With over 16,000 start-ups part of BizSpark in Europe, you’d expect the calibre of the top 15 chosen to pitch in the annual BizSpark European Summit to be pretty high. But this year’s panel of illustrious judges worked hard on June 7th, particularly to agree on the runner-up.
The five who jostled for second place were The Netherlands’ Autitouch, Ireland’s Jampot (also winner of the People’s Choice Award with over 12,000 votes), Israel’s Foresight, Belgium’s miMedication and Italy’s Paperlit. Two healthcare-focused companies, two mobile app innovators and one ingenious cyber-security solution. A great line-up.
But, the judges’ overall prize goes to Paris-based Commerce Guys, who have developed a suite of cloud-based solutions that harnesses the power of Drupal open source content management for powerful eCommerce applications. CEO Frederic Plais says, “Merchants want to match sophisticated content that connects with social media and mobile. What we do is focus our knowledge and expertise on providing online merchants with the powerful, responsive, flexible and innovative eCommerce solutions they need to thrive.” Since its launch 10 months ago, over 15,000 users – ranging from small companies to large - have signed up for Drupal Commerce, which includes software, consultancy and training.
You may be wondering how an open source company gets to be part of BizSpark. In fact, the company has collaborated with Microsoft from its early days and is on Windows Azure. Says Frederic, “We know that when we are targeting the enterprise market, a lot of them are going to be on the Microsoft stack, so this opens up a big potential market for us.”
Of course, there’s a lot more to the Summit than winning the top prize so if you missed the event and want to catch the recorded livestream, you can watch Commerce Guys (session one), the other finalists and of course, our keynote speaker and panel participants in action. Finally, a big thanks to event venue Ravensbourne, the creative & tech college in Greenwich which did a great job of ensuring that London’s first time to host the Summit (now eight years old) did the UK’s capital city proud.
This blog post was written for BizSpark by Bindi Karia, who runs the BizSpark program in the UK for the Microsoft Emerging Business Team.
At Jintronix, we use the Microsoft Kinect for Windows to capture a patient’s motions, allowing them to participate in meaningful and fun physical rehabilitation. This was not always the case. This post was written for BizSpark by Max Graham, Jintronix Public Relations Director. Jintronix is a member of the Microsoft Accelerator for Kinect.
We first began by developing our own hardware solution, and it was messy. We had two web cameras working in parallel stereoscopically, tracking an infrared LED band attached to the patient’s hand. It was not quite that simple though. We had to remove the IR filter that is built into most web cameras, then replace it with a visual light filter, so it would only track the IRLED band. Once all that was said and done, it actually worked quite well, and we were happy with the results for the most part.
Then there was the issue of trying to get that produced on a mass scale, without much capital. It was going to be a nightmare. Logistically it was going to drain all kinds of resources we just didn’t have, and would require implementing whole new infrastructure for tracking and distribution. We didn’t want to have to think about this. We are a software company, and the only reason why we built our own 3D positioning system was because nothing else on the market was good enough, or within the price point we were looking for. Queue the Kinect.
People started doing some crazy things with it, things Microsoft did not anticipate when they first released the technology on the Xbox 360. Thank you Hackers! I think you all know the rest of the story, and the happy ending is that now we have the Kinect for Windows.
It was not perfect, and we had to do a lot to make the switch, but in the end it was worth it. Now we are able to focus on what we do best, developing fun, engaging, and meaningful activities for therapist and patients. And the best part is, it is only going to get better.
The Jintronix team, photo credit: Jintronix
Did we need the Kinect? No. Could we have used our own hardware? Sure. Would we have wasted time, money, and energy on things we didn’t really want to do? Absolutely. So in the end, making the switch to the Kinect just made things simpler, and when you are part of a start up, that is a good thing.
The next Microsoft Accelerator class begins in just a few weeks. Deadline July 13 for applications.
What makes the difference between a startup’s success and failure? What sets a truly great business apart from an average or mediocre one? It’s not funding, and it’s not the product. It’s the people.
