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Is Nordics pioneering IoT? From remote
control to autonomous connected things
and intelligent decision making. Initiatives from
Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland:
start-ups and industry leaders engaged.

 
Nordic countries are leading the way in the Internet of Things, the latest ‘Connected things’ study by TeliaSonera shows. There will be ~4 connected devices per person in the Nordics by 2018, Gartner Inc. predicts. Currently the Scandinavian region has 4 times as many connected “things” per person as the rest of the world.

map

The TeliaSonera report forecasts the Nordic market for IoT devices will grow by 23% annually, to €9.1bn by 2018: with Sweden placed first, Norway and Denmark – placed 2nd and 3rd,  and followed by Finland.

Connected vehicles, connected building and connected people are the three driving forces for developments in connected cars, smart homes and digital health.

 

internet of things

The fastest growing segment of IoT in Scandinavia is ‘connected people’ which includes not only people, but also animals. The market for connected people is expected to grow by 59% annually until 2018. ‘Connected vehicles’ (anything that transports passengers or cargo) sector is forecast to increase by 36% annually. ‘Connected buildings’ sector is expected to grow by 23% annually until 2018, when there will be, on average, 3 connected building devices, such as security, energy and HVAC, per household in the Nordics.

Impressive, but connected devices are only the first stage of IoT. “Enabling connected things to exchange and comprehend each other’s data, regardless of place, manufacturer or format, is key to realising the full potential of IoT, ” said Anders Elbak from IDC. So the aim is that “connected cars transform into intelligent transportation systems, connected medical devices into digital health and connected homes into smart cities.”

From the business prospective, Elbak pointed out  that “very few [companies] acknowledge the business transformation opportunities” – or how to best make use of the vast amounts of data ‘connected devices’ generate to enable intelligent decision making, research and development and predictive services.

In the study by Accenture the Nordics are placed among the countries with the most conducive environment for Industrial IoT, along with the US, Switzerland and the Netherlands; while China, Japan, and Germany are just mid-table performers.

Recently in the Scandinavian region there have been several promising practical initiatives in the field of IoT, on radar both in start-ups and industry leaders.

In Norway, Nornir’s ‘smart home’ project addresses the expected elderly boom problem by providing the opportunity for them to live at home. The smart home environment accommodates intelligent sensors that monitor changes in the environment and the security system which recognises individualized patterns deviations and gives instant alerts to the ‘stakeholders’ if smth happens out of the ordinary.

Also one of the first worldwide real-time data linking systems is being implemented in Norway by Synaptic Technologies, and their Real Time Web (RTW) ambitiously strives to be a world-wide open platform for everybody to share and exchange readable or writable machine data online and for intelligent objects to be connected.

In Sweden, the startup Automile is tapping into telematics and untraditional cloud-powered fleet management. CEO Jens Nylander explained old legacy solutions typically require quite expensive physical installations and modifications to the car – meaning dependency on retailers and installers. Targeting primarily at smaller business, Automile operates on a SaaS model where the device itself is free and users pay a subscription fee. Interesting that big names like ABB and Ricoh International are now among the customers.

Thingsquare, Swedish IoT pioneer, provides the software platform allowing you to connect all your products with smartphones wirelessly.

Also the Swedish car manufacturer Volvo has introduced a cloud-based communications system for road safety: the tech is piloted in Sweden and Norway, where weather conditions can be suitably extreme, and it’s hoped the system will be standard in Scandinavia already in 2016 and is even a part of the governmental program.

The Swedish multinational provider of communications Ericsson recognises “Networked Society” as its core directive to align with IoT thinking aiming at connecting 50 billion devices by 2020; all in order to benefit its subscribers.

In Finland the IoT initiative is represented by BaseN Platform – a highly scalable and easily distributed IoT platform, enabling required scalability for hosting millions of things.

These are just a few interesting starts, still many more to mention are: from Sweden – Yanzi Networks, one of Intel’s innovation labs,  Imagimob with Artificial Intelligence innovation for torso body tracking through embedded, wearables and mobile devices,  Connode with unique position in Smart Metering Market, Springworks known for its machine-to-humanity (M2H) connectivity innovaton, FarmDrones with a connected solution for farmers to increase productivity and crops yield,  Watty with the next generation energy product, Ewa Home, hidn Tempo, Minalyze; from Norway – Nordic (Semiconductor); from Finland – CyberLightning with its Smart city concept at the industrial scale, etc.

Have more interesting examples, or wish to share your point of view? You are welcome to leave your comment here.

