Author: Kate McGinn

The Future of E-Commerce and the Companies out to Enable it


This post is by Kate McGinn from Seedcamp


Last month, Meta lost $232Bn in market value after releasing its first-quarter earnings report, which displayed a sharp decline in profits. It is the single biggest one-day decline for a stock in U.S. history. The reasons for this drop are manifold: the rise of TikTok, plummeting daily active users, and inflation are partly to blame. Yet Zuckerberg also cited Apple’s ad-tracking changes, introduced a year ago, as costing Meta upwards of $10Bn this year alone.

It’s a seemingly small change: in an effort to respect user privacy, Apple users are now encouraged to choose whether or not they’d like to be tracked by the apps on their phone. But it has a huge effect on how companies run targeted ad campaigns. Meta criticised the move, arguing that SMBs will be most hurt by these changes, but Apple’s decision is clearly wreaking havoc on their investor earnings report. $10Bn dollars worth of havoc.

When we discussed the report as a team, it struck us that another way to look at this number is that there is now an additional $10Bn on the table for early-stage founders in the e-commerce tooling space. This, combined with the pandemic-fuelled rise of e-commerce which is expected to grow 16% to $6Tn by 2025, creates game-changing opportunities for innovation.

At Seedcamp, we’ve partnered with several exceptional companies across the lifecycle of a merchant’s and customer’s e-commerce journey, from the pre-sale to sale and post-sale function. Within e-commerce enablement, we are particularly excited about three key trends: (Read more...)

Cauldron raises $1.4m to debut Sci-Fi project in Web3 gaming


This post is by Kate McGinn from Seedcamp


Cauldron founders (left to right) Matt Hyde, Mark Warrick and Fox Rogers

Gaming has become the pinnacle of media. It’s where art meets technical brilliance. At Seedcamp, we believe that gaming is the future of entertainment and, over the past few years, we’ve made bets to double-down on this conviction, partnering with companies like Sorare, PortalOne, GDevelop.

While we’ve made investments in gaming, never before have we dipped our feet into the world of gaming studios…until now! We are incredibly excited to back Mark Warrick, Fox Rogers, and Matt Hyde, co-founders of Cauldron, as they debut their sci-fi project in Web3 gaming. 

Cauldron was labeled as one of FinTech’s best-kept secrets when, last summer, the gaming studio spun out of the fintech unicorn Thought Machine. Their then-Chief Design Officer, Mark, announced he was moving on after seven years to start Cauldron alongside a founding team including the award-winning creative force of Fox Rogers, who worked at Thought Machine as a Design Director, and BAFTA-nominated games director Matt Hyde. Cauldron’s CTO, Matthew Newcombe, has also been in the games industry for over 10 years, having worked at ustwo games, Rare, and King, where he worked on Monument Valley 2, Assemble with Care, and Halo.

Official teaser art for Cauldron’s debut project currently codenamed “Project Nightshade”

“Our studio is fostering a worldbuilding-led approach which puts emotive storytelling at the forefront of the experience. It could not be better timing – a new audience is emerging that is looking (Read more...)

Cauldron raises $1.4m to debut Sci-Fi project in Web3 gaming


This post is by Kate McGinn from Seedcamp


Cauldron founders (left to right) Matt Hyde, Mark Warrick and Fox Rogers

Gaming has become the pinnacle of media. It’s where art meets technical brilliance. At Seedcamp, we believe that gaming is the future of entertainment and, over the past few years, we’ve made bets to double-down on this conviction, partnering with companies like Sorare, PortalOne, GDevelop.

While we’ve made investments in gaming, never before have we dipped our feet into the world of gaming studios…until now! We are incredibly excited to back Mark Warrick, Fox Rogers, and Matt Hyde, co-founders of Cauldron, as they debut their sci-fi project in Web3 gaming. 

Cauldron was labeled as one of FinTech’s best-kept secrets when, last summer, the gaming studio spun out of the fintech unicorn Thought Machine. Their then-Chief Design Officer, Mark, announced he was moving on after seven years to start Cauldron alongside a founding team including the award-winning creative force of Fox Rogers, who worked at Thought Machine as a Design Director, and BAFTA-nominated games director Matt Hyde. Cauldron’s CTO, Matthew Newcombe, has also been in the games industry for over 10 years, having worked at ustwo games, Rare, and King, where he worked on Monument Valley 2, Assemble with Care, and Halo.

