Archives for the month of: June, 2014

We met the wonderful James Gupta at our Education Startups dinner last week. Find out more about MyCQs and James:

JamesG_MyCQs

What’s the elevator pitch for your startup?

In a nutshell, MyCQs is a mobile learning platform that lets students create and practice Multiple Choice Question (MCQ) tests. On its own, this is an incredibly effective way to learn but MyCQs’ first USP is that it encourages students to share their tests with other people, thereby introducing a social element rarely seen in e-Learning platforms, despite overwhelming evidence from other sectors of how it gain drive engagement. Secondly, MyCQs tracks your progress in different areas and uses this information to intelligently generate tests tailored to your learning needs, and suggests the optimum times to practice.

What were you doing before you launched your startup?

I still am a medical student at the University of Leeds, currently taking a year out to study an MSc in Health Informatics. I recently exited my first startup, JumpIn having served as CTO for 15 months.

Where did you meet your co-founders?

I met my co-founder and friend Omair Vaiyani whilst studying Clinical Sciences at Bradford University. A lot of our exams were in the MCQ format and we found that using various online test makers was beneficial to our exams but there was nothing on the market that went as far as MyCQs.

We developed the first version in our university halls one summer and have been working on it since!

What’s your biggest ‘hindsight’ moment?

It’s been a huge learning experience, probably the biggest hindsight moment is that we should have launched with a proper business plan. We released MyCQs over a year ago, mainly as a pet project for ourselves and other people on our course. However, in one day it amassed over 13,000 downloads from users across the world: students from practically every course under the sun, special needs teachers, Boeing 787 pilots and lawyers just to name a few. In short we tapped into a market far bigger than we anticipated.

Since launch, we have been making incremental changes to MyCQs but having secured some funding we’re now working on a revolutionary re-launch. We’re re-writing the apps from scratch with a completely new business model and an ambition to turn it from a hobby project into one of the world’s leading e-learning platforms!

What will 2014 bring?

We hope this is the year we really push MyCQs out of the door. We want to make the best product we can, something that will offer real value to students throughout their time in education, and why not to professionals after that?

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

Decide who your target audience is and engage with your target audience early in development! A product for 7 year olds looks and behaves very different to a product for 18 year olds. It sounds obvious but it’s so easy to forget and focus on making the best or easiest to use product for you, but you’re not your target audience.

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

MyCQs lets you learn: with your friends, on the go, whilst waiting for a bus or in your room. It knows what you’re good at, what you’re bad at and when you should have another go at a test. In short MyCQs lets you work smart, not hard.

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

We’re in close contact with the guys from Zzish, they have a really cool concept for an ‘Education Backend as a Service’ which we’re looking to integrate into this next version of MyCQs.

What’s your favourite London restaurant?

Honestly, I’m a northerner and can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been to a restaurant in London! That’ll probably change as I’m looking to get involved with more TableCrowd events. I love a good steak at Gaucho, we have one of those in Leeds too!

MyCQs

Thanks James. We’re looking forward to seeing your progress.

If you want to see our upcoming dinners, look here.

Thanks for our sponsors for this dinner, Taylor Wessing and Propel London.

T.W Propel

We had a really good time at our Education and Edtech Startups dinner this week (25th June) at the Clerkenwell Kitchen. George Burgess, founder of Gojimo joined his first TableCrowd dinner and brought along some of his team. We wanted to find out more about Gojimo.

George Gojimo

What’s the elevator pitch for your startup?

Gojimo is the UK’s number one, mobile revision app, providing students with study guides and quizzes from the world’s top educational publishers on their mobile phone or tablet.

What were you doing before you launched your startup?

I was a student!

What’s your biggest ‘hindsight’ moment?

Prior to Gojimo we were building bespoke apps with publishers. I’d had the idea for Gojimo for a number of years but never got around to building it. We should’ve pivoted much earlier.

What will 2014 bring?

Our first attempts at gamification and social; lots of new publishing partners; and our first experiments in a few international markets!

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

Talk to your customers. Teachers and students have very specific needs and often entrepreneurs assume they know what those are, when in reality they have no clue

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

Why would you carry a 200 page book, when you can have the whole thing on your iPad? Why would you write your own flashcards, when you can quiz yourself on your iPhone?

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

I’m a big fan ShowMyHomework – Naimish and his team have built an extremely useful product, the type of thing that teachers have been asking for for years!

What’s your favourite London restaurant?

Anywhere with good sushi!

Gojimo

You can read more Startup Spotlights here.

Thanks for your continued support Taylor Wessing & Propel London.