 

Helen Boyarchuk

Helen Boyarchuk

Business Development Manager

E-mail: helen.boyarchuk@altabel.com
Skype: helen_boyarchuk
LI Profile: Helen Boyarchuk

 

altabel

Altabel Group

Professional Software Development

E-mail: contact@altabel.com
www.altabel.com

Startups have short launchpads and high expectations. In order to lighten the yoke, many startup founders turn to outsourcing, letting a third party provider handle some aspects of the business.

If you do it the “right way”, you can build a very successful company that way. The right way is *not* to think of your remote team members as outsourcing, but as a key part of your team.

In considering outsourcing as a potential option, you must first weigh the positive and negative impacts. Outsourcing frees up leadership to focus on the parts of the business that differentiate you from the competition, while staying assured that the basic parts are all still operating properly.

Outsourcing is a great option for some startups, but it can be confusing. There’re 5 questions you should answer to decide if outsourcing is the solution:

What is outsourcing?
Outsourcing is the farming out of a business process or service to a third-party provider. Outsourcing frees up some mental space for founders and can sometimes even save money.

What exactly are you outsourcing?
There are certain skillsets which are difficult to bring in-house. It is essential to understand what you will and what you will not be outsourcing, to understand what should rest totally in your control and what can be handled by someone else.

Is the vendor startup-oriented?
The choice of which company to outsource to is important. Vendor should be very active in implanting best practices from the software industry into the startups they work with.

Are you a good client?
Good clients should know what they want, otherwise they’re effectively wasting their own money. A highly collaborative attitude is helpful too. Clients should want to understand the development process just as developers should get a handle in the product’s business objectives. A mismatch between end-project and expectations is often the result of poor communication.

Does the reputation of the vendor matter to you?
People often rely on reputation to make outsourcing decisions. Ask for reviews and recommendations of providers to try and determine which one best fits your needs.

Outsourcing is one of the earliest crucial decisions that startups have to make after inception. Often, the decision lies not in whether to outsource, but who to outsource to and how.

Do you outsource? Please share your experience in comments bellow.

Kristina Kozlova

Kristina Kozlova
Kristina.Kozlova@altabel.com
Skype ID: kristinakozlova
Marketing Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development


It’s easier to start a new business with the support of experienced mentors and investment from their funds. To get assistance here start-ups can apply for time-limited programs of support from accelerators, and if win they usually get the conditions which allow creating a project that can enter the market and obtain investment. The budding entrepreneurs are provided with office, mentors and a small investment during 3-6 months.

At Altabel Group being focused on working with the Scandinavian companies, including start-ups, we’ve noticed that recently there has been increased interest and efforts to creating efficient environment and conditions for start-ups development. Local accelerators as one of the prerequisites for this are perhaps not so much mature as global leaders like Seedcamp, Y Combinator, Techstars, etc, still are worth considering since they focus on Nordic companies.  To name a few: STING Accelerate, Startupbootcamp, which are rather large and well-know, and Startup Sauna, Nestholma Accelerator, that are smaller. Let’s talk about them a little bit more.

Scandinavian accelerators

STING Accelerate (www.stockholminnovation.com)
Where: Stockholm, Sweden
Acceptance of applications: twice a year, 7-8 startups are selected in each session
Duration: 4 months
Statistics: over 200 startups funded, 45,000,000 SEK in total exits, over 535,000,000 SEK in total funding raised
Conditions of participation: investment of 250,000 SEK (roughly 29,600 USD) comes in the form of a convertible note that can be repaid in three years with 6% interest or converted into equity when the startup can issue shares valued at least 1 million SEK to new investors.

Founded in 2002, STING coaches Stockholm startups dealing with internet, media, cleantech and life sciences. It evaluates about 150 to 200 projects annually, but accepts about 20 to participate in its programs such as STING Accelerate and STING Excelerate, which is a less intensive acceleration program. STING Excelerate provides startups with a personal business coach who visits the company at least a half a day per week for 6-18 months to help the company grow.

The received investment at STING Accelerate will help startups to focus more on developing their product and less on raising funds. The program runs in the center of Stockholm at the co-working space SUP46, and selected companies are offered free office space there throughout the program.

Before STING used to accept only Swedish startups, but now it accepts international startups and offer housing in apartments (at self-cost).

Startupbootcamp (www.startupbootcamp.org)
Where: Copenhagen (Denmark) and others (Istanbul (Turkey), Haifa (Israel), London (UK), Amsterdam, Eindhoven (Netherlands), Berlin (Germany))
Acceptance of applications: several times during the year, 10 startup are selected
Duration: 3 months
Statistics: 9 accelerator programs, 130 companies funded, 2 exits, 20,209,661 USD in total funding raised
Conditions of participation: 15,000 EUR in financing for 8% equity.

