Archives for the month of: November, 2013

Imagine if you had a magic tool that could automatically measure your progress, help you see your weaknesses and was able to rapidly improve them? Such visibility would also help investors predict the future star very accurately. We at Dreamstake have created such a tool – DreamRate.

The importance of knowing and seeing how your startup is doing is power and we believe it holds a key to success. Hence why having a rating system is an invaluable tool when it comes to matching startups with investors.

John Whatmore is an accelerator expert, who has been scrupulously studying the London startup scene. You can find all the useful information about different accelerators and options for tech startups in London in his blog.

Here are some interesting things he had to say about us expanding our offering, some new diagnostics, our growth and progress measuring tools:

Dreamstake is a free interactive startup platform for entrepreneurs which has a rating feature that acts as a marker of their progress. Membership is growing fast and has increased from 6,000 in April 2012 to 10,000 now. It has added regular educational events at Google Campus in Tech City; and enables its members (and others) to see how well they are making progress by comparison with other members. Some recent statistical analysis reveals aspects of their businesses.

Dreamstake acts a bit like an online Accelerator by taking startup founders through a process to get them ready for investment and then introducing them to potential investors.

An algorithm enables each member to keep track of the progress of his or her startup, by measuring team size and mix, progress with the product, fund-raising, number of pivots and other key measures of success. The speed with which this measure progresses also acts as an indicator of the dedication of its entrepreneurs. All of this is available for potential investors to see.

Dreamstake has introduced regular educational workshops for startups – at Google Campus, where it is now the largest provider of events. They take place every Monday evening and there are funding-related events on a monthly basis; and all of these are provided free. For those that sign up for a full Accelerator programme – weekly academy, monthly bootcamps, performance review and mentoring – Dreamstake charges a success fee upon successful introduction to investment.

The data which has been input by the entrepreneurs has revealed some interesting analysis. Social media is a dominant theme and that for some 70% of its members their vision is their primary motivation – followed by the concept of a product – for 25%, and money for a mere 5%. Forty percent work from home, 25% from an office and a third say that they are in co-working spaces. Over half had English as not their first language, the vast majority of them European. Among their technical skills, HTML comes top, followed by web development, PHP and CSS. Of the kind of businesses they are developing less than 20% are described in terms that are other than IT related; over 60% are clearly internet or mobile related.

Progress is hard to interpret in a fast-growing community like this, but the statistics show that nearly a quarter have had one pivot, and about a third of the total have had two or three pivots (a quarter have as yet had no pivot at all). Eight percent are at the idea stage, 58% are at the prototype or beta stage, 17% have a full product, 13% are in revenue, and 4% are profitable.

Dreamstake offers universities and their ilk an attractive and low-cost way of supporting their aspiring entrepreneurs.

 

The Dreamstake on-line accelerator is the first of it’s kind and has been evolving for the past couple of years. Next January we will enter a new phase as we build new funding options into the business model. We believe that we have a unique solution for European tech startups that will bring higher levels of support and greater access to funding than previous solutions.

Dreamstake provides end-to-end support for entrepreneurs wishing to get a startup funded in the shortest possible time. The startup rating system allows entrepreneurs and investors to monitor progress.Dreamstake Academy provides guidance on how to create a successful startup. Dreamstake will link startups with suitable mentors and professional advisors.
Startups that have successfully achieved an acceptable rating will be given the opportunity to feature at monthly demo days and investor pitching events.

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Numbers & Vision

Investors are a special kind of ‘breed’. Not only do they want to see your passion and vision, but they need to see key numbers as well. Data-driven management is a key phrase here. You need to demonstrate that you are fluent in all the basic metrics, as inevitably most numbers will differ through time on your business model. Investors appreciate hearing the details on: historical and forecasted financials, capital structure, important operational metrics, terms of key contracts, major expense categories, etc.

It’s Showtime! Style and Substance are Equal Partners

No matter how smart, unique or profitable your idea is, you have to make sure that you nail it on stage! If you’ve been invited by us or any other company to pitch on stage, it most probably means that you have done a great job at impressing us/them with your idea. Being selected to pitch demonstrates that your business plan and all the formalities have been checked and hints at the fact that your possible investment strategies had already been discussed with multiple advisers.

Think of the x-factor. Your charisma is key and no less important at this moment than your strategy. It definitely plays a big role if you can manage to captivate the audience as well as communicate your idea during a pitch.

Thoughtful Confidence. Be Confident, but Listen to Feedback

Nobody knows the answers to the questions better than you – as it is your startup! It’s not your job to challenge your own business during a pitch. Be confident in your answers and bring correct numbers.You spend most of your time problem solving your startup, so you know every minute detail of how it works. It is important to be confident on stage when you talk about solutions. However, listen to the feedback. As an entrepreneur it is important to understand that you also need help and be able to listen to advice given by the experts. Don’t freeze and don’t be too over-protective.

Honesty is the Best Policy!

We hope not, but there could arise a comment or a question, which you won’t know the answer to from the top of your head. Be careful, as guessing might destroy your credibility. Investors want to see that you know all the answers about your business, but they can always see if you are bluffing. A frank ‘I don’t know’ is allowed, you can get out of it by owning up to the fact that you need to do better research before returning to the tricky question.

