“Entrepreneurship is a way to find out whether you are a visionary or just hallucinating”

Jun 02 2010

Steve Blank

Steve Blank

He has been listed by the San José Mercury News as one of the 10 influencers in Silicon Valley. Steve Blank is a very active retired serial entrepreneur who is now teaching entrepreneurship at multiple universities. He is also the author of the Customer Development model for early stage companies, which is adopted by more and more startups. He has kindly answered HitBarcelona questions.

- 21 years and 8 high technology companies: what is the most important lesson you have learned?

A startup is a transitory organization which exists to search for a scalable, repeatable and profitable business model. And that you need to test your hypotheses about your business model against the reality of customers and market. To do so founders need to recognize that there are no facts inside your building so they need to get outside.

- Once you said: “If you think entrepreneurship is about the money, become a VC”. What does entrepreneurship mean to you?

Entrepreneurship is a way for founders to bring their passion, vision, energy and dedication to life and to find out whether they were a visionary or just hallucinating.

- Eric Ries and you are the leading proponents of the “lean startup”. Do you still think it is the best way for entrepreneurial ventures to reduce failures rates and boost innovation?

Startups are trying to solve for two simultaneous unknowns; what are customer needs and what are the minimum product features. Customer Development and the Lean Startup are one set of methodologies to approach those problems.

- The “Customer Development” model is one of the core themes in your classes. Do entrepreneurs pay attention to this process?

Founders who are doing their first startup will ignore Customer Development. Those who have started a company and failed tend to appreciate the model.

- You have done several talks on The Secret Story of Silicon Valley. Why did entrepreneurship blossom there?

The serendipitous intersection of Fred Terman, Stanford’s Dean of Engineering with deep ties to the U.S. military and intelligence agencies + the Cold War and the United States’ need for advanced technology for electronic intelligence,+ an extremely liberal view of how startups and academics should work together, combined with the rise of Venture (risk) Capital.


“Going green lowers costs and provides capital to reinvest in people and innovation”

May 19 2010

Andrew Winston

Andrew Winston

Andrew Winston is a great connaisseur of what exactly “going green” means. He is the founder of Winston Eco-Strategies and the author of two strategic “green” books: Green Recovery, a strategic plan for using environmental thinking to survive hard economic times, and Green to Gold, the best-selling guide to what works - and what doesn’t - when companies go green. His work consists of helping companies both large and small use environmental strategy to grow, create enduring value, and build stronger relationships with employees, customers, and other stakeholders. He has kindly answered the questions of HitBarcelona about innovation and the challenges of the cleantech sector.

- We use to think sexy innovation is the one related to new products (cf. iPad!). Is innovation in processes undervalued?

Yes, I think we often focus only on the new product/revenue-generating part of ‘innovation’, when in fact there is innovation going on in all parts of the business and in different areas of value creation. For example, companies like 3M and DuPont have cut literally billions out of their cost structures through eco-efficiency over many years. Finding new ways every year to use less energy, water, and material is innovative. Redesigning a product or process to eliminate a toxic element, and thus reducing overall risk to the business, is innovative.

- You talk about Green Recovery when companies just struggle to survive, by any means. What are the advantages of going green?

Going green creates value in a number of ways. It lowers cost structure, saving money that helps companies survive tough times, but also provides capital to reinvest in people and innovation. Seeing your business through an environmental lens is also a tremendous driver of innovation — it allows you to see the business, product, and market in a new light. And doing right by planet, people, and profits is a wonderful way to build intangible, or brand, value — in the form of customer loyalty and greater ability to attract and retain the best people.

- What are the hurdles and challenges of the Cleantech sector?

Cleantech is a very broad term and encompasses every form of new energy, efficiency-focused companies, new material technologies, and much more. There’s no one hurdle, but of course like all new sectors, there are challenges in getting the capital to get to scale. And it’s often difficult to get the buy-in needed from skeptical customers — there’s a lot of inertia in our system.