Founded in 2010, Startupbootcamp created an international network from eight accelerators. Accelerator selects projects from different countries; startups should be able to move to one of the cities of the program. Each startup team will receive 15,000 EUR and other benefits in the amount of 450,000 EUR. Mentors and experts will work with projects during 3 months. In the end startups will be able to present themselves to funds and business angels.

Some programs accept applications from startups of any fields, the others – just from certain areas: media, transport, energy and others. Startupbootcamp accepts applications from startup teams and individual entrepreneurs as well.

Accelerators abroad

In case you didn’t manage to meet deadlines in your home country in Scandinavia, or accelerators abroad seem to be more attractive and suitable for your startup idea, you are welcome to search for international accelerators across Europe or America for funding your startup business. There are few programs, which Altabel considers to be the most interesting ones on the international scene.

Seedcamp (www.seedcamp.com)
Where: London (United Kingdom)
Acceptance of applications: monthly, 2-3 startups are chosen 
Duration: 1 week
Statistics: 118 startups funded, 7 exits, 17,000,000 USD in total exits, 131,189,940 USD in total funding raised
Conditions of participation: 50,000 EUR in financing for 8-10% equity.

The largest accelerator in Europe founded in 2007 in London by famous venture capitalist Reshma Sohoni with the support of the British venture capital funds. The company’s portfolio consists of more than a hundred startups from European countries.

Twenty selected startup teams undergo an extensive training during the week, and then present their ideas to investors. Two or three startups receive funding afterwards. In addition to investments in the amount of 50,000 EUR, startups receive a number of possibilities. They can attend a course Seedcamp Academy, during which they are expected to learn a successful way of bringing the project to the market. In addition, teams will be given the opportunity to work in the London office of Google Campus and visit the United States in the educational tour.

Le Camping (www.lecamping.org)
Where: Paris, France
Acceptance of applications: once a year, 12 startups are selected
Duration: 6 months
Statistics: 48 startups funded, 2 exits, 10,000,000 USD in total exits, 9,955,000 USD in total funding raised
Conditions of participation: up to 20,000 EUR in financing for 3% equity, 1,000 EUR – grant for international startups.

Le Camping is a program launched by Silicon Sentier, a well-known organization that brings together innovative companies and entrepreneurs in the web and mobility space. Open to all types of entrepreneurs: entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, non-profits; early-stage startups; international teams and exchange programs; late-stage startups. The Accelerator offers 6-month program with an acceleration phase followed by a special growth phase. 140 mentors will come together to support, advise, critique and ultimately position the startups to write their own success story.

The 12 selected startups will enter an intensive program in Numa – Parisian web entrepreneurship eco-system. 3 months of acceleration are given to go from an idea to demo, then 1 month to meet investors all around Europe. On a Demo Day, at the end of the first 3 months the startup teams will meet around 500 international investors. A financial grant offered by its partners 4,500 EUR is provided to each team participating in Le Camping, without any equity engagement in the startups.

Y Combinator (www.ycombinator.com)
Where: Mountain View, CA, USA
Acceptance of applications: twice a year, spring and autumn, 68 startups are selected in each session
Duration: 3 months: January- May, July-August
Statistics: 747 startups funded, 89 exits, 2,283,808,100 USD in total exits, 4,042,698,709 USD in total funding raised
Conditions of participation: 120,000 USD in financing for 7% equity.

The first accelerator in the USA, founded in 2005 by entrepreneur Paul Graham. During its existence Y Combinator has funded more than 700 startups.  According to the founder’s comment, the average estimation of these startups is 22.4 million USD. Scribd, Dropbox and Airbnb – the largest and the most successful companies in Y Combinator’ portfolio.

Selected startup’ teams are invited to Silicon Valley for three months. The program consists of weekly lunches with experts, investors and other entrepreneurs. The course ends with Demo Day, where startups show their results.

Techstars (www.techstars.com)
Where: New York, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Seattle, Boulder (USA), London (UK)
Acceptance of applications: once a year, 10 startups are selected in the chosen city
Duration: 3,5 months
Statistics: 19 accelerator programs, 502 companies funded, 44 exits, 176,000,000 USD in total exits, 1,148,300,000 USD in total funding raised
Conditions of participation: 18,000 USD in financing for 6% equity and also an opportunity to get a convertible loan in the amount of 51,000 – 100,000 USD.

