Tomorrow is the first day of the BizSpark Euro Summit 2012. To prepare, we asked a few of the judges some questions about startups, mobile and the culture of apps. We caught up with Reshma Sohoni, who is one of the co-founders of SeedCamp. Here’s what she had to say about what she looks for as a judge, and the situation around desktop vs. mobile.
BizSpark: Practical question first: Does a company have to have traction in order for it to be a good idea? Or, is a good business model enough? In other words, what is the first thing that catches your attention about a company’s business plan?
Reshma: I do think that rather than spending a lot of cycles on creating beautiful Excel or Powerpoint or Word documents around an idea that time should be spend building the idea into a product. Obviously basic strategy and thought documents are critical but get out there and actually start to build things. B/c all that paper you’ve created will be useless if what you build isn’t quite the original idea you had.
BizSpark: Now for a theoretical question: What do you think of apps as being a place where you can develop communities? Do you look for apps that have an ability to create community, or do you just look for apps that get tasks done?
Reshma: We look at both. Apps as platforms are very interesting but really difficult to build. In either case, whether the app develops into becoming a platform or whether it stays as an app that gets tasks done, there has to be inherent value and appeal to the app itself. That app usually has to prove it can attract users and customers. It’s pretty rare to just build a platform app from day 1. And of course those apps that are valuable and then become platforms are exponentially more valuable so that’s extremely attractive to investors.
BizSpark: Mobile has been said to solve the issue of immediacy – wanting something done now. Do you think mobile solutions are creating any pressures on desktop computing? Or does desktop computing just turn into just another thing we do?
Reshma: I think they are complementary but the pressure is building at a faster rate to ensure that whatever your desktop offering is that you have a mobile offering thought through. There are more and more things users can buy, consume in faster than real time and so that puts pressure on nearly every company or person that comes from a desktop-centric vision. I think those who divorce the two do so at their peril.