Top 10 Considerations when Starting your Own Company

This is a guest blog post by GenieBelt, Startup Weekend Copenhagen Alumni and now – one of the most promising ConTech startups in Europe, which was recently featured in TechCrunch.

GenieBelt are sharing the considerations that you will have when you are starting up. GenieBelt participated in Startup Weekend back in 2012 (then it was GenieInspect). 


According to recent reports, more and more people are looking forward to starting their own companies. In case you too are thinking of setting up your own company, it is essential to note that: the distance between the thought of starting up and finally being able to take action is usually extremely vast. In addition to this, there is the sad reality that majority of the people presently thinking of starting their own companies would never see through their plans. 

In case you are amongst those who are launching their businesses then welcome to the adventure. First off, it is essential to understand the fact that the odds are not in your favor but again that is precisely why you are doing it. In the event that you decide to bridge the gap and take the plunge know that you are definitely on the right track.  

 In addition to all of the above, below are the top 10 considerations when starting your own company. They include the fact that: 

1. Your business might fail.

In the process of planning to start your company, you should know that in case you fall in step with some of the finer details, chances are that your business will most definitely bite the dust. As a matter of fact, according to reports, the overall business failure rate is set at around 90%. These statistics factor in issues such as the industry type and failure time frame. In addition to the general fact that your business risks failure, it is essential to understand the fact that timing is equally of significant importance.  

2. You are bound to have competition.

In case you are thinking of starting your own company, do not think that you are the only one with that idea. Just so you know, at any given point and time, there are usually several others who are competing for the same customer base. As a matter of fact, some of your competitors may even be better than you. For instance, their branding may seem snazzier than yours; their marketing budgets may seem larger than yours etc

Since you can’t possibly avoid or get rid of the competition, the best thing to do not to be discouraged by it. Just so you know, without competition, you could easily become lazy and lose your edge. This being the case, it is strongly advised that you embrace the competition and improve because of it. 

3. You will need to embark on learning more than you already know.

According to reports, many entrepreneurs who set out to start companies do so because they have a detailed overview of the kind of business niche that they are venturing into. Having the talent alone and the expertise to accompany it does not necessarily serve as a guarantee for success when looking forward to setting up your company. Just so you know, you will need slightly more in terms of scalability, marketing, software, sales, laws and software in order to make the business a success. 

4. You will need a significant amount of money to spend

Companies can be bootstrapped (launched with nothing more than one’s existing cash or resources). What’s more, these same companies usually require a significant initial capital apart from good financial planning. One perfect place to get the initial capital for setting up a company is leveraging small business loans. Take note, you should prepare yourself to spend money and also protect it being the valuable resource that it is. 

5. You will not immediately succeed.

You will agree and support the fact that the title of business owners is usually in most cases associated with Bentleys and Rolexes. Take note, the harsh reality of the matter is starting a company is more of a soul sucking adventure rather than an income boosting experience. Take note, even though riches may be in your future, fact is, the path to achieving them will most definitely be long and hard. 

6. You will need to obey laws. 

Just so you know, in each and every country there are business regulations which you would need to comply with in case you are looking to start a company in any particular country. Taking this into consideration, it is strongly advised that you perform due diligence in order to have a clear idea of what compliance in the region you are looking to invest in entails. In the process of doing this, it is strongly advised that you closely pay attention the company registration, licenses as well as taxes. The last thing you need is finding yourself in legal mire as a result of your own laxity. 

7. You can never do it by yourself.

The lone ranger entrepreneur is usually such an extremely romantic image. Even though it may seem extremely economically provocative, it is not accurate. Just so you know, on average, startups with a single founder usually have such a high likelihood of failure because of the emotional pressure which startups are known to exert upon individuals. At the bare minimum, start your business with a founder or even three. In addition to this, employ several different independent contractors alongside your preferred service providers to supplement your knowledge, time, commitment and talent. 

 

8. Your target customers won’t immediately come flocking.

It is essential to understand the fact that regardless of how innovative your idea may be, it is not a guarantee that customers would immediately find you and start flocking your way. 

