MEET the Judge – Mentor

Kåre Bottolfsen is the co-founder of TicketCo, who have just been awarded the Deloitte Rising Star

He will be the SuperMentor of Bergen Startup Weekend and will follow the whole process from the scratch idea to the final pitching


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MEET the Judge

Aslak Sverdrup is an entrepreneur and energetic leader with broad experience from government – and private sector with projects world wide
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Meet South Central Ventures

South Central Ventures (SCV), the manager of ENIF, is open for investments in startups in Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. This October, the fund officially started operating with offices in Belgrade, Zagreb and Skopje. The Skopje team, led by Managing Partner Tatjana Zabasu, with Investment manager Ivana Stankovic and Associate Irena Efremovska, is responsible for covering Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania and Kosovo.

How can Macedonian startups approach the South Central Ventures office? 

South Central Ventures tend to be “start-up (or entrepreneur) – friendly”, so it should be quite easy to get to us. The best place to start from is definitely a recommendation, but we will also be present in as many events as possible, so start-ups can feel free to approach us and present their businesses. In fact, we’ll be at the upcoming Startup Weekend Skopje.

South Central Ventures do not operate like most of the accelerators that periodically invite start-ups to apply to get into their programs and get their funding. One can approach us whenever they feel ready to present their business. We would therefore use this opportunity and invite companies to approach us before they run out of money and desperately need an investment to continue operation, so that we can get to know them and learn more about what they do.

What kind of startups do South Central Ventures invest in?

The main focus is on startups and early stage companies that exploit new web, IoT, SaaS and similar technologies, catering to global client base, primarily with their B2B business models. Life science or nanomaterial companies are among those which are out of the scope of South Central Ventures, since those are too much capital intensive industries.

The wanted startup DNA: dream and do it BIG!

South Central Ventures is open only for startups that dream and do it big. Target are the most promising, high growth tech companies that aim to take their business global. Basically, South Central Ventures want to see the most ambitious, fresh-thinking, brave and relentless teams that work on conquering international markets. This is a fund for Earth-shakers, building solutions that disturb their industry and serve large global client base. Startups that limit their ambitions to local markets only are out of SCV’s investment focus.

What comes first: excellent team or good product?

Technology evolves fast, markets change… What remains constantly valued is an exceptional team of problem solvers, who are fully dedicated to international growth and expansion of the business. Thus South Central Ventures due diligence process is thus focused on the team, not only to the technology and solution.

At what stage are the investments made?

South Central Ventures is dedicated primarily to early stage and growth investments.Within the fund’s ‘seed pocket’, 1.5 million EUR are allocated to investments of up to 100 000 EUR per company. The majority of the funds is allocated for early stage and growth investments ranging from 0.5 – 2 million EUR per company. These investments should fuel the international business expansion and growth of the most promising tech startups that can show traction and prove their potential to “make it big”.

More than just money!

South Central Ventures go beyond financial investments and add additional value by leveraging the experience, knowledge and social capital of its ‘Founders’ Club’ members. The startups get smart money and are able to tap into the pool of the successful entrepreneurs, investors and mentors with extensive experience, and global personal networks. Hence the SCV motto is: Regional expertise – global reach.

Looking forward to meeting all the great teams and ideas at Startup Weekend Skopje!








Entrepreneurship – Global Startup Week

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The first time I heard the word “Entrepreneur”, it was said by a fairly older gentleman, who frantically walked on the stage, waved his arms about and kept saying the word like it was a sort of mantra. We all laughed, my friends and I. Frankly, we never had the intention of paying attention that morning.We just found him to be someone we could point our fingers and laugh at. That was 12 years ago and I didn’t know it back then, but astoundingly, I find myself in a similar position the man on the stage was in. Figuratively, I find myself trying to convince a sceptical audience of the concept of a start up or an idea, and figuratively, the criticisms and questioning feels like the audience pointing a finger and laughing at me.