Founded in 2007 by investors David Cohen and Brad Feld, Techstarts is considered to be the second popular after Y Combinator. Accepts applications from early-stage and late-stage startup’ teams consisting of at least two people. A team of experts works with startups for 3,5 months, and then Demo Day is arranged. The accelerator offers a space for work in each city, as well as additional services necessary for the operation of the company at the initial stage.

Conclusion

Choosing an accelerator depends entirely on your business needs and what you want out of the experience. Some accelerators have themes or focus on certain business sectors such as education, healthcare, or finance. Some are harder to get into as the most popular accelerators are bombarded with applications, making it difficult to get noticed in a sea of startups.

Is anybody planning to apply for one of the programs mentioned above? Have you/your company been through an accelerator? What advice would you give founders who are considering applying to one? That would be interesting to read the comments about real experience from participants, feel free to share your ideas about it.

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Svetlana Pozdnyakova
svetlana.pozdnyakova@altabel.com 
Skype ID: Svetlana.pozdnyakova
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

Over the years dynamic languages such as Python and Ruby have become cherished by startups. As for .Net it is more rarely heard to be used by startups. That’s interesting indeed, because this platform is definitely bigger than most of the popular ones.

So I wonder why a platform as widely adopted and supported as .NET isn’t more visible in startup culture. Let’s try figuring out the main arguments in favor and against making .Net a startup technical choice.

1. Community culture

 Some people say the main reason is the culture of the .NET community itself, not anything specific to the platform. Being centered mostly around the needs of enterprise market .NET developers’ concerns are often regarding supporting legacy systems, building enterprise architectures, large systems for supporting business processes. This implies solving problems which are not so relevant for startups at least at their initial point.

As for members of the startup community, they fuss over different issues – concurrency, experience design, supporting multiple clients and browsers, etc.

As a result the startup community and the .NET community don’t overlap as much as they do for other technologies. That’s why startup founders don’t get much exposure to .Net and don’t think of it as an applicable tool for their purposes. The same way many .Net developers who want to work for hot startups don’t have as many opportunities to do so unless they abandon the platform for a more startup-friendly one or start a company themselves.

So platform doesn’t always dictate its use – that’s people who make the choice. Enterprise and startups aren’t mutually exclusive – they’re just different stages in the evolution of software, and there’s no reason why the startup community shouldn’t look at .NET as an attractive starting point for a new business.

2. Startup tech compatibility

A startup is a risky venture with no guarantee of success. So tech startups seek advantages in order to succeed. Hence startups take what big enterprises consider risky bets on technology. This objective can be achieved by using technology that is popular in startup environment.

Many features of .NET, facilitating the productivity of big companies, are not always useful to startups. There is too much choice of implementation methods. If anything, web startups are looking to have this choice taken away – their technology choices come from the subset that is built for the web.

Also it is said that innovation is quicker with other ecosystems which have a bigger set of libraries and tools. As for .Net there are a few open source projects however most of them are pretty much an implementation of concepts that have already been implemented for a while in the Java world, for example.

3. Open source vs proprietary

Although many startups don’t mind paying for tools and services, most of them still pick things based on cost. For a long time the “enterprise” level tools, services, databases, etc were hardly affordable by startups. That’s why startups adopt so much open source.

It’s also hard to justify the use of proprietary software from a business perspective. If you want to be acquired it is wise to develop your product using an open stack rather than Microsoft’s.

However luckily for many startups Microsoft saw a huge value in giving their stuff away to startups and startups have benefited greatly. Microsoft has been running their Bizspark program for several years, which eliminates most of the startup costs normally associated with employing a .NET framework. To get into the BizSpark program you just need to get checked by BizSpark team if your startup is eligible (developing a real product). Then you’ll get free licenses to basically every product they make, including SQL Server, and a free MSDN gold subscription, for 3 years. They figure 3 years is long enough for you to get going so after that they want you to pay for new licenses. The great part is that they let you keep the licenses you’re already using. So Microsoft has basically taken the cost factor completely out of the equation for new startups.

4. Velocity vs performance

Some people say that it’s all about the velocity. If you agree with an assumption that a startup goal is to find a niche vs build a product, then the goal of a startup is to learn about the market, customers, and product needs as quickly as possible. Python, Js, Ruby, etc allow you to iterate quickly without a lot of infrastructure and boilerplate. However a company that has already has a market has a little different goal, for them the objective is to build a stable product that they can maintain.

Some people say that .Net is not suitable for quick changes. This is a pretty outdated view of C# these days, it’s actually fairly easy to write extremely terse code with. As an added bonus refactoring is so incredibly easy compared to JS, Ruby, Python, etc. that it’s ideal for rapidly switching directions in code as you can refactor so fearlessly without being slowed down by massive amounts of tests. Unfortunately what’s bad about .Net is the tooling and the supporting ecosystem.

