This article was published on June 9, 2011

Seedcamp Partner Reshma Sohoni on handling pressure and standing out

Seedcamp Partner Reshma Sohoni on handling pressure and standing out
Matthew Panzarino
Story by

Matthew Panzarino

Matthew Panzarino was Managing Editor at TNW. He's no longer with the company, but you can follow him on Twitter. Matthew Panzarino was Managing Editor at TNW. He's no longer with the company, but you can follow him on Twitter.

As of today there are less than three days left to enter the Vodafone Mobile Clicks competition. The competition, announced at The Next Web Conference, allows any startup with a mobile app or service in 7 different European markets to apply and compete for €225,000 in prizes.

In addition to the opportunity to win cash to help fund their app, contestants will also get judged and receive feedback from a great set of jury members that include mobile industry leaders, company founders and venture capitalists. This should go a long way towards helping developers refine their approach to making their apps more accessible to customers and investors, as well as provide valuable pitching experience.

Previous winners of the competition, in its third year, include 2010 winner Cardbmobili and 2009 winner Layar. The judges have a wide array of backgrounds and include mobile provider executives, venture capitalists and startup incubator CEOs. One of these judges is Reshma Sohoni, a Partner, with Carlos Eduardo Espinal, of Seedcamp, an early-stage micro seed investment and mentoring program. Seedcamp holds events throughout the year that help it to decide which startups to cultivate with investments and advice.

We had the chance to speak briefly with Ms. Sohoni about the qualities that Seedcamp looks for in a startup and for advice for startups looking to enter the Vodafone Mobile Clicks competition.

What are the qualities that you personally look for when choosing startups to include in Seedcamp events?

For Seedcamp and myself it’s all about the team. This gets mentioned a lot but the quality, vision, drive, ambition and talent of the team is so critical when choosing which companies we feel have the best chance of going on to achieve great things. Obviously the core idea should be innovative and have a big market potential but the core is execution and that’s about the team.

How do you think judging a competition like Mobile Clicks will differ from the way that Seedcamp finalists are chosen?

I see a lot of similarities between the two. Like Seedcamp, the Mobile Clicks Competition draws in a huge range of talent from across Europe, including some of the most highly rated start-ups. However, one key difference is that Mobile Clicks is solely focused on judging the best app, making it easier to compare and contrast between the companies. At Seedcamp we look for a broader set of ideas, which comes with its own challenges.

What advice do you have for start-ups looking to make themselves stand out to investors and, of course, jurors inMobile Clicks 2011?

I’m always impressed when startups have a clear vision of what they want to achieve and a defined roadmap outlining how they’re going to get there. Building a successful start-up is a formidable challenge littered with road blocks along the way so it’s important that entrepreneurs demonstrate tenacity and determination. Coherence in communicating and the way they answer questions is often what makes the great entrepreneurs stand out.

What are your absolute must-have mobile apps?

For me there is a handful of must-have apps: Gmail, Twitter, Skype, Google maps, Facebook, Angry Birds, BBC news and weather because it’s never right and Nuji.

Have mobile apps changed the way you live or do business significantly in the last 5 years? If so, which ones?

Totally, using apps now is second nature and I’d be lost without them, particularly Gmail because I wouldn’t know what I’d be doing and Google Maps because I wouldn’t know where I’d be going! Apps have really opened the doors to enabling you to have everything at your fingertips. There are some great apps for doing business, Podio to keep an track of office tasks, Beluga to communicate with the team, Evernote to ensure nothing gets forgotten. The Yell for Boris Bike app for the day I give them a try!

Do you have any personal advice for people starting a company or product in coping with the pressure of the startup ecology?

For any founders thinking about setting up a company or launching a product I think it’s important to be realistic about the the time, dedication, lifestyle, finance and commitment it takes. There are so many glamours stories about the millions that have been made by a handful start-up entrepreneurs but the reality is very different. For every company that succeeds there are so many more that are unheard of that fail. Setting your own expectations and those around your (your support network) is crucial. I have nothing but admiration for those people starting out on the entrepreneurial voyage.

How do you think that competitions like Mobile Clicks help startups, even if they are not selected?

Competitions like Mobile Clicks play an important role in the mobile startup scene. It’s obviously fantastic for the a winner, but for the runners up too it’s confirmation they might be on to something big. It gives you recognition and a level of validation which is important in continuing to grow and develop your business.

The Competition

The Vodafone Mobile Clicks contest allows any startup in Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, the Republic of Ireland, Spain, Turkey or the United Kingdom that has a mobile site, service or application to apply and compete for a €225,000 prize fund. The winners of local judging will compete at the PICNIC festival in Amsterdam, where a winner will be chosen. You can read more and enter the contest here.

Get the TNW newsletter

Get the most important tech news in your inbox each week.