Archives for the month of: September, 2015

Money, money, money…

Does it make the world go round? We’re getting October off to a good start here at TableCrowd with an exciting dinner coming up next week focused exclusively on the options available for you when raising capital at seed stage. Come along next week to hear from our expert speaker, Tim Jackson, and to meet like-minded folk in the same boat as you.

leaninvestDine with Tim Jackson, partner at Lean Investments and VC
Tim Jackson is a partner at Lean Investments and leader of Europe’s biggest AngelList syndicate in Europe, as well as a top seed fund. At dinner next week, Tim will be covering the different options available for start-ups to raise money including VCs, angels and crowd funding platforms. With a wealth of experience including as a journalist for The Economist and Financial Times, Tim is a VC and seed investor himself.

If your start-up has a product but is looking for advice in raising capital in order to scale it, this is the dinner for you!
Dinner is at 6.45pm on Wednesday 5th October The Clerk and Well, Clerkenwell


Also coming up next month…

> How to win using social media with expert social media strategist, Kaushal Tailor, at Tom’s Kitchen, St Katharine Docks on Wednesday 14 October

> Successfully crowdfunding your food business with Crowdcube, Earlybird and Farmdrop at The Royal Exchange Grand Cafe, The City on Monday 19 October

> From vision to prototype to market with Emily Brooke, founder of Blaze at Jamie’s Italian, Soho on Wednesday 21 October

> Building a successful business without funding with Venntro’s founder & CEO, Ross Williams, at Obica, Soho on Wednesday 28 October – take a look at our #MeetTheSpeaker video:

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

See you soon!

adrianlloydAnother valuable dinner this week here at TableCrowd over at Jamie’s Italian with Adrian Lloyd, Founder Partner of Episode 1 Ventures.

Episode 1 invests in seed and series A rounds of up to £2m in software-driven businesses with the potential to transform industries. Episode 1 like entrepreneurs who are data-driven, and are building a portfolio of companies that are using software technology to disrupt their chosen marketplaces.

So what does Adrian advise for entrepreneurs who are looking to approach a VC like himself? Some simple but clever tips from Adrian below:


  1. Be a missionary, not a mercenary.
  2. Be picky with incubators. Don’t just go for any of them, as the top ones are an immediate validation for VCs of worthwhile businesses to look into.
  3. Don’t go into a negotiation with a company valuation that has a range.

Adrian advised our diners to look up the VCs that you’re meeting with beforehand. A little bit of research into what they’re looking for can go a long way, in order that you keep their interest when you do meet them in person.

And a final obligatory tip:

Don’t fabricate details to make your company sound better. Due diligence is there for a reason and they WILL find out!

You have been warned, readers!

Our speaker, Adrian Lloyd from Episode 1, was joined by Like Minds, MyBeautyMatches, Compare and Share, WellVine, USPAAH, Sesame, Natural Born Brands, myDriver, Klusstr, ClearMacro and Henchman amongst others.

A special thanks to our sponsor Taylor Wessing, and to our speaker, Adrian Lloyd.


You may have heard the name ‘BlaBlaCar’ bandied around at the moment and it certainly is a company that’s made us sit up and listen, did you see that they just raised $200m? Next week, we’re lucky enough to have Daniel Benamran, the UK Country Manager of dining with us at one our new venues, Mas Q Menos. Alternatively, come and join the conversation about flexible childcare on Tuesday night at The Green, or why not swing by on Wednesday night to dine with Sheena Morjaria from TIS Ventures, a Dubai-based venture capital fund that invests in the UK, Middle East and India? Phew, a busy week ahead!

nwdcoworkTISVBlaBlaChild friendly co-working & business
A slightly different style of dinner this time, with an open discussion about co-working spaces and the future of childcare. The lack of affordable and flexible childcare options in the UK is an ongoing problem, and Ann Nkune from Bloomsbury Beginnings, who runs parent workspace sessions, and Leo Wood, director of Winkley Studios and Cooks Yard coworking spaces and PlayPen, a weekly cowork&crèche session, will be with us to lead the discussion about workspace providers and child-friendly businesses. Come along to network and share ideas about this relevant topic for parents and businesses alike.
Dinner is at 6:45pm on Tuesday 29 September at The Green, Clerkenwell.