- Which is the first goal to be achieved by a company that wants to get green values?

The first step is to understand your environmental and social impacts, up and down the value chain. I suggest starting with a qualitative analysis of how the business or industry touches on, and is impacted by, big environmental challenges like climate change and water constraints. Think about what these pressures mean to your suppliers and your customers. Then embark as well on a more quantitative approach to get a baseline on carbon and other metrics, up and down the value chain. You can’t manage what you don’t measure. After that, you’ll know better where your risks and opportunities lie. It’s more than worth the upfront investment in getting smarter about your footprint.


Redefining the keys to business success

Abr 27 2010

We were looking at new ways to tell you that Hit Barcelona is a unique global event which brings together business leaders, innovators, investors and entrepreneurs to share ideas, promote projects and redefine the keys to business success inflatable golf. So, we’ve tried the coolest new feature now in YouTube:


Green Is Gold

Abr 14 2010

cleantech

Source: investincleantech.net

I was in the seventies and even in the beginning of the twenty-first century. But it is not only related to “alternative”, altruistic environmentalists or lab scientists anymore. Cleantech has eventually entered the financial or business community’s lexicon… Through the front door.

A Google search for the word shows more than 1.5 million results. Among them, a three-part series of San Jose Mercury News from a couple of months ago, highlighting that the sector is poised to be “not just the next big thing but perhaps the biggest thing ever”. Numbers speak by themselves. “Confronting the peril of greenhouse gases and climate change happens to be a multi-trillion-dollar business opportunity”, states the report.

Venture capitalists are in. Investment in the Cleantech Industry grew from $908 million in 2002 to $8.5 billion in 2008 and California garnered 40% of the world’s funding in 2009. It sounds promising. Nevertheless, the Mercury warns that the US is quickly falling behind and underlines that the Silicon Valley’s “ability to innovate its way to the top in cleantech is far from guaranteed”. Competition is fierce and global.

The Mercury shows how China has already overtaken the lead in key markets such as solar, which was led by Spain in 2008, with 2.51 gigawatts installed that year alone, according to a report from the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA).

On the other hand, a JP Morgan report last year said South Korea is going to be one of the fastest growing solar markets during the next four years. And last but not least: According to the Fundació Fòrum Ambiental, in Catalonia, the sector is still growing 3%-4% despite the crisis. Cards are dealt. HitBarcelona counts with a great bunch of experts to talk about the opportunities in the Cleantech industry. Do you want to join in?


Hit Barcelona: business innovation

Ago 10 2009

“En un periodo de tiempo convulso y ante una empresa muy focalizada en el corto plazo, HiT Barcelona es una iniciativa potente para todos aquellos que están involucrados en los procesos de soporte a la innovación en las empresas” declaró Jordi Serret, director ejecutivo de ACC1Ò del departamento de Innovación de la Generalitat de Cataluña. infoambiental.es

infoambiental

“La cimera mundial HiT Barcelona ha demostrat el valor afegit d’una fórmula única que ha unit en un mateix esdeveniment les eines i conceptes necessaris per innovar en l’àmbit empresarial juntament amb un punt de trobada que ha reunit als millors projectes empresarials i a inversors en busca de bones idees.” acordestrategic.cat

acordestrategic


Cleantech Innovation Showcase & Tournament

Jun 18 2009

“Are water utilities susceptible to innovation? Not many. But they exist. “

Ashdec. Renewable phosphate fertilities
UFBAF. Air Water treatment Attero.
Electronic Waste recycling.
Neosensors. Quality liquid sensors.
Epuramat. Waste water treatment.

Moderator: Helge Daebel

Carlos Campos

  • Power and telecom companies know how their customers use their service. Water industry still needs to know how and for what their customers use water.
  • Increasing environmental standards means increasing energy demand.
  • Waste water treatment process smell is a huge problem, specially for those plants placed in urban environments like Barcelona.
  • People is not only sensitive to water quality but also to water quality changes.

