Archive for the ‘Startups’ Category
Technological progress doesn’t stand still and products like Google Home and Amazon Alexa have already made a splash this year and will continue to grow next year. GSV Asset Management VP Li Jiang made a list of the more nascent and emerging products. Li points out that majority of projects are connected with robotics, alternative energy resources and augmented reality. So let’s see what new products the world’s expecting in the upcoming year.
10. Snap Spectacles
The Snap Spectacles allow you to move around, make videos from your perspective and stream them to Snapchat. Such spectacles are already available in California and in 2017 will get a much broader expansion.
9. Starship Technologies
Little delivery robots are believed to revolutionize the whole delivery processes. In late 2016 first robots appeared in Washington D.C. and Redwood City, CA and have already rolled around 11,600 miles and made 1.8 million people happy.
8. Electron (Rocket Lab)
Electron, Rocket Lab’s latest launch vehicle is going to deliver small satellites to low Earth orbit at an unprecedented frequency and at a dramatically decreased price. The company unveils its product as having revolutionary design, plug-in payload, carbon composite materials, avionics and has an ambitious goal of launching more than 100 rockets a year.
Zip is a small robot airplane designed for delivering important lifesaving medicine. At present they are working in Rwanda and other markets to drop medical supplies and expected to go worldwide.
Meet Remy, the world’s smartest medical AI. Remy works alongside your personal doctor and, using data from numerous other cases and its AI engine, can treat 70% of cases remotely and quickly find additional help for you as needed.
5. Tesla Solar
Tesla is making cost-effective roofs serving for saving solar energy for domestic use and as a backup energy source. The new lineup includes attractive roofing tiles that contain solar cells inside. Integrating solar cells inside roofing materials is a natural way to accelerate solar adoption.
4. Anki Cozmo
Cozmo is a miniature robot on tracks which is believed to become a part of your family. Endowed with AI, it has a talent to recognize people, remember their faces, change expressions on its ‘face’ and communicate with people. Cozmo is managed through an iOS or Android mobile app. It’s already launched on the market, but a bigger roll out is expected for 2017.
3. Octane AI
Octie is a real breakthough in the entire chatbot industry. Octane AI lets your business create a basic chatbot that will showcase products and answer customer service questions. Octie is easily customized, integrates with all possible social networks and makes real-time analytics. Real profit for business owners who prefer to focus on bigger strategy work.
2. Tesla Model 3
Not all technical characteristics are revealed yet, but Model 3 is expected to be most affordable among Teslas, expected starting is $35,000 before incentives. All Model 3s come with full autopilot hardware and can receive ever improving self-driving software updates over the air, i.e. your Model 3 would be able to get you to the office and back home itself.
1. Magic Leap
If Magic Leap releases its product in 2017 and it works the way the teaser videos show, it would be a real Magic Leap forward. For now we can just watch teasers and imagine how such a product will change our lives and attitude to technology.
So my question to the audience is: which one you will buy first?:)
Business Development Manager
Professional Software Development
Scandinavian Startups. How to accelerate locally & internationally: STING Accelerate, Startupbootcamp, Seedcamp, Le Camping, Y Combinator, Techstars
Posted March 19, 2015on:
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Business Development Manager
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.”
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.
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 🙂
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.
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?
Professional Software Development
When people want to start up a company they dream of having something like such global giants as Microsoft, Apple, Google, etc. but it isn’t easy and a lot of factors should be taken into account, including the country traditions, the government general policy in the field of entrepreneurship, the public attitude towards the innovative ideas, the existence of the precise set of tools to stimulate innovation, human capital and research, infrastructure and many others. Why is it easy to set up new companies in one country and difficult in another? To answer this question I investigated the experience of Scandinavian states in this field. Why precisely Scandinavia?