9. You would be tempted to quit.

In case you are looking forward to starting your own company, you should let this be the last course of action. Just so you know, at some point of time, expect to be tempted to quit, in fact, you will be racked with doubt forcing you to consider jumping ship. 

 10. Staff Classification 

You should also pay close attention to how you staff classification is done as this is the only way through which you would be able to make good of your idea once you plan is in motion. 

Everything taken into consideration, it is essential to understand the fact that it is only you who can make it happen for yourself. 


Don’t forget you can stay tuned with Startup Weekend Copenhagen, on social media with #CphSW

Facebook .-. Instagram .-. Tweet








#CphSW Challenge together with Nets

This is part of our challenges for the upcoming Startup Weekend. This challenge is provided by Nets. They will also be present during the weekend as mentor on Saturday, so the teams has a chance to talk about solutions and ideas.


Terminating Terminals

Payment terminals have been there forever. We experience them as solid, secure and trust worthy. Some years ago, everyone also had secure and trust worthy dial phones, that phone companies saw un-wired by GSM, wireless and ultimately mobile phones. Amazon recently launched the Amazon Go store where, using biometric and cognitive technologies, un-wired the traditional store, rendering payment terminals/cashiers, un-necessary.

Can you un-wire stores, but do it simpler than Amazon, un-wire the store without changing it?

Consider:

  1. What underlying technologies are needed to replace terminals? Are these technologies readily available to all consumers/shops?
  2. Are these technologies secure/reliable enough? If not, how would you improve security/reliability? What technological advancements are needed for these technologies to be more secure/reliable?
  3. What kind of products/services/shops can be good candidates to replace their payment terminals? What would they require/have instead?
  4. When, if at all, will consumers find use for a terminal free world? What’s in it for a consumer? Consider:
    1. A millennial
    2. A busy parent on the way to making dinner
    3. A senior citizen
  1. When, if it all, will merchants find use for a terminal free world? What’s in it for the merchant? Consider:
    1. A big supermarket chain
    2. An independent clothes shop
    3. A restaurant/bar

 

Digital Fiat:

Blockchain, or Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT)  is advertised as a game changing technology. Its inherent properties: security, immutability, transparency, infinite audit trail , make it ideal for a range of financial use cases, as well as a disintermediating effect on many of traditional services by Banks, insurance companies, stock exchanges, clearing houses.

Today, exchange of value is done via Fiat currencies. The currencies we all agree on and are regulated by the national bank. To exchange value on DLT, one would need to augment the it with traditional fiat currency systems. Yes, thers’s Bitcoin, but it will take some time before we get our salaries in Bitcoin….

How can we transform DLT into a true value exchange, and not only value recording/management, system? What, if any, are the use cases for a digital currency? Consider:

 

  1. What is the scope? National, municipal, local neighbourhood?
  2. Who would be interested in such a currency, within the scope e.g. authorities, municipalities?
  3. Should it be issued by a central authority? If so, why? What are the advantages and disadvantages?
  4. What can be pragmatic applications of such a digital currency, within the above assumptions? Consider:
    1. Sharing economy
    2. Crowdfunding
    3. Digital public sector
    4. B2B/interbank trading

 








#CphSW Challenge together with SDC

This is part of our challenges for the upcoming Startup Weekend. This challenge is provided by SDC. They will also be present during the weekend as mentor on Saturday, so the teams has a chance to talk about solutions and ideas.


FAMILY BANKING SERVICE CONCEPT

As one very known man said: ”People need banking, but they don’t need banks”. This is right now becoming reality for many banks, so what can we do? We still have to have money to pay bills and buy goods. Many families are facing the same challenges in their daily life as they wish to fulfil  their dreams of being married, going on vacation, saving for a specific thing and a lot of other dreams.

  1. How can we make one or more unique concepts for the next generation of families?
  2. How will the future families look like and how will they use the banks?
  3. How can we use technology to help the future families in their daily nancial life?
  4. You have to consider that the trend is that more and more people don’t want to own things.
  5. You have to be aware of the growing use of social media as part of the concept.
  6. You might also consider whether you, in your solution, can integrate one or more of the following value adds:
    1. Organises
    2. Informs/educates
    3. Connects
    4. Fun/entertains
    5. Rewards
    6. Motivates

 








Insurance Tech: What is the Fuss?

