Archives for the month of: February, 2016

marchIt feels a bit mad that we are on the precipice of March already (where does the time go?!) but here we are on that strange day that pops up every four years. With spring so close we can almost touch it, let’s take a look at what’s coming up next week (and briefly touch on what’s happening in the rest of March too).

We have a two fantastic dinners lined up for Tuesday next week, the first being a fundraising dinner with Joe Krancki from Frog Capital, and the second is our women’s only dinner with Kathleen Saxton, founder of The Lighthouse Company. Read on to find out what you can expect at each one.

Dine with Joe Krancki – Partner at Frog Capital, on when he invests
Want to know what an investor looks for when they invest in entrepreneurs and companies? Of course you do! Our next fundraising dinner is with Joe Krancki, partner at Frog Capital, who will be giving us the inside scoop on what businesses get a big, fat yes from him and why.

At Frog Capital, the investment team focus mainly on innovative, rapidly growing companies who operate in dynamic markets. Since Joe joined them in 2009, he has sourced and worked on many of Frog’s investments, including EDITED and Rated People. So, what are you waiting for? Grab a seat at Joe’s table, share what you are currently working on, and meet your peers over a delicious meal and a glass of wine (or two!).
Dinner is at 6:45pm on Tuesday 8 March at The Happenstance, The City

Dine with Kathleen Saxton, founder of The Lighthouse Company & co-founder of Advertising Week Europe
As part of our Women’s dinner series, we have great pleasure in welcoming Kathleen Saxton to join us as our next after-dinner speaker. Not only is she the founder and Chief Executive of bespoke headhunting firm The Lighthouse Company, and co-founder of Advertising Week Europe, she also manages to find the time to offer her services as a pyschotherapist too.

Kathleen will be telling the story at our next ladies only dinner of a girl from Gravesend who scaled the heights of the advertising and media world before taking the entrepreneurial leap to launch her headhunting company. She will be sharing some of the most pertinent themes from this year’s newly released results from The Lighthouse Company’s annual New World Talent Survey, as well as some of the most enduring trends from the past couple of years.
Dinner is at 6:45pm on Tuesday 8 March at Jamie’s Italian Piccadilly, Soho

 

march2016Take a look at more of our upcoming dinners here.

questionsDiners were out in full force last week, firing questions at the wonderful Matthew Bradley, Investor at Forward Partners, on a variety of topics. Here’s a selection of what was asked and answered after dinner:

What is the definition of a ‘co-founder’?
A co-founder isn’t just a job title. Investors are interested in businesses that have a ‘founding team’. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, a co-founder should bring their own skills to the table that compliment yours, building a solid team of founders.

What is the balance between vision and customer feedback? How do you find the balance?
You need to know what to implement and when, so always have bucket loads of product vision. Take a look at Carlota Perez – a Researcher, lecturer and international consultant. It may sound silly (and a bit obvious) to say, but it’s a bad idea to build a product when no one wants it. Always ask open-ended questions and listen to what people want.

What’s the criteria that makes you choose a startup?
For us, charisma and passion are important. As an investor, you’re always looking for a gigantic exit – can it get big enough? We’re looking for things that can return our fund.

When do you need a co-founder?
At series A, you’re expected to have a co-founder as you need a person to talk with and bounce ideas off. Make sure you recruit at the right time. It’s worthwhile knowing where you’re skills are lacking so you employ someone who plugs those gaps. This is the best way for a business to grow; make sure you do it with the best people. It’s important for us to know that you know what your weaknesses are.

How much time do I have for you to exit and be successful?
At Forward Partners, there is no specific time pressure, although we do expect a time frame of between 7 to 10 years. Be prepared for when you do seed rounds to give away 20% of equity. Before seed, expect anywhere between 35-45%.

To get your chance to ask investors, journalists or founders questions to your heart’s content, join one of upcoming TableCrowd dinners.

pathforwardAt our recent dinner with Forward Partners, their investor Matthew Bradley enlightened his fellow diners on their framework for making an idea into a viable business within 12 months. (Hey – everyone loves a deadline!) So, here is a taster into the glory of their three step-process:

  1. Idea Validation
    > First and foremost, get a landing page up and running. Put your idea out there for people to see.
    > You need to be honest with yourself about your customers. Do super deep customer research. (Don’t spend lots of money at first!) Talk to as many customers as possible, as there are so many uncertain things when a business is small. You need to be 100% sure there’s a need for you business (aim for 100 people to start).
    > Develop the product – do surveys, they should inform your product development. This will save money and time. Don’t plough money into things that don’t work.
    > Trouble shoot your process. You need a solid foundation from acquisition to delivery. Knowledge is paramount. > Find customers that will want your product/service and deliver it to them at the least amount of fixed cost. Make things as easy as possible.
  2. Building a valuable product
    > Be comfortable will spending money on teach and marketing.
    > Build the least amount to give the highest amount of service.
    > Monitor the reactions to your business. Constantly listen to your customer and react to what they say.
    > With a validated idea you can start the search for your co-founder.
  3. Creating a valuable business
    > Get into the habit of growth – the next 6-12 months is about getting up to series A. Aim for 30% month on month growth.
    > Try different marketing channels. Test the channels. Be prepared to hire marketing pro(s).
    > You should now be in a good position to scale.
    > Be customer-centric. This will ensure you’re successful.
    > We all want to be perfect. You don’t need to get everything perfect. Just optimise.
    > Product direction will change, get the data and learn from it.

