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Entrepreneurial events are just expanding in size and quantity. This make me at least to search for unique events which have something new to offer. This search means that I have to try most of the events at least one time and connect with people to learn about more events which are happening.
In this process I met a student from Uppsala who was so passionate about China and what he had in mind was to connect China and Sweden when it comes to entrepreneurship and startups. He started from Uppsala but it didn’t take him long to understand that Uppsala is too small and unknown for such international project.
At the moment he has launched his Forum, Sweden China startup Forum, in Stockholm and Beijing and I had the honor to be invited for the launch event in Stockholm. I believe that the idea is amazing considering how big the market in China is and the entrepreneurial potential in Sweden. In the event investors, lawyers and startupers were having speeches about how the market is and mentioning the potentials and challenges. It was great environment with a fantastic diversity.
Their next event will be in spring and I would strongly recommend it to all of you who are interested in new opportunities!
Check their website out: www.swedenchinaforum.org

This Monday I was invited to a mingling event at the head office of Northvolt, via the female engineer network Malvina on KTH. Northvolt is a start-up within the energy sector, aiming to build Europe’s largest lithium-ion battery factory. The founders of Northvolt have their backgrounds in Tesla, and working there they got the idea to start a company for large-scale manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries in Sweden. There is no battery factory like this in Sweden today but with our well-developed industries and low energy prices, it is a very good country for this. The thing that I found very interesting with Northvolt is how this startup is determined to grow into a fullscale manufacturing company within the coming five years.

Northvolt focuses a lot on product development of their batteries, but they do not really innovate anything new. What they do know is that the future demand for lithium-ion batteries will be huge, as our society will use more renewable energy, electric cars and home storage systems for energy. They know there will be a market for these batteries, and now they rush through the start-up phase in order to start their production on time to meet this growing demand. In some way, it reminds me of the simulation game that we have been playing in this course. Their strategy is to offer the greenest batteries on the market since they predict that a competitive advantage in for example the electric car sector will be to offer products with a low lifecycle CO2 emission. They will do this by keeping most parts of their supply chain in Sweden, where they can have full control on their emissions and ethical standards.

I was super inspired by this event and I felt like joining this type of company would be a great way to be an intrapreneur, since none of the employees at Northvolt follows an established “know-how” at the moment – they all get to discover how they shall work to contribute to the success of Northvolt.

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In the entrance of the office, there were pictures of the future factories of Northvolt. Having this very clear goal visualized on the wall felt inspiring, and I noticed that all employees were proud of the company they are developing together!

Wish you all a good day!
Sara

 

zero to oneOne of my key interests is self-development, so, I often self-reflect and read books that helps me along, whether that be biographies or just key insights of successful people. Since, I see myself as a future entre- or intrapreneur I signed up to take the course Entrepreneurship. Consequently, I thought it be fitting to read some books on entrepreneurship.

One of these books that I recently finished is Zero to One – Notes on startups, or how to build the future by Peter Thiel. If you’re not completely unfamiliar with entrepreneurship and the tech scene you’ve probably heard of Peter Thiel, the hugely successful serial entrepreneur and one of the founding fathers of one of the world’s most successful startups, PayPal. In the book he shares his top tips on how to create a successful business and cover topics ranging from ideation to distribution. He highlights the importance to innovate, not just copying what others have done and making horizontal progress, or going 1 to n, but rather coming up with something new and making vertical progress, or how he likes to put it – going from 0 to 1.

In a few coming posts I will share some of the takeaways from the book. Nevertheless, I would still recommend anyone even slightly interested in entrepreneurship or business to read it. Until the next post, think about the question Peter Thiel always like to ask people he interview for a job, “What important truth do very few people agree with you on?”.

I and my team successfully organized this Stockholm Startup Weekend: Travel Edition. This was a 2.5-day event where people came to come up with solutions for Travel domain, the event’s major sponsor was Amadeus(the food was great), along with a lot of other sponsors. There were a lot of prizes to be won, and fun to be had.

I was very happy to see people from an array of various background from insurance to music to tech to business to anything coming together forming teams and here is a how it looked. It was an amazing experience to organise this. I was happy to see one of our classmates, Arman, to see there as well, he blogged about it here: http://intopreneur.com/?p=4155

BTW we are coming back in Sep 2017. Will keep you posted. Ciao!

