Archives for category: Tips

subscribeOur speaker, Felix Rossknecht, spoke at a recent dinner about building a successful subscription business, here’s what he had to say about how to make a subscription model work for your business.

There’s a few areas to consider when thinking about how to make subscriptions work for you and your business, these are product, flexibility and experience.

Customers care about your product, not the subscription. It’s the product they buy into and the subscription can be a ‘hassle’ from a customer’s perspective. You need to make sure you put the consumer at the heart of the user journey.

The first interactions between you and your potential consumers is crucial so it’s important to make them aware of the benefits of the subscription model.

We’re doing this for you, to make your life easier.

By being flexible and transparent with the subscription process, you’re enabling consumers to get into a habit of receiving your product and thus avoiding a high churn rate. When it comes to flexibility, subscription models do have a bad rep from legacy (think gym or phone memberships that are notoriously difficult to get out of!), so make sure the model fits around your consumers’ existing habits and behaviours. Make sure you can answer the questions, how much do they consume? How often? Are there any gaps? And so on.

Don’t make a business out of ‘tying people in’ instead you need to get people to trust you! Be open as a business.

Finally, make sure once the customers are set up that you show them the benefit and make it carefree.

Build a space for emotional engagement, you want your consumers to look forward to their shipment. Make the product exciting and develop a cracking tone of voice. To get the experience right, you must know your customer and their lives (inside and out!). Think about the user journey, every renewal phase, every experience has to be customer friendly and have a good interaction. From the packaging to the ease of receiving the shipment – it has to excel and be hassle-free.

For more great tips from our speakers, check out our Top Tips posts, although nothing beats hearing from them in person. So, why not join a dinner?



500startupsSpeaking with Matt Lerner, London Partner of 500 startups at dinner last week, he covered the topic of how startups can get a big, fat yes for their application to join their accelerator programme. Here’s what you need to know:

How 500 Startups invests
To date, 500 Startups has Invested in 1500 startups, in 52 countries, with offices in 29 countries. That’s a total of $250M invested, with the biggest investment being $100K. They cover pre-seed up to series A, and companies have to have traction with at least $10K revenue per month.

Distro Dojo
The programme they’re running in London is called Distro Dojo and it’s for post-seed companies.

It’s an investment and training program for post-seed companies ready to level up with intensive focus on growth marketing and fundraising.

What’s it for?
Getting your product to market.

They believe the best way to learn is by doing. So they bring people into the organisation for 1 month. They spend 3 months with a company and it is all hands-on learning. They map out goals and growth strategies to test your assumptions.

They believe they’ve figured out a way to grow companies quicker.

The results so far.
20 companies have completed the programme to date, as it’s new and only been going a year, they need a bit of time to see the true results they can achieve. But so far so good!

Getting on the programme
First and foremost, the main question the Distro Dojo team need an answer to is whether they would invest in a company. (Pretty important, right?) They know that 60% will go out of business, and that they’ll make their money back on only 10%. That’s some tough odds to work against!

The nuts and bolts of it all
Each company gets $200K, along with 3 months with 500 startups, one of those being in residence. They have 3 intakes per year, with the next one happening in Berlin.

Find out more at



metaspeechOur wonderful host, Claire (who’s also the CEO of Grow Movement), had such a great time dining with Emma and Mariana founders of Metaspeech that we had to share her report verbatim.
I love public speaking as part of my day job as CEO of a charity. I love to talk with passion about what I do. But how often do I get feedback? Not very often. As our story is so exciting and impactful rarely do I get feedback on my presenting style usually on the topic. So, having been public speaking in front of large operational teams in India for BT and in front of funders and volunteers at Grow movement, I felt some what nervous to do this. After so much experience, had I been doing it wrong all these years?!
The great thing about the event was the MetaSpeech instantly made everyone feel like a team. Relaxed and all in it together. The top tips they gave during the workshop were always backed up with a why and an example which made learning easy.
So how did Claire do? Well, here are her top 5 tips she took away from the dinner:
  1. The presentation starts before you reach the stage. The style of walk you have gives you confidence.
  2. When you arrive at your speaking spot, pause before you start talking.
  3. Limit hand gestures. Use for emphasis. Too much movement without purpose takes up brain space in your head and, for the listeners, it distracts them from what you are saying.
  4. Look at your audience by moving your shoulders.
  5. I stand funny! I stand naturally with my right hip out. This reduces my height and presence on stage and can give me a girly appearance, which is not what I want when I am after donations!
So does Claire feel like she’s been ‘doing it wrong’ all these years?
No but I can do better!
For more great tips from our speakers, check out our Top Tips posts, although nothing beats hearing from them in person. So, why not join a dinner?


We had a fantastic evening with Andy Batty, General Manager of onefinestay where he spoke at dinner about taking a company from start-up to grown-up. (Read the #AfterDinnerRoundup here.)

What limits start-ups is a perception that a shortage of funds is the problem.