T.W Propel

Good times last night at the Clerkenwell Kitchen for our edtech and education startups dinner. We partnered with Mendeley and had the support of Propel and Taylor Wessing to host this dinner and welcomed a tremendous line-up of businesses. The EdTech community is very tight knit, passionate and supportive and we thoroughly enjoy bringing everyone together over dinner.

We were joined by more than 30 diners including Mendeley, EdPlace, Mycognition, Emerge Education, TwoSigmas, Free Formers, Zzish, Gojimo, Lexicum, Busuu, MyCQs, writeLaTeX, EnglishUp, RefMe, PTAsocial, ShowMyHomework, MyKidsy and more.

Our after dinner speaker was Jan Reichelt Co-Founder & President at Mendeley. He spoke about his journey and experiences so far. As a non technical founder, he advised bringing the tech work in-house as early as possible (they outsourced to Russia at the outset which worked well for only around the first month). He highlighted the importance of recognising that running a startup should be a lifestyle choice; the journey will take much longer than you think when you embark on it. He spoke about networks being vital and the importance of valuing and treating well the people you work and engage with on your journey, as your paths are bound to cross again in the future. And a final point that resonated, was that perseverance is key - he went to see around 100 VCs before getting the funding he needed for Mendeley! So, hang in there!

Some pictures for you to enjoy:

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To find out more about our upcoming dinners, please have a look here.

Thanks to our partners for their ongoing support:

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We wanted to find out more about Jan Reichelt, Co-Founder and President of Mendeley. Jan is our after dinner speaker at tonight’s Education & Edtech startups dinner. We can’t wait to hear his story.

mend

What’s the elevator pitch for your startup?

Mendeley is a social network for researchers, and also a free suite of tools that makes it really easy to organise, read, annotate, share and cite your papers. It’s cloud-based so everything is backed up and instantly accessible on any device. Our aim is to make researchers’ lives easier and science more open, and we have a community of over 3 million users around the world, so I think we’re doing something right!

What were you doing before you launched your startup?

I was doing a PhD (I’m still enrolled, but too busy with Mendeley at the moment to finish) and also worked at various tech and software companies, and so I realised that there was an opportunity in addressing some of the frustrations that I had with the research tools available out there, and to help improve the world of academia in general, and that led to Mendeley.

Where did you meet your co-founders?

My co-founders Victor Henning and Paul Foeckler were also researchers. I met Victor in university and randomly, when Victor was backpacking across the USA, he met Paul in Las Vegas and realised that they worked in neighbouring buildings at the same university where Victor was doing his PhD. Because we all shared the same problems and frustrations with the research tools we were using, we came to realise there had to be a better way, so we got together to do something about it.

What’s your biggest ‘hindsight’ moment?

At some point I came to realise how important people, speed, and culture are for a start-up. Hire good and experienced people, focus on delivering your product to the market as quickly as possible, and try to cultivate an atmosphere people love to work in. It never works out perfectly, trust me, but these areas deserve special attention!

What will 2014 bring?

In 2013, Mendeley was acquired by Elsevier, and this has given us a lot of extra resources to grow the team and develop the product beyond what we could have done alone. It’s still a little bit of “honeymoon period” incl. integration activities, but we’re already pressing full-steam ahead with new product development, e.g. a better mobile and web experience, connecting Elsevier’s and Mendeley’s products where it makes sense for the users, and we’re looking for a new office to accommodate the growing team. No rest in sight!

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

Identify a problem that you feel really passionate about, check how many other people are affected by this problem, and then of course think of a “out-of-the-box” solution, try something new because you’ve got nothing to lose! And in addition to this passion a founder needs resilience and patience, building a product and a company takes a lot of time and effort!

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

Well, we’ve been told that for a researcher, Mendeley is the most fun you can have with your pants on, but if you – like most of the scientists and researchers in the world – have to deal with hundreds of published journal articles which you have to organise and read, then drag&drop them into Mendeley and see the magic work!

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

I really like Show My Homework – it beautifully addresses a seemingly simple problem (track and monitor homework between teachers and students), but from there now rolls out to entire schools across the country… start small, focus, and then identify opportunities to scale!

What’s your favourite London restaurant?

Jamon Jamon Belsize Park or Camden Town

Mendeley Screenshot

We are looking forward to hearing more from Jan tonight. 

If you want to see our upcoming tables, have a look here.

Last night we turned Central Working in Google Campus into an after-hours restaurant to host our #MeetandEat for EventTech startups, journalists & bloggers. We partnered with evvnt and had the support of EventManagerBlog to host this dinner and welcomed a tremendous line-up of businesses, each with a journalist or blogger guest.