PS.
We also organised another weekend hackathon in January, here is the video from that as well for those who like watching videos. 🙂

On May 12 – 14 2017 there was “Stockholm Startup Weekend: TRAVEL EDITION” at “The Park Hälsingegatan” which was focused on solutions for travelers with new technologies. On May 14th, I attended the final presentations. There were several judges, mentors and coaches.

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At the event’s Facebook page, I saw one of my friends from my bachelor’s. I contacted him about the event in the early morning. Then he said that he is one of the pitchers and I was really surprised because I haven’t seen him for 9 years. Participation to the events were not free and requires ticket but my friend said that you can attend as my friend then it will be free for you. This is also a nice example for benefits of networking. You will never know when and where you will meet with your friends in the world and knowing someone always helps.

Here are some of the ideas which are incubated during startup weekend:

Aldeahub: A sustainable travel platform which provides carbon footprints of hotels and resorts. Enables travelers to make their selection based on environmental concerns.

Koncierge: Personalized hotel rooms through machine learning. Every guest will have a different room based on their interests and preferences. i.e your favorite songs welcome you in the room with your favorite drinks.

WTFTravel: Suggest you a place for vacation based on best price, distance and temperature around the world.

Social Traveller: Finding travel partners for solo travelers

PUBGLO: A multicity travel planner

FlyTick: Limited time flight deals from partnering flight providers which are seeking passengers for their empty seats

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Venture Cup is a yearly competition for startups with no commercialized revenues exceeding 500 000 SEK. I learnt about this competition through an announcement made by KTH Innovation (turns out there are some previous post in this blog about this competition). The event I attended to was the East’s regional final and it was held last Thursday, May 16th, with 12 nominated startups amongst the hundred that had participated.

Prior to the pitches from the nominees there was a mingle in which I discussed with 2 of the startups about their projects. Both had a similar story, they had been created by groups of students, but what caught my attention is that the two of them had added business developers to their teams, so the founders of these companies were more centered in the technical aspects of the company than in the business side.

Each startup performed a 2 minutes pitch on stage, explaining their idea. I must confess that none of them was impressive or particularly horrible, although obviously some were more clear explaining their idea than others, but in all cases there was a scent of blur in the descriptions of their ideas. The speakers were all obviously nervous and even one of them suffered a brain freeze that made her pull out her notes to finish the pitch. The pitches were followed by a Q&A from the jury, who was not particularly tough with the questioning because, as they explained, there had been a previous selection process in which the participants had to pitch their ideas and were asked exhaustively for the details of their business model. To finish, there was a recap of all the business idea with a 1 minute video from each startup, with the founders explaining -again- their business idea. It struck me how oddly familiar these videos were to what we have done in class, as they were all in the “talking head” format, with no animations or showcases of the products, although I assume that this was due to some requirement from the competition.

As an interesting note, one of the members of the jury mentioned that she is a business angel at STOAF, a Swedish investment company with almost 50 business angels. If you are looking for finance for your startup you should probably check them out: www.stoaf.se

More info about this competition at www.venturecup.se

— Joaquin Sanchez-Valiente

joaquins@kth.se | LinkedIn

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.

or: Don’t Think Too Much A/Bout Lean Failure of Fashionistas.

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On November 22, 2016 I visited the Lean Tribe Gathering 41 in Stockholm, together with fellow student Fuji King (name modified by the editor).  The event took place in SUP46 (Start-Up People of Sweden), Regeringsgatan 65, 3rd floor, 111 56 Stockholm from 17.30-20.00.

What are LeanTribe Gatherings?

SUP46 Partners

Lean Tribe is a Swedish association of enthusiasts for agile and lean software development that organizes and supports meetings around this topic and disseminates information through its website. DevTribe and BizTribe are sister organizations of LeanTribe.

Main Theme: Lean Startup in Practice

The event refers to a statement of Eric Ries that says „Using the Lean Startup approach, companies can create order not chaos by providing tools to test a vision continuously“ (Eric Ries, 2011). According to this, the four invited speakers were entrepreneurs and/or change agents in IT companies with experience in leading towards value innovation, who work with fast feedback loops toward smart product development. The event was sponsored by Google.

