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.


“The digital space provides entrepreneurs with limitless opportunities”

Jun 16 2010

Daniel Goh

Daniel Goh

He states that he is “constantly amazed by human resilience shown by small entrepreneurs in the face of incredible odds”. And that is why he aims to tell their stories. Daniel Goh is the founder and editor of Young Upstarts, a small business and web/consumer technology blog that champions new ideas, innovative marketing and entrepreneurship. He has kindly answered HitBarcelona questions.

- In your blog, Youngupstarts, you give your views on “entrepreneurship, innovation and the online space”. How can entrepreneurs make the most of the online space to boost innovation?

It used to be that entrepreneurs needed to rely on very traditional tools and methods - which can be slow, cumbersome and expensive - in order to get the basics of business done. Think of areas like market research, publicity and awareness, or even simple things like looking for the right talents to hire.

For example, an entrepreneur can now use a service in the online space such as SurveyMonkey.com to do basic market research, employ social network sites and tools like Facebook and Twitter to spread word of your products and services, or a platform like LinkedIn to find the right hires for a fledgling company. The idea is to leverage such available tools so that you can get your product or service out to market quickly, effectively and cheaply. The digital space provides entrepreneurs with limitless opportunities. One of the reasons why Young Upstarts regularly features some of the latest online services and digital tools is to help entrepreneurs understand such potential usefulness to their businesses.

- The medium is more than ever the message in the Social Networks era?

Actually I would disagree - I’d say that the medium and the message has always been equally important. Any business, and especially entrepreneurs, need to understand the importance of the various mediums, or platforms, that is most effective in reaching out to their audiences. It is also equally important, however, for them to pitch exactly the right message, at the right time, through such mediums. Many times, businesses tend to get distracted by the “shiny object syndrome” - for example, just because everybody rushes to using Facebook to engage consumers doesn’t mean that your most ardent customers are most active on that platform.

- You also claim to be a “voice of a new generation”. What are the main characteristics of the current entrepreneurial minds? Is there any difference when compared with older generations?

For this question, I’ll borrow from one of the most authoritative figures on this subject, author Donna Fenn of the book Upstarts! In her book, she interviews more than 150 young entrepreneurs from across the United States and highlights how their mindsets differ greatly from previous generations. For example, she highlights the collaborative spirit of young entrepreneurs and their willingness to work with one another. They also tend to be more adaptive towards new technologies, and have a willingness to take risks. For anybody trying to understand this generation and how they approach business, this is one book I highly recommend.

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

I definitely think platforms such as HitBarcelona are critical in helping the entrepreneurial ecosystem in any country to flourish. One of the problems facing young entrepreneurs is that they can tend to work in a silo. That’s unhealthy and myopic. Participation in events like HitBarcelona gets them to interact with one another as well as other stakeholders in the entrepreneurial ecosystem such as the media, investors and government agencies. Opportunities like this to network and trade ideas with one another are priceless.


“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.


“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!


“The impact of social cannot be overstated”

Jun 10 2010

Lance Weatherby

Lance Weatherby

Prepositions are meaningful. He believes in the Force For Good driven by “companies based on integrity and respect for the individual” and in the Force Of Good, which is “much better”. Lance Weatherby has proven record of achievement in defining strategic direction, motivating teams, and executing to exceed business objectives in the face of rapidly changing conditions. He is currently startup catalyst at at the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) at Georgia Tech and has kindly responded to HitBarcelona questions.

- As a startup catalyst you help launch and build customer-based technology companies. What do you value to get involved in a venture?

I am currently advising more than 40 startup companies. These companies are generally in the Internet and new media space. I look for a good concept in a potentially large market. There does not need to be a complete team in the startup but those that are there need to value the advice and input that I provide.

I value smart entrepreneurs that are coachable or willing to contribute in some way in what we are doing at the Advanced Technology Development Center at Georgia Tech. Someone that thinks they know it all and do not listen are the worst. They are wasting my time and theirs.


- You founded the Enfuse Group, which specializes in strategic online marketing solutions. What is the real impact of social media?

The impact of social cannot be overstated. Its impact will be as profound and wide scale as the general use of the Internet. I make a distinction between social networking, social media, and social media marketing.

Social networking is what people do on applications such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. People are using social networks at a rapidly increasing pace. The time spent on social networks is growing at a 3X rate of the Internet in general and visiting social sites is the fourth most popular online activity.

Social media is user generated content. It includes some of the content created on social networks but extends beyond that to other highly scalable publishing tools that push down the creation of content to an increasing number of people. All this social networking and social media activity is creating great opportunities for companies to engage with users. To use social media marketing to help drive business objectives.

To give you an idea on how powerful this can be at the Advanced Technology Development Center we have ceased all forms of that are not social in some way while at the same time rapidly growing the interest that entrepreneurs have in our programs. We get inquiries from the other side of the world.

The Enfuse Group is an agency that helps companies that want incorporate social media into their marketing mix to do that. We have over fifty years of combined online marketing experience we know how to make such programs work. The Enfuse Group is the client services arm of Socialytics. Socialytics is a social media analytics web application that aims to provide marketers with the intelligence they need to optimize their social media marketing. We are currently in private beta.

- Why FoG (Force of Good)?

I took the name from the purpose of a company where I worked for about five years. Long before Google made their corporate motto “don’t be evil”, there was this company in Atlanta, USA called MindSpring. MindSpring’s purpose was to change the way the world does business by demonstrating that a company based on integrity and respect for the individual can do an outstanding job of serving its customers, providing meaningful work for its employees, delivering an exceptional return to its owners, and being a force for good in its community.

