Bindi Kharia interviews Seedcamp co-founder Reshma Sohoni
The BizSpark European Summit always attracts a stellar line-up of judges and guest speakers and 2012’s event in London on June 7th is no exception! I asked one of the judges, Reshma Sohoni, a founder and manager of Seedcamp, a BizSpark Plus Network Partner, why she supports the startup ecosystem.
BK: For the uninitiated, what is Seedcamp?
RS: Seedcamp is an early stage mentoring and investment program that engages with startups through our monthly Seedcamp Events, where entrepreneurs present their companies, network, receive mentoring, and compete for investment by Seedcamp. Yearly, we invest in about 20 companies this way. Our standard investment is 50,000 Euros in return for a 8-10 percent stake in the business. We bring companies to the next level through hands-on support, our network of awesome mentors and partnerships.
BK: What do you look for in a start-up?
RS: I look for startups that offer something unique or different and which is defensible. Of course, I look for startups with ‘the big idea’, but it’s important to note that doesn’t always exist from ‘day one’, it often evolves. A strong leadership team is vital, so I also look at how team members execute their ideas and how they interact with us, each other and partners.
BK: If you had to give start-ups one piece of advice, what would it be?
RS: “Think global!”
BK: Was this part of the reason Seedcamp wanted to be involved in this year’s BizSpark European Summit?
RS: Part of the Seedcamp culture is to support projects that enhance the startup ecosystem. The BizSpark program definitely does that, so it is a natural partnership for us and we are delighted to support events like this.
BK: What do you think the impact of BizSpark has been here in Europe?
RS: It has the most incredible reach geographically – any other organization would be hard-pushed to match that. This means that start-ups all over the world – including Europe – have access to BizSpark. I hear that in Europe, there are currently around 14,000 startups in the BizSpark program. I also love the nature of BizSpark – it has a very open, collaborative approach, both in the way it works with partners and startups themselves. For Seedcamp, partnership is key to our scalability and to help startups launch globally.
BK: There are a lot of events that startups get invited to – what’s your advice to them when selecting which ones to invest their time in attending?
RS: It’s true that there is a large volume of events, so startups need to choose the ones that are most relevant and which will give them good networking opportunities. Winning prizes is just part of the benefit of attending these events.