… And some times it is not the intention to be an entrepreneur, but you are lead there by the fate. Enjoy reading:

https://www.kthmagazine.se/artiklar/har-stoppas-oonskade-samtal

 

The article is in Swedish, I will add a summery comment in English later on 🙂

I was convinced by one of my friends that it would be fun going to this lecture, like Forrest Gump, I just went with the flow. When I signed up for this lecture from Dr. Terrence Brown at Playhouse Theater, I thought I would get the same content he delivers in his classes at KTH but I was in for a treat.

Here is the conclusion,

There is a thin line between love and hate

This is what he said, that’s it. Now, to understand what this conclusion means, I had to stay until the end.

The conversation started by some light jokes from Dr. Brown to set up a jovial atmosphere in the Theater, followed by his introduction. His talk started with a brief overview of how some brands have trademarks which have now become too generic, some examples of which are Velcro, Band-aid, Superhero(co-owned by both Marvel and DC comics) etc, also he told that few brands have lost the trademarks because they could not utilize them frequent enough, the examples he delineated were Heroin, Videotape.

Then, post this introduction of trademarks going generic, he moved on to explain that there are four types of innovation- technological innovation, product and service innovation, process innovation, and business model innovation. Technological innovation is what we can see around us happening at KTH, product and service innovation are visible in the advent of new gadgets in the market, process innovation is done within companies, business model innovation is reinventing and redefining how a firm makes money. To point out the importance of business model innovation and how standout the performance of business model innovation is, he showed us the figure below, indicating the there is six times more growth in business model innovation compared to other innovation strategies.

Business Model Innovation showing 6x growth

A cool example was given later after this, this was the Haloid Case of 1959, model 914, skip this paragraph if you already are familiar, otherwise, read on. Haloid created a new way to create copies using static electricity and flashes, the process had a big capital cost initially. They approached big companies like IBM, Kodak etc. but were rejected outrightly. On facing a no from all the big brands, they started to lease out the machines, with providing the paper and ink free for up to 2000 copies. They were successful in creating a sustainable business model and they renamed themselves from Haloid to Haloid Xerox to Xerox.

This example was followed by lots of business model definitions, Terrence said that the one from Joan Magretta[1], who says that business models are just

“Stories that explain how enterprises work”.

This was followed by highlighting the importance business models that it helps the organization and managers, and gives a good overview of a venture, in capturing the value, in driving innovation, to optimize production, and to reduce failure rates.

After this, there was a long discourse on the move from business plans(30-40 pages) to business model canvas(1 page). Although time and again, it was told by Terrence that it is just a framework or a tool and focussed on explaining it is the wisdom of the user, by reiterating thrice in his talk that

“A fool with a tool is still a fool”

He told that Business Model Canvas has evolved and had taken many forms, and simply think of the business model as the way a venture makes money. There was a minute overview of Alexander Osterwalder famous author of book Business Model Generation [2]. Alexander Osterwalder’s doctoral thesis [3], however, analyzed established corporates and not startups(and is thus not a one size fits all tool, may fit well with some but might not fit at all with others). Business model just is a widely used tool, or rightly told later in the presentation widely abused tool.

The talk then diverted to a discussion about lean methodology as suggested by Eric Ries in his great book The Lean Startup and Steve Blank’s Customer Development with quotes about lean manufacturing and a customer centered product development. Terrence then said a simple statement that defined the evening’s talk about business tools that how they lose the essence when the common public has to be educated about the business concepts.

“When methodology is repackaged, it is oversimplified”

Summary

Now explaining what the first figure means.

There is a fine line between love and hate(this was said about the business models, you can love them or hate, them). All in all, you have to be wise, tools won’t do that for you.

References

  1. https://hbr.org/2002/05/why-business-models-matter
  2. http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0470876417.html
  3. http://www.qpt-consulting.com/cms/upload/documentos/20130213115948.osterwalder_phd_bm_ontology.pdf

Stockholm buzzes with hackathons and marathons and I stumbled upon one such entrepreneurship marathon called Create Squared- Closing the loop which was conducted from the 24th – 26th of March 2017. Although it was the first year for create squared, the event was one of the most well organised events that I have attended in Stockholm.

