I’m sure that many of you have your websites which you usually browse around on to waste time waiting for a class to start, the train come or just for the day to end. One website that I myself visit rather often because of boredom is based on an idea that other people have ideas, but a lack of financial support. I’m sure that many of you have stumbled upon this before but for you who have not, -The idea is called crowdfunding and the website in particular is www.kickstarter.com

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A newly created idea which has not yet reached the market and has not been presented to investors can be a delicate resource of the innovator, and makes him/her in a position to decide how the next steps for this business possibility will act out. Will the idea need financial support and do you need strategic help to get started? If the innovator has a smaller idea which most likely is too small to attract investors or if one just do not want any engagement from large companies, banks or powerful people there is a different way to raise money to your idea, – crowdfunding. The number of successfully funded projects, only through Kickstarter has now reached over 100 000 and the total amount of money funded to all these projects is today 2.27 BILLION dollars (https://www.kickstarter.com/help/stats). The numbers are impressive, but if you had a really great idea, would you share it with others and use Kickstarter for financial support?

Lets say that you have invented something that you really believe in and that hopefully will revolutionize a whole market. –Would you use Kickstarter or any other crowdfunding community? Probably not, because an idea good enough will most likely attract venture capitalist firms or business angels, that hopefully will serve you with great advice and a lot of money. One problem here is that the entrepreneur need to know how to contact and approach these investors to inquire about financial support and help. If one completely lack information or ambitions to reach out to investors, then crowdfunding probably can appear as a good idea.

Another reason that I see the crowdfunding solution as suitable could be if it is used as a marketing trick, so one idea can gain attention from the existing web traffic on the website itself (in this case www.kickstarter.com) without the need of creating a popular website or social media account of its own. But this could also be an issue as I feel that many inventions asking for funding could benefit from a more serious approach. Appearing on kickstarter, just a click away from the opportunity to fund “naptuckets: the world first pants designed for napping”or “Erotic colouring books for adults” could exclude more traditional and serious investors

My impression is that crowdfunding is not for everyone, but could be an easy way to gain financial support for a fun or interesting idea at start and there is always an opportunity to move on to more serious discussions with possible investors when you already know that there is a market for your idea. The idea in itself is very interesting and it has really gotten my attention since I visit the website every once in while to look for exciting ideas or outrageous inventions. So if you are a disbeliever of the crowdfunding phenomenon, just give it a chance and at least visit www.kickstarter.com and help an entrepreneur with funding or just get some inspiration from other ambitious persons!

 

Disclaimer: I’m not affiliated with kickstarter or the naptuckets…

This morning, I attended a start-up event called Fuck Up Morning Stockholm III. At first, I was surprised by the choice of name for the event but later I found out that it was named like that because the road to become an entrepreneur is never a smooth journey; there are full of obstacles and failures, or you can call them ‘fucked up’ moments. This event was getting increasingly popular and it is the third time of having such talk. For today’s talk, there are 3 guest speakers invited to share their experiences:

  1. Andreas Vural – Happy Plugs

When he first started the Happy Plugs, he just wanted to solve the problem of tangled ear-phones. He then searched for the perfect material and eventually built Happy Plugs. A few key take-aways from his entrepreneurship journey:

  • Do not be afraid to start your business because of financial issues. There are always sources of fundings to look for if you indeed want to look for it.
  • In order to expand globally, you first need to establish your brand in a single country. After it is successful in one country, you can leverage on that and try to expand your brand.

After that he ended his presentation with an inspiring quote “Try and fail but never fail to try”.

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  1. Emilia De Poret – Singer, Author and Entrepreneur

IMG_8648The second guest speaker was a very passionate woman who has went through several obstacles in her life but managed to turn over a new leaf. The first stumbling block that she encountered was when she was 23 years old when she was fired from her recording company. At that point, she felt that she was a complete failure and she locked herself in her room for almost 2 weeks. Since that day on, she made a promise to herself that she wanted to be in control of herself; she did not want to be hired by anyone and that’s how she becomes an entrepreneur. If she had not experienced being fired, she would not be the successful woman she is today. The following is a few tips that she shared with the audiences:

  • In life, you are presented with a lot of opportunities but you need to learn how to prioritize and learn to say no. By saying no, it does not mean that you are rejecting the opportunity, but it means that you are making yourself to commit to an opportunity.
  • When you feel like you are at the lowest point of your life, you need to gather your strength and pull yourself out of the pithole. Believe that you can do it and keep trying again.
  • To find a suitable partner for your start-up, sometimes you don’t need to look too far away. It can be strangers in the plane, your familyyou’re your relatives. Go out and connect to people more.
  1. Peder- Tech enthusiast, Boka bord

IMG_8650Since his study at Uppsala University, he knew that he was really interested in technology field. He began working at Nord Net, a Swedish online trading application. He shared a few lessons that he learnt based on his experiences:

  • Do not ever attempt to do a lot of things at the same time. Focus on one and make it happen. He made the mistake of doing at least 7 things at the same time and resulted into lack of focus.
  • Rather than focusing on trying to get investors, try to utilize bootstrapping and focus more on building your idea and product.

He ended his presentation by giving us a quote that we must remind ourselves constantly: “Believe that you yourself are capable of doing so much more than you think.”

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The day after my class (Technology Innovation Entrepreneurship at KTH) visited the Epicenter, I and other two classmates went to the event “Bootstrapping your Startup” hosted there. So, in this post, I am going to tell you about this experience.

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The aim of the event was to provide the audience with experiences and advices of three startuppers who decided to bootstrap their startups rather than ask for financing from VCs or other institutions. We can define the bootstrapping technique with the following sentences: “an individual is said to be boot strapping when he or she attempts to found and build a company from personal finances or from the operating revenues of the new company”. Thus, when speaking about this kind of startups we do not refer to future unicorns, but companies that has to monetize earlier in order to grow.

Peter Russo led the event and acted as a sort of interviewer and presenter; he founded several Startups and now he is involved in the no-profit business, thus he talked also about his own experience sometimes. The interviewed startuppers were three young guys:

  • Fritjof Andersson (Founder and CEO, RelationDesk.com),
  • Therése Gedda (Founder and CEO at 30minMBA)
  • Andreas Andersson (Founder and CEO of DMG Education).

The discussion started with Fritjof, Therése and Andreas talking about their businesses, the first two RelationDesk.com and 30minMBA operate in the B2B business while DMG Education is in the B2C business. Here a brief description of what they do:

  • RelationDesk.com is an online platform to manage customer relationships through the different social media.
  • 30minMBA supports people in developing their business skills when it fits them with leading business concepts based on great books in audio and text on your mobile.
  • DMG Education is an online music school.

In speaking about their first steps they gave some interesting information such as the no salary time, DMG Education was the one with the longest period with no salary that last for one and a half year. When you decide to bootstrap your company, you need to be profitable in a rather short time and thus saving on your salary is quite “mandatory”.

Each of the startuppers focused on something different and repeated it many times during the event. I think it is what they retained their success factor. Fritjof spoke about the importance of finding people, as both resources and customers, to build and develop a network. In particular he spoke about the method used by him of speaking directly with them. Thus, he exhorted the audience to participate more to startup events where it is easier to find the right resources interested in what are you doing. While Andreas continually repeated the importance for its company of Facebook ADS in bringing people to the platform. He did not know anything about it, thus it had to learn. This to say that when you decide to bootstrap it is more needed an enlarged knowledge rather than a specific knowledge of a selected discipline, and to highlight the importance of learning to use new and different tools by yourself. Instead, Therése focused on the role of a common culture in the company and talked about her case to show us an example of how to create it. In particular, she told us that when you cannot reward people through high salaries the climate on the job could fill the gap.

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Later Peter Russo asked about the main tools used by them and if they have any suggestions. Therése replied and cited Dropbox, Buffer, Wilu, and when asked by the audience about cheap accounting tools she suggested Fortknox and Bilogram. Since the audience asked about free tools Therése said that sometimes it could be better to pay some services, because it is fundamental to choose what to outsource and what to do by yourself, even if you are bootstrapping. In particular, it is important to focus on the startup’s core business.

Then they spoke about the choice of having or not an office. While in Fritjof opinion, it is needed to separate personal life and work, Therése simply said that in her point of view the important thing is that the resources can work where they are more productive, also at home if it is the case.

Andreas touched the argument of prioritizing the resources to success and being efficient. Thus, Peter asked them about which is the most crucial resource in their opinion. Fritjof did not need time to think about it and promptly replied the “time”, how to spend your own time without wasting it in doing activities that do not add value or that it is better someone else does. While, again, Therése talked about company’s culture, she also mentioned that a common well defined culture has to be taken into account overall in the recruiting process.

