The TableCrowd community is full of entrepreneurs and business professionals at different stages of their journey. So we thought we’d do a #BusinessSpotlight on a soon-to-be-launched business to highlight and celebrate an early milestone along the long road ahead.

EmilyTuckerWith that in mind, we’d like to take a moment to put the spotlight on one of our members who’s in amongst the thick of it, getting ready to launch her business. Emily Tucker, founder of Mamalink, is a regular diner of TableCrowd joining us at our women’s only dinners as well as fundraising ones. Her most recent dinner was with Accel Partner’s Luciana Lixandru. Here’s what Emily had to say about her new business:

What’s the elevator pitch for your business?
Mamalink is the place to share and discover parenting advice and recommendations from your friends – the people you know and trust the most.

New parents are thrown into a whole new world and they often need advice navigating it. However all they find online are public forums and online reviews, written by people they don’t know. Recommendations from friends are so much more powerful than anything anonymous. I am creating an easy-to-use platform for asking and sharing advice with friends so that we can unlock that potential for powerful, meaningful recommendations.

What were you doing before you launched your company?
I worked at Orange Group, in mobile strategy. That involved a range of things from working on the 5-year financial and strategic plan, to evaluating opportunities and risks from things like communications apps, and developing strategies to react.

Everything changed when I had my 2 children, now aged 5 and 2.  It was my experience of having children that got me thinking about a new social network for parents, and a way to capture all the incredible advice my new mum-friends and I would share whenever we had the chance to meet up. The idea had been slowly evolving for a few years, and then finally in June last year I felt I had reached something that was worth leaving my job for and focussing on full time.

If you have co-founders, where did you meet them?
I don’t have a co-founder yet but I plan to sometime after launch, as I’m well aware that someone with a different skill set to mine could help Mamalink really take off.

mamalink logo 4-3 with mottoWhat will 2015 bring?
Very exciting things hopefully. We’re building the site right now and it should be ready to launch very soon. I want to test the site with a group of mums to get their feedback on what works and what doesn’t so we can tweak the site to fit their needs.  From then on it will be full steam ahead growing the site, finding a co-founder to work with, getting partners involved, and ultimately looking for funding to help launch apps and get some employees helping in the day to day running.

One piece of advice for someone starting a business in your sector?
Make sure you have a good answer to “isn’t that just Mumsnet/Facebook/[insert name of social network]?” as that’s always the first question, and a good one too as you must be doing something different.

Convince someone to use your product/service in under 50 words.
If you’ve ever searched forums for advice and come away more confused than when you started, discovered something amazing that you think all your friends need to know about, or had a friend share advice that was so incredibly helpful and you wish you’d known earlier, then you need Mamalink.

What’s your favourite startup in your sector (not including your own)?
Parents are my market but I’d call my ‘sector’ niche social networks. So I’m really impressed by Sportlobster, although I don’t know if they still count as a startup now with hundreds of thousands of users and top footballers helping promote it. Like me they recognised that what was out there for their market – sports fans – wasn’t good enough, and they created something new to meet those particular needs and frustrations. They’ve done a pretty amazing job in just 2 years so that’s definitely something to aspire to.

What’s your favourite London restaurant?
So many favourites… but right now I love Hedone in Chiswick. It has incredible, beautiful Michelin star food but in a fairly intimate and relaxed atmosphere.  Plus the added bonus of not being too far from where I live.

What’s your favourite meal?
Probably my mum’s lasagne. You can’t beat a good bit of comfort food, and everyone knows mums do it best.

inverted name onlyFind more of our #BusinessSpotlights here. If you’d like your business featured on our blog, email hello@tablecrowd.com with the title: I want to be a #BusinessSpotlight!

nwd06.07.15What a treat we have in store for you next week! Grab the last few seats at our dinner with Piton Capital, or if you’re a beauty brand, blogger or work in the industry, ask for an invite to MyBeautyMatches’ digital beauty dinner. Here’s what you’ve got to look forward to:

Dine with Piton Capital: Investor in online businesses with network effects
Join your fellow entrepreneurs for dinner and a talk from Andrin Bachmann, partner at Piton Capital. With a sole focus to invest in businesses they believe can benefit from network effects, Piton Capital are stage and style-agnostic, investing from seed to late stage (€200k to €15m). Andrin has both entrepreneurial and investment experience, so take this chance to meet with him and discuss what you’re working on.
Dinner is at 6:45pm on Tuesday 7 July at Pescatori, Fitzrovia