Here’s Andy’s top tips for start-ups:

  1. Create an employee brand as well as a company brand.
  2. You need to try to keep your staff… Start ups often recruit then cull as money runs out but acting like this means you lose your skill and talent, creating a culture of fear of job loss.
  3. Go for the minimum level to prove your concept; avoid paralysis through perfection. Invest in tech but do it cheaply.
  4. For tech, only build in-house what is totally necessary. Try to work with what is already available.
  5. Don’t break the brand.  With hindsight, the team at Tough Mudder realised they’d expanded too quickly and that affected cash flow. This meant when they entered the German market, they had a limited product in order to save money. This in turn impacted the customers’ experience which essentially ‘broke’ the brand concept.
  6. Both Tough Mudder and onefinestay use the Net Promoter score as they’re both customer-focused. It is key to any customer-specific business. A high Net Promoter score drives repeat business. Use this!
  7. Have a strong brand. Think Tough Mudder’s Orange Headbands. Understand what your customer wants.
  8. Understand what your customers are willing to pay for. Make sure everything is of value and is really what the customer wants. (They may think they want it but will they if you take it away?)
  9. Employ People Managers. Make sure your people can see a career path; accept that staff won’t be there forever as people don’t have a ‘career for life’ anymore. Good people managers are game changers. They save money. They keep the work force happy and improve quality.
  10. It is better to have 100 people who love you and they will tell everyone else. One person will tell 10 people about a bad experience. One person will only tell one person if it was a good experience. Look after your first 100 customers. (TC Editor: Although social media takes this concept to a whole new level!)
  11. Have amazing customer service and satisfaction. The turning point for onefinestay was when AccorHotels came along and they needed to buy us because they realised we had fab customer service and satisfaction. And an amazing brand, of course.
  12. Control and management. You need this. You need checks and balances. Ensure you have clear KPIs. onefinestay takes smart decisions about cost cutting and demonstrated to AccorHotels that we had the right people and the right expansion plan.
  13. Have two important guidelines and principles to operate by. For onefinestay, they are:
    – How would you want your grandma treated if she was a customer?
    – How would you want your friend’s house treated?

For more tips and tricks from our speakers, check out our top tips blogs. Although, nothing beats meeting our speakers in person – so come join us for dinner!


The diners who joined Ghilaine Chan, Plug-in COO for startups and SMEs, for dinner last week  at The Anthologist left with notebooks full of tips and advice for becoming a master of execution and operations. Here are a few snippets to whet your appetite:

  1. When you are limited with resources, you need to focus and work out what is important.
  2. Read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R Covey.
  3. Have a ‘to do’ list, adding timings for how long each task will take. This allows you to focus your mind.
  4. Focus on getting one thing done a day. It takes away any faff and helps you to feel in control.
  5. Work out what you can and can’t control.
  6. Be outcome-based. Focus on the end game and work backwards.
  7. Be purposeful about being on and in your business. You need to decide the time that you are going to give to tasks, diarise and stick to it.
  8. Make time for what is important to you (hobbies, families, friends) and schedule them in your diary.
  9. Be aware of what you are good at, as well as what you enjoy doing. Make a list of what you don’t enjoy doing too – delegate this to other people.
  10. Don’t check emails first thing; don’t let others dictate your time.
  11. Plan the following day on the day before.
  12. Plan your following week on a Thursday morning.
  13. Match your task to your energy levels; know when you work best.
  14. Trust people to do a job that you ask of them. Make sure they are the right person doing the right job, and that you have given them good guidance.

For more tips and tricks from our speakers, check out our top tips blogs. Although, nothing beats meeting our speakers in person – so come join us for dinner!


hephziThe fabulous Hephzi Pemberton gave some superb tips to her fellow diners at dinner this week. (Check out the #AfterDinnerRoundup here.) Take a look at Hephzi’s top ten tips and tricks for building a business:

  1. Treat everyone like a client
    We treated our candidates all like potential clients. This gave us all the right attitude. It doesn’t matter what business you have, people matter. Have this at your heart of your business; it is your reputation, after all.
  2. Stay close to your clients or investors (they pay your bills)
    Building a deeper relationship is really important. Invite them to dinners. Stand out from what your competitors are giving them for relationship building. Be proactive and creative with the relationship.
  3. Learn to negotiate by pro
    Read a book called ‘Never Split the Difference’. It is hostage negotiation for business. Understand what the other side needs first before your own.
  4. Learn to say no
    Develop a relationship with the word ‘no’. It is a healthy setting of boundaries. As a leader it is important to say no. Stick to what you know (and know what you are good at). It demonstrates a level of confidence that you stick to your guns.
  5. Hire for potential not prestige
    Attitude, willingness, work ethic, fun, interested – this is what you’re looking for. Ask about their family. What is their greatest fear? Ask about books, films, arts, culture etc.
  6. Have a board from early on
    No matter how much of a self starter you are, you need people to talk to. Most effective are those that have buy in. You need to make sure that they commit. The board is there for the business; they represent the interests of the business.
  7. Celebrate your success!
    Gives your team something to talk about :-))
  8. Leverage your time
    Get good accountants, lawyers, great tech etc
  9. Develop yourself to develop others
    From the books that you read. Do this and learn and continually develop. Get coaching. Embed coaching culture culture into the business.
  10. Every year ask yourself why are you here
    It will take you out of your comfort zone, although, you might not like the answers!

