November is a busy time for the Techstars Startup Weekend community around the world! For the past six years, we’ve seen entrepreneurs from over 70 countries come together, form teams and go from idea to product in just 54 hours. This year, we’re welcoming back Techstars Global Startup Weekend – the biggest entrepreneurial celebration around the world!
As our global community continues to grow and evolve, Techstars Global Startup Weekend provides, even more, value to organizers, attendees, and communities. During this global initiative, 15,000 entrepreneurs will come together for events in over 50 countries during November 10-12 & 17-19!
We’re excited to provide exclusive resources for attendees to help prep for success during the Startup Weekend event and make connections to mentors and other startup teams.
To help continue the entrepreneurial growth in each community, the winning team of each event will gain access to helpful perks for building their startup, as well as the opportunity to submit their startup for a regional and global showcase after the weekend.
If you haven’t been to a Techstars Startup Weekend yet, this is the time to do so! We will run virtual Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions to get you started – schedule to be shared on October 5th – so don’t be afraid to bring your idea to life. Now’s your chance to build that company you’ve been dreaming of!
Find a Techstars Global Startup Weekend event near you!
It’s already mid-July, and we are keeping the celebration going for the 10th Birthday of Techstars Startup Weekend. From all of us at Techstars, we want to say thank you to the Community Leaders around the world for all that you do to spread entrepreneurship.
Thanks to the Community Leaders, mentors, participants, and global network partners, we continue to grow and expand to new locations every year. In 10 years, we’ve grown to:
- 13,837 organizers in 153 countries
- 4,531 Startup Weekend events
- 363,000+ Startup Weekend attendees
- 45,375 Teams formed
- $410M+ in funding secured
Happy Birthday Startup Weekend!
If you want to keep on sharing stories, photos and more, please do so using the hashtag #HappyBirthdaySW
O primeiro Startup Weekend com a temática Governo no Brasil aconteceu em Florianópolis nesse final de semana. O #SWGovFloripa traz uma grande oportunidade para os participantes colaborarem com o setor público e lançar ideias que resolvam problemas reais na esfera governamental, das cidades e das comunidades empoderando o cidadão. Essa edição que teve lotação máxima de 120 participantes foi realizada no Centro de Inovação ACATE Primavera entre sexta e domingo (24 a 26 de Março).
É o evento ideal para tirar a ideia do papel e colocar ela em prática e os participantes ainda podem contribuir com soluções que aumentem a inovação e beneficiem a sociedade como um todo. O Startup Weekend utiliza uma metodologia que em 54 horas ao longo de um fim de semana os empreendedores, Desenvolvedores, Designers, entusiastas e nesta edição também conta com a participação de Agentes Públicos se unem para compartilhar ideias, formar equipes e criar startups.
O local do evento disponibiliza toda estrutura necessária com uma ótima localização na Rodovia SC 401 no Km04, dentro do Primavera Garden Center. No valor do ingresso estão inclusas refeições e coffee breaks, e todo o material necessário para o desenvolvimento das ideias, além do suporte dos mentores que utilizam de toda a sua experiência profissional para auxiliar os participantes.
Essa edição conta com o patrocínio de grandes empresas que estão sempre apoiando iniciativas para desenvolver o empreendedorismo local como SEBRAE, Softplan, e o BRDE. E como apoiadores grandes empresas no cenário empreendedor de Florianópolis como: o grupo de pesquisa da Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina VIA Estação Conhecimento, WeGov, Code for Floripa, Intexfy, CIASC e a SDS – Secretaria do Desenvolvimento Econômico Sustentável, que juntos colaboraram com os organizadores do evento.
Nosso time de mentores: Depois de todas as mentorias as equipes trabalharam duro para desenvolver a ideia e chegar ao nível de apresentação dos Pitchs.
Às 17h iniciou a apresentação final dos pitchs finais para os jurados: Gabriela Tamura (WeGov), Carlos Chiodini (secretaria do Desenvolvimento Econômico e Sustentável), Moacir Marafon (Softplan), Gabriela Werner (Impact Hub).