Peter Holme

  • Water industry is a mix of different industries with different cultures. The big challenge for us is to mix effectively high technology with low technology.
  • Increase of water price could be a trigger to stimulate innovation.

Victor D.Scutaru

  • During the last 7 years: 200 investments. 16 cleantech. 3 Water.
  • Water utilities are usually focused in cost and energetic efficiency solutions.
  • Water sector is dominated by public utilities something that makes private founding participation difficult.
  • There are opportunities in water sector:  for example, we don’t know how to measure ground water availability; usually we need to detect and eliminate not regular water contaminants; detect and repair leaks in a non invasive way.
  • Some oportuinites require long access time that VC are not usually willing to assume.

Extract by Jordi Sotorra and Daniel Martínez


The Plan Puyhuan: audience favorite Global Entrepreneurship Competition

Jun 11 2009

The Plan Puyhuan model applies business and entrepreneurial approaches, bringing together public and private investors, to accelerate scalable sustainable solutions, together with great business opportunities in rural areas of developing nations - integrating the triple bottom line of financial, social and environmental value into its DNA like a triple helix of change.

puyhan1

Plan Puyhuan delivers a new model in planning & managing sustainable human development, with intensive use of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs). This model is replicable on a global scale, achieving local sustainability in 5 years, improving the quality of life, whilst delivering significant ROI for investors.

We can no longer afford to neglect the populations in rural areas of developing nations, as their life conditions remains a breeding ground for unrest and threatens (inter)national security.

Impoverished rural communities across the developing world suffer from a lack of local capacity for managing development, and from the failure of governments, international institutions and the private sector to integrate their rural development efforts.  But by using the know-how and technological means that already exist today, we can generate quantum leaps of change to bridge the current social and digital divide.
GROUP PUYHUAN is an international network of leading experts in Management, Healthcare, Education, Tourism, Technology etc, creating Plan Puyhuan, which:

•    Places the citizen at the centre of analysis to research, design, and implement one strategic planning model in a chosen rural area, to deliver integrated human sustainable development.

•    Brings together public, institutional and private sector investment with a unified stakeholder vision of the future for the community.

•    Uses technological advancements and Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) to create seismic change, through innovations in areas such as; educational and healthcare systems, as well as increasing local productivity.

IMPACT
•    Rural citizens are empowered to become active participants and valuable human resources in the global economy, acquiring the capacity for planning and managing sustainable development.

•    The Private Sector achieves higher ROI across the triple bottom line from social responsibility impact and/or the participation from new business opportunities identified.

COLLABORATION
Deltron Computers, Gilat Communications, USAID, IMF, ENDESA, Project Development International Fund, Ashoka Fellowship


Apeiron: audience favorite Global Entrepreneurship Competition

Jun 04 2009

Apeiron is a seed-stage chemical company established to commercialize break-through  metathesis catalysts developed and patented in Polish Academy of Sciences. The company introduces various kinds of catalysts for production of high-value specialty chemicals and advanced polymers. Metathesis technology is an important contributor to the emerging “green technology” movement and has just started to be adopted in industry.

apeiron

Market size
Apeiron’s targeted market is worth ca. US$1.5 billion. Of this market, according to Chemical & Engineering News, the enormous growth potential will come in metathesis catalysts, which until Nobel Prize in 2005 was mainly a domain of academic applications.
Product
Apeiron’s high performance catalysts allow to shorten the reaction time, lower waste production, simplify purification steps thus enable more efficient and inexpensive production of pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, biomedical materials, automotive components and many more.
Apeiron’s products are unique on a global scale. Apeiron is the only who developed the efficient catalyst that enable to carry out the reaction in water media, one of the most desirable by the industry. Some of the products are already worldwide patent protected and a few other are pending.
Customers
(i)pharmaceutical industry (ii)polymers sector; (iii)fine chemical; (iv)academia and R&D.
Competitors and entry barriers
Market is covered by only 4 players with dominance of US based company Materia. High specialization, patent protected products, limited number of research groups and deep know-how need makes this area very difficult to entry.
Team
Radoslaw Calka, expert in management and marketing; Michal Bieniek, PhD, co-author of 3 international patents in the area of metathesis catalysts; Lukasz Gulajski, possess strong background in laboratory and production management; Prof. Karol Grela, expert in the field of metathesis catalysts underscored for his input and contribution in the area of metathesis catalyst in justification of the Nobel Prize in 2005, Jacek Blonski, expert in marketing and early-stage financing;