Official teaser art for Cauldron’s debut project currently codenamed “Project Nightshade”

“Our studio is fostering a worldbuilding-led approach which puts emotive storytelling at the forefront of the experience. It could not be better timing – a new audience is emerging that is looking (Read more...)

The Future of Cybersecurity and the Tech Companies out to Improve it


This post is by Kate McGinn from Seedcamp


The digital lives we’ve built for ourselves are proving to be more vulnerable to cyber attacks than ever before. Tech, media, and, yes, even beef corporations are being infiltrated by sophisticated hacker groups which current cyber solutions seemingly can’t defend against. Gone are the days of exclusively feeling nervous about physical break-ins — today’s main security concerns are digital. At Seedcamp, we have been backing a variety of companies looking to keep people’s personal and professional lives safe. One example is Zamna, which is focused on traveler health verification at airports (talk about a timely problem to solve!). Another is Cyscale, one of our most recent additions to the Seedcamp Nation, which maps, secures, and monitors cloud assets for companies. Whether in a professional or personal setting, we are passionate about digital security due to its ever-increasing importance to make our world a safer place. 

Today, two big trends are putting strain on our old ways of securing data, infrastructure, and applications.  These are 1) the COVID-induced move to a remote workforce and 2) a shift to open-source and web3. 

Let’s dig in.

From work-bound to house-bound.

First of all, and as no news to anyone, COVID has made the work-bound, house-bound. Our remote workforce comes with a myriad of dangers as today’s employees rely on home networks, which oftentimes aren’t secured. When workers are decentralised and operate from multiple different locations, one hack on a personal network can lead to the entire organisation being at (Read more...)

Seedcamp 2021 Year in Review


This post is by Kate McGinn from Seedcamp


50 new companies, £4Bn+ in follow-on funding, and two Seedcamp companies list publicly 

It feels like a daunting task to reflect back on what has arguably been the busiest in our 14-year history at Seedcamp. 2021 has been a year of incredible highs, with some amazing successes and reasons to celebrate across our core team and portfolio companies. We’d be remiss to overlook that — with all the highs — it’s also been a challenging year; both globally and for many of us personally. So, we start this year’s reflection with a much-needed and massive Thank You to everyone who has contributed to making this crazy year one of our best yet. 

It’s no secret that pace has been the name of the game this year. With so much talk of inflated rounds, bubbles, and bull markets, we’ve remained firm in our core belief: that exceptional talent can come from anywhere and focused on investing and supporting those founders we believe are building the businesses that will help shape the future we want to be a part of. It’s been no mean feat! This year, we’ve invested in 50 new pre-seed and seed-stage companies building everything from the technology to simplify borderless transactions for commerce across Africa to contextual search tools to help improve workplace knowledge.

And while we’ve increased our pace of investment, we’ve also doubled down on the support we provide to our portfolio companies once they become part of the Seedcamp Nation, building our core team and (Read more...)

Seedcamp 2021 Year in Review


This post is by Kate McGinn from Seedcamp


50 new companies, £4Bn+ in follow-on funding, and two Seedcamp companies list publicly 

It feels like a daunting task to reflect back on what has arguably been the busiest in our 14-year history at Seedcamp. 2021 has been a year of incredible highs, with some amazing successes and reasons to celebrate across our core team and portfolio companies. We’d be remiss to overlook that — with all the highs — it’s also been a challenging year; both globally and for many of us personally. So, we start this year’s reflection with a much-needed and massive Thank You to everyone who has contributed to making this crazy year one of our best yet. 

It’s no secret that pace has been the name of the game this year. With so much talk of inflated rounds, bubbles, and bull markets, we’ve remained firm in our core belief: that exceptional talent can come from anywhere and focused on investing and supporting those founders we believe are building the businesses that will help shape the future we want to be a part of. It’s been no mean feat! This year, we’ve invested in 50 new pre-seed and seed-stage companies building everything from the technology to simplify borderless transactions for commerce across Africa to contextual search tools to help improve workplace knowledge.

And while we’ve increased our pace of investment, we’ve also doubled down on the support we provide to our portfolio companies once they become part of the Seedcamp Nation, building our core team and (Read more...)

Hiring for Design Part 5: Scaling your Design Team


This post is by Kate McGinn from Seedcamp


By Andy BuddDesigner and Expert in Residence at Seedcamp

As startups raise funding and grow their customer base, the demands placed on the engineering teams tend to scale quite rapidly. This is one of the reasons you need a solid CTO from the onset. Not only to get your product off the ground, but also to manage the complexity that comes from hiring and managing a large number of engineers. 

