Source: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/WantedPoster

During one of the lectures of Open and User Innovation, a group of students gave a presentation about competition. The competition here were competitions held by firms in order to find an innovative solution to a problem. I always thought these competitions were purely beneficial to the firm and were not something that had to put that much effort into. During the presentation I found out I was very wrong.

Holding a competition requires a firm to take many measures into account and several sorts of costs need to be incurred. Examples of costs that need to be incurred are: the cost of releasing data, the cost of the resources that need to be provided to the contestants, the cost of testing the hundreds of solutions provided by the participants, the risk of rivals gaining an advantage based on the information you share with the participants and costs incurred by controlling the entire competition.

In order to clarify just how much effort goes into hosting a competition, our teacher Serdar Temiz gave an interesting example that I wanted to share here. This was based on an example the presenting group of students gave during their presentation. The example he gave was a sort of competition through crowdsourcing. This form of crowdsourcing was used a long time ago. The competition I am talking about here takes place in the Wild Wild West, and the competition is the search for bad guys through WANTED posters. In this case, the sheriff would ask the crowd to find a person, rendering it a form of crowdsourcing. Since a reward is offered to the person who first finds them, it can also be considered a competition. The following factors were named for the sheriff to take into account when holding this competition:

  • Price setting: is the offered reward high enough in the eyes of the people to participate in the search?
  • Price justification: is the offered reward accurate for the crimes this person committed? Do you charge the same for someone who robbed a bank as for someone who robbed a grocery store?
  • Awareness: the sheriff needs to find a way to spread the word about the competition, for example, the posters, then these need to be hung up in the correct places.
  • Boundary: how far does the sheriff need to put up the posters? What regions could the bad guy be in and what is too far
  • Registration: there need to be people answering the phone about the enquiries made by people stating they found the bad guy.
  • Analysis: the sheriff needs to consider whether he has the right systems to analyse all the enquiries. He cannot simply send his men to wherever a call comes from, then there will be no resources left.
  • Description: how specific does the sheriff need to be in the description? If he simply offers 1000 dollars for a thief, then people will bring by their neighbour’s kid who once stole an egg from them and demand they get the reward.
  • Information leakage: what if they are too specific? And a neighbouring county sheriff wants to catch this bad guy themselves in order to get a good reputation. But if you give too little information, the people might not be able to identify the bad guy.

For me this example was a nice, simple way to discuss the problem. I had never thought about a competition in this way, nor did I realise that there were so many factors to consider when hosting one. It really clarified the factors that need to be taken into account, and I hope it can do the same for other people reading this!

//Lynn Reichenfeld

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

I read an interesting article in The New York Times:


I think it is a trend that is far away from changing its direction of increasing. But does the online marketing  make it easier to make business? Or is it the opposite, since it is easy to enter the market the competition gets higher and higher and thus it is more difficult to survive? Possibly is a little bit of each?

How to Hack your Weekend


You never expect when it is time for you to start hacking. No matter whether you are interested in it or not, or you are a born-to-hack maniac or have zero experience, I am telling you, there is a time where you will see yourself… a Hacker! In this blog, I will share my surprising experience in two events, primarily about innovation, that I have attended in less than a week. The second event, which was a competition (a hackathon), will be the main focus.

Startup Pub – Pre-hackathon event:

Last weekend, my plan was almost like the regular “party, play, then catch up on studies and prepare for the next week”, until I attended the Startup Pub event, which was held up in conjunction with TEDx KTH in KTH’s Open Lab on Thursday. In that event, students and entrepreneurs owning startups get the chance to mingle, share their thoughts, and encourage each other to come up with brilliant ideas, as well as different ways to support innovation. Determined to take an active role in this event, I set-up my goals for the night: getting at least two important connections, and a free cider.

Startup Pub Event Banner by Excitera. Source: Startup Pub Facebook event page

Startup Pub Event Banner by Excitera. Source: Startup Pub Facebook event page

I arrive at the event, fairly on time, so despite the long queue, I got the ticket for the free drink, which means one goal was achieved. Now the bigger part was left, the real goal. The night went more interesting than expected; I was not planning to attend it fully mainly because I wanted to get on my daily swimming dose. However, two factors held me from leaving in the middle of the event:  the proper organization and interestingness, and my active participation. Both made me miss my daily swimming dose, but brought to me something more precious, and there are two reasons for that.