E as vencedoras foram:
- 1º Lugar: VIGÍLIA
- 2º Lugar: PROTOCOLEI
- 3º Lugar: SELO SAÚDE SOCIAL
- Menção Honrosa: PLATAFORMA CRIATIVA
Organizadores do evento
Durante todo o evento são realizadas palestras instrutivas que expliquem para os participantes cada passo que precisa ser tomado para ter uma ideia sucesso, a primeira palestra motivadora foi realizada pelo mentor Tony Celestino, que veio para Florianópolis representando a Techstars Brasil no evento. A palestra ajudou os participante a entenderem a importância da validação de sua ideia para as Startups. O mentor iniciou a palestra indicando alguns procedimentos básicos para nortear os participantes em seguida foco para a validação das ideias. Para isso, é importante que o processo seja realizado de maneira investigativa, realizando entrevistas com pessoas desconhecidas, segundo o mentor, essa é a melhor forma de saber o que o mercado está precisando. Depois foi a vez do Lucas Prim – Gestor da startup SumOne – falar sobre o MVP (Minimum Viable Product) que é conhecido como uma prática de administração de empresas que busca lançar um novo produto ou serviço com menor investimento possível, para experimentar o negócio antes de aportar grandes investimentos. A última palestra foi com Marcos Buson – fundador da empresa Pinmypet – afirma que o Pitch precisa ser apresentado da melhor forma e da maneira mais convincente e clara possível.
Essa edição só foi possível de ser realizada graças ao apoio de vários patrocinadores, entre eles o BRDE – Banco Regional de Desenvolvimento do Extremo Sul.
Saiba mais sobre este nosso patrocinador!
O Banco Regional de Desenvolvimento do Extremo Sul – BRDE foi fundado em 1961 pelos Estados do Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina e Paraná, com o objetivo de fazer o Sul do Brasil prosperar. Desde então, o BRDE tem sido um parceiro que apoia e acompanha o desenvolvimento de projetos para aumentar a competitividade de empreendimentos de todos os portes na região. Nesse sentido, tem ampliado o incentivo à inovação tecnológica e assumindo posição de destaque no financiamento de projetos inovadores.
Em 2013, o Banco iniciou estudos para criar uma linha exclusiva de investimento na área de inovação. O governo do Estado de SC, um dos acionistas do BRDE, queria investir em parques tecnológicos, criar centros de inovação. Os próprios clientes também demandavam linhas de financiamento mais adequadas a empresas inovadoras.
Em conjunto com a Financiadora de Estudos e Projetos (Finep) e o Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Social (BNDES), O BRDE desenvolveu um programa para financiar a inovação com características mais aderentes à realidade das empresas. Assim nasceu o programa BRDE Inova, atendendo a demandas do setor, que tinha dificuldade para atender as garantias e exigências tradicionais do banco.
Para facilitar o acesso dos empresários da indústria de tecnologia aos recursos financeiros, o banco decidiu criar uma política específica de crédito. Entre as mudanças, a flexibilização de garantias, o estabelecimento de critérios para definir projetos e empresas inovadoras e também a flexibilização dos itens passíveis de financiamento, que passaram a incluir de mão-de- obra (home-hora) a viagens de aperfeiçoamento, para feiras e eventos no exterior.
A partir da criação do BRDE Inova, foi possível retirar a exigência de garantias reais para financiamentos de até R$ 1 milhão. A medida tornou o programa um case nacional, com o banco assumindo a liderança no repasse da linha de financiamento Finep Inovacred e também no repasse da linha MPME Inovadora, do BNDES.
Recentemente, o BRDE aprovou sua participação como cotista no fundo de investimentos Criatec 3, capitaneado pelo BNDES. Até agora, o investimento foi de R$ 12 milhões, mas o Banco estuda a participação em outros fundos. O Criatec 3 foi criado para financiar iniciativas inovadoras e possibilita aportes de R$ 1,5 milhão a R$ 10 milhões por empresa, dependendo da avaliação do fundo.
Contar con el talento adecuado es una condición imprescindible para el desarrollo del emprendimiento en una comunidad. En latinoamérica, el reclutamiento de talento en startups ha crecido significativamente en los últimos 5 años, pero ser parte de una startup aún es difícil. Es en su mayoría trabajo arduo, lágrimas y algunas alegrías.