I suppose I can finally understand what the old man was on about. The feeling of bringing an idea to life is an exciting prospect. It’s a promise of a dream you can provide yourself with and an intangible sense of purpose that is finally, potentially, attainable. But beyond all the ‘fairy-tales’ and ‘lofty ideals’, start-ups aren’t a very novel concept obviously. The fruition of our imagination and our ideas is one of the fundamental characteristics of our species. The man who invented the wheel, the first farmer and the first carpenter could all be considered entrepreneurs. Being entrepreneurs is who we are. We are living in a wonderful time, full of challenges that need to be addressed and full of problems waiting for ingenious solutions. While the industrial revolution and the software bubble were the great start-up generators of our recent history, never in our collective memories as a society, have we faced the scale of challenges we face today, challenges that have the potential to affect every single person’s life. As potential entrepreneurs we are the answer to these challenges.

At the Global Start-up Week, we will provide entrepreneurs with every resource they need, expose them to ideas from across the world, have veterans put their ideas to the test and eventually select the team that may have the answer to questions we may not have even thought of yet.

As a potential entrepreneur, you will have everything you require to leave your mark on this world. All you need to do is use your imagination.

– Anirudh Valluri.

Startup Weekend Hyderabad (GlobalStartupBattle) will be held on 20th – 22nd of November, 2015 at T-Hub, Gachibowli. To participate, please register at www.swhyd.co.in








Se familiariser avec l'esprit d'entreprendre

Entreprendre… soit ça fait peur, soit on se lance dans l’aventure.
Mais que nous soyons prêts à passer le cap ou non, il faut pouvoir se familiariser !
→ Connaître les termes, les astuces, savoir monter un business plan, une stratégie de communication, savoir s’entourer des bonnes personnes et surtout savoir présenter son projet de manière efficace !

Combien de personnes croisons-nous dans notre vie, avec une idée géniale mais la boule au ventre à l’idée de la développer, de quitter son petit confort pour se lancer dans l’aventure ? Peut-être est-ce votre cas ?

Voilà une bonne raison de participer à un Startup Weekend !

54 heures pour tester et innover :

Vous avez une idée, vous pensez quelle pourrait servir au plus grand nombre d’entre-nous. Mais vous ne savez pas comment faire, qui aller voir en premier. Vous ne savez pas si cette idée deviendrait un succès.

Tant et tant de question qui remettent votre projet à demain, puis à après-demain. Au final, 1 an après, votre idée est restée dans votre tête.

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Participer au Startup Weekend vous permettra de concrétiser votre rêve, de franchir le pas.

54 heures pour rencontrer des personnes inspirantes.
Bref, un weekend de pure créativité, de fun. « No talk, all action ». Pas de doute, pas de panique, vous faites et c’est ça qui est génial !

Après ces 54 heures, vous saurez si votre projet est viable, vous saurez si votre idée peut se transformer en sucess story parce que vous l’aurez testée et vous aurez toutes les clés en main pour continuer l’aventure, avec une équipe de choc !

54 heures pour tester ses limites :

Le Startup Weekend vous servira également à dépasser vos limites, à sortir de votre confort.
Vous le savez, ces 3 jours débuteront par un Pitch Fire : les porteurs de projets auront 1 minute pour présenter leur idée.
À la suite de ce « concours », les équipes se formeront et certains projets ne seront peut être pas retenus car l’équipe ne sera pas au complet. Qu’à cela ne tienne. Gardez votre idée en tête et impliquez-vous sur un autre projet.

Pourquoi ?
Parce que vous avez des connaissances et des expériences qui pourront servir aux autres.
Parce qu’en participant à la création d’un autre projet, vous apprendrez tout autant et vous familiariserez avec l’entrepreneuriat. Vous n’en ressortirez que grandi. Un bon level up pour regarder la vie avec un nouveau regard dès le lundi matin.

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Startup Weekend Winners: A Q&A with Orate Co-Founder Sara Capra

Sara Capra is the co-founder of Orate – a DC-based startup that makes it simple for event organizers to find speakers within their budgets.

