Hi everyone!

A while back, in September, I got the chance to attend STHLM TECH FEST with the help of KTH Innovation. I thought I would share my experiences of this event with you.

This was my very first time attending STHLM TECH FEST. The first day I was there, on Monday the 4th of September, I got to witness a panel discussion with the co-founder of Klarna, Sebastian Siemiatkowski, the head of Nordics and Baltics of MasterCard, Sasha Krstic, the co-founder of iZettle, Jacob De Geer, and the CEO of Bambora, Johan Tjärnberg. They spoke about the future of the world of fintech and of the difficulties that lie ahead.


After that there was a city pitch held about the opportunities for Swedish startups and companies to open up offices in Poland. The person giving the pitch was trying to convince Swedish companies such as Truecaller and Klarna into setting up offices in Krakow and Warszawa. It was good to see how a pitch might be done in real life with the pressure of having a room filled with people criticizing your idea.




After attending a couple of these panel discussions and pitches I made sure to check out the fair. There I had the chance to speak to a couple of company representatives from the start-up that some of you might have heard of, Stilla. What they are offering is a product called Stilla Motion that you put on any of your belongings that you would like to protect from being stolen and such, wether it is your backpack or wallet. This device connects to your mobile device through the Stilla app and an alarm goes off on your smartphone when your belongings are being moved. What I think is a really interesting feature is the fact that, in the app, you can adjust how sensitive the movement sensor in the Stilla Motion device is and it also has many more adjustable settings. If you want to know more about Stilla visit: https://wearestilla.com.

Lastly, I would just like to comment on the fact that KTH Innovation has been able to do a great thing by providing free tickets to KTH students who want to attend the STHLM TECH FEST. As one of our guest lecturers, Tobias, mentioned previously in his presentation to the class, it is very important that we create platforms and meeting places where different people can meet and interact, because we want to be able to take advantage of the synergies that arises when this happens. I would hope that in the future more students get the chance to attend STHLM TECH FEST and similar events. In november I will also be attending the STHLM TECH MEETUP, so I am really looking forward to that.


Thanks for taking the time to read this! Let me know if you’ve been to STHLM TECH FEST before or anything similar to it 🙂


All the best,

Houda Abu Zeid

app-1Earlier this semester I met a start-up that caught my attention for its noble mission – reducing food wasting while getting its users fantastic deals. I decided to test their app and see if they could deliver their bold proposition. My verdict is that they surpass expectations!

Karma partners with cafes and restaurants in helping them sell good meals that could otherwise become revenue loss and food wasting. App users, on the other hand, are offered significant discounts to those who shop for food post traditional business hours. For example, lunch meals are listed on Karma at 14:00, which seems to me like a fair trade-off for such a great price discount. Not only the discounts are significant, but there’s also a great variety of restaurants listing their “overstock” on Karma. I was expecting this start-up to be struggling with the Chicken-egg proposition,  but they seem to have achieved great adherence among cafes and restaurants.

Their interface is intuitive and pleasant, and I was able to use the app even though I do not speak Swedish. The listing format is able to convey the necessary information while still allowing the depicted meals to look appealing. I believe this app has what it needs to become very popular and march towards some very ethical world domination.

IMG_4042I had an interview for a summer position at the Soon offices in Gamla Stan. Soon’s developers describe the app as “your everyday bucket list, a place to keep and discover things that will enrich your life.”  Whereas the interview was for an app developer role with React Native, I took the opportunity to show that my training in Human Computer Interaction and Design could also be of value by giving him some feedback on UX/UI Design. As an extra, I could also complete this “Help a Start-up” assignment and kill two birds with one stone.

The image on the left shows the first interface feedback that I was able to provide to Soon. Here the app fails at one of Nielsen’s 10 Usability Heuristics for User Interface DesignHelp users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors. This error occurs when a user cancels Facebook login, an exception that the app is not expecting and an error from which the app is not able to recover nor to show users how recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors.