La generación de los millennials, que representa la fuerza de trabajo más solicitada por las startups, prefiere apoyo en su crecimiento profesional, responsabilidades que tengan impacto en el crecimiento de la empresa, una oficina con amenidades y espacios abiertos, mayor flexibilidad con su tiempo y algunos otros beneficios; antes de una compensación alta en una compañía extremadamente restrictiva.
Casi 9 de 10 (87%) millennials que participaron en la Encuesta de Deloitte de Millennials de 2016, dijeron que “el éxito de un negocio debe ser medido en más términos que únicamente el desempeño financiero”, según la revista Fortune.
La retención del talento en las startups es un reto a nivel global y es por esto que enfatizamos en la importancia de que cada empleado esté empoderado, motivado, con flexibilidad de tiempo, responsabilidades relevantes y sintiendo propio el trabajo que realiza para evitar roces innecesarios pues en etapas tempranas, cada persona contratada juega un rol dentro de la cultura organizacional, por lo cual es vital establecer reglas y valores desde un principio.
¿Cómo crear una cultura organizacional fuerte en tu startup?
Según Entrepreneur puedes tomar estos 6 factores claves para la creación de una cultura organizacional fuerte en tu startup:
- Define un propósito para tu startup: Para crear ese propósito, entiende el “por qué” de la organización. ¿Qué (o a quién) sirve tu negocio? La que sea tu respuesta, debe ser auténtica, inspiracional y aspiracional.
- Define un lenguaje común, valores y estándares: Para que la cultura sea exitosa, todas las personas de la compañía deben hablar el mismo lenguaje y estar en la misma página acerca de cuáles son los valores que tiene la misma, estos valores y un conjunto de estándares que midan cómo se están respetando esos principios.
- Lidera con el ejemplo: La cultura se forma a través de las acciones de los líderes de una compañía. Cada uno de ellos necesita reflejar interna y externamente los valores de la compañía y ser sus mejores representantes. Como líder, necesitas liderar con el ejemplo y ser completamente transparente.
- Identifica tus embajadores culturales: Todas las compañías los tienen: empleados que viven, comen y respiran la cultura y ayudan a otros a entender quién eres como organización y qué te define. Estos empleados son tus mejores representantes porque aman lo que hacen y la compañía tanto como el fundador.
- Sé sincero y comunícate siempre: Todos los empleados deben entender la cultura y por qué es importante preservarla. Tener conciencia de la organización y la comunicación será esencial cuando la cultura esté fallando. La cultura no tiene que estar perfectamente empaquetada, pero tu comunicación y honestidad nunca deben fallar. Si la gente no confía en ti, no tendrás una buena base cultural.
- Trata bien a las personas: Como líder de la compañía, necesitas tratar bien a tus empleados, de otra manera no será fácil mantener la cultura que estás tratando de establecer si tienes una tasa de retención baja.
Para llegar a crecer exponencialmente con una cultura organizacional positiva, todos los involucrados deben estar en la misma página. A medida que el equipo crece, será más difícil mantener a todos los integrantes alineados con los valores y así seguir con la compañía en un curso fijo. Lo que se debe tener en cuenta es que al final del día, lo bueno y malo que pasa dentro de la startup es generado por las personas que trabajan en ella.
La cultura no es comida gratis, buenas fiestas de navidad u otros beneficios. Es acerca de compartir la misión y expectativas en el futuro, ese terreno común de cada discusión y la razón principal por la que todos están trabajando sobre esa misma idea, generando ese producto y siendo abogados de esa marca.
Este artículo fue publicado originalmente en Disruptivo.tv
Se encuentran abiertas las aplicaciones para el programa de aceleración de Techstars. Aplica para unirte a la red de Techstars de más de 10,000 mentores, inversionistas y fundadores. La fecha límite para aplicar es Abril 9, 2017 para la sesión que comienza en Julio 2017 en 12 ubicaciones diferentes alrededor del mundo.
