The Next Web was at the Springboard Investor Day in Cambridge, England, and we were privy to ten startups pitching and demoing their way to funding from the investors in attendance.
Springboard is an intensive 13-week programme based at the ideaSpace, which is part of Cambridge University’s state-of-the-art Hauser Forum. The purpose of the annual Springboard programme is to provide seed capital, office space and a “smart-community” with mentors helping budding entrepreneurs accelerate their businesses.
Each founder is provided with £5,000 (up to a maximum of three founders per startup), and they each move to Cambridge, where they live and breathe their business in a fertile, entrepreneurial environment for over three months.
Brad Feld was a special guest at the Springboard Investor Day, and the entrepreneur, investor and TechStars founder offered some words of inspiration before the pitching kicked-off, noting that accelerator and mentorship programmes such as Springboard weren’t just about the money. He said:
“If you want to build sustainable entrepreneurship over time, the value that exists in such programmes isn’t just about people writing cheques. It’s also not about people doing work for free for no good reason. It’s the magic of getting all of this together, whilst doing everything in a very compressed period of time.”
A common theme throughout the day, which was hit on by Brad too, was that participants in the Springboard programme made the same progress in 90 days as they would otherwise have made in a year or two. So the seed money and investment is great, but it’s the speedy progress that the young startups make that really highlights the value of such initiatives.
We first reported on Springboard when it opened for applications last November. And the ten selected companies hailed from across the UK, Europe and even the South-West Pacific region. Here’s a quick look at the companies to emerge from the programme:
“Imagine you could plan your advertising campaign based on intelligent suggestions and informative insights. Imagine you could book any type of advertising, anywhere in the world within a couple of minutes.”
Adwings is a platform that lets advertisers plan, book and track advertising across various media channels, ranging from print to digital media, from mobile to outdoor, and even video.
“Web APIs are a critical piece of cloud infrastructure – enabling businesses to monetize their data, provide services to third parties, power applications and migrate enterprise to the cloud.”
Apiary is a suite of tools designed to help businesses build Web APIs quickly, and test/monitor/ document them easily.
“Emerging markets are seeing an explosion of business information coming online, but information is fragmented, badly organized and often unsearchable.”
Arachnys consolidates valuable business information from emerging markets, helping companies increase opportunities and reduce risk in complex but attractive markets like India, China, and Russia. It uses spidering technology to dig out information buried in the deep Web.
“With your sales team out in the field, getting timely product information, training and feedback to them when they’re never sat at a desk is an impossible task.”
Hubflow enables companies to distribute training content to their workforce’s mobile devices, with a view to saving time & money that would otherwise be spent running training workshops.
“Companies are dependent on customers complaining in order to identify problems with their website.”
Mayday alerts companies to problems users experience on their website, and is designed to save firms lengthy testing time and, subsequently, prevent lost revenue.
“The website has core messages of sustainability, generosity and community embedded throughout. Every purchase supplies clean water to kids in India.”
MiniMonos is a virtual world for kids who love to play whilst caring for the planet. The site launched out of beta last month, and it has been growing at more than 20% per month over the past nine months. It now has around 300,000 members.
“We significantly reduce the costs of fundraising while increasing engagement by getting in front of mass audiences whilst they are having fun.”
PlayMob enables charities to fundraise through games with a platform that links virtual objects to good causes.
“Publishers have direct access to their customers, not wasting marketing budget on driving people to marketplaces that they don’t own. For self-publishers, Publification offers a web-based drag ‘n drop editor.”
Publification is a platform for publishers to convert their file-based eBooks to platform-agnostic Browserbooks that can be read on over 2 billion existing devices.
“Music has proven to be a great conversation starter as evidenced by an extremely high response rate to opening messages – 33% higher than OKCupid.”
Tastebuds is a dating website that helps you meet like-minded people who share your love for music. The Next Web first wrote about Tastebuds last July.
“Complete strangers with similar interests can contribute to ad-hoc social networks that are created and last for the duration of a particular event. When the event finishes, the stream closes but the memory can be relived.”
TotalGigs lets disparate groups of users collectively share and relive event experiences – this could be music, sports, conferences and anything else.
Some truly great startups, you’ll no doubt agree, and we’ll be following up with some of the companies in question, to delve a little deeper into what they’re all about.