Every day, I talk with startups that struggle to find qualified talent to push their businesses to the next level. It’s apparent that talent is the single biggest lever your business has, but it’s often the most difficult to find. For starters, you are limited to the candidate pool within commuting distance of your office. But even if the best possible person for your business lives within that 50-mile radius, what are the chances that you could you actually find, attract, and afford them, given that great talent has countless options?
Traditional hiring can be painful, especially for resource-strapped startups. But thanks to the explosion of online work, businesses are breaking the barriers of geography, and they aren’t going back — 76% of businesses characterize online work as a long-term strategy, and 90% say it makes their business more competitive, according to an independent survey of more than 7,000 oDesk clients by Genesis Research.
Real talent is flexible and scalable. You can find incredible freelancers anywhere — and online marketplaces like oDesk can help you get started. So how can you use online work to turbocharge your startup and get a competitive edge? Here are some of the ways oDesk clients are leveraging online work:
These are some of the most common ways startups leverage online work, but they only scratch the surface of what’s possible. What will your oDesk success story be? Visit the Microsoft Certified Professionals Group on oDesk to find out — you can start by searching for one of the more than 500 Microsoft-certified developers on the platform!
As CEO of oDesk, Gary Swart has a passion for helping small businesses succeed and more than 17 years of experience in the enterprise software market. Before oDesk, as the VP of Worldwide Sales for Intellibank, he was responsible for building the sales organization, but Gary's enthusiasm for small businesses was born during his tenure as a Business Unit Executive for IBM's Rational Software Product Group, where he led Small and Medium Business sales for the Americas. Gary came to Rational through its merger with Pure Software, where he held sales, management and leadership positions. Gary holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Maryland.
The latest plan for Microsoft in Africa is all about enabling African youth realize their full potential. Ali Faramawy, Corporate VP in MEA area, says:
“For years, we have led the way in Africa: we opened many offices, hired hundreds of people, built a partner network, invested in education and communities, partnered with governments. Now we are in a position to deliver great value to Africa and in partnership with other companies and organizations committed to the same goal. Some say we are in Africa. We say Africa is in us.”
Partnering for Growth
With this in mind, Microsoft has taken the bold move to partner with IDG, Nokia, U.S. Department of State and Startup Weekend to deliver the first ever DEMO Africa in 2012. LIONS@FRICA is a new initiative designed to support the next generation entrepreneurs and startups in Africa. This is no PR sound bite. We believe that this partnership will enhance and deepen the startup and innovation ecosystem in Africa.
Microsoft is not new to such alliances (indeed, we are a founding partner in Startup America Partnership, on which LIONS@FRICA is based). These ‘campaigns’ act as a strong foundation to convene the skills necessary to thrive – from committed partners – and then to catalyze and mobilize those skills and assets into doing something meaningful, in a coordinated fashion. Myriad organizations are targeting Africa now, companies and investment firms (from China to Silicon Valley) setting up shop there, with a view to taking advantage of this growth. The seeds are sewn. The time is right to take decisive action.
“The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now”. - African Proverb
Of course, we have been pioneering early investment in emerging markets for several years now, and I have been privileged to be at the forefront of this personally and professionally with the Emerging Business Team through our “Local Software Economy” initiative and more recently, through the BizSpark Program we set up to address the huge opportunity with the next generation software developers. We keep an eye on the future, spot trends, informing the company how and where to place bets. It may just be the most rewarding job on the planet: seeing first-hand all the new innovation in the ideas economy, creating programs and services that accelerate growth and mitigate risk, ultimately helping startups survive and thrive (or fail fast and return stronger) and, on a macro level, create jobs and wealth for all.
We also get to hang around with incredibly talented individuals: entrepreneurs and serial entrepreneurs, and those that educate and enable. BizSpark is designed for startups, and the organizations that support them. Today the program has almost 50,000 startups in 110 countries, enabled by more than 2,400 Network Partners in the community. We are a champion for entrepreneurs and through BizSpark we can connect a thriving community of investors, incubators, accelerators, agencies, associations, trade groups, foundations and entrepreneurship groups that are doing the same – fuelling innovation.
