A few weeks ago, we interviewed serial entrepreneur Jorrit Baerends about his passion for building new businesses and why he’s startup mentor at Startup Weekend Zwolle.
As part of our series “Humans of Startup“, we also interviewed Yillmaz Schoen, CEO of TradeCast in Zwolle.
We talked about how you can be a successful entrepreneur and why he can’t wait to meet new people during Startup Weekend Zwolle:
How did you start?
Yillmaz: “I’ve always had a lot of ideas in my head: I saw things in the broadcasting and publishing industry and thought I could do it better. All those thoughts I’ve combined into one product that would genuinely intrigue people. That’s how I came up with the idea of Tradecast TV. My startup in developing cloud technology that enables people to start their own tv network, both traditional and on-demand.
Right now, we’re quite successful, but we’re striving to grow even bigger! We are a little bit stubborn and we held tight to our initial plan. Off course moving with the flow of the market, but staying close to our fundamental concept created the success. We want to change the traditional industry all from this tiny town Zwolle.”
‘Don’t think too small’
Yillmaz continues: “When it comes to meeting people, I’d love to meet people who have big ambitions. During Startup Weekend I really hope to meet a few! I like to share my knowledge with them and see if I can help them build their startup to a success. Entrepreneurship is a matter of doing: it’s a bit of a gamble, but there’s always a new experience waiting. Don’t think too small – think big! But also think scalable and consider your market potential wisely. That’s how you make it.”
All hail our obsession of smartphones and clicking pictures. We click pictures all the time, every time to upload them on Facebook, twitter and Instagram or may be they just stay idle in our camera rolls leaving so many memories behind.
A startup named as Storyo has a solution to this problem with an app that takes content sharing to a whole new level. Storyo selects the photos that best sum up the fun, and fleshes them out with time, places, pertinent posts, and friends’ photos of the same event. After having a quick experience of how this app works, I’ve had a chance to interview Filipe Vasconcellos, CEO of Storyo to have a quick discussion about his app. Watch this space to know more about Storyo.
Hira: What is the idea behind Storyo app?
Filipe Vasconcellos: The belief that data play an important role in personal content creation and storytelling. We’re leading the way in data-driven storytelling with our mobile app, Storyo 2.0.
Hira: Is it somewhat a mix of Snapchat stories and Instagram’s collage?
Filipe Vasconcellos: While the output is a video story, it is nothing like Snapchat’s stories or Instagram collages. Our technology helps our users create personal and collaborative stories by simply selecting a timeframe of photos from their camera roll. Storyo then organizes photos in a visual narrative because it understands the story behind the selection of photos thanks to our proprietary technology and leveraging computer vision and machine learning selects the best photos, adds maps, social media trending posts, weather information, professional footage and creates a memorable piece of content that is ready to be shared.
Hira: What is the target market? Just millennials or everyone else out there?
Filipe Vasconcellos: It’s for all those who enjoy sharing their best times but don’t have the time or skills to create something they like so they need a tool that does it for them automatically, quickly and smartly.
Hira: How do you position Storyo as an app? What problem is it solving?
Filipe Vasconcellos: Storyo is like personal-storyteller-meets-production-crew. Great memories require real stories, that are unique, provide context and ultimately connect with people. These stories take time and effort. And no one was doing a good job at making stories for the user from start to finish at their request, much less enrich them with interesting context. So we went for it. We’re playing stories from data.
Hira: How big is your team? Are you attracting any fundings at this stage?
Filipe Vasconcellos: We are currently 10 in our office in Lisbon. We are preparing our next round of investment.
Hira: Every other app is jumping to add “stories” as a side feature on their app. First Instagram, then Whatsapp and Messenger too. How do you see it?
