“Hiring activity is picking up”

Jun 15 2010

Matt Bartus

Matt Bartus

He has spent nearly his entire legal carreer helping startups. It it just something he enjoys doing. Matt Bartus is a veteran startup lawyer in Silicon Valley. He has advised companies like Wordpress Foundation, Technorati or Solera Networks, and has also represented many leading VC firms over the years. He has kindly answered to HitBarcelona questions:

- You have chosen to spend your legal career helping startups. Why?

Fundamentally, you have to be interested in what you’re doing to really enjoy it, and in my heart I love all new technologies. It’s really exciting to become a part of the team, to become an essential advisor and to watch the progress of the companies at a very nascent stage. As a lawyer, when you work with larger companies you tend to work with in-house legal counsel and are in much more of a service provider role. There is nothing wrong with that, but it’s a very different experience from having a direct line to the CEO of your various clients.

- You say the way a law firm work with startups is fundamentally different than with large companies. In what sense?

Lawyers that work with startups have to deliver effective legal services that make sense from a business and cost perspective. From a cost perspective, startups have cash flow issues that larger companies don’t have (or have to a lesser extent), and it’s important to be able to distinguish what actually needs to be done. On the business side, the “soft skills” really matter. For example, knowing what terms a startup is likely to get in a licensing agreement (as opposed to what Apple or Microsoft might be able to get), and advising management effectively. Finally, law firms that work extensively with startups have “off the shelf” forms for many common things, reducing the need to spend valuable cash drafting some form documents.

- What are the main issues startups have to deal with in the current economic downturn?

Things appear to be turning around in our space, and funding activity has increased substantially. Young companies have challenges establishing themselves as legitimate companies so they can sell their product. Selling into the enterprise is still challenging. On the flip side, one of the challenges I have been hearing a lot about lately is the difficulty in hiring talented employees, especially on the engineering side. This is a great sign that hiring activity is picking up.

- What do you think events like HitBarcelona can offer to wannabe entrepreneurs?

Anything that advances the startup ecosystem and reduces the amount of friction it takes to start a company is a great thing for our industry. The amount of information that people can obtain both online and from networking within the various startup ecosystems has grown exponentially. Your event and others will ensure that the best and brightest talent will have the necessary information to make a decision about joining or starting a company.


“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.


“VC is not essential, but it helps!”

May 28 2010

Jeff Bussgang (Image from: flybridge.com)

Jeff Bussgang (Image from: flybridge.com)

Jeff Bussgang knows the secrets of the world of Venture Capital (VC) and the insights of entrepreneurship. He has played on both sides and writes about it in his blog, Seeing both sides. His book Mastering the VC game gives more details on this high-stakes game with interesting interviews to successful entrepreneurs, including Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman. Jeff has kindly answered to HitBarcelona questions.

- Seeing both sides… to stay where? Which one of them do you prefer?

I love doing what I am doing today – I enjoy working with my partners to help build numerous great companies in parallel rather than one at a time in a serial fashion.

-The VC game is much more established in the US than in Europe… Do you think VC is essential to be more effective in financing and launching startups?

I wouldn’t say VC is essential, but it helps! It helps to have more financial resources and it helps to have experienced board members and advisors who have “seen the movie before” and can provide invaluable advice along the way.

-Randy Komisar says web startups might not need VC. What do you think about it?

It all depends on the type of start-up and the situation. If the company can get their product out and build revenue quickly and focus on a small niche, perhaps he is right. But if the business is ambitious and is pursuing a large market opportunity, then even so-called capital-efficient businesses tend to raise capital in order to scale quickly and build distribution.


“There are definitely advantages to starting a venture now”

May 26 2010

He is a startup guy. In all the dimensions of the word: founder, advisor and mentor. His sales team nicknamed him ‘The Roadshow’ and he is proud of it. Roy Rodenstein is currently director of business planning at AOL in the Local group, after they acquired his company Going in June 2009. He has kindly answered HitBarcelona questions about how to startup and the major entrepreneurial mistakes to be avoided.

Roy Rodenstein

Roy Rodenstein

-First of all, the question which entittles your blog: how to startup? What do you recommend to wannabe entrepeneurs who want to start a company now?

