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Startup Stories #7: Sam on How Saberr Successfully Raised $1.2 Million

Saberr, Optimise your workforce (Logo)

Saberr, Optimise your workforce (Logo)

 

Harvey S. Firestone, founder of Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, rightly said-

Capital isn’t that important in business. Experience isn’t that important. You can get both of these things. What is important is ideas”.

A unique and well-researched idea that caters to exactly what people are looking for is the right formula for any startup’s success. If you take a look at all the thriving startups in the past couple of years, you will realize that the one thing they all have in common is a great idea at place. Whether it is a website offering common networking platform to the world, famously known as Facebook, or a simple mobile app taking and dispatching taxi ride requests from Passengers to Cab Drivers a.k.a Uber; it is quite clear that an idea holds the capability to accelerate the business success. But these ideas become a business reality when they are blessed by seed accelerator programs. 

Just like a baby needs his mother to take his first step; a startup often needs an accelerator to  help them crawl, walk and run as it starts out on its journey towards a prosperous future. Accelerator programs generally offer startup mentoring, seed funding and free office space to the most promising startups aiming to use their potential and passion to make the world a better place. 

Saberr, a London-based enterprise tech startup, is working on a very interesting idea of applying predictive technology to HR decision making. In other words; their products, a Team Optimisation Tool and an HR Metric Mapper, use psychometric algorithms to understand the behavioural diversity and value alignment in teams. Saberr’s clients are using these tools to optimize their workforce and make the best use of their biggest assets: human talent. 

Saberr recently graduated from Europe’s largest accelerator: Seedcamp. They have since gone on to raise $1.2 million in seed capital. Sam Mead, Co-founder of Saberr, talks about how Saberr’s advanced HR analytic tools caught the attention of Seedcamp and the London tech scene.

 

About the Company

Q:Tell us something about Saberr

A: Saberr is a tech startup in London. We use predictive data analysis to help companies form teams with the highest chances of being successful. Often, companies struggle to get the best from their workforce, and we help identify the winning relationships between their current (and future) staff members.

Sam Mead, Co-founder and Product Manager, Saberr

Sam Mead, Co-founder and Product Manager, Saberr

Q: What is the story behind starting Saberr?

A:We started out as two university students trying to take graduates on flotilla sailing holidays in the Mediterranean — it seemed like an excellent idea at the time! The problem is, there are lots of companies offering flotilla sailing holidays in the Med, and it was while we were trying to find our USP that we struck upon the beginnings of some technology that would eventually become Saberr.

We had decided that we would pre-screen the people coming on our boats to guarantee that everyone on the trip would get along with everyone else. It didn’t take long to realise that the ability to do that would be kind of wasted on sailing trips, and we started to focus on the business world instead. A few tweaks later we had some surprisingly accurate prototypes that would allow us to predict the performance of teams, without knowing anything about the people that made up the teams.

Q: What persuaded you to design your product and business plan around the optimization of HR? 

A: We didn’t need too much persuading to be honest! As soon as we realised that we could accurately predict how successfully different groups of people would work together, HR was the natural place to take the technology. HR is prevalent in virtually all industries where people work together in teams, and we want to bring our tech to as wide an audience as possible.

Q: You are the product manager at Saberr, please tell us something about the products you’re working on

A: I’m currently looking after our Team Optimization tool; our flagship product that companies use to analyze their teams and make decisions about how to reshuffle their personnel. It’s a web-based app written mostly in Python, which I would highly recommend to anyone looking to build web technology. And if you don’t trust me then trust Google — it’s one of their official languages.

In the next 3-6 months we’re looking to bring a host of new features to the product, including Saberr Labs, a feature I’m really excited about. It’s going to allow both individuals and team leaders to monitor the happiness and productivity of themselves and their staff, and to understand which aspects of their day-to-day work are having the greatest effect on those levels, be that positive or negative.

