Archives for the month of: March, 2014

In the lead up to our FoodTech dinner next week, we like to spotlight the companies that will be joining us. Today, it’s MenuSpring and their founder Ali Meruani. We first met Ali at last year’s dinner and we have stayed in touch since.

MenuSpring-LogoWhat’s the elevator pitch for your startup?

MenuSpring is an online portal connecting restaurants, publishers and consumers. The company’s platform enables restaurants to publish and manage all digital content (such as menus, photos, promotions, news, etc.) online, which is distributed and updated in real-time to partnering digital publishers; including TimeOut, Hardens, Tastecard. For consumers it provides a location-based search and discovery engine with dish level details to satisfy any craving or preference. Currently focused on the Greater London market, the company has the largest data base, maintaining content for over 9,000 restaurants. With over 800,000 dishes we can satisfy any of your food cravings.

What were you doing before you launched your startup?

I was doing my MBA at London Business School.

Where did you meet your co-founders?

Through some mutual friends.

What’s your biggest ‘hindsight’ moment?

Focus on design and UI. After a lot of struggle I have realized that I am in a hyper competitive market and the product needs to be so much better

What will 2014 bring?

Excitement! We are launching our mobile app as well as some new exciting products

1 piece of advice for someone starting a business in the food space?

It is an extremely competitive space with some big players, make sure your product can compete against the incumbents. 

Convince someone to use your product/service in under 50 words.

Hungry? Craving a particular dish? Search for it on MenuSpring and satisfy your food craving.

Menu Spring banner

What’s your favourite startup in the food space (not including your own)?

The digital lollipop

What’s your favourite London restaurant?

Kateh, Persian restaurant on Warwick Place – small family run restaurant creating amazing food.

Thanks Ali. A new must-try restaurant for our ever growing list!

Thanks to our partner for this dinner, Taylor Wessing.

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Next week, 2nd April, we’re looking forward to bringing the FoodTech industry together over a good meal.

Last year we hosted the dinner at Google Campus and due to so many startups joining, the tiny little kitchen could hardly cope! This time, we’ve chosen Open Kitchen, as it is the training restaurant for the London City Hospitality Centre. All students prepare and serve food and drinks as part of their vocational studies. Open Kitchen puts its learners centre stage and provides a realistic working experience to support their professional development. We’ve tried and tested it of course, and they do a great job, so we thought this was a nice fit for the evening.

The dinner is a chance for people working in FoodTech to meet (or catch up), share experiences, ideas and contacts. It’s a highlight for TableCrowd as it’s our industry.

Over 20 startups have booked onto the dinner and there are just a few spots left. We’re excited to have confirmed Edd Read, co-founder of Graze as after-dinner speaker. Edd will tell us about the Graze story and there’ll be an informal Q&A.

If you are a founder of a FoodTech startup and would like to join, you can do that here.

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Introducing Charlotte Leuw and her startup MyCarGossip.

Charlotte is a regular TableCrowd diner and we’re always excited to see her to catch up on what she’s been doing. Last time we saw her, she was at our “Tales from the Trenches” dinner with after-dinner speaker, Sokratis Papafloratus, where she told us about her crowdfunding campaign on Seedrs – and we wanted to find out more!

photo of charlotteleuw

What’s the elevator pitch for your startup?

MyCarGossip is a motoring website primarily for female drivers where they can rate, review and recommend all types of motoring businesses as to how reliable and trustworthy they are. There are over 16 million female drivers in the UK and the problem that we are solving is to stop women from feeling over charged when it comes to their cars and to give them enough confidence and knowledge to know that they are paying the correct prices.

We are already working with branches of BMW/MINI, Volkswagen, Toyota, Suzuki, Ford, Alfa Romeo and more. We make our money by selling extended profiles, sponsored guest blogs and advertising space. In April 2014 we will be also selling car related products through our website.

My Car Gossip

Tell us about the campaign. How much are you raising and what will you be using it for?

2 weeks ago we launched our crowd-funding campaign through Seedrs which is an equity based platform. We are looking to raise £30,000 and we are offering 7.5% of the equity. We will be using the funds to hire a full time sales person and also to raise awareness of our company through PR and Marketing.

