A moderator from The Startup Events kicked off the startup conference at M&C Saatchi in London.

Exploring London’s Startup Scene: Startup Events London

London’s bustling startup scene took center stage on April 17, 2024, as entrepreneurs, investors, and enthusiasts gathered at M&C Saatchi for Startup Events London, an event organized by The Startup Events. With promises of meaningful engagement and interaction, attendees were primed for an evening of innovation, insight, and perhaps a few surprises.

I initially learned about this event from my friend Angie, who hails from California, while visiting with her in London. Despite Angie ultimately declining to attend, it sounded so intriguing that I went there on my own.

Upon arrival, the organizers set the tone, emphasizing that the event wasn’t merely about presentations but about fostering genuine connections and participation. As someone keen on networking and learning, I was intrigued by the prospect of engaging with both startups and seasoned professionals in the field.

The format of the event was straightforward yet dynamic. Eight startups were selected to deliver five-minute pitches, each followed by a challenge question to the audience from the presenter and a Q&A session. Additionally, a panel comprising experienced investors and startup veterans provided feedback and insights.

The lineup of startups showcased a diverse range of ideas and solutions, each vying for attention, support, and feedback. Here’s a closer look at the eight pitches:

  1. Introstars: This platform aimed to facilitate business connections through introducers and seekers, leveraging LinkedIn’s API for login. Introducers would be rewarded with commissions (say, $2500), provided by the seekers, for each successful connection between seeker and client (the one introduced by the introducer). While the concept showed promise, the challenge lay in converting sign-ups into successful introductions, highlighting the importance of execution in the networking space.
  2. SuperScout.ai targets location scouts, managers, and coordinators, offering a streamlined solution for uploading and searching film locations worldwide while prioritizing privacy. During the pitch, the presenter emphasized the software’s ability to enable quick uploads and instant searches, drawing on a scenario where a location manager needed to locate a previously spotted pink bedroom for a current project. Despite claims of engaging with 250 location managers in recent months, I was skeptical about the necessity and sustainability of the service. With existing AI capabilities in cloud services like Apple Photos, Google Photos, and Dropbox—solutions the location managers already rely on—which offer object recognition searches and customizable filters, the value proposition of SuperScout.ai appeared diminished. As cloud-based AI continues to improve, I have doubts regarding the startup’s sustainability.
  3. VU Collagen Water: Earlier in the day, Angie told me about how she incorporates collagen powder into her smoothies. So I was immediately intrigued that the third startup pitch was about a bottled drink infused with collagen. In Great Britain, collagen’s health benefits are widely recognized, especially for its positive impact on joints, skin, and hair, highlighting the potential of this startup. While traditional sources include bone broth or gelatin-based treats like Jell-O, VU Collagen Water offered a novel approach. Unlike the one other existing bottled option that is expensive and uses fish collagen, VU Collagen Water utilized 10g of collagen sourced from cows, a closer match to human physiology. Upon sampling a bottle myself, I found the taste comparable to other fruity beverages like “Vitamin Water,” reaffirming its potential appeal to health-conscious consumers. With a first-mover advantage in the UK market, VU Collagen Water showcased promise as a pioneering wellness beverage.
  4. Adeus Wills aimed to modernize the will-making process by leveraging blockchain technology to ensure authenticity, eliminating the need for costly legal services and cumbersome paperwork. Charging a reasonable yearly subscription fee, the startup sought to address the challenge of user adoption. One panelist advocated for a Business to Business to Consumer approach and thought that the company should not focus on Business to Consumer at all. However, I believe the potential of a direct Business to Consumer model, particularly among the 30-50 age group, is strong. With many individuals in this demographic yet to create or update their wills, Adeus had an opportunity to fill a significant gap in the market. By providing a user-friendly service and implementing a referral program, the startup could potentially attract a large user base eager for a convenient and affordable solution simply based on word-of-mouth.
  5. Smith Autonomous, led by entrepreneur Adrian Smith, aimed to address the escalating crisis of global wildfires, which have surged in intensity and frequency over the past decade. Adrian developed a groundbreaking $150K prototype drone equipped with essential scouting and fire-suppression capabilities, powered by innovative hydroelectric technology. However, the startup encountered significant supply chain challenges. Despite the critical nature of their mission, suppliers failed to prioritize production, resulting in delays and the delivery of faulty parts, hampering Smith Automation’s progress.
  6. Mycena Security claimed its patented security technology would result in a 95% reduction in cyber breaches. Utilizing the MyCena console, companies could generate robust, random passwords for all systems, encrypting and distributing them to employees who use them as keys, eliminating the risk of human error. With its emphasis on granular access control, resilience against breaches, and comprehensive risk mitigation, MyCena appeared poised to revolutionize cybersecurity practices. However, despite its promises, I felt the presentation failed to effectively articulate how Mycena differentiated itself from existing password management solutions in a crowded market, leaving doubts about its unique value proposition.
  7. Mimine AG specializes in designer clothing for curvy, plus-sized women, offering a successful line of luxury $1000 dresses. However, in response to the UK recession, the company is diversifying its offerings with a new line called Kokoky, featuring premium, size-inclusive dresses at more accessible price points. During the pitch, an audience member proposed a partnership with ultra low cost, fast fashion providers Shein, but both the presenter and the panel dismissed the idea. Instead, the panel advised Mimine AG to maintain its presence in the premium market, noting that luxury items, like Ferraris, often maintain demand even in economic downturns. Rather than lowering their standards, the panel encouraged the company to consider elevating their offerings further.
  8. One Two One Two presented a soft skills microlearning app tailored for athletes, leveraging AI technology and overseen by industry experts. Drawing inspiration from gamified platforms like Duolingo, the app aims to address a pressing need within the athletic community, particularly given the alarming statistic that the vast majority of NFL players face financial struggles within three years of retirement. However, I have doubts on the feasibility of engaging athletes in soft skills development amidst their focus on performance and extravagant lifestyles. NFL teams already offer seminars on financial management, and I’m skeptical about the effectiveness of app-based learning for this demographic. An audience member proposed enlisting coaches as ambassadors for the app, suggesting a potential avenue for increasing adoption and engagement among athletes.

Despite the diversity of ideas presented, a few common themes emerged. First, the importance of concise and compelling pitches was evident, with some startups struggling to convey their value proposition effectively within the allotted time. Second, while the panel offered some valuable insights, I felt they took up valuable time while there were many in the audience (including myself) who wanted a chance to offer suggestions, critiques, and perspectives.

In conclusion, Startup Events London provided a captivating glimpse into the dynamic world of entrepreneurship. As the startup ecosystem continues to evolve, events like these serve as invaluable platforms for collaboration, learning, and innovation. It was so interesting that I stayed until the end, despite my initial intention to leave an hour earlier due to having an early flight back to Spain the next morning.

A moderator from The Startup Events kicked off the startup conference at M&C Saatchi in London.
A moderator from The Startup Events kicked off the startup conference at M&C Saatchi in London.