Guest blog by Brett Laffel
What’s better than Dave McClure and the hottest NYC startups in the same room? Not much.
On Friday, September 23, Microsoft hosted 275 peeps at the 500 Startups’ SMASH Summit in our New York City office in midtown Manhattan. 500 Startups has been a partner of BizSpark since January 2010; their first batch of startups graduated earlier this fall, and their new class just started. SMASH Summit was primarily focused on marketing, with a particular emphasis on online platform strategies and tactics used by successful online companies to acquire and retain customers.
In addition to speakers from First Round Capital, Foursquare, Union Square Ventures, turntable.fm, GroupMe, Facebook, YouTube, Twilio, Gilte Groupe, Meetup, HubSpot, Visual.ly, Birchbox, Jetsetter and DailyWorth, we also had BizSpark One company Flite there.
Pictured on stage here is Fred Wilson (http://www.avc.com/), Dave McClure and Robert Scoble (@scobleizer)
You can read more about the event here.
Next up for Dave and the 500 Startups team – Warm Gun: Designing Happiness
Mini Seedcamp Barcelona is happening on the 16th of November and we’d love to see BizSpark startups take advantage of this program. Apply to THE European accelerator program before 20th October. We’re looking to spend the day with 20 awesome teams to meet and be mentored by some of the greatest mentors from across Europe.
Are you building a supercool new web service that makes life easier? Are downloads for your mobile app going through the roof? Are developers chasing you to use your cool new tools? That’s a pretty good indication that you should apply to Seedcamp Barcelona to meet all the fantastic mentors, to connect, get feedback and attract investment.
I wanted to write to all of you about the second annual UK BizSpark Summit, a one-day event held in Microsoft's offices in Cardinal Place, Victoria, London, UK to connect BizSpark startups with the wider entrepreneurial community of investors, network partners, and journalists and provide information to enable BizSpark members to grow their businesses. This was a CEO-focused, Business event, as opposed to the more technical focus of BizSparkCamps (watch out for the next one soon!)
Key objectives for the event
Summary of the Day
René Carayol, one of the world's leading business gurus was the moderator for the day and I was the event host for the day.
I was joined in my introduction of the event by Cliff Reeves, General Manager, Microsoft Emerging Business Team, who flew in for the event from Redmond, and specifically provided an update on BizSpark Connect (this is well worth you signing up to – just click on the "Connect" tab you see above)
The morning session was devoted to 3 interview based sessions with the CEOs of growing European businesses who were either BizSpark One companies or built on the Microsoft platform – Seesmic, Wonga and Huddle. Each session provided clear insights and advice for the entrepreneurial audience - best summarised as: Just do it and put the customer first.
A panel of BizSpark One CEOs explored the concept of partnership and discussed how best to tackle sales into corporates. The afternoon was devoted to a choice of workshops with Funding and Online topics proving to be the most popular. The event was rounded off by a competitive pitch session of 6 BizSpark Startups – with the winner myworksearch, taking home a trophy and a range of prizes donated by Network Partners.
Fun Facts about the Day
Startup Pitch Contest
Over 77 companies applied to pitch and only 6 were chosen to pitch on the day. Myworksearch emerged the overall winner. Four of the Startups chose to take part in pre-event coaching during the night before. The winning startups included Nuji. myworksearch, sentimnt, tweetpivot, projectHUGO, and Cloudhypermarket. Judges for the pitch were all leaders in their field: Julie Meyer, Ariadne Capital, Per Roman, GP Bullhound, Sean Seton Rogers, PROfounders Capital, and Lars Lindstedt, Microsoft. The Prizes were donated by the generous UK BizSpark Network Partners, and ranged from free hotdesking space in Cambridge (IdeaSpace) , to tickets to LeWeb (thanks @loic!) and Thinking Digital (thanks @herbkim!) , to a free trip to Sofia Bulgaria (QuickStart Global) to Value Proposition Development (Inflexion Point) to a fine bottle of Irish Whiskey! (InishTech Software) Thanks very much to the great UK Network Partners who contributed during the day!