IMG_4043The next screen is what users see as soon as they open Soon. I also believed that this interface could use some suggestions. I inquired about the reason for having an empty space on the top-left corner, where the “sandwich menu” would traditionally be positioned. My interviewer, Carl, told me that such a space would be filled out with a profile picture if I had logged into the app. I suggested adapting the interface to have the menu on the left, where users would expect it to be. An eventual circular profile picture could be in the center of the top bar.

I also asked about the airplane icon next to the sandwich menu. If “Cities” is a category, why should it occupy such a highlighted position? I also told him that the first screen the app should shows should be one that presents exciting recommendations in terms of movies, books, music, etc – Most people have somehow of a memory of what they have saved on their lists, and they will only resource to it from time to time. Showing new possibilities could possibly engage users into spending more time in the app discovering their new favorites.

IMG_4044 2The next screen shows one of the app’s categories. I suggested that although white space can be beneficial, this interface could be wasting some precious vertical space. Instead of having an entire line for the close button, they could have a < Back button on the left and the search controls on the top right, where it is normally found in interfaces. The location icon could also be on the same line, and its input control could possibly be shown only after the location icon would be tapped.

Another Nielsen’s heuristic is violated in this interface: Visibility of system status. When the Add + button is pressed, users get no indication that such an action was successfully completed. In most cases such a button would change its visual state to indicate a new status.


I finally attended one of the famous SUP46 happy hours! I have been hearing about such start-up events for the whole year, but it simply never matched my schedule. This time, I decided to make the effort as I was looking for a summer job pronto. The SUP46 happy hours have a great a success formula – a free-beer mingle of entrepreneurs and developers sponsored by some organization or corporation.

As I headed to this event with the intent of networking with start-up CEOs and CTOs, I did not even pay much attention to the fact that Grant Thornton would also be at the event. I’m not saying that I would not want to work for GT, but it is notable that such gigantic accounting and consulting firms start their recruiting almost a year before their lucky interns start their summer positions. Therefore, I arrived and immediately asked around for start-ups.

Unfortunately, there were not too many entrepreneurs at that specific happy hour event. I managed to speak with a few of them, but they were in technology fields in which I have no skills, such as the 3D printing business. While a small number of entrepreneurs were present at the event, that happy hour did not fall short of students. Many of them were familiar Lappis neighbors who seem to be omnipresent in corridor parties – not many of them involved with start-ups or technology. In fact, this event might have been repurposed by some students. SUP46 is now the hottest pre-gaming event in town – mostly because it has free beer.

I am curious to see how the event organizers are going to manage the mismatch between intended audience and attending audience. While these events look like a great success on attendance numbers, sponsors might not be getting much return on investment if their recruitment teams are unable to reach prospective employees. I still give props to SUP46 for hosting such a well-organized event, and I wish them luck in reaching their goals through their future events.

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”


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.


  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

Up to a few weeks ago my stereotype image, probably influenced by background in mechanical engineering, of an entrepreneur starting a company was somebody that has a brilliant idea that could disrupt a market and strives for a “blue ocean” strategy, potentially something Aileen Lee would describe as a unicorn.

A few weeks ago, I started a group work with some classmates for a course I was taking at SSE. It turned out that one of them, Matilda, was actually 6 months in to the journey of starting a company called bSaka (you can visit their website here bSaka). I immediately though she was some kind of Swedish version of Mark Zuckerberg but this was not the case: the company goal is to help people live a life of harmony and happiness and it does this through the commercialization of clothes. These clothes are designed to support people during meditation activities such as yoga and are manufactured with a strong concern for sustainability. All this sounded great but I was still skeptical about the potential of such a company: Where was the disruptive technology? Where was the app? How can you compete with companies like Zara or Nike? What is better in them compared to incumbent players?

Recently the company held a start-up launching event and a new product was launched so I got to hear the story behind the company and the reasons that pushed this group of friends to engage in such a tough venture. Matilda had gone though some rough times that she had overcome through meditation and yoga. She found out that with a more harmonic and less frenetic life she was feeling much better, there company’s goal is to support people in this journey of self-awareness. Matilda speech was quite impressive and you could feel the inner motivation, there I realized that being an entrepreneur does not necessarily mean being original and having a disruptive technology to leverage but is mostly about trying to be good at what you do and passionate about it.

