One 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?”.
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
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So Alycia, ceo of ACE, invited all the team to this event. As you can see on the previous posts, big part of the class went also. So… I will just let here the tips I found about the 3 pitches to avoid saying what the others have already said:
- Sometimes you know so well your idea, you can´t really explain it.
So this happened most with the second start-up. She was struggling to communicate her idea, because for her it was so easy to say one sentence to understand her start-up. But when I saw the faces of the others, there was confusion in almost all the faces. The communication was bad, so the host said “I think you know so good your idea that for you is easy to understand, but for us is not”. If you are going to explain your idea to an audience, maybe more practice with random persons can help to improve your communication.
So this happened more with the last speakers, they were talking about so many different things, it was just too many data to understand even the basic concept. For example, I know the third start-up wants to talk about the endless possibilities, but. sometimes less is more.
- Innovative Business Models
I have seen this trend in many articles, places, blogs, etc. A need of new ways of managing the companies, so maybe you can satisfy this need.
I don´t know if it´s because I am more emotional for being Latino-American, but for me the first start-up speaker was really aggressive in his answers to the hosts. I think that he was so passionate about his start-up that he felt attacked when the hosts criticized him or the start-up. I think you have to be passionate about your idea, but you have to be able to control yourself and be open to constructive critics.