MyBeautyMatches’ digital beauty dinner: How to get your brand on TV and in the Press
MyBeautyMatches, the UK’s largest online marketplace to shop beauty products online with personal recommendations and price comparisons, is holding their next digital beauty dinner for the beauty industry. Joining the dinner to provide an after-dinner talk and informal Q&A is none other than TV Beauty Presenter, Gina Akers. As part of the top 10% influencers in beauty, Gina became a start-up business owner of a 5 star hair and beauty salon and is now one of the most famous faces in the beauty media industry. Gina will be talking about how to secure coverage for your beauty brand on TV and in other press.
Dinner is at 6:45pm on Wednesday 8 July at Aubaine Mayfair, West End.

billearnerSitting down to dinner with a VC that doesn’t sugar coat anything is a great way to find out the do’s and don’ts when fundraising for your business. Bill Earner, Managing Partner at Connect Ventures, provided an after-dinner talk at a this recent dinner, where he provided valuable insight for his fellow diners. Here are his top five tips for entrepreneurs and business owners looking for investment:

1. Have perseverance
VCs have different objectives, just because you’re building a business that has a local market and isn’t right for one investor, it could be a perfect fit for another.

2. Don’t take it too personally
VCs (Bill himself included) aren’t always the easiest bunch to interact with. More often than not they’re used to being the smartest person in the room! Good VCs understand businesses and entrepreneurs.

3. Don’t be offended
Between him and his partner at Connect Ventures, they meet over 50 people a week. He’s constantly flooded with propositions and overwhelmed with information. It’s Bill’s belief that VCs tend to have built-in Attention Deficit Disorder! Don’t be offended, and don’t assume that they’ll remember every detail of every conversation.

4. Be bold
Don’t be afraid to be blunt; make clear statements saying, “This is what we’re doing, and this is how much we want.” Take the guessing work out for the investor.

5. Have passion
It helps to be extremely passionate about what you’re building. To have the drive to change the world with what you’re building; if you’re not – is it really worth your time?

Keep up to date on our fundraising-related dinners by following this page.

Don’t miss our next fundraising dinners with Piton Capital, DN Capital, Spring Partners and Saatchinvest.

This week we had two completely different dinners on offer to our community, a fundraising dinner with Bill Earner, and an intimate dinner with Mahdi Kazemzadeh on the topic of Trading in the Middle East. We also had a selection of member-hosted dinners, including the monthly Foundrs dinner hosted by Grabble‘s co-founder, Daniel Murray, a legal industry dinner, and #ImpactWomen dinner with Servane Mouazan from Ogunte. If you’re interested in hosting your own dinner, take a look here.

Here’s a quick overview of what happened at our TableCrowd hosted dinners:

mahdiTrading with the Middle East
With an intimate dinner on Monday night at Aubaine, Heddon St, our group had the pleasure of dining with others keen to understand the Middle East market, and in particular the effect the lifting of sanctions has on trading with Iran. Mahdi Kazemzadeh, founder of Afraz Advisers, has a positive outlook for Iran’s future and spoke extensively on the huge opportunities that exist in the country.

Iran gets lots of sun, lots of wind, but it needs a robust framework in place to encourage future generations to invest time and money into this area.

billearnerFundraising Do’s and Don’ts
We had the pleasure of hosting our first dinner at the wonderful Jamie’s Italian London Bridge, where Bill Earner, Managing Partner at Connect Ventures, provided an after-dinner talk on the do’s and don’ts of fundraising. His refreshingly candid approach gave his fellow diners a clearer picture of what they can expect from VCs and how best to interact with them. Take a look at his top 5 tips here.

Our speakers were joined by: Analyse-Concept, Bloomberg, Global Pacific & Partners, Camrosh, Zoom labs, StratexSystems, BananaBerry, IOD, Management Today, Limeclip, Stickyworld, MixMatchMe.com, Zopia.co, Smarty, Bridezooki, eRentz, KIDsorted.com, SaaScribe Media, Henchman App, and Zakzetter amongst others.

Special thanks to our speakers Mahdi and Bill, along with our partner Wellers.

Wellers for siteCheck out the upcoming TableCrowd dinners and see when you’ll be joining us for dinner.

travel Next week’s dinners are both to do with travel, with one for the volunteers of The Grow Movement London team, and the other for travel startups.