My start-up idea

I wanted to build a start-up to create a smartphone application linked to a website made to help people find local farm food producers and facilitate interactions between them. I started thinking about this idea when I noticed that there are more and more people in France trying to eat healthier and eco-friendlier food, especially organic vegetables, fruits, meat. To that extent, they try to avoid industrial food as much as possible because they often can’t be sure about where it comes from (which causes environment problems if it was imported from far away for instance), or if chemicals have been added to the food, etc. Thus, they tend to prefer to buy food directly from some local farmers which are supposed to produce more organic and eco-friendly food. But when I tried to find local producers around where I live, I couldn’t find any really close on the internet. In fact, they can be difficult to find because most of them get their clients thanks to word of mouth. That’s why I want to make an application which would help people get connected with the local farm products producers around them, and make the interactions between them easier.

Collecting feedback

I wanted to target more precisely my potential customers, so I had to know who would be interested in my idea. Thus, I got in touch with seven people from different places (cities and countryside), with different age (from 20 to 72 years old), different social background. These people were mostly family and friends but there were also a couple of people I’ve met on the website senscritique.com, which is a film critic website. It seems that it is a quite random range of people but in fact it is very varied, as I wanted, and I think one of the most interesting feedback came from one of my interviews with a guy on senscritique.com because as I didn’t really know him (we’ve had exchanged a bit about some films before) and because of the sometimes coarse-mind of cinema critics, he felt really free to tell me truly what he thought about my idea, even if it is obviously non-related with cinema. He specifically gave me a feedback on my pitch rather than my idea because he didn’t seem quite interested into it in fact. So now I know I have to work on my pitch and be more precise so people understand easily my offer.

Now let’s get to the point. I’ve noticed that my idea could interest mostly people who live in small towns or in the countryside because it seems quite annoying for people in big cities to have to go in the countryside to get their products, where the farmers are located. People in the countryside seem very interested into farm products but are not very interested into a website and even less an app because they already have their own habits and contacts. Actually, my primary target could be people 30 to 50 years’ old living in small or medium towns. I’ve received from one of them this idea of making a sort of subscription system to a farm food producer which could provide information on what products are available at a certain time. For instance, if a farmer has just finished to gather tomatoes, then he notifies to the app that tomatoes are now available for sale, and it would send a message to his subscribers who could then come buy some, etc. It could be really useful for people living in small or medium towns because they are not so close to the farm food producers to get these information, but they are still close enough to drive a couple of miles to get there.

Will I change my idea?

I will surely do slight changes because the feedbacks I’ve received are very interesting. Now I have a more precise view of who could be a potential customer of my service. Also, I really like the part about the different features that these people would like to see in the app. I feel it’s almost like working closely to the customers already, and I think it is one of the exiting things of developing a new product. Finally, I appreciated the feedbacks on my pitch because some people didn’t really understand the concept I was explaining so obviously I have to work on that. It reminds me of the pitches I’ve heard during the STHLM Tech event, which were not always clear so even if there were probably good ideas, I wasn’t always convinced because it wasn’t so evident to understand what they offered to the customers.

Last week I was looking for a graduation internship, so I spent most of my time on some companies’ websites to find good opportunities, especially in consultancies. And I eventually got to speak about it with a friend, also trying to find an internship. It turns out that he’s been reached by a start-up for a 6 months job in Paris, plus 6 months in San Francisco about this web-customer data analysis. I think he’s been so lucky to receive such an amazing offer, even if I’ve not so much interest for that specific topic, and I start thinking “why not doing an internship in a start-up myself ?” It’s something I’d never really thought about before, but as I’m interested by the start-up world and because I think I would enjoy this peculiar and exiting kind of job, I start looking around for some opportunities. So I check out some career/job websites without finding any topic that I’d be really interested in, and I ask to myself what I would really be exited about in a job like that. In fact, I’m exited about creation, about giving birth to something, and thus I would be more interested by an early-stage start-up. Finally I remember I have a friend in a business school who’s told me once that many of her friends were planning to found a start-up at the end of their studies. I get back in touch with her and it turns out that she’s looking for a co-founder with technological knowledge to help her build her start-up. I personally have a profound technical background, and she’s planning to join a business incubator next January, when I’ll be back in France. She pitches me her idea and it seems quite cool (something about urban bicycles, roughly speaking), so it sounds like a perfect opportunity for me to experience the birth of a start-up. I eventually start doing the procedures with my school and the person in charge of internships reaches me to tell me that I won’t be authorized to do this because the company doesn’t exist yet so they can’t make any contract. Moreover it seems to risky for them because if the start-up fails I will have to do another 6 month internship in order to graduate, which I can understand. So I get back to my friend, a bit disappointed, and I remember that there is an entrepreneurship section back in my school, with people probably looking for this kind of projects for next year. So I propose to make an announcement about her project and her research for a co-founder on my school’s Facebook page, which she accepts. So far she’s been contacted by at least three people interested in her idea so I hope it will work !