Cuando apliques, puedes escoger entre las siguientes locaciones y verticales:
- Nueva York
- Internet de las Cosas
- Kansas (Nuevo)
- Los Angeles (Nuevo)
- Techstars Mobility (Detroit)
- Techstars Retail, en alianza con Target (Minneapolis)
- Techstars Atlanta, en alianza con Cox Enterprises
- Techstars Adelaide (Australia, Nuevo)
- Alexa Accelerator, powered by Techstars (Seattle, Nuevo)
También tendremos sesiones de información globales para conectar con las mejores startups y fundadores del mundo.
Eventos en línea:
- March 7: Live Webinar
- March 8: Live AMA
- March 16: Live AMA
- March 21: Live Webinar
- March 23: Live Webinar
- March 30: Live Webinar
- April 4: Live Webinar
- April 4: Live Webinar
- March 17: Kiev, Ukraine (Office hours)
- March 17: Kiev, Ukraine (Info session)
- March 21: Berlin (Office hours)
- March 21: Berlin (Info session)
- March 22: Berlin (Office hours)
- March 22: Berlin (Info session)
- March 23: London (Office hours)
- March 23: London (Info session)
- March 19: Tel Aviv (Info Session)
- March 19: Tel Aviv (Office Hours)
- March 21-25: Tel Aviv (Office hours)
- March 22: Tel Aviv (Info session)
- March 22: Tel Aviv (Office hours)
- February 28-March 1: Chicago (Office hours)
- March 1-2: Chicago (Office hours)
- March 2: Salt Lake City (South Jordan), Utah (Office hours)
- March 2: Salt Lake City (South Jordan), Utah (Info session/AMA)
- March 2: Los Angeles, California (Office hours)
- March 2: Los Angeles, California (Info session)
- March 3: Pasadena, California (Office hours)
- March 3: Pasadena, California (Info session)
- March 6: New York City (Office hours)
- March 6: New York City (Info session)
- March 6: Seattle (Office hours)
- March 6: Seattle (Info session)
- March 6-7: New York City (Office hours)
- March 7-8: Boston, Massachusetts (Office hours)
- March 7-8: Boston, Massachusetts (Info session)
- March 8: Boston, Massachusetts (Office hours)
- March 8: Los Angeles, California (Info session)
- March 8: Los Angeles, California (Office hours)
- March 8: Los Angeles, California (Info session)
- March 8 & 10: Los Angeles, California (Office hours)
- March 9: Nashville (Office hours)
- March 9: Nashville (Info session)
- March 9: San Diego, California (Office hours)
- March 9: San Diego California (Office hours)
- March 9: San Diego, California (Info session)
- March 9: New York City (Office hours)
- March 10: Chattanooga, Tennessee (Info session)
- March 10: Chattanooga, Tennessee (Office hours)
- March 12: Austin, Texas (Info session)
- March 12-13: Austin, Texas (Office hours)
- March 13: Toronto (Office hours)
- March 13: Toronto (Info session/AMA)
- March 13-14: Boston / MIT (Office hours)
- March 14: Boston/MIT (Info session)
- March 14: Waterloo, Ontario (Office hours)
- March 14: Waterloo, Ontario (Info session/AMA)
- March 15-17: Boulder/Denver, Colorado (Office hours)
- March 16: New York City (Office hours)
- March 16: New York City (Info session)
- March 16: Atlanta (Techstars Office) (Office hours)
- March 16: Atlanta (Techstars Office) (Info session)
- March 16: Santa Monica, California (Info session)
- March 16: Santa Monica, California (Office hours)
- March 17-19: New York City (Info session)
- March 17-19: New York City (Office hours)
- March 21: Chicago (Office hours)
- March 21: Chicago (Info session)
- March 28: San Francisco (Info session)
- March 28: San Francisco (Office hours)
- March 30-31: Chicago (Office hours)
Siguiendo la crisis financiera de 2007 -08, la economía española entró en recesión, y en un ciclo de desarrollo negativo macroeconómico. Esto impactó la manera cómo era visto el emprendimiento en diferentes ciudades alrededor del país, especialmente aquellas que siempre fueron muy tradicionales. Tuve la oportunidad de hablar con Jaime Aranda Serralbo acerca del crecimiento de la comunidad de emprendimiento de Sevilla y su camino como líder de comunidad.
