Guest blog by Brett Laffel
Teens in Tech Comes to LA!
Microsoft proud to be hosting
As part of Microsoft’s commitment to the startup community, we partner with a large range of startup incubators, accelerators and other companies. A number of these groups focus on helping specific types of founders, including female founders, black and Hispanic founders and others. The Teens in Tech incubator provides tools and resources to young entrepreneurs in order to help encourage entrepreneurship at an early age. In our commitment to increasing the diversity of entrepreneurs, getting more youth into the technology and startup space, and to helping as many founders as we can, Microsoft sponsors and partners with Teens In Tech.
Daniel Brusilovsky (@danielbru on Twitter), the wunderkind Founder and CEO put together Teens in Tech in order to help kids and teens start and/or grow their own companies. Teens in Tech has their own startup incubator, which helps companies launch their product or service and educates founders about entrepreneurship and business. In addition to the incubator, Teens in Tech also hosts a number of conferences. These conferences bring together young entrepreneurs for a day of learning from one another and from the highly-esteemed speakers who present.
For the first time ever, the Teens in Tech conference is going to be hosted in LA. The LA startup ecosystem is one to keep an eye on and is growing at a rapid pace. I’m personally fascinated by all of the activity taking place in LA, both in terms of the number of new startup incubators that have been popping up in the region and in terms of the growth of high-quality startups based in the area and dedicated investors and larger companies starting to take interest in the SoCal startup ecosystem. As a result of this, Microsoft is more than thrilled to help grow and contribute to this vibrant environment by playing hosts for the day.
There are a great set of speakers lined up, including Paige Craig (CEO and co-founder of BetterWorks, and angel investor), internet entrepreneur Sean Percival (founder of lalawag, and a current company in stealth mode) and our very own Microsoft All-Star Startup Developer Evangelist Aaron Stannard. In addition to having key faces of LA’s startup community come present, the conference will also have a distinctly LA-vibe with an emphasis on media and entertainment, and with speakers from Walt Disney and Jimmy Kimmel LIVE there to talk to eager entrepreneurs.
For more info on the event, check out: http://conference.teensintech.com/la/.
Tickets for the event are SOLD OUT. (We’re thrilled there’s so much interest!) However, if you are interested in attending, please contact me directly: @BrettLaffel on Twitter or Brett.Laffel@Microsoft.com. I would love to help eager entrepreneurs or entrepreneurial-minded folks have the opportunity to attend such a great event.
By the way, I’ll be at the conference all day. If you’re going to be there, please come find me! I’d love to talk to you and learn about your startup and how I can help you.
See you tomorrow!
Having just completed the final Seedcamp of 2011 in Paris, we’re stoked for next year.
We’re super excited to open applications for the first Seedcamp of 2012 in London.
Call us biased, but we think there’s no better way to kick off the year than to spend a day being mentored by Europe’s top investors, serial entrepreneurs and product experts. Furthermore the winners of London will be invited to join us on our infamous annual three week trip to the US, a whirlwind start to 2012 for sure!
Details of the US tour will be announced very soon.
In the meantime, get started on your application now! Make sure to tell us what makes you unique, and why you’re the next big thing. We receive hundreds of great applications for each Seedcamp, so ensure you spend time articulating your vision, and your progress so far. Standing out from the crowd is key!
Applications are open until the 12th January 2012, we look forward to seeing you next year.
Day Three at LeWeb began with rain and the usual transport chaos, even for newly-initiated Uber cab enthusiasts in Paris, and some legendary hangovers courtesy of the Deezer party with the Ting Tings on the Thursday night. Record long queues for the complementary Nespresso aside, the morning was full of great content – one of the first speakers Yossi Vardi, Pioneer, Investor & Entrepreneur – talking about business models, and full of wit and wisdom.
Who thinks we’re in a bubble right now? Worth a watch:
The day also featured the Startup Competition Finals
Congrats to @Beintoo, based in San Francisco, who have developed a mobile gamification layer, “incentivizing competition and collaboration across the social graph”. You can watch their pitch here, plus an interview with the CEO. Second place went to iPhone app @HeyCrowd, allowing users poll the crowd in real time. Designed for those “who are curious about what people think” they enable you ask the question on HeyCrowd. They’ve collected 8,000 questions and so far have a community of users in US, France and Brazil. They’re addressing “the problem of opinion polls” and claim that their users find it “more addictive than cocaine”. Whoosh. What do you think? Is it better than SurveyMonkey? Watch their pitch on day one to a panel of judges including Sherry Coutu, our very own Dan’l Lewin, with Rodrigo Sepulveda.
