I’ve spent the past couple of days in London getting caught up in the Seedcamp Week craziness, meeting some of Europe’s finest entrepreneurs and investors. Me and Mike Butcher will soon post a round-up of this year’s finalists (and highlight a few interesting ones separately), but first, Seedcamp has some – actually, a lot of – news of its own to announce today.
The organization, which combines an early-stage seed investment fund with a world-class mentoring program for European entrepreneurs, is expanding by striking a number of international partnerships, setting up new events (Seedhack), establishing an ‘experts-in-residence’ program and an impressive advisory board, raising more funding from a number of new strategic investors and strengthening its offering to fledgling companies with the help of several corporate sponsors.
Where to begin?
About a year ago, Seedcamp raised €3 million euros in funding. Today, the organization is announcing that €2 million more has been invested in the seed fund by a number of strategic investors, including ACT Venture Capital, Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments, GIMV, Reed Elsevier Ventures, Samos and HENQ. Individual investors such as former Google M&A exec Anil Hansjee and John Pfeffer are also participating.
Seedcamp’s fund is now €5 million euros, twice as much as its initial fund. Existing investors include Index Ventures, Atlas Venture, NESTA, Eden Ventures and plenty of others.
Seedcamp says entrepreneurs have been asking for a lot of things from the organization and its network of mentors, but one recurring theme was more ways to enter the U.S. market and establish partnerships with American companies. Meeting those needs, Seedcamp is today announcing that they’ve formed partnerships with the likes of 500 Startups, Dave McClure’s investment firm, and AngelList, a network that connects angel investors with promising entrepreneurs.
“We’ve already invested in 3 Seedcamp companies, and we keep coming back for more,” said McClure. “Our experience bringing international startups to the US is a great match for Seedcamp startups, by helping them improve their product and marketing efforts, as well as making introductions to Silicon Valley mentors and platform companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, YouTube and PayPal.”
500 Startups has indeed invested in 3 Seedcamp startups (ERPLY, Brainient and LOOKK) but I’ve also heard one of the companies in this year’s batch has closed a financing deal with the firm.
Seedcamp is also teaming up with startup events all over Europe that will feed into the regional Seedcamp events, in order to tie the European startup ecosystem a little tighter. Winners from events put on by the likes of Arctic Startups (Scandinavia), Garage48 (Baltics), TISEE (Eastern Europe) and eFestival + Social Media Week (Italy) will receive a spot in the relevant regional Mini Seedcamp.
We’re not finished yet.
Seedcamp is also slated to announce today that they’re establishing an experts-in-residence program, which is essentially a way to match up Seedcamp startups with relevant advisors who want to do more than hold a one-time mentoring session. Seedcamp will provide guidance to both the startups and experts on how to setup an ‘official’ advisor role and any documents they will need to formalize such a relationship.
Seedcamp has also set up an advisory board of its own, formalizing many relationships it’s long had with a number of people with various key skills.
The initial list of its Advisory Board members for 2011-2012 includes people like Anil Hansjee (ex-Google M&A exec and angel investor), Bindi Karia (VC and Emerging Business Lead at Microsoft), Bryce Roberts (investor with OATV), Christian Hernandez (Director of Platform Partnerships at Facebook), Dave McClure, Jeff Clavier (investor at SoftTech VC), David Yu (until recently CEO of Betfair), Gustav Soderstrom (Head of Product at Spotify), Henri Moissinac (Head of Mobile at Facebook) and many more.
Finally, Seedcamp is also strengthening its offering to startups by increasing the value of additional services it can offer via its 34 corporate sponsors (Facebook, Google, Qualcomm, Amazon and others) beyond the capital injection and access to its mentor network.
Sponsors are putting up around £50,000 in value for solutions ranging from infrastructure services to analytics, advertising, marketing and other services.
A lot of news to digest, but in essence: great news for both Seedcamp and European startups.