At the Essential Web conference last week Saul Klein announced SeedCamp. This is an incredibly important initiative that will help grow the spirit of entrepreneurship across Europe. It basically takes a YCombinator type model and implements it here.
For those of you who don’t know, YCombinator is hugely successful project of Paul Graham in the US. Twice a year, once in Boston, once in SV, they ask (pre)startups to apply for a slot on the program. The small number who are accepted are then placed in a hothouse environment where they have a short few weeks to build a web application and pitch it. YCombinator also provides them with the small amount of money needed to execute on this and eat/sleep, for which they get a decent chunk of equity.
The teams are surrounded by all of the expertise and service providers and networking contacts they need to succeed. All of the nitty gritty is taken care of for them so they can concentrate on building the app and then convincing people that it is worth investing in to make it a commercial reality.
Not only is YCombinator succesful due to the number of great sites like Reddit which have resulted from it, but they also get lots of early exits for these businesses and make a decent profit.
SeedCamp is taking this model and asking teams from all over Europe to apply. Five will be selected and brought to London to build their apps under very similar conditions to the ones described above.
I encourage anyone who has an early stage start-up or is thinking about doing one to apply for this. It is an enormous opportunity to do something life-changing. In particular, if you are a college student with a decent idea and some friends who can execute with you, then apply. You have nothing to lose and you’ll have made your first contact to the investment community in Europe.
This brings up a point that was discussed at Essential Web which I believe is a big problem in Ireland - the almost total lack of new businesses or web ideas coming from undergraduates and new graduates over here. I believe there are a couple of reasons for this and I’ll address that and how we may be able to fix it, in a follow-up post.
UPDATE 1: These are the actual details of SeedCamp itself.
Seedcamp is an intensive week long event held in September in London targeted at young entrepreneurs from across EMEA. An open application available is online and 20 groups will be picked to participate in the Seedcamp Week. There will be a strong mentor network that will help the selected teams put together the foundations of a viable business. At the end of the week the organisers will make the funding decision to invest â‚¬50K each in 5 teams for a 10% stake.
If a team that is selected agrees to take the investment, the funding will be sufficient for them to move to London for at least three months. During the course of this, the groups get access to the same ecosystem of experts which participated in the Seedcamp.
Six weeks into the project, there will be a demo day where teams can show their products to the other groups from Seedcamp and a select group of investors. Ten weeks into the project there is an investor day where startups can present to potential investors.
Sounds fantastic. Hurry up and apply.