Orate’s story began last year at Startup Weekend DC – an event where participants launch startups in less than 54 hours. Orate took first place in that weekend’s competition – even though Capra had taken a chance to be there in the first place.

Capra entered Startup Weekend with some concerns that her idea wouldn’t resonate with event participants. She was quickly proved wrong — she and Orate co-founder Veronica Eklund ended up building the largest team, which developed a mock-up of the future platform.

Sara shared Orate’s journey with Startup Weekend DC’s Elvina Kamalova. Answers have been edited for length and clarity:

Tell us about Orate.

Orate is an online platform that simplifies the process of finding, vetting, and booking public speakers simple. Our mission is twofold: 1) Make it easy to find quality speakers on any budget; and 2) Assist speakers in more effectively marketing themselves and getting them in front of the right audiences.

What was the role of Startup Weekend in starting and developing your project?

The Orate journey began at Startup Weekend DC in 2014. It was the launch pad for what Orate has become, and sparked the initial evolution of the concept. We began with an idea to alleviate the stress of filling last minute speaking cancellations. That resonated with many people, but through the feedback process over the weekend, we decided the business model around that was not one that would be sustainable.

Through our mentors, sending out surveys, and in-depth conversations with the team, we decided the business model needed to be based on more than that. Startup Weekend helped to give us the ecosystem and structure we needed to take our first big step in understanding how to test and validate our ideas.

How did you build your team?

Building the team during startup weekend was mostly organic. Initially, I was concerned there wouldn’t be enough interest. One of the great things about Startup Weekend is that you only need two people to work on an idea. My co-founder attended and joined my team, so we would be able to explore the idea no matter what. It turns out there was quite a bit of interest, and we ended up with the largest team in the competition. I thought our most important team member would be a developer, ideally one who knew front and back end since this was meant to be a web and mobile app.

One of the most important lessons I learned that weekend was how much you can do with a little bit of resourcefulness and creativity, when there’s a lack of technical expertise. We had a wonderful graphic designer.

As opposed to trying to build out any applications over the weekend, she instead mocked up what we wanted the website to look like. That way, we could walk the audience through the customer journey, without getting too bogged down with feature aspirations and technical details. After all, it was just the beginning! We knew if so much could change in one weekend, there were many more changes to come.

What are the biggest challenges in your startup journey?

The biggest challenges have shifted over time. Initially it was staying focused. There were so many things to be excited about – potential partnerships, big ideas, ideas within those ideas, the way you envision the company 1, 2, 3 years down the road.

The challenge is taking that long-term vision and working backward to map out your trajectory starting with today, and breaking down steps for initial short-term growth. We’re over a year in and have now seen a lot of our early ideas come to fruition. We are still constantly brainstorming, but we’re much more skilled at capturing ideas for a future state, and continuing to stay focused on the short-term execution to make them happen.

The other challenge we face is getting into the heads of our customers. Collectively, we’ve conducted hundreds of formal and informal interviews, feedback surveys, and tests. While there are times that what users say and what they do are parallel, we have found that monitoring their actions is most effective.

Did you have technical skills coming to SW?

Aside from some basic HTML (we all had MySpace, right?), I didn’t have any experience with coding going into Startup Weekend DC. However, attending the event and launching the company inspired me to spend more time learning about software development, and gave me the ability to discuss the basics of other languages when I need to.

Tell us how you realized your goal for building your venture.

I’m still getting there! We are in the middle of fundraising to get to our next phase. We have achieved a lot so far. We’ve scaled our speaker database extensively, had only positive feedback from clients, and launched a new website and subscription service. While I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished, we don’t rest on our laurels. We have big plans moving forward and the wonderful team me and my co-founder have built is at the core of making those happen.

How did you raise your first funding?

We socialized Orate early and often. We pitched a lot, organized the data and financial information we had to help us have informed conversations, and put all of our cards and chips on the table. Our initial round was mostly from angel investors, and some funding came from the accelerator program Orate participated in called The Startup Factory.