Nacido en Córdoba, pero establecido en Sevilla desde hace muchos años, Jaime ha sido uno de los principales catalizador del movimiento de emprendimiento en esa ciudad. Junto con otro participante de Startup Weekend Córdoba en Diciembre de 2012, fue el primero en llevar Startup Weekend a Sevilla en mayo del 2013. Esta acción– que fue después de abrir un espacio de co-working y ser organizador de más de 120 eventos– fue el inicio de la comunidad, que al día de hoy tiene el record de organización del Startup Weekend más grande de España.
De la recolección de datos que ha hecho, Jaime me cuenta que hay 8 startups y alrededor de 160 trabajos que se han generado gracias a esta comunidad de emprendimiento. Ahora, 3 años después de ese punto inicial, la comunidad de Sevilla, ha creado una organización sin ánimo de lucro que busca apoyar el emprendimiento y la inversión pública y privada en la ciudad, llamada Sevilla UP; con Jaime como su presidente. El objetivo principal de esta organización es ser un foro abierto a la innovación, la colaboración y las ideas que tengan sus socios y participantes.
El primer Startup Weekend, que sucedió en Mayo del 2013, tuvo alrededor de 45 participantes. De ahí se movieron a 160 en el evento organizado durante Global Startup Weekend en 2014. En ese momento, el director de Techstars para Europa, el Medio Oriente y Africa, José Iglesias, sugirió al equipo organizador, hacer eventos verticalizados. En 2015, durante Global Startup Battle de ese año, hicieron su primer evento enfocado en gastronomía y comida, al cual asistieron 50 participantes.
Este año, tendrán la tercera edición de ese tema en Marzo, la segunda enfocada en aeroespacial y la primera enfocada en educación.
Jaime, quien es emprendedor serial, piensa que en el 2017 después de la crisis y con el ecosistema emprendedor de Sevilla creciendo, las startups tendrán más madurez y serán capaces de crear profesionales dentro de sus equipos, proveyendo experiencias invaluables a sus empleados y al mismo tiempo dando valor a la sociedad y el mercado español.
Following the financial crisis of 2007–08, the Spanish economy’s plunged into recession, entering a cycle of negative macroeconomic performance. This impacted the way that entrepreneurship was seen in cities around the country. Specially those that were always very traditional. I got a chance to talk to Jaime Aranda Serralbo about the growth of Sevilla’s entrepreneurial community and his path as Community Leader.
Born in Cordoba, but now living in Sevilla since several years ago, Jaime has been a catalyst within the startup movement in Sevilla. Along with another participant of Startup Weekend Cordoba in late December of 2012, he was the first to bring Startup Weekend to Sevilla on May of 2013. This move, which came after Jaime’s successful opening of the biggest co-working space in the city – WorkINCompany – as well as having already organised around 120 events, was the starting point of the community, which as of today has held the biggest Startup Weekend event in the country – and one of the biggest in Europe.
From his recollection of data, Jaime says there are 8 startups and around 160 jobs that have been created thanks to the thriving community. Now, 3 years after the movement began, the community leaders of Sevilla, have created an non-profit to support entrepreneurship and investment in the city called Sevilla UP; with Jaime as President. This organization aims to be an open forum of collaboration, innovation and ideation.
The first Startup Weekend, the one back in May 2013, had around 45 participants. They went up to host around 160 participants, during 2014’s Global Startup Battle. At that point, Techstars EMEA Director, José Iglesias, suggested that they should start doing verticalized events–focused events in a specific theme/industry. In 2015, during Global Startup Battle, they ran their first thematic Startup Weekend, focused on Food and gastronomy–they had around 50 participants. This year, they will run in March the 3rd edition of that theme, in June their 2nd focused in Aerospace and in July their first focused on Education.
Jaime, who is a serial entrepreneur, thinks after the crisis and with the city’s entrepreneurial ecosystem growing, in 2017, startups will become more mature, and will be able to create professionals within their teams, provide valuable experiences for their employees and at the same time provide value to both the society and the Spanish markets. We look forward to following their progress!
How do we move from just talking about the topic to taking action?
During CES 2017, on Friday at Startup Stage, a diversity discussion took place between Brad Feld, managing director of Foundry Group; Jenny Fielding, MD for Techstars IoT in NYC; Anielle Guedes, CEO & co-founder at Urban 3D, Jinger Zeng, co-founder at Drone Smith, and Jayant Ratti, co-founder at Vairdo. This panel discussed the specific actions startups can take on the issue, rather than just talking about a hot topic with a lot of buzz.