On the design side of things, the received wisdom is that you need one designer to service five or six engineers. As such, design tends to scale slightly later than engineering and at a slower rate. That being said, there are plenty of startups out there with a 20-person engineering team, just barely getting by on two or three designers. So once companies have scaled their engineering teams, their attention generally turns to their design and product functions.

One of the challenges of hiring designers is that there are a lot fewer of them out there, so good designers are much harder to find. And it’s especially the case if you’re not that well connected in the design space. This is one reason why your first design hire is key

Your Founding Design is your Best Hiring Asset

A good founding designer will have strong connections within the design community, so when it comes time to scale, they’ll already have a line of potential talent. These may be people they already know and have worked with, or (Read more...)

When it comes to fundraising, you’re more important than you think


This post is by Kate McGinn from Seedcamp


Our Head of Talent Alex Lewis shares insights, with collaboration with Felix Martinez and Kate McGinn from our team, on what Seedcamp’s high-level due-diligence process is for vetting and assessing founding teams. In this blog post, he lays out five traits we look out for when speaking with founders.

“ In real estate, the three biggest criteria are ‘location, location and location.’ The venture capital axiom is people, people and people.”

“ In real estate, the three biggest criteria are ‘location, location and location.’ The venture capital axiom is people, people and people.”

When I told my friends I was joining VC, it began an amusing dialogue of how they believe this current climate sees little in regards to investor due diligence, with £XXm valuations for ideas, unicorns emerging at a rate of knots, and now talks of dragons. For outsiders looking in, it’s a mind-boggling spectacle more akin to a Lord of the Rings novel than an ecosystem.

Admittedly, when I came to Seedcamp, other than a couple of YouTube videos, I had very little understanding of what metrics VCs use to evaluate early-stage startups. I began to ponder on how important founders and founding teams were to investors and risk-mitigation, especially in early-stage investing.

My role at Seedcamp involves advising pre- and post-raise start-ups on all things hiring and talent. Inexperienced founders seeking to raise their first round, seem to think investors value product fit, strategy and revenue, rather than founder fit, are the key indicators for early (Read more...)

Hiring for Design Part 4: What a High Performing Designer Looks Like


This post is by Kate McGinn from Seedcamp


By Andy BuddDesigner and Expert in Residence at Seedcamp

In order to hire a top end designer—or for that matter a product manager, marketer or engineer—you need to know what “good” looks like. Otherwise you may end up hiring somebody who looks good on paper, but is actually a bit of a dud. The best way to know what good looks like is to have worked alongside amazing designers in the past. That way you’ll already have a model in your mind of what you’re looking for. However if you’re not from a tech background, or have been unlucky enough to work alongside less talented designers, it’s hard to pick the wheat from the chaff.

Getting External Help

One way around this is to spend some time in the company of a good designer. Get them to explain what good looks like to them; what should you look for in a portfolio; what questions should you ask at the interview and what characteristics and attributes should you be trying to ascertain? Maybe ask them to walk through a couple of CVs or portfolios and tell you what they like. Or maybe have them point out a couple of designers they think are operating at a high level, and explain why.

Of course, if you’re already struggling to know what good looks like, you probably don’t have somebody like this in your network already. If that is the case, reach out to friends, advisors or investors for introductions. This (Read more...)

Hiring for Design Part 3: Interviewing Your First Designer


This post is by Kate McGinn from Seedcamp


By Andy BuddDesigner and Expert in Residence at Seedcamp

So far in this series we’ve discussed why a good designer should be one of your first hires, and how to go about sourcing potential candidates. In this article we’re going to be looking at how to judge which applicants might be a good fit.  The most logical place to start is with the application itself.

What Does Their CV Say About Them?

A typical application includes a cover letter explaining why the applicant thinks they’re suitable for the role, a link to a portfolio outlining their work, and some sort of CV. When hiring designers, the portfolio tends to be the main point of focus, followed by the cover letter. CVs tend to be used as a tool to whittle down a large number of candidates into a more manageable pool. As such most hiring managers tend to give them a cursory glance at best, in order to spot trends and identify red flags. However there are some things I look out for.

When it comes to designers CVs I’m perfectly happy with something minimal and text based. However, if the applicant has decided to “design” their CV, I’m looking for a clean layout with good information hierarchy and a readable font. There have been a few occasions where a CV was so well designed that it immediately went on the top of the “Interested” pile, but that’s kind of rare. It’s more common to come across badly (Read more...)