Launch Event 2018

Hello Collider Class of 2018!

Wednesday, October 3rd, Collider Amsterdam launched their new cohort of amazing Madtech startups, Collider’s Class of 2018!

Six startups from the UK, Ireland, Estonia, the US and India were selected to join our second accelerator programme in Amsterdam, kicking off in mid-October.

With the presence of some good food and drinks, the attendents learned from the founders how their technologies can help brands better understand, target, engage, convert, serve and retain their customers.

Our friends from The @Leisure Group hosted this event at their wonderful HQ in Amsterdam.

Collider Amsterdam Class of 2018:

* Churnly’s churn prediction software uses Machine Learning to deeply understand why a company loses customers and predicts which customers they’ll lose.

* GladCloud is an enterprise SaaS platform for brands and services in the global convenience economy to drive increased revenue across their network of local affiliates.

* NeoSound uses AI to turn sound into meaningful data, helping call centers efficiently to improve customer communication and increase retention

* Pinstorm makes tools that make real-time creative advertising possible for e-commerce, news and other companies who make a business from fast changing information

* RapidPricer utilizes deep learning algorithms and machine vision to dynamically price and promote retail products in real time, in order to reduce waste and increase margins

* Yoke helps apps to grow by driving downloads through social media influencers & providing tangible business value.

Why legal stuff matters to your startup

The paperwork, the contracts, the term sheets, the compliance regulations. You might have incredible tech, a team worthy of a Nobel Prize and your dream customer already in the bag, but without getting all the legal stuff sorted, you’re pretty screwed.

In the accelerator world, there’s often an expectation to see there’s a legal partner, but few actually discuss what that really means. And so after launching Collider Amsterdam in 2017, it gave us the perfect opportunity to scour the Dutch market for that dream partnership, where we landed on the folks at LXA The Law Firm.

Having now worked with over 50 startups at Collider, we can see (and totally understand!) that the legal stuff isn’t the most exciting part. But, it’s arguably one of the most important, and gives meaning to sink or swim.

An awesome law firm is a company that can support our startups with a whole host of issues, from IP to GDPR, to option pools and term sheets, but by doing so becomes an incredible, trusted advisor to our angel investors. In our eyes, that’s a win-win for all parties.

New startup, new country

As part of our deal, we expect startups to move their business to Amsterdam in order to receive investment. Innovating in fresh waters in a new country and likely going into competition with huge, multinational companies takes real bravery, which is exactly why you need a serious legal office behind you.

“LXA were right there at the start of our journey into the Netherlands,” said Rado Raykov, CEO and Co-Founder of Consent.io, a Collider Amsterdam startup which helps brands to access an always-on focus group of millions, with real-time analytics and live feedback.

“Shortly after we made the transition and became a Dutch company we had the good fortune of having to very quickly switch gears thanks to our first paying customer waiting for us to send our contract proposal.”

The many needs for a legal expert

It doesn’t take a genius to know that startup life can be tough; but until you’re faced with that next challenge, it’s not always possible to see it coming.

“Having your papers in order is a must for future investment,” said Rado. “One of our co-founders is an American. Our first client is from outside the EU. We all needed employment contracts with our own company. We had to begin our GDPR compliance roadmap. Oh yeah - and then there’s the matter of Intellectual property.”

Ultimately, we know the legal stuff isn’t the most exciting part for investors or for founders, but having this organised from the start will save you a lot of money on ibroprufen in the future.

Your tech might be great, but business wants business

Many of these things are simply the harsh realities of the real business world, and chatting to any of your startup friends over a beer will likely reveal it’s common practice. But without the security of a startup-friendly, efficient and seriously knowledgeable legal firm, you’re unable to do what you really do best – and that’s sell.

“When you say ‘innovative’, businesses hear “’unproven’. When you say ‘new’, businesses hear ‘risky’. Having to surmount to all of that is a difficult task,” said Rado. 

“But if you have the right partners on board to make sure that the law is on your side, that your contracts are rock solid, that you can step on their reputation and professionalism to mitigate and minimise the risk for your team, investors and clients - then you can venture into any boardroom. 

“Yes, you might be young, but when it comes to the lawyers and the law - you are equal with the other side of the table.”

What I Learnt About How To Sell From Being Sold To

With a background in (advertising) sales and having backed over 40 startups now through Collider, I think I have a pretty good idea on how startups sell their products... especially on what not to do. So it was a real eye opener when I recently went on the search for some software for Collider operations. I needed something specific, which meant many of the companies offering a solution were likely in the early stages of developing it, and would therefore also mean they'd be on the early side of developing their sales pitches too.