Having diversity creates a better working environment
For Anielle, a Brazilian Founder of Urban 3D, it is important to have people from different backgrounds on her team. One of the perks of having a diverse team, is that they can go into different markets and regions on a shorter timeline. Having people from India, Brazil and the USA, makes it easier for them to achieve the goal of expansion for the startup because of connections and language barriers that no longer exist.
Surround yourself with people who think differently, and who have a distinct life experience
Jayant, who studied engineering, has a PhD in Robotics, and is co-founder at Vairdo, thinks it’s extremely important to have people on your team who can challenge your point of view. Differences in background and the contrast in thinking often lead to the most innovative ideas and solutions.
Be aware of your Unconscious Bias so you understand diversity better
As Managing Director of Techstars Internet of Things, founder of several companies, and with a long background in tech entrepreneurship, Jenny Fielding is — on many occasions — the only female voice in the room. She gave an example of a meeting with venture capitalists, where all the questions for the product were aimed at her co-founders (both males). The VCs ignored her.
She explained the importance of awareness over something as small as eye contact, which can make you feel good or bad. This is all part of the unconscious bias we have within because of how we were raised, our level of education, and other factors that influence it. Learn more about Unconscious Bias and how to prevent it here.
Enhancing entrepreneurship through age diversity
For Jinger Zeng, founder at Dronesmith, she has been dealing with age discrimination as she has built her company. On several occasions she felt that potential customers would not take her seriously or who saw her only as very young and didn’t think she had enough experience to be credible. She understood that business owners sometimes rely heavily on experience (age) to purchase a product or be convinced that it works. One way she handled this was to ask her mentors to help her team reach people who would not respond to them directly.
The conversation then moved to the Techstars Foundation, which is committed to improving diversity in tech entrepreneurship. We do this by investing in organizations with grant money and leveraging the Techstars network to empower these organizations to accelerate their mission.
Here are a few ways we encourage founders and startups to take action to improve diversity:
- Set up office hours where you invite interns or high school students to learn about entrepreneurship and startups
- Invite youth or veterans to learn about the environment in startups.
- Mentor a Startup Weekend
- Make time to teach entrepreneurial concepts in places where people are eager to learn– Schools, underprivileged sectors.
For even more ways to learn about what actions you can take to improve diversity, visit www.techstars.com/bealeader.
At CES, Brad Feld, CEO of the Foundry Group, led a fireside chat with James Park, Co-Founder and CEO of Fitbit, about the startup journey and the ups and downs they’ve experienced since they started and all the way through to IPO.
How did Fitbit get started?
In late 2006, James Park and his co-founder, Eric Friedman, were working at a company which is now part of CBS. Nintendo had just released the Nintendo Wii, which was the first consumer device that had accelerometers, and it was the first product that proved gaming was begging to be made into something fun and active for users. During April 2007, they decided to start Fitbit. At the time, the company was just Eric, James, and some consultants helping part time.
How long did it take for Fitbit to have something that would look like a Fitbit?
By the time they created their first prototype, they were raising Series A investment. People started to get more interested in the company once they saw a fancy object (that was actually made out of plastic).
Around the IPO, they went back to review their pitch decks. The slides read, “Automated personal trainer and nutritionist in your pocket.” It is not far from what they are now, even though they pivoted every six months. Fitbit has held through the original vision, however they weren’t presenting much to investors.
How much money did the company raise before Series A?
Thanks to friends and family, James and Eric were able to raise around $400K. This initial funding is what took them to production and launched the product. However, the money ran out quickly.
In September 2007, raising for Series A was different – they went to TechCrunch Disrupt with a prototype that “kind of worked” for the demo. They told people that they were shipping at Christmas (but they didn’t say which Christmas!) — and everyone was excited.
How did you get people excited about Fitbit?
The initial excitement came after the company joined Kickstarter. Later, the weekend before TechCrunch Disrupt, James shared photos of his friends using the device. Their website was poorly built on a ‘sketchy’ platform, so they didn’t think anyone was going to pre-order the device. But less than a month after the conference, they had over one thousand pre-orders.