“We face neither North nor West. We face forward”. - Kwame Nkrumah, President of Ghana
Partnership is something we believe can be transformative. It’s this community we turn to, to solve big problems. There is a difference between doing something small-scale, short-term and commercially ‘selfish’ – and investing in multi-stakeholder programs to address a market opportunity (and significant challenges). Yes, we’re committing to what is undeniably an ambitious project, which requires complex orchestration. Thanks to Skype we have the ability to connect with the diverse team all over the world, to make this happen. If we didn’t have passionate and talented, committed people at great companies – we’d likely give up now.
The Art of the Possible
We need to “grow the pie” and not just our own piece of the pie. We are legacy building. Investing in volatile markets is never easy, especially when they are chronically disadvantaged or acutely short of resources and skills that we have learned to take for granted in London or Silicon Valley. Learning from and listening to our partners has informed us what it takes to create sustainable programs and be successful. We’re moving away from aid to Africa. Instead we’ll focus on capacity building, training in emerging technology and business development, connecting the best startups to markets and capital. In our view DEMO is one of the best platforms to facilitate this. Let’s find great ideas and put them on a (global) stage.
We are bringing together organizations with assets and strengths to help Africa stand tall amongst other emerging powers in the world. Who said strategy without execution is hallucination? Not enough to create graphs and PowerPoint slides about growth. Better to leap off that fence, place a bet and get busy figuring out how we’re going to deliver something really game-changing in this calendar year. That bet is DEMO Africa. Fancy joining us in Nairobi in October? Be there and I guarantee you’ll not be disappointed.
Claire Lee, Head of Partnerships, Emerging Business Team, Microsoft Corporation
This is the first blog post in a series of posts leading up to DEMO Africa 2012. Keep tuned for more news.
On Twitter, follow @Claire0h @lionsafrica @bizspark @demo @startupweekend @unleashingideas
To find out more about Microsoft BizSpark please visit and apply here
By Brett Laffel
Due to overwhelming demand from our 30 to Launch Series in San Francisco, we’ve decided to host an additional series in Seattle as well!
Come join us at SURF Incubator in Seattle over the course of 4 different Wednesday nights to build great Windows 8 apps. Throughout the course of this four-part series taking place in June and July, guests will have a chance to learn from Microsoft experts about the world’s largest opportunity for app developers.
We’ll also have great food and drink each night – deli one night, hummus and cheese one night, meatballs and quiche on another! You’ll also have the opportunity to win great prizes! (See Official Rules here)
Register now! https://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032514870&Culture=en-US.
821 2nd Ave., 8th Floor
Seattle, WA 98104
Wednesdays, June 20, 27, July 11, 18 from 6pm-9pm
June 20 - Week 1:· Business Opportunity for Windows 8· Designing Apps with Metro Principles and the Windows Personality
JULY 4 – SKIP – HOLIDAY WEEKEND
July 11 - Week 3:· Bring Your App to Life with Live Tiles and Push Notifications· Integrating with key Windows 8 features
June 18 - Week 4:· Applying the finishing touches· The Business Opportunity Continued: Monetizing your app· The Windows Store
Based in San Francisco and interested? Limited spots remain, register for SAN FRANCISCO here (taking place at RocketSpace on 6/4, 6/11, 6/18, 6/25): https://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032514381&Culture=en-US.
By Bindi Karia
Holding this year’s European BizSpark Summit in London gives me a good chance to put the spotlight on why the UK’s capital city has become one of the best places for start-ups (and business in general).
Someone who is as equally passionate as me about this topic is Pru Ashby, Senior Business Development Manager and Tech City Specialist at London & Partners, the Mayor of London’s official promotional organisation. I asked Pru to take some time out of her busy schedule to find out more.
BK: “Pru, can you tell readers what London & Partners do?
