Seedcamp has been one of the leading seed investors in Europe over the past years, with hundreds of successful investments at pre-seed and seed stage including unicorns like Revolut, Wefox Group, or Transferwise. While investing at the earliest stage possible, Seedcamp understands the needs of their companies and always strives to find the best way to support its founders.
Sompani Talent Communities had the pleasure of talking to Natasha, who leads platform support activities for Seedcamp companies. In an inspiring interview, she gives insights into how Seedcamp helps their portfolio of over 350 companies grow, scale and succeed.
Sompani Talent Communities: When and what was the first portfolio support event Seedcamp ever did?
Natasha: Ooof, I’ll have to dig into the archives a bit for that one! Obviously, it was somewhat before my time but Seedcamp has really been finding ways to connect entrepreneurs with access not only to capital but to exceptional operators and knowledge sharing since launch in 2007. The team used to run ‘Seedcamp Weeks’ all over Europe, opening up cities such as Zagreb, Llubjlijana and Berlin and finding ways to support and help build local ecosystems as well as connecting entrepreneurs to wider European talent and capital. I think there’s still a lot of love and awareness of Seedcamp outside of just our base in London thanks to these early, ecosystem led-events.
Sompani Talent Communities: How has the Seedcamp portfolio support developed within the last 5 years? What has changed in the way you support your companies?
Natasha: Seedcamp has been on a journey since we first started in 2007. We’ve evolved from an accelerator and the first European player to bridge the gap between entrepreneurs and access to capital, to a seed fund making on average 33 deals a year into pre-seed and seed stage companies. As a result, our platform has evolved alongside this and we’ve moved away from any set, programmatic approach to one that’s more tailored to the individual needs of our founders and their companies. We believe this reflects the maturation of the ecosystem as a whole and the fact a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach just doesn’t cut it anymore, especially when we find ourselves investing more and more into second and even third time founders. That said, there are still certain topics, focus areas and support functions we know these companies will share: access to great talent, finding product-market-fit, building strong brands, fundraising etc and so we ensure we have the scope to help provide this in both a one-to-one capacity - in formats such as office hours - as well as looking at shared pain points and learning opportunities across the portfolio and ways to bring our companies together in one-to-many type formats with things such as our as our operational sector summits and workshops. What remains the same though is our belief that you ‘teach someone to fish’ so we focus on providing the infrastructure to support our companies in everything that’s required to get to that all-important Series A and beyond and equip them with the tools so they can do it themselves, rather than rely on us to do it for them.
Sompani Talent Communities: What is Seedcamp doing for its portfolio companies that goes above and beyond what a typical seed or Series A investor might do?
Natasha: I think we’re quite uniquely placed due to the stage at which we invest, the breadth and size of our portfolio and the strength of our founder base. We have a full-stack internal operating team so, whether that’s myself on brand/marketing/comms; Marina on People and Talent, Devin on Product and Design or Stephen on Sales and Leadership or Miguel on Tech, we’ve really thought about the core areas our early-stage founders will need support on and how we can best guide and support them across those elements within our own core team. We work really closely with the investment team and the companies themselves to understand when and how our skill set can be best deployed and ensuring we’re ready to plug in where we can.
Sompani Talent Communities: What has worked best for you to leverage the Seedcamp portfolio community in the past? To what degree do your companies interact and support each other?
Natasha: Honestly one of the most encouraging and heart-warming things for me at Seedcamp is seeing how the portfolio supports one another. Whether that’s the relationships formed by companies who spend time together in the office or through ‘Basecamp’ - our three day onboarding. This also happens at our monthly founder drinks or within our internal comms portal, where we have close to 1,000 founders and senior execs. The power of this community is just how open it is to founders who know they have a safe space to ask for advice, feedback or discuss core topics with this group of likeminded people either on a similar journey or just a couple of steps ahead.
Sompani Talent Communities: Seedcamp has a large portfolio of over 200 companies in different development stages. Do you use tools that help you structure your platform support?
Natasha: We’ve invested now in over 350 companies and so we require a lot of tech and tools to help structure all elements of our operation at Seedcamp from our investment pipeline to portfolio support. These include Mobilize for our internal founder comms channel and operational telegram groups bringing together functional leads from across portfolio companies.
Sompani Talent Communities: Where do you see VC platform support in 5 years from now? What will be the most significant developments in how companies expect support from their investors?
Natasha: It’s been fascinating to see the growth of ‘platform’ since I joined Seedcamp, almost four years ago. At the beginning there was this tiny group of us from different funds and this has absolutely exploded over the last few years. Whenever other VCs ask me about how to set up a platform the first thing I ask is ‘why do you need one’ and is this something your founders are asking for from you? To be honest, it’s the same thing I’d ask any startup founder when they ask me about rebranding. I think it’s really important to interrogate these decisions not only from a fund perspective, if you can resource it fully enough for it to be a real differentiator but most importantly from a company perspective and if this is something they need and want from you. I think there’s a real danger of duplication when you have a founder with four different investors all inviting the individual to a CEO day, which they’ll feel compelled to attend. As long as a platform is genuinely built to be a response to the most pressing needs of founders and their companies, rather than a vanity measure, then I’ll think we’ll see this explosion of VC platform continue and founders expecting more from their investors when it comes to support.
Sompani Talent Communities: Thank you very much for the inspiring insights Natasha! We are very much looking forward to witness the next steps in developing your platform support strategy.
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