Filipe Vasconcellos: I believe that this is the evolution of social media and the announcement of a new era. We went from a “mass” social media (such as Facebook and Twitter) to smaller networks. Users are looking for more personal networks and that need was the impulse to the rise of Snapchat, Instagram, and Whatsapp, which of course are now huge. Stories are the natural next step. We are tired of feeds and algorithms that decide what we see and we would rather decide what we see on social media by checking in on the people that are meaningful to us. This way we are able to see what they have been up to instead of checking what everyone has been up too. But we’re continuing to see lots lots of one-to-few vs. one-to-many sharing of Storyos, and everywhere else, and that’s an interesting dynamic we’re looking to continue exploring.
Hira: What’s with these Shutterstock videos feature? This sounds very interesting!
Filipe Vasconcellos: Shutterstock is a strategic partnership for Storyo, offering our users a way to add a professional touch to their stories. Users can now access a gallery of +100,000 professional stock footage right from the app. A story of a romantic trip to Paris created with pictures from both of the partners on the adventure is always memorable. Now it can also include professional drone footage of the Eiffel Tower, for example.
Hira: I read in one of the press releases that Storyo uses artificial intelligence to weave stories. How does it work?
Filipe Vasconcellos: To create stories users select the first and the last photo of an event and press play; Storyo’s AI engine then takes care of the rest. Our proprietary patent-pending technology clusters photos in time and space, divides the story into chapters, within an alloted amount of representation time (15”, 30” or 60”) by understanding your photos metadata and the main highlights of that sequence of photos, and then our Computer Vision engine selects the best photos, deletes duplicates and ranks up or down photos with certain characteristics. We also suggest a theme and music and in seconds you have a video ready to share as is or to edit and make it even better.
Hira: How are you planning to add more AI based features in it? Any hints?
Filipe Vasconcellos: We will definitely be expanding our AI engine. We’re all about leveraging technology to create smarter and more relevant stories. But it’s too soon to talk about our roadmap as we’re focused on scaling 2.0.
Hira: How do we see Storyo in the years to come?
Filipe Vasconcellos: Stories are universal. Our digital footprint will expand and we will reflect even more what we do offline in our online lives. Storyo will be people’s ally to transform all the data they generate (which includes, amongst other things, photos) into meaningful, living memories to look back at and celebrate.
Hira: That is a bit off topic but I also need your views on Snap IPO that held a week back? Any comments?
Filipe Vasconcellos: I have a lot of admiration for Snapchat and what they’ve built. They introduced a terrific, game-changing product which helps connect millions of people and have an interesting vision of the future as a “camera company” (i.e. introduction of Spectacles and features that are increasingly relevant as it seeks to monetize). The IPO has raised some concerns from a valuation and company sustainability standpoint and there is a lot of skepticism around the company at this point but ultimately there is such a strong product-market fit that I’m looking forward to seeing the company continue to maintain its relevancy and grow.
Q: How does a designer feel in a hackathon dominated by people from business and tech fields?
It’s going to be challenging but you have a lot to contribute because you’re definitely needed. That also makes it easier to find a team that you’re interested in.
Q: In Startup Weekend what’s particularly interesting for a designer?
For me Startup Weekend is about trying ideas, some of them might breakthrough and become something that you may continue working on.
Most designers that I know are into creating something new and thinking about the user and customer side to make the best service, experience or product. I think all of the teams need to think about the triangle of feasibility, desirability and durability and they need people like designers to think about the desirability.
Q: What do you love about Startup Weekend apart from the great food?
I think the best part; the most rewarding part is that your network is expanding. You start working with people and you get to know them much better in a very short time. It’s not just sitting somewhere and talking, you’re actually working together intensely for two days.
Q: What sets Startup Weekend apart from other hackathons?
Startup Weekend is very open, people can come there and you can choose from a pool of various ideas. It’s very different and there are many different fields represented. I’ve been involved with medical startups, apps, games, social impact projects and services for companies. If you have time during the weekend there’s a lot that you can try, see and get inspired from.
Q: Would you and why would you encourage other designers to participate in Startup Weekend?
Because I know they can do a lot. Designers can help a team put their project into a tangible form that people can make sense out of after two days when you’re presenting it.