The event concentrated on bringing ambitious individuals from different backgrounds together to discuss ideas. We were given the opportunity to pitch our ideas, select teams and  develop the ideas on the themes of circular economy. The development stage of these ideas was the highlight of the event. We were provided with 15 amazing mentors who guided us throughout the journey. Every mentor was an entrepreneur him/herself as well as an expert in one of the many skill sets among pitching, forming a business plan, communication, design thinking, lean startup methods, problem finding, ideation,value based decision making, stress management, customer segments,social sustainability to name a few.

The mentors helped us polishing our idea, helping us pave our way through the clutter to a precise and clear business model. Below are the few tips that I learnt during these intensive 53 hours.

  • When you are describing an idea, try to be precise. So much so that you should be able to explain the same idea in 30 secs, 1 min or 4 minutes.
  • Focus on one small problem to solve to start with.
  • Your idea does not have to be unique but should be clearly defined.
  • Cut as many lose ends as possible.
  • Choose early on if you want to go big initially or test the waters and work your way towards it.
  • Have a plan B and C but focus on plan A and develop it completely.
  • Don’t be shy to ask for help. You will always get it .
  • A group with diverse educational and cultural backgrounds definitely makes a positive difference.

I personally learnt a great deal from this event and my team mates and our team even managed to bag the second place. I am now looking forward to the pre-incubation stage of this project with the Stockholm school of Entrepreneurship and looking forward to turn our efforts into reality.

Team Delicut

                                  Team Delicut

From L-R: Shruti Kuber, Igor Panic, Alexander Nilehn, Jingjing Xie, Haonan Liu.

So, the course ME2603 Entrepreneurship has now come to an end and it is somehow sad. It has  been a course that has most likely made many of us students to feel more comfortable presenting pitches, talking about our ideas and getting feedback on them, but most importantly making new connections.

As a medical engineer, I do not have that much of knowledge in entrepreneurship and everything that is connected to it. That is why I chose this course, to learn things that are outside my comfort zone and to know where to go whenever I get an idea in the future and where to put it forward. I have now begun to go to events (which I would never have done if it wasn’t because of the course) and it has been such a good experience. I have meet people from my field, but also people who have a totally opposite educational background. Also, I volunteered at SUP46 and got more engaged in schoolevents.

To conclude, I have not only learnt about what entrepreneurship is but also to start networking, going outside my comfort zone, meet with people who are successful in their fields and to grow as a person. I really do recommend this course to everyone.

123When I started this course I had no clue what to expect. To be completely honest, I basically ended up taking this course because I had a clash in courses which meant I had to find another one. A friend of mine then recommended this course and mentioned that it was a little bit different from other KTH courses. However, as the first class started I got to see why it was a good choice as well as I quickly realized how much more there is to know about entrepreneurship and everything around it.

Serdar has taught me how to look at myself from another person’s perspective in many cases, mostly through how I am viewed during presentations. He has also taught me to see things from another perspective. It has been quite a journey for me, to get out of my comfort zone and step into the world of the idea generation. Studying mechanical engineering I normally focus on the technological side of an idea, not the entrepreneurial side of it all as I have been doing in this course. Though, putting myself out there and challenge myself has been a bit tricky in my past, I have been pushed even further than I had expected of myself which means that I have exceeded my expectations. So kudos to Serdar!

But explicitly, what are the main learning outcomes from the course?

