Thursday, November 11, 2010

On picking and choosing events



I've had the pleasure of meeting many interesting entrepreneurs in the last few weeks. A few of them asked me why we chose to apply to the Mini Seedcamp in Singapore. This post is a long answer to that question...

Like many other startups, we enjoy abundance. An abundance of optimism, enthusiasm, and joy in building our company and product.And like all other startups, we also suffer from scarcity - a scarcity of resources, primarily talent (we always need more and more talented people) and money (a simpler problem). Most importantly, we suffer from scarcity of TIME.

Irrespective of how many hands you have on deck, the 'To Do' lists are always longer than a pragmatic mind would allow, and we happily keep adding to feature lists that are already buckling under their own weight.

In such a scenario where time is immensely precious, attending an event is an absolute luxury. And, there are so many startup events these days that someone rightfully said "there seem to be more people wanting to mentor companies than companies wanting mentorship"



So, why then, did we choose to attend Mini Seedcamp Singapore?  

Especially when the event is a couple of timezones away!

Especially when it's a 'Mini' event!

Two simple reasons - endorsement and endgame. Hopefully, this rationale may be of use to other startups considering Seedcamp (Seedcamp Mumbai is on December 4th, BTW) or similar events

1) Endorsement
We didn't know of Seedcamp till 2 weeks before we applied. A chance question to Sarah Lacy (TechCrunch) and Fred Wilson (AVC/Union Square) got the ball rolling (here's how that happened). Needless to say, this was a huge factor - both these well known people (a) being familiar with Seedcamp and (b) recommending it strongly to non US startups. I also thought it serendipitous that this happened just a few days before the close of entries to Seedcamp Singapore. And then, while we were mulling over the Seedcamp application, this article appeared on TechCrunch. More serendipity!

[Side Note: you must read this nice article on the role of serendipity in life, especially in the context of startups]

2) Endgame
Yes, events are nice. You meet interesting people, have fun, get some good (and some random) inputs, and often come back with a high-especially if you win (Shameless Plug: we won the Mini Seedcamp at Singapore). Remember, all of this, the ego gratification included, is at the cost of 'expensive time' for a startup.

There has to be a more tangible payout to make it worth your time.

I believe Seedcamp offers this in the form of the Seedcamp London event that winners (of Mini Seedcamps) are eligible to attend. At the last 'Seedcamp Week' event that happened in September, we had the benefit of seeing how the Seedcamp brand was perceived by investors and media. It was impressive. While we still don't know yet for sure, I believe that being at Seedcamp London (sometime in Jan 2011) will give us a lot of exposure to intelligent people, potential investors, and some media coverage. Needless to say, that means a lot to any startup.

So, these were the reasons we chose to attend the Mini Seedcamp in Singapore. In retrospect, if I'd known that there was a similar event happening closer home, we'd probably have skipped attending Singapore and applied to Mumbai instead. But then, we can't complain!

And you know my penchant for ascribing things to serendipity :-)

To sum up, all those of you in India who asked me about Seedcamp, I suggest you apply to Seedcamp Mumbai right away (the last date is Nov 21st). Feel free to ping me if you need any more inputs.

Good Night, and Good Luck.

Image courtesy: Flickr | Creative Commons

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