Seedcamp Essentials

Carlos E. Espinal
Apr 9 · 3 min read
Japanese Tea Gyokuro K Wabi Sabi — https://www.maxpixel.net/photo-2715038

Nothing is ever transformed overnight, rather, it’s an iterative process of constant improvement.

One experiment in this direction, which we implemented almost a year ago to date, is what we internally call “Seedcamp Essentials”.

Whilst we don’t have the format 100% down (as we are always iterating on it), the general premise is how do we improve what we do by 1% every week within the scope of our organisation’s goals/KPIs? Borrowing from the initiative (and results) within British Cycling in 2003 led by Dave Brailsford, we modelled a variant that works for our organisation.

If it helps you in trying to implement something like what we did within your company, here are the core questions that make up the foundation for the Seedcamp Essentials exercise:

  • What is success for Seedcamp? Alternatively, what is most critical for us right now? — these questions go to the core of what drives your value but also what can compromise that value.
  • What do we need to focus on more or less to make this happen? Alternatively, What will make the biggest impact to our bottom line? — these questions are about weeding out those niggles the team might have about things that aren’t going well or we could do more of.
  • What can we do about it this week to make Seedcamp better? — This question is about taking those niggles and doing something about them tangiably this week. Sometimes there are weeks where we can’t think of anything, but generally there is at least one thing that’s come up and it helps to identify it. We use Trello internally to create a Kanban board to help manage what we identify from start to closure by the following weeks.

Now in order to achieve the above, we set up a few rules:

  • This meeting cannot generate more meetingsIn Fight Club, the first rule of Fight Club is you don’t talk about Fight Club, similarly, the first rule of Essentials is ‘this meeting can’t generate more meetings’. Circular Reference. Dev Null.
  • We can’t talk about investment deals (eg. things that are discussed in other meetings) — The meeting itself is about 30min on average, sometimes shorter sometimes longer, but generally compact. Basically this time gives us space to brainstorm on tangible small actionable things we can do to improve how we operate internally so focusing on what matters is important.
  • The meeting has to have one action item for this week (and never more than 3)The meeting shouldn’t generate more than 3 action items for the week, the goal isn’t to generate a massive to do list, but rather, just focus on the most immediately impactful things we can do to move things along towards the stated goal.
  • No action should be so hefty that you can’t do it alone or with the support of another team member, and no delegation of action outside of this group
  • If you’re not present, email something and others will incorporate and distribute a summary item if relevant.

Lastly, the meeting format is:

  1. Review progress from last week’s action items
  2. Review the questions (if necessary)
  3. Discuss the output of what comes up during the questions (if done)
  4. Define ideally one but no more than three actions for the week

If you are consider doing something similar in your organisation, hopefully the above framework helps you put some structure around your own version of Essentials. Just set the general goals of the organisation into play, have the key people you need to contribute involved, and then set the ‘rules’ of the meeting that work for you. In the words of one of my colleagues, Miguel Pinho: “one additional benefit of Essentials is that it also allows us to simply sync with other team members on things that might impact you, in effect, a micro-team meeting.” Hopefully the format can work for you.

Carlos E. Espinal

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Partner and seed investor at Seedcamp, mobile tech lover, blogger, and a fan of the nifty-fifty.