If you are in the tech ecosystem, you have probably experienced wave after wave of new buzzwords that sometimes seem to come out of nowhere! Well, that is the way of the tech space. You just need to dig your heels into the ground and take a third person view of all the happenings before diving in. Otherwise, you’ll get lost in all the flurry and excitement.

There has recently been a lot of talk about insurance tech – how it is getting to the peak of its cycle and how tech entrepreneurs can greatly benefit from it. Insurance has been, for a long time now, regarded as a very out-dated, dreary consumer service that is still in existence. What techies are doing now is to try and stir up the sector and hopefully come up with some revolutionary concept such as Blockchain.

There are many areas of opportunity in the insurance space. The benefits that are driven from it are great, so it is likely (hopefully) something that is here to stay, and not just a trend.

Why Insurance?

First things first. It’s a huge market! How many people pay insurance premiums ever year?

Probably more than those that pay taxes. Even with it being such a big and pertinent sector, it has somehow been able to go unnoticed by technology trends. Until now.

From selling to collecting insurance, the processes involved are slow and inefficient. You will find that if you scrutinize these systems, many employees and processes will be rendered redundant.

Not only that, you will ask yourself why an insurance company, in this century, will ask you to fax them a document. In a world where you can buy yourself a plane from the comfort of your home, with all your particular specifications, why can’t we apply for insurance online on our mobile device?

An estimated four in every ten U.S. adults do not own life insurance policies, and I can bet it’s nothing to do with cost. People want to purchase things easily at the press of a button, not stand in line or wait for an insurance salesman to walk up to them.

What are Possible Areas of Improvement?

All the problems mentioned above are areas that can be greatly improved by technology. Insurance is a large sector and it’s impossible to cover all of it in one single article, but we’ll mention a few areas that seem to be hot.

  • Leveraging data platforms – One of the major components of insurance is data. Insurance could leverage data to improve operations such as sales and underwriting. Nowadays, you can tell a lot about a person using technology. With wearables in the market and social media platforms showcasing people’s lives, this should definitely be explored.
  • Digitizing processes – I remember filling out insurance forms; I not only had to answer every single question by hand, I had to manually fill in two other copies. For Pete’s sake, why couldn’t I, at the very least, just make copies of the already-filled version? But, no, these are the processes they have been using for years.
  • Customer relationships – Yes, some people still believe that human interaction is the best way to manage customer relationships, but in an age where people are more focused on their screens, I don’t think face-to-face conversations about insurance is a good enough reason to look up from your screen. Insurance companies can use mobile app interaction for those services that do not actually add value to customer interaction. IoT sensors are also another technology that can be leveraged.

These are only but a few of the possible changes that can be made. As mentioned, the insurance sector is a blue whale waiting to be explored. Just make sure that you have the consumer in mind, comply with regulation and build a solid business model around your idea.








5 Disruptive Fintech Services

The year of 2005 gave rise to a new technology that would take the financial sector by storm. Fintech was the buzzword of that year, with companies either uttering it out of fear or jubilation at what was to come. This breakthrough in technology saw technologists in t-shirts and jeans competing with the suits in the highly corporate banking sector to offer the same services at a fraction of the cost. Consequently, Fintech services are changing how many industries conduct their business, from loans to investments and so much more.

1. E-Commerce

Imagine a scenario where you need to urgently buy a home appliance but you do not have the full amount at once. Your options are to either take out a loan or go to the store and pay for the goods at unfathomable interest rates.

Some B2B Fintech companies have come up with an innovative solution to this. They enable online retailers to instantly offer monthly repayment plans for goods at checkout on a shopper’s existing credit card. This bears no risk to the seller as customers use their current credit cards.

Also, breaking up payments into smaller installments attracts more customers to you and your net sales will increase. Fintech services such as these are proving to be quite disruptive to the market.

2. Money Transfer

In this digital age, it’s no longer a viable option to have to wait days or even weeks to send money overseas, nor can you incur such high costs. Without banks as the middle man, Fintech companies have come up to fix this problem by offering affordable rates for sending money and also fast transfers – in a matter of minutes!