  • Pitching an idea The Elevator pitch step taught me how to make business idea concrete and appealing for others in the span of just a couple of minutes. This was something new for me and I believe this will be useful in my future career. It is crucial to be able to catch someone’s attention and make others understand why what you are saying or proposing is relevant for them. The Elevator pitch step of the course has helped me understand that and gave me tools in order to do so.
  • The meaning of Entrepreneurship As we needed to blog about entrepreneurship I started researching the topic reading current articles and looking at entrepreneurship websites. One of those blog posts was What is an entrepreneur? I also realized that I became more observant of articles and posts related to the subject on the internet scrolling through my Facebook for example. Writing the posts, attending the lectures and doing the project gave me further knowledge. I also gained personal insights into the subject, apart from the actual knowledge.
  • Running a company Having to work in a small group both to sell coffee and work on our made me understand what it is like to run a company. There is a lot to think about and a lot of coordination to be done. This made me both see the charm in being an entrepreur and the value of being employed by a company. Also through playing the “marketplace live” simulation game, a lot of knowledge and terms of how to run a business and compete in a market has been a tremendous amount of help for me.
  • Going from idea to reality The task of having an idea and actually putting it into reality has become more realistic. The lecture on prototyping and the whole project was what taught me that. I realize that if one has an idea it is not impossible to go through with it if one really wants to do so. Finding and  trying out start ups see Lendify – the service that makes you rich $$$ and My experience with Instabridge and attending the start up events taught me how many start ups there are out there and how many great ideas there are that potentially could bloom into great things.
  • How to attract investors Attending the start up events I learnt both how to attract investors and the importance in doing so. Having investors is often necessary to fulfill an idea, to going from idea to reality. I learnt that the idea can be great but if it is presented poorly it will not matter. More about this in these posts 19@19 startup event with SUP46 and STHLM TECH Meetup.

Thanks again everyone!

 

Last Monday, Nadia and I voluntered at the Fem Tech #5 event at SUP46.We got there one hour before the event was intended to begin, and we met with Lana. She  introduced us to the people working there and  to two other girls who also were voluntering that day. We got to help out with the catering and registration of the guests. And it was actually much more fun than what I had expected it to be. And I do recommend people to visit this awsome place and to start networking. Or if anyone is interested in being a member in their volunter-group, than just contact them and give them your information.

The event was intended to only be for women and to encourage women into the entrepreneurial world. Three successful women presented and spoke about what they had done so far and what they had accomplished. All three start-ups were successful, whereas one of them was an app, that I can’t remember the name of, and had over 1,6 million users.

One of the best things with this event was to hear about their journey and how they actually had become successful, not only as entrepreneurs but also as women.

 

This week was full of entrepreneurship and StartUp events and I will cover in this post the many things I learned from it.

On October 10th we went to the monthly STHLM TECH Meetup, which is basically a networking event that brings big investors in contact with the StartUp base and also lets anyone who is interested get a bit of an insight into the scene. This month’s guests were H&M CO:LAB and Nordic Makers.

Learn the language

The first part of the event was introduction of the guests and a report on how the STHLM TECH meetup has developed over the past 4 years. It was interesting to see the terminology (Angels, A rounds, B rounds, … ), that has just been taught to us during the lecture on fund raising, get a real life application. The entrepreneurship scene has its own language and you’re only going to learn it by constantly exposing yourself to it.

Learn pitching

After that came three pitches that turned to be … let’s say “sub-optimal”, but they got valuable feedback, which I will combine here, with the feedback that we got on our venture project pitches in the Entrepreneurship class.

Make it undoubtedly clear which value your service offers 
Remember that your customers only care about how they can apply your product for themselves. They don’t care which features and functionalities you provide, as long as they can’t imagine it actually adding value to their lifes.

Two things investors like to hear in your pitch:
What I really want to change in the world is …
We’re doing this thing open source …

Story telling
They want you to take them on a journey, so they can feel an emotional relevance to your product. Telling a story always gives more context to how your product can be applied in a real life setting.

Show me the product!
In the first 30 seconds you should show what your product actually is. Show them what you spent all your time and energy on developing. If computer generated renderings of a design are the closest you have to a product, then start your presentation with those. Also DO NOT show your behind the scenes development work. Investors want to be promised big shiny finished products, they don’t care about the technicalities.

To all the collectors
If you’re doing aggregating of existing services into one central service you still need an added value. Simply providing a collecting pot is not enough to draw users in.