I think a lot of the key to being an entrepreneur is looking in the mirror and being honest with yourself. There are several key questions for new entrepreneurs to ask themselves and come to terms with:
- Is this what I really want to do? Can I commit to this venture for 3-5+ years to see it through?
- Can I bear the risk and the stress of the ups and downs that any company, no matter how successful, goes through?
- And, do I really in my heart of hearts feel like the idea I am pursuing has a legitimate chance to work?

The other key is really forming a support system of people who have done it before or can help in other ways. These days there is a lot of great information online, and learning about key topics such as fundraising, customer development, recruiting etc. will be very valuable. Having people you can turn to when times are tough or you have questions will come in handy, so attending local events, networking with peers on Twitter and blogs, and other ways to interact with the startup community are definitely recommended.

Despite these questions that are key for succeeding, I wouldn’t discourage someone that was a bit unsure but wanted to give it their best shot. The amount of learning -about business, management, marketing, and yourself- that any startup, no matter how small, provides is a huge asset for any future work.

-By the way, do you think this is a good time to start a venture?

I tend to think it’s always a fine time, but yes, I think there are definitely advantages to starting a venture now. There are a lot of amazing online services for startups, from billing to screensharing to group collaboration tools, that make it easy to be lightweight or ‘lean.’ As you grow and may need an office, real estate costs are lower now in most places than a few years ago. And with the economic problems, more people are either available in the job market or are open to considering new careers since there is instability in almost every industry now. Lastly, the availability of mentorship as well as seed programs and angel investing is higher than ever, and that is probably the biggest advantage of all.

-What are the major entrepreneurial mistakes to be avoided?

To me the biggest one always comes back to being aligned with the market. Are you really being honest with yourself, and your employees, about your current trajectory. If users and customers are happy and delighted, coming back for more and telling others about your offering, great. If not, it’s really time to bear down and review what the problems are and try to create a more compelling offering quickly, evaluating your available pivots. The #1 mistake I find is people coast for too long tinkering on the margins when it’s clear the product is just not quite there. In my experience when a product is right for a market fit, the evidence becomes very very clear.

There are certainly many tactical mistakes as well, such as spending money too quickly, getting the wrong kind of funding at a given time, or failing to fundraise sufficiently which can put you in a precarious position down the line. As the last couple of years have shown, the world can change at any point and you need to be prepared.

A final area I see a lot of problems with is in recruiting, even with cofounders. In the last month I know several startups who have had to switch out a founder or other early team member. This is a very difficult step, and the best thing is to avoid it by being very very clear in recruiting in the first place, but if there is not a fit then absolutely, bite the bullet and try to move on as cleanly as possible. The main rule of thumb I tell entrepreneurs is, don’t hire someone to cover a couple of small issues you think of today- it may not be a big enough job down the line. Make sure you think through for the long term, 1, 2, 3 years, how this person will add value and what roles they will be able to own.

-Are entrepreneurs born or made?

In my opinion, as I discuss on my blog, they are primarily made. Entrepreneurship requires a number of personality traits but as the saying goes, “necessity is the mother of invention.” I believe most everyone has the innate capabilities, potential for emotional strength and leadership, IF they find something they are really passionate about that they want to see become a reality. The skills needed to actually start and run a business are hard, but can be learned by anyone with enough dedication and enough of a support system.

-Do you think an event like HitBarcelona can help entrepreneurs to achieve their goals?

I think HitBarcelona is an excellent event and a leading example of international cross-pollination and sharing of entrepreneurial experiences. I have heard excitement from several US-based entrepreneurs that are attending, and having family in Spain and Belgium I know that it’s also a major event in Europe. I think the diversity of attendees and topics is the main strength of Hit. Bringing together experts and newcomers from venture, finance, consumer products, science and technology across dozens of countries is a great forum for the engine of innovation that is entrepreneurship to spread and benefit more of the world.


Why Recession Is the Mother of Invention

Abr 22 2010

He has pointed out several times that the place where we live is not a destiny to be accepted passively but a choice that shapes everything about us. His ideas on the Creative class that fosters an open, dynamic, personal and professional environment, which in turn attracts more creative people, business and capital, have turn into global best-sellers. And for good reason.