Dine with TIS Ventures, seed investors in UK, Middle East & India
We’re so pleased that Sheena Morjaria, Managing Partner of TIS Ventures, will be providing an after-dinner talk and informal Q&A at dinner whilst she is in town for a couple of days from Dubai. She will be talking about when she invests, the differences between the markets in the UK, Middle East and India, as well as the strategic advantages of having an investor across multiple regions. Get face time with Sheena at this dinner and discuss some of the ideas you’ve been working on.
Dinner is at 6:45pm on Wednesday 30 September at Lima Floral, Covent Garden

Dine with BlaBlaCar – 20 million members in 18 countries (*hot off the press, just raised $200m)
Daniel Benamran, BlaBlaCar‘s UK Country Manager,  will be sharing their story, expansion strategy and how the company plans to continue to grow to gain global control and domination of the car sharing market. Daniel’s experiences bring him a global vision of the challenges inherent to scaling a business. This dinner will be an amazing opportunity to network with others in the sharing industry as well as talk to Daniel informally over a delicious dinner.
Dinner is at 6:45pm on Wednesday 30 September at Mas Q Menos, The City

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

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


branddnaWhat do successful brands have in common? “They have a ‘brand DNA'”, says Robin Gadsby, one of the world’s leading brand strategy and integration experts who has led some of the biggest brands like O2 to success. At our marketing dinner last week, Robin shared some of his tips for creating and maintaining a successful brand:

  • Brand DNA: every brand must establish this at the very beginning
  • Your DNA is made up of your values, and what you and your team want to stand for as a business
  • Every team member must share this brand DNA, and this is why it is so crucial who you employ at the beginning as you must have shared values
  • Each DNA is made up of about 4 or 5 assets

Robin’s assets: bold, open, trusted, clear.

As well as this advice on ‘brand DNA’, Robin emphasised the importance of customer relations, and he says:

Let’s take care of existing customers and acquisition will take care of itself.

Invest in your team, and invest in your customers, and you will be on the way to building a successful brand.

For more inspiring tips on building your business, be sure to check out upcoming dinners here. Think you have what it takes to be a speaker like Robin? Get in touch with us on

jamesguptaRecently we had a really lovely message from James Gupta, the Founder of Synap, an online education platform that uses AI algorithms and psychology research to enhance the way students and professionals learn. James attributes joining an EdTech dinner in June last year as the starting point of a chain reaction of meetings, events and business decisions which have pushed his business to a completely different place. Here is his account of what sets TableCrowd dinners apart from regular networking events, and what he has got out of attending a dinner:

Networking is crucial in any business, but perhaps especially so in the early days when all you have is an idea and you’re looking to make the connections that will help propel your idea to the next stage.

The startup world is crowded – and there’s certainly no shortage of conferences, pitching contests and other ‘networking’ events, nor of early stage companies attending them and trying desperately to ‘get noticed’. However, such events can often feel fruitless – with events getting bigger, noisier and more expensive, attracting new entrepreneurs in the tens of thousands (and often charging tens of thousands) on the promise of meeting investors, partners and co-founders.

As someone who has attended a number of these events now, I started to feel that networking was purely a ‘number’s game’, where the idea was simply to go to as many events, give out as many flyers or business cards as possible and hope something came out of it. The old ‘throw enough **** and see what sticks’ method. Whilst this method can work, it’s an incredibly ineffective use of your time, money and energy – all of which are likely to be in short supply when you’re running a startup.

Fortunately, last year I discovered Tablecrowd and decided to give it a try. Their ‘EdTech Dinner’ promised a more focused form of networking over a 2 course meal and some wine for just £30 or so. It almost sounded too good to be true, but after handing over £1,000 for a stand in the ‘startup hall’ of an international summit recently, I was willing to give it a try, and I’m glad I did because it was hands down the best networking event I’ve ever been to.