Send money in your currency and the recipient receives it in their currency.

3. Loans

Let’s face it, paying off loans is not a bed of roses. Half of the time, you do not know what your repayment rate is and the other time, you spend dreading to go to the bank to repay your loan or even find out how much you need to pay. Fintech companies like CommonBond have come up with an innovative way to help students get out of this fix.

They pay off the borrower’s lender and then deal with the students at a more personal level. This works well the borrowers as they are assured of the whole repayment, and the borrowers can easily get all the information they need about their loans.

CommonBond also offers other services such as funding students in need and helping them identify job opportunities.

4. Mobile Payment

So you are a small business and have no idea how to go about receiving payments from your customers. How are you ever going to consolidate all those payments? Well, not to worry, Fintech companies are now helping small businesses operate like large companies all from the comfort of your tablet or phone.

They let you accept both card and cash payments once a customer has browsed your products, chosen what to buy and is at checkout. The customer then proceeds to receive a receipt either physically by mail or printed.

5. Investment

Have you watched one of those movies where you see stock traders huddled in a room trading and making lots of money from it? There are several Fintech companies that enable you to trade via their platform from your laptop or phone.

What’s better, is that they give you information on trading trends at the click of a button so you can have information on all the stocks you are trading and users can slowly build their portfolio.

Fintech is definitely here to stay. The rise of Fintech services is sure to grow in the next couple of years and we will see many businesses adopting Fintech services due to their accessibility, low cost and efficiency. This is good news for both business owners and customers, as they will be able to offer their services and goods at reduced costs.








Going Beyond Bitcoin: Revolutionary Applications of Blockchain

If you’ve heard the word Blockchain mentioned in conversation, you probably have heard it been used synonymously with Bitcoin. Well, that is not the case. Bitcoin is essentially only an application that is built on the blockchain platform. Blockchain, more impressively, is a secure, distributed and shared database on which various applications, not only digital currency, can be built.

If you are wondering what some of these applications are, this article will give you a few that will have you thinking outside the box.

Digital Identity

The world today is at a great risk of digital insecurity. It is estimated to cost the digital security industry about $18.5 annually. Managing digital identities could be made both efficient and secure by Blockchain technologies, thus reducing cases of fraud.

Whether it is banking, healthcare, citizenship documentation, national security or retailing, the adoption of Blockchain technologies would be beneficial. This is because they are based on digital signatures and irrefutable identity verification based on public key cryptography.

Distributed Cloud Storage

Before, the only way to share a digital document with another person was to send it to them and ask them to make revisions on it. This scenario would create a lengthy back and forth between the people concerned as one had to wait until the other person was done editing and sending the document so as to view it.

That is how databases work today. Even in banks! They briefly lock access while they make a transfer and then update the other side and finally reopen access to update. This process is not very efficient. Imagine if the database can be accessed concurrently and a single version of it is always available.

Smart Contracts

What would you say if someone told you that you could significantly slash your mortgage rate? Ridiculous, right? At least not in the current economy. Wrong! The use of smart contracts is increasingly drawing near. Smart contracts are simply digitized contacts that are entered by the Blockchain that is automated and can self-execute.

The current norm is bringing in a third party to execute a contract rather than trusting one central authority. Companies such as Rootstock and Ethereum are trending in this area.

Online Voting

Whenever the topic of Online voting is brought us, there is a general sense of apprehension. This is because many think that it is sufficiently insecure. The adoption of online voting can be made more acceptable through the use of Blockchain technology. This is because is it transparent and immutable in nature.

In 2014, the Liberal Alliance, a Danish political party became the first major political party to adopt Blockchain technology for internal voting. Other organizations around the world have expressed interest and we will, in the near future see it being actualized. An added advantage is that the implementation of Blockchain technology for voting should increase the number of voters per region.

Tracking Taxpayer Money

Blockchain technologies can be used to track money including students loans and international aid. It has potential to be used also to manage the distribution of grants as this has proven to be rather complex. Blockchain will make this easier as it is accessible to both parties, thus solving the problem at hand.