Eventually we’ve got to talk about pitches and I told her that I’ve been to some start-up events that were very interesting on the topic. Especially, what I’ve learned from STHLM Tech event is that you really need20161010_184106 to practice your pitch. And going to this kind of meet-ups can definitely help start-up founders because you can get some tips about what to say, how to be on the stage, etc. For instance, I found that the first pitcher reacted quite badly towards provocative invectives of the host. Of course the goal of this event was to criticize pitches so everybody can learn, and the host may seem a bit harsh but you shouldn’t take it personal in my opinion. The objective of this is to get a feedback on your pitch, even if it can make you feel dreadful, it is done on purpose to make you want to change what didn’t work in your speech. Well, in the end I hope she’ll manage to find a co-founder and I also strongly advised her to practice her pitch a lot, and get inspiration from this kind of events.

This little experience really taught me that sometimes network can be crucial. So if you want to build your own start-up, you should definitely talk about it around you because you don’t always know where help can come from. And obviously, going to specific start-up events for networking is an excellent way to start. For that matter I recommand to read Kevin’s article, if you’re still not convinced about that. And finally, the more you talk about your idea to people with different backgrounds, the more you’ll feel easy about it and I think it will help you to improve your pitch in the end.

I’d like to echo the words of Annika Lidne, whom has given us a fantastic lecture about how to finance a start-up last week. It was really amazing because she gave us an overview of all the means you can use, with pros and cons, how much money you can get, why is it different in Europe and in the US especially for crowdfunding, etc. This last point sounded very interesting to me as I’ve already helped finance a cinema project on the European crowdfunding website Ulule.com last year.

But how to build a successful crowdfunding campaign?

To answer that question, I’m going to analyse the Purple® Pillow campaign, which is currently one of the most successful on Kickstarter. It has raised more than 800k$ in 11 days, and is certainly not going to stop now, as they still have 19 days left to go. The Purple Pillow is meant to be an innovative pillow that fits perfectly your neck and head to give you as much comfort as possible. The product was created by two engineers -Tony and Terry Pearce- after they’ve patented a new material called “Hyper-elastic polymer”, which makes their product unique and ingenious. So it seems quite logical that such a product can definitely succeed to raise money via Kickstarter, right? Well, it’s a bit more complicated than just that.

The first thing you should know is that this campaign is not Tony’s first try. He’s already successfully financed his previous product -an innovative mattress- thanks to Kickstarter. He is also quite active on this website  because he’s backed 5 other campaigns that were not his. These are probably some reasons why his current campaign seems to work so well. Being active on Kickstarter gives him visibility, and also makes people more likely to give him their money because they feel that he’s not only asking for money, he is also giving his own money to support the others, which makes him appear as a sympathetic and passionate entrepreneur. Also, thanks to his previous campaign, he’s built a sort of fan base, which is always good to have to start a new project, because they might be the first people interested and likely to give you money, especially if they were satisfied with your previous product. Another way to get people to see your project and be interested in it is to be presented on various social media -Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Pinterest to name just a few and maybe the most important ones- and that’s exactly what they’re doing right now by giving the opportunity to their backers to share the campaign to others on these social media.