We heard from the ‘over-caffeinated’ Ben Parr talking about entrepreneurship and changing the world, making an impact (rather than making money) and building something that lasts: “Don’t plant a flower. Plant a sequoia”. Ben reckons “most ideas suck” and less than 15% of what he sees “will turn into successful startups”. Ben also emphasized that “the space is getting crowded” and there’s “only so many ways to go about solving the problem” – so don’t bother inventing another photo sharing app or a daily deals service. Rather, better concentrate on something “that might change the world by incrementally improving on something”. Lesson #2 – Be adaptable. Lastly, Ben said –
“Don’t build a company; build a cause. Don’t chase the money; but build something that matters”.
The World Is A Startup
Much of this ethos was echoed in the comments by Shrevin during the interview by Alexia from TechCrunch: watch her interviewing Sean Parker (Spotify) and Shrevin Pishevar (Menlo Ventures) which of course drew a big crowd. Loic commented in the early hours on the quality of the Tequila that Sean gave him to drink the night before. Wonder if that aided the interview? Sean thinks that “right now, there’s too much capital chasing too few great ideas” and talked about Gowalla’s recent acquisition. Shrevin is always an inspiration, and I love listening to him:
“The most successful entrepreneurs build value for people, not extract value from people”.. and
“Fear is finite. Hope is infinite”.
If you missed Chris Capposela from Microsoft on day two, take a look at his comments on Xbox and Windows 8. This morning I found Carlos from Seedcamp’s observations (in brief) published in VentureBeat, and another good round-up from Bill Gross who published “The Best of LeWeb” always insightful.
So until next time, au revoir. That’s us back at base in Silicon Valley.
Guest post: French Academic team
Hi everyone !
Last night, Microsoft Game Studios published Hasta La Muerte, by Pohlm Studios
Pohlm is a Bizspark startup, created by Frédéric Pedro :
- worldwide Game Design finalist during the 2008 edition of Imagine Cup (project Ecological Tycoon).
- Microsoft Student Partner from January 2009 to September 2010.
- mentor to the team Geekologics (Brainergy) – 1st place WW in Game Design (the team is currently working with Pohlm in order to publish their game).
Hasta La Muerte was first announced by Xbox during the E3 2011. And since yesterday is now available on the WP Marketplace !
Hope you enjoy it
The French Academic team
For French speakers, full story available here.
Day Two at LeWeb got off to a flying start with the “money panel” – investors including Jeff Clavier and Dave “Pirate” McClure. They discussed, among other things, the performance and underperformance of IPO companies.
Check in to see all the action on the LeWeb YouTube channel and a great roundup on Simply Zesty.
By all accounts Bill Gross (founder of IdeaLab) appears to win the informal vote for best speaker of LeWeb, with his “12 Lessons” inspiration and wisdom. Bill is a passionate creature and regularly captures great photos, some during his stay in Paris.
He’s right: the weather hasn’t been fantastic, but we didn’t get the sub-zero temps and snow storms like last year. The taxi situation is another popular whine. One thing that is greeted with joy is the arrival of the Uber cabs on the streets. Countless people used them during LeWeb.
My colleague Mark Voermans liked the passion from Italian Carmine Gallo who said “you need both vision and passion to succeed in business, and to realize that they are separate qualities”.
Another great speaker, JP Rangaswami, Chief Scientist at Salesforce, might be competing with Bill Gross for the Most Enlightened badge:
"The purpose of business is to create a customer. People make shoes, not money". I spoke to him afterwards: he’s so jolly and clever; I wish I could put him in my suitcase and take him home with me. JP and Bill joined the rest of the esteemed speakers, including our very own Dan’l Lewin, at a special reception at the Elysée Palace last night. AKA, Drinks with the President. Loic and Geraldine know how to organize a conference!
Talking of badges, Denis told us that Foursquare now has 15m users+ and 600,000 merchants with offers (or ‘specials’), his view that “technology aids serendipity” and that they’re really in the recommendation business: “Every time you tell us about that sushi place you like, we can recommend more”.