Q: What can a designer expect from an event like Startup Weekend?
Inspiration, networking, learning, getting to know more people and getting opportunities. You can get to know valuable people that you might need later on or they might contact you afterwards. You might find an interesting partner that you continue with afterwards which has happened many times for me.
Q: Has Startup Weekend ever helped your professional career?
Yeah, I found people that I’m now working with, some of them turned into good friends. I also have been working on some of the projects afterwards. It has always been inspiring for me and at the end of every Startup Weekend I’ve always come out happily no matter what happened. I’ve never regretted spending my weekend at Startup Weekend.
Pouria is now leading a startup called Grib that works in 3D solutions, check them out!
Startup Weekend Helsinki is organising another event in November find out more here: bit.ly/SWhki
Startup Weekend Amsterdam welcomes back one of the sponsors from last year to the event again: Rockstart
Rockstart gives startups rock-solid support in their first 1000 days. Since 2012, Rockstart has helped startups from all over the world grow faster. With 2 accelerator programs has helped more than 40 startups take off and created over 250 jobs. Besides accelerator, other initiatives like Rockstart Spaces, Answers and Impact are also part of Rockstart.
We interviewed Don Ritzen, co-founder and Managing Director of Rockstart Accelerator.
What history do you have with Startup weekend?
The idea of Rockstart also came out of Startup Weekend which we organised for first time in 2009. I participated a Startup Weekend event in Copenhagen and my team won the weekend and afterwards we had members of jury and VC’s coming up to us and saying they’d like to invest, which was mind blowing. The startup continued, raised $2 millions and went to Silicon Valley, I couldn’t go with them. Here in Netherlands Startup Weekend has such an energetic effect that people that win the event or form a very nice team they sometimes quit their jobs right after the weekend but what I noticed is that they struggled to find launching customers or investors. I thought we should have something as a next step after startup weekend. We didn’t have anything like that in Netherlands and no one was doing it so I decided to do it, and met my co-founder Oscar Kneppers at Startup Weekend and together we launched Rockstart.
Why is entrepreneurship important to you?
I think it challenges you to make the most out of yourself and it gives you freedom and autonomy to make your own path. To create something when there’s only a idea is there on paper and make it come to life is the best feeling there is and everyone at Startup Weekend feels that because they start with nothing on Friday evening and they make something out of it by Sunday evening and that is why it’s such a powerful event and I think that is also the essence of entrepreneurship.
What effects SW has on ecosystem of city or country?
It has a big effect on people who join the event; after such a weekend they realise that the idea they have been walking around is not so difficult to implement and together with Sunday evening pitches guests the energy that is in the room on Sunday evening is something you won’t see at other events and that energy spreads across the city, infects other people and encourage them to join the event or do entrepreneurial things on their own.
Why someone with a business idea should come to Startup Weekend Amsterdam?
It simply is the best platform to take your idea to next step. You can keep it to yourself and grow it in your own time but when you start to share, it gets better. With more thoughts and different point of views make something improve. People who have ideas usually don’t do something with them and some years later at some dinner party they say ‘look at the company who raised another 5 million, i had same idea 2 years ago’. Startup weekend is a platform which allows you to do something with your ideas.
Why should people with full time jobs come to Startup weekend even if they don’t want to build their own company?
You leave the weekend very energetic with a lot of ideas and insights in terms of how to do your job differently or better. For example working with business model canvas or working with different people you don’t normally work with gives you a different approach to the usual way of working and that brings a lot of improvement.
Why you decided to sponsor?
It is about giving back to Startup Weekend as I got a lot from it, it brought be where I am today. I think its nice to have other people have the same experience which i had.
Looking forward to our coming event? Buy your tickets soon. Early Birds Sold Out.
StartupWeekend Space is attracting a wide variety of brilliant minds from all walks of life. Dustin Helmke, a 9th grade student from Bremen has registered as a participant in the three-day long intensive space industry event. Intrigued, we asked Dustin how he was motivated to participate, and what his visions are, as a teenager, for the future of space.
