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Partners, Reviews, Sponsors, Super Connect Impact

Review: London Super Connect Pitch Day (14/11/2018)

On the 14th November 2018, ‘Super Connect’ was officially launched by Empact Ventures in partnership with Hays UK & I in Global Entrepreneurship Week with a Pitch Day event in London to support tech startups and scale-up access, engage and explore collaboration with larger organisations and funding providers.

The Super Connect initiative is running Venture Labs and Pitch Days in 5 UK cities in 2018/2019 including London, Cambridge, Bristol, Bournemouth and Leeds, though it is open to any company of all size anywhere in the world who wants to get super connected. It is sponsored by Mazars, Agile Automations, Gridizen, and Linkilaw with over 20+ partners including AWS Activate, eOffice, Seedrs and more.

The purpose of its Super Connect Pitch Days are to super connect the best emerging tech startups and scale-ups from around the world with key decision-makers from larger organisations interested in discussing and negotiating pilots, contracts and/or partnerships. These included corporates (e.g. Microsoft), SMEs (e.g. C6N) and others (e.g. Great Ormand Street Hospital). It was also attended by a blended set of funding providers including angel investors and, venture capitalists, grant providers (e.g. Innovate UK), startup loan support (e.g. BizBritain) and crowdfunding platforms (e.g. Seedrs) interested providing access to funding.

The event was hosted at Hays office in Cheapside with around 100 people joining throughout the day providing a vibrant atmosphere of pitches and super connecting to explore collaboration. The day was kicked by the co-founders of Super Connect, Kosta Mavroulakis (Founder and CEO) and Raphael Weninger (Director of Ventures) at Empact Ventures.

Kosta believes that “while tech startups and scale-ups have access to an abundance of investment opportunities in the UK, they still face the challenge of sourcing and securing new business development opportunities which also true for larger organisations. In both cases it can often be down to not knowing the right people and where to find them, though more importantly if they have a need to collaborate right now.

He went on to explain how ‘Super Connect’ had been been launched on 14th November 2018 to coincide with Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW). This meant that it was open to any small or large organisation anywhere in the world wanting to explore any trade or collaboration within or outside the UK despite Brexit. Kosta was followed by a fellow board member at the Global Entrepreneurship Network UK (GEN UK) Marc Ortmans who also its Chairman who emphasized the importance of entrepreneurs coming together as a community to help each other and informed the audience about the unique opportunities that GEN UK and the GEW UK offers.

After all the introductions, the attendees split off into either the Corporate Connect or InvestorConnect rooms to hear from the startups and scale-ups who were pitching for collaborations and/or funding respectively.

In the Corporate Connect room, the day kicked off with PropTech startup Gridizen from London who introduced their end-to-end Property Management solution connecting Landlords and Tenants on a single platform.

This was followed by CybrQ, a scale-up from Switzerland, pioneering a new pre-click approach to cybersecurity, which gives you tangible advice to reduce exposure online through intuitive, human-focused design.

The morning session was completed by IOETEC, a GCHQ alumni company, which offers a unique cloud based, fully automated multi-layer encryption & authentication cyber security subscription solution that handles data safely and securely, for a device agnostic, ‘true end to end’, secure Internet of Things.

It was followed by Shoppar, the AI-powered RetailTech startup who joined from London and explained how it was putting customer data into physical retail stores across the UK to help them better understand their shoppers.

In the Investor Connect room, CyberShield – also a GCHQ alumni company introduced their machine learning program, which analyses all inbound emails detecting both technical and social engineering exploits. If a suspected phishing email is detected the user is warned in real time so they don’t make the mistake of clicking a malicious link or following the instructions of a cyber criminal.

Next up was Cudo Ventures, the world’s first global, carbon-neutral, cryptocurrency mining software, committed to creating ethical, collaborative and transparent cryptocurrency business ventures, with the morning session completed by Sovren, a world first next generation platform that combines trading in traditional assets with blockchain securities providing a financial eco-system for transacting.

The afternoon session later kicked off by Agile Automations, who introduced how they help clients identify areas of their businesses that might benefit through their unique, process automation techniques. This was followed by Akoni who showed how their platform enables banks to provide personalised financial automatization management  to commercial and SME customers. This pitch was followed by Lightbringer, a MedTech scale-up who presented their unique end-to-end patented system to save lives which is able to track biometric data from users 24/7 through ultra-accurate wearable sensors, whereas the smart ecosystem reacts to medical emergencies within a minute.