I knew it would be fun.

The good stuff

Well, there were plenty of passionate and enthusiastic founders that you can't help but get excited about their products.

There was also an impressive can-do attitude, especially when the product needed tweaking for us.

The not so good stuff

But of course, I also saw things that with a better approach to the sales pitch, the outcome could have been entirely different.

These are things we teach Collider startups to do from day one, and whilst they seem pretty obvious in most cases, every company I spoke made the same mistakes.

1. Don't pitch – ask questions.

Many startups came into the meeting and just talked. Talked about their company, talked about what it could do, talked about why it was great. But what they forgot to do was ask me questions on what I was looking for, why did I want a product like this, what did I want it to do and why?

Learn their language and what success really looks like for them, so when it comes to pitching your product, you can relay back exactly what they're looking for.

2. Never do a standard demo.

It completely misses the point and undermines step one of any sales process – to firmly understand your customers needs. Then you can amplify it for them and replay back how your product could be their dream solution.

A standard demo won't do it.

3. Learn when to say no.

I asked for a lot, and in almost every case they said yes, they could do that, clearly without thinking about it.

It was only when I asked to know how many people were in their dev teams or how much cash they had that I understood how likely my needs were going to get onto their roadmap. Usually not at least until they'd raised their next round.

Focus on the customers that your product can help now, but use your meetings to understand what else you could do further down the line. Be honest.

4. Know how to close a deal.

Always ask my timeline for implementation, as that'll tell you how urgent it is. Is my mission critical (3 months), important but not urgent (6 months), or is it actually just a nice-to-have?

Ask if there is a budget, no matter what it is you're building, and then ask where would that money come from and who would sign it. Are you talking to the decision maker?

Whilst these simple changes will not guarantee success, they'll certainly help you better understand your customers' needs. That means getting your product to exactly where it can seriously help today, and help in the future, too.

Top tip lessons learnt from multiple accelerators

Having worked in accelerators for the past six years, I've seen a hell of a lot of startups, and I've learnt some top tip lessons from one to another. But even though the startup vertical has varied completely, I've quickly learnt the lessons are very similar. So similar, I thought I'd summarise...

Life at Collider

Collider has just had some huge changes, and with a programme that’s always on so we never have to turn promising startups away, I’m really excited to see what the future holds. Really, it’s the perfect time to join.

We’re also tackling the corporate innovation world in a very different way – rather than a consultancy based, tell-us-your-challenges-and-we’ll-scout-the startups-to-fix-them method — Collider is about relationships and growth.

Having most recently come from a cyber security accelerator where most of the startups tech, due to the nature of that industry, sat across many verticals, the idea that these MadTech companies are disrupting a very specific industry with very specific challenges creates its own unique obstacles.

We’re not just here to offer business support to startups, but to provide meaningful connections to customers who are crying out for innovative solutions. This industry is being disrupted based on the consumers needs, and not just because.

I’ve spent the past few years working out what makes a good startup, and what makes a great one. With applications open for the first cohort of 2018, let’s see what impressive MadTech businesses we can find.

How to become an angel investor

Becoming a successful angel investor should not just be reserved for a few. You'd be awesome at it.

And to prove just that, we gathered together a group of the seasoned and the new to hear from Collider’s multiple-time angel Richard Fearn, and Super Mentor who led Unruly’s exit, Marion Bernard.

And now we’re sharing it with you.

Enter a community, don't go it alone.

As an investor, you need to pick the right companies – obviously, so why risk everything to begin with when there's a whole ecosystem out there looking to help you.

As Richard said, accelerators can solve problems before said problems kill a business. That's for sure a comfort to investors.

Your time is more valuable than your money.

If you're looking to invest, you'll likely have some pretty useful skills – so why not share them? Work out how you can add value to your companies, which actually might not be what you think.

Get good at being patient.

Once you invest, don't expect it to pay for itself within a year or two (or even five). You're playing the long game, so make sure you follow the company through from the start.

It's not just about investing for returns.

Really, there’s so much more than that. Make sure you allow yourself to enjoy the journey as you'll be surrounded by some of the most innovate startups and investors. It's quite infectious, really.

Check your record.

Learn the lessons from your track record; and if you haven’t got one, learn from those that do.

Amplify you.Position yourself in the market as you would with anything else.

Position yourself in the market as you would with anything else. Amplify what you can bring to get on the cap tables you want to be on. Amplify your value.

It really isn't just about your money, and the best startups will know that. They'll be looking at your connections, too.

It’s about your exit too.

Do your best to work out where you might like to follow on, and what would have to happen for you to not. Remember, you’ll likely get most of your money from just one or two exits.