Pigeonhole shoot for Jacob Cockroft We first stumbled across The Pigeonhole and their revolutionary way of approaching reading when they joined us for our Publishing Tech dinner with DC Thomson Ventures (read the #AfterDinnerRoundup here) last month. We were so excited to get the chance to hear from their founder, Jacob Cockcroft, to discover how The Pigeonhole is changing the publishing world. Join Jacob for dinner next week when he dines with Alex Dunsdon from Saatchinvest, in the mean time, have a gander at his #BusinessSpotlight:

What’s the elevator pitch for your business?
We are the book club in your pocket. Join members of our community or set up a private group and read the hottest books in bite-sized instalments.

What were you doing before you launched your company?
I worked in the intelligence world, advising companies doing business in the Middle East and Africa.

If you have co-founders, where did you meet them?
I have one, Anna, our editorial guru. We met at a party – and ended up talking about The Master and Margarita until 3 in the morning. It all started from there.

What’s your biggest ‘hindsight’ moment?
Hindsight is futile. We are all at a place in our lives because of innumerable circumstances, and we generally choose the best possible path we can envisage at that time. You can never re-create a moment, so dwelling on what might have been is pointless.

What will the rest of 2016 bring?
Now that we’ve built the full version of the platform, the challenge is to grow the user base to 100K and build out our revenue streams.

Screenshot 2016-04-27 13.56.19One piece of advice for someone starting a business in your sector?
Don’t underestimate how challenging building the tech is. Some might imagine a reading app like ours would be easy to build – it isn’t!

Convince someone to use your product/service in under 50 words.
Love books, but have no time? Let us cherry-pick the finest content for you and deliver it in easy, bite-sized daily instalments.

Love reading, but feel disconnected? Join our community, and the author, as we read exclusive content from top publishers.

What’s your favourite startup in your sector (not including your own)?

What’s your favourite London restaurant?

What’s your favourite meal?
Zanzibari fish curry


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

secretGetting an insight into the minds of investors can be valuable for those looking for investment or who want a greater understanding of how it all works. And who better to give a no-holds-barred talk than Alex Dunsdon, Investment Director at Saatchinvest?

Alex runs Saatchinvest, where they put £50k to £300k in at seed stage for simple, disruptive ideas and he acts on the board of many of the companies he invests in. He also co-founded The Bakery London, which runs tech accelerator programmes to get start ups and scale ups to market with big brands. He has a wealth of experience and will be sharing valuable insights over dinner.

We’re so pleased to welcome Alex back to speak again after his lively dinner last year. Grab a seat at the table, joining others with a shared interest, as well as getting the opportunity to garner inside knowledge from Alex too.
Dinner is at 6:45pm on Wednesday 4 May at Jamie’s Italian Piccadilly, Soho

New to TableCrowd? Take a look at our short video to see what it’s all about:

nwd-graze-resultsWe have two great dinners coming up next week, first is a dinner for subscription businesses with none other than Graze’s co-founder Edd Read on Tuesday. Followed on Wednesday by a dinner catering to the inquisitive minds keen to understand company valuations. Read on for the low-down on each dinner:

Dine with co-founder of Graze: dinner for subscription businesses
If you’re interested in the nuts and bolts of how a subscription business model works, then you’ll want to join Graze’s co-founder & CTO, Edd Read, for dinner. For seven years, Graze has been creating healthy snacks and delivering them to wherever their consumers are, using a subscription-based model. More recently, they launched in the US, as well as adding their products to ‘bricks and mortar’ stores – with them attributing their competitive edge to starting off as an online-first subscription business.

Grab a seat at the table where we will be chatting ‘all things subscription’, from conversions and repeats to creating value and analytics. Be sure to bring plenty of questions for Edd too, to really take advantage of his knowledge during the informal Q&A part of the dinner.
Dinner is at 6:45pm on Tuesday 26 April at The Royal Exchange Grand Cafe, The City

Deconstructing Company Valuations with Mark Williams, Director at Results International
Want to understand how company valuations are determined, what drives valuations and how to value your company? We love to turn a complex or confusing topic (for some) into a fun-filled evening of great food, discussions, enlightenment (from a knowledgeable speaker) and a glass or two of wine! So, we have great pleasure in welcoming Mark Williams, Director of Results International as our after-dinner speaker to shed some necessary light on the topic of company valuations.

Mark has spent his entire career advising high growth and disruptive companies on mergers and acquisitions, fundraisings and strategic options – which makes him perfect to talk about the evening’s topic. Join others with a shared interest, as well as Mark, and be sure to bring plenty of questions to really take advantage of his knowledge during the informal Q&A part of the dinner.
Dinner is at 6:45pm on Wednesday 27 April at The Happenstance, The City

New to TableCrowd? Take a look at our short video to see what it’s all about:

danroberts One of our fave TC members (and the occasional TC host for us) Dan Roberts, has been busy building the next #revlessrevolution as the founder and CEO of Lacuna Digital. As a long-time diner and friend of the TableCrowd team, we have finally managed to pin him down to do a quick spotlight on his business.