What would be your advice to starting entrepreneurs?

Sharpen your communication skills. Entrepreneurs must always be networking and selling, even if their title or job responsibilities don’t formally include it. Entrepreneurs have to effectively communicate with and motivate their team to execute on the vision. They need to be good role models, and inspire the team to be brand advocates. Establishing and growing relationships are crucial to starting a company. Being a genuine, impactful, and effective communicator, is instrumental in that process.

It’s also important to get comfortable being uncomfortable. Take the “no’s,” the risk, the ambiguity, self-doubt, and constant change, and learn from it all. After you learn from it, embrace it. Two of the best things about life are that almost nothing is final and the possibilities are endless. Reflect on the lessons you learned, what led you there, and use them to make better, more informed decisions moving forward. This is one of the reasons it’s crucial to have good advisors and mentors. You need a brain trust that can help you step back, put things in perspective, and work through challenges.

To start your own startup story, join us for Startup Weekend on September 25-27. Register here and buy your tickets today!








Tech2Market : partenaire de Startup Weekend Lyon Open Labs

A 25 jours de la prochaine édition du Startup Weekend Open Labs de Lyon, il est temps de vous présenter l’un de nos sponsors partenaires et membre organisateur, la société Tech2Market spécialisée dans le conseil en stratégie de l’innovation. Les collaborateurs de Tech2Market sont spécialisés dans l’accompagnement des acteurs de l’innovation : startups, PME, centres techniques, laboratoires de recherches et grandes agences du gouvernement.
Cette édition étant consacrée à la valorisation de la recherche scientifique, les équipes de Tech2Market apportent leur soutien en participant en tant que membre du jury et coach pour les projets, et surtout au niveau de l’organisation.

Dans la continuité de la première édition d’Open Labs, co-organisée avec Créalys et Sydo, et dans la logique du sponsoring déjà établi entre Tech2Market et BeyondLab afin de renouer le lien entre la recherche et l’entrepreneuriat, l’évènement vise à promouvoir la création d’entreprises innovantes auprès de chercheurs et des participants d’origines très variés.
“Nous espérons que cette édition motivera à nouveau beaucoup de personnes à se lancer dans l’aventure entrepreneuriale en exploitant les ressources de nos laboratoires de recherches” précise Benoit Rivollet, dirigeant de de Tech2Market.








Young bloods win big at #SWDub

54 hours later and it’s all over.

We’ve had ideas pitched, teams formed, brain dumped, customers developed, validations made, leads generated, sales made, revenue raised, mentorship recieved, and food consumed.

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No doubt the judges had their jobs cut out for them but after all said and done here are the winners at Startup Weekend Dublin – July 2015 edition.

There was special mention to team FitMyBits for their solution to helping women get the right fit for bras. There were the only team to have made sales over the weekend to the tune of Euro 125.00 from 5 customers.

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In 3rd place – Comrade, an app to help find friends in a new city

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Runner up, PhotoCAD – a simple app helps you convert images taken with your smartphone camera into CAD files

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And the winners of the July 2015 edition of Startup Weekend Dublin is….Book-E, a digital platform that enables users to bet on e-sports.

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Perhaps more impressive is that the team was made up of really young members – 16 & 17 year old with the pitch presented by the former. The team won a trip to Berlin for a large hackathon courtesy of @WelcomeStartup – DCU Ryan Academy.

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Congratulations to all the teams and it was really a close one and many thanks to all who made this happen – volunteers, organizer, mentors, judges, sponsors, facilitator, host, and guests.

Till next time.

@NubiKay
Signing Out.








Photo Story – Moments from the second day at #SWDub

Being glamorous is about strength and confidence. It’s black and white – dramatic. You have to be strong. – Catherine Zeta-Jones

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You can check out photos from Day 1 here.

Photo credit: Day In Life of Storytelling Photography and Twitter – @DayInLife_Photo.

