Collider12 Alumnus Avocarrot raises $2M

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We’ve got big news from the US – Collider12 alumnus Avocarrot have just closed a $2M seed round! We’re so happy for the guys, who moved to San Francisco after participating in the first Collider programme in London. Their round is made up of investors Giorgos Zacharia, Darling Ventures, Odyssey Ventures L.P. After an exclusive VentureBeat article provided some insights into the native mobile ad space, we had the chance to get down to the details with Co-Founder Conno Christou. Read on for some insights into working across the pond, raising funding, and the challenges of running a multi-national company from Conno.


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•         What were some of the struggles and opportunities you faced when moving to SF?

The biggest struggle is to find a way to network and get out the word for the company to a totally new audience in a new environment with brutal competition and noise. There’s not a standard recipe to succeed on this, however the 3 tips from me would be to try and keep your confidence levels high at all costs, to listen carefully even if you don’t necessarily agree and to be as specific as possible when asking for favours.

If you re a first timer and you'll learn by doing, then by definition you'll make a lot of mistakes that will seem silly to you after a while. The large abundance of potential clients, partners and investors in Silicon Valley will help you accelerate this learning process to nail your pitch and understand better the mechanics of the game. Remember to listen carefully to what everybody has to say.

•         This is a big seed round of funding. How will you manage the money and how far are you expecting it to take you?

In Europe this might be one of the biggest seed rounds so far, however in Silicon Valley it is rather the norm. A general rule of thumb is that you get the money for 12-18 months runway. In our case, we'll mostly invest in expanding the team with exceptional people both in SF and Europe, while at the same time market the ad exchange to both app developers and demand sources.

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•         How did you choose your investors for this round and how long did it take? Was it what you anticipated?

It was much worse than we thought - both in terms of time and resources but also in terms of energy consumption and expectations. The VC game in SV is extremely different compared to Europe and the time to adapt to the new rules might be underestimated. A VC once told me that bad fundraising looks like a 100 no’s and a successful one like 99 no’s. As you see, continuous rejections are part of the process, which at some point makes you question your own credibility and value, resulting to low confidence. Remember that if you lose your confidence then you lose the game.

•         You have some of your team based in Greece and others in SF with visits back and forth to London. What are some of the highlights and pitfalls of running an international company?

You get to see lots of different people and replicate processes to create a quick buzz in new territories, given that you know what you re doing. The challenge is that you have to be disciplined and systematic on how to maintain excellent communication bridges between the distributed teams. A catalyst here is to create strong, well-defined processes and find ways to enforce them so that the team embraces them and doesn't reject them.

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•         What advice would you give to entrepreneurs in the MadTech space who are looking to raise a similar round to you?

The mobile adtech space is a huge space that is kind of doomed and blessed at the same time. Doomed because there s a lot of noise and few successes; blessed because unlike the web adtech landscape, there are no dominant players in the mobile space yet, so there s a huge opportunity to be amongst the first ones.

If you re looking to get money, then start meeting with VCs at least a month earlier to start getting to know them under no time pressure. If you have a rockstar team and a strong vision then you have pretty good chances to secure a seed round. If you manage to report steep hockey sticks in your KPI graphs then you have great chances for a big seed. Don’t give up and stay confident. 99 no’s is the norm..


Why Collider? From our Startups

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"Being a part of the Collider Class of 2014 has been without question, the best decision and most rewarding experience of my career, and I would wholeheartedly recommend Collider to any start-up."  Carl Wong, LivingLens

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Here at Collider, we’re experts in finding that sweet spot between brands and marketing/advertising startups - or Madtech startups as we like to call them. We pride ourselves on bringing innovative founders in front of major global brands (real customers) to build a product people really want- to paraphrase Paul Graham. Applications for our January 2015 program are now open and we’re looking for you to join our Collider family.

We focus on three things: cash, coaching and connections. First off, the cash: This year is even bigger and better than we could have imagined. We’ve brought together even more angel investors from the marketing and advertising world, meaning more expertise and also more cash, for our startups. This year, we are now offering up to £150K funding per company. And, that’s just the starting point…

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"The support systems they put around a company is worth its weight in gold." - Sam Oakley, Stashmetrics

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"What is it like working with Collider? It’s like having an expert partner always with you. A year and half on, and we’re still getting value. It was probably the best months we have invested in our company."– Phil Mundy, Beem

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Next up, the coaching. We’re comprised of a diverse group of successful entrepreneurs with decades of experience behind their belts here to help you accelerate and fine tune your product. There are plenty of skills to learn as a startup founder, from pitching to listening, cash flows forecasting to product roadmap development. We’re here to help you learn. Feeling overwhelmed? Your dedicated coach works with you on a one-to-one basis for two hours every week throughout the programme- they’ll keep you focused from beginning to end. Over to you Carl:"Before Collider I felt that I needed an hour to explain what we offered, but now if I get 10 minutes with someone that's enough to listen and deliver a pitch.” And what’s more, there’s an even larger network of investors popping by every month to give in their feedback between workshops.

