Le Web 3 2007, Day Two. Start-up comp – what are the web companies of tomorrow?


So here we are, Day Two of Le Web 3, 2007. While I spent the day sat in the main conference hall listening to the speakers, my fellow Shiny, Ashley Norris, has been over in the Start-up Dock listening to new businesses pitch their ideas to a panel of judges.

Now, back with me in the main hall, the judging panel have congregated to announce the winners. Members of the panel include Robert Scoble and a number of venture capitalists and other web entrepreneurs, including Jean-David Chamboredon from 3i, Saul Klein from Index Ventures and Seedcamp.

Although the panel said they were impressed with the speakers, they then proceeded to criticise them for a raft of reasons. They criticised the fact that a lot of them seemed to be unable to stick to the very simple guidelines of the competition. They also pointed out that a lot of the businesses focused on solving a problem rather than asking “how many times do people have this problem and what would they be willing to pay to solve that problem”.

In many instances, there was a suspicion that they weren’t even solving a real problem, but simply showing off some neat looking technology that had little value in the real world. Presentations were generally unprepared, they weren’t very slick and they also seemed talk an awful lot about how great they were without actually showing the product at any point.

Basic questions were left unanswered (such as how is this even going to make money) and while a lot of them seemed keen to let everyone know about how cool their technology was, they didn’t actually spend much time showing the technology. Robert Scoble pointed out that when you go on a date you don’t spend the whole time talking about yourself, you’ve got to make an effort to impress people.

After a good 10-15 minutes spent roundly criticising the contestants, the panel then start going on about how you shouldn’t give up, and that the entrants had all done very well, and even professional investors don’t always know the right answers or know if a product will be a success.

The main theme of the business ideas seemed to be social networks, and a lot of them were relying on people spending their marketing and advertising budgets with them without any talk of spending any money on their own marketing. The panel pointed out that basing your business around gaining ad revenue without actually addressing how you’re going to get users on board in the first place is a bit of a loopy idea.

Click here for the winners

Check out our other posts from the show in the Le Web 3 category.