The Startup Weekend Europe Battle is an event which allows selected teams to present their Startup project in London in front of some of Europe’s top investors. This also provides them with an opportunity to win a networking trip to San Francisco.
The teams which were eligible to take part in the Battle had to have been founded or launched during another Startup Weekend Europe event. For instance, the team behind GoWar met at SW Venice while members of Pocket Discount and Trawell met at SW Skopje. Moreover, among all the startups which applied, only the 13 teams which received the most votes were invited to attend the pitch competition which took place on September 13th in Club Workspace, Clerkenwell, London. I was also lucky enough to get a ticket and be part of the public and here is what I thought of it.
When I arrived, the first thing that struck me was the friendly and easy-going atmosphere in the room. Everyone there seemed to be having a good time. The evening started by the testimony of a former winner of a SW. In his inspiring speech, he emphasised the fact that the SW was only the first step in the process of creating a startup. He also warned participants not to get too « cocky » as he reminded them that it was just a competition. He added that there was still a lot of work that needed to be done and a lot of stress that would be involved in the process of creating a successful startup. He concluded by saying that starting up a business was more fun than the « average job » but could yet result in « having more moodswings than a pregnant lady », as some days would feel really good and others, really bad.
His speech was then followed by those of the members of the investor panel which comprised Rogan Angelini-Hurll (General Partner à ProFounders),Krishna Visvanathan (Partner à DFJ Esprit/Encore Ventures), Rob Moffat (Principal à Balnerton Capital) as well as Christian Thaler-Wolski (Principal à Wellington Partners).
The four of them highlighted the importance of networks in order to get VC funding though they acknowledged that Venture Capitalists in the UK tended to be home-biased. When asked about the current « hot areas » for new startup ventures, services enriching individuals, e-commerce, social, mobile, location-based apps were mentioned several times yet one noted that there are very interesting opportunities in the healthcare and environment sectors.
The highlight of the evening nevertheless clearly was the startup pitches. France was very well represented in the Battle (6 out of the 13 teams) and there were teams from 5 other European countries (Macedonia, Greece, Poland, Italy and Spain).
The projects which were presented in front of the panel of investors were extremely diverse and ranged from various forms of travel guides (MyGuidie, Trawell to location-based games (GamorLive, GoWar and PlaceChallenge) and even a social busines SmartAgro, a French startup which aims to collect and share farm data for developing countries.
In my view, the three projects which sounded most promising were unsurprisingly all French. Indeed, Sharypic (SW Paris), which enables to gather the best pictures for both public and private events (SW Paris) and SponsoringSolution (SW Nice), a social network dedicated to sponsoring (SW Nice), which ended up being the runner-up, both appeared to be innovative and to be filling a gap in the market yet the last project presented to the panel, Appibabi.es, was clearly the most fun and creative of all…
Appibabi.es is basically a smartphone application which allows you to raise a baby with a fellow smartphone user. The presentation was very well done and highly entertaining and by the end of it, it really seemed that most people in the room were already addicted and could not wait to download it.
Appibabi.es clearly appeared to have a level of innovation, addictiveness and fun that was very hard to compete with and which justified it being declared the winner of the Battle by the panel.
I managed to have a few words with one of the members of the winning team, Amine Bellakride, a former Design innovation student at Stanford University, right before the results were announced. I was really impressed by his enthusiasm and very surprised to find out that Appibabi.es was only a side project for most of the team members. He confessed that they were all working on other startup projects at the same time and could only spend time on it during the weekends… I wonder what they could achieve if they worked on it 7 days a week!
All in all, this was really an inspiring event. I don’t know what will happen to all the participants’ projects in the future but I am convinced that they can all be expected to accomplish fantastic things!