Record Keeping

When you buy something online from a site, you get a digital receipt, closely resembling a physical one. Imagine if you could integrate all your receipts from all your spending into one Blockchain. All your data can be verified without a third party and it will all be immutable and unforgeable. The best thing about it? All your records are automatically timestamped.

Most of these applications are still in development phase and the full extent of Blockchain capabilities has yet to be unearthed. The bottom lone is that Blockchain is here to stay and is transforming how we, as a society, function.

The purpose of Techstars’ Worldwide Entrepreneur Network is to help entrepreneurs succeed. Check out the impact of the Techstars’ network over the past 10 years.








A Beginners Guide To Blockchain

If you have spent some time in the tech ecosystem, or have a couple of nerds for friends, you probably have heard of the word Blockchain. For many, the concept of Blockchain remains elusive although it is relatively very simple.

What exactly is Blockchain?

Simply put, Blockchain is a ledger that can be publicly accessed where transactions are recorded and anonymously confirmed. To elaborate this, let’s take a look at how money is transacted. Before technologies such as Blockchain were available, companies and businesses relied on institutions such as banks and government to ensure certainty and trust. These institutions acted as intermediaries. Authentication and record keeping was essentially the work for middlemen to perform.

Now, imagine a situation where you are trading digital assets such as stocks, money and intellectual property, which are basically files in a database. This could lead to spending the same unit of value more than once (known as the double spending problem). Well, blockchain solves this problem by eliminating the need for third-party intermediaries such as banks.

Now you are probably wondering why the name Blockchain. A blockchain contains a list of ordered records known as blocks. Each of these blocks contains a timestamp and is linked to the previous block, forming a chain. Once data is entered into a block and is recorded, it cannot be retroactively altered. This makes blockchain secure by design. A blockchain can be accessed by many people from different computers and locations at the same time, while still maintaining its independence, transparency, and permanency.

Blockchains are not simply stored on a person’s computer, regardless of how large it is or how much memory space, it has. Bitcoin, for example, has its chain managed by several distributed nodes, which have a copy of the entire blockchain. Copies and access are all distributed and updated through these nodes. Thus you cannot have a situation where all data is erased from one single source.

Bitcoin and Blockchain: What is the relation?

It has been said that Blockchain is to Bitcoin, what the internet is to email. Bitcoin first broke the ice in 2008, authored in a white paper by Satoshi Nakamoto. It basically spelled out in detail, an innovative peer-to- peer system that did not need an intermediary, such that online payments were transferred directly. As much as Bitcoin was revolutionary and widely spoken about, it was quickly realized that the real treasure was not the cryptocurrency itself (Bitcoin) but the platform is was build upon.

Bitcoin is only one of over seven hundred applications that are currently using blockchain technology. Bitcoin, as we see, is a digital currency, and despite the name, does not manifest in actual coins. This brought about a new view of ownership of currency. You do not literally have a physical thing in your hand to trade with nor is it in your bank account. You simply transfer ownership to someone else by creating a record in the blockchain.

Is blockchain going to transform the way we carry out transactions?

There is no doubt about it. Blockchain is a highly anticipated disruptive technology that will change the world. The most exciting thing is that we haven’t even used it to its full potential yet, nor can we even grasp the magnitude of its reach. Blockchain is revolutionizing the internet, from being an internet of information, where people can easily and instantly communicate with each other across all borders, to the internet of value, meaning that people can instantly trade assets.

Blockchain is set to cause a disruption in several industries that rely on intermediaries, such as academia, real estate, healthcare, insurance, finance, banking and the public sector – just to name a few. Although it will probably render in some of the workforce redundant by technology, it will greatly benefit the economy as a whole.








Shining as a Developer at Startup Weekend

 

This is a Guest Blog from Techstars Alumni, Amandeep Midha, who also is a Startup Weekend Veteran. He shares his experience from both participating at Startup Weekend and being part of the Techstars accelerator with Barclays in New York City.


Who is ERNIT ?

Ernit is a Danish Fintech company aims to teach children about money through the ingenious combination of a physical piggy bank and accompanying app. The app allows kids to save digital money and allocate amounts of their choosing to particular goals, while the piggy bank helps them to track the progress they make

 

What is Techstars ?