What’s the elevator pitch for Lacuna Digital?
Lacuna Digital has developed the world’s first digital bike display powered entirely from kinetic energy. This makes it the first 100% carbon neutral digital ad platform to grace the planet. By attaching one to a bike, we pay cyclists per mile for travelling green, offering hyper-local, real-time campaigns to brands around the City.

What were you doing before you launched your company?
Running a social enterprise that created smoothies from surplus produce in order to reduce food waste (and occasionally modelling).

If you have co-founders, where did you meet them?
I run Lacuna with my sister, Mel. I can’t remember where I met her…

What’s your biggest ‘hindsight’ moment?
With the power of hindsight I’d probably say that I would have started Lacuna as soon as I graduated, but perhaps the few years of development doing other things have ended up helping.

lacunadigitalWhat will the rest of 2016 bring?
The launch of our platform in London with 200 cyclists (sign up here) to grow to our target of 2000 users by the end of the first year. Plus my sister is getting married, so there’s that!

One piece of advice for someone starting a business in your sector?
Don’t copy me otherwise I’ll have more competition to explain to investors :)

Convince someone to use your product/service in under 50 words.
Do you cycle? Attach the Lacuna eBoard 1 to your own bike and we’ll pay you to travel green. Or perhaps you’re a brand? Get your message out into the digital outdoors across London based on location, time-of-day, live data streams and so on.

What’s your favourite startup in your sector (not including your own)?
Adscreens – they have digital backpacks that play music and everything.

What’s your favourite London restaurant?
I own a start-up, I can’t afford to have a favourite restaurant :) However I’ve attended some TableCrowd events at The Green and I’m a big fan. Not quite The Savoy (I was taken there once, I do NOT fit in) but it’s a great little spot.

What’s your favourite meal?
Deep fried brie with fruit coulis, fish lasagne finished off with triple chocolate Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Either that or everything that I eat on Christmas Day put into one meal and served with a knife and fork made from triple chocolate Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

techTech is the topic at dinner’s this week, whether you’re knowledgeable in the area or not – tech is a part of the future (for the masses at least). For those non-techy types amongst us who are looking to launch an app or website – our dinner for non-tech founders is just for you. And those food lovers out there who are looking to succeed in foodtech – you’ll want to join Kimberly from The Food Corporation for dinner. Read on to find out more about both dinners:

Dinner for non-technical founders: Build your first tech product
Fabrice Bernhard, co-founder & CTO at Theodo UK will be dining with us and offering his valuable insights for non-technical founders looking to realise their vision and build their app or web platform in record time. Theodo is a ‘tech-team-for-hire’ as well as a web & mobile development company that works with both startups and large corporations. So effectively being ‘the tech team’ for non-tech founders is their bread and butter.

Grab a seat at Fabrice’s table, share what you are currently working on, and meet your peers over a delicious meal. Don’t forget to have your list of questions at the ready for the informal Q&A that takes place once Fabrice has spilled the beans in his after-dinner talk. With 9 years experience – he’s bursting with great hints and tips!
Dinner is at 6:45pm on Tuesday 19 April at Piccolino, Shoreditch/City

Dine with The Food Corporation: Succeeding in FoodTech
It is such a treat for us to welcome Kimberly Hurd as after-dinner speaker next week. She is responsible for Zomato’s highly successful launch into the UK and she now heads up The Food Corporation and one of its brands, Tabl. The Food Corporation focuses on either partnering to fund or directly develop disruptive businesses in food media and technology.

Join us for dinner and meet with like-minded people whilst also hearing from Kimberly about all she has achieved. Be sure to bring plenty of questions for Kimberly too, to really take advantage of her knowledge during the informal Q&A part of the dinner.
Dinner is at 6:45pm on Wednesday 20 April at The Anthologist, City

New to TableCrowd? Take a look at our short video to see what it’s all about:

shaa1Another fantastically inspirational evening was had last night at our fourth dinner in our women’s only series. Diners were joined by the phenomenal Shaa Wasmund at Aubaine for what was an open and honest talk on following your true passion and how to take action.

I haven’t achieved because I’m better than others. But I do have a skill – that is taking action. Not being afraid to fall over. I just go and do it.

As a widower 6 years ago and now a single mum with a business to run, Shaa attributes getting through everything with the help of her female friends. She believes people can get so scared of life and that the bad things that happen to us can prevent us from moving forward, so it’s important to remember to be ‘authentically you’.

Screenshot 2016-04-14 11.31.09For Shaa, it’s important that women should bask in other’s success. That we should collaborate more – celebrating each other’s progress. It’s common knowledge that women often struggle to support and embrace other women. Why do we do this? Perhaps, we see other women as a threat. Whereas, what we need to do is see how we can collaborate and support each other. Figure out how can we all help each other to get out of the rat race.

Our speaker was joined by ProFinda, #EmbraceYourAmbition, GleanIn, Lorraine Hart Skin Care Expert, PwC, RateSetter, Microsoft, MindSightUK, Peco Poncho, Crossing-The Travel Company, Solely Original, Per4mance Insight and DecorCafe Network amongst others.

Special thanks to Shaa for a fantastic talk, as well as Tamar and Randy for hosting.

