The summer term has been an exciting time for us on the MSc Management programme, as we had our much-anticipated Entrepreneurship module. During the six-week module, we combined everything we learnt in our core modules, including finance, marketing, and innovation management. We had to come up with an entire business idea and plan – in other words, bring theory to practice!
It was also during this time where 25 of us students on the programme had an incredible opportunity to visit “Europe’s seed fund” – Seedcamp. You may have heard about the likes of Transferwise or Revolut, the digital bank that is revolutionising the way banking is done – well, those are just two examples of the Seedcamp-backed startups based in London. (On a side note, on 28 April 2018, Revolut became a unicorn – which is ‘tech-speak’ for a privately held startup valued at over $1 billion!).
During our visit, it was a thrill to meet with Kyran Schmidt, an Analyst at Seedcamp, who planned a seamless afternoon for us MSc Management students at their London Campus. We got to hear all about the investment strategies and current (and exclusive) activities happening at Seedcamp.
We also learnt that the amount that Seedcamp invests, as a pre-seed and seed-stage focused VC, lies somewhere in between the cheques written by angel investors ($10k-250k) and those written by later-stage VC firms targeting Series A rounds and above ($3M+). Since being founded in 2007, Seedcamp has funded up to 260 companies: 23 of which have been acquired, and 175 operational to date.
From the visit, one thing that stood out in particular was the phenomenal Seedcamp network. The Seedcamp team itself consists of ten people but in the past decade they have built a powerful network, referred to as ‘Seedcamp Nation’, which includes founders, operators and investors.
This soon became evident as we discovered that many of the current Limited Partners (LPs) at Seedcamp – those invested in Seedcamp’s fund – are angel investors from startups that received their first investment from Seedcamp (e.g. Daniel Dines and Taavet Hinrikus from two of their unicorn companies – UiPath and TransferWise).
As they have seen considerable results, they now want to invest in the next generation of entrepreneurs. This is quite incredible as Seedcamp has not only extended its network throughout the years, but fostered a contagious culture of giving back. In addition, startups of all stages can access the wealth of knowledge, advice and expertise accumulated within the network.
Perhaps a case in point was meeting the founder of The Engineering Company, a Seedcamp backed startup, who held a Q&A panel with Kyran. The founder, Parikshat Singh (also known as Pari), coincidentally happened to be an Imperial College London alumnus – all the more exciting for us! From all the questions we asked Kyran and Pari, one resonated with me the most:
What is one thing you look for when choosing which companies to invest in?
The Team. And how they work together.
We quickly realised that the business idea could be great, or there may be ample funding – but at the end of the day, a startup demands more than just those two factors. It includes the overall expertise of a team as well as the dynamics between them, as Pari spoke from first-hand experience. Perhaps the proverb that explains this better is, ‘When the going gets tough, the tough get going’.
For quite a number of the MSc Management students interested in working at startups or even becoming entrepreneurs themselves, the afternoon was quite insightful,l to say the least, and very pertinent to what we were learning in our Entrepreneurship module.
It is such an advantage to be studying in a global city like London to be invited to such a place like Seedcamp in the first place, and, secondly, to be part of a school such as Imperial College Business School that champions innovative thinking and an entrepreneurial mindset.
We’d like to send our sincere thanks to Kyran and the wider Seedcamp team for making this opportunity possible – and of course, my Co-Academic Leader Alex Reed for leading this student-organised trip!