Picture from Seedery’s website.
Following his Summer Internship with leading German venture capital firm Global Founders Capital – which is behind some of Europe’s most recognizable startups like Zalando, Revolut, and Delivery Hero – Daniil Danilov, a London School of Economics (LSE) student, knew his future ambitions lay in the start-up world. Despite his enthusiasm to meet like-minded students, he was quickly disappointed to learn that such a network for the student startup community was missing.
Across the road, at the King’s College London (KCL) campus, Christopher Brodowski faced a similar issue. Christopher heads the KCL Entrepreneurs Society and is the Co-Founder of Founders University – Europe’s leading university startup community with over 450 student founders and investors. Rather than networking with entrepreneurial students across Europe, his society members were confined to their immediate connections. With Danilov’s position as the 2020 Co-Chair of the LSE Alternative Investment Conference, both Brodowski and Danilov had enough society experience to know that there was a buzz around student startups in London that wasn’t being harnessed.
This lack of cross-university networking didn’t make any sense to them. Danilov and Brodowski, lamenting this over pizza in the latter’s West London flat, came up with Seedery – a flagship conference for the student startup community. I caught up with them on the last Wednesday of Michaelmas Term in our local Starbucks, to chat about everything from Seedery’s inception, their ideas for London’s student start-up community, to their future plans.
With Seedery’s Founders Daniil Danilov and Christopher Brodowski in Holborn Kingway’s Starbuck, 09.12.2020
Danilov and Brodowski tell me their aim in creating Seedery is to produce the “biggest student startup conference” in Europe with a “goal to connect students.” Danilov points out, “London is Europe’s leading hub for startups and venture capital” and the fact that there is no student startup conference in London is astounding. Brodowski describes his vision for Seedery as “the most interesting and value-added student conference in Europe, from our online content to the post-conference events.” He sees Seedery as a space for students to be free to pursue their entrepreneurial ideas, where start-up founders and investors can “write their own job description and work on what they’re truly passionate about.”
Seedery is taking place between February 27 and 28, designed specifically for aspiring founders and venture investors. Confirmed speakers include Michael Seibel (CEO, Y Combinator), Alice Bentinck (Co-Founder, Entrepreneur First), James Watt (Co-Founder, Brewdog), Chris Barton (Co-Founder, Shazam), and David Heinemeier Hansson (Co-Founder, Hey and Basecamp & Creator, Ruby on Rails), among many others. Seedery provides students the opportunity to learn from the most experienced founders, receive exclusive startup and VC recruitment opportunities, and connect with Europe’s best venture investors, startup operators, and like-minded students.
Leading up to the flagship conference, Seedery has arranged a series of speaker events and workshops for students. First, Seedery is co-hosting the X50 workshop series for aspiring student founders with Brodowski’s Founders University. The workshops will teach topics ranging from “Launching an MVP” to “Startup Financials and Legals” between January 20th and March 10th, ending with a demo day. Other Seedery events include talks with Anthony De Iorio (Co-Founder, Ethereum), Notpla (edible packaging innovator), Sweatcoin (history’s fastest growing fitness app), Indigo.AI (award-winning messenger bots), and KARD (French digital bank for teens), among many others. Tickets are limited to maintain a high quality of interaction between speakers and students, making it paramount that attendees secure their spot quickly.
At the beginning of the first Europe-wide lockdown in March 2020, Danilov and I discussed the logistical challenges in organising a conference over Google Hangouts, with little understanding as to how the next few months would pan out. When confirmation came that Seedery would be going virtual, Danilov and Brodowski committed to ensuring Seedery would use the online format to their advantage and surpass the usual student conference experience. In-person conference networking usually happens through ad-hoc conversations with no foresight about whether you and the opposite person have a similar outlook. To overcome this, Seedery has tailor-made features that promise to customise each attendee’s experience.
One such feature is a one-to-one networking event where students are matched based on complementary interests. Attendees who have the same “all time favorite book” are put in a virtual room together, or an attendee who describes themselves as technical is matched with a non-technical attendee. As Danilov describes it, the feature was made to replicate “speed dating, but for people interested in startups.” Another feature is the Pitch 2021 event where student founders will pitch their startups in front of an invited investor roster. Danilov and Brodowski have deftly used the virtual set-up of Seedery to innovate and rectify the usual problems of student conferences. The principal purpose of these features is to provide the opportunity for like-minded student founders and investors to network and begin the foundations of a startup partnership. The Founders will know if Seedery has been a success “if just one team of co-founders meet each other and decide to raise funding together.”
Founder Daniil Danilov displaying the mobile-version of Seedery’s website
Danilov and Brodowski are determined to continue the networking theme after the conference concludes, through unconventional services. These come in the shape of two “Easter Eggs” tucked away at the bottom of Seedery’s website. The first is a running club for like-minded students to get together and sweat out their startup ideas on a collective run. The second egg represents Seedery’s own playlist, designed to convey the adrenaline rush of getting start-ups running. With these two services, a Seedery attendee can join a running group, listen to Seedery’s preferred jams, and think through ideas for the next big startup, all while connecting with the wider European student start-up community.
As I’m writing this article, I’ve noticed there’s something that distinguishes Seedery from past student conferences: there’s no middleman – “no bullshit jobs” as Danilov puts it – and the conference is refreshingly free from bureaucracy. Alongside a desire to connect, Danilov and Brodowski’s ambition for Seedery is a platform where the focus is simply on the attendee, rather than pleasing external and third-party actors.
Founder Christopher Brodowski minutes before Seedery’s website launch
Seedery’s tagline is “Students. Founders. Investors. One meeting place.” The idea to connect students over one shared passion was driven by Danilov and Brodowski mission to create a student-orientated conference, because “community is at the heart of the startup ecosystem.” You can clearly see these values in the structure and tailored features of Seedery, which have all been designed to form a “a sense of community.” Bringing like-minded students together in one venue, connected through disparate Wi-Fi routers across Europe, is Seedery’s ultimate selling point.
Seedery conference will be running from 27-28 February
Tickets can be found on it’s website: https://www.seedery.io/.
By Sagal Mohamed