08.30 Arrivals & Registration
09.10 Welcome from Bindi Karia, VC Emerging Business Lead, Microsoft and Cliff Reeves, General Manager, .NET Platform Strategy and introduction from our UK Summit MC, René Carayol
09.45 Loic Le Meur, Founder of Seesmic and LeWeb in conversation with René Carayol
10.30 Huddle, 0-60 in 3 years - Alastair Mitchell, CEO, Huddle
11.00 Refreshments and networking
11.30 Disrupting the old world business of consumer credit - Errol Damelin, Founder and CEO, Wonga
12.00 BizSpark One Panel - The challenges of growing businesses with Sarim Khan, Sharpcloud, Richard Nicholas, Exceedra, Peter Ward, WAYN, Steve Semenzato , Cortexica and Caroline Egan, Giant Step
12.45 Lunch and networking
14.00 Workshop Sessions I
15.00 Workshop Sessions II
16.00 Refreshments and networking
16.30 BizSpark pitch competition and prize giving. The judges were: Per Roman, GP Bullhound, Julie Meyer, Ariadne Capital, Sean Seton-Rogers, PROfounders Capital and Lars Lindstedt. Microsoft
18.00 - 19.30 Drinks and networking
The three workshops, as chosen and voted for by the delegates during the registrations process (delegates had to choose 3 out of 6 options) , were: Building business in the Cloud Cloud computing solutions offer agility, scalability and cost reduction but with these benefits come challenges. Legislation and regulations change on a daily basis. What do you need to know about privacy, legal, compliance and security? Who's making money and how?Building your brand online How can you build your brand and reputation online using social media? How do you monitor what is being said about you? How do you maximise your online PR potential? What are the most cost effective online/social media tools to drive business? Learn some tips and tricks and dos and don'ts.Finance (putting some fun into funding) Venture capital is often inappropriate for early-stage businesses. So where should they go? This workshop will help entrepreneurs think through their funding requirements and explore the various funding strategies that can achieve these aims.
A fantastic event, very useful – thank you. Oliver Lovus
Very well organised and very enjoyable Richard Alberg
Excellent event - well organised and very useful content. Speakers were generally of a very high calibre and answers to questions very useful Kevin John-Philip
Better pitches than 2009 Elspeth Levy, Quickstart Global
Continue doing these! Nadim Saad
Excellent, really enjoyed it - even more than I thought Alex Hardy
Outstanding support from Microsoft for this community Rob Anderson
A quick email to thank you again for the opportunity to present Nuji at BizSpark yesterday. It was a great day with interesting panels and I have met interesting contacts too. I'm looking forward to working with BizSpark in the future and can't wait to bring our CTO to London to talk with some of the tech gurus you have here. Vincent Thome, Co-Founder, Nuji
Thanks ever so much for inviting me yesterday and for a brilliant day.I thought the morning was exceptional and the pitches and panel very strong! Marc Bridgen, Founder & CEO, GigJunkie
Thank you for organising an excellent and interesting conference. It is always good to meet other small businesses and exchange views and ideas. Between the presentations and networking there are always useful nuggets of information and ideas that can be gained. . Many thanks for a most thought provoking conference and I look forward to the next event. Norman Shaw, Exacttrak Ltd
Just wanted to say thank you for your help and the opportunity. It was a great event and very well organized. Khash Sajadi, Sentimnt
Bindi - Billion thanks for the great BizSpark summit event yesterday!!!!! Your energy seems to be endless and charged up every participant of the summit. How do you do this!!!!!!????!!! If I were to describe yesterday's event in three words it would be: uniting, inspiring and excellent! You are a star! Elnar from Realeyes
Bindi and Lars - Just to say thanks for a brilliant day/evening yesterday and to all of you for your continued support to sharpcloud. All the feedback from the day was terrific and we enjoyed the panels and exposure Sarim Khan, Sharpcloud
Was a great day – I could not attend all of it but generally there seemed to be a great buzz and everyone was very engaged Christine Mullin, UK Business Strategy and Development, Consumer & Online, Microsoft
Thank you so much for organising this great Bizspark event. We made a lot of good contacts and it made us proud of being a Bizspark member! Nadim Saad, Result.com
Several people blogged about the day. Check out these great links!
Other links for you
In the words of the Telegraph Article: "BizSpark Summit, a top-quality, invitation-only conference that's rapidly becoming a highlight of the London start-up calendar."
We look forward to hosting this event next year!
All the best,