The start of #Uganda600
The business professionals who have volunteered to take part in a ground breaking academic paper on entrepreneurship in Uganda are joining The Grow Movement London team for dinner.
Dinner is at 6:30pm on Tuesday 30 June at The Green, Clerkenwell

Travel startups: Dine with Alasdair Snow, co-founder of Triptease
Find out about the journey of Triptease so far, from its co-founder, Alasdair Snow, who will be covering topics from fundraising and scaling, to building a business from scratch and winning awards. With investors pouring more than $12bn into travel startups founded in the last decade, it’s a great industry to be in.
Dinner is at 6:45pm on Tuesday 30 June at Tom’s Kitchen, St Katharine Docks

Take a look at the full list of upcoming TableCrowd dinners.

For those of you who are new to TableCrowd – have a look at our video to see what it’s like when you join us for dinner:

150615 NWDWe have a great selection of dinners for you next week, covering everything from fundraising and doing business internationally, to a dinner for the legal industry. Take a look, right here:

Trading with the Middle East
If the thought of expanding your business into the Middle East has been an interest of yours, grab the opportunity to join Mahdi Kazemzadeh, founder of Afraz Advisers, for dinner. Hear him talk on the history and politics that impact doing business in the Middle East, as well as the general background of the different markets and businesses there. This dinner will have a special focus on the Iranian situation and what has happened to trade in the response to the change in sanctions that have previously been imposed on the country.
Dinner is at 6:45pm on Monday 22 June at Aubaine, Regent St

Dine with Bill Earner of Connect Ventures – SOLD OUT
With 10 years experience working in venture capital and startups, Bill Earner knows a thing or two about fundraising and getting a business off the ground. At this dinner, Bill will be providing a frank and honest view on the “do’s and don’t’s”  for startups raising investment.
Dinner is at 6:45pm on Tuesday 23 June at Tom’s Kitchen, St Katharine Docks

Dinner for the legal industry
This dinner is for those of you working in the legal industry to build your network with people undertaking similar roles and offering similar services to clients. It will be a fantastic opportunity to meet others in the same boat as you and share ideas and experiences over delicious food.
Dinner is at 7:00pm on Wednesday 24 June at Mint Leaf Lounge, Bank

Click here to see a full list of our upcoming TableCrowd dinners.

For those of you who are new to TableCrowd – have a look at our video to see what it’s like when you join us for dinner:

This week we had two dinners with the introduction of a new venue, Lima Floral to our TableCrowd restaurants. Here’s a quick rundown on what went on:

obh Dinner for HealthTech startups & NHS professionals
Taking place at one of our favourite haunts, The Green in Clerkenwell, our HealthTech dinner was co-hosted by Outcomes Based Healthcare. Nasrin Hafezparast, OBH’s Tech Lead led the dinner co-ordinating the usual introductions. The food was delicious with plates of succulent lamb being shared around the tables, not to mention the sublime chocolate brownie that is The Green’s signature dessert! The conversation flowed throughout the room, with laughter and some serious medical chat taking place.

mooDine with Moo’s brand manager, Cat Totty
Our intimate dinner on branding and the importance of creative in small businesses had the pleasure of being the first dinner hosted at Lima Floral in Covent Garden. Absolutely everyone that joined the dinner loved the new venue, with particular compliments for the food! Cat was a lovely, friendly speaker who brought a great energy to the dinner. There was a great atmosphere around the table and the conversation flowed naturally.

Her talk included discussions about the highs and lows of her career and her experience at Moo. Although Cat recently left Moo, she spent two years as their Brand Manager, taking the first year to enact the re-brand.

‘Disaster re-brand’ is easy to do as everyone is motivated for change, however for Moo, nothing was broken but everything was happening in an unstructured way. Their goals were to move away from print and head towards a more ‘tech’ direction and identity.

You can’t learn branding in a book

Branding is a personal experience; only time, and trial and error, build brand knowledge. It’s important to acknowledge that Big brand branding is totally different and irrelevant to small brand branding. Beware of being too detailed or granular – sometimes it’s simpler than you think.

Branding really needs a re-brand!

People think branding is all about logos, but what they don’t realise is that it’s also about the process of branding. Cat actively tries to avoid the ‘b’ word for exactly this reason!

Remember, without vision, passion and innate understanding, the brand doesn’t succeed. Apple without Jobs, Laura Ashley without Laura; how can brand managers ever compete with entrepreneurs?