PA: “On behalf of the Mayor of London, we promote the city globally: to international students who can attend one of the many highly-regarded universities here; to event organisers, ranging from conferences to major sports organisations; and of course assisting businesses as they set up and grow, creating jobs in the city. As the Tech Specialist at London & Partners I work closely Tech City Investment Organisation, UKTI and the Mayor’s office to support London’s growth as a major digital hub.
BK: “Why should businesses think about locating themselves in London?”
PA: “We have a lot to offer and it’s all very accessible. In London, start-ups are within easy reach of a broad ecosystem: partners, customers, investors, even policy-makers. You can fit in several very useful meetings in one day, with minimal travel. And with its great transport connections, it is easy to get all over Europe and worldwide from here. And with a time zone spanning the global working day in London you can embrace both Asia Pacific and the US.”
BK: “Is the available talent pool here another factor?”
PA: “Absolutely. Companies like yours select London for just that reason. It’s true of start-ups too: I know of several organisations that chose London because it gives them access not just to developers and engineers, but financial, marketing and other skill-sets. Plus, if you are planning to ‘Europeanise’ your content or products, it is a lot easier to do from the UK, because we have the local expertise. London really is an international city.”
BK: “Why do you think programs like BizSpark are important?”
PA: “BizSpark is a key player in the start-up ecosystem. For young companies that have little capital, it helps them to get started quickly and – as far as technology is concerned – saves them a lot of money. There is also all the business and technical support that you and your colleagues are able to offer them and on a very personal level.
BK: “Putting you on the spot now: if you had to give one piece of advice to start-ups in London, what would it be?”
PA: “Lack of finance is cited as one of the biggest challenges facing any start-up, so I encourage all companies to find out more about the increasing range of options and sources available here in London. Shoreditch – where TechCity and the hub of London’s tech start-up community is based – is just a stone’s throw from the City’s huge financial centre. Off the back of that, we’ve seen the launch of initiatives such as Angels in the City and ‘City Meets Tech’, that have been created to get the banking community to invest in technology start-ups. Then there are all the great networking and learning opportunities available in London: Digital Shoreditch runs until June 1st, Le Web comes to London June 19-20 and of course, the BizSpark European Summit on June 7th. I look forward to meeting more of the BizSpark community then!”
As many of you might know, 11 teams just graduated from the FounderFuel (http://founderfuel.com) program as part of the Spring 2012 Cohort (http://founderfuel.com/en/alumni), and--you guessed it--applications are now open (http://founderfuel.com/en/apply) for the Fall 2012 Cohort! FounderFuel is a grueling, intensive 12 week program during which its mentor network helps you gain traction, secure partnerships, and get to revenue faster, all in effort to help you raise follow-on funding. Several hundred startups from around the world apply for each cohort, and that means getting in ain’t no picnic. Those who do get in get: - A network of over 120 mentors (Investors, Serial Entrepreneurs and Senior Executives) http://founderfuel.com/mentors - Immediate access to over $100K in perks (Azure, Amazon AWS, Rackspace, PayPal, etc.) - Over 30 inspiring Guest Speaker presentations - A small seed round of $20K-$25K on Day 1 of the program - A convertible note of $150K to teams that are considered "Venture-Ready" at end of the program The program culminates on Demo Day, when teams pitch before an audience of over 700, including investors from the US, Canada, and Europe, as well as members of the press and startup community. Have a look at what people are saying in the press (http://founderfuel.com/en/press) and see what the Spring 2012 cohort had to say about their experience in this short video (http://founderfuel.com/2012/05/25/the-final-video-of-the-founderfuel-watchmojo-series). In a nutshell, you get a year’s worth of learning, growth and fundraising in just 3 short months. If you’re serious about making a real business out of your startup and are ready to take it to a whole new level, we have what it takes to give your company a power boost (think Red Bull for startups). Think you have what it takes? What are you waiting for? Apply (http://founderfuel.com/en/apply) before June 22nd.