Head here for a more detailed look into Forward Partners’ The Path Forward framework.

nwd-bootstrap-carolineThere are plenty of obstacles that get in the way when launching and growing a business. The main ones are usually – cash, and getting your name out there. We’ve all had those great ideas, but without the money to back them – how can we build upon that little nugget of a notion? And what about getting your company into the spotlight? How do you secure media coverage for your awesome startup? Our two dinners next week cover these topics – join in the fun and sign up today.

Bootstrapping to success: Frugl by name, Frugal by nature
Many startups follow the route of bootstrapping to get their business off of the ground and the founder of Frugl, Suzanne Noble, did exactly that. She has managed to build an award-winning marketplace that connects Londoners on a budget with great events and offers by being financially frugal.

Join us for dinner where Suzanne will share her story, including the highs and lows of making your vision a reality, and tips for those planning to bootstrap rather than turn to funding from day one. With her background in PR, she’ll also share tricks and tips on how to achieve media coverage without using an agency.
Dinner is at 6:45pm on Monday 29 February at Tom’s Kitchen, St Katharine Docks

Dine with Caroline Hyde, business presenter on Bloomberg TV: on what makes a great story
Want the inside scoop on how you grab the media’s attention? Of course you do!
We couldn’t be more excited to have Caroline Hyde, London-based business presenter on Bloomberg TV providing an after-dinner talk at our upcoming TableCrowd dinner.

Caroline will be talking about what makes a great story, and what she looks for when reporting for Bloomberg. Her particular forte is tech and the UK startup scene (which is right up our street!). Join us and your fellow entrepreneurs for dinner with Caroline and discuss what you’re working on over a delicious meal in a private dining setting.
Dinner is at 6:30pm on Thursday 3 March at Aubaine, Mayfair

announcement-icon copyNewly Announced Dinners

> eCommerce dinner: Insider tips on increasing orders through your online store, Tuesday 5 April
> Diner with author and founder Shaa Wasmund: Women in leadership positions, Thursday 7 April
> Dine with Nancy Fechnay, partner at Flight Venures: the ‘do’s and don’ts’ when fundraising, Wednesday 13 April

adrfwdpartWe had a brilliant dinner last night at Jamie’s Italian in Piccadilly, with the equally superb Matthew Bradley, an investor at Forward Partners, speaking on the topic of turning an idea into a valuable business within 12 months no less!

He started off by giving a quick run through on his background, including how he started his career in investment banking, followed by an MBA and setting up a business in sunglasses. This led to investing in some startups which is when he realised he’s better at investing than operating a business. Enter his latest role as investor at Forward Partners, an investment firm like few others.

Forward Partners invests in eCommerce at idea and seed stage (very few investors follow this particular business model), which means they look for solo founders, offering to back them up to £250k, throwing in warehouse space and access to their team too. With three partners, the rest of the team focus on helping their investment in marketing, legal, product and operations. Their purpose is to increase success.

Dinner covered their booklet, ‘The Path Forward’, which entails their framework for making an idea a fully fledged business. Matthew explained there are three steps (Read more about these steps here):

  1. Idea Validation
  2. Building a valuable product
  3. Creating a valuable business

Matthew finished up the evening with an informal Q&A session covering everything from the definition of a co-founder, when you need one to Forward Partners’ specific criteria for investing and how much time until success and the exit plan should occur? Read all about these topics and more here.

We were joined by Pearlshare, MyFriendsRoom, Talented Group, Borne Agency, thebrunettecupcake.com, Trinity Capital, Jambo App, Iratel Ventures, OneLane App, Host Digital, Scrummy, Solely Original, Sports Philosphy, Food for Suits amongst others.

Special thanks to Matthew Bradley for providing a fantastic after-dinner talk.

Check out more of our dinners here.

adaptandthriveAnia, Head of Commercial Developments for Products/Digital at Travelex, let us in on a few secrets at her dinner recently about how established companies can adapt and thrive in a sea of startups. Here’s her top tips for maintaining your piece of the pie:

  1. First and foremost develop a clear strategy
  2. When launching digital products there needs to be differentiation from competitors’ products
  3. Change how you think and serve customers – don’t become stagnant in the way you view and approach your clientele
  4. Established brands (especially in the financial sector) should have a huge network of stores which gives them an unrivalled exposure to customers for digital products (and also keeping the cost of customer acquisition low, which is always a bonus!)
  5. If you’ve previously focussed on individual transactions, would it benefit your company if you switched your focus to the lifetime of customers instead? Concentrate on retaining customers as much as securing new ones.