Python is much better suited to quick prototypes that can be fleshed out into a reasonably reliable product without too many headaches. The key difference comes when you have to change features mid-stream. The lack of strict typing and interfaces means you can add, change, and remove features much quicker than C# for example. On top of that, you just write fewer actual lines of code to get the same thing done, although sometimes readability can suffer if you get too concise. There is a price to be paid with Python and Ruby though and performance is the biggest one.

5. Team and project size

The team and project size always matters. So when the solution is being built with a small team, then it is easier to use something like Python. Obviously the goal is to be fast to develop in and have a bunch of libraries to be used. On the other hand when building something with a big team, you feel like using something like C#. In this case it keeps it safe to develop in and easy to catch mistakes. Any optional documentation provided by a developer is incomplete. On the contrary the quality level of the available .Net documentation is outstanding.

However if the company is starting as very small at the initial point, it hopefully grows and builds up quite a sizeable codebase by some point. Python, JS & Ruby are fine for small programs but anything more than that and they become their own enemies because the programs they make are quite brittle.

6. Scalability

The common opinion is that .Net scales well.So, if your startup does make it, you’ll probably have a much easier time scaling the .Net stack than you would with say Ruby or PHP.

Conclusion: it’s all about stereotyping

Eventually, I found different opinions on my question of .Net being not so popular with startups such as “platform lock-in,” “no open standards,” “licensing costs.” Sure, these are issues preventing many developers from adopting .NET in the startup space, but not enough to bar all of them from using it. Most of the arguments are just stereotypes that can be dispelled under closer examination.

All languages have strengths and weaknesses. For a startup, you need to do due-diligence and research what the right language to use for your idea will be because recoding in a different language can get costly.

So do you use .Net in your startup projects? Please share your feedback and experiences with us.
 

Aliona Kavalevich

Aliona Kavalevich
Aliona.Kavalevich@altabel.com
Skype ID: aliona_kavalevich
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

Inspiration is like fuel for founders but, at some point, the tank will inevitably run dry. Here are some ways to re-inspire your entrepreneurial spirit.

Everyone has their drug of choice. For founders, it’s inspiration. Inspiration is the high that drives entrepreneurs to put in those long days and it is what validates them as they see the different parts of their lives get folded into their businesses. The creation becomes a part of the creator.

Mental stimulation is the propellant that helps founders gain traction in the early days, but it’s easy to lose over time. The amount of work combined with the erratic lifestyle can often leave you feeling uninspired. According to Todd Krizelman, CEO of MediaRadar, this can affect your business as well.

“Almost all entrepreneurs play a central role in their company, independent of their job function. If their morale is suffering, the company will suffer significantly. The staff looks to entrepreneurs for signals (formal and informal) on company performance and forward vision,” Krizelman said.

At some point in your entrepreneurial journey you will, undoubtedly, face a crossroads where you will have to decide whether or not you want to keep going. Entrepreneurship is difficult, but it is made easier if you have the inspiration to keep moving forward.

“If you can re-inspire yourself over time, you give the highest possible odds for the company to flourish because you are going to have that authentic, passionate entrepreneur at the helm,” said Andy Dunn, CEO of Bonobos.

Here are three sets of tips on how to re-inspire yourself as a founder.

1. View rejection as opportunity

“Before you’ve started your company, you were likely a successful person in school or business. You are used to getting things done and being respected,” Krizelman said. “However, early in the experience as an entrepreneur you will be told NO frequently, by investors, interview candidates, and by prospective clients. This is actually normal, but it demoralizes many entrepreneurs who are just getting their start.”

As an entrepreneur, you must realize that no one cares about your business or idea as much as you do, and that’s okay. So often, founders can feel so connected with their company that they begin to equate approval of the company with approval of self, and this is a dangerous connection. You must always strive to think of your business as an entity that exists outside of yourself. Criticism of your business is not a critique of your character.

Think of someone saying “no” as a sort of inspiration in and of itself. Consider the possibility that maybe you aren’t explaining your value proposition clearly enough, or maybe your passion isn’t coming through in your pitch. Whether or not you are comfortable hearing someone say “no,” Polaris Partners entrepreneur-in-residence, Pat Kinsel, said they are bound to come.

“Through the processes of raising capital, hiring employees, and selling your product, you’ll surely hear ‘no’ 1,000s of times,” Kinsel said. “The best founders learn from ‘no’ and are driven to persevere; but the grueling process takes it’s toll on everyone. Some founders lose inspiration — it’s incredibly important to surround yourself with people who can help you remember the vision and remind you why you started in the first place.”