In parallel, Tech for Good platform, WhatCharity introduced their online platform where people can find, rate, communicate and trade with charities – making giving and helping more transparent, easier and effective.

UGenie then showed their private customisable membership platform where organisations can effectively engage, retain and monetise their communities and Hollabox who helps people discover the best experiences around them through video, allowing a transparent look inside some of the best social venues and experiences in London.

After a short coffee break and typical super connecting facilitated by the Empact Ventures team, the second afternoon session proceeded with Grocemania and their on-demand delivery platform and app that speeds up the way groceries and household products are transported in cities. This was followed by TradeZapp, introducing their Social Network for “Blue Collar” workers, primarily the building trade, and how this helps workers communicate and network in real time. Finally, ClickMechanic, a scale-up backed by some of the leading angel investors and VCs in Europe, presented their award-winning marketplace which is transforming the car repair experience for drivers by bringing trust, transparency and convenience to the auto repair industry.

In the InvestorConnect room, Pixie, explained how they are reimagining how people, whether at home in their local community or whilst travelling, discover, pay and get rewarded for their loyalty across independent businesses. Next, Analytics Intelligence explained how they address the growing Data Analytics staffing resource shortage faced by most businesses today, by deploying their data driven AI Agents or Chatbot solutions clients that can enhance the reach and support of businesses data and analytics teams.

Finally, Market Orders introduced their global online on-demand order aggregation marketplace, connecting gold jewelry retailers to suppliers and manufacturers of gold related items around the world.

Empact Ventures’ committment to supporting Women in Tech was underlined by its sponsorship of the Inspirational Women in Tech category at The Venus Awards London. As part of this partnership, it ensured that it offered pitching slots to a quarter finalist in the category UGenie led by Susan Kabani, semi-finalist such as Market Orders led by Sukhi Jutla and one of its finalists Tiia Sammallahti, Co-Founder of WhatCharity.

As super connectors, the Empact Ventures team were able to super connect people based on mutual need by collecting their business interests, needs and challenges upon registration. This then enabled them to recommend and make many introductions on the day which created a real vibe amongst attendees wanting to collaborate. It also helps to address the problem that people usually face when they go to traditional business events where they do not know who to talk to about what and who has a need, challenge or interest in their business. To help businesses, Empact  Ventures continues to facilitate introductions by email up to a few weeks after all its events to ensure it continues to contribute to creating aggregate economic and in some cases social impact for all involved.

In addition, attendees engaged in more intimate conversations to kick-off early discussions and/or negotiate deals. As a result, it saw attendees receive support with their current business challenges from the event sponsors like Hays and Mazars. Other partners that supported and/or were in attendance included Solid State Group, Weissman, and Breakthrough Associates.

James Milligan, Director at Hays Digital Technology and IT, who has worked closely with Empact Ventures to co-design the Super Connect initiative points out that Hays is committed to helping the UK tech ecosystem to address the challenge associated with accessing rock star talent as highlighted in the recent Tech Nations report.

“We are thrilled to be working in partnership with Empact on the new Super Connect series and are confident that this initiative will encourage professionals with a passion for technology, to better engage, connect and collaborate with others within the industry. Our Digital Technology business across the UK is now engaging more with smaller tech companies than it ever has before. Providing quality insight and advice to organisations of all sizes on skills, recruitment trends and workforce planning within the technology industry is a priority for us and our research and reports, like the Hays UK Salary and Recruiting Trends 2019 Guide aid in supporting our expertise. We are also looking forward to future Super Connect Pitch Days as these offer a unique opportunity to engage with the next generation of technology companies. Additionally we hope to strengthen relationships with our current clients by introducing them to relevant start-up organisations at these brilliant events.”

Moving forward Super Connect is back on tour in 3 more cities around the UK including:

If you a Corporate, SME or funding provider who would like to join any of the panels, please register your interest here and if you are a tech startup or scale-up interested in pitching please fill in your expression of interest here.

For more information about Empact Ventures visit www.superconnectseries.com or if you have any questions, please contact Raphael Weninger, Head of Ventures at Empact Ventures on r@empact-ventures.com

Insights, Super Connect Impact

Insights: What to avoid when launching your app by Hollabox

Hollabox recently pitched in the Super Connect Pitch Day in Bournemouth and London who we previously super connected with StartUp Britain (an Empact Ventures client) who published the following piece (15/09/2017) here

The lean start-up methodology is to develop quickly, iterate quicker, and learn at the speed of light. It’s very rare to get things right first time, which is why you need to be quick to change and learn – most importantly don’t make the same mistakes. Some startups don’t have the luxury of continuous development, because of depletion of runway, and so never crack it and fail. So here’s some of my advice, from Hollabox’s developments to make sure you get some key things right first time for your app.

