ideaWe’ve all been there, brimming full of ideas that could be the next ‘big thing’. Not only does it take a leap of faith to get a business off the ground, but also a lot of hard work and dedication to make a dream into reality. So who better to give a pep talk on turning an idea into a valuable business within 12 months (hey, everyone loves a deadline!) than Matthew Bradley, an investor at Forward Partners, who invests in idea stage startups?

Join us for dinner where Matthew will be talking through ‘The Path Forward’ – Forward Partners’ framework for creating a worthwhile business in a year. As a little side note, Forward Partners (if you don’t already know) are a new style of venture firm that gets ideas off of the ground. Effectively getting involved right from the get-go to bring money, proven business processes and ingenuity to your idea.

So, get those burning questions ready and book your seat at dinner with Forward Partners for what is sure to be a game-changing dining experience.
Dinner is at 6:45pm on Wednesday 17 February at Jamie’s Italian Piccadilly, Soho

 

announcement-icon copyNewly Announced Dinners
> Social Impact: Dine with Brie Rogers Lowery at Change.org, Tuesday 15 March
> Publishing Tech: Dine with DC Thompson Ventures, Wednesday 16 March
> Dine with The Food Corporation: Succeeding in FoodTech, Wednesday 16 March

Come join us for dinner, let’s #MeetandEat!

pancake You all know we love food here at TableCrowd HQ, so we’re excited that next week has two great evenings in store for you. The first being Pancake Day on Tuesday 9 February (any excuse to whip up a batch of mouth-watering stack of pancakes!), followed swiftly by our Travelex dinner on Wednesday evening at Piccolino, Exchange Square.

Ania Walker, Head of Commercial Development for Products/Digital at Travelex will be talking about the challenges faced by established businesses, particularly those created by startups. In her role at Travelex, Ania is responsible for corporate and product strategy, and has been working to define and deliver their digital change agenda.

So, get those burning questions ready and book your seat at dinner with Travelex for what is sure to be an insightful dining experience.
Dinner is at 6:45pm on Wednesday 10 February at Piccolino, Shoreditch/The City.

calendarUpcoming TableCrowd dinners
> Dine with Forward Partners – Wednesday 17 February [SOLD OUT]
> Breakfast for Founders – Tuesday 23 February
> Bootstrapping to success – Monday 29 February
> Dine with Caroline Hyde – Thursday 3 March
> Dine with Frog Capital – Tuesday 8 March

20161First things first – Happy New Year!

Every new year marks the start of something for everyone – setting a new goal or resolution goes hand-in-hand with the month of January. Mostly, we settle on personal achievements like eating healthier, abstaining from alcohol (at least for a little while!), or improving our fitness levels etc. But what about when it comes to your business life – is there anything you could do differently?

Obviously, our first recommendation would be to join us for a dinner (it’s a bit of a no-brainer for us TableCrowd lot) – if you’re not a fan of ‘name-tag’ networking and standing awkwardly in a room making small talk, we’d put money on you relishing in our intimate, dining format. Seated next to like-minded people and getting to speak and listen to a founder, journalist or investor, you’ll come away from the dinner full of enthusiasm, new friends and inspiration for your business.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at next week’s dinner – it’s one for the ladies!

Dine with Mala Shah: Women in leadership positions
As part of Tamar Beck and Randy Nyssen’s regular ladies only dinner series, Mala Shah is joining us to share her knowledge and experience. Her talk will cover reinventing yourself to become a successful leader in your own business, the business you decided to join, as well as reinventing yourself outside of business.
Dinner is at 7:00pm on Tuesday 19 January at Drake & Morgan, Kings Cross

Start the year off right – join us for dinner!

vcEveryone wants to know what investors are looking for from a company before they hand over their cash to help the business grow. Yannick Roux, a VC at EC1 Capital, shared his thoughts at dinner last week on what he looks for when deciding on whether to invest or not. He split it into two categories: people and markets.

People

  • Knowledge. What knowledge does the proprietor have? Would I actually be able to help and add vale? Would I want to work for them?
  • Inspiration. I want to be excited about the business, and the ability the founder has to inspire people to join them on the journey of building the business and getting people to join.
  • Leadership. Are they able to lead the team once it’s in place? And can they lead them to the ultimate goal?
  • Investment. Is the founder able to raise money? Can they convince investors to raise money?
  • Passion. There has to be a sign of obsession and passion. Passion is critical. It gives the confidence that will get you through the bad times, without it you’ll give up.
  • Trust. Ultimately, they need to be trustworthy, and that it’ll be a pleasure to work with them.