There was just over 30 people there, but the focused and curated nature of the event allowed all of us to make real connections. Amongst those present were angel investors, VC’s, media representatives, teachers, technologists and entrepreneurs – and the informal, focused nature of the event meant that it was less of a race to give everyone your business card, and more of a genuine ‘get to know each other’ evening.

Attending the event put me in touch with a range of people, many of whom I am still in contact with and meet regularly – it helped us get our very early stage idea in front of VCs, and helped to pave the way for future partnerships down the road. I spoke to far fewer people than I usually would at a 3 hour networking event, but made far more actual ‘connections’ out of it as a result, and enjoyed an actual sit-down meal.

A year after attending the event, my company, Synap has gone through a series of meetings and pivots which has helped to shape it into something truly exciting, and this has been in no small part due to the one Tablecrowd event we attended. If you’re looking to build connections for your company, my strong advice to you would be to ditch the ‘bigger is better’ approach to networking, and look at the smaller, more focused and better quality networking offered by Tablecrowd.

synapWe were blown away by James’ lovely message to us and asked if he would mind sharing with our community his thoughts on TableCrowd. With the Edtech dinner, in the eyes of James, being the catalyst for where his business is now, we’re so pleased to share that  Synap is currently crowdfunding on Crowdcube and, to date, has raised 84% of its £180,000 target – they have 6 days left! If you’d like to learn more or invest in Synap (starting from just £10!) visit their pitch page!

As you know, we’re all about promoting our community and helping them #spreadtheword about what’s happening with their business. If you have news to share, please tweet or email us [] and we will do our best to get the word out for you.

Last week, we got the chance to pick the brains of two seed investors: Matthew Bradley of Forward Partners and Reshma Sohoni of Seedcamp. Also in the mix was our dinner with Robin Gadsby, one of the world’s leading brand strategy and integration experts whose clients include Google, Gettaxi and Rocket Fuel. To learn about what they expect from the companies that they work with, read on below…

obica Dinner for solo founders with early stage VCs
We kicked off the week on Monday with a dinner for solo founders with early stage VC investor, Matthew Bradley from Forward Partners, at Obicà in Soho. Specialising in ecommerce businesses, Matthew explained how Forward Partners is a value-added VC, with an extensive list of partners including Hailo and Zopa to boot.

Matthew enjoys speaking and networking with entrepreneurs so we had a lively discussion about investment. He alluded to the sensitive nature of the VC’s role in choosing which ideas to back and stressed the need for honesty and objectivity in what you’re doing. Some of his tips for entrepreneurs included:

  • Be honest to yourself and try to remove emotional attachment when analysing your business
  • Do your customer research to get an NPS score before building to investment

Dine with Seedcamp: what we look for in the companies we work with
We were at Obicà again on Tuesday night for dinner; this time with Reshma Sohoni, Partner and Co-Founder of Seedcamp. Seedcamp is not only an investment fund but also a mentoring program, and Reshma divulged how key the relationship between VC and start-up is.

With over 500 global investors, Seedcamp like to get in and be the first fund to invest. Reshma has raised money for companies such as Skype, all over the world, although she says that at the moment, we’re in the right city for start-ups.

London is just incredible right now!

She shared the qualities she looks for in new companies:

I look for grit. I look for hustle. I want smart founders who are going after a big market.

It’s important to Reshma how you approach the application process for funding; it’s imperative to be innovative and use everything you have at your disposal. Your background and your skills make your business what it is, so show that off. Storytelling matters for your pitch, as it will have the impact to get your idea across. Reshma advises that you should be able to tell the story of your business in either 1 minute, 5 minutes, 25 minutes or an hour and half!

I’m big into storytelling. If you think storytelling is just a bunch of PR, a) you’re wrong, and b) we won’t get along!

She advised that it’s better to know your own flaws as if you have any doubts, your investor will be able to see through them. So, be honest!