Soxcell Energy: audience favorite Global Entrepreneurship Competition

May 31 2009

Soxcell Energy provides an innovative fuel cell technology, which promises to give cheap, clean energy on-demand to households and small factories.

stack

Like all fuel cells. Soxcell’s fuel cell is a clean electric generation device which converts hydrogen into electricity, producing only heat and water as its by-products.  However, Soxcell’s unique design uses tubular solid-oxide ceramic catalysts.  These are cheaper than platinum used in most fuel cells. The tubular shape also eliminates the complex seals used in other fuel cell designs and reduces fuel leakage cost.

Finally, the tubular design is easy to assemble, lowering manufacturing costs.  Soxcell expects that it will be able to deliver energy a $2.5 per watt, cheaper than other fuel sources like diesel generators, solar, wind, biofuels.  This makes it an ideal energy source for the 200 million people, factories, agricultural operations, and mining sites which do not have access to the power grid in Southeast Asia.
Soxcell Energy’s lead customers currently use diesel generators.  Soxcell’s fuel cell is much cheaper to run than a diesel generator and can recover the up-front investment in three years.  Soxcell will sell direct, identifying first-movers in Thailand who will particularly benefit from the clean, silent, reliable energy generated by the Soxcell fuel cell.  After Thailand, Soxcell will expand to the rest of Southeast Asia, where many people and business operations must operate off-grid.
Soxcell’s business plan forecasts sales to reach $10.5 million by the fifth year, with a net profit of $2.6 million.  At these levels, this project would have a net present value of $3.4 million at a 30% discount rate, or an IRR of approximately 89%.  Soxcell is seeking interested investors with relevant experience in the energy sector, who can actively help the company reach its goal of providing clean, affordable, off-grid energy on a widespread basis.


Surface Active Solutions ltd: audience favorite Global Entrepreneurship Competition

May 28 2009

surface active solutions (Grangemouth, Scotland) founded by Mark Zwinderman & John Harrison develops and supplies ground breaking Microemulsion technology for the oil industry. These specialised chemical systems have introduced liquid nanotechnology into the oil exploration & production process.

surface_active

The oil industry creates in its day-to-day activities significant volumes of oil contaminated hazardous waste. An entire multibillion dollar waste management industry has grown around this issue involving complex logistics and environmentally sensitive disposal routes. Waste management is a crucial part of the exploration process. The stacking up of waste on rigs delays the drilling process and can be up to 65% of the total cost of drilling a well ($50M).

By employing SAS technology companies can reduce rig time, re-use oil and safely dispose  clean water and clean solids back to sea. SAS products are used throughout the process of oil exploration from the drilling of the well to the recovery of oil from refinery waste thus reducing the costs, minimizing environmental impacts and decreasing operational risks. This allows oil companies to comply and exceed increasingly stringent environmental regulations across the world.

SAS chemicals systems and engineering solutions have been used globally in the field and resulted in rig time reductions of 50 – 90% and reductions in drilling waste produced from 70 – 98%.

As a result, for the first time in history, SAS Microemulsion technology enables the oil industry to prevent and/or eliminate generation of oil contaminated waste onsite at the well negating the need for
complex transportation logistics.

The SAS product range consists of proprietary chemistry products in conjunction with engineering systems capable of delivering tailor made solutions to our clients. This is protected by a wholly owned patent portfolio consisting of four granted patents and nine patents pending. The company has been profitable for the past two years.