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“The mentoring process has been a fantastic accelerator for the business. It's much more about the being on our side of the table, partnering with us and working through the issues than a normal supplier/customer relationship." - Andrew Foyle, Miappi

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"The benefits for us working with Collider have been the introductions they've made to the brands and to get in front of people in those businesses. Ultimately you’ve got to listen what people are saying, listen to the advice that people give you and make your decisions out of that." - Iain Hagger,CampaignAmp

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Last but certainly not least, connections- this is where we don’t hold back. During our 17 week programme, we’re bringing you, the most innovative entrepreneurs and their game changing ideas face-to-face with the UK’s senior executives of the most influential global brands- think Unilever, Diageo and the National Lottery. They’ll be giving you first-hand feedback on your product and how to find that perfect product-market fit. Think years of research and testing boiled down into a few months’ time. We've done most of the hard work - just bring your game face and go-to attitude.

What’s next? You. Together we’re shaping the future of advertising and marketing to consumers, and want you to be a part of it. Not sure if this we’re the right fit for you? We’ve got some guidelines for the types of B2Brand startups we’re looking for this year. Need more info? Contact miles at collider. io he will be happy to answer all of your questions!

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“With Collider you can bring forward by months the time at which you start to generate revenue. That’s because of the brands that they introduce you to, and the high intensity of the Collision Phase - meaning you don’t make those time-consuming mistakes at the beginning.” – Stashmetrics


Invest in the Class of 2016 co-hort

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Look out West to our cousins over the pond. AppNexus, Radian6, Marketo. Huge marketing and advertising tech success stories. They’re building the tech that is going to be powering the future of the brand and agency world. Our peers in the US are getting early access to the tech that is shaping our industry. We should be building it here.

Look East to the City. Where the financial industry lives. Another sector where Britain leads the world. And the people in that industry are doing something important. They’re backing their future. They’re buying into it. Pouring money and knowledge into the FinTech scene, opening themselves up to the startups that will keep the world knocking on their door. It’s time we did the same.

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We’re calling out to you, to the whole industry, to provide some of that fuel. Just as the City has platform upon platform to invest in startups, we're creating one for MadTech. For you to put your hard-earned into up to 10 game-changing startups. And in return, you'll get a stake in them. Up to 10 startups that will set us apart from New York, Paris and Singapore. And most importantly, a stake in your future that could turn into a great return.

So, What's the Deal Then?

By investing in the Seedrs campaign, you'll be investing directly into up to 10 of MadTech's finest leading into 2016 - the Class of 2016 cohort.

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We’ve assembled a crew of seasoned investors and industry stalwarts to come on board. But to fulfil the mission, we'll need more. We'll need you. The pioneers, the rule breakers, the early adopters. The people in the industry that just ‘get it’. Between us, we have the expertise, skills, connections and smarts to build the global MadTech businesses of tomorrow. The more you invest in the startups, the more intangible returns you get. Just as Mr. Banner says, "You become a part of the community". So we've spliced up a few investment suggestions below, with the perks that come along.

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[4/15 slots remaining] BRONZE £5K – Welcome to the Collider Community.You’ll get an invitation to the Collider Launch Party, Demo Day and monthly MadTech Drinks, and monthly mail updates.

[11/13 slots remaining] SILVER £15K – Take a front seat on the innovation train. You’ll get an observatory seat at Selection Day, and exclusive networking events with the other Collider investors in addition to everything in bronze.

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[6/8 slots remaining] GOLD £25K – Roll up your sleeves and get involved. You’ll get the opportunity to lead a Collider Academy Workshop, a half-vote at Selection Day, invitation to monthly Investor Portfolio Review sessions in addition to everything in silver.

[3/10 slots remaining] PLATINUM £50K+ The big one – you’re in as a full investor. You’ll get special invites to Founders Dinner, coordinated one-on-one mentoring with the startups, exclusive Investor events, free pass to the Collider Startup Academy sessions in addition to everything in gold.

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We’re creating a movement here, with you leading the charge. Bring your friends, your colleagues, your peers and let's keep the UK #1 in MadTech.

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Collider has moved to a room with a view

We've moved to a new office space! We're now at the brand new WeWork shared office space behind the Oxo Tower. We're a friendly bunch, so if you'd like to learn more about how we can help you accelerate your madtech startup business, drop us a line and book in a chat with one of us. If you're debating whether to apply for our 2015 programme - contact us now and we can help answer any questions you might have. You only have to look at companies like Seenit, Beem and CampaignAmp to see some of the wonderful things that our startups are achieving. For more information on our 2015 programme and the £150k of equity investment up for grabs.

A shared-space room with a view. 

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Coffee and beer on tap & the games area - you have every reason to visit us! photo 3photo 2 (8)

What it's all about - the great startup community. photo (8)

A warm hello from the new Head of Programme – Parul Bavishi

I’m pleased to be joining the Collider family. It’s only day 3 but it’s been an exciting few days so far. The application process for the 2015 intake is open and I’m eager to see which startups will make it through. At Collider, as Head of Programme, I will be taking charge of the programme delivery for this new intake. Perhaps I should tell you a little about me? Well, I started my career in management consultancy sitting in a police car, wearing a bullet proof vest, racing through the streets of London, scribbling notes on the processes involved in a 999 call – buy me a drink and I’II tell you more about that story. Later my love for literature took me into publishing where I helped set up a new business and worked as an editor, a publicist and also a publishing spy. But it was the work I did with the then startup publisher Quercus and tech startup Valobox that led me to wanting to dive in deeper to the world of startups. It’s a fast-paced, agile environment, and the hothouse of future tech. I love it.

Outside of work, I love books and music, and help manage a small folk band Little Sister Blue. On a few lucky occasions I've even been invited to sing with them. I’m a whisky aficionado but I’ve yet to find a better whisky than Glenmorangie.

More from me soon.