TableCrowd were joined by evvnt, Get Me Connected, Thinking Bob, Gleanin, Pickevent, Pearlshare, iWaz.at, Sport on Spec and Summit.

Also dining with us were TimeOut, LaunchPress, ITN, GQ, MashMedia, Haggertson Times, Guardian, TechCityNews, Mobile Marketing Magazine and more.

Julius Solaris of EventManagerBlog.com (the “Godfather of events”) was our after-dinner speaker. He talked about the challenges and opportunities of the events industry, his own story and some learnings and tips for startups working in the space.

Some photos from the evening for you to enjoy:

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To find out more about our upcoming dinners, please have a look here.

Thanks to our partner evvnt and to EventManagerBlog for their support:

EvenTech logo dinner

 

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We love to start the week with an inspiring business spotlight. And we love it even more when it’s one of our partners! Julius Solaris of EventManagerBlog.com is supporting tonight’s EventTech dinner at GoogleCampus. Let’s read his story.

JuliusSolaris

What’s the elevator pitch for your business?

We are the first blog for event planners. We aim to deliver education, innovation and inspiration to our readers.

What were you doing before Event Manager Blog?

I was marketing manager for medical congresses and planned my own events.

Introduce your team.

I co-direct my company with Carmen, who is also my wife. We then work with a network of freelancers, Fabio, Simone, Bea, Raquel and a couple of dozen more spread between Europe and the US

What’s your biggest ‘hindsight’ moment with the business?

When we spun off our Premium WordPress Themes Store for Events. This move dramatically changed our business – we changed substantially the way we work. We made lots of mistakes but also had great satisfaction with the results.

What will 2014 bring?

2014 will bring more ebooks (we publish free ebooks on different pieces of technology in the industry) and more WordPress themes. Our clients and readers love them and we love our clients and readers.

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

If you plan to launch a startup for the event industry, make sure to do your research properly. There is a tendency to always solve the same problems (such as online registration and event mobiles apps), there is much more than that and you can create sustainable businesses by just looking at existing problems the industry has.

It is a very traditional industry that for the most does things the same way since 60 years. There is a lot of room for improvement.

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

Event websites have traditionally been the goldmine of web agencies charging thousands for crappy, proprietary products. We offer fully featured, beautifully designed and customizable options starting from $79. Thousands of customers thank us for giving back to them control of their site.

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

Can’t really say as I am trying to keep myself as unbiased as possible. People like Cvent or Eventbrite are definitely the reference for everyone in the #eventtech scene.

What’s your favourite London restaurant?

Roka – best Japanese ever.

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We are very much looking forward to seeing Julius and the other diners tonight.

If you want to know more about TableCrowd dinners, take a look here.

We can’t wait to meet (or catch up with) the startups that will be joining our Education startups dinner next week. We’re getting a head start with our interview with Charles Wiles, Co-founder of Zzish:

ChalesWills

What’s the elevator pitch for your startup?

Zzish is an infrastructure and toolset for developers to build state-of-the-art mobile learning apps.  Many people would love to create educational learning apps, but building a fully featured app with personalised learning that’s ready for use in the classroom takes a lot of work.  Zzish lets people build high quality learning apps for a fraction of the time and cost it would take otherwise.

What were you doing before you launched your startup?

I was the Managing Director of VisualDNA where I created the Media Business and took the revenue from zero to $3m annual in two years.  Before that, I was Google’s first Product Manager hired outside the USA and helped build the first version of Android.

Where did you meet your co-founders?

I met my cofounder Samir at Silicon Milkroundabout, twice. I met him first when I was recruiting for VisualDNA and then again a year later when I was recruiting for a CTO for Zzish. Fortunately we didn’t hire him at VisualDNA or we wouldn’t be working together now!

What’s your biggest ‘hindsight’ moment?

With hindsight I would have started talking to potential customers earlier. When delivering new technology it’s always tempting to want to build the technology first and then show it to your customers, but this can mean you invest a long time building stuff that nobody actually wants. The first step of a startup’s life should be validating whether you have product/market fit by finding customers who are willing to pay you for it if you built it! 

What will 2014 bring?

We hope to get our first 1,000 developers using our platform to build amazing learning apps that make a real impact on the way people learn.

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

Proactively grow your network. Work out who the top 10 people whom you would like to get advice from in the world and then work out who you know who might know someone who knows them.  Then ask for an introduction and keep on going. Always finish any new meeting with the question “Who else do you know who might be able to give me some advice?”