Check out their latest blog: Web sites are clients, too! Making our website run off our API. I also really liked their article on Foursquare: “This is Foursquare’s biggest opportunity to date, and as the data game is on, they could emerge as an unlikely winner, though the future may not be as different as they originally intended”.
Next up, Brian Chesky, Airbnb. We stayed in one of their properties while in town, Brian revealing that Paris is their #2 market. Interviewed by Sarah Lane, Brian hyped up their investment and growth in 2011 – while downplaying “the incident” during the Summer.
Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote, delivered a great update (with humor and humility), announcing two new products as well as the growth in their user base. They’ve just been named Inc Magazine Company Of The Year.
Phil said they’re “more about the free part of freemium more than the –imium”. The head of Orange FR announced on stage with Phil the deal appearing in Spring 2012 where their customers get access to Evernote Premium free of charge for one year. Loic also noted they launched a Windows Phone 7 Mango app last week. [When I met Phil at the Seedcamp mentoring meet-up the day before he said he’s really glad to be part of BizSpark One and excited to see the Evernote Win 8 app coming soon]. Sweet.
The perfect segway to an update from Microsoft’s Chris Capossela.
Chris began his time on stage showing the Kinect Effect video and referring to the news from the Xbox group. He said it was all about “applications and exploration” this year and praised the myriad things developers have been doing with Xbox 360 around the globe: ”Imagining how the classroom experience might be different; in the medical field, allowing folks peruse through data without touching anything”.
Xbox has been on a 10 year journey. Chris revealed some impressive numbers:
Don’t forget applications are now open for the TechStars Kinect Accelerator.
No better time to be a developer
The release of the Xbox Kinect SDK enables a whole segment of developers interested in a scenario that “lets your body be the controller”. Chris acknowledged that it looks like we’re “moving into media and entertainment” and Loic was keen to know “is Google TV the main competition?”.
Chris’ response: there are other game console providers. “We have a huge asset out there [57m]” and pointed to the new Xbox Live app on WP7, and on IOS.
Loic then moved our attention to the phone – “Nokia just released this new Lumia phone? It’s beautiful.”
Yes it is. One thing that really struck me today is the great curiosity around the new phone. From the buzz on the Microsoft stand (and one phone to be won every day on our booth) to the VC guy in the cab with me who made “ooh” and “aah” sounds when I let him play with my new gizmo.
Chris confirmed it – “On the Phone we’re working hard to get back in the game. Developers are very excited about the opportunity. Even the hardcore press – say it’s the best user experience”.
“Tell me about Windows 8. You just announced the Windows Store?”…
Chris: “Yesterday back in San Fran we took the wraps off the store. The app store is built into every Win 8 machine”. Chris was challenged on whether developers are going to respond: “Generally people start with IOS, Android, then WP7. That’s a lot of devices and form factors; is it perhaps too much? If you design an app for tablet is there a danger that the desktop experience won’t be good? Why would they start investing heavily in the tablet app dev?” …
Chris: “You want to target the user base – it’s a massive audience. So if I build an app for Win 8, I am immiediately addressing those 500m copies of Windows 7. A massive installed base. All of those machines can run 8, optimized for touch, but also for mouse and keyboard. OK, so disregard this – and concentrate on the 350-400m PC’s sold into the market every year. This represents a huge run rate, customers ready for applications in the store”.
Show Me the Money
Chris also revealed some numbers:
“We think the economics are far better than our competitors. You make more money. For instance, you get to keep 80 per cent of the revenue when you hit 25k revenue for your app in Windows Store. Also, we don’t force you to use one particular ad network or payment system. Use ours or a third parties, use PayPal for in-app transactions, use Amazon. If you need a subscription service to your content you can do it through the store. This is flexibility for monetizing.
Tell Me About Social……..?
Loic meant: what about Skype?
Chris said “There’s 170m users of Skype frequently using the service. Skype is social, so is Xbox Live”. When we think about social, it’s hard not to talk about Facebook: “Bing search to see what your friends like. Most think social is Facebook and Twitter, but there’s lots of other social networks. It’s about a broader social experience. Loic was keen to show off “the other thing on the phone: the Facebook feed”. Chris said they’re “not thinking about apps in silos, and it’s the design device experience with people at the center”.
