Vator Splash London is just around the corner - November 7, 2013. And we're thrilled with the caliber of investors we have attending for our first-ever event outside the US.
As always, Splash will feature 10 promising startups who will compete on stage to win 20k GBP worth of prizes, plus invaluable hour-long sit-down meetings with top VCs. One prize is lunch with Ben Holmes, a partner at Index Ventures. That's right, not only does the winning team get to sit down with Holmes to pitch him and/or get advice, he/she gets treated to a nice lunch. Now that's a treat!
Among other prizes, the top 10 receive an one-year service with Rackspace, and the winner receives one-hour sit-down meetings with Wellington Partners, DFJ and Passion Capital, plus consutlations with leading accounting and law firm Bick Rothenberg and Taylor Wessing, respectively. The top 10 finalists get free demo tables at the event.
What are you waiting for? Apply to be one of the top 10 or share this story with your favorite seed-stage startup in the UK. Apply here before the deadline of Oct. 25, 2013 (next Friday).
Now back to Holmes, who's one of the top VCs in the UK. In fact, he's not only one of the top 50 most influential investors in the UK, as ranked by Business XL's Power Top 50, he's at the top of the list.
Holmes focuses on the Internet and software. He currently sits on the boards of Mind Candy, King.com, Astley Clarke, Shapeways, to name a few.
I was fortunate to chat with him briefly ahead of Splash London about his thoughts on investing and the landscape in the UK.
On seed investing:
According to Holmes, Index Ventures has upped the pace of seed investing. At the moment, Index is doing about two to three seed deals a month. The investment size is about 200k to 300k Euros. There is no dedicated fund for seed deals, he said. So far Index has done about 24 such deals. He expects that Index will provide follow-on funding for 25% of them, another 25% will likely exit through an early sale, another 25% will get funded by other firms and another quarter will disappear.
On the difference between Silicon Valley and the UK:
One of the biggest differences is that there's a lot of money in Silicon Valley. And that means an "awful lot" of experimentation, he said. The downside of too much money and experimentation is that there are at least five or six copycats for every idea. The nice thing about Europe, is that Index can speak to entrepreneurs in Helsinki, Israel, South of France, etc who are not necessarily informed about what's going on in Silicon Valley. "It may be negative. But on the other hand, they're not prejudiced or biased about themes. They come up with their own independent conclusions when it comes to strategy... There's less group think."
Piggybacking on this thought of unoriginal thinking out of the US, he brought up MySQL, which was run for 10 years before getting any real funding. If it had been funded too quickly, it may have never reached the broad level of appeal that it had and it may never had the originality around its business model and products, he said.
Another difference is loyalty. The key factors to creating a great polished feature are team members that have worked together for a long time, Holmes said. Almost all the exciting game companies in Europe - Roveo, King.com, Supercell - have had team members who've worked together for years. Contrast this with US-based Kabam, which has had employee turnover of 50% to 60%. In the UK, the teams work with this "telepathic understanding" and aren't always looking to jump and work with the next up-and-coming company.
You can check out Holmes at Splash London on Nov. 7. Register here. Vator members use "Vator20" to get a discount. And if you want to try to win a lunch with him and 20 GBP in prizes, plus other VC meetings, you can apply and present for free. Apply here!