We’re also working on a Metric Mapping tool, which is designed to help HR with their overall use of data in the workforce. It’s so easy to obtain accurate and informative predictive analytics, but it’s so hard to know how and where to start. This tool will allow HR departments from companies of all sizes to supercharge the way their workforce operates, and to better understand what’s going on with their staff.

Word of Advice by Sam Mead

Word of Advice by Sam Mead

 

Graduating from Startup Accelerator to Closing a Seed Round

Q: Tell us something about your journey from bootstrapped startup to getting accepted to Seedcamp

A: It actually took us two attempts to get accepted to Seedcamp! We were accepted to Seedcamp in September 2013, and prior to that we’d been working in my parent’s garage in North Devon. What a cliche! The North Devon business scene isn’t exactly a thriving hub for tech startups, and we were really struggling to get a client base going. We knew that Seedcamp was our way into the bright lights of the London startup scene, and all the exposure to client networks that London can offer. So although it was a shame to leave the seaside behind, moving to London was the best thing possible for the business.

Q: What challenges did you face while pitching Seedcamp, and how did you tackle them?

A: Our biggest challenge was probably the fact that we were a team of two guys working on a tech startup… But neither of us could code! I think that was definitely a contributing factor to our failed application to Seedcamp in February 2013. By the time we applied again, I had taught myself HTML, CSS and some basic PHP, and we had also hired a part time developer; a genius Astrophysicist who is now our Head of Data Science. With a stronger development capability we were able to put together a much more convincing prototype, which allowed us to complete some successful tests that we could boast about in our application!

Q: How did you position Saberr against other startups who were fighting to save themselves a seat in Seedcamp?

A: We used our technology to rank the teams in order of potential for success according to our algorithm! What better way to show ourselves off to Seedcamp than to offer them a live demonstration?! Luckily for us, we came out pretty well against the other teams. As I said before, our tech is surprisingly accurate, and our ranking correlated almost exactly with the rankings that Seedcamp had come up with themselves after two or three days of interacting with all the teams. I don’t think many other teams were able to offer such tangible demonstrations of their tech in such an eye catching way.

Q: According to you, what is crucial to successfully graduate from an accelerator program to closing a seed round?

A: Choosing the right accelerator is probably the most important place to start. I think Seedcamp are widely accepted as the best accelerator in Europe, and we took as much advantage of their programme as possible. We learned how to run our business in the Seedcamp Academy, built our product at the Seedcamp office space, gained experience through interacting with Seedcamp’s huge network of founders and mentors, and ultimately raised a funding round through Seedcamp’s network of investors. Making the most of your time in an accelerator is paramount, as it’s a unique environment where you can learn, fail, and improve, all in a protected space. It’s not enough to just drop the name of your accelerator into conversation; you have to squeeze as much learning and development out of your time there as is physically possible!

 

Future Plans and Word of Advice

Q: Where do you see Saberr in 10 years?

The Team of Saberr

The Team of Saberr

A: I think the whole team is well aligned on our vision: we want to become the de facto standard for managing a workforce — and that’s right the way up from bootstrapped startup to international enterprise. We are leading the way when it comes to the use of data in HR, and we want to make sure that it’s still the case in 10 years time. To do that, we’ll have to continue to innovate, but since the tech in our heads is always 6 months ahead of what we have online, you can be sure that we will be continually improving our offerings to our clients.

Q: Any advice for all the startups out there, who are trying to make it big like Saberr? 

A: Well, we’re not big yet! My key piece of advice is that the team is everything. We’re lucky enough at Saberr to have an incredible team who are all passionate about what we’re trying to build, and we make sure that every individual we bring into our organisation is the right person for their role. Hiring a bad fit for your team can be incredibly detrimental, so it’s worth taking the time to make sure you get it right!

 

Click Labs has an in-house Startup Incubator Lab which offers great expertise and mentorship for the progressive growth of Startups. Contact us NOW to schedule a Free Consultation session. In addition, browse through our Startups Solutions and learn more about our exclusive development services for startups and SMBs.

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