Richard Florida is one of the world’s leading public intellectuals on economic competitiveness and cultural and technical innovation. In his latest book, Great Reset, coming out the 27th April, the professor and head of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the Rotman School of Management (University of Toronto, Canada) explains how new ways of living and working will drive post-crash prosperity. According to him, an economic convulsion—dubbed a Reset—“transforms not simply the way we innovate and produce but also ushers in a whole new economic landscape.”

In this respect, Florida is convinced that “our economic system needs to stop channeling funds into super-risky, highly leveraged, and speculative areas”. “Instead we must return to the original vision and purpose of the financial markets: supporting innovation and the growth of the real economy”, he says. He makes oneself clearer in a recent video realeased by The Wall Street Journal:

He will surely explain further on this topic at HitBarcelona, in June. 54 days left.


Looking for capital? For projects? XV Fòrum d’Inversió

Jun 09 2009

On 17 June will take place in Hit Barcelona XV Fòrum d’Inversió ACC1Ó, the meeting point between investors and entrepreneurs that promotes the search for funding for their projects. The Fòrum is taking place within the framework of the Barcelona Hit.

forum

The XV Fòrum d’Inversió is organized by ACC1Ó. After 15 years, the Fòrum d’Inversió ACC1Ó has become the European benchmark for quality of business projects submitted and the number of participants involved. In this year edition will be present 9 innovative companies with high growth potential sectors of  TIC, Biotec and CLEANTECH.  6 Equity Fund catalans, 3 international and 3 Private Investors, will discuss current issues related to the business sector of investment.

The Fòrum include the active participation of investors, the networking before, during and after the Forum and the attendance of international investors. Attendance at the XV Fòrum is free and space is limited. You need to register in advance.

Networking before, during and after …

The registered (both investors and entrepreneurs) will be able to arrange meetings between them before the event. This year priority will be given to the registration of companies under fundraising and capital providers interested in finding new investment opportunities.

descuento


The 2009 Most Outstanding Investor in Europe Award.

Jun 09 2009

HiT Barcelona took part in the 9th European Business Angels Network Congress in Madrid on the 27th of April. The world innovation summit sponsored the 2008 Most Outstanding Investor in Europe Award.

egancongress

EBAN is the European Trade Association for Business Angels, Seed Funds and other early stage market players, an independent and non-profit association representing the interests of business angels networks (BANs), early stage venture capital funds and other entities involved in bridging the equity gap in Europe. EBAN was established with the collaboration of the European Commission in 1999 by a group of pioneer BANs in Europe and EURADA (the European Association of Development Agencies).
At the Congress, organized by the Foundation for the Promotion of Business Angels Networks in Spain (ESBAN), HiT Barcelona hosted the ceremony for the fourth edition of the gala awards EBAN, awards reward individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions in the field of investment in Europe.
The 4th European Award Ceremony awarded the most successful angel-backed company, cross-border deal, business angel network manager, early stage fund manager, and business angel of the year. The event took place in the beautiful Casino de Madrid, with a dinner elaborated under the auspices of Ferran Adria himself from the world-famous restaurant El Bulli.


Werner Wolf: the development of bioscience sector

Jun 05 2009

Werner Wolf is Venture Partner and former Senior Science & Technology Advisor to TVM, Bio Innovations.

werner_wolf

Bio Innovation SA was established in June 2001 to accelerate development of South Australia’s bioscience sector.  Its mission is to enable the creation of 50 new bioscience companies and 2500 jobs by 2010.

The Bio Innovation SA team works with the bioscience community using a synergistic approach to industry development focusing on a range of commercial activities. Also implements many unique initiatives to encourage collaboration within the bioscience community.

Bio Innovation SA is responsible for implementing South Australia’s bioscience strategy and assists the State Government with policy development.

Bio Innovation SA has a partnership with BioCentiv, one of Europe’s leading biotechnology industry incubators in Jena, Germany. BioCentiv is a services company in the area of commercialisation of biotechnology and life sciences, and operates a technology and start-up centre, the BioInstruments Centre. In addition, BioCentiv, together with the non-profit organisation BioRegio Jena e.V., is the coordinator of the BioInstrument cluster in the Free State of Thuringia.

Werner Wolf is, since 1992, Project evaluation for the European Commission in FP3, FP4, FP5, and FP6, expert to DG12 in Biotechnology, member of the Advisory Group “BioFinance”, Project evaluation of business plans for funding agencies like INITS/Vienna, BioM/Munich.