Techstars is a global ecosystem that, in association with Barclays bank, helps entrepreneurs build their business by offering accelerators, venture capital, community programs and an enormous network to the startups they deem worthy of attention and capable of success. Techstars is also a parent organization of Startup Weekend family

 

Journey Through Techstars Accelerator:

Techstars Accelerator is 13 week long program after careful selection of 1% success rate among startups that are picked from across the globe. The unique part of Barclays Techstars accelerator was that it was Fintech Accelerator Program run right from the heart of New York with plenty of mentors, innovation staff from Barclays and other financial institutions available to mentor the participating startups. While first week is general bootstrapping, 2nd and 3rd week are what is called mentor madness where over the period of work day over 50 mentors visit us all in 2 weeks and the speed dating that follows us to find mutual perfect match and a startup can pick 4-6 mentors for themselves. Techstars also emphasizes on weekly OKR ( Object Key Results ) and KPI metrics which keep the whole operation in motion at a pace while being in accelerator can sound like being in B-school and in full-time job at the same time

We all then adjust ourselves to these KPIs, pick specific goals in weekly OKR sheet and then go all the way in achieving those, and these goals can be as specific as possible e.g. publishing the app with 3 new features and having 75 people signed up, to quote an example. Details of my engineering notes I had published earlier at  https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/engineering-notes-techstars-crafting-worlds-first-piggy-arora as we developed ERNIT all around in fintech, IoT, platform dimensions and led the path of adoptions with various other tools, dashboards, and KPIs. Coming from a Startup Weekend hackathons regular, I would say it was 10+ weeks of hackathon with surprising amount of code being added and features delivered in extremely short time to compare otherwise

 

How to Shine as a Developer in 54 hours:

As a developer participating in Startup Weekend, it can be real fun and enriching experience

Counting on my experience, I can offer the following suggestions:

  • Always Pitch Something

It does not matter if you come prepared to pitch a topic or not, just recollect any hiccup in your daily lives, offer to build a solution for it and see if your thoughts align with rest of people. How to test that solution or validate the problem that you propose to solve? Just by pitching it. As they say “The person who stands for nothing, falls for anything”

  • Wardrobe Readiness

During Startup Weekend, the only wardrobe developer needs to care about is her/his multiple hats. Make sure you wear those thinking of designer, customer, growth hacker, UX analyst and maybe more hats that you can think of!

  • Manage Your Time Well

The 54 hour format gives little room for something concrete product to build upon, yet at the begin itself you could sense the mood of pitches, theme of the event e.g. Fintech , and study something prior from common problems and possible solutions you could be coding to build out during this weekend. While you may still be waiting for team to conceretize coding task for you, yet this is time you could use to utilize and setup Startup Weekend perks and have the DevOps ready for team communication e.g. Website, Slack channel, or Team Facebook Group and move along

  • Try Something New & Learn Together

Startup Weekend is great place and time to try out something new that you have not tried before. For example, I would have used Facebook Graph APIs with Javascript and in one hackathon where two more developers in team knew Python but not Facebook APIs, we decided to do Python coding for Facebook APIs and it was learning for all

  • Challenge the Status Quo

Easier said than done, this is I expect from any developer to use this skill at the time of sleepy hours. You will be working late often past midnight both on Friday and Saturday and when you find your team members low on energy, that is time you can be little nasty or condescending towards business idea for which you are coding. If done in moderation, it helps keeping team members awake and fresh thought process always in circulation and you have always something more to do than you can handle

  • Don’t shy away from User Interviews

While working as developer professionally, you may hardly get a chance to make user interviews with your team lead or UX person. Startup Weekend gives you complete recipe and experience that you do not miss out on any stage and wear a different hat and have your little walk-of-pride

  • Look Around & Make Friends

I could be no-nonsense hyper-professional at my workplace, but I know Startup Weekend is the place where I express more and make more friends while discussing business objectives, goal setting for set of hours, having those beer and coffee meetings with whole team or sub-team and keep things in motion

If there is some other team working on other area of interest to you, go ahead and approach them and help them as well if you can afford apart from your time with your team. There are no hard & fast rules and all of us are looking to learn and contribute

