellent products, there were some great people too. There was a real sense of camaraderie between us over the two days. We were also all very different and although we were effectively competing against each other on the day, in the real world I don’t think there was a single competing product. The highlights for me were autitouch, theappbuilder, fittingreality & paperlit. Go check them out as I expect they’re going to continue doing great things for some time. Autitouch specifically impressed me as on the eve of the rehearsals, they had a pivot with some potentially ground-breaking research results coming through that changed their pitch at the 11th hour. Freena Eijffinger handled the change incredibly well to deliver a faultless presentation.

The future

As for Red Badger, well, we’re hoping we’re going to be around for a long time too. We continue to innovate, building up a solid foundation and providing great products for our clients through Consultancy. Product plans are afoot however, so keep an eye out for us in the future.

23
May
2012

Red Badger – BizSpark European Startup of the Year?

by Cain Ullah

Microsoft are entering their 8th year of doing the BizSpark European Summit which provides an opportunity for some of the best startups in Europe to present their business ideas and products to a panel of investors and expert judges. I’m presuming that if you are reading this blog, you know what BizSpark is.

Red Badger has been a member of BizSpark pretty much since it’s inception in May 2010. It has provided us with an excellent platform to grow our business by not just providing us with free Microsoft tools but also providing our business with key support through networking, events and key advice (particularly through Bindi Karia).

Anyway, back to the summit. We are incredibly pleased to have been nominated by Microsoft as one of fifteen startups in Europe (and one of two in the UK) to present our business ideas at this year’s summit to be held on 7th June. You can see who all of the other nominees are here. On the day there will be a number of keynotes and panel discussions with the day being MC’d by David Rowan, editor of Wired UK. Presenters and participants include Bob Dorff (co-author of the Startup Owner’s Manual), Professor Jerome S. Engel, last  year’s Summit pitch contest winner Alessandro Rizzoli (CEO of Mobapp), plus Microsoft’s Dan’l Lewin, Corporate Vice President, Strategic and Emerging Business Development.

Startup Coaching

In the afternoon the startups will get their opportunity to present to the 250-400 investors, expert judges, and other guests. They will get a slot for a 5 minute lightning pitch followed by 5 minutes of questions. This is not a lot of time to sell your business idea so Microsoft have provided all of the training and advice to make sure our presentations are as sharp as possible. This includes some high level coaching on our presentations from Mike Sigal, an entrepreneur and startup coach who has been performing this coaching role at the BizSpark Summit for the last 3 years. Having gone through the first iteration of advice from Mike (the second iteration is to follow), I can say his advice is very inspirational. Combining this with the constant coaching from Bindi and a full day of rehearsals on 6th everyone should be well prepared come the 7th. Supporting the coaching is the PR activities surrounding the event being co-ordinated by Maxine Ambrose and Daisy at Forgather ensuring all the startups are meeting their several deadlines leading up to the event.

Our Pitch

What we are pitching is an interesting question as we are slightly different to the other nominees. From what I can gather, the majority of the other nominees have a fairly mature product for which they might be asking for investment for. We are slightly different in that we have a product idea and ultimately want to move in that direction and fairly soon. However, we are currently an early stage product company. What I mean by that is that we want to self fund the product arm of the company through profits made from the client services arm with the two running side-by-side. We’re just not quite there yet. So, our pitch will be geared toward presenting what problems our idea will solve and how the world will be different once it is built. An interesting challenge.

Previous Winners

Previous winners of this event have had great success as a result, gaining lots of recognition as well as some key investment.

Stolen from this page – “In 2009, Swiss company KeyLemon wowed the judges with its face recognition technology and has enjoyed steady success since.  In 2010, the joint winners were Artesian Solutions and Kobojo.  Last year, French games company Kobojo secured over 5 million Euros of investment, has expanded into other countries worldwide and has reached over one million active daily users.  Early this year, Artesian Solutions announced that investor firm Octopus was investing £2 million in this successful young British company, which focuses on sales intelligence.

Last year’s winner is Mopapp, whose CEO Allesandro Rizzoli impressed the judges with his ingenious mobile appstore aggregation service.  Alessandro has since relocated the company from Italy to London and the company continues to grow.”

People’s choice award

This year there is an additional award, The People’s Choice. This goes out to the public vote and is entirely based on people clicking on a Facebook like button. It largely depends on how active you are at promoting your company to all of your personal and company Facebook friends. Not my favourite method of voting but if you have 10 seconds spare, do go and like Red Badger on our Finalist Page.

Summary

That pretty much sums it up. I’ve now got more work to refine the 5 minute presentation, some rehearsals and then the big day. Wish me luck!