GSMA Mobile Innovation EMEA Event at Hit Barcelona

Jun 04 2009

“This tournament will provide an invaluable opportunity for these companies to pitch new mobile technology, product, service and business propositions to senior executives within the mobile operator and venture capital communities”, Bill Gajda, Chief Commercial Officer at the GSMA.

The GSMA announced the nominees for the EMEA Tournament of the 2010 Mobile Innovation Grand Prix competition, along with a number of high-calibre industry executives who will speak at the upcoming GSMA Mobile Innovation EMEA Event, which is being held as part of the HiT Barcelona World Innovation Summit, in Barcelona, Spain, 18 – 19 June, 2009.

mobile_innovation

The Mobile Innovation ‘Grand Prix’ was created by the GSMA as part of its Mobile Innovation initiative, with the primary goal of showcasing promising entrepreneurs from small and medium-sized companies who are introducing innovative products and services. During the EMEA event, ten companies from around the world will compete in five categories, reviewed by a panel comprised of senior inflatablesexecutives from mobile operators and venture capital firms. Two overall winners will win a trip to compete for the Mobile Innovation Grand Prix Cup at the leading event for the mobile communications industry, the Mobile World Congress, in February 2010.

The ten nominees for the EMEA leg of the 2010 Mobile Innovation Grand Prix

Most Innovative Consumer Application or Service:

Solaiemes (Spain)
Multiplied Media (Canada)
Most Innovative Embedded Mobile or Device-centric Technology
Scalado (Sweden)
IDENT Technology (Germany)
Most Innovative Carrier Infrastructure or VAS Platform
AcCells (Israel)
Novarra (USA)
Most Innovative Enterprise Application or Service
DeviceAnywhere (USA)
Apisphere (USA)
Most Innovative Product Enabling a Greener World
GreenFire Technologies (USA)
Electro Power Systems (Italy)

As a category of the Global Mobile Awards, the Mobile Innovation ‘Grand Prix’ is a tournament-style competition across four regional events culminating at the 2010 GSMA Mobile World Congress, and is designed specifically for small-to-medium companies seeking industry (operator/vendor/VC) support. Nominees will be invited to present their pitch to a global audience at Hit Barcelona’s Telecom Innovation Marketplace, that will also feature keynote speakers from top-tier companies such as Accenture, Visa, HTC Telefonica and Bebo.

The GSMA represents the interests of the worldwide mobile communications industry. Spanning 219 countries, the GSMA unites more than 750 of the world’s mobile operators, as well as 200 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset makers, software companies, equipment providers, Internet companies, and media and entertainment organisations. The GSMA is focused on innovating, incubating and creating new opportunities for its membership, all with the end goal of driving the growth of the mobile communications industry.


The 24 international companies with great growth potential

May 26 2009

24 of the most innovative start-ups in the world will meet at HiT Barcelona – World Innovation Summit to present their business plans at the finals of the Global Entrepreneurship Competition. They have been nominated from the 100 best business plans from the most innovative companies in the world.

The international finalists were selected by the World Nominating Committee formed by 24 renowned ‘Entrepreneurship Centres’ (business schools, universities, technology parks and incubators) from around the world, each bringing a project.

In addition to these projects, 4 Spanish startups, selected from 2 entrepreneurship development programs in Spain, will participate in the finals: the 3 winners of the EmprendedorXXI Award sponsored by “la Caixa” and ENISA, and the winner of the XVth Investment Forum organised by ACC1Ó, bringing to 28 the number of contestants presenting at HiT Barcelona.

20 countries are represented in the finals of the competition and the business plans specialise in a wide range of sectors such as biotechnology, health, chemistry, telecommunications, software, education or social responsibility. The products and services designed by these emerging companies are very diversified, from storage systems for stem cells, innovative heart valves and devices for rapid detection of infectious agents to cleaning systems for oil wastes and residues or academic support platforms for students.Kids Bounce House

nominates

The 28 finalists will present their business projects to the investment community attending HiT Barcelona: Private investors, business angels, venture capital firms, managers of public and private funds, family offices, etc.. These investors will be responsible for selecting the winners via an innovative system using a capital HiT Barcelona bank notes received at registration.inflatables for sale cheap