Archives for the month of: April, 2016

graze We had a great week talking about everything from subscription business models to how a company is valued. Mark Williams, Director at Results International spoke extensively on deconstructing company valuations last night, whilst Edd the co-founder of Graze kicked the week off on Tuesday night sharing Graze’s story.

Dinner with Graze for subscription businesses
Dining at the fantastic Royal Exchange Grand Cafe, Edd and his fellow diners enjoyed a dinner covering the nuts and bolts of how a subscription business model works. Drawing on his experience from being the co-founder & CTO of Graze, Edd shared the story of how Graze has grown over the past 7 years.

With their vision to be the world’s number one health snack brand, their belief in the success of this is by building multiple channels. Starting as a subscription business, they branched out into retail 9 months ago. After two weeks they become the top snack seller at WHSmith!

Describing Graze as a tech company first, Edd explained how they move fast and react quickly. Learning from their experience from the get-go has pushed their business to where it is today, and they continue to prove the success of the multi-channel strategy.

markwilliamsDeconstructing company valuations dinner
TableCrowd members joined Mark Williams for dinner at The Happenstance to explain the art behind how company valuations are determined, what in particular can drive a valuation as well as how to value your own company.

With an average taking between 6-9 months, valuations are seen as more of an art than a science. Getting the best valuation for your business depends on a variety of things. But the real question is how much is a buyer willing to pay, as that’s the real cost of any company. It’s the ability to articulate the value of a business that will provide the most positive valuation.

When it comes to tech businesses, valuations are usually worked out as a multiple of the revenue. Typically valuations of this sort sit at between 3 to 6 times the revenue. And, generally speaking, those businesses that are the first movers and shakers, the disruptive ones have sold at a higher multiple of the revenue.

Ultimately, what it all boils down to are knowing your buyer, getting under their skin and being able to offer them something that’s of value to them. And of course, if there’s competitive tension – it stands to reason that that in itself can add a lot of value to a business.

Our speakers were joined by Running in Heels, Thinking Bob, The Dinner Set, Fly Marketing, Liberte Fitness, Biotech and Money, Alchemy PR, EarlyBird, Gartner, CafePod, Goldman Sachs, Doctor Care Anywhere, Showroomist.co, TrafficLightSolutions, RATP Dev UK, Dental Capital Partners, Bristows, Mattioli Woods, and Unocodrinks amongst others.

Special thanks goes to our speakers Edd and Mark, as well as our partner Wellers.

Wellers for siteTake a look at what other dinners we have on the horizon for you to join.

Building-a-teamAt dinner last week with Fabrice Bernhard, Co-founder & CTO of Theodo UK, a tech-team-for-hire company, we were lucky for Fabrice to share five lessons he thought would be worthwhile for any non-tech founder to know.

  1. Spend 50% on marketing, 50% on tech.
  2. Be fast. You can start with as little tech as possible (Did you know Groupon started out with just a blog?) By starting with as little tech as possible you can make sure you are going in the right direction before sinking large sums of money in developing tech.
  3. When you’re looking for tech partners, go for the very smart but not very experienced. Don’t be fooled by the CV. Test out what they say. You want to be smart about the business as you can always find more solutions in tech.
  4. The tech partners in your business need to be able to make it understandable for you.
  5. As a startup, you need a CTO that’s super smart and can attract (and retain) good talent. Run away from anyone who hasn’t coded for 10 years, who is used to managing teams or insists on using old technology!

For more great tips from our speakers, take a look at our other posts – or better yet – hear first-hand by joining us for dinner!

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)?
Wattpad

What’s your favourite London restaurant?
Veeraswamy

What’s your favourite meal?
Zanzibari fish curry

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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:

piccolinoWe organised two tech-related dinners this week. One for non-technical founders looking to build their first tech product and a dinner for those looking to succeed in FoodTech. A fab turnout for both dinners as usual, here’s the skinny on what went down:

theanthologistDinner with The Food Corporation
Our TC members had the pleasure of dining with Kimberly Hurd (CEO and founder of Tabl and The Food Corporation) and David Tabizel (founder of The Food Corporation, and hugely successful and experienced entrepreneur). Dinner took place in the private dining room of The Anthologist in The City, with our partner Wellers joining in the discussions. There were plenty of hints and tips shared by both David and Kimberly covering everything from being honest with yourself to being sure you know what you want.