The Presentations

Jonas Hombert (Optise AB): A mindset for quick failure and slow success.

Jonas Hombert aligned his talk around the three key aspects of failure, flexibility, and feeling. According to him failure has to be a mindset, it is something that happens when you are trying new things. It is a transitional state and not something that is fixed, as there will be a point where we will start to succeed. He recommends to celebrate failure (e.g., with a failure wall) and learn from it. Regarding flexibility he recommends that whenever we build new things we can never be certain that it ist he right thing, we don’t know how many iterations are necessary – therefore we should focus on doing things right rather than on perfection. Especially engineers have to change their mindset, as „whatever we release will fail“ – at least at the beginning. We have to change our perception and search for tight feedback-cylces to fail fast. Feeling: instead being a highly data-driven business it is important to focus on the local rather than the global maximums – and ask „is a button the right thing“ instead of „what is the right color of the button“. Don’t just focus on the data, but do radical new things, too! Take a step back from optimizing.

Cecilia Borg (Looklet): Expanding without the pain – DevOps and values.

Cecilia Borg has already 15 years experience in pain while growing IT companies. Within her last company, King, she took backend responsibility for 1.500 employees and 20 game studios, as well as 120 backend developers – a work in need of collaboration and interdependency, fixing things every day. Here she learned:

  • Engineers don’t want to assume responsibility. (anonymous executive)
  • I’m angry. I shout at idiots, so they won’t do idiotic things. (anonymous architect)
  • I would never put my name on a report like that (politically sensitive). (anonymous manager)
  • He shouts at us. Too many projects he won’t like. (anonymous product owner)

Here is something wrong, she thought. These are growth pains related to organizations that need to expand too quickly. In huge organizations, people feel no longer aligned but lonely – they literally build walls around their groups, throwing things over the fence.

Her solution to that:

  • Make sure people CAN.
  • And feel COMFORTABLE.
  • With associated RESPONSIBILITY.

The values should be trust and responsibility, transparency and collaboration, based on agile methods.

Yassal Sundman (Crisp AB): Iterative feature design using A/B testing.

Yassal Sundman points out several decision making pitfalls, for instance:

  • The loudest person wins (whereas the loudest is not the brightest, often).
  • The Boss tells you (hierarchy does not mean great answers).
  • Consensus (you might end up with grid lock).

Instead, she recommends to test to a decision, starting with a hypothesis regarding a product and ist users, define testable alternatives (related to acceptance critera), do A/B testing and make your decision (might not necessarily be a solution) on the hypothesis. She described several A/B test variants and pitfalls (e.g., bad hypotheses – bad results, inapplicable data (desktop vs mobile games), poor data analysis, untestable prototypes or a too data-driven approach. The outcomes of this strategy are faster development times, building the right thing, knowing what is being build and early identification of risks.

Erik Frisk (Touch&Tell AB): Leaps of Faith in Lean Startups.

Erik Frisk Toch & Tell

Erik Frisk describes the situation that a product doesn’t solve a real problem and a startup has to start new. He recommends, based on his own experiences, to jump without checking how deap the water might be, rather than chosing the common data-driven, scientific approach. Get out oft he building will eliminate uncertainty. But not all uncertainty will be eliminated, this is impossible, and insofar the lean startup mantra is incorrect. He warns to do too much thinking – although it is human to be afraid of the future. It is necessary to find a balance and to do a small leap of faith each moment.

Conclusion

It was a highly interesting event and we gained valuable insights also into Open Space method after the talks. We will follow upcoming events at SUP46 and will attend the next LeanTribe event in Stockholm. Thank you for inspiring us to move out of our comfort zone and dig into real business life – how to move from (academic) analysis-paralysis to action. 🙂

References

LeanTribe Stockholm (2016). URL: http://leantribe.org/ltg41/ (last access: Nov 27, 2016)

Ries, E. (2011) The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses. Crown Business.

SUP46 – The Startup People of Sweden (2016). URL: http://sup46.com (last access: Nov 27, 2016)

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!

 

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.

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“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!

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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.