Big thanks go to Cat Totty for speaking at our branding dinner, and our partners Outcomes Based Healthcare and Alma CG.

obhalma

Take a look at what other dinners we have coming soon at TableCrowd.

 

We had two dinners last week, one for the education sector and another for those interested in investment. Here’s a quick overview on what happened at both:

edtechsEducation startups dinner
Paul Tavner from Mendeley joined us for dinner, at The Clerk and Well, to talk about building and engaging a community. As part of their community team, Paul provided some key lessons that he wanted to share with his fellow diners, most notably was the importance of speaking people’s language. Having a one size fita all personality doesn’t work, you need to be engaging on an individual and personal level. He also couldn’t stress enough the importance of analytics, referring to it as “gold dust”!

Essentially, he encouraged everyone to “leverage existing communities to help with your startup as there is bound to be someone else out there looking to solve the same thing as you are. Use partnerships and collaborations through events like TableCrowd (thanks Paul!) to help your business grow.”

dfjDFJ Esprit on investing
What is it like for a VC to invest? Well, last Wednesday, Jonathan Sibilia – Partner at DFJ Esprit – answered this question and more at a rather male-dominated dinner at Pescatori Italian & Seafood Restaurant in Fitzrovia. With some wonderful characters around the table, there was a lot of banter back and forth during the welcome and introduction; this set the relaxed mood for the evening.

After dinner, Jonathan took to the floor covering everything from where he originates from, and that the word ‘venture’ means ‘risk’ in French. With 9 years of investment banking under his belt, Jonathan now deals more with late stage investment with an average ticket being approx £5-7m at 20% so they’re not massive shareholders in the companies they invest in.

He left his fellow diners with this little nugget of a quote he saw on an American website that he believes sums up exactly what it is he’s trying to do:

If you are trying to build a business and everyone that you speak to and tell about it thinks it’s crap, and I mean absolutely everyone, then come and see us!

Jonathan passed on an article to his fellow diners, take a look at the sound advice from Heidi Roizen, Operating Partner at DFJ in the US: http://bit.ly/DFJ-HeidiRoizen on fundraising and valuations.

Special thanks goes to Jonathan and Paul for speaking at last week’s dinners, along with our partner Mendeley.

MendeleyTake a look at what other dinners we have coming soon at TableCrowd.

blackfridayNext week’s dinner is a good one for all of you running eCommerce businesses out there. Did you see how busy Black Friday was in 2014? Are you prepared for this year? Have you thought about how you will deal with the demand and market your brand on the busiest online shopping day of the year? Grab your seat at this intimate dinner for 12, for the answers you’re looking for!

Preparing for Black Friday dinner
Andre Brown, CEO & co-founder of ATTRAQT will be providing the after-dinner talk and informal Q&A session on marketing and preparing your business for Black Friday. Andre has been involved in retail technology since 2002m and has recently spoken about the issues arising from Black Friday on SKY TV.
Dinner is at 6:45pm on Wednesday 17 June at Piccolino, Broadgate

Click here to see a full list of our upcoming TableCrowd dinners.

For those of you who are new to TableCrowd – have a look at our video to see what it’s like when you join us for dinner:

Screenshot 2015-06-04 16.17.17

With a really relaxed atmosphere, fellow sharing economy enthusiasts joined Alex Stephany, the CEO of JustPark for dinner last Wednesday 27 May at Jamie’s Italian, Piccadilly. Everyone was extremely welcoming, and the conversations flowed naturally throughout the evening.

During his talk, Alex spoke about how amazing he found that something as simple as parking can create social capital and meaningful experiences. His top tip for the evening was:

It is better to under promise and to over deliver to customers.

Here’s some snippets from the evening:

Screenshot 2015-06-04 13.58.18 Screenshot 2015-06-04 13.59.02Screenshot 2015-06-04 13.58.33   Screenshot 2015-06-04 13.59.49Screenshot 2015-06-04 13.59.42  Screenshot 2015-06-04 14.00.01 Screenshot 2015-06-04 14.00.12 Screenshot 2015-06-04 14.00.21 Screenshot 2015-06-04 14.00.40

Alex was joined by: TreatNow, Omnifone, Vrumi, eRentz, Cult Beauty, Martialytics, myDriver, Lexoo, Burson Marsteller, amongst others.

Big thanks to Alex Stephany for speaking, and our partner Mangostorm Media.

Mangostorm-logo1