The MadTech Digest #1

The madTech Digest

Highlighting news in European MadTech for this week

At Collider, we like to try things. So we’re going to compile the MadTech Digest, a weekly digest of things our community is sharing, leaders new thinking, and business new in European MadTech. Got something interesting you think we should be sharing? Send it over to alexandra [at]

UK based AdTech company Admedo has scored a fresh $6M funding round this week – that’s the second AdTech company based in Europe to receive funding according to The Drum. Is the 2015 slump destined to lead in 2016? It seems unlikely.

As AdTech public company stock dropped on average 37% in 2015, this shouldn’t be used to represent the entire ecosystem, The Wall Blog points out. M&A activity with large corporates, and a convergence of AdTech and MarTech will bring about a new life to the industry.

Econsultancy also noted the increasingly strong relationship between martech and adtech.  They also recommend keeping an eye on the data, native content and mobile spaces. Oh, and publishers are finally talking about ad blocking in a constructive way.

Speaking of ad blocking, Google pulled Adblock Fast, the official Samsung API for ad blocking, from the app store earlier this week according to The Next Web. With such abruptness, we hope it’s in the interest of UX.

But are we heading into a content bubble? The CRO of Forbes, Mark Howard, thinks sponsored content might be one of the side effects of ad blocking for publishers.

We Are Social’s Simon Kemp released a massive report on world-wide digital, social and mobile usage. He then proceeded to challenge the idea that young people are leaving Facebook. Some light(ish) reading for your Friday commute.

Collider portfolio company seenit were named the winner of the BT Infinity Lab competition, reinforcing the importance of user-generated video content for the coming year.

On the VC Side? Fred Wilson argues capital is going urban once again, based on 2012 data compiled by the Creative Class’ frontrunner Richard Florida.

Send us your feedback, and stay tuned for more to come next week!

LivingLens grabs £1M Series A Investment

LivingLens team
Collider Class of 2014 startup LivingLens, the leaders in making video searchable. They have just closed a £1M Series A funding round, comprised of local Angel Investors in the MadTech space. We had the chance to sit down with Carl Wong, Co-Founder of LivingLens, for an exclusive look at what it’s like to go through the process of raising a Series A round. From scaling sales and client offerings, to in-sourcing technology, to partnerships (LivingLens also just announced a partnership with Market Logic), Carl shares his thoughts on leadership vs. management, creating relationships with Investors, milestones and being resilient.


Co-Founder, Carl Wong

Tell us about the journey of starting in Liverpool, and having clients in London. What are a couple of the drawbacks and highlights?

CW: It’s an interesting question because it’s a non-question. As long as you are in London frequently and often, clients see that you are, you make little to no barriers, more so than anybody else because you set when you can and can’t meet. There are no drawbacks, you just need to make sure you’re consistently there, week-in and week-out. In terms of the positives, well I have probably a better work/life balance than most people. We have a really strong tech skill base in Liverpool that’s probably available at considerably cost-cheaper. And I'm able to leverage my local networks as well as my London networks. There’s no real downside to it.

How did you choose your investors for this round and how long did it take? Are they all from the UK? Was the funding journey what you anticipated?

CW: Our investors in this round are those that have been active and are well funded from our earlier small round last year, and indeed some from the original Collider round. They were engaged from the start with the idea that what we’re trying to do with the business. They have the resources to support us to this level of scale, and indeed beyond, hopefully if required. And, the journey took much longer than anticipated. I think everyone will probably say that, who has been through a similar exercise.

Because we were already engaged with them, because they already understood our business to an extent, my ambition was that the round would take maybe 3 months from the very initial conversation, to landing commitments to the paperwork. And it’s taken twice that. And it’s probably taken not just twice the elapsed time, but twice the amount of actual time and energy. The funding for this round has largely come from the UK, but we do have US investment from the previous small round last year, and indeed they are very active in the advisory capacity with us.


How will you spend the money you've raised for this round? How will your strategy change, and where do you see LivingLens going?

CW: The money is going in to two significant areas. One is building a client servicing, sales and account development function. Which we've already started with two brilliant hires and will continue to build that team out specifically to enable, not just revenue, but more importantly to enable us to deliver value to clients. That comes back to the fact that LivingLens is cutting edge technology. We’re in a very embryonic industry of video mining which I believe will explode over the course of the next couple of years. And we’re going to be at the forefront of that.

LivingLens is about getting the most from video anywhere, so in terms of where we’re going to go as a business, at the moment, we make an organisation’s video searchable, and we take video from anywhere, from any of their partner agencies, and we capture it ourselves. The future is widening up those inputs even further to include social media video. And then the outputs – about delivering more and more valuable analytics around the aggregation of that video, and individual moments of it. And working with partners in the ecosystem, an API driven ecosystem to drive more and more value in the proposition.

The second area where the money will be invested is the technology. We’re taking great strides this year to basically in-source all of our technology build. We have an excellent engineering team of permanent staff, supplemented by contractors when necessary, to accelerate our roadmap, which is all about driving specific value for clients where we continue to build that out. As you know, great tech staff, great engineers are very much in demand. And are expensive. Can’t wait!