Later Peter Russo moved the discussion to the lean argument: how to be lean, and what they mean with the word lean. Therése cited side thinking and talked about developing together with the clients. Fritjofsaid the same thing enhancing the importance of speaking with the customers before and during product development to better understand how to meet their needs. Thus, he suggested again to use private meetings and, as he said before, to set these meetings during events.

A guy from the audience asked about marketing tools. Andreas said their first growth was mainly coming from Facebook ADS, but that now their best advertising is to add value and use the students as promoter of their services. While Therése used a cheaper way, like simple stickers at events in which their potential customers could be interested about.

Peter Russo later touched the argument about how to convince people to work for you and from the audience someone asked about payment with shares. Fritjof said that the main problem about this way of paying resources are the taxes. Indeed they are not the same in every country, and in Sweden they are too high (70% confronted to 15% in the USA). Secondly, he said you should consider that it will be a long marriage, thus it is important you are sure they are the right people. Then, to reply to Peter question, they all mentioned paying people with “freedom”, “having fun” and other small things that create a nice job climate.

The climate at the event was really informal and relaxed, it was like meeting together speaking and sharing our expertise. I appreciated the fact that the audience was quite active and diversified: there were people of each age, who already started their business and who was interested in doing it with completely different backgrounds. The audience really guided the discussion together with Peter Russo, and this was the aspect that more I enjoyed there.

The previous study year I worked with start-up company named Arctos brings nature close to people, by making it easy to find and book outdoor experiences. They’re building a platform that connects users to local partners, who offer experiences and activities such as hiking, camping and kayaking. You can use a local bus to go Nuuksio where Arctos performs. The main idea is to lower the first step to go to nature.

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So I made their survey and gave some feedback about their current situation. I advised them to expand to Sweden also and their main goal is to expand whole Scandinavia but before that they have to test the idea in Finland to see if it works well. I also advised them to increase their marketing so people will get know it and then start use the service. I really like the idea because it connect busy urban peoples and nature by lowering the cap between them.

Here some nice links:

http://arctosadventures.com

http://www.espooinnovationgarden.fi/en/espoo-innovation-garden/summer-of-startups-arctos-makes-it-easy-to-get-out-into-the-great-outdoors/

https://www.facebook.com/arctosadventures

I have tried the service from the new start up called “Daily Bits Of”. They provide bite sized lessons straight to your inbox each morning. It is a great way of learning small lessons every day instead of having it as a big book or project that needs to be started.

“We got tired of buying books and online courses which remained untouched and unused, causing us nothing but anxiety. That is why we created Daily Bits. Our mission is to help people to discover new aspects in life to help you and us become better versions of ourselves. In the simplest way possible.”

I chose the Leadership course but they have a lot more to offer! My feedback to them was that I would like more pictures and illustrations in the e-mails and that I really like that they have some interactive bits where you are encouraged to respond to the “lecturer” how your “mission of the day” panned out.

Please check them out and feel inspired!

Daily Bits Of

/Erica

During one of the lectures Serdar Temiz mentioned  that you should focus on what you have to do right now to become the key player in 5 years.
But what if you have a great idea for a short term solution? I thought of this when I saw a pitch from Scrive. They provide a short term solution for companies which want to implement e-signing, but don’t have the time to wait until their legacy systems are updated. The first thing that came to my mind was that the product they sell is only useful for a couple of years, as I imagine their customers will eventually upgrade and won’t make use of Scrive any more.

I have an idea myself for the pitch, but it focusses on the generation of for instance my parents. Many of this generation know how to use applications as word and excel, but lack the knowledge to do a bit more advanced things like building and launching websites and online applications. As you can imagine the amount of people who lack this more advanced knowledge decreases every day, so if you target this group you’ll eventually run out of customers.

Does this mean you shouldn’t launch this idea? Should you let these potential customers figure it out themselves? I think not. I think that, in line with what Scrive does, you should move fast and provide them with a nice short term solution. However, I would like to know what you think about it. Do you agree? Otherwise, please let me know what I’m missing!

Entrepreneurship fascinates me. Not specifically because I have certain entrepreneurial ambitions. I have the feeling that I am better fitted for the position of “second man”, I’m not prone taking too many risks and I’ve never really felt the urge to start my own business. But I enjoy reading everything that has to do with the subject and I am very interested in the process of starting up a company.