For any ‘Big Company’ looking to respond to these challenges that startups are throwing their way, in the eyes of Ania, they ultimately need:

  • the support for change at the highest level – effectively meaning the CEO needs to buy in to the plan too
  • to use all of their assets including distribution channels, lower acquisition costs and strong branding
  • So translating the High level process to something meaningful for the people doing the day job
  • to translate the high level process into something meaningful for the people executing the day-to-day tasks – what changes are needed to the processes already in place? Do staff need incentives to ensure your new strategy becomes a reality?

Be sure to check out other tips from our speakers, as well as our future TableCrowd dinners.

helloCome join us for breakfast next week. Kate will be hosting our regular Breakfast for Founders series on Tuesday at Aubaine in Broadgate. So if you fancy networking over your eggs with other founders, be sure to sign up. Be quick though, there’s only two seats left!
Breakfast is at 8:45am on Tuesday 23 February at Aubaine, Broadgate

announcement-icon copyNewly Announced Dinners
>
Dine with Kathleen Saxton, founder of The Lighthouse Company and co-founder of Advertising Week Europe, Tuesday 8 March
> Dine with Starcom MediaVest: connecting established brands with startups, Monday 21 March> Dine with journalist Monty Munford, writer for The Telegraph, Forbes, Economist, TechCrunch, Independent & more, Wednesday 23 March

Make sure you take a look at what other TableCrowd dinners are happening soon too.

 

travelexEveryone had a fantastic time at the intimate dinner with Travelex’s Head of Commercial Products/Digital, Ania Walker last night at Piccolino restaurant in Exchange Square. Talking on the topic of how established companies adapt and thrive with the constant influx of new FinTech players joining the industry, Ania had some great advice and insight for her fellow guests. Her talk covered everything from the problems established brands face from well-funded new FinTech companies to the reality of startups having a 1 billion dollar value in 2015 yet only having a revenue of 10 million dollars.

Explaining the rise of FinTech startups, Ania attributes it to how the usage of online and smart phones has increased the overall number of transactions and the ease of completing a transaction has improved significantly because of these access points too. Startups are able to offer better deals and services than banks and traditional companies as there are no additional costs of branches or legacy business that may be cannabalised as a result.

Screenshot 2016-02-15 13.19.30Ania was joined by WiseAlpha Technologies, YouView TV Limited, Weaver Digital, thevyoynatist.com amongst others.

Special thanks goes to our speaker, Ania.

For more TableCrowd dinners to join – check out what’s coming up.

ideaWe’ve all been there, brimming full of ideas that could be the next ‘big thing’. Not only does it take a leap of faith to get a business off the ground, but also a lot of hard work and dedication to make a dream into reality. So who better to give a pep talk on turning an idea into a valuable business within 12 months (hey, everyone loves a deadline!) than Matthew Bradley, an investor at Forward Partners, who invests in idea stage startups?

Join us for dinner where Matthew will be talking through ‘The Path Forward’ – Forward Partners’ framework for creating a worthwhile business in a year. As a little side note, Forward Partners (if you don’t already know) are a new style of venture firm that gets ideas off of the ground. Effectively getting involved right from the get-go to bring money, proven business processes and ingenuity to your idea.

So, get those burning questions ready and book your seat at dinner with Forward Partners for what is sure to be a game-changing dining experience.
Dinner is at 6:45pm on Wednesday 17 February at Jamie’s Italian Piccadilly, Soho

 

announcement-icon copyNewly Announced Dinners
> Social Impact: Dine with Brie Rogers Lowery at Change.org, Tuesday 15 March
> Publishing Tech: Dine with DC Thompson Ventures, Wednesday 16 March
> Dine with The Food Corporation: Succeeding in FoodTech, Wednesday 16 March

Come join us for dinner, let’s #MeetandEat!

pancake You all know we love food here at TableCrowd HQ, so we’re excited that next week has two great evenings in store for you. The first being Pancake Day on Tuesday 9 February (any excuse to whip up a batch of mouth-watering stack of pancakes!), followed swiftly by our Travelex dinner on Wednesday evening at Piccolino, Exchange Square.

Ania Walker, Head of Commercial Development for Products/Digital at Travelex will be talking about the challenges faced by established businesses, particularly those created by startups. In her role at Travelex, Ania is responsible for corporate and product strategy, and has been working to define and deliver their digital change agenda.

So, get those burning questions ready and book your seat at dinner with Travelex for what is sure to be an insightful dining experience.
Dinner is at 6:45pm on Wednesday 10 February at Piccolino, Shoreditch/The City.

calendarUpcoming TableCrowd dinners
> Dine with Forward Partners – Wednesday 17 February [SOLD OUT]
> Breakfast for Founders – Tuesday 23 February
> Bootstrapping to success – Monday 29 February
> Dine with Caroline Hyde – Thursday 3 March
> Dine with Frog Capital – Tuesday 8 March