From Eastern Europe to the Big Apple: How Winning Seedcamp New York Helped My Business
This guest post is by Dalia Lasaite, Co-Founder of Campalyst, a tech startup offering social media ROI measurement services.
When our CEO, Jevgenijs Kazanins, was working on a social media campaign for Red Bull at an agency in Latvia, he had a problem. His agency, Media Contacts, part of Havas Digital Group, prided itself for being one of the most data-driven agencies in the world. And yet, when it came to social media, there was no way of measuring the results of a social media campaign. Sure, the campaign created a lot of buzz on Facebook – but did it bring any tangible results for the client?
With this question in mind, Jevgenijs came to a Garage48 hackathon in Riga, Latvia. After a weekend of intense coding, a prototype of Campalyst – social media ROI measurement software – was born. Created by a team of Latvians, Lithuanians, and Estonians, the prototype was presented to the first customers after the 48 hours.
We received a lot of positive responses, but it was immediately clear that Campalyst would have a limited future in the Baltic States, our home market. Social media was not exactly huge there, or to be more precise the Baltic States are not exactly huge. Campalyst’s goal of measuring social media ROI was not yet that relevant in Eastern Europe – a market where a lot of companies had still to be convinced of using social media for their businesses, let alone measure ROI (or pay for the tools). Within a week of the hackathon, we have started to look for ways to move elsewhere.
So we moved to Finland. “You did what?” smiled our American mentors when they heard our story.
Finland was more advanced, more likely to pay, and had an early stage program called Startup Sauna. We met with every agency in Helsinki we could reach and received tons of great feedback. But social media was still an experiment for a lot of marketers in Finland, and Twitter had not yet taken off. It soon became clear that in order to develop a world leading solution in social media, we needed to be in a world leading location – London, New York, or Silicon Valley.
We had the luck to visit all three locations. Startup Sauna took us to Silicon Valley, which absolutely blew us away with its amazing startup culture – it is definitely a unique place in the startup world.
However, in order to meet marketers, agencies, and brands of the United States – all of which are our clients – we soon realized that we have to be in New York.
Now New York is an amazing city, but when you come there with a bootstrapped startup from Eastern Europe, there are a lot of obstacles. You have no network, do not know the local landscape, and overall become a “gourmet” of cheap hostels rather than fancy restaurants :). Luckily for us, we came to New York to participate in Seedcamp New York – the one-day event that plugs you into the local ecosystem in the most intense fashion possible. During the day, we met and received feedback from 40 top-notch mentors, including early employees of DoubleClick, representatives from Facebook and Google, marketers with 30 years experience, and prominent investors. For a startup, which had been only an idea 3 months ago, that was an impressive experience!
For Campalyst, the event did not end on the same day.
Seedcamp believed in our vision to make social media marketing measurable, choosing us among the winners of the event – and backed up their enthusiasm with a pre-seed investment!
Artem Mikhlin, one of the mentors at Seedcamp, has become our advisor. And finally, during the event we met Dutch venture capital fund HENQ – which eight months later led to a financing round that we recently announced.
Social media landscape moves fast, and while measuring social media ROI may have been optional a few years ago, in 2012 it is becoming an absolute must. We are extremely excited to be able to offer the most granular ROI measurement technology at a time when the demand is exploding.
And getting to the market that fast would have never been possible without our clients, mentors, Garage48, Startup Sauna, Seedcamp, HENQ – and yes, New York!
Seedcamp is an early stage mentoring and investment program that engages startups through monthly Seedcamp Events, where entrepreneurs present their companies, network, receive mentoring, and compete for investment by Seedcamp.
Seedcamp New York is taking place on 10th July with The NextWomen as media partner. Applications are open until 17th June.
Click here to read our recent article about Seedcamp New York.
Dalia Lasaite is Co-Founder of Campalyst, a tech startup offering social media ROI measurement services.
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