One of the aspects that attracts me to entrepreneurship is the overwhelming enthusiasm that every entrepreneur seems to possess. As I do with all interests I normally have, I started googling. I started with search topics such as entrepreneurship enthusiasm, enthusiastic entrepreneurs and so on. Among the results were a lot of a lot of blogs, sites and even scientific proof that enthusiasm is a necessary ingredient for entrepreneurs. Sites about how you can share it with your team, your investors and even how you can make sure it lasts as long as possible.

Interestingly, besides those kind of positive articles, I also found a lot of sites stating that enthusiasm is a pitfall for start-ups and entrepreneurs. There is even a syndrome named after it: Enthusiasticus Founder syndrome. For me personally I don’t think the syndrome is an issue, therefore I will focus here on the positive side. I just looked up the definition of it to see whether I didn’t know what enthusiasm is or that I had the wrong picture of entrepreneurship. The Cambridge dictionary told me this:

Enthusiasm
Noun /ɪnˈθjuː.zi.æz.əm/
A feeling of energetic interest in a particular subject or activity and an eagerness to be involved in it.

If we take into account this explanation you would definitely agree that I describe the people at STHLM TECH FEST as enthusiastic. The people pitching on stage were of course very enthusiastic about their own idea. Standing in front of a big audience and a panel of important and influential people from well established companies. But especially the companies at the fair I found ultimately enthusiastic. Most of them were so fond of the idea that they conceived and so willing to share it with the crowd that they really tried to draw their attention. It was almost un-Swedish how they took the initiative to make contact with people who passed by. As a new student in town it felt really welcoming and very inspiring to see what’s going on in Stockholm.

I hope to see you all tomorrow for another enthusiastic (and very early) lecture entrepreneurship!

Michiel

If you are interested here is some more on the syndrome:
http://venturebeat.com/2013/03/20/startups-how-to-avoid-death-by-enthusiasm/

Warm waves, rock climbing, jungle adventures, healthy yummy food… Aaaah, some inspirational homeland memories woke me up this morning! my daily life has been disconnected from the wild nature since I started my studies in Sweden. Thinking of Galapagos, the Amazon and the great Andes brought me to an ecstatic moment. Then I got stressed because of the bunch of projects I need to work on… Come on, lets start with a motivational reminder of why am I here, studying human computer interaction instead of surfing.

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Technological development and its immersion in human life is undeniable. Beyond questioning whether technology is good or bad for life, I have decided to channel it in healthy ways, as a form of integration, to reach a harmonious relationship between man, nature and machines. The potential of new technologies that connect the physical world with the virtual one, seem to be unlimited; however, the development of its applications just begun, which leads me to the creation of new interactive worlds.

Applications of 3d audio, augmented reality, GPS, multimodal interaction devices and a bunch of sensors are examples of the accelerated trend in which humanity integrates new technologies into everyday life. I know about them and in my entrepreneurial courses I have learned how to reach my niches and make a lot of revenue. But hey! such attempts of expanding technology are both exclusive and mediated by consumerist dynamics, perhaps driven by gated communities?

A globalized world should welcome integration proposals that rise from the local and improve regional potentials; however,  “western” pragmatic premise “the end justifies the means, as long as it functions” has spread around the world, killing local identities and standardizing individuals into alienated slaves of the system. This ethical points must be considered and discussed in academia and all the ICT community.

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My Yoga People, Quito 2014

Rather than designing objects to be installed in a defined space/client, I dream of sites fulfilled of significance, which offer people the opportunity to interact with the world in new cycles of activities. I don’t care too much about the little niche that will give me money; I project interactive products, which are inclusive and available to the entire population, because I want them to be aware, healthy and happy.

Back to my mind, I invent as a contribution for building interactive worlds, for a possible and desirable contemporaneity that will honour the individual and respect multicultural imagery.

Yn Ry

This weekend, members of the groups Star-Tup and IMBATECH held an informal entrepreneurship evening with very rewarding discussions regarding our ideas and preparing for the exam. We also got to take a look at a product of a start-up that Jonatan is currently helping, Narrative. This little camera helped us document the evening.

Photo taken by the Narrative clip.

Photo taken by the Narrative clip.

Both groups received some valuable feed-back, from both internal and external advisors, on their ideas and we had a lot of fun.