After the IPO, what will $5 get you in Facebook? Turns out, plenty. After this months rocky but massively important IPO, we are really starting to see changes in how Facebook is trying to monetize their platform. Many of you have seen an additional button on Facebook posts on your brand page that says “Promote”.
I saw this last week and was curious to see how it worked and ran a very simple experiment. Mongo has almost 7,000 fans on his Facebook brand page, and I wanted to see how many users a message typically reaches. It turns out that even with 7,000 likes, most posts in Facebook reach less than 7% of your user base, as my statistic shows in the image below.
So I invested $5 and made a very similar post, promoting the release of my friend Madhavi’s new app, iLuv Drawing Dinosaurs, just to see what happens. The results were quite astounding because this post, although very similar to my earlier post, reached 28% of my audience, which is over 2,000 people!
Although it is debatable if this post actually lead to real downloads, the key learning is that it reached way more people than a normal post, and additionally, the engagement was higher, with 7 likes and 4 comments! This is in contrast to only 2 likes in the normal post.
Many of us still dislike the new Facebook Timeline feature, but with options like promoted posts, we may have more opportunities to do some serious marketing for our apps.
Anybody else play around with this new feature? Tell us about your results!
Guest Post written by Ahmed Siddiqui, founder of Go Go Mongo! Preschool Healthy Eating Game, and San Francisco Bay Area Leader for Startup Weekend. You can find him on Twitter @siddiquiahmed
There may be a bunch of lazy kids out there who don't get enough exercise, but the future trend is pretty clear, even in a digital age, we are moving into an age of kinetic discovery, communication and relationship building. Creativity will be a standard by which we will have to be measured, because our future is one where decisions will have to be made creatively. It's not just hype. It's a matter of course.
Yesterday, the Microsoft Accelerator for Kinect had a demo day for eleven companies, and the experience left me thinking really hard about how we are using technology these days. All of these companies use the Kinect technology to solve problems.
The Kinect program capitalizes on something Microsoft observed after the launch of the device in November 2010. People developed unexpected uses for the Kinect, which was sold as an accessory for the Xbox 360 gaming console.
Microsoft dubbed that the "Kinect Effect," and launched a program for established businesses, as well as startups, to develop commercial Kinect applications.
Microsoft managers expected to get maybe 200 applications for the Accelerator for Kinect program. They ended up with 500 from 60 countries.
It's the first time that Microsoft has done something like its own Accelerator program, and the interaction they have with TechStars should give you insight into how the consumer experience in technology is taking a massive leap from sitting at a desk or sitting in your classroom consuming media through technology, to one that is about making things, influencing people, and creating ideas through kinetic interaction with media and technology.
We are basically talking about a fundamental change into what I think is a more construction-of-reality future. Just look at this 3-D model of Dave Drach's head. It's made using the Kinect and some application coding put together by Manctl, one of the Accelerator teams at Demo Day.
Okay, the rest is about poetry, so be warned.
Have you ever heard or read anything by Gerard Manley Hopkins? Hopkins was a British poet who wrote prolifically during the first world war. The battered concussive impact of artillery; the deluge of death and the slaughter of innocents during war time must have impacted his writing. He writes with a syncopation and intensity that is very much like a blending of machine and spirit. Here is Richard Burton, another poet, reading the Manley Hopkins poem, "The Leaden Echo & The Golden Echo." yeah, it's poetry, but if you can spare two minutes, just listen.
Words Can Be Just Like Hammers, Hands and Snare Drums
I'm going to make an illogical leap here. But bear with me.
Most people think that language is superficial; that it has no physical property. True. Language is a sort of invisible thread that explains the world. But so too is scent and sound. You can't see it.
But language is like computer code. it makes physical objects movable in the mindscape of the platform. It puts something abstract within the grasp of human interaction so that it makes SOMETHING happen.
KINECT Is a New Language and Its A Modern Day "Kinetic" Machine Poetry
Take what you heard in Manley Hopkins' poem and abstract that. Think about what the Kinect technology does that eleven companies were using at the Microsoft Accelerator for Kinect yesterday in Seattle. They are pairing human spirit, human action, with programming language and optical / light interaction.