Markets

  • Market size. It’s hard to get right. We’re looking for companies who can make £50m revenue. The company’s projections need to be achievable for their market share.
  • Timing. Is the market addressable right now or in the future? Timing is critical as you may have the right team but it can be too early or too late. If you’re too early the business will run out of money, too late and the market may already be too saturated. Getting the timing right is one of the biggest challenges. This is the largest reason for failure.
  • Competition. Does the company have a good shot at becoming a market leader? Is there a clear path to making money? Long-term viability is important, as well as cost base. Focus on the next 12 months.

For more tips that our speakers have shared with our diners, take a look here.

 

newbusinessAmanda Francis, MD of Alchemis, a new business agency for the marketing, communications and creative industries, spoke at dinner about getting new clients and increasing revenues. Here’s her top tips for a new business:

  1. Have a business plan. 12 months, 3 months, 5 years… How can you grow your business without a plan?
  2. Critical pathway – start where you want to be and work backwards. Identify points by looking backwards. Imagine you’re in the future, looking behind you, and look at the obstacles that are in your way.
  3. What does a really good client look like? What is their profile? It’s crucial to profile your clients.  It’s about identifying the types of clients you don’t want to work with and avoiding them.
  4. Identify how your business is being built today. Is it through social media, events, networking, content, word-of-mouth, advertising? Work out the proportion for each channel and where the gaps are.
  5. Although social media is important, there is nothing better than human contact; that includes phone calls.
  6. The first meeting is not about a PowerPoint presentation. Your job is to get a second meeting. And you only do that by identifying what keeps them awake at night, and present some solutions.
  7. Letters! Hand-written envelopes! We live in an over-digitalised society, and people like to feel something in their hands.

Bonus tip! 
There’s a massive turnaround for presenting things on boards, rather than PowerPoint (and the like). Physicality encourages engagement.

Check out other speakers’ top tips here.

Our last week of dinners for 2015 saw a great line-up covering everything from fundraising and entertainment to marketing and increasing revenues. Peter Briffett, COO of Yplan, and Amanda Francis, MD of Alchemis, rounded up the week on Wednesday talking at their respective dinners, whilst Yannick Roux, VC at EC1 Capital, started the week off at Drake & Morgan at King’s Cross – the latest restaurant to join the TableCrowd community. Read on to find out what went down this week at dinner:ec1 Dine with early stage investor at EC1 Capital
First up we had Yannick Roux speaking extensively at dinner on Monday night about what he looks for in the companies he invests in. He split his talk between the two topics of people and markets, and what they want from a business in order to give investment the green light. Check out What a VC looks for when they invest, for Yannick’s thoughts on this.

The informal Q&A saw the diners ask a variety of questions from asking Yannick to provide examples of companies they invested in, when it was too early, whether EC1 Capital has a minimum buy in (not strictly, but you’re looking at 10% as a bare minimum) and what was his most memorable investment.

When it comes to getting a meeting with EC1 Capital, you’re looking at joining another 2000 companies vying for their attention. Of those, they’ll expect to see 1 in every 10. So, what can increase your odds of getting a chance to pitch your business to them?

Companies come from people we’ve previously worked with, other investors, and those in our network.

There’s also the possibility of filling out an application on their website, as you don’t always need to be personally connected as they appreciate not everyone has a great network.

Ultimately, the companies they invest in come from a combination of sources. It’s good to know that EC1 Capital don’t invest on their own; they always look to get equal equity from other investors. To do this, they use their network (as well as the company’s founder’s network too). They are particularly keen on working with funds they have worked with in the past.

alchemis2Digital marketing dinner: get new clients, increase revenues
Amanda Francis, MD of Alchemis, the first new business agency for the marketing, communications and creative industries, spoke at our latest digital marketing dinner specifically on getting new clients and increasing revenues.

Selling is about helping people buy. It’s about finding the best way to encourage people to get what they want.