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

Mobile learning is going to be a $38b business by 2020, and today’s startups will be tomorrow’s leaders. With Zzish you can now build a state-of-the-art mobile learning app in days instead of many months.

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

Code Kingdoms. A mashup of Scratch and Minecraft for teaching children to code.

What’s your favourite London restaurant?

I’m a regular at Patara in Soho. Great Thai food at a decent price.  Lunch sets are particularly good value.

ZzishWe are looking forward to meeting Charles and hearing more about his startup next week. To read more Startup Spotlights go here.

Thanks to our sponsors Taylor Wessing and Propel London for their continued support.

T.W Propel

You asked, we listened! We’re excited to announce a new series of Startup Engine dinners to bring together talented people with different skill sets.

Enginestartup dinner
Whether you are looking to meet that vital person to work with or looking to find out more about what you need, please join us. Please check the dinner description to make sure it’s right for you.

First up -

  • Dinner for Entrepreneurs & Advisors: The dinner is for 5 advisors and 5 entrepreneurs. Advisors must have a sufficient experience to confidently work with and support and an entrepreneur on a project. Entrepreneurs must have a particular idea(s) that they want to take forward.
  • Dinner for Developers & Entrepreneurs: The dinner is for 5 developers and 5 entrepreneurs. Developers must have a sufficient experience under their belt to work independently with an entrepreneur on a project and Entrepreneurs must have a particular idea(s) that they want to take forward.
  • Dinner for Designers & Developers: The dinner is for 5 developers and 5 designers, with sufficient experience to work independently on a project.
  • Dinner for Marketers & Entrepreneurs: The dinner is for 5 marketers and 5 entrepreneurs. Marketers must have sufficient experience under their belt to work independently with an entrepreneur on a project and Entrepreneurs must have a particular idea(s) that they want to take forward.

Expect private dining with 2 course dinner and all drinks plus highly curated and relevant networking. Book your place here.

Hopefully it will be the start of some beautiful relationships!

Thanks to our sponsor Rackspace for their ongoing support.

Rackspace

We’re excited to support our first Corporate Innovation Dinner to help startups connect with established brands. This dinner will be hosted by Sean Obedih in the beautiful private dining room at the Eight Club on Monday the 7th of July.

Claire Pivotal L39 dinner

In this venture, Sean connects forward thinking founders with established brands and corporates to see what each can learn from the other – and to explore opportunities for collaboration.

Expect to meet other leading tech entrepreneurs and to enjoy after-dinner talk and informal Q&A from Claire Cockerton on the topic of getting corporates interested in collaborating with innovative startups.

Claire is a serial entrepreneur, founder/CEO of Pivotal Innovations and previously founder/CEO of Aesthetic Earthworks (multi-million $ eco-firm, sold in 2009). Currently, Deputy Head of Level39 Technology Accelerator, consulting to Canary Wharf Group on the development of a finance, cyber security, retail and smart cities tech cluster. Claire is also joint acting CEO of FinTech UK, a City of London backed movement for a more balanced, resilient, and accessible financial services sector.

Who’s invited? Startups in FinTech, Retail and Smart Cities Corporate innovation or a forward thinking founders working on advanced technology.

Make sure you don’t miss out and book your seat here. For any questions about this dinner, you can reach us hello@tablecrowd.com or @tablecrowd.

We had the pleasure to meet Claus Geissendoerfer at our last “Tales from the Trenches” dinner, on how to find the right tech for your team. We wanted to find out more about his startup.

Claus Image

What’s the elevator pitch for your startup?

Prehash is a hiring portal that enables companies to raise their profile in the tech community and attract more developers by hosting interesting yet challenging coding puzzles. Developers have the option to showcase their true engineering skills.  

What were you doing before you launched your startup?

I worked on several other startups over the last few years. Before that I was a management and IT consultant at Capgemini in the US and Germany.

Where did you meet your co-founder?

Met him through a common friend.

What’s your biggest ‘hindsight’ moment?

Realising the power of exposing databases and APIs through our web based coding editor.

What will 2014 bring?

I think we are very close to finding our product/market fit. After that it’s time to grow!

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

Experiment and prototype as much as possible. Quick and dirty and running experiments is more important than building a solid tech architecture at the early stage.

When you do CustDev interviews the ‘customer’ should in average speak 60% of the time or more. If not you are not doing CustDev but selling your solution.

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

Hire developers by letting them showcase their true coding skills as opposed to how well they can craft a CV

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

hired.com

What’s your favourite London restaurant?

Yalla Yalla

Prehash

Thanks Claus! We hope to see you at the dinner table again soon.

Go here to see our new tables.