Now that people are looking at you, you have to prove that you are reliable, that you can be trusted, so they will be more likely to help you finance your stuff. The way they do that is that they show they are really involved in their project. They communicate a lot, and especially they notice when a certain goal has been reached, and they don’t forget to thank all the people who support them, always with humour. They also have created a website, so people can learn more about the founders and their products. This is very important to provide enough information to people, so they can learn who you are, why you do what you’re doing. People get attached to people and especially for this kind of campaign, I think it’s really important to be liked be people because it is an quite intimate way to get financing. That’s why it’s better when people are emotionally involved with the product and with the founders.

Finally, this campaign has another huge asset -and it is my personal favourite- that is their presentation video. I highly recommend that you have a look at it because it is flawless quality-wise in my opinion, and they’ve put a lot of humour in it, that makes it is fresh and funny to watch. I feel like they really know how to advertise their product, and they make their campaign more human by being funny and showing that they’re really involved in what they do (you can actually see the two co-founders in the video.)

So what can you learn from crowdfunding websites ?

Studying crowdfunding campaigns may allow you to get amazing marketing ideas to sell your project. You can also learn a lot of stuff, how people interact on this kind of websites, how to get them to be interested in your idea, what kind of compensations you should offer to people who agree to give you their money, etc. But of course in the end, learning by doing is probably the best you can do to finally build a successful crowdfunding campaign.

And last but not least, looking at trending crowdfunding projects is also a great way to catch a glimpse of what may come in our lives in a close future, and it can be really exciting in my opinion. I remember when I first saw the Oculus Rift campaign on Kickstarter, which is a Virtual Reality headset. I was amazed by all the possibilities of such a device. It was only about two years ago and now these devices are really starting to become common products, especially in video games. I can’t wait to see if the Purple Pillow is able to make a breakthrough in the pillow market after its successful campaign, it could be really funny.

Here is an article which has inspired me to write this blog post. It gives you 10 tips about how to build successful crowdfunding campaigns, and I think it can be good to keep that in mind if you ever want to finance your own project this way.

Here is the link to the founders website, check it out.

Thank you for reading my post. Feel free to comment if you’ve already had an experience with crowdfunding, I’d really like to hear about it. See you next time!

What is Rappi?

Resultado de imagen de rappiRappi is the first app in Mexico that allows you to buy groceries from many supermarkets and even local bakeries. In Mexico its diffusion started just some months before I came here, we had before this type of service with the supermarkets, but it was more the telephone calling system. I will show you some techniques that Rappi had used to gain more popularity.

Techniques of Rappi (The Latin-American way)

Growth Hacking

  • Growth Hacking is a technique that searches to raise the volume of the users, earnings and impact of the company with the minimum of possible resources. Rappi use their costumers as their main way of marketing. latin-americans tend more to trust the advices or the experience of a friend, instead of trying new things seen in an ad. So Rappi focus in the complete satisfaction of the customer. Our guest lecture, that talk about her Spotify experience, has already approach this theme, and how different are the European style vs the American style.Resultado de imagen de rappi

Adding value to their brand

  • Resultado de imagen de rappiRappi is searching constantly in the social media about the popularity of their brand and how the customers react to it. If it is memorable or if the customers really don’t care about the brand and they could actually use the same service but with another brand. In lationamerica they have leading us to a market world, where we start searching for a product and months later we really don’t care about the product, we have developed a fidelity to the brand and we start caring more about the brand. Our love to a brand sometimes reaches such a high level, that we start using the brand name, instead of the name of the product. For example: In Mexico we called the tissue papers “Kleenex”, because it’s the “best” brand. So when you ask in Mexico for a tissue paper, we will ask for a “Kleenex”, never for a “tissue paper”.


  • Rappi didn’t limit to only supermarkets, this start-up searched with many 24/7 stores (like pressbyran), coffee shops, some restaurants and some bakeries. Reaching more market and being able to satisfy different needs of their customers with just one app. Also the design of their catalogue is really cool.Resultado de imagen de rappi

Why this post?

#1 So the main reason of this was to contact Rappi, and give some feedback. A plus, was some suggestions of the european style that I like.

#2 The second reason was that I think someone in the classroom has a similar start-up, he wants to do, so he can use the experience of Rappi and may be even try out some of the Latin-American techniques.