Amanda had a great arsenal of knowledge which she shares in the blog post, 7 top tips for a new business.

yplanDine with Peter Briffett, COO of YPlan
What a fantastic dinner to end our dinners this year – Peter did not fail to provide a plethora of anecdotes and tips across the lifestyle and entertainment sector to his fellow diners at dinner on Wednesday night. As well as being the COO of YPlan, one of London’s hottest startups is a mobile ticketing platform (and award-winning to boot!), Peter also shared his previous experience including selling his business to Microsoft, and turning LivingSocial UK from zero revenue to a $100M consumer technology business.

Our speakers were joined by: Lineten, Dhaba Lane, mapp2link, Limeclip, Esplorio, Propcision, Attolio Lingerie, Huge, Bubblo, OneLane app, Branzr, Scrummy, Class Crowd, Fantastic Services, Movebubble, rendeevoo, So Me, RightClinic, Kaleidoscope Investments, Kiwi Girl Limited, Buto, Host Digital, Uber Digital, Piggy Bank and Apppli amongst others.

wellersccSpecial thanks to our speakers, Yannick, Peter and Amanda, as well as our partners Constant Contact and Wellers.

 

 

recruitingFollowing this week’s TableCrowd dinner with Mark Hardy, CMO of Viber, and Jules McKeen of The Talent Business, this post explains how to hire the right people for your start-up to make your business become a ‘talent magnet’.

Here are Mark and Jules’ top tips:

  1. Make sure the person fits. Don’t compromise just because they fit the culture; they must fit both the culture, and the job spec.
  2. Get people excited about your vision. Get them involved in filling the gaps.
  3. Hire ‘T’ shaped people. These people have a deep specialism but also have broad experience elsewhere. If you are not experienced in this area, make sure they give you an example plan or presentations.
  4. Do they have to be from your sector? Or would it worthwhile looking further afield? Think transferable skills.
  5. Adaptable to the start-up scene. If they’re from a corporate background, ensure they are able to make the step to a start-up.
  6. Build a flexi-culture. Take the time to understand what their personal circumstances are and how it accommodate them.
  7. Full-Time v Part-Time. Decide on whether you need a full-time or part-time employee. You may find you can get better talent but for a shorter period of time.
  8. Be friendly. Make people feel welcome at the interview!
  9. Do your research. Follow up any niggling doubts you have about someone before you hire them. Check their references and always do a trial, or temporary to permanent contract if you are not 100% sure.
  10. Don’t over-title new jobs. Make sure there is enough room to grow in a role.

Check out the full #AfterDinnerRoundup here.

See you at another TableCrowd dinner soon!

jefferies Our TableCrowd diners were treated to two splendiferous dinners this week at Aubaine and Tom’s Kitchen, in St Katherine’s Dock. Mark Hardy, CMO of Viber, was our speaker on Tuesday night, along with Jules McKeen, Head of Marketing Practice at The Talent Business,  who shared with us their tips for start-ups looking to attract the best talent they can afford. Guillaume Taurignan from investment bank, Jefferies, joined us on Wednesday night for a discussion about the current financial landscape in The City. Read on to find out what happened this week…

TalentMagnet2Making your company a ‘talent magnet’ before everyone knows who you are
Mark and Jules joined diners at Aubaine to discuss how you get the best people to gravitate towards your business when you’re not a household name?

Hiring is always a challenge for a new business.

In order to get investment from VCs, you need a hiring plan. It’s only natural that as a fledgling business you won’t immediately be able to compete with multi-nationals such as Apple, Google or Airbnb who have a reputation for nurturing employees and looking after their future. The best way to start with this approach is to punch above your weight on social media, and use your people to get your stories out. Use your network, and try to connect with as many people as possible. People will always meet you for coffee!

For more in depth tips on how to hire the right people for your business, check out 10 ways to hire the right people.

jefferies2Financing options in the City
Over at Tom’s Kitchen in St Katharine Docks, for dinner we had slow-braised ox cheek and triple-cooked chips with Guillaume Taurignan, who, through his work at Jefferies, knows exactly what’s going on in the investment world at the moment. Guillaume gave us a general idea about the financial landscape from the point of view of the financier, who see hundreds of start-ups every day. Several companies which are attracting a lot of interest from large investment banks such as Jefferies include HelloFresh, who made €70m in revenue last year. Zoopla is also a business that has recently been on Guillaume’s mind, as he usually works with technology companies with ideas that are perhaps difficult to execute.

Simple concepts, says Guillaume, may do well from crowd-funding, but something with a more in-depth tech angle benefit from investment from people such as Guillaume.