Check out our upcoming dinners to see which one whets your appetite!

emailmeJournalist and founder Monty Munford spoke recently at a dinner sharing his thoughts and tips on how to secure media coverage for your business. One thing he spoke on was the fact that he rejects 98% of emails that are sent to him.

To be the 2% that makes it through – Monty had these tips for his fellow diners:

  • Open with a good reference to what the journalist has written. E.g. I really enjoyed your article on…
  • Second paragraph: The product
  • Third paragraph: Shall we meet up?
  • Send three paragraphs only
  • Make the Subject line interesting. (This is crucial for most journalists.) Write a headline for a story to get their attention
  • Find out where the journalist goes and what events they attend
  • PR is important but for a low budget it’s not worth having as you won’t get the focus you need. Expect to spend at least £3k to make it worthwhile.
  • Have a page on your website to your press articles and have the latest story at the top
  • You may find a journalist is more likely to publish if the email comes from the CEO
  • Figure out the best time to contact them (avoiding high-pressure moments in the press cycle). For Monty, it’s best to contact him between 11am to 1pm (avoid Mondays altogether)

Get more fab tips from our speakers right here on our blog  – or better yet – hear first-hand by joining us for dinner!

adaptandthriveAs startups, we all want to be the big fish in our chosen industry – more often than not this entails raising funds in one way or another.

It’s always pretty helpful for startups to know what’s what when raising investment, so we have great pleasure in welcoming Nancy Fechnay for dinner where she will be giving a frank and honest view on all the “do’s and don’ts” when it comes to fundraising.

Nancy is an investor, mentor and advisor for startups and accelerators, as well as being a Partner at Flight Ventures where she oversees their UK operation focusing on large Seed rounds and Series A investments. Flight Ventures is the largest online group of investors in the world. (It’s the branchild of well-known angel investor Gil Penchina.)

So, what are you waiting for? Grab a seat at Nancy’s table, share what you are currently working on, and meet your peers over a delicious meal. Oh, and don’t forget to have your list of questions at the ready for the informal Q&A that takes place once Nancy has spilled the beans in her after-dinner talk.
Dinner is at 6:45pm on Wednesday 13 April at The Green, Clerkenwell


shoppingSpecial thanks goes to Alex O’Byrne for his insightful talk on increasing your online orders for your eCommerce business at dinner this week. Without any further ado, hear is what he had to say:

  1. The journey for mobile users must be good. 50% of traffic comes from mobile. 41% of orders for luxury brands again comes from mobile (which is higher than mid-range brands
    And if that’s not enough – Google penalises sites that don’t work well on mobile. Ouch.
  2. Promote your business. Attract PR, do events, network, have journalists on your mailing list etc
  3. Don’t forget about email (it’s social media’s cooler, older brother didn’t you know?). Have email sign up on your website. Automate your email marketing (MailChimp pro plus gives you a 3 email marketing campaign welcome drip – which is handy)
  4. Create content for your audience that is informative, fun, interesting and/or appealing. Make it useful beyond your product or service. (E.g. Smoothie business – add articles about healthy living, exercise etc)
  5. Build trust. Take good quality photos, have a great website design, take payments securely (and so on)
  6. Remember the lifetime value of a customer – it should always be more than the first purchase
  7. Always respond to customer feedback. Always.

Finally, a few tit bits to tack on the end, (hey – everyone loves a bonus tip or two!)

  • People expect free returns on shipping
  • Get your products endorsed by people (e.g journalists) – it builds trust

For more great tips – check out what our other speakers have been saying, or better yet – hear first-hand by joining us for dinner.

alexWhen it comes to online and eCommerce, it’s a bit of a minefield for the uninitiated as to where to start, what to do and when. We had great pleasure in welcoming Alex O’Bryne as our after-dinner speaker this week talking extensively (and very knowledgeably) on all things eCommerce. He provided plenty of top tips for eCommerce businesses to his fellow diners covering everything from mobile users, content marketing to photography and customer feedback.

Giving credit where credit is due, and also offering guidance as to who to look to for inspiration, Alex cited a few businesses to take a look at including:

  • Bloom & Wild – they have great emails along with a top man (Alex’s words but we completely agree – Aron has also spoken at a TableCrowd dinner)
  • Chanel, Burberry, Canada Goose & Ayr for website design

Screenshot 2016-04-14 12.19.47Ultimately, Alex’s advice to the TableCrowd members joining him was to build trust in any way you can. People are more inclined to purchase products from a brand they trust – do this by:

  • Creating good quality photos
  • Having a well-designed site
  • Displaying the visa secured sign if you’re taking payments online (or ensure payments are being made securely)

And finally, dispelling the old SEO issue – don’t worry about it too much as Google is more advanced now. Head here for more tips from Alex.

Our speaker was joined by Liberte Fitness, Yoga for Wellness with LA, Savse Smoothies, Marley Coffee, Solely Original, Host Digital, Per4mance Insight, E Deals & Offers, Able Label Clothing and Marmalade amongst others.

Special thanks to Alex for a fantastic talk and our partner Taylor Wessing.

TAYLOR WESSINGCheck out our upcoming dinners to see which one whets your appetite!