 








Why Diversity Always Matters in Startup Weekend

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At first, I found it strange that the organizing team of the Triangle event I facilitated on June 12-14 pursued a “trailblazers” edition. Initially I had thought the team wanted to create a diversity-themed event similar to the one I had facilitated in Miami just two weeks prior.

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I’m not going to say which event I liked more… but they were certainly different! #Diversity

I learned quickly that the rationale behind that branding had to do with the perception of the world “diversity” as potentially not ideal. The term “Trailblazers” alluded to the multiple pioneers that have come from all walks of life in North Carolina, but not directly to women, people of color, or other underrepresented peoples.

This move honestly troubled me for two reasons:

  • Do people actually feel excluded when an event calls for diversity?

  • Do people not want to be part of an event that prioritizes diversity?

After 10 Startup Weekends as a participant, volunteer, organizer, and facilitator, I’ve come to not only appreciate the diversity of each event – I crave it. The greatest killer of an event is monotony – if it looks and feels the same as it did before, it will lose its luster.

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My last two events were among the most memorable because they knew a simple fact:

Diversity improves community. Always. 

Below are some key lessons I learned during my time in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill that weekend.

1. History matters, especially from diverse narratives

We’re all familiar of the most famous narrative of innovation out of North Carolina – the location of the famous Wright Brothers’ historic heavier-than-air flight. The state also has a rich history of innovation from lesser-known figures such as:

Sequoyah – creator of the Cherokee alphabet, which allowed for increase communication between and across Native American peoples.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lunsford Lane – born into slavery and invented a special tobacco that raise enough money to buy his freedom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner – inventor of 35 products and holder of five patents, granted retroactively as she was denied previously for being a black woman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I felt it was important to tell these stories as well in Durham at the event. Innovation can truly come from anywhere, but it takes a special drive to push it forward.

2. Diversity strengthens communities on the rise

The American Tobacco Campus

I was truly captivated by the beauty and sprawl of the downtown Durham innovation sector. Everything from American Underground to the Iron Yard is all within walking distance, and the community is very familiar and well-integrated.

The old American Underground building.

I can see why the Triangle has been selected for the location of the next UP America Summit in September. It has everything the country could want and so much more!

3. You can have a diverse team of literal professionals

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Top row: Frank Pollack, Austin Henley, Talib Graves-Manns Middle row: Glenda Clare, Lee Ngo, Ramon Llamas, Corey Harris, Adam Klein Bottom row: Jesica Averhart

In all of my Startup Weekends, I’ve never seen a more impressive, academic, and professional group of people that I did at Triangle Trailblazers. In this photo, I estimate there are at least twelve or thirteen advanced degrees and over one hundred years of professional experience.

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I was the lone liability of the group. Also, @DrinkMati is a fantastic sponsor.

Moreover, they ran their even with aplomb. Excellent communication, precision, and consideration for the needs of the community. Great, great work!

4. Diversity is more than just about race or gender

This event was attended by nearly equal parts female and male and predominately people of color, particularly African and Latino American. Also like in the Miami event, the Triangle event brought out another underrepresented group: the differently-abled.

Team KinderWalk working to provide guidance for the visually-impaired in buildings.

Two teams that hoped to aid the visually-impaired worked from start to finish during this competition, with one app – The Blank App – going on to win the AT&T Special Award for Connectability.

It’s great to see Startup Weekend bring out the best of ourselves, regardless of whether it is convenient or profitable.

5. A new owner, but the same mission for diversity

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With the recent Techstars acquisition of UP Global, there are many community leaders such as myself who are left with several questions about the future of the organization. While tax incentives and financial strategies are important, I think the preservation of UP Global’s Burning Man-inspired philosophy of “radical inclusion” should be at the forefront of the discussion.

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To me, prioritizing diversity should be self-evident, and it should not ever be a point of contention.

However, until our communities evolve to that point, we’ll just have to stay vigilant. From the bottom of my heart, I thank the Triangle Trailblazers team for inviting me out to be a part of their special event, and I’ll see everyone in September.

Lee Ngo is a community leader and facilitator based in Pittsburgh, PA.