Overall, Reshma is looking for companies who have considered the ‘user experience’ of their product. She cited brands such as Uber or Airbnb who have got this down, and who are famed for this. What does the user feel at the end of the experience? What is the emotional impact of your product? If you can nail these elements, then you will make your investor happy.

robingadDine with Robin Gadsby (Google, Gettaxi, o2) one of the world’s leading brand strategy & integration expert
Over at Jamie’s Italian on Wednesday night we caught up with Robin Bradsby and guests over dinner and explored the ins and outs of brand strategy. Robin has a wealth of experience in brand strategy; he was previously part of the team that launched O2 to market which included one of the best brand launches over the past decade, the switch from the Millenium Dome to the O2 arena. He shared some of his top tips for companies building their brand – find them here.

Our speakers were joined by: SilkFred, Better Schools Project, Yours Truly Organics, Bob’s Ski and Snowboard Discovery, Glimt, Liberté Fitness, Trunkaroo, Coppr, Yniche, Snyffle, Agio Technologies, LegalGeek, Hewlett-Packard, WellVine, USPAAH, SpottinStyle, MyBeautyMatches, Modafirma, LimeClip, JobLab, Fashion Bloc, SupplementMe, Babihub, Insider Trends, Street Stream, Clickon, Natural Born Brands, Ripe and Ready, Weengs, Skignz, and Lady Dina’s Cat Emporium amongst others.

Many thanks to our speakers, Matthew, Reshma and Robin along with our returning partner, Wellers.

Wellers sponsor sizeFancy coming along to a dinner soon? We’ve got lots of exciting evenings coming up, to find out more here.



Venntro logoIt’s always a good day at TableCrowd HQ when we get to announce a new partner, and we’re really excited to have Venntro Media Group come aboard. Ross Williams, their CEO, has joined us at plenty of dinners including most recently our dinner with Paperless Post on planning for international growth, and dinner with journalist Edwin Smith.

Founded in 2003, Venntro is the award-winning global media group that connects people to a life they’ll love through dating, lifestyle and social networking technology. Providing services to over 45 million consumers worldwide, Venntro operates in all major English-speaking territories and achieves annualised revenues approaching £50 million.

Brands operating under Venntro include, and White Label Dating – an award-winning platform allowing brands and entrepreneurs to power their own branded online dating sites. Venntro is part of the Tech City UK Future Fifty programme, is a City A.M. Leap 100 company and is one of LSE’s ‘1000 Companies to Inspire Britain’.

RossWilliamsJoin our first dinner in partnership with Venntro, where Ross will be providing the after-dinner talk and informal Q&A session on Monday 9 November covering how to build a successful business without funding.


unnamedThis week, we had the pleasure of catching up with Stuart Lewin, after he dined with Ken Valledy last month. Stuart, who is the Founder and Creative Director of BTL Brand, gave us an insight of his business and what they have been up to since they launched. Here is what he had to say:

What’s the elevator pitch for your business?
We like to help brands ‘do better’ online and offline. (That’s usually enough to get people to want to know more.)

What were you doing before you launched your company?
I was the Creative Director of a branding agency called Vivid Brand. This was the day job whilst I was rebuilding a derelict house.

If you have co-founders, where did you meet them?
I don’t have any co-founders.

What’s your biggest ‘hindsight’ moment?
To have a co-founder. I have become a zen master at spinning plates whilst juggling many balls.

What will the rest of 2015 bring?
We are very lucky to have a diverse range of clients. The rest of the year will involve us working with start-ups in Helsinki, Lisbon, Barcelona, Glasgow and London, helping them launch financial, insurance, aviation, pet, chocolate and snack products and services.

coke_1One piece of advice for someone starting a business in your sector?
Some start-ups are more focused on the destination and might underestimate just how much hard work is needed for the journey. We have a Venn diagram scribbled on the chalk board in the studio to help us keep focused on our journey. The over-lapping circles are labelled Hard Work, Focus & Passion. The three circles are bounded by another circle labelled Certainty. The centre of the over-lapping circles is chalked in and labelled Success. That is my one piece of advice.

