Last night, in the midst of my light fever and very upside-down stomach, I got the fantastic opportunity to attend the special event Sthlm Tech Meetup with Balderton. Balderton is a venture capital company from London, UK and last night’s event included presentations, guest speakers and last not least a pitch battle between 3 startups.
Among the guest speakers were the sponsors of the event, a venture capitalist from new York named Tanja and the very interesting Alexander Bard (among other a music producer and author). The sponsors of the event were big corporates and Iw as kinda surprisesd in the beginning to find out that companies like Deutsche Bank and Nasdaq OMX were sponsors. Although, when representatives from these companies came up to speak, it turned to not be surprising at all. Both such companies help startups or startups that have been around for a while and grown with transaction services, funding/investments as well as and most importantly IPOs. Nasdaq has for example had over 140 IPOs last year.
Investment banks can actually help startups in many ways. The interviewer also said that banks are important for startups – as a bank’s client, they not only help you with important financial services but they also take you to meet different important people. He also said that once he was on tour in Asia with another investment bank, he got to meet Asia’s richest man who wanted to buy his company. What an eye-opener that the big corporates I most likely would end up working for can do so much for entreprenuers!
The second guest speaker was a venture capitalist from New York, called Tanja (can’t remember last name 🙁 ). She and the interviewer discussed a lot about how some very well-known startups from Sweden such as Candycrush and Minecraft are not known for their origin – people always get surprised when they learn that such are from Sweden.
As for Alexander Bard, he held a very thought-provoking speech not about entrepreneurship in particular, but about consciousness, existence and communities. He talked about how internet is the new God, and that we human beings have created it (God).
Well, Bard started with talking about Burning Man* for quite a long time, and examplified that all that people want is to feel like a part of a community. Spiritualism, the desire to be part of something bigger than oneself, is very important for human beings. Money-making is nowadays a minoritarian activity and being a part of a community is now what matters more, as it also gives us a clear identity.
Furthermore, Bard also said that Technology dictates us, not the other way around. Technology actually tells us how to behave and that the internet is actually a spiritual instrument that connects us all. We also now live online and spend on average 8,5 hours there which is more than sleep! Physical space has become a second-nature for us as well as money-making.
*Burning Man is an annual week-long event in the deserts of southern Nevada and is an experiment in community, art, radical self-expression, and radical self-reliance
The speech was definitely thought-provoking and in many ways, it makes quite a lot of sense. However, I am an atheist and not a god-fearing woman myself, so I couldn’t really relate myself to the part about God… I do see where he is going with his concept. I do however understand the part about how technology dictates us. Just like I mentioned in my previous post, technology improves the world, but with this improvement comes behavior-changes. It tells us what to do most of the times, and if you think about it, we truly adapt ourselves and the way we live towards current technologies.
Before the pitch battle began, the panelists were introduced. They consisted of Tanja and Alexander Bard as well as 3 representatives from the startup company called Tictail (online shopping cart service). After talking about Tictail for a while, the panelists were asked to give advice for pitches. One of the panelists said that what he looks for in each pitch is passion. A startup is actually a quite irrational thing with its new idea that never existed before and it therefore takes a very special person to do it and go through wall after wall. It also takes about 10 years for a startup to stabilize itself and during that amount of time, a lot of bad things happen that would make any “normal” and “sane” person want to give up and become i.e. a banker or accountant instead. Passion is so important for the tenacity required to make a startup go on.
Then came the pitches. I could only stay for two of them as my stomach was revolting very aggressively towards the end…hm. But the 2 pitches I heard were from the London-based Pimobo (http://pimobo.com) and Stockholm-based MyClosetRoom.
Pimobo, an online/digital moodboard for professionals with over 3 million subscribers, started the pitch with a story with a, although not very particular problem in it. The story was about how design is everywhere and can be from anyone. He then moved on to talking about how things are online nowadays and then described Pimobo.
And as a feedback for his pitch, and also what I though was good as well was that he started his pitch with a story. This is something effective to do with pitches and also something many did with their pitch during last week’s pitch lesson. The panelists also wondered about the competition and mentioned that the competition for such market is quite tough.
MyClosetRoom’s pitch actually started with a description of their product and moved on to present the target group. No story told in the beginning, but it came in the end when the girls mentioned that they wanted girls to inspire each other. The market is also relatively big with fashion blogs everywhere, therefore creating an atmosphere for more relateable influence and inspiration among fashionistas. The startup is basically an online closet (app) where fashion-loving females can create outfits collages and share their style and ideas and so on with each other. The app is also connected to e-stores such as Nelly and Boozst so users can buy things directly through MyClosetRoom. What’s very impressive about this startup is that the two girls who are the founders came up with the idea while still in high school!
The competitors and revenue model were not mentioned and the panelists wondered more about the launch and growth strategy as MyClosetRoom has only pre-launched for now (and has over 1 000 users, mostly in the U.S). Bard also commented that a business based on showing off on the internet is not sustainable. That is how Myspace suddenly lost in lustre because people were so focused on showing off their music while no one really cared what music other people put up on their profiles. He also recommended that MyClosetRoom should have more functions focused on the interactions between the users: “how can we work better together and be a community?”.
And as they were about to wrap things up, I unfortunately had to leave. But this event was truly inspiring, educational and eye-opening! Best of all is that I could connect a lot of the things that I have learned in the course with what people on the stage were talking about! I.e. the pitch feedback, importance of business models, and so on. I left the event with a huuuuge admiration for entrepreneurs! I mean, think of the courage and tenacity it takes to work on a startup! Many people (like me for example) just prefer to take the comfortable and safe way of working for a big corporate.
Before I wrap things up, I just want you all to ask yourselves this: How do you really want to live your life for the next 30-40 years? Do you want to be the ones who take the backseat and quietly watch the show or those who are on the grand stage, being a part of the show and perhaps even the star? Do you wanna be the audience or the star?