Don’t forget the Team

If your team is presenting with you on stage, make sure that they are engaged as well. Nothing looks worse than a bored team member yawning behind you, whilst you’re pitching. Find a way! Make sure that they are prepared too and don’t throw random comments which can disrupt the natural flow of the presentation! Investors want to see team work and how good you are with each other.

The Dreamstake on-line accelerator is the first of it’s kind and has been evolving for the past couple of years. Next January we will enter a new phase as we build new funding options into the business model. We believe that we have a unique solution for European tech startups that will bring higher levels of support and greater access to funding than previous solutions.

Dreamstake provides end-to-end support for entrepreneurs wishing to get a startup funded in the shortest possible time. The startup rating system allows entrepreneurs and investors to monitor progress.Dreamstake Academy provides guidance on how to create a successful startup. Dreamstake will link startups with suitable mentors and professional advisors.
Startups that have successfully achieved an acceptable rating will be given the opportunity to feature at monthly demo days and investor pitching events.

LetsPartyHard

Tell us a bit about your background

I grew up in Streatham, on a typical South London council estate. Being brought up in that environment has actually worked out in my favour. It gave me the drive to make something of myself, instilled in me a relentless work ethic, coupled with mental strength. All of which are essential attributes to have in the startup world!

I went on to study law at Oxford Brookes University and also worked as an FA licensed football agent for 4 years, before devoting my time entirely to making my startup dream a reality.

How did you come up with the idea for ‘LetsPartyHard’?

I have always been known as the ‘party organiser’ amongst friends. From around 2006, we as a collective used to go out every weekend, having a great time. Our party lifestyle quickly extended to overseas and we started globetrotting around to some of the world’s hottest parties.

Through social media chanels, people started to take note. Soon, I became bombarded with requests for suggestions of where was good to party. It became clear, that a vast amount of people were not experiencing the same ‘good times’ due to their inability to establish which parties were going on and where. I knew I had the answers and could take away their headache of trying to sort out searching for venues, travel, hotels etc.

What is ‘LetsPartyHard’ all about? What is your vision?

LetsPartyHard is a lifestyle, whereby we believe in AND experience only good times whilst partying. Our model is built for individuals who are fun, sociable, adventurous, young at heart and free-spirited. Our purpose is simple…to help these individuals experience good times whilst partying!

We collate relevant and up to date party content, source companies that provide the best services to assist partygoers and we’re always looking at problems encountered by partygoers from more than one angle.

We’ have created a party search engine LetsPartyHard which currently covers London. The search engine has been created to help people find the right party for them and bring them direct access to additional services such as travel and hotels to compliment their party choice.

My vision for the party search engine is to be the Autotrader, ‘Zoopla’ or ’Skyscanner’ for parties across the world, covering all major cities, party towns and festivals.

Tell us about your team?

We have a Content Manager, responsible for uploading and managing the content uploaded onto the system and an ‘interim’ CTO who is providing the in-house technical lead going forward.

What stage are you at with the business and what comes next?

At present we are at the ‘discovery’ stage of our business cycle, validating our assumptions via our minimum viable product. We are in line to move to the ‘validation’ stage of our cycle in early 2014, which will basically involve us obtaining early validation that people are interested in LetsPartyHard through the exchange of their attention.

Anything interesting to tell us about your tech platform?

We have developed a custom back office portal, allowing the effective and efficient uploading of party content.

What is the main challenge that you face?

Getting all of London’s parties uploaded onto our system and keeping the content freshly up to date.

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself…

I’m a self-confessed party animal! I’ve partied at nightclubs and festivals all over the world. My favourite global party hotspots are: Miami, New York, Ibiza, Berlin, Mexico, Atlanta, Stockholm, Barcelona, Amsterdam and Toronto.

In London alone I’ve partied in over 1000 of the current nightclubs, bars and gastro pubs, so I’m pretty confident when I say ‘nobody knows partying like I do’!

If you like to experience the good times whilst partying or want to stay posted on our developments follow: @LetsPartyHard

 

Dreamstake provides an ideal platform for startups seeking SEIS/EIS investment. It offers end-to-end support for entrepreneurs wishing to get a startup funded in the shortest possible time. The startup rating system allows entrepreneurs and investors to monitor progress. Dreamstake Academy provides guidance on how to create a successful startup. Dreamstake will link startups with suitable mentors and professional advisors.
Startups that have successfully achieved an acceptable rating will be given the opportunity to feature at monthly demo days and investor pitching events.

 

EuropeHaving just returned from The Explorers Festival in Lisbon, we at Dreamstake are impressed by the quality of startups currently coming out of their Beta- I programme. Seeing the boom in an ever increasing number of great startups has filled us with absolute confidence as we face the brink of a startup revolution in Europe.

Although the European startup hotspots still have quite some way to go before they could rival Silicon Valley, there is a real opportunity to create a powerful eco-system using the power of the Internet to join the dots.