What’s it like to crowd fund, are you enjoying it?

I am really enjoying crowd funding, it is great to get the public involved in the campaign and to know that they are investing because they believe in what I am doing. It is definitely a roller coaster ride and I am learning a lot.

Is this your first experience of fundraising? What are the key learnings so far?

This is my first time fundraising and I have learnt how important it is to have a network of supporters who are able to invest the first 20/30% of your campaign. Without a network of supporters to create momentum I think it would be harder to raise the money. I believe that investors are more likely to back the campaign if they can see that your friends and family also believe in what you are doing.

How are you promoting your campaign?

I am promoting the campaign on Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook as they all have different audiences. I created a press release which has been picked up by two very well-known newspapers which I will be featured in over the next two weeks. I am also just about to start working PR company called CatchLondon who are going to help me for the remainder of the campaign.  

Convince someone to invest in under 50 words.

You should invest in MyCarGossip because in the UK we have no major competitor. This means we will be able to establish ourselves as the undisputed market leader in the female automotive sector providing trusted motoring product and service advice.

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You can check out Charlotte’s campaign here, she is already half way towards raising her target with plenty of time left on the clock. The investment qualifies for SEIS, so get your wallets and purses out and give her some support!

You can meet Charlotte at our dinner on 7th April. She’s joining our dinner with Tom Maddocks, who’ll be talking to us about how to get press interested in your startup. You’ll know him from his former role as reporter on BBC2′s ‘Money Program’. There are still a few seats left, so you can join that dinner here.

Last night we turned Central Working in Google Campus into an after-hours restaurant to host MusicTech Startups #MeetandEat. We partnered with Mixcloud to host this dinner and welcomed a tremendous line-up of businesses, each with a journalist guest.

We were joined by:

Mixcloud 
- A music discovery and streaming platform that connects listeners to a community of the world’s best DJs, radio presenters and music curators.

7digital - Offers millions of songs, through a global network of web stores that are lovingly maintained by their local experts. Any music you purchase from them is stored securely in a cloud-based locker, so that you can access it anywhere.

Songdrop - Allows you to create make mixes with songs and videos from YouTube, Vimeo, Soundcloud, Bandcamp and more.


This Is My Jam 
- A place to put your favorite song of the moment & hear great music, handpicked every day by friends.

WhoSampled 
- The ultimate database of sampled music, cover songs and remixes.

Musicmetric 
- Their dashboards and services provide actionable analytics for the music industry by tracking social media, sales, BitTorrent, and events.

Synkio 
- A hand-picked global network of music professionals who are ready to make music the right music for your next project.

Shuffler.fm - Radio powered by the web’s leading tastemaker music sites and blogs. Browse and discover new music and artists from sites, users, genres and tv.

LoveLive – The leading source of music content and associated services for brands, broadcasters and record labels.

Our guests included Universal and writers from the Guardian, TechCrunch, Notion, Huffington Post, Tech City News, Music Ally, Sunday Times amongst others.

Some photos from the evening for you to enjoy.

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A massive thank you to Mixcloud for making the whole evening possible and thanks to our sponsor, Rackspace, for their continued support.

Rackspace

We had a tremendous time at last night’s startup dinner. We brought together a great group of entrepreneurs and startups for a delicious meal at The Green in Clerkenwell. The evening’s topic was based around investment and we enjoyed after-dinner talk and Q&A from Danny Meaney.

Danny is a serial entrepreneur and tech investor and he spoke very honestly about his experiences as an investor and the process he goes through when assessing an investment opportunity. Amongst other things, he talked about the people, the product, market and how the funds will be used. Just taking the first of these, he talked about the mutual trust that should be in place between the business and the investor and that he still relied on his “gut” and instinct when meeting founders. He recognises that it would be rare for a team to be perfect and that honestly in identifying gaps in skills is a good thing, so the gap can be plugged. He likes the founders to have some “skin in the game” (i.e. have put some hard cash in themselves) and is interested in the reason why they are doing what they are doing; it can’t be solely for the end game of a payout. Danny considers pre revenue businesses, but generally looks for there to be some sales, or proven appetite for the product or service, rather than the company being at the ideas stage. Although the earlier he gets involved, the bigger slice he will be aiming to take for his investment!