People are using the human body to create a kind of instant programming language, in some case. Take FreakNGenius, for example. They have an application that lets you layer a two dimensional human body experience onto a one dimensional graphic experience, to create animated stories with your body.
Photo courtesy of Sam Rosenbalm, Microsoft
This tool can help kids learn, because, in my mind, it let's kids get up out of their chairs and express things they are thinking through stories. Stories re-frame what we are learning into something we understand. Stories are metaphorical pathways for our own experiences. When we are learning, we like to pair up our experience with the new things we know (I was a teacher, if that sounds fruity).
Let me put this perspective:
I hated parts of the school day. We were molded as students to be receptacles of media in the way that media, at the time, was commonly made or received.
That meant that you sit in a desk and use a calculator to count beans, or faced the front of the class to look at a chalkboard and then transcribe what you were learning.
But my body and mind knew something different was happening. I wasn't "learning" what I was reading on the chalkboard. My body and mind were memorizing, while my other subconscious mind was learning how to be a student. Yet, I resisted. This was not the way I wanted to learn. I didn't like learning this way.
I was a horrible consumer of learning. You have to listen to the teacher talk and then, if you find a discrepancy, you sometimes had to deal with a teacher who didn't want you to question it. You have to be able to spit back out what you have ingested. You have to fill in bubble sheets to prove you have learned what needs to be learned. You do not "make" as much as you "receive." You do not "encounter" knowledge, as much as you are "fed" knowledge.
I always felt a sense of spiritual shackles in the classroom. I liked to move. I liked my language to bounce and to shimmy. I needed to explore and discover through words and numbers, and, even in the classroom (and at home), I had to move in order to understand things.
My two nephews love Kinect. You should see them at my sister's house in St. Louis. They jump up and down and move white water kayaks through torrents with their entire body. Through a virtual landscape they hunt for turkeys and act like ninjas. And you know, it's not just happening in the experience of the game. I pay attention to how they talk to me and their father, and mother.
They use their hands a lot. They lean and pivot. When the youngest one -- five years old -- wants to talk about something, he'll run over to you and slam into you, crawl on your lap, and then flip over on his back to start chatting, all the while holding a truck or a car in his hands. Everything is always moving and hustling.
What Does This Have to Do With Poetry? We Are Energy Made Into Matter and ANY Kind of Language is a Transmission Platform for Mental Energy
There is the known that we know, like filling out TPS reports, doing accounting, and putting together a lunch buffet.
But then there is the Uknown, which we kind of Know, because certain things and activities remind us of it. I am thinking here of: humor, love, friendship, loyalty, morality, longing, pain, solace, and loneliness. Basically, common emotional experiences that remind us of our humanity.
In the age of the book, and pre-book (when troubadors walked the earth), poetry became the transmission of this deep human experience; this sacred, creative and imaginable emotional experience, and it it brought it into the realm of the present.
I think that the Kinect helps us articulate this subconscious in a way that we have never experienced before. Look at this video of what FreakNGenius does.
Matter is a super-condensed form of energy. Moving images and the light show of technology startles us into creativity; it helps us make sense and make things for the world.
To my mind (and I have an MFA in creative arts), it make sense that we react to light and we move to express ourselves, because we are striving to interact with something deeper in our human experience.
It makes sense that things like spreadsheets and tablets appear to be two different and very glaringly opposable things. With the rise of the Kinect, we are approaching an age where we might be able to more often put down the tools of our manual labor, and invent with our minds in a way that is communicable to common human sense.
If you want to work with the Microsoft teams on building the future, applications are still open for the next Microsoft Accelerator for Azure (and yes, you can still use the Kinect).
Many executives in the marketing role may be uneasy withthe thought of tying lack of brand messaging control to a great reputation among consumers and audience, but the fact that the social web enables brands to speak to a variety of different consumers - to the individual -- means that brand managers have to be comfortable with letting go and understanding what the audience is saying. Therein lies some very valuable information about the brand and the product.