2. Don’t forget your roots

One of the inevitable, sad facts of the startup community is that people will begin to see you as what you do instead of who you are. Being the founder of a company is only one role that you play. Don’t get me wrong, it is a very important role, but it exists alongside other roles to compose your identity. You are not your product.

“I went to Brazil last June. For the first time, I got out of the country and off Wi-Fi access for a few days,” Dunn said. “I was on a trip looking for Jaguars in the Pantanal region of Brazil with a couple of other scientists. And, there was three days where we had no access to, not just Wi-Fi, but any data, any cell phone signal. And I was like, ‘Oh yeah, there was a me before I was digitally connected to what I am building.'”

Think about who you were before you started your company. How did the people you surround yourself with define you before you became known as the founder of your startup. Take some time to unplug, not just from technology, but from the culture surrounding startups. The startup scene praises the startup martyr, but it is important to spend time away from that.

It may sound trite, but find a few strategic moments to spend time for your friends and your family. These tend to be the people that have supported you because they believe in you, not your business ideas. Surround yourself with the kind of people who make you feel like you have nothing to prove.

It’s freeing to absolve yourself of an obligation to bring something to the table and to add value, but it is also encouraging to look back and see how far you have come. Because, at the end of the day, your business should inspire you too.

3. Focus on the business

I know this seems counter-intuitive, but sometimes in stepping back to catch your breath, you need to step forward to invigorate your sense of involvement with your company. According to Dunn, this begins with understanding your timeframe.

“One of the primary forces here is that when you start a company, mentally your time horizon is oriented to a few years. And yet, the paradox is that, if you’re successful with what you’re building, that timeline just keeps extending,” Dunn said. “So, if your startup doesn’t work, you might be done in two years. But, if it does work, you know, I’m in my seventh year, and there’s a very viable scenario where I’m gonna be in my fifteenth year. I think that a sense for what the actual time horizon could be, paradoxically, in the event that you’re successful, versus not, is important.”

The startup game is a game of sprints, and understanding the timing and implications of those sprints is paramount. Dunn refers to these moments as the “digestible chunks” of the overall experience. He noted that the experience will be radically different at each milestone, and you have to prepare yourself to learn and change.

As you meet these milestones and move past them, there are specific ways you can engage your business in order to re-inspire yourself. The first is to consider taking on new challenges.

“You need to make sure you’re meeting your own professional and life goals. You can, however, pursue new challenges inside the company as it grows. For a company with a lot of momentum, there are almost always options,” Krizelman said.

For example, Bonobos opened their Guide Shops to help customers better understand the way their products fit and, most recently, they set out to start a women’s clothing line. It can be very valuable to do things in your company that make the business more exciting for you.

“Pushing the frontier of innovation, and doing so in a way that makes sense for the company and makes sense for the founder, that’s the ultimate source of inspiration — it is the creativity that got you going to begin with,” Dunn said.

As you take on new challenges with your company, make sure you don’t alienate your customers. Talking to people who use your products or service on a daily basis can help remind you of the greater mission that your startup has taken on.

“While I devote 60% of my time to managing the company overall, the balance I spend talking to customers directly. Hearing the client declare that their business is improving, because of what we do, is a major motivator,” Krizelman said.

If you try these steps (and others) and still don’t feel re-inspired, don’t be afraid to admit that running your startup isn’t fun anymore or you’re no longer fulfilled. Founders wear many hats and, at some point, you might need to hire someone to wear one of them for you. Don’t be ashamed to appoint a new CEO if it will help you focus on the aspects of the business where you add the most value.

Also, it isn’t a bad thing to want to have fun.

“Independent of whatever outcome a team may achieve, pausing and reflecting on your accomplishments can help you to enjoy your day to day work,” Kinsel said. “At the end of the day, there’s no reason why a startup founder shouldn’t enjoy the ride.”


Kristina Kozlova

Kristina Kozlova
Kristina.Kozlova@altabel.com
Skype ID: kristinakozlova
Marketing Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

Every business starts from the question: ”Which direction to take, how to choose the right niche…”. Most start-ups choose software development as the direction to start with because of quite low launching costs, easiness to start the business, high popularity of IT and the well-known postulate “software will eat the world”. But when choosing IT sphere it is quite important to understand this market and find new perspective areas in it. As investors and business angels are much more eager to invest not in what is popular today, but what will be the future of tomorrow.