“We’ll have far more devices for developers. We’re Super Excited!”
“The Metro UI across all devices, it’s a good story”. More on Engadget.
We’re here for LeWeb and the final Mini Seedcamp of the year.
On Monday the teams had time to prepare and receive coaching (hosted at Microsoft). We just wrapped up a full day session with a room full of top notch mentors from all over the globe: folks in town for LeWeb that starts tomorrow, angel investors including Chipper Boulas, @rodridgo and Anil Hansjee; friends from Silicon Valley Bank and VC firms, plus softies Nicholas, Bruno et moi.
Oh, and serial mega successful entrepreneurs like Phil Libin, CEO at Evernote – pictured here with a fairly awe-struck pair of entrepreneurs with new venture Archivme.
The morning kicked off with three minute pitches from all the companies (minus two companies who succumbed to transport disasters): we heard from…
@neexer @modelo3 @LiveSheets @kleenks @dashmin_app @archivme @Human_Record @jottify @fellody @bluefieldscom @infogr_am @slickflick_ @DidTh_is @shallibuy @pinpointGS and @phonoblaster.. then we had a CTO masterclass from Eventbrite CTO Renaud Visage.
After a short break it was time to get down to the serious mentoring: six hours later we emerge from the Orrick offices ready for a stint at @LeCamping housed at the fabulous Bourse building. When we got there the mentors found all the entrepreneurs working rather than drinking and were eager to find refreshment. It was 7:20pm after all. Cue the Cotes du Rhone.
More joined us at @LeCamping (avec vin rouge then a very well-received pizza delivery) such as Mike from TechCrunch fresh from his Moscow trip – with word that revolution may have started in Russia – and more folks off the Eurostar and the Thales from Amsterdam. This is shaping up to be a very good meet-up for LeWeb!
Good luck to the Seedcamp startups at the finals today – especially @modelo3 @DidTh_is @archivme
Signing off for now, and we’ll report from LeWeb soon!
Day One at LeWeb. Phew.
If you missed it you can watch the vids here and live streaming here.
What a great day: starting with the enigmatic Karl Lagerfeld announcing an new online fashion startup with Net-A-Porter, then news from Uber of a $32m round from Menlo Ventures and – just in time to rescue us all from the craziness that is the taxi availability in Paris – a new service in the city. Fab!
Where To Sir? Uber planning to expand into 25 new cities over the next 14 months.
Old Friends, and New
You come all this way and you end up having coffee with our neighbors at Silicon Valley Bank; and a bite to eat with Paddy Cosgrave, he of the infamous F.ounders get-together in Dublin where entrepreneurs rub shoulders with Bono, no less. Everyone said this year’s Dublin Web Summit in October was world-class. But then you know I have a soft spot for Irish startups!
Over lunch I received an impromptu demo from Francois, founder of eventpixr http://bit.ly/r5s7IG - which I think is pretty cool. You cannot wander through the Demo Zone without someone cajoling you to come and check out their stuff. Great energy. Talking of which, the Microsoft booth is looking very nice indeed and has a queue of people playing with Kinect and the new Windows Phones:
At the Startup Competition we heard from BizSpark and Azure startup 23minutes.to from Netherlands/Iceland first, then Geowiki and more. Check out the pitching companies here and follow the buzz of the startups on the Twitter feed. I also picked up a few copies of the special LeWeb edition of Informilo which also features an update on BizSpark in Europe and lots of insight into what’s happening in Russia. We’re now off to have dinner with a bunch of VC’s and entrepreneurs.
The fun never ends. Uber on its way!
Over the past few weeks, here’s a sampling of news highlights of members of the BizSpark One program, identifying a small number of the best companies in BizSpark, which is now comprised of over 45,000 startups.
Week of November 13-26 and November 27-December 3
Guest Blog: Ahmed Siddiqui, Startup Weekend
As we close Global Entrepreneurship Week 2011 and Startup Weekend’s Global Startup Battle, I would like to take a moment to reflect on some lessons in leadership that emerged during the past 2 weeks.
First of all, I humbled to have an amazing opportunity to lead the Global Entrepreneurship Week activities for Startup Weekend, where 60 communities all over the world worked to build over 500 startups in just two weekends!
Each community produced one winner and that winner competed in the Global Startup Battle, which ran from November 21 to November 28, 2011. This was a competition hosted on Startup Weekend’s Facebook Fan page, which collectively garnered over 36,000 votes.
Secondly, I also had an opportunity to meet with startups from China and Hong Kong, and help run the Shanghai and Shenzhen Startup Weekend events. This experience, coupled with the excitement of Global Entrepreneurship Week has given me a different perspective on what a leadership is.
Here are three lessons in leadership that I gleaned from observing and participating in the Global Entrepreneurship Week:
Leaders Build Communities – Leaders recognize that their business is a small piece in a much bigger community/ecosystem. The winner of the Global Startup Battle, Awesome Ship, from Hong Kong, realized that in order for them to win the battle, they needed to galvanize their entire community. With the help of Ben Crox, the organizer of BarCamp HK, they were able to recruit their peers from Startup Weekend to help rock the vote.
Leaders See the Big Picture – Now with the help of their peers from Startup Weekend, the Awesome Ship team pushed the message that winning the Global Startup Battle would be a triumph for Awesome Ship, but more importantly, a triumph for Post 80’s Gen Y’s in Hong Kong (who are branded as lacking the “Hard working spirit” of their predecessors). This messaging spread like wildfire throughout the Hong Kong startup community, getting press coverage in the six major news publications in Hong Kong, which ultimately sealed their position as the top runner in the competition.
Leaders Aren’t Afraid to Roll Up Their Sleeves – Real leaders do whatever it takes to make their startup work. During the Global Entrepreneurship week Startup Weekend events I heard countless stories about how true leaders rolled up their sleeves and built working prototypes, and then hit the streets to show their prototypes to potential customers. Sometimes they returned finding that their assumptions were wrong and worked through the night to build something new – often times finding an even better product-market fit. Startups are not built from behind an spreadsheet, startups are built by leaders unafraid of getting their hands dirty.
Even though the Global Entrepreneurship Week is over, these leaders live on to push their communities ahead.
Can’t wait for Global Entrepreneurship Week 2012!
Guest Blog – By Mark Voermans, Microsoft Netherlands
At the many start-up events I attend (usually focused on tech), there are typically very few female entrepreneurs presenting or pitching.
Whatever the reasons behind that (are fewer women pursuing career in ICT, or starting their own businesses?) there are an increasing number of organisations worldwide focusing either on female entrepreneurship, or women in technology, or both.
One example is BizSpark Network Partner Astia.
Founded in 1999 in Silicon Valley, Astia is a global not-for-profit organization that propels women's full participation as entrepreneurs and leaders in high-growth businesses. This sums it up:
“Astia is dedicated to the success of women-led, high growth ventures and to the eradication of the need for the organization in the next decade.”
In other words, in the modern world, we shouldn’t need special groups like this.
Finding Great Women-Led Startups
But while they are still needed, what can we do?
One example is The Next Women Pitching & Networking Evening held on November 29th, sponsored by Microsoft and organised in collaboration with Astia and Next Women Business Magazine. The format was what we’ve all come to expect –advice from mentors (including me!), pitching to an investor-led panel, insightful keynotes and networking.
But the difference was that the whole event really focused on the needs and specific challenges facing women in business. And what also stood out was the wide variety of innovative ideas – from VirtueCue’s ‘virtual queuing’ (goodbye standing in line) to Jazz Vocal’s city breaks for music fans, to joint winner Social Viper with its ‘everywhere sales and promotion’ platform.
Not surprisingly, I’m delighted that BizSpark member Autitouch was the other joint winner.
Based in the Netherlands, Autitouch supports diagnostics and treatment for children with autism and related disorders worldwide, through applications developed on Microsoft Surface touch technology and Windows 7.
Like many of the best ideas, it’s brilliantly simple and addresses a very specific market gap. I’ve been working with CEO Freena since Autitouch’s early days and it’s great to see how this start-up has evolved, particularly – as myself and my fellow judges agreed – the high calibre of Freena’s ‘investor ready’ presentation.
And in this highly competitive world, whether you are male or female, that can make all the difference to getting funded.
Congratulations @autitouch and @socialviper and to everyone who took part – here’s to the next event!
Further reading: The Next Women, Astia, Kauffman Paper: “Untapped Potential”