The next bit of advice doesn’t really qualify as a second bit of advice as it’s so ridiculously obvious… and everyone should know it already. This next bit of non-advice is our mantra. We recite this mantra every day: Less is more. No matter how many times a client will try and convince us otherwise, we always remind them with a smile that less is always more.

sahti_1Convince someone to use your product/service in under 50 words.
We’re a team of experienced brand people with studios in London and Barcelona. We always push ourselves, and our clients, to ‘do better’ at every stage of the strategic and creative process. We help established brands and start-ups with a bold approach to strategy, identity, packaging, digital and social.

What’s your favourite startup in your sector (not including your own)?
Ok. I’m gonna bend the rules a little bit here. My favourite start-up, in my sector, would probably be a small agency called B&B who are doing good work at the moment. This is where I get 1 out of 10 for originality but my favourite start-up, outside of my sector, has to be Uber. It never ceases to amaze me how good they are at getting the basics right. All the start-ups out there who are just getting going, please take another look at Uber. Less (done very well) will always be more.”

What’s your favourite London restaurant?
The London Particular in New Cross is a little nugget of gold in South East London.

What’s your favourite meal?
That’s easy. I used to live in Barcelona and I got addicted to the grilled seafood kiosks in the local markets. I could quite easily live on grilled razor clams, squid ink black rice and salted cod with garlic.

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

byesummerHow are we half way through September already?! With the summer well and truly over, and the dark nights drawing in, it’s best to get your diaries full of dinners to get you through the colder months ahead of us. With a Women’s only dinner and one for those looking to understand how to secure investment in seed and series A, let’s take a look at what we’ve got planned for next week:

Ideas & development dinner
Randy Nyssen, Head of Digital Marketing at i2iEventsgroup, and Tamar Beck, CEO of event tech startup, are hosting a ladies only dinner to share ideas and learnings around personal and professional development.
Dinner is at 6:45pm on Wednesday 23 September at Lima Floral, Covent Garden

Dine with Adrian Lloyd, Founder Partner of Episode 1
Join Adrian for dinner where he will be providing a refreshingly honest, entrepreneurial and original view on how to capture the attention of a venture capitalist, and secure investment in seed and series A round funding. Episode 1 Ventures invests in seed and Series A rounds of up to £2m in software-driven businesses with the potential to transform industries. This dinner is right up the street for data-driven founders and entrepreneurs with passion and ambition.
Dinner is at 6:45pm on Wednesday 23 September at Jamie’s Italian, Piccadilly

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

Don’t forget we’ve launched our Breakfast on Tuesday series for founders, at Aubaine, Broadgate Circle.
We start at 8am sharp – book your place on next week’s breakfast right here.

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

Our members this week were treated to a dinner with Ken Valledy from Tech2Brand. Held in the sumptuous surroundings of Drummonds, Ken was on hand to share some insight into how large established brands connect with new start-ups.

Let’s find out what he said…

If you’d have told me five years ago I’d be here speaking at this start-up dinner, I’d have said, ‘Why, what did I do wrong?’

Ken explained how he never imagined he’d end up at Tech2Brand, as he started out his career in marketing at a top beer company before he got sucked into the world of branding. Although he was never overly concerned with running his own business, he fell into Tech2Brand organically and here he is now!

adrkenvalledySharing his advice on how to present your tech to a marketing team, Ken gave these three gems of advice.

1. Turn up on time. 50% of start-ups arrive late to a meeting and this is business suicide! You might as well call in sick if you’re going to arrive late, as you won’t get the gig.

2. When you are presenting, remember it’s not about what your product does in general, but what your product does for THEM. Make sure your presentation is tailored to your panel.

3. Keep things short and sweet. Think 5 slides, not 50!

Our speaker, Ken Valledy from Tech2Brand was joined by: PixelPin, Dhaba Lane, BananaBerry, USPAAH, Silverline, Natural Born Brands, Weengs, Mind Agilis, Teach a Brand to Fish, MyBeautyMatches, BTL Brands amongst others.

A special thanks to our sponsor Natwest, and to our speaker, Ken Valledy.