Make the value immediately accessible

We were guilty of making the first version of our product land on a profile page for the user. The thinking was that it immediately personalised the experience. However we soon learnt the hard way, and that is with apps, you have around 10 seconds to convince someone your app is worth keeping. How do you do that? Show them the value immediately. Ideally the value will of been effectively communicated in the marketing, but those who followed through to download need to see and feel the value for themselves. Whatever the value in your service, make it super easy to understand the quickest thing the user accesses.

Don’t assume you’ve got a good Product – Market fit

When in startup mode, it can be easy to become obsessed that what you’re doing is right. I mean, you’ve made all the plans, gone over it all in your head and it sounds exactly like something the world needs? This is a common mistake that, particularly for introverts, is hard to overcome. This is because it involves stepping out of your own mindspace and communicating with others. Of course, when we create, we’re innovating and that has to come from one person or persons, but don’t just assume you’ve cracked it.

Even experts in their field will seek validation for theories or work they put forward, and at the earliest of stages, you’re thinking shouldn’t be any different. What you risk is spending time and effort bringing a product to the market that you find out no one really needs, despite all the evidence you’ve done internally pointing to the contrary. Be prepared to work with your market along your development journey and listen to them to find the solution that they want, not what you think they want. This will increase the likelihood of your final product being relevant and sticky and so able to achieve growth.

Make sharing really easy.

The key to most apps’ success is how quickly you can make it go viral. Now there’s no secret formula for this, and if I’d cracked it, I’d be selling it for billions, not blogging about it. There are some simple things you can do however to aid that process and get a strong viral coefficient. It starts with making any sharing functionality you have very easy to access and accessible when the user would want to share it.

Leveraging any users network is powerful, so integrating with a user’s network on Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp for example are great tools and if placed appropriately will be used. What you’re looking to achieve is hammering home the value of your proposition, for the user to go… wow! I need to show someone this.

It’s at that exact point, your integrations or sharing mechanisms need to be there to help the user quickly and easily share that value. This is the creme de la crem of marketing for your start-up because it’s recommendations from trusted sources. You’ve not sold anything and your value is doing the talking. Get this right and you’re laughing.

Be aware of the unforeseen

So wrapping up this blog is a point that does a circle back to my opening comments. Building lean and validating as you go is key because I can’t stress it enough… there WILL be problems and new pieces of feedback that you wouldn’t of even thought of.

Keeping a lean mentality and process will help you deal with the unexpected, so you’re efficiently positioned to react appropriately.  This is the most proactive you can be in this situation and in all honesty, I wish my team and I had this mentality when we started. But that’s the power of hindsight and fortunately it’s not too late for us, so it’s exactly how we’ve been working for the past year.

Adam Beveridge is the Co-Founder of Hollabox. He is BA (hons) Business & Enterprise Graduate from Bournemouth University. and a passionate tech and media lover. You can find him either in the office, a restaurant or the cinema!

Hollabox is supported by Virgin StartUp and is part of the Empact Growth Studio which supports it with its development, growth and sustainability. Find out more here

Insights, Partners

Insights: 3 Key Tips for Testing Your Web Site or App by Qapitol QA (StartUp Britain)

Qapitol QA is a Super Connect partner and SME based in UK, Spain and India who we previously super connected with StartUp Britain (an Empact Ventures client) who published the following piece (03/11/2016) here

Testing is a vital part of any Software Life Cycle whether you are building a basic web site or a complex app for your business. Given that the time given to Testing is very limited and the focus is always on launching the product, it sometimes results in sub-optimal test coverage often resulting in Bad User Reviews from your customers and Low Ratings on the app stores.

If you want to avoid this, here are some quick tips that would avoid this and ensure you release products with Minimum Viable Quality (MVQ) every time:

1.       Ensuring Business Needs

This is the basic and most common need of any Product or Application which is being developed to solve some real customer challenges. Understanding your target market and users, the user needs and common user journeys are critical to define the solution that will effectively solve the problem that your application is trying to address.

Whether you are solving an under-solved problem creatively or solving a problem that is yet to be solved for people a lot of focus on the core functions are critical to solving the problem.

Featuritis is best avoided and instead testing your hypotheses, testing your design prototypes (without even a single line of code being written) before your embark on a larger investment of time and budget.