What’s your next milestone?

CW: Our next key milestones, since the announcement of the money happened quite recently, but we've been planning for it for some time. So it’s about key hires, putting the right team in place, the team is everything for us. It’s about converting some of our clients into longer-term, higher value, contracted basis. And we are in negotiations with two very very large contracts at the moment. And probably taking that first psychological big step forward to £1M in revenue.

What personal development have you done to adjust your leadership and management style to reflect your company growth, if any?

CW: That’s a good question. I would say, not just recently, but over the course of the last 18 months, you've got to remain focused. It’s really easy to take all of this excellent advice experts are sharing with you, and your head will be spinning. So you've got strike that real balance between listening and considering hard, while staying focused. And I think I've become a better listener.

In terms of leadership style, the interesting thing there is going from a 2-man team, to a 4-man team, to now a 10-man team since we’re bigger. There’s a balance that’s shifted I’d say over the course of the last few months and further as we go forward, from management to leadership. Management about helping individuals’ micro-manage their to-do lists, prioritising what’s happening on a day-to-day, and week-to-week basis. And delivering that on time and in instances budget.

And now, it’s more about engaging people in the vision, setting the tone, giving people enough responsibility to feel they can make their own decisions. And that’s because weave been able to build out the team with brilliant people. People who are much better at their job than I am at mine. So that’s really exciting and very rewarding. But day by day, it’s quite challenging, and I'm always learning. I've learned more in the past 18 months than I have in the past 18 years anyways.

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

CW: Work it, it’s all about using your time well, by getting out there and making connections. Hone that pitch, there’s no such thing as being too practised. That’s a massive learning point for me entering this space 18 months ago. I thought I was good at presenting. I was average. You've got to be really tight about what you’re pitching. The value of it, the problem you’re solving. My best advice is to keep working it.

Be very very resilient. You’re going to hear lots of no’s. And it’s not because your idea isn't awesome. Some people just don’t get it. Some people just don’t engage with it. It’s not their space. Just keep working very very hard to make connections. And then follow up and follow up and follow up. Be relentless in that, because it’s going to take much more time and effort and many more no’s than you expect. Just keep at it.


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..


Crowdfunding Complete for the Class of 2015!

It’s been quite a week here at Collider – never a dull moment! As the excitement from Ad:Tech London cooled down, it was time for the Collider team to pull together and begin filing through the applications for the Class of 2015. Applications for the programme are open until November 10th, make sure you get your applications in before the deadline (and even share with your friends now)! Seedrs campaign

In other news, our Seedrs campaign has come to a successful close! As of Wednesday evening, only 13 days after launch, the marketing and advertising industry pulled together to collectively raise over £330,000! Investments ranged from £100 to £55,000 per person and over 60 individuals participated.

Investors of note include media guru Mat Morrison and CEO of Havas Media, Paul Frampton. Senior advertising executives from Ogilvy and WeAreSocial also invested in the Class of 2015. Some investors will further be actively involved in the mentoring process with the startups during the programme. They will also draw on industry connections and expertise to further supercharge the startups.

“The response from the marketing and advertising professionals has been overwhelmingly positive,” Rose Lewis, Co-founder of Collider said. “We’re encouraging them to invest in the future of their industry through startups, and they jumped at the chance.”

Each of the 10 startups will receive £50K in exchange for 11% equity. A hand-picked 5 of the 10 will receive £100K follow-up funding for a further 11%. Half of the funds from the Seedrs campaign will go towards the first round of funding and the other half will go towards the second round, with all of the investors’ money being distributed evenly between all the startups.

In short, high praise goes to the marketing and advertising industry! They took the challenge head on and took an active role in shaping the future of their industry through emerging tech - their efforts paid off! The Class of 2015 has a group of mentors and investors behind it this year who have an envious track record, with even more brands signed up to help transform these products by acting as first market validators (more on this later). Things are moving quickly – this year will be bigger and better and we’re waiting impatiently to getting this race going…

Colliding with Investors

Bringing startups and investors together is  just one of the many things we do here at Collider12, but we also think such events should be fun. Which is why last week we hosted a small investor breakfast at the gorgeous Modern Pantry, where Locomizer, Miappi, Beem and Seeker had the chance to meet Alliott Cole from Octupus, Itxaso del Palacio from EC1 Capital and Alun Simpson from Par Equity LLP.


Unlike other occasions where startups have the chance to meet investors, this breakfast was relaxed and informal, while still allowing in-depth discussion of the products. As the startups gave mini-pitches without the prop of a slideshow, it tested their ability to remember their own figures and facts, as well as being open to receiving questions from the investors at any time. However the startups responded well to this type of environment, and it allowed the pitches to fell more like a conversation, rather than a sales talk. Questions from the investors ranged from where the products fit in the market, how does it differ to similar products currently available, and who would buy it.


The morning got such great feedback from all involved, we will definitely be making these a regular event in our calender.