Since the production wasn’t ready for release, James created a blog and a Flickr account to keep people updated on the status of the product, including what they were doing to get the product ready for customers. This consistent communication kept people from rioting and hating the company.
Did any of you have a background in consumer electronics products?
James only had a single semester of school under his belt, so no. Eric, on the other hand, had a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s. Eric was responsible for software and James was responsible for hardware.
How did it feel the first moment you had the box in your hand with the produced Fitbit?
Both co-founders did not feel 100% confident in the product. Unlike software, they couldn’t fix it and patch it up once it was released and shipped; this was hardware, it required different kind of work. We were lucky enough to tap into something people were passionate about, so people just ignored the first few mistakes.
What was the path like going forward after the first production line?
In the beginning, during the Christmas of 2008, 5000 units were out after a couple of months of production. They had 25K to 30K pre-orders in their platform and by the end of 2009 they had about $500K in revenue. In 2010, the production was up to 50K devices with $5M in revenue.
When James and Eric were seeking to raise their Series B, they were looking for around $12M in financing. During this time, they met with around 40 VCs. In the end, they were rejected by all of them and ended up raising a Series A-1 instead.
By the time they met with Brad Feld as a potential investor, Fitbit already had Fitbit One, which was the product they were releasing after Fitbit Classic and Fitbit Ultra, and that’s when things started to really move. Classic and Ultra were both released before any type of mobile connectivity, so in order for them to get data from the device to the backend, they had to develop their own platform. It was not a quality experience for the user.
When they heard Apple was releasing third party app development, they stopped coding the backend, because they decided to bet on Apple to do that, even though it was just a rumor. When it finally happened, that’s when the business took off; Fitbit went from $15M to $76M in revenue, which signified 5x growth over a year.
What made Fitbit different from other companies?
The keywords to describe Fitbit was “fitness tracker” or “activity tracker.” Information that was invisible before was made visible so people could play with it, adding different sorts of data to provide a personalized coaching or guidance experience which used information in a smart way. That change brought them from $70M to $300M in revenue.
Next, they changed the marketing strategy. Before, they only used social media platforms and word of mouth, maybe a blog post here and there. But in order to go from $300M to $750M, they needed to change their distribution in a major way, starting with their distribution deal with Best Buy. Marketing dollars were invested in channel marketing, buying displays and putting them in stores, which helped with advertising, but also helped educating staff of stores by having POP marketing at the stores.
What would you have done differently since you started Fitbit?
Fitbit was lucky to end up with a small pool of investors, which meant there was a lot of cohesiveness on the board and practically no egos; it was focused on getting stuff done. At some point as a company, they were really desperate for investment but now are grateful to not have accepted some of those investors on the board, because the key ingredient was having people that believed in the product.
One of James’ biggest transitions was when he stopped coding. He went to manage the hardware part of the business in the summer of 2014, but he was still involved in the company’s internal operations. A lot of stuff was being neglected, for example, they were still using Quickbooks until they had about $300M in revenue, so they hired a CFO that helped them prepare for the IPO.
What was it like going from a private to a public company?
The transition from private to public was one of the hardest things for the founders to do. They experienced incredibly fast paced growth and launched a new product called Fitbit 4, which included Color ID and alphanumeric display. At the time, they sold around 600K units and within a couple of months, discovered the product had health risks and people were starting to get skin irritation. They had already raised about $65M by that point and had $300M in revenue.
The exposure and liability included inventory, stock that they owed the suppliers, and the cost of that production mistake, which was close to $100M. In terms of cash flow, it was a hit they could take, but the risk was losing consumer confidence. They had to work on convincing the suppliers to stack their displays with other Fitbit products instead of their competitors.
The IPO process started in late 2014, Fitbit started all the documentation in January 2015 and went public by June of that year.
What’s coming for Fitbit in 2017?
Fitbit’s vision is to make everyone in the world healthier, and they want to do it from a consumer point of view. The goal is to make Fitbit an essential part of the healthcare ecosystem. Currently they’re developing sensors and the software that will support them.
What is the best advice for entrepreneurs?
- Be prepared for a lot of grey hairs.
