Turnout was tremendous and anyone walking in past 10am got to pick their favourite floor patch or standing position. Attendees were a mix of angel and VC investors, cool corporates, and entrepreneurs like the founders of eHarmony and Red Gate; we were absolutely delighted so many great people could make it.
Guest of honour Brad Feld took time away from his holiday in France in order to join us, which was really above and beyond, but as Co-founder of TechStars and Foundry Group (invested in Zynga) he’s of course known for going out of his way to help the startup scene. There was a buzz about the place knowing Brad was joining in.
The theme of community was clear and strong, with the emphasis on mentors being the key ingredient. If you can get quality mentors and teams together, ‘you actually can create a phenomenon that changes the way entrepreneurship works’.
And to the mentors who have been involved in Springboard, Brad added, ‘Thank you for engaging and participating because that’s what makes the magic happen.’
With the scene set, and the mood just right, pitches began. Each team took the floor for 5 minutes of fame, subjected to Jon’s oh-so-serious introductions. One founder of Lithuanian team Adwings does a stellar Robbie Williams karaoke, one member of Apiary.io got married in Czech Republic two days before Springboard began, and the members of Tastebuds just released their first full length CD album.
As for the pitches, the 10 teams of Springboard were finally revealed! In alphabetical order – spanning consumer apps, gaming, enterprise software, developer tools – they are:
- Adwings is a one stop advertising destination that lets advertisers plan, book and track advertising across various media channels, ranging from print to digital media, from mobile to outdoor, and even video (TV to YouTube).
- Apiary.io is a hosted suite of tools that helps companies build web APIs quickly, test/monitor them easily and document them effortlessly.
- Arachnys consolidates valuable business information from emerging markets helping companies increase opportunities and reduce risk in complex but attractive markets like India, China, and Russia.
- Hubflow enables companies to distribute training content to their workforce’s mobile devices, saving them time & money that would be spent running training workshops.
- Mayday alerts companies to problems users experience on their website, saving the business lengthy testing time and preventing lost sales.
- MiniMonos is a virtual world for kids who love to play & love the planet.
- PlayMob enables charities to fundraise through games with a platform that links virtual objects to causes.
- Publification is a platform for publishers to convert their file-based ebooks to platform agnostic Browserbooks that can be read on over 2 billion existing devices.
- Tastebuds is an innovative dating website that helps you meet like-minded people who share your love for music.
- TotalGigs enables disparate groups of users to collectively share and relive event experiences.
Then came the demos! We moved to The Hall, enjoying a scenic little walk through Christ’s College, where everyone was able to check out the products in action. There is something quite funny about such an old classic venue showing off the latest startups in mobile and web, but it had a fun vibe (surely unrelated to our 100 bottles of wine on hand – blank cheques anyone?). I was also amused by the clever Adwings T-Shirts with their funding ask 250K in giant print on the back, and MiniMonos surprised us with the biggest monkey cut-outs I’ve ever seen – taller than me!
So, what was it actually like for those involved? Pitchees definitely seemed more excited than nervous, with Wednesday’s rehearsal apparently having been more nerve-racking than the real thing for some. Others commented how many Calories they must have lost in the stressful lead up. In any case teams were completely beaming after their presentations, with emotions ranging from relief to pride.
Many mentors were shocked. Wow, are those really the same teams I met with 12 weeks ago? I heard totally surprised reviews time and time again from investors who had spoken with the teams very early in the programme. Others complained that they wish there had been some weak presentations to make an investment decision easier. ‘If I had £100,000 to invest, I’d have to give money to each of the teams because they all have a real chance at making it big.’
After seeing teams pitch countless times, I was certainly happy for them and full of big hugs when each one finished. I’ve seen most founders in two modes: 1. the oh-gosh-what’s-the-next-slide mode and the 2. I’m-on-top-of-the-world-and-we-kick-ass mode, and Investor Day was 100% the latter. ‘They were on top of the world’ I was pleased to hear Brad Feld agree. And judging by reactions, it’s a good place to be.
Congratulations everyone, and enormous thanks to the wonderful mentors, supporters, founders, networks, and attendees who have made the Springboard community what it is today!