First, in the startup pub I met students, alumni, and professionals, all there for a common cause: innovation. Whether they were professionals with their idea rolling, students still in their journey, or graduates trying to shape their roads, it is always good to learn from and share insights with these brains. A major part of the event was the presentations of startups pitching their ideas and encouraging people to join their teams to make their ideas grow. One startup in particular caught
my attention, and was the second reason why I felt staying at the event was worth it.

The logo of Time Village, one of the presenting startups in Startup Pub. Source: Time Village Facebook page

The logo of Time Village, one of the presenting startups in Startup Pub. Source: Time Village Facebook page


The second reason why I was lucky to stay till the end is that I learned of a hackathon from one of the startups that were presenting. The startup, Time Village, has a service through which people share their time to practice something which they enjoy and which others are in need of. By providing a platform to find people offering services, such as cooking tasty Indian food or Italian tiramisu, and others requesting services, Time Village aims to connect these people who help each other and get the chance to socialize. The service was still in early release stages, and they wanted to improve it by creating a mobile application as well as growing the service’s user base. This is why Time Village organized a hackathon and named it Time Hack.

What Time Hacking?

Time Hack aimed to allow us as users to create the mobile app for Time Village, since the belief was that we know what’s best should it be like to appear to other users. This is related to user innovation in the sense that the product is shaped by the users, yet, only the best one becomes the official Time Village app. Through crowdsourcing, Time Village combine a great chance for them to get fresh ideas on how their service should be with the chance for the app creators to eventually intern with them and implement the finished app. However, that was not the only result we get from the hackathon.


Time Hack Event Banner. Source: Time Hack Facebook page

Time Hack Event Banner. Source: Time Hack Facebook page

Three days of networking, hacking, and networking

Not only did Time hack provide materialistic incentives, but also more valuable emotional ones. The main goal is to improve our experience as innovators, grow our network of both friends and professionals, and have good food, and all of this starts from the first moments of Day 1.

Day 1

The first day of Time Hack was mainly about forming teams and getting assigned the competition details. Teams were formed, and the goal of the competition that we need to build a mobile app for the Time Village service that is currently a web application. Also, there was a Growth Hacker track in which participants find ideas to make the service reach more people. A lot of breaks and mingling sessions made getting our networks stretched from the first day possible. Nonetheless, our team still managed to find time to brainstorm and plan the work for the upcoming day.

Our competing team during the event.

Our competing team during the event.



Day 2

Most of the work was done in the second day. With the plans and the ideas almost ready, we were ready to begin implementation. Throughout the day, a lot of mentors were roaming around the teams to guide them and share their experiences. The mentors came from different backgrounds: some were technology professionals that provide guidance for the tech side, while others were business professionals who helped better shape the ideas targeting the growth of the service. Also, some mentors provided feedback and tips on our presentations. Furthermore, the team of Time Village was also available to listen to our ideas, give feedback, and direct us through the thought process. And Guess what? All of these were great connections to have!

Networking in one of the breaks during the second day of Time Hack

Networking in one of the breaks during the second day of Time Hack

Day 3

Finally came the last day where the work was recapped and the presentations were finalized. The pitches were all interesting, without exception. This was fascinating yet not surprising since every participant of the event is a great innovator by heart, or at least has the spirit and mindset of an innovator. Knowing that these are the people I am getting exposed to and be connected with was joyful to me. When the announcement of the winner came and I heard our team was called, I began thankful to the fact that I did not miss this hackathon and made my weekend a regular one. Along with our prizes, Time Village was very happy to work with us, and we were encouraged by other valuable offerings. To name an example, there was a sponsoring startup named LunchBack that offers each of us the chance to connect with a professional over lunch based on our wish, which could be seeds for great opportunities.

Our team given the first prize

Our team given the first prize

Was worth it!

After the weekend, I had to catch up on my studies, but this time without the feel of guilt that I wasted time. This time, I had the feeling of pride and achievement: I have moved a step towards building a well-rounded career, full of connections and great experience. Nevertheless, that is not due to winning the competition, but to the overall experience. The joy of meeting great thinkers, whether participants of the competition or professionals, was the real value. This is because the outcome is always positive: whether it is discovering a great talent to work with on an idea, or learning something new no matter how small it is.

Concluding, I think that there will definitely be more Hackathons and competitions to explore, not to repeat the victory but to have the overall experience of networking and improving connections. I missed my swimming session, and it was worth it! What would you miss if you attend a hackathon?

I would like to hear from you about your experience in a hackathon or any similar competition (what were your expectations, what did you learn, etc.). Also, do you think Time Village is innovative? Will it pick up? I would be happy to hear your thoughts.