2.       Creating a User Intuitive Design

Design Intuitiveness is the most important and critical aspect of any web site or app as it turns the visitors into customers and also makes them loyal to you. A great interface and interaction design that provides seamless user experience leads the user to repeatedly use your product.

Test early, test often, involve real users if you can (test crowd). It is important to also appreciate the fact that you or your developers may know the shortcuts/fixes/roundabouts to accomplish certain tasks, but your users may not necessarily know these.

Consider the following in your test design and perform tests accordingly with expert testers:

  • Good Navigation and Controls
  • Consistency across application
  • Good Colour & Text Combinations
  • Suggestions, Help & Guidelines
  • Online & Offline Notifications and SMS’s
  • User friendly design
  • Gestures
  • Screen Orientation

3. Securing Attacks & User Data

In this digital age that mandates 24×7 connectivity and involves collecting and storing user data for providing personalized services, user sensitive data is always major part of worry because the data when exposed may result in fraud, crime, attacks etc.

Therefore, it is vital that you must consider building a robust security layer right from the start if you are dealing with extremely sensitive data or once the product is functionally stable if you are building a generic product, towards the later part of product journey.

If you are short on budget, you may want to utilise the services of progressive security testing experts who will help you uncover the loopholes and charge you per vulnerability detected.

Some of the security parameters to be taken into consideration are:

  • Encrypting user data with strong algorithms
  • DOS attacks
  • Not exposing any sensitive data
  • Securing Payments

About Mohan Panguluri and Abhishek Makhija at Qapitol QA

Mohan Panguluri is the Co-Founder of Qapitol QA where he is joined by experienced Testing Engineer Abhishek Makhija. Qapitol QA are quality assurance experts aiming to accelerate the product quality of startups which aims to become the best QA partner for tech startups to build and ship scalable and secure products faster. The team is made up of highly experience team of 40 product experts, quality assurance testers and developers with vast experience building,shipping and testing based in India and UK (Milton Keynes and Bournemouth). They recently were awarded the accolade of ‘Winner of Best Contribution to Quality in the Mobile World’ by The AQuA Quality Awards and Mohan is a Fellow of the Centre for Entrepreneurs and a mentor on the StartUp Britain London Boroughs Tour 2016.

Insights, Super Connect Impact

Insight: ClickMechanic – Bringing car repair into the 21st century (BQ Live)

ClickMechanic.com is one of Empact Ventures’ scale-up clients who pitched in our London Super Connect Pitch Day (14/11/2018) who we previously super connected with our media partner Business Quarter (BQ) for the below to be published (03/11/2016) here

Entrepreneur Andrew Jervis is bringing the car repair industry into the 21st century with the launch of ClickMechanic, ‘the Uber for mechanics.

Likened to the ‘Uber of the car repair industry’, ClickMechanic was founded in 2012 in a bid to bring the industry into the 21st century.

The website provides a platform for car owners to search for quotes for car repairs and book an appointment either at home or at garages across the UK.

While running a previous car parts aggregator business, entrepreneur Andrew Jervis found there was a problem with many customers not trusting their mechanics.

After further investigation and a chat with his mechanic brother he realised there was just no easy way to book a trusted mechanic.

Andrew decided to study a research masters in Manchester where he devoted himself to understanding these problems better.

After writing an 85,000-word thesis on the space he moved to London to join accelerator Entrepreneur First where he met Felix who had identified the same problems.

The pair decided to team up and develop ClickMechanic. Andrew told BQ: “ClickMechanic is an online marketplace for car repair.

“We’re bringing transparency, trust and convenience to the automotive repair industry through our industry standard quote system.

“I think our core USP is our ability to get an online industry standard quote online in just two minutes and then quickly book in with one of our vetted mechanics.

“A bonus is that most of our mechanics are mobile so they’ll come to people’s homes for no extra charge, saving the customer time and money.”

Andrew and Felix went on to graduate from the popular pre-accelerator in London, Entrepreneur First and recently raised £330,000 from leading investors led by the former CEO of Just Eat.

Since its launch in 2013, the company has gone from strength-to-strength employing 15 members of staff and undertaking millions of pounds worth of repairs each year.

And Andrew has ambitious plans for the company. He added: “We launched in 2013 and in our first 18 months we grew rapidly averaging over 20% month-on-month growth.

“The last couple of years we have been doubling in size and we shall be maintaining this target going forward.

“We are now aiming to aggressively push and grow the business by hiring more staff and executing some really exciting strategies we have lined up.”