Some of the companies (too many to mention!) that we met at the dinner:

Rachel Cheal of The Growth Lab, which provides startups and SME’s with experienced CFO services on a consultancy basis.

Nidhima Kohli, founder of MyBeautyCompare, the world’s 1st price comparison & personalized product matches site for beauty where you can discover & compare products for your skin type, hair age & lifestyle habits. We’re excited to have partnered with MyBeautyCompare for a beauty tech dinner in April.

Jonathan Lea, founder of the Jonathan Lea Network, an international business content platform and community.

Dave Thomas and Simon Fellowes of Go Local Deals, which helps you find all the “good times” located nearby.

Makoto Inoue, founder of StepUp.io, which is Pinterest for online learning videos. It lets learners and facilitators curate videos, segment into meaningful chunks and loops each chunk automatically until they get it.

Tim Underhill, founder of Sport on Spec, which brings you the best news of ticket availability priced at no more than face value.

Faith Forster, Pinipa, a social business change startup.

Robert Fenton, who is working on many many things ranging from a model agency, to supplying Bollywood extras, to email marketing software to a large and successful meetup group!

Here are some photos for you to enjoy.

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Why not book onto an upcoming dinner? We have dinners for food startups, sharing economy startups and dinner with Tom Maddocks as after-dinner speaker, on the topic of how to get journalists interested in your startup (you’ll know Tom from his previous role as reporter on BBC2′s ‘The Money Programme’.)

Introducing our final few event startup spotlight posts – Rebecca Gregory and her startup, Thinking bob. Rebecca was one of the wonderful startups that attended our Event Startups #MeetandEat last week.

thinking bob

What’s the elevator pitch for your startup?

Thinking bob is an innovative entertainment company for geeks, culturists and intellectuals who want to spark fun and serendipity into their social lives. We give members access to unique events and products through a community platform where they can develop long-term friendships and relationships on-line and offline. By creating the perfect environments for people to connect we’re enabling communities to grow within big cities. 

What were you doing before you launched your startup?

Working in fundraising events – i’ve always been passionate about connecting people through events. People connect better through shared experiences and i love giving people that ‘experience’. 

If you have co-founders, where did you meet them?

James and i both went to the same University and I have known Phil for many years but this was the first opportunity we’ve had to work on the same project.

What’s your biggest ‘hindsight’ moment?

When we realised we shouldn’t have trusted someone that was involved early on with the development of our website. He led us on and really set us back financially. We worked on trust and didn’t sign a contract with him. Always sign contracts! Even if they’re friends or supporters – we learn’t the hard way.

What will 2014 bring?

The launch of our upgraded website this summer and the announcement of some exciting new partnerships – the first being with the Royal Festival Hall – i think i can tell you that! Well i have now :-)

1 piece of advice for someone starting a business in the events space?

Things take a lot longer than you think. Your timelines can get blown out of the window and often due to being let down by other people. Its not easy but just keep on going! 

Convince someone to use your product/service in under 50 words.

Thinking bob events are a really easy, natural way to connect with others on a social level in the City. Its a great way to expand your social circle without the awkwardness and a fantastic alternative to dating sites. Come along and see for yourself.

thinking bob1

What’s your favourite startup in the events space (not including your own)?

3beards - Are doing an amazing job growing the Tech community through their events. Which we know first hand is no easy task!

What’s your favourite London restaurant?

Shampers Winer Bar   – It’s independent and never lets us down! The Chilli and lime squid is to die for.

Chilli and squid, you’ve sold us Rebecca – we shall definitely be trying that out, thanks for the recommendation and for your guest post.

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Rackspace

We’re looking forward to tomorrow night’s dinner at The Green, Clerkenwell.

We’ll enjoy dinner, drinks & a chance to meet fellow entrepreneurs, followed by an after-dinner talk and informal Q&A with Danny Meaney. The topic of conversation for the evening is what he looks for when he invests in a startup or buys an existing business. Take the chance to dine with Danny and talk to him one on one about your business.

Danny1

Danny is a serial entrepreneur and investor in early stage techmedia businesses. He is well connected with a track record of helping digital media and technology businesses create shareholder value.