Learn networking

During the event everyone had the opportunity to use the Hashtag #STHLMTECH on their Twitter posts, which would then be automatically retweeted to all the followers of Sthlmtech. This gives you access to a massive audience, which is perfect for when you’re looking to grow your followership. I actually gained several new followers that way.

After the event most people left, which always surprises me, because that’s when the really interesting networking parts starts. So we were chatting up all kinds of people including the Moderator and some Venture capitalists who gave us their contacts.

One useful side-effect of speaking with that many people is that you’re basically forced to explain your product idea again and again and you keep getting feedback on it. Trust me, nothing hones your elevator pitch better than repeating and tweaking it over and over while networking at an event like this.

One guy I met called Mikael Lenart runs a company called “Venue”. His service connects artists with venues and lets the audience decide who gets to play by voting for their favorite band with the purchase of a ticket for that band on that day. If their band does not play, no money is transacted. This reminded me of a company that I knew from Germany and I gave him their website, so he could do some research on it. After that we were chatting about the Sound Hub and he recommended me to go to the STHLM Music City event, which would take palace at SUP46 the next day. Since I already knew that place i happily agreed.

See how it’s really done

The STHLM Music City event was an amazing experience with speakers from Spotify and live demonstrations of the new app by pacemaker. Their presentations were really well done and could be described as 70% images, 20% charts, 10% text. That way the attention was much more on the speaker themselves. Also two guys presented their events SLUSH and SLUSH MUSIC which will take place in Helsinki on the Nov 30 – Dec 1.

Obviously more networking followed after the main presentation and I met some more people, which gave me important information about potential future competition for my Sound Hub project.

On the Wednesday after that I went to the Nomination Event for the Bicky Chakraborty Entrepreneur Program which took place at the KTH. It was good to see students from the KTH that followed their passion and finally also got some substantial funding for their further company development.

“Success in the twenty-first century depends on street smarts, not book smarts.”

– Dale J. Stephens, founder of Uncollege.org

If I had to name one big take away from this course ME2603 – it would be “Educate yourself!”. Right from the start Serdar told us that instead of asking too many questions via emails and LinkedIn we should rather put our “google skills” to use. The fact that the lecture slides were not available on Bilda, but sometimes could be found on Slideshare is a good example for that. The comprehensive but in some cases contradictory and outdated course overview information added to the need of organizing and managing ourselves instead of simply following instructions given by the teacher.

But there was also way more to it. As a substitute to a standard exam we had to engage in a lot of “outside of class” activity. This included amongst others finding and attending startup events, being active on LinkedIn and writing blog post on this very website. It was this activity which by far has taught me the most in the last two months.

“How do I even write a blog?”

– every classmate after the first lecture

By attending startup events, I became better at the art of small talking and learned how to pitch an idea to a complete stranger, as well as giving qualified feedback to others. One event which I went to was a super interesting book club meeting, a fact which lead to even more self education – before being able to attend I had to read the book “0 to 1” by the famous Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel which contained several valuable learnings for me. Thanks to a friend’s tip I soon picked up another book with the title “The education of millionaires” by Michael Ellsberg. This book stresses the importance of educating yourself outside and beyond university and definitely got me thinking. Thanks to my experience from the Entrepreneurship course I could relate to a lot of claims the author made and in return began to understand better why our teacher kept pushing us out of our comfort zone.

The same holds for the exercise of writing blog post. In order to deliver an appealing text, I first had to teach myself how to write a blog post and upload it on a wordpress page. And you never know – this could very likely be a super useful skill in the future.

As a disclaimer: I personally had profound knowledge in entrepreneurship before I started the course. Otherwise I most probably would have been able to learn even more in class. Nevertheless I am happy with my choice of taking this course and I’m absolutely certain that it will benefit my future life and career.

“Self-education is the key to upgrading your mind and your life.”