How did your passion for space begin?
I learnt it through my parents. They are involved in the space industry and often take me with them to courses and expos. I am really interested in being involved when I can! This will be the first time that I will go alone.
What is your vision of the future of space?
Concerning the future of space, I am sure that we will leave Earth and explore the rest of the solar system. Within my lifetime I think we will see people walking on Mars. This is something really exciting when I think about it.
If you break your vision down, what do you want to achieve as first step?
The first main problem is the duration of the flight to another planet. It takes 2-4 years to just reach Mars and I think that is too long. A few humans in a very small “bucket” would be stuck there for too long. This is a very big problem which needs to be solved.
What do you hope to learn and experience at StartupWeekend Space?
I think the event is a really great idea. So many different people will meet with their different ideas and different specializations! I think there could be great results because people with ideas can share them with engineers, who can develop something that could really help, and other people could directly finance it! We could solve so many problems this way.
The only thing I am a bit worried about is when we are in teams trying to find solutions to bring ideas to life. I do not know what I could do even if I supplied the initial idea. I will try to learn as much as I can and not just say yay, I am here, I had an idea and that’s it.
What is your future plan? What role do you see yourself taking?
I need to first finish school and then begin studying. After I have done these things, I am pretty sure I am going to help find new ways to solve human problems in space. If I could help, I would be happy to be involved in a large, international space exploration project during my lifetime, and contribute as a scientist, maybe as a nuclear physicist. I would like to work in a laboratory researching and solving problems.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
StartupWeekend Space is supported by the City of Bremen, the European Space Agency, Airbus Defence and Space, HE-Space, Design & Data, Space Angels Network as well as Up Global, a non-profit organization connecting a global community of entrepreneurs across all topics. The organization is headquartered in Seattle, US and is considered a hub for entrepreneurial space.
Elisa: It’s lovely to see you here in London, Anabel! What brings you here from Munich?
Anabel: This Friday (27th June 2014) is the TED Conference on the theme of Democracy, so I have come out of personal interest as there are always interesting contacts to meet there. I am very interested in social change and innovative strategies that can lead to this, for example, through technology, as new approaches to continuing problems are always interesting.
Elisa: Is this philosophy what informs and drives you in your start-up work at 52masterworks?
Anabel: Absolutely! 52masterworks is a new crowd-funding platform with the aim of building a collection of contemporary art with the community. There are several motivations that inform our model:
- the establishment of a well renowned, high quality collection;
- the aspect of art investment: the collection is dynamic, so within a time-frame of up to 5 years art pieces can be sold. If there is a price increase, the shareholders of the specific piece receive the benefit;
- to democratise access to an art collection for a wider audience;
- the organisation of art related events for our community members.
Elisa: That’s an incredible mission statement! In practise, is it empowering communities in art appreciation and ownership? Is that essentially the gap you are filling?
Anabel: Yes; the idea behind the project is that contemporary art –prestigious pieces in particular –are usually limited to certain collectors who can afford them. Our platform is a tool to change this, as everyone can become a collector starting with 250€ for a share in a piece via the 52masterworks platform. The percentage of ownership of the specific piece varies, depending on the amount you invest, which can be up to a maximum of 49% of the value. In this way, nobody can own a piece alone, but rather in a community with other members of the platform. This new approach can change the parameters of the art market to a more democratic standard. Basically, everyone can own a great piece of art, independent from their financial background.
But this isn’t the only problem 52masterworks is working to solve: our simultaneous aim is to help establish emerging artists that might not get a platform within the art market due to their origins, the themes of their work or problematics related to its display. In order to guarantee a high profile and quality, we are creating a curatorial board and network from a broad cultural range.
Elisa: So who does the platform principally help and is it making a real difference?