He has over 30 years’ experience in building and selling companies with successful exits to major global brands such as Saatchi & Saatchi, the Pearson Group and WH Smith.

Currently founder and CEO of UP; Managing Director of New Media Partners; owner of Beechwood Ventures; co-founder of Insportive and TripleSEE; and Chairman of Four23, Jouzou and Peekabu
.

He has delivered a wide range of strategy and change projects with the UK’s leading broadcasters, many of the mobile network operators, global OEMs and device manufacturers, most of the top TV production companies, the best marketing and communications agencies, and some of the most interesting indie record labels.

He was CEO in a ground-breaking online B2C download channel joint venture with Nokia. SideloaderTV was one of the first experiments in the delivery of short-form content across a mobile platform.

He is recognised as a global expert in the business of creative placemaking and led New Media Partners’ work on MediaCityUK, Twofour54 in Abu Dhabi, Pacific Quay in Glasgow, Creative London, Bristol’s Harbourside, London’s Olympic Park and White City, Corridor Manchester, The Sharp Project, Digital City in Teesside, Titanic Quarter in Belfast, Jeddah’s KAEC, Dubai’s Internet City, Brisbane’s Creative Precinct and Singapore’s Mediapolis. 

He has undertaken a number of Board positions in Charities and public bodies and has been a member of two Downing Street Think Tanks and is a member of the Catalyst UK network and a Digital Industries Trade Ambassador for the UK.

Looking forward to seeing lots of familiar faces at dinner as well as some new ones. There are still 2 places free, you can book them here.

Thank you to our event sponsor, Rackspace, for their continued support.

Rackspace

It was great to see Anton Morozov (pictured left) from Interview Bull at our dinner for education startups a couple of weeks ago. You can find out more about Anton and his company below.

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What’s the elevator pitch for your startup?

Interview Bull provides affordable online interview coaching for students. All our interview coaching is one-on-one taught by experienced graduate recruiters, who have hired graduates for bluechip companies such as PWC, Accenture, RBS, Vodaphone and Amazon.

What were you doing before you launched your startup?

Both of us are still working in day jobs and running IB in ALL of our spare time. I have a boring job in the city working on a Russian FX market and Elliot is the exciting one working at Start-up Loans with James Khan, helping start-ups to get off the ground and giving them the mentoring they need.

Where did you meet your co-founders?

Funnily enough Elliot (pictured right) was the first person I met in Edinburgh University. I arrived late for freshers week and met him in our Halls of residence during a poker game. He took all my weekly drinking money that night… Don’t think I can still forgive him for that! 

What will 2014 bring?

2014 is an exciting year for us. We got a new version of our site coming soon. On top of that we are trying to launch additional services such as CV advice, insight sessions with industry professionals and assessment centre clinics.

Most importantly we are currently trying to establish solid links with UK’s biggest employers and recommend our best customers to them, which I think will be very exciting!

1 piece of advice for someone starting a business in the education space?

Test test test. Before you dedicate time to a new idea make sure that you speak to everyone relevant you know and get their opinion on it. A good way to do it would be to say that it is your friends idea and you are helping him/her to get some feedback. That way you are more likely to get an honest opinion.

Convince someone to use your product/service in under 50 words.

Interviewing is not a skill you are either born with or without. We believe that everyone can learn to interview well. The key to achieving this is through preparation and practice. At Interview Bull, we offer you both. On top of everything interviewing well makes you a better person :)

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What’s your favourite startup in the education space (not including your own)?

Udacity is our favourite! The guy have done so well since they launched. They have helped a lot of people to learn relevant and most importantly applicable programming and coding skills. I would certainly recommend their service to anyone interested in programming.

What’s your favourite London restaurant?

I think the restaurant that we enjoy the most is XO in Belsize Park. They do great japanese and incredible cocktails. 

However the restaurant that has most meaning to our start-up and also happens to be our guilty pleasure is Nandos. We came up with the idea of Interview Bull over some spicy wings and corn on the cob.

We first met Elliot at a TableCrowd dinner for startups some time ago and we stayed in touch. It was great to meet Anton, the other half of Team IB, at the edtech dinner more recently. To read other interviews in the series, go here.