In this Guest blog post from Greg Coyle, Co-founder at Brandify.
In recent years, it’s become increasingly difficult to monitor and manage your brand’s online presence, but you’re not alone. The emergence of digital and social media has resulted in a tremendous power shift in the marketplace. Today, your brand reputation is in the hands of your customers. In fact, market research firm BIA/Kelsey reports that 97 percent of consumers use online media to assist with the purchase decision process when researching businesses and products in their area. That is in addition to using social media to discuss, review and evaluate local businesses.
While you may not be able to control this conversation directly, you can participate in it and take steps to improve your company’s online reputation. Brandify.com, a free service sponsored by Microsoft BizSpark that monitors the Web and provides businesses with details and recommendations to boost their online presence, offers these three tips to engage in the digital and social marketplace:
Brandify.com scours the Web and reports your brand’s reputation as a score. It delivers clear insights into your business’s overall online and social media reputation, and offers advice on how to improve your business’s online presence.
Your reputation is YOUR business, and it’s too important to leave to chance. Join the online conversation and help guide and shape your online presence to your benefit.
Here's a video that better explains what Brandify does.
You can follow Brandify online
“Microsoft is pleased to recognize Soluto as its BizSpark Partner of the Year,” said Mark Relph, senior director, strategic and emerging business, Microsoft. “As one of the largest users of Windows Azure in the BizSpark community, Soluto is focused on helping small businesses better manage their desktop system and offering their service on a global scale. At last year’s Worldwide Partner Conference they saw the advantage in joining BizSpark One and plugging into the valuable technology offers, technical and business expertise as well as Microsoft’s global partner network. As a result Soluto is changing the game for small businesses maximizing their desktop investments and employee productivity.”
The Demo Day is the sweaty palms and bust your gut finale that many startup founders and developer teams have grown accustomed to looking forward to. It's like a mini-graduation, only in this case, you are only a handshake and some term sheets away from getting your business funded, which is a whole hell of a lot more exciting than getting a diploma.
You get a diploma, and then you are out into the world again, searcihng for someone to let you work for them, so that you can spend many many hours doing what they want you to do.
Demo Day is like the beginning of a new life.
This was the Rockstart Accelerator Demo Day. The Demo Day is the result of 100 days of hard work by 10 startups. This was the big day on June 14 when they pitched for 300+ investors.
According to Mark Voermans, Emerging Business Manager for Microsoft in the Netherlands:
"Awesome energy during the whole afternoon with pitches all day. The startups and crowd were very enthusiastic! Great show and performance by the startups and very well organized. Very happy we partnered with them. Happy to see a new accelerator in the Netherlands succeed to deliver what they promised. Next 100 days is Rockstart summerschool with closing in SV where they will visit several hot tech companies including MSFT."
So, what do you do when you show up to an app building workshop in San Francisco to learn how to build Windows 8 apps? Well, you make an app and it goes into the store.
Microsoft just closed their 30 to Launch in San Francisco on Monday. It was pretty cool. About three dozen app developers gathered in Rocketspace each week to take classes on the building of Windows 8 apps. they got lessons in architecture, form factor, everything. And then they set to building. One of the developers, Paras Wadehra, impressed everyone by building an app that will soon go into the store.
We decided to interview him about four other apps he built, to figure out what went in to getting them into the store. Here's the interview.
Why did you make these apps?
Paras: For me, building Windows Phone apps was a no-brainer. I already had been working with various Microsoft technologies, including .Net, C# and Silverlight. I had previously written apps for Windows Mobile and other competing smartphone platform,s as well. I was able to easily port my skills from desktop/web and other mobile platforms to the Windows Phone platform. My apps cater to the everyday needs of users. Take Dictionary for example, it is an app that I knew many people will use multiple times a day. My Dictionary app was the first Dictionary on Windows Phone platform. And then there is Unit Converter, again a very popular daily use app. For kids (and adults alike) I made SketchPad, which lets you draw free hand on a canvