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HitBarcelona 2010: a huge success!

Jun 23 2010

HitBarcelona: Shake your ideas, Shake your business

HitBarcelona 2010: a huge success!

More than 2.000 attendees from more than 31 countries, more than 500 global investors, 1.000 companies, 500 policy makers, from universities and research parks; 17 keynotes and panel discussions on investment and innovation, 705 meetings between entrepreneurs and private equity funds, and a Global Entrepreneurship Competition (GEC) with the 23 best business plans in the world, which has been won by peerTransfer, an American startup that has developed an online platform for global payments with a 10 times lower cost than traditional ones.

The second edition of Hit Barcelona, an initiative of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism, the Catalan Govern, the Barcelona City Council, the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce and La Caixa, which is organised by Fira de Barcelona and the Pla Estratègic Metropolità de Barcelona, has been a huge success.

Numbers speak by themselves. The first ever Bizbarcelona, platform which includes HiT, recorded 12,000 visitors. And it has been thanks to all of you. Those who have been there and also those who have been following all the information about the event on this blog, Facebook and Twitter. So, thank you again.

Now, don’t forget to check out our YouTube channel. You will find a great bunch of interviews to the keynote speakers of the congress.


“Barcelona could be more interesting than Silicon Valley”

Jun 21 2010

Richard Florida is convinced that “everybody has creativity”. The professor and head of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the Rotman School of Management (University of Toronto, Canada) explains to HitBarcelona why he thinks Barcelona is a creative city.


“Innovation is about getting your staff to act differently”

Jun 17 2010

Henrik Werdelin - Imagen from twitter.com/werdelin

Henrik Werdelin - Image from twitter.com/werdelin

He was among the 100 Most Creative People in Business selected by Fast Company in 2009, has been CCO of Joost.com and he currently works as an Entrepreneur in Residence at Index Ventures. Henrik Werdelin is passionate about innovation and has kindly answered HitBarcelona questions.

- You have a degree in Journalism. What do you think about the current situation of the media industry? Are paywalls a solution?

Journalism is changing quite dramatically: from the democratisation of news sourcing via Twitter and YouTube, through the trend towards being quick rather than being right, to the sheer volume of content sources. However, I think the media industry’s properties are just being extended.

You have always had bad populist reporters – now you just have more of them; but you have also always had passionate analytical storytellers, and now you can find them more easily. When it comes to monetisation, I think the solutions are many and depend of the nature of the content: from classic advertising for content that is easy to get everywhere else, to getting personal social currency and making money via consultancy for blogs, to doing paywalls for great reporting or insight analysis.

- How do you generate innovation?

First of all, forget about quarterly off-site brainstorms. It’s not about thinking differently; it’s about getting your staff to act differently. You create innovation by thinking a bit like an architect, social-engineer the daily workplace, so your staff is rewarded for behaviour that is proven to provide more innovation. These are things like taking risks, sharing ideas, mingling with colleagues from different fields and so on. You then become what Miller and Wedell from IESE Business School call an ‘Innovation Architect’. So, in my view, you generate innovation by building it into the structure of the workplace.

Another alternative is to align your company strategy with structures that can support innovation. That can be via a good acquisition strategy, or you can work with innovation companies like Prehype.

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

Entrepreneurs always benefit for learning from best practices and other founders’ experience. I find that many entrepreneurs have made mistakes that could easily have been avoided by reading some books, getting some advice from mentors or taking inspiration from successful companies. HitBarcelona has managed to attract a good number of high-end VCs, tech companies and founders – so I am sure that there will be plenty of tips of the trade that entrepreneurs can benefit from. Beside, one goal that entrepreneurs should have is to meet interesting people and enjoy being their own boss. So, with that goal in mind, I am sure a trip to Barcelona will be good for them.


“HitBarcelona: a great opportunity to network with a strong program to boot”

Jun 13 2010

HitBarcelona: Shake your ideas, Shake your business

HitBarcelona: Shake your ideas, Shake your business

Just three days left. HitBarcelona is almost there. Experts coincide it is a tremendous opportunity to share entrepreneurial experiences and a great forum for the engine of innovation. Roy Rodenstein states “the diversity of attendees and topics is its main strength”. Jason Cohen enhances that “sharing ideas and real knowledge from the field has no substitute”.

David Goldenberg underlines that “an event like HitBarcelona allows us to surface and take a good look around at all the cool ideas out there and how people are turning them into reality”, and Lance Weatherby stresses that “HitBarcelona seems like a great opportunity to network with a strong program to boot.”