I spent some time a few years back working on my personal life mission, values, and goals. I came to realize that my personal vision and MindSpring’s mission had a lot in common. Unfortunately Volkswagen had a big ad campaign going on at the time. I confused force for good with force of good. When I realized my mistake it did not seem worth the effort to change. Besides FoG is much better than FfG.

- In your blog, you talk about Facebook’s privacy issues and what you get (or don’t) from Foursquare. What is the next step for social networks?

Both Facebook and Foursquare have built great services that have moved the adoption of social forward. The next step for social networks is to be much more respectful of users data ownership, privacy, and time.

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

One of my strong beliefs is that the best way for entrepreneurs to learn is from each other. HitBarcelona seems like a great opportunity to network with a strong program to boot. Throw in some smart investors and the Global Entrepreneurship Competition and you have a winner. I wish I was going to be there!


“Crowdsourcing will be the secret of successful online companies”

Jun 06 2010

David Goldenberg

David Goldenberg

He is the co-founder of PigSpigot, a site with an unusual name that combines “his favorites things in the world: user-generated content and hilarious drawings”. David Goldenberg is also an editor of Gelf Magazine and writes about science for Mental Floss. He has kindly answered HitBarcelona questions.

-You are a writer and entrepreneur: how do you combine both activities?

I got into entrepreneurship after writing about entrepreneurs for media outlets like Wired, Business 2.0, and BNET. I learned about the traits of successful businesses and figured I could put my knowledge to use. Plus, the online business world seemed like a fun place that was constantly changing and always open to new ideas.

Nowadays, my writing and my work at PigSpigot don’t overlap much, but recently I’ve started writing about the challenges facing new startups over at VentureBeat.

-Do you think your writing skills can help you in your venture?

Being a journalist means being a professional skeptic, so I’m able to cut through a lot of the bullshit that comes with being an entrepreneur. On the flip side, writers spend a lot of time thinking about how to best express ideas succinctly, which definitely helps in the business world. I think most entrepreneurs are surprised by how much of their time is spent crafting and tweaking their company’s narrative.

Most helpful, though, is that being a journalist means constantly immersing yourself in new fields of knowledge and synthesizing lots of information into a cohesive and understandable whole. As an entrepreneur, I constantly find myself in unfamiliar territory as new opportunities arise. It’s good to know I can learn quickly.

-Why PigSpigot?

I think that the most successful online companies will be the ones that crowdsource as many aspects of their business as possible; I wanted to help found a company where our users would happily become creators, promoters and consumers of our products. Greeting cards were an obvious place to start: people love to design them, love to send them, and love to receive them. Plus, we have the technology to let people send personalized, printed cards by mail to their friends and family without ever going offline. That means that we can offer a cheap and efficient way for even the busiest people to be truly thoughtful.

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

Entrepreneurs like me can easily get caught up in our own little worlds of partners and competitors. 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. Plus, we’re constantly seeing things from the small business’s point of view. HitBarcelona lets us see how big companies and investors are shifting the landscape around us and what we can do to put ourselves in a favorable position.


“It’s easier to start up in a downturn”

Jun 03 2010

Jason Cohen

Jason Cohen

He considers himself a gear-head geek. Jason Cohen is the founder of  Smart Bear Software, maker of Code Collaborator, the world’s most popular tool for peer code review, and also a founding member of ITWatchdogs, another bootstrapped startup which became profitable and was sold. He blogs about marketing and small business and has kindly answered HitBarcelona questions.

- You built your business, Smart Bear Software, with no venture funding and no debt. Is it possible to do that in the current economic situation?

Yes, bootstrapping isn’t dependent on the economy. In fact, it’s easier to start up in a downturn because (1) Good people have lost their jobs and could help you, (2) Vendors are willing to give you a good deal, (3) If your company doesn’t work out, by then the economy is probably back into upswing and it won’t be hard to find a job.

Modern technology like inexpensive cloud servers, free email and collaboration tools, free application development tools and platforms, and free (in money, not in time) marketing channels make it easier than ever to start a company with no money.

I give further explanations on this in a couple of posts: ‘Why little companies grow in recessions‘ and  ‘6 reasons to start up in a bad economy‘.

- Then, you sold the company. Was it the plan all along?

Yes, although you can’t build a company with the idea that you’ll flip it because it sucks all the heart out of it. Try to build a genuinely good company and it will be easy to sell. “Good” means: Growing revenue, new users every month, profitable, clear audience, customers who like you.

- You’re currently working at Capital Factory, a seed-stage mentoring program for startups: What is your principal advice to startup entrepreneurs? What is the path to profitability and growth?

If there was a simple answer to those questions, I could snap a finger and launch 20 successful companies! Of course there’s no one answer. A common mistake is to not honor the goal of profitability. There’s a lot of “build something cool and customers + profits will appear.” Not true. Tackle the path to getting paying customers first, before you write a bunch of code, before you waste a bunch of time. Test your assumptions by having other people say they’ll buy it. Do the hard stuff (marketing, finding customers) before the easy stuff (writing code). But mostly, just start. Most companies fail simply because you don’t try it! How lame is that?

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

Sure! We all learn best when we interact with other entrepreneurs – both seasoned successful founders and people struggling just like you. Sharing ideas and real knowledge from the field has no substitute. Events like business plan competitions force you to think through your business and listening to others gives you ideas and inspiration. No one thrives alone!


“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.