Thanks to our sponsors for their continued support:

Blick

It was great to see Katie McPhee from Eventbrite at our dinner for event startups earlier this week. You can find out more about Katie and her company below.

eventbrite

What’s the elevator pitch for Eventbrite?

Eventbrite is an online self-service ticketing platform available for anyone around the world to manage, sell and promote tickets to their events. You can also use Eventbrite to discover events happening around you.

What’s your role at the company and when did you join?

I lead Eventbrite’s City Marketing in the UK. This means I create initiatives to raise awareness for Eventbrite – including events; partnerships and managing our social channels.

How did you find out about the role?

I heard about it from a friend who knows someone that works at Eventbrite HQ in San Francisco. She saw the job spec and sent it to me. Although I wasn’t job hunting at the time, it looked like a great fit for my interests and skills so I went for it.

What were you doing before you joined Eventbrite?

I was the Communications Officer for the BBC Chairman. 

What’s your biggest ‘hindsight’ moment since you joined the company?

As the first employee in the London team, it’s been tempting to try and do everything at times. As the team’s grown, it’s been good to be able to narrow the focus on the things that have the biggest impact on the business.

What will 2014 bring?

We’re all focussed on growing Eventbrite as a global, two-sided marketplace. So whilst we’re launching some great new organiser features like reserved seating, there will also be changes to the way people discover things to do.

Convince someone to use your product/service in under 50 words.

Planning an event? Create an event page and start selling tickets within minutes on Eventbrite. 

eventbrite2

What’s your favourite startup in the events space (not including your own)?

I think HireSpace are doing a great job in transforming the venue discovery experience. And I love the Event Manager Blog, they do a great job reporting on technology developments for event professionals, which is hard to find anywhere else.

What’s your favourite London restaurant?

I recently had an epic and memorable meal at Viajante.

Also love the Vietnamese restaurants on Kingsland Road – Loong Kee is my favourite.

Ah, the Vietnamese restaurants on the Kingsland Road is an area close to our hearts, great choice Katie!

Go here to read other blogs in the series.

Rackspace

evvnt1

We’re very much looking forward to welcoming a tremendous “mix” (sorry, couldn’t resist) of music startups to Central Working in Google Campus for our Music Startups #MeetandEat on 19th March.

We’ve partnered with Mixcloud to host this dinner and we can’t WAIT! Mixcloud is a music discovery and streaming platform that connects listeners to a community of the world’s best DJs, radio presenters and music curators.

mixcloud_logo_rgb_300_art_2-0-121Each startup is inviting a journalist as their plus 1. For the startups, it’s a great networking opportunity and for the journalists, it’s an easy way to meet everyone on the scene in one night. Confirmed guests so far include writers for The Guardian, TechCrunch, Universal Music, Huff Post, Sunday Times & Music Ally.

The startups that will be joining us are:

Mixcloud 
- A music discovery and streaming platform that connects listeners to a community of the world’s best DJs, radio presenters and music curators.

7digital - Offers millions of songs, through a global network of web stores that are lovingly maintained by their local experts. Any music you purchase from them is stored securely in a cloud-based locker, so that you can access it anywhere.

Songdrop - Allows you to create make mixes with songs and videos from YouTube, Vimeo, Soundcloud, Bandcamp and more.


This Is My Jam 
- A place to put your favorite song of the moment & hear great music, handpicked every day by friends.

WhoSampled 
- The ultimate database of sampled music, cover songs and remixes.

Musicmetric 
- Their dashboards and services provide actionable analytics for the music industry by tracking social media, sales, BitTorrent, and events.

Synkio 
- A hand-picked global network of music professionals who are ready to make music the right music for your next project.

Shuffler.fm - Radio powered by the web’s leading tastemaker music sites and blogs. Browse and discover new music and artists from sites, users, genres and tv.

LoveLive – The leading source of music content and associated services for brands, broadcasters and record labels.

Thanks to our sponsor for the evening, Rackspace, who provide a wonderful hosting package to support startups, and on this particular night, will be making sure we don’t run out of wine!

Music makes the world go round.

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