  • Mentoring Feedback Updates

Mentoring feedback during Startup Weekend could cause significant changes in solution than earlier, be prepared for those in advance and have that conversation from your co-developers or event organizers if you wish to. Agility to amend solutions based on feedback is rare skill and there is no better time to practice it other than being at Startup Weekend yourself

  • Karma whether you believe or not

Be prepared if you get caught in a team where things may not be good, there may not be teamwork, or someone just wants to take advantage of your skills to concept proof something for him/her. Either you should have quit that team on Friday evening itself, but do not loose yourself in agony and just keep doing and building what you are awesome at and make it good learning experience for yourself. When the time comes for final pitches on Sunday afternoon, everyone will know whose contribution to team has been most, and there are always recruiters and other people who definitely won’t miss out your awesomeness

  • Life After Startup Weekend

Even if you do not win, most of individual journeys still do not end with Startup Weekend. I still cherish some of my best friends whom I met at such hackathons. A creative burst and refreshing zest of developer life that I enjoy with those buddies is extremely special long after the event is over.


About the Author:

Amandeep Midha

Amandeep is Vice President of Engineering at ERNIT and also he was the  first employee to join ERNIT early 2016 after coming from unique experience of working in small to large software organizations across Europe and Asia. As passionate Fintech hacker at multiple international hackathons, at Startup Weekend Amandeep had participated over 5 times and he recounts his experience refreshing every time. Currently he is part of body of Nordic Startup Weekend organizers and provides technical assistance to Startup Weekend participants








The Mobile Industry Evolving

Not so long ago, mobile phones were the platform of the future. Back in 2004, Nokia was the reigning market leader in terms of sold units, the iPhone did not exist and media messaging and cameras on phones were exciting capabilities. It’s fascinating how much the market has changed in recent years and advanced systematically.

Of late, there’s been a lot of talk about virtual reality, and micro gaming industry (casino and betting) have fished opportunities by launching various prototypes like the VR Roulette. Since VR technology allows for the immersive experience it became a sensation quick. Various headsets are available for purchase, and consumers will “terraform” the market.

Much similar to the mobile industry, segmentation of immersive reality will take place determined by the wants and needs of different consumers. E.g. hardcore gamers will be likely to embrace the Oculus Rift, a VR headset, to provide the most stunning and powerful 3D experience. On the flipside, powerful hardware is needed to run the headset, moreover, it has to be tethered to a PC. This is not appealing.

For the casual game player, the Samsung Gear, is more suitable and is cable free but only exclusively compatible with the Samsung phone, therefore it is limiting. Without a doubt, it is a diabolical ploy to get people to upgrade their phones or purchase the company’s phones.

From the development and content perspective, understand which devices will appeal to certain gamers is very critical, making it is essential to develop content relevant and applicable, capable of harnessing the power of the device fully.

Many companies are still toddlers in immersive reality, but not for long since the market is quickly gaining momentum and customer engagement is becoming more familiar, making content targeting possible and easier.


Another exciting technology, with the power to cause some tremors up, is augmented reality or AR. Most will be bewildered to know that the AR concept has been around longer even over a century, in 1901 the author L. Frank Baum spoke of the idea of an electronic display/spectacles that superimposes images onto real life. Only recently has it made advancements.

Consumer products research teams have been utilizing AR for sales purposes, to display these products to prospective clients. For example, a cabinet sales representative can’t bring a 6ft, heavy cabinet to a client’s office boardroom for a sales meeting, instead AR is used to showcase the product in 3D, what better way to showcase the product? Also, soft-drink companies like Coca-Cola use AR when selling to retailers.

Augmented reality has the potential to enhance the world we live in massively. But like many technologies, it has to become ubiquitously available for everyone, before it can be appointed on platforms like online gaming. When this becomes evident happen, AR will have the potential to deliver a richer gaming experience but it’s an exciting prospect.

When you combine AR and VR together, remarkable creations come to life, the Microsoft HoloLens, a device cleverly combining augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) with the real world, a triple bonanza of some sort. The headset is of high quality and impressive resolution. Moreover, it’s fully wireless no wired connections to a PC is required.