In my article I would like to draw your attention to some trends that seem promising in my opinion

The Internet of things

The Internet of Things is likely to have a staggering impact on our daily life and become an inherent part of such areas as electricity, transportation, industrial control, retail, utilities management, healthcare, petroleum etc. For example, GE predicts that the oil and gas industry will be able to save more than $90 billion a year thanks to the reduced operating costs and fuel consumption that smart components will deliver. The health care sector may save more than $63 billion because of improved resource usage and modern equipment.

Also the Industrial Internet will make transport more economical, and safer too. Jumbo jets, loaded with sensors that record every detail of their flights, will help engineers to design safer aero-planes and know which parts need to be replaced. On the road, fleets of trucks and even ordinary drivers will be able to tap into the web, monitoring traffic in real time, with automated programs suggesting alternative routes in case of accidents/traffic congestion.

Of course, all of these benefits mean plenty of business opportunities for those who are brave enough to make the first step. Profits will grow exponentially as the Internet of Things itself matures. Today, there’s around 1.3 billion connected devices in the world, but by 2020 this could well exceed 12.5 billion devices. Similarly, the M2M (machine-2-machine) industry is said to be worth around $121 billion a year today. By 2020, that value will grow to almost $950 billion, according to the Carbon War Room. Don’t lose your chance!

Computer Science health

This sphere suit startups that plan to develop software to diagnose and treat diseases (i’m not taking about Biotech, but about Information Technology). As a rule it is a noninvasive methodology. The technology will help to avoid costly and dangerous procedures: instead of an operation it will be enough to use  a specialized device Different kinds of fitness applications have already filled the market. Apps that evaluate sleep state and help to wake up at the most opportune moment, that evaluate quality, caloric value and allergenicity of food are not a rarity anymore. More and more people keep track of their daily activity: number of steps made, calories burned, heart rate etc by using bracelets and kardiosensors. But the real revolution will produce a system that will combine sensor data and sensor condition of the body with genetic information. The Apps will give an opportunity to influence the physical state, recommending an appropriate lifestyle and a specific diet, supplements and medicines.

Security

In 2012 and 2013 we saw significant data breaches across multiple industries and governments impacting millions of users. For instance, according to a recent study conducted by Ponemon Institute, nearly 1.5 million Americans have been victims of medical identity theft. Individuals whose medical information has been stolen often deal with erroneous medical expenses, insurance issues and incorrect data on medical records that can lead to fatal medical errors. And data security issues compromise more than patient privacy and personal data.

Is this an uncertain future we will have to live with? Can we accept degraded privacy and security and billions of dollars in lost revenue, damage, reduction in brand value and remediation costs?

Such issues will become the concern of more and more enterprise leaders. Thus, Data Security could be the biggest challenge for startups.

“Green Energy” field

We live in the world of limited subsoil resources. We may experience and in fact we do already experience their shortage. The time of “users” is close to the end and the era of “creators” is coming instead. The “creators” are sure, that the potential of the “Green Energy” is huge… and they are right. Every fifth kWh is got from renewable energy sources in the developed countries. Let’s see what is happening in the world:

Elon Musk, the creator of PayPal, has opened a company that produces electric cars Tesla. For three years they have produced quite expansive super-cars and rectified technologies …btw the technologies are still being improved ( hope you understand what I’m driving at…). Also the super-cars require refueling …with the help of solar batteries, which are quite widespread in the USA and Western Europe. By the way it is predicted that America, South Canada and most of Europe will be covered with solar stations by the end of 2015 year (another niche😉 ) and the solar batteries will be used not only for the refueling).

What I’m driving at …want to say that there will be need in different applications (including mobile apps as well) for its ordering, managing etc.

In conclusion I would like to wish you to find your niche and not be afraid of  putting your ideas out and trying them. Good luck and thanks for the reading🙂

Elvira Golyak

Elvira Golyak
Elvira.Golyak@altabel.com
Skype ID: elviragolyak
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

The most important aspect of launching a startup is the team behind the idea. Here are best practices and helpful tips for identifying your ideal co-founder.

Entrepreneurship is a journey, and is often shared with other people. Choosing who you surround yourself with as an entrepreneur is critical, but choosing who you will found your business with is paramount. In fact, some VCs consider the business idea secondary to the team itself.

Whether you’re a first-time founder or a seasoned entrepreneur, choosing who you’ll go to battle with is, quite possibly, the most important decision you will make in the process. The co-founder relationship is like a marriage based on a large pool of shared resources. If you’ve had spats with your significant other over money, imagine you’re fighting over millions of dollars that have the potential to make you millions more.