Anabel: The platform serves whoever is interested in art and new strategies within this field. We are tapping into this broad community to build up a democratic art collection, with a model that is, to the best of our knowledge, unique in the world and that differentiates us to similar approaches which aim to create a “stock market in art”. We would like to encourage our participants to engage with art, independent of the value and reputation of the artworks and artists. Thus, 52masterworks serves as an easy entry for anybody who is interested in art but has been confronted with the typical entry barriers of the art world so far. Our concept may further promote the democratization of art, itself a relatively new but inexorable trend.
Elisa: In the UK there is a company called Own Art that essentially enables art enthusiasts who otherwise don’t have the funds, to buy art by giving a ten- month interest free loan, but this is still far from the public, community concept of 52masterworks. Therefore I can really appreciate your model- but how do you make money?
Anabel: That is a great initiative, yet still keeps art in private homes, as you have understood. Our business is based on commission, in that we receive a margin at the sale and resale of the artwork. The final commission is 20 percent of a potential increase in value. Thus, there is a clear incentive to act in the interest of the collectors.
Elisa: Does it require a lot of advertising to get the message out there to these potential co-collectors?
Anabel: At the very beginning we concentrated on event marketing and personal introductions. We are now shifting our focus towards cooperations and collaborations with multipliers. Finally, we are also expanding our online activities. Our model is not comparable to the usual e-commerce businesses. We focus on relevant content and trust in order to build up a strong community: the typical performance marketing approach will not work for us.
Elisa: So what are the top trends you see happening in e-commerce and the art-world right now, and how do you fit in with them?
Anabel: As I mentioned before, the democratization of the art world is an omnipresent development which will definitely continue expanding. But our concept also addresses other major social trends: it fits perfectly into a post-materialistic society which is more and more driven by individual experiences and social collaboration than of ownership and status. The sharing economy has already reached many areas of life, such as transport: Art is overdue.
Elisa: Finally, what advice do you have for budding entrepreneurs
Anabel: Believe in what you are doing and don’t let yourself be discouraged by setbacks. If something doesn’t work, try something else and take it as a learning curve. There will be enough time to moan when you’re older.
Elisa: Strong words. I’ll be visiting you in Munich!
Anabel: Definitely, we must do things here and now!
Inspired? We look forward to seeing you at the Startup Weekend Art London in October!
Elisa: Hello, Enrica! I know this is a busy time for you, as Pirati e Sirene has just turned one; congratulations! So what have you been doing with the startup exactly?
Enrica: www.piratiesirene.it is a cultural association dedicated to promoting the life, the style and the culture of the Etruscan coast, which is in Tuscany. We have been promoting it both on- and offline, with the online element having the main aim of strengthening the fidelity of our supporters, whilst helping the brand and its reputation to expand. The offline side of things consolidates the online, by weaving relationships with people and working actively in the area the website glorifies.
El: For me it seems this is a very community-based project that uses the Internet as a means of expanding this community, then?
En: Absolutely; it reaches out to the people who live along the coast as well as anyone who would like to visit the area. The main reason for establishing Pirati e Sirene was to fill a glaring gap in social exchange by forming a network made up of creatives and cultural events along the coast, and which, most importantly, would be a network accessible to everyone that could be consulted (and therefore updated) on a daily basis.
El: Would you say that you have filled this gap, and made a lot of noise in doing so?
En: Let’s put it this way: the strategy of using the web has led to us currently having a pool of users which comes to 30,000 individual views per month. After only a year of Pirati e Sirene’s existence, for such a ‘local’ project (for want of a better word), these numbers are very satisfying.
El: It must be a crazy experience to be reaching out to so many people! What is the main way you do this?
En: Well the Internet is obviously our main channel of communication, as it is the best way to get ourselves known and spread the word. This means that graphics, videos and photos all play an important role on our website and in promotional materials, both for advertising to potential followers and sponsors, as well as for maintaining a strong character that has brought our current users to continue following us.
El: And how do you generate money to continue offering this intense user experience?