However, challenges, such as loss of privacy, are emerging but this technology is exhilarating. Imagine a future where you person go about your daily activities, like taking the bus and going to the retail store, but not physically but through a set of unique glasses, all your entire experience heightened by adverts, games, communication, etc.

What’s become conspicuous in these few years is that we are no longer talking about the mobile platform as just the latest device. Wearables devices like the HUDs and HWDs are now extending their grasp on the mobile platform, and they possess the ability to greatly influence the communications industry.

Whether it is AR or VR, or something revolutionary to be discovered, new technologies are often dynamic and advancing. Therefore mass adoption is key, as we have observed with the mobile industry, and consumers will ultimately dictate the success of these potentials. With futuristic headsets on sale to the public, it’s just a matter of time before they go mainstream.








Virtual Reality in Healthcare

A good number of people are familiar with the term ‘virtual reality’ but are not really informed about its uses. Gaming is what often comes to mind when virtual reality application as is discussed, but there is a whole platform of uses for virtual reality. Some of which are more challenging and/or unusual than others.

VR provides many more uses than first realized that range from academic and research through to engineering, design, business, the arts, and entertainment.

However, virtual reality produces a set of data which is then used to develop new models, communication, interaction and training methods irrespective of its use. In many ways, VR has endless possibilities.

The only stumbling blocks being costs, time coupled with technological limitations. Virtual reality systems are usually expensive and consume time in developing it. Plus there are ergonomics-related issues, specifically the need to designing user-friendly systems and systems unlikely to cause problems e.g. motion sickness.

But if these problems are countered, then there is an exciting, highly possible future for virtual reality.

Virtual Reality in Healthcare

Healthcare is one of the huge adopters of virtual reality, which entails surgery simulation, robotic surgery, phobia treatment, and skills training.

An advantage of this technology is that healthcare professionals are given the opportunity to learn new skills as well as refresh their existing ones in a safe environment. Moreover, it allows this without risking or causing harm to the patients.

  • Human simulation software

 

A good example of a simulation software is the HumanSim system which enables medical practitioners like doctors, nurses and other medical personnel to interact with their fellow counterparts in an interactive environment. There they can engage in training scenarios or drills in which they have to interact with a patient within a 3D environment. Surgeons can also project 3-D images of various organs in a bid to aid in locating the root problem. This is an immersive experience which aims to measure the participants’ emotions through a series of sensors.

  • Virtual reality diagnostics

 

Virtual reality has often been used as a diagnostic tool enabling doctors to arrive at a diagnosis in conjunction with other tools such as MRI scans. This overrules the need for invasive procedures or surgery, which may uncomfortable or detrimental to the patient.

  • Virtual robotic surgery

 

VR is gaining popularity in advanced robotics and particularly in robotic surgery. This is basically surgery performed by use of a robotic device, controlled by a surgeon, which often reduces time and complication risks.

Virtual reality has been also been employed in training and, in the field of remote telesurgery (surgery being performed by the surgeon at a separate location from the patient).

The main characteristic of this form is force feedback as the surgeon should be able to gauge the pressure amount required to use when performing a certain delicate procedure. But an issue has emerged of time delay or latency which is a serious concern in addition to being consequential. Any delay even a fraction of a second to the surgeon feels abnormal and may interrupt the procedure.

Robotic surgery and other issues relating to virtual reality and medicine can be found in the virtual reality and healthcare section. This section contains a list of individual articles which discuss virtual reality in surgery etc.

More Examples of VR use in Healthcare include;

  1. In Medicine
  2. Applications in dentistry
  3. Provides a platform for nursing and hospital care
  4. In specialized surgery, like eye surgery, brain surgery or neurosurgery
  5. Virtual reality uses in therapies
  6. Treatment of individual phobias i.e. arachnophobia and claustrophobia. Patients diagnosed with phobias can use VR to their advantage in managing these phobias on their own at their own pace.
  7. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) treatment for patients experiencing such.
  8. In treatment for autism
  9. In health related issues like metabolism, VR can also be applied
  10. Virtual reality for the disabled, where they are taught how to cope up with the situation in the real world through a VR-type simulation, examples include voice activated software and virtual worlds have been developed with the objective of helping disabled persons adjust to the actual world by navigating themselves in the virtual world.