Over the course of two days, the show will be bringing together business leaders, innovators, investors and entrepreneurs to share ideas, drive forward projects and redefine the keys to success in the business world.  Moreover, the top 23 business plans in the world will be competing in a Global Entrepreneurship Competition not only for the financing offered by the prizes but also for the opportunity to present them to the investors attending the show.

Just check the event guide and register if you don’t have done it already. Then, you can schedule your meetings with other attendees through our web. Are you ready to shake your ideas and your business? Be Hit’10!


“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.


Guides to Successful Innovation

May 23 2010

Successful Innovation

Successful Innovation

Type “How to turn a good idea into successful innovation” in Google and you’ll get 1.750.000 results. Some websites seem to have come across the magical formula: “work, strengths, and impact“. Others point out that “successful strategic innovations need more than a great idea”. In other words, that “ideas by themselves are worthless”.

A few ones are more precise: “market orientation has to be directed towards clear product definition early in the innovation process”, and “success is driven by market-orientated teams who share their knowledge of current and future customer needs across all departments”. Eventually, the UK Department for Business Innovation and Skills presents a “60 minutes Guide to Innovation” (PDF) to turn ideas into profit. In Catalonia, ACC1Ó, the agency for competitiveness, puts some guides to innovation online, as well. On the other hand, the Cambra de Comerç de Barcelona explains how to innovate in 10 steps.

HitBarcelona aims to promote projects and redefine the keys to business success but with a Face-to-Face formula: by bringing together business leaders, innovators, investors and entrepreneurs to share ideas. Will you miss it?


Ideas, The Most Powerful Energy to Progress

May 14 2010

Just a month left to HitBarcelona. More than 70 speakers to talk about Open Innovation, Corporate Venture, Venture Capital, the most innovative entrepreneurial iniciatives and the future of cities; a Venture Capital Corner to meet the world’s major investment funds face to face and a Global Entrepreneurship Competition where the best business plans will get cash prizes and the opportunity to showcase the potential of their proposals to international investors. Will you miss it?


Is a 10-Step Program Enough?

Abr 26 2010

When Innovation turns into business... (image from innovation-applied.com)

When great ideas turn into business... (image from innovation-applied.com)

Bringing new technology to market is hard. “A crap shoot”, according to the author of The Innovator’s Dilemma, Clayton M. Christensen. With a little training, people can display an amazing amount of inventiveness and come up with new products or services that are downright excellent. But how many of them see the light of commercial day? This is the tough part. Is there any recipe, any rules to seduce the market? Which are the tools required to turn an opportunity into a competitive and sustainable business velcro wall for sale?

The books published generally focus on the innovation process. In Serious Play, Michael Schrage, a research associate at MIT Media Lab and columnist for Fortune, describes the kind of culture that is needed for encouraging innovation and lays out the 10 rules of “creative improvisation in corporations”. He advise entrepreneurs to be willing to fail early and often, to know when the costs outweigh the benefits, to build a prototype that engages customers, vendors, and colleagues and to create markets around prototypes.

In another book published in March 2010, Robert F. Brands, former CEO of Airspray N.V. - manufacturer of the ubiquitous foaming pumps on soaps of all kinds-, offers as well a 10-step program to “create and sustain NEW in Business“. The keywords/phrases are: Inspiration, Risk, New Product Development Process, Ownership, Value Creation, Accountability, Training and Coaching, Idea Management, Observation and Measure, Net Results and Reward.

They are certainly useful…and catchy, but what do they mean in practice? Can Innovation be applied following a 10-step program? HitBarcelona wants to escape theory to offer some practical examples of successful application of innovation to help entrepreneurs to turn ideas into a solid business that can transform society. It will be exciting to discuss on this issue next June.


What We Talk About When We Talk About Innovation?

Abr 09 2010

HitBarcelona2010

See you in HitBarcelona2010!

In the best-known story of Raymond Carver, What We Talk about When We Talk about Love, four characters sit around a kitchen table in the afternoon to drink gin and debate the nature of love, only to find that their ideas are wildly different.

When we talk about Innovation it is pretty much the same. An economist would say it is the actual implementation of a pretty new idea in the commercial sphere or society. A scientist would find it is a linear systemic process, with different actors. Eventually, for a manager it could be a moment of inattention of the management board. And that would explain why many great enterprises don’t innovate. Food for thought. What does Innovation mean for you? It is for sure a concept we need in order to get out of today’s economic malaise.

HitBarcelona aims to give you the hints to embrace Innovation, shaking your ideas and businesses with opinions and experiences explained by experts from around the world to help CEOs to drive the Innovation agenda and also empower Innovation workers to sustain the Innovation process. Just 67 days left to experience it. Stay tuned.