Undoubtedly, there has been a fundamental change in the way people are viewing startups. Across Europe there is a definite shift in young people seeking to take control of their own futures. Governments too are encouraging this trend, as a way of getting out of the economic mess.

Europe has developed a lively conference scene with events such as: Le Web, Dublin Web Summit, TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin, Pioneers Festival and others. The buzz and hype around these certainly help stimulate interest in the sector. However, what happens to the startups once these conferences finish?

Most accelerator programmes simply clone the Y-combinator model. Whilst this works in Silicon Valley, it does not produce great results in Europe. The startups here are less mature and require greater support.

This is where we step in. At Dreamstake, we like to do things differently and deliver support through numerous channels. Placing emphasis on harnessing the power of the internet, we link startups with the resources they need. But also, being a very ‘hands on’ platform, we nurture startups with weekly Academies and eventually provide a forum for the more successful ones at our regular Demo Days.

We believe Europe hosts an abundance of startup talent and we are always on the lookout for potential game-changers ready to be unveiled before their peers, mentors and Investors. We are holding such next event on 25.11.13 ‘Dreamstake Demo Day – What Investors Want’

We urge those who feel ready to participate in the Startup Exhibition and get acquainted with the scene, the competition around and learn what Investors are looking for from an array of experts who’ll be present on that day.

The Dreamstake on-line accelerator is the first of it’s kind and has been evolving for the past couple of years. Next January we will enter a new phase as we build new funding options into the business model. We believe that we have a unique solution for European tech startups that will bring higher levels of support and greater access to funding than previous solutions.

Dreamstake provides end-to-end support for entrepreneurs wishing to get a startup funded in the shortest possible time. The startup rating system allows entrepreneurs and investors to monitor progress.Dreamstake Academy provides guidance on how to create a successful startup. Dreamstake will link startups with suitable mentors and professional advisors.
Startups that have successfully achieved an acceptable rating will be given the opportunity to feature at monthly demo days and investor pitching events.

Any tech founder in the process of funding a tech startup in the UK will be aware of the SEIS and EIS schemes and the hype which surrounds them. The logic behind them is simple – big tax breaks for investors, leading to a boom of investment in startups.

The problem is that these tax breaks can be deployed on lower risk investments, resulting in investors shying away from tech. Ironically, the schemes were launched at a time when the more experienced tech investors were already invested out from the previous boom.

However, it is not all bad news. There are a couple of great ways to minimise the risk for cautious investors and make it super-attractive for them to invest in tech.

Tech Funds – spreading the risk by investing in a suitable fund is a great way to engage in this exciting market. The fund managers will select a portfolio of startups to invest in. The SEIS/EIS tax breaks would reduce the downside risk and a robust approach to selection will ensure the winners provide a good ROI.

Syndication – Investors can club together to invest in interesting startups. This means each investor risks less on each investment and can invest in more startups. This allows a portfolio to be built. The SEIS/EIS tax breaks, again help to improve the ROI.

Support – Hands on support through an accelerator will help ensure that the best startups receive ongoing support throughout the early stages. This can be linked with a fund or syndication to create a robust model where both startups and investors benefit.

In summary, the SEIS/EIS schemes have created a ‘win/win’ for founders and investors alike. It makes investing in tech startups a realistic proposition and gives the startups access to new sources of funding.

A bit of background:

What is Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS)?

EIS offers tax incentives to investors buying shares in companies that find raising money from banks difficult because of their short trading history or risky business sectors. Key attractions for investors include 30% income tax and exemption from future capital gains tax when the shares are sold.

What is Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS)?

SEIS is designed to help small, early-stage companies to raise equity finance by offering a range of tax reliefs to individual investors who purchase new shares in those companies. It complements the existing EIS which will continue to offer tax reliefs to investors in higher-risk small companies. SEIS is intended to recognise the particular difficulties which very early stage companies face in attracting investment, by offering tax relief at a higher rate than that offered by the existing EIS.

Key Points To Qualify:

  • The business company must be a UK company and have a permanent establishment in the UK.

  • The company must have fewer than 25 employees.

  • The company’s trade must be no more than two years old.

  • If the company hasn’t started trading, the monies raised by the share issue must be used for research and development (R&D) leading to a qualifying trade, which the company intends to start.

  • The company must have assets of less than £200,000.

  • SEIS investors can input £100,000 in a single tax year which can be spread over a number of companies.

  • Any one company can raise no more than £150,000 in total via SEIS investment.

  • Investors cannot control the company receiving their capital and have more than a 30% stake in the company in which they invest.

  • Investors can receive up to 50% tax relief in the tax year the investment is made, regardless of their marginal rate.

You can find out more here.

Dreamstake provides an ideal platform for startups seeking SEIS/EIS investment. It offers end-to-end support for entrepreneurs wishing to get a startup funded in the shortest possible time. The startup rating system allows entrepreneurs and investors to monitor progress. Dreamstake Academy provides guidance on how to create a successful startup. Dreamstake will link startups with suitable mentors and professional advisors.
Startups that have successfully achieved an acceptable rating will be given the opportunity to feature at monthly demo days and investor pitching events.

 

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