As someone who loves building businesses, David’s insights and tips included:

  • Be brutally honest with yourself – he admits to having had lots of failures, but reminded his fellow diners that if you do fail, to do so quickly
  • Know your numbers and be careful about over projection
  • Understand your competition and your exit – know what you want and where you want to end up
  • Have an objective strategy tactic – don’t walk into the dark not knowing what you’re doing, and
  • Remember – your time is precious

Kimberly has been in the FoodTech space for 5 years, her comments at dinner were:

  • Establish what you are trying to solve
  • Be humble to each other
  • Having a good team and focus is very important
  • 90% of your decisions as a startup will be wrong. That’s okay – just pivot and change
  • Be able to answer questions like who would want to invest in me? Why would I be a customer of me? What are my margin? And so on

Kimberly also mentioned that she believes there is too much funding going on at early stage which is giving false hope to some startups. Don’t forget there is nothing wrong with being a small business (niche micro-companies are a growing business), be honest with yourself as to whether you do actually want to scale through investment.

kimberly

Dinner for non-technical founders
Being at the helm of a tech business as a non-tech founder can’t be the easiest thing to do, so to have a dinner with Fabrice Bernhard, Cofounder & CTO of Theodo, a tech-team-for-hire business helped many of our members garner insights and ideas to help realise their tech vision. Dining at Piccolino in Exchange Square, everyone enjoyed an evening covering tips for those non-techy types amongst us that have a vision to build an app or web platform. Read all about Fabrice’s five lessons for non-tech founders.

fabrice

Our speakers were joined by Neema Food, Bubblo, CafePod, Sapling, Crowdfooding, EatAbout, The Food Rush, Output Group, Not Just Vegetarian, Intelligent Crowd TV, FlatClub, MercuryLab, Inploi, Henry’s Avalanche Talk, Liberte Fitness, Imby, Fountain Partnership and Unocodrinks amongst others.

Thanks to David, Kimberly and Fabrice for speaking as well as our partner Wellers.

Wellers sponsor sizeWhet your appetite with what’s coming up at TableCrowd this month.

peasinapodOur recent fundraising-themed dinner had Flight Venture’s Nancy Fechnay talk on the “do’s and don’ts” of fundraising. Having a co-founder cropped up into the conversation which led to the reasons why it makes good sense to have a co-founder.

Co-founders are great
First and foremost, you need someone to share the stress with. Not only does it help to have someone to bounce ideas off (and complement your skills with their own) but it will save your mental health too.

You do not want to be a single founder.

If there’s anything that convinces you to grab a co-pilot in your business endeavours, know that seasoned investors will also want you to have one.

So how do you find a co-founder?
Speaking to many of our TableCrowd members, they each have different stories of how they met their co-founder. From meeting at a dinner party, or friend’s from school/college/university to colleagues at the same firm, or any variety of similar encounters -  there are plenty of ways in which you might meet your kindred spirit.

Be the Yin to their Yang
Nancy advised her fellow diners to spend every minute with their co-founder. To take personality tests and solve problems together. To, effectively, become two peas in a startup pod. But, it’s important that you don’t skip on the serious stuff either. Ensure you have a great legal agreement in place, and map out what you need to accomplish, when it needs to be achieved by and who is doing what. The last thing you would want is resentment growing between you, because one is doing more of the heavy lifting than the other.

And, don’t forget to have an independent person sit on your board.

For more great tips from our speakers, take a look at our other posts – or better yet – hear first-hand by joining us for dinner!

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:

questionOur after-dinner speaker, Nancy Fechnay, a partner at Flight Ventures recently spoke about the “do’s and don’ts” of fundraising. Here are her top questions she expects investors to ask:

  1. What stage are you in?
  2. What are your KPIs? What are you tracking?
  3. What is your growth unit and % by year and by month?
  4. What is your competition?
  5. How do you get your customers on board?
  6. What is your product road map?

Have your answers to these questions all ready so you feel prepared for when you meet with future investors.

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

green As always our dinners with VCs prove to be particularly popular and this week’s dinner with Nancy Fechnay was of no exception. A venture capitalist for 5 years, Nancy currently advises seed companies, so her talk on the “do’s and don’ts” of fundraising was quite a hit. So much so in fact we’ve got two Top Tips articles, one on The Importance of a Co-Founder, and the other on Top Questions VCs ask.

You’re going to get lots of the same questions. Create a fundraising pack and have it available on Google or Dropbox.

Make sure your fundraising pack includes answers to the main questions VCs usually ask, a one minute pitch and a video pitch too, if you can (as Nancy says this impresses investors).

When searching for an investor, Nancy recommends getting warm introductions and steering clear of any form of cold calling (including messaging on LinkedIn). This is where networking comes into its own – as the more you build your network, the more likely you will meet with people who can introduce you to investors that are suited to your venture.

Check out my pinned tweet that has the top 14 books to read to ensure that you don’t make mistakes

Finally, Nancy touched on pitching, explaining how your pitch has to inspire others. You need to have others find your business as appealing as you do. So make sure you refine each of your pitches. And don’t forget to “Pitch every damn day”.

You need to be able to express what you do in one minute as well as what value you will create. A great tip to remember is:

Never assume that someone you are talking to can’t be helpful for you.

nancyMassive thanks to our speaker Nancy, who was joined by: Liberte Fitness, ClearMacro, TrafficLight Solutions, Insight Report, Torsion Information Security, Fashion Bloc, Apparel Systems, Yambina, Solely Original, Ignition Law and Zooqit amongst others.

Are you interested in joining us for dinner? Have a look at our upcoming dinners to see which takes your fancy.

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.