En: This comes from a range of online activities that our site carries out, meaning the platform is self-maintaining in this way; so, for example, through articles and editorials that we publish on our portal and communications and market design workshops that we offer there. These could be given in person, but are further-reaching when offered online. We are, of course, very active offline, as well, organizing events and representing Pirati e Sirene at the events of others, too.
El: Do you think this blend of both on- and offline work is a trend in art-related startups right now?
En: Yes and no. The art-scene is becoming an ever-more ‘cross-contaminated’ environment, both in personal inclination and as a vocation. I would say that the best thing that is happening to the art scene now is indeed the fact that it is finding its way absolutely everywhere, thanks first and foremost to the web.
El: The Internet is even taking the art-world by storm; it’s true! Finally, on that very note, what advice would you give to people who want to start up their own digital business within the arts field?
En: Be professional to the max, have a great idea and surround yourself with trustworthy, reliable collaborators. It must be something you believe in wholeheartedly, and so you will be able to defend it against everyone who tries to find fault. Remember that a global approach is the formula that our times ask of us right now.
Here is a video made on the occasion of their first anniversary:
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Inspired? We look forward to seeing you at the Startup Weekend Art London in October!
Finding the right talent for your company is crucial. Startups need a lot of work, and you need to know that you can rely on the people you have working for you. There are several things you should look out for when you’re hiring new talent in your company. No matter what type of business you’re in, consider these points for hiring.
Understand the Difference Between Want and Need
The most important thing you need to keep in mind when your hiring is that what you want and what you need may be two completely different things. Remember, when you hire someone, you need to be able to pay for the skills they have. You may want the perfect programmer that knows ten different programming languages. But do they need to have that much experience for your company? Make a list of the qualities and experience that you absolutely need a candidate to have, as well as one for the “perfect” employee. Make sure you set realistic expectations for your needs.
Keep an Eye on Job Boards
While it’s expected that you’re going to post an ad on as many websites, newspapers, and college campuses as possible, it’s also important that you keep a lookout for those who are job hunting. Many job boards allow job hunters to post their resumes. If you keep an eye on the resumes, you’re more likely to find someone with the qualifications you need. Sometimes you need to go to them, instead of waiting for them to come to you. This also allows you to pick and choose the perfect candidates for the positions you have open. (Graph via Bright Labs)
Interview Multiple People
Resumes are great. They give you an idea of the person you’ll be talking to. But it’s also important to make sure that you’re interviewing a number of people. If you automatically hire the first person that applies for the position, or if you jump at the highest quality resume, you may end up missing out on some great talent. It’s important that you actually meet with potential candidates to ensure that they’ll be a good fit for the company and the position.
Don’t Wait Too Long
Too many entrepreneurs are nervous about taking the leap and hiring new talent. Even if you know that you need someone to fill a position or role in the company, ti can be a difficult step to make. However, it’s important that you not wait too long. There are several repercussions of waiting too long to hire. First, if you’re a customer-based business, you could easily alienate customers because you don’t have adequate staff. In addition, if you do interviews, but take weeks or longer to get back to candidates, don’t be surprised if you find the perfect person for the job found something else.
Be Honest About the Position
It’s difficult to encompass everything that a new hire may be responsible for in a small business. However, if they are going to have many different types of responsibilities, make sure that you make this clear upfront. Some people are more comfortable in well-defined roles, while others work well taking over anything and everything that comes their way. Getting the right person for the job means that you need to make sure you offer all information necessary to allow the candidate to decide if it’s going to be a good fit for them.
Put Together Interview Questions
You want your candidates to be well-prepared for their interview, but you need to make sure that you are, as well. Put some good questions together to ensure that you get a feel for the person you’re talking with. Make sure that you’re careful though, and don’t break any employment law. You can find several great interview question ideas online.
Finding the right person for the job is never easy, and it seems to be more difficult the smaller the company is. However, with some time and effort, you’ll find someone that will fit into the company like they’ve always been there.