- Raise efficient capital – mistakes are really expensive.
- Try to have the right investor base.
- Co-found your startup with someone you have chemistry with.
In memory of our dear friend Carole Granade, director, president, mother and wife. We will make sure that the entrepreneurial flame never dies in Lyon.
My name is Arturo Guizar, I am from Mexico City but I live in Lyon, France for almost 10 years. Since then, I have been traveling around the world but I always come back to Lyon.
What do you do when you are not wearing your Community Leader cape?
I consider myself as a hound and a hustler, two terms I learned from the startup culture. I use these terms to describe my two backgrounds as young scientist (hound) and entrepreneur (hustler). I did my PhD on wearable technologies at the CITI Lab, a joint Inria-INSA laboratory devoted to do research in the telecom sector. I am also co-cofounder of a non-profit organization BeyondLab which aims to connect the research and entrepreneur communities to create strong collaborations and democratise the discoveries of science to turn them into innovative projects. For that, we organise events and build scientific/business communities to reduce the cultural gap. My job here is to help on the community building and find money to continue growing. Since our first event in Grenoble, two years ago, we organised more than 50 events across France, from Lille to Marseille, and worldwide too, in Tokyo, Lausanne and Barcelona. We have worked with local partners, such as EPFL, Inria, CEA, The Family, Kic InnoEnergy, EDF, Withings and more.
For us, Startup Weekend has been a big inspiration, as well as Brad Feld’s philosophy about Startup Communities. We want to continue creating transdisciplinary hubs around the world to help scientist to find entrepreneurs and go beyond the lab.
When did you get involved with Startup Weekend?
The first time I heard about Startup Weekend was in 2011 when I was trying to create my first startup, but I missed the opportunity to participate in Lyon. At that time, I didn’t know it was an international community and I waited a whole year for the next event in Lyon. So, my first SW was on November 2012 in a vertical (SW OpenLabs which now is called SW Science) where scientists pitch their ideas and then, we work with them during the weekend to create startups using technologies coming from research.
This experience was so crazy, I learned a lot, especially about organization, team management and the importance of having a complementary team for the innovation process. I loved so much the concept of startup communities (thanks to Bernabé Chumpitazi), so I wanted to learn more about it and build our own for scientists/entrepreneurs. After that, I started organizing in Lyon (2013) and then facilitating in France (2014).
Startup Weekend inspired me to create BeyondLab (with Xavier Blot and Raphaël Meyer) in Lyon and Grenoble. But now, it’s becoming worldwide.
What is your favorite thing about Startup Weekend and the community?
Transdisciplinarity, international dimension and the fun. I’ve been involved in this community for almost 4 years and I got the opportunity to meet people from everywhere sharing the same values about community, economy and innovation. I also love to see passionate people trying to help their local ecosystem and I always learn something new by listening their background, everyone has an interesting history to tell
What is the funniest thing that you have witnessed and/or experienced with your team?
Each Startup Weekend is different, I have seen many funny and amazing things. But on the last two weeks (during the Global Startup Weekend), I saw for the first time a connected community without frontiers in real time. I connected with many communities using appear.in from Bolivia to US and even Australia. I found always someone to have a chat with and share moments/experience. That’s how we came with the idea to make the Mannequin Challenge during the GSW, it was fun and magical.
What are your bold plans for the future of your community?
In Lyon, we believe that Startup Weekend is the perfect way to create strong communities for the local economy. The last time we organized a horizontal Startup Weekend was in 2014. Since then, there is always a theme (Science, Food, Makers, Women, MedTech, …). And for each one of them, we have a different team that shares the same passion for that vertical. As a result, we build multiple communities that continue doing things to keep growing our local ecosystem. For instance, the MedTech team also created a new community called Exponential Medicine that organized meetings and Hackathons to improve our healthcare system, find new solutions for pathologies, and more. Nonetheless, they continue organizing other Startup Weekends and we are waiting for the next SW MedTech.
So, we try to create these ad hoc communities using team building and community chat sessions (every first Monday of each month). The next step is to create more community leaders and increase our local family. But also, we are open to help neighbor cities to create their own.
If you want to become a Techstars Startup Program organiser, go to techstars.com for more information.