– Matt Mullenweg, Creator of WordPress.org

 

http://www.stockholminnovation.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/SUP46-logo1.png

I’ve been to my first SUP46 event last Thursday about Product Managers with Ricardo and Alycia, whom have both already written an article about it (you can check their blog posts here and here if you want) so I won’t explain again what has already been said. First, I really enjoyed the conference because it gave me a new vision on the many forms that the entrepreneurial spirit can take, as intrapreneurship. In fact, being a Product Manager seems highly related to being an intrapreneur as they constantly need to be visionary, keep focus, lead their teams to ensure the development of their product. In this blog post I’d like to focus on why is it important to have intrapreneurs inside your company.

https://www.marketingmag.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/men-with-ideas.jpg

You can think of most companies as they can be reluctant to change, because they were set up to execute certain activities and are used to it. They often like to do it their way inside of their comfort zone, and at the contrary change appears as dangerous and uncertain. Thus, things tend to stay as they are, which can be a stumbling block to innovation. That’s exactly why every company needs intrapreneurs to stay at the top and continue to be innovative. Those people are the ones who can disrupt a company in a good way in the sense that they value creativity, freedom, and they want to make a difference. In fact, most big companies have the potential, the technologies necessary to develop new products but they can lack the will to do it, and sometimes they don’t even see the opportunity of developing a disruptive product because they may be too focused on something they already have. A story of such a successful seizure of an opportunity is Amazon Web Services. Most of you probably don’t know this subsidiary of Amazon.com, Inc. but it was created by a man named Andy Jassy, whom has been designated as “Person of thhttps://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/1d/AmazonWebservices_Logo.svg/2000px-AmazonWebservices_Logo.svg.pnge Year” by Financial Times. He is totally an intrapreneur in my opinion and I invite you to learn more about him and AWS in this article which is very interesting to understand the birth of an idea and how opportunities can be seized. Roughly speaking, this man was the leader who’s made Amazon able to invent a totally new service called cloud-computing, and which has made AWS the market leader on the topic. The way he did that is completely similar to an intrapreneurship project, especially thanks to Amazon’s culture of innovation and agile infrastructure. Of course, it wasn’t easy even if Amazon seems to be a good place to innovate, and it may be even more difficult to do in a lethargic company reluctant to new ideas. But you always need someone inventive, devoted, a leader to disrupt, to push you up and keep your company growing. This person is an intrapreneur.

Finally, I’d like to share five advices for both future intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs I’ve found in a web conference given by the French autodidact entrepreneur JĂ©rĂ´me Hoarau. I found his conference very interesting and inspiring, and as I suppose most of you don’t speak French, I’ll translate his main points:

  • Turn obstacles into challenges and learn from it
  • Build up archives of everything you’ve learnt from your mistakes
  • Focus on action and less on results to enjoy yourself and learn more
  • Try to be versatile
  • Draw your inspiration from better things instead of comparing

I’ll probably make a more detailed article about being an autodidact entrepreneur because it is something that many entrepreneurs I’ve met have in common and you can always learn a lot from these people.

Have a nice weekend and see you next time! 🙂

Earlier this week I went to the Stockholm Lounge Hack, an event series which has been going on for years. They are a group of entrepreneurs and wantrepreneurs meeting weekly in order to “hack”. According to the oganizers quite some startups have spent their initial time there. In the past years employees and founders from well know (former) startups like Spotify, Google, Facebook and Dropbox have attended the meetings.

600_330798072

“The idea is to spend time every week on your own project or idea to make it real and at the same time meet new friends that either have the connections or the knowledge you need – also to be helpful and share your own knowledge.”

So I went there with the intention to work on our venture idea for the entrepreneurship course. At first I totally got caught up in discussions with other founders though! So many interesting ideas and people!

600_431705716

But then everybody got really productive and also I made quite some good progress with the idea/project. (We will certainly cover that in more detail in another blog post.) What I found really helpful was the feedback from some more experienced people which really pushed me to work on a clear value proposition. Therefore I can now relate to Kevin’s blog post from last week. Just putting yourself in a room with the right people can do so much for you. So I can highly recommend checking out his event series – I will come back myself.