“Behind the glamorous facade of founding and working in startups, being a founder (and especially a CEO founder) is one of the most stressful and LONELIEST jobs in the world. Having co-founders means you have people who are going through the same struggle and challenges as you are every single day with you,” said Tim Chae, entrepreneur-in-residence at 500 Startups.

There is no standard formula to help you find your startup soul mate, but here are a few things to consider when choosing a co-founder—or multiple co-founders.

Go with who you know

“The most successful true co-founder situations are ones where the people have known each other in other contexts, prior to the company at hand,” said Andreas Stavropoulos, a managing director at Draper Fisher Jurvetson.

This isn’t a license to go out and found a company with your childhood friend, it’s more of a charge to connect with someone on the interpersonal level beforehand. Spending time socially is not enough, you should spend time together working on a project—spending time together for the business. According to Dane Atkinson, CEO of SumAll.com, this can make or break a company.

“Co-founders are the foundation block that rocks most failed companies and strengthens winning ones. You MUST have a lengthy relationship with a co-founder PRIOR to founding. The ideal is a being part of another fox hole work environment where you can learn about each other through trials. As counterintuitive as it sounds, friends are your second best bet. In both cases you want to have common ground at the moral ideology level with a serious dosage of respect.”

The goal is to learn to work with someone before you learn to start and run a business. Relationships are hard, and it is best to work out the kinks before you decide to put it on the line starting a company. There is a honeymoon period for founders, when you feel like your ambition to disrupt will carry you to exit; but that period will end. According to Stavropoulos, investors are looking for a team that can weather the storm together. They want founders to “get through their first couple of fights before the money is in.” Stavropoulos said he is looking for a track record of getting things done, not just an impressive idea or rock star résumés.

Skill, style, and ego

Human beings tend to gravitate towards people that are similar to them. According to research on twins published in the journal Psychological Science, even our genes play a role in who we seek relationships with. With founders, the goal is to find the right amount of similarity.

“You’re looking for complementarity of skills, but similarity of styles,” said Stavropoulos.

In complementarity of skills, he means skills that enhance one another and help to fill in the gaps that may be lacking in your skill set. In addition to filling out your repertoire of skills, founders need to be looking for someone who can help complement other aspects of their business mindset. But, according to Scott Friend, a managing director at Bain Capital Ventures, it goes beyond just complementary skills.

“The crux of my opinion is to focus on complementary skills, capabilities, AND egos,” Friend said. “While the first part probably sounds obvious, it really comes together with the last (ego).  It’s critical that co-founders not only have complementary skills—the classic ‘inside-outside’ split is common where one co-founder is the lead on sales, marketing, fundraising, business development and the other focuses on engineering, operations, product, etc.—but that their egos are wrapped up in different areas too.”

What Friend is getting at here is the concept of partnering yourself with someone whose sense of identity or victory is tied up in a different aspect of the business than yours is. That concept of “ego” has to do with where your pride in the business comes from. Does it come from giving presentations about your business or from building a team and meeting a deadline. Typically, the spotlight is only big enough for one person, and you need to establish who that person will be early on. The tech industry’s archetypal examples of this are Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak at Apple and Bill Gates and Paul Allen at Microsoft.

Up to this point we have talked a lot about complementarity, but similarity of style is just as important, especially in the early days. Most startups employ just their founders for quite some time, so you need someone whose style or work is similar to your own. You can diversify as you grow, but when you’re first starting out it is important that your rhythms are in sync. A morning person needs a morning person, an extrovert needs another extrovert, and so on. The way you work together needs to be compatible because you will probably be the only two people working.

True grit

Once you have an idea, you need to be able to pursue it, even in the face of adversity, if you want your startup to succeed. Although it is a great idea to support your pitch with data, investors want to know that you are going to follow through even when it is difficult. With that being said, there is a difference between being courageous and being reckless.

When investors like Stavropoulos are evaluating a team, they want to see people that can push to accomplish the ultimate goal of a company. With that in mind, they also want to see founders that are wise enough to know when one approach is not working and nimble enough to be able to change direction.

This is where a co-founder comes in handy. Founders will typically arrive at conclusions like this at different times, so it helps to have someone who is willing to point out flaws in an idea early so the course of action can be corrected.

Aside from these things there is one more trait a founder can have that VCs look for, according to Stavropoulos: “The ability to inspire others.” This is going to look different for different founders, but you want someone who will inspire people in their domain; whether that is finance, technology, business, or something else.

In evaluating your founding team, you must ask yourself: If you two are leading the charge, will others follow you into battle?

Kristina Kozlova

Kristina Kozlova
Kristina.Kozlova@altabel.com
Skype ID: kristinakozlova
Marketing Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development


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