You need to believe in your start-ups. You need to believe that you will make a difference.

Our speakers were joined by: Inspire Digital, Pivigo, DataAl, Iratel Ventures, Buto, Friends Recommended It, Crowdmix, Theodo, Dhaba Lane, Harden’s, City Car Club, Attollo, and OneLane amongst others.

Special thanks to our speakers, Mark, Jules and Guillaume.

winterIt’s pretty shocking that we find ourselves finalising the last week of dinners for TableCrowd in 2015. Where has this year gone?! As December gets pretty hectic with Christmas parties galore, we’re winding down a little and getting ready to bring an eclectic array of dinners just for you, starting in January next year. Until then, we strongly recommend booking on these last three beauties to finish your 2015 TableCrowd dining on a high:

Dine with early stage investor at EC1 Capital
Join us and your fellow entrepreneurs for dinner and drinks followed by an after-dinner talk and informal Q&A with Yannick Roux, early stage investor at EC1 Capital, on what he looks for when he invests.

As a London-based early stage venture fund, EC1 Capital have a particular focus on disruptive software businesses in the internet and mobile sector. Trained in investment banking, Yannick’s own experience in investment includes the internet and technology industries. Since joining EC1, he’s led investments into Twizoo and Big Data For Humans, while sitting on the boards of City Socializer, Hands HQ and Evvnt.
Dinner is at 6:45pm on Monday 30 November at Drake & Morgan, Kings Cross

Dinner for digital agencies: get new clients, increase revenues
Join us for dinner, drinks & a chance to break bread with others working in marketing & digital, followed by an after-dinner talk and informal Q&A with Amanda Francis, MD of Alchemis. For 20 years, Amanda has been helping her clients (mainly small-medium sized creative, digital and communications agencies) to identify and acquire new clients. This involves everything from developing a robust strategy and determining the best prospects to coaching on how to maximise opportunities.

Grab this opportunity to join Amanda and your fellow marketing and digital peers to network over a delicious dinner and a glass of wine or two!
Dinner is at 6:45pm on Wednesday 2 December at Aubaine, Heddon St

Dine with Peter Briffett, COO of YPlan
We could not be more excited to invite you to join us for dinner with the extremely inspirational and experienced Peter Briffett, where he will be sharing YPlan’s story, with anecdotes and tips on how to succeed in the lifestyle/entertainment sector.

YPlan, one of London’s hottest startups is a mobile ticketing platform that’s aim is to be the global answer to everyone’s social life. They have secured $37.7m in funding to date, raising more at Series B than Skype, Twitter or LinkedIn did separately at the same stage in their growth, and they have the likes of Ashton Kutcher (investor) and Pharrell Williams (advisor) in their midst.

We’d definitely put these guys in the ‘ones to watch’ pile. So, grab the opportunity to dine with Peter and hear first-hand what they’re doing to super-charge the growth of the business.
Dinner is at 6:45pm on Wednesday 2 December at Aubaine, Dover St

Have a fantastic December and we will see you for dinner in 2016!

womenGeorgie Cole, founder of Sheerluxe, imparted her sound advice at our recent women’s only dinner on being a successful leader. Here are her top 15 things to bear in mind:

  1. Encourage people to learn from each other
  2. Create a nice environment to work in
  3. Nurture your team and take time out of the office
  4. Learn to delegate or you will never get the time needed for the bigger picture
  5. Dress well – it makes a difference to how you are perceived
  6. Be level with your passion – use it to take people with you
  7. Control your emotions – bring people on your journey
  8. Be patient – your staff are not you. They can’t do things as well as you, as only you understand your vision completely
  9. Managing people is the hardest thing, so hire good people that you trust
  10. Stand back to be respected. Know when to get involved, be firm but fair. You’re not their friend.
  11. Have high standards, but let people fail. Let them make mistakes, then be there to support them.
  12. Read extensively. Be an expert in your subject. There is so much info available there is no excuse to not learn and increase your skills
  13. Invest in yourself. Know your brand; create your own USP and invest in it. Be true to your USP
  14. Embrace technology. My children should learn the language of coding
  15. Speak up. Raise your profile; have an opinion. Be more male, more American – be bolder.

Want to join the next Women’s dinner? Follow our interests page to keep up to date on ladies only dinners.