For more tips and tricks from our speakers, check out our top tips blogs. Although, nothing beats meeting our speakers in person – so come join us for dinner!


emotionalintelligenceAt dinner last week, Amanda Davie, talked extensively about Leadership and the role of Emotional Intelligence at our latest Women’s only TableCrowd dinner.

Amanda introduced her fellow diners to the 4 main areas of EQ: self awareness, self management, social awareness and social management, whilst explaining that EQ is very fashionable in leadership at the moment and is becoming part of the board level interview for some. Read on to find out what else is involved in emotional intelligence.

Self Awareness. Women tend to have more self awareness than men

Self Confidence. Men score quite high on self confidence (not aggression, mind) as they don’t lack self belief as much as women. Women struggle with a lack of self worth

Optimism. Thinking positively is a must when it comes to incorporating EQ into your leadership skills.

Adaptability. Being agile and flexible to change is an important part of EQ

Self Control. Usually women are weaker at this as men are able to zip in their self control much more effectively.

Relationship Skills. Women are hard-wired to build trust and rapport, so it’s not surprising that they beat their male counterparts at relationship skills hands down.

Self reliance. Being able to feel confident in what you know, and trusting yourself. It’s important not to let insecurities to get in.

Straightforwardness. Nobody wants to be involved with a Jekyll and Hyde character whether it’s in the workplace or on a personal level. When the pressure is on, people can change and turn, becoming unrecognisable to those around them. Ensure you are straightforward by delivering clear and consistent messages. Practice what you preach, as they say. Always try to remain clam and have good body language. A straightforward leader asks for feedback and gives balanced feedback constructively, whilst also having the self confidence to be on the receiving end too.

Empathy. Something that’s woefully lacking in business. Empathetic leaders make you feel heard. Remember it gives employees a sense of calm and safe. Make one-to-one time for employees you need to motivate, and be sure to tap in to your listening skills too (silence is the key). When you understand others, you can see their greatness.

Self Actualisation. Men normally score better than women.  Self actualisation has two parts:

  1.  the work life balance
  2. knowing what is meaningful to you and proactively planning this.

It is knowing what fuels you and investing in it. You must make time to do this. Leaders should demonstrate that they do what is important to them. It is well-known that women put others first, as we are innately ‘the carers’.

Women are natural-born carers.

You need to have a self actualisation plan as you need balance.

Essentially, EQ is just advanced people skills. If you have happy, loyal people they will give more.

For more from our after dinner speakers, check out our Tips blog posts.

Screenshot 2016-05-18 12.23.28TableCrowd members looking to get a no-holds-barred look at VC investment were in luck last night joining Alex Dunsdon for dinner at Jamie’s Italian where he spoke extensively on pitching to investors.

Alex runs Saatchinvest, where they invest up to £300k in early stage tech startups. Anyone looking to get investment from Saatchinvest gets 20mins to shine before hearing yes or no. And as they only invest in 4 or 5 businesses each year, there will only be a select few winning the golden ‘yes’ ticket. Read on for some of the wisdom imparted by Alex to his fellow diners:

Have Drive
In Alex’s experience, most investors will want to know what drives you, as the stats say most entrepreneurs won’t make it. Where does your motivation for what you are doing come from? For Alex, he wants to fall in love with the person and the product.

Be Obsessed
There’s a lot to be said about the founder that has a true obsession with their business. Alex explained at dinner, how he (as well as other VCs) love obsession. It’s pretty clear to most that an obsessed founder will not lose. Having an obsession with your product means you’ll be able to push it to where you want it to be.

Be Tenacious
Look to your users for their feedback. What do they think of the user interface? Remember that they are looking at your product from a different perspective to yours (and it’s a view that is invaluable to any company). Tenacity is paramount.

Have Users
Build your user base. Have a strong group of users that love your product. For apps, you also need to have user volume too.

Be Objective
By all means have a big vision, but always be thinking about what your objective is. How can you go from big to actual execution? Is it possible to break it down into bite-sized chunks?

Pitch Perfect
Most people write too much for their pitch, Alex recommends using a few pictures at the initial stage to tease people. Research the VCs that you are going to see and make a list of criteria for each. Spend two days prepping for each meeting, and be sure to send them an email covering why they should invest. This will save you time in the long run. Each investor will be unique so ensure you cater your pitch for each one.

Special thanks to our speaker Alex, and our partner Taylor Wessing who were joined by, Fly Marketing, Shepherd and Wedderburn, Hello HR, Showslice, Amberoot, Flair Atelier, Jambo App, Chip in, Crowdmix, Amondo, Further&More, The Pigeonhole, Nightkey, Drinki, Unocodrinks and The Good Blend amongst others.

logo-taylorTake 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!

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!