Nordic countries seem to be in the forefront of this development. Having given us Ericsson, Skype and Spotify Scandinavia has become a global leader in IT, mobile and multimedia development, and the pace of innovation shows no sign of slowing. The list of prosperous start – up companies itself is inspiring: Spotify, iZettle, SoundCloud, Klarna, Uber, Fishbrain, Sticky Wrapp in Sweden. I needn’t even mention such giants from Denmark as the app developer Podio and Unwire, a mobile platform provider which enables the hosting of TV content on mobile phone. Or let’s take Bird Step from Norway which continues to bring a raft of leading-edge mobile connectivity products to market. By the way, Sweden is currently No.1 in the world for IT, according to the latest Global Information Technology Report. In fact, all three Scandinavian countries are among the top 10.
I think, the reasons why start ups are so popular in Scandinavia are the following:
-political and economic factors play a key role. Scandinavian strong welfare system makes people feel safer and enables them to take risk to start their own company. Government support for tech innovation is evident in basic conveniences such as free Wi-Fi, and each administration has introduced specific measures to encourage tech development;
-clustering– the pooling of ideas by a group of organisations for common gain. Vivid example of this is creation of the Movation innovation partnership by 7 Norwegian tech companies in 2006 and the Nordic Tech Five linking universities in Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden. It has become possible due to the compact nature of the region which encourages a shared sense of purpose and a willingness to help each other out.
– tech culture and general positive attitude of Scandinavians to innovation is the biggest factor in Scandinavian supremacy. Scandinavian people pick up trends quickly. The same goes for new markets and technology. Common people are willing to embrace new technology, specifically regarding IT and communication. In 2009, a survey in Denmark found 72% of the population used the internet every day, people are not afraid of the internet in Scandinavia, everyone buys online. Isn’t it a dream for any country when old Nordic grannies surf the net, school children use laptops in exams and parents allow their kids online without fearing for their safety? It is a nation embracing IT.
– history and tradition play a crucial part in start-up trends, too. This enthusiasm for innovation, particularly mobile innovation, goes back decades. Sweden, for example, is very strong in engineering, from building the first telephones, to the global expansion of Nokia. Engineering has always been sought after, and tech is just the latest manifestation of that.
– strong support of tech talents and fierce competition for talents. All top-ranked Nordic universities enclose student incubators that offer everything from free working space to specific courses and mentor programs to encourage and foster virtuous entrepreneurship. To start a company Scandinavian entrepreneurs could find world class engineers and designers.
– scale advantage. The small scale of the Scandinavian market is used by Nordic start-ups to their advantage. They are more organized, disciplined and mobile.
– nation’s infrastructure – telecommunications, education and institutions – has helped deliver high broadband and mobile penetration and a tech-savvy population. The Internet in Scandinavian countries is pretty ubiquitous, affordable, and the average speed for both down- and upload is good.
– rapid globalization of Scandinavian start-ups. Nordic people have got more international quickly which makes it an advantage. Moreover, most Swedes, Norwegians and Danes are skilled English speakers which is a big advantage for start-ups to become international.
– great informal network which unites experienced and new entrepreneurs. The amount of knowledge sharing among community members is huge. The advice websites for start-up businesses are really popular. People help each other and share best practice information.
– availability of Venture capital helps start-ups make a good start, too. The amount of Venture capital available in relation to the GDP is higher in Scandinavia than in the rest of Europe.
– accelerator programmes for startups developed in Scandinavian countries are a relatively new, ‘modern’ breed of business incubators which attract small teams and provide a number of technology companies with seed funding, mentoring, training like SICS and Bonnier’s Accelerator in Sweden, beta FACTORY in Norway, Startup boot camp Mobility and Accelerace in Denmark.
– long, dark, and cold Scandinavian winters encourage people to stay inside and noodle away at creative endeavors, such as programming or gaming. So, when Scandinavians don’t chop wood they sit in front of the internet and consume. 🙂
As a conclusion, I’d like to say that there are probably many more aspects. And we don’t deny that Scandinavia has its challenges as well. Not everything is perfect, and there are exceptions to every rule. But simply judging from the quantity (and quality) of its entrepreneurial outcome the climate for starting your own company seems to be pretty good there in the north. Ladies and gentlemen, that’s why Scandinavia is winning. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments!
Business Development Manager
Professional Software Development
Working with many startups I was wondering recently why Python and Ruby are so popular and common with young and promising startups, especially Scandinavian ones as my experience shows. I am curious if anyone has analyzed the trend towards Python over Ruby with startups? Also I would like to find out what are the advantages of Python over Ruby if they are so?
I think a lot about choices and decisions at startups. Picking the language/platform to use at a startup is one of the harder decisions. Here I would like to mention the fact that most of startups today make their choice toward Python or Ruby over PHP or Java. From what I have read, PHP is just an inferior language to Python and Ruby. Even though a lot of people are using PHP because it is easy to get started, it seems to be easier to develop bad habits with PHP. Why jump on a bandwagon when you obviously know is broken? I’ve come to realize that the main reason why PHP gets into trouble with the purists is that there are just so many ways of doing one thing — it is not that standardized. I think it became the most popular language only because it’s so easy to pick up!
Python/Ruby win over Java on speed of development, and conciseness of code. This generally makes Python/Ruby a better choice for small startups for whom speed to market, and ability to implement new features matters most. Most of the modern sites chose Python when they were small startups. Only later did they have to scale. Websites tend to be horizontally scalable, meaning that for a surprising range of volumes of traffic you can just throw more webservers at it and the bottlenecks will be at other layers (for instance the database).
Searching for relevant information to compare both Pyton vs Ruby languages and analyzing customers’ demand on the software development market I found out that Python appeared to be the more popular choice for startups trying to get a minimum viable product launched and seek out potential venture capital.
This has less to do with the merits of either language and more to do with the philosophies of the frameworks represented by either language. RoR really can’t be beat as a rapid application development framework, and developers discussing Ruby on the web are generally referring to RoR. Django purports to do the same, but the overall philosophy of the python community is more minimalistic – python developers generally prefer to make their own selection of tools such as ORMs, Persistency layers and libraries. A lot of people start Python web development with Django but move on to something more minimalistic like Flask, simply because the community seems predisposed to building its own stack in this way. RoR is more opinionated, and developers who are more predisposed to hitting the ground running, especially in the startup field, often take the Ruby fork in the road.
There is a “coming of age” point for startups coming from RoR or PHP, however. I’ve heard about several companies who had this exact same experience and ended up moving towards something like Python or Scala. I’m not certain this is specific to python, but I can say that as startups grow and become more ambitious, they move into problem domains poorly represented strictly by web frameworks/languages. Search features and data extraction increasingly rely on advanced data mining techniques utilizing things like natural language processing and find they need to reengineer their stack a little to accommodate new ideas. Increasingly I see companies not abandoning their RoR/PHP/Django frontends, but creating separate REST APIs that almost always use bare python or a JVM language to take advantage of more complex computation outside of the HTTP req/response model. Ruby could be used for this kind of offline processing, but the toolkits are just better and more mature in other languages since RoR is so prevalent in the Ruby community and consumes a great deal of the mindshare.
The fact of the matter is that most web startups represent feature sets early on where development speed is the prime concern, and so the language/framework with the biggest potential hire base and best RAD features typically win out early on.
As my personal point of view that no single language can answer every problem satisfactorily, and it is foolish to stubbornly stick to a single language for every case. Nevertheless a lot of our clients stick to Python when starting up their business. Let’s try to see what are the advantages of Python over Ruby?
The two are more similar than they are different, in everything from design to disadvantages to common uses – you can’t really go wrong either way, and shouldn’t base your decision on syntactical differences.
As Ruby developers say, Python’s main advantage has nothing to do with the language’s features. It’s more subjective: it seems that Python has more momentum amongst serious computer scientists. It’s increasingly popular in academic and scientific applications, and a lot of the technologists I respect the most seem to prefer it. By comparison, the Ruby community feels more designer-y and relatively more novice.
What this means is that while the Ruby world has very slick out-of-the-box product solutions, the Python world seems to produce more exceptionally well-written components like Tornado (web framework). Combined with it being used at Google and the potential for stuff like LiveNode to be released as open-source, I’d cast my lot with Python if I were starting today.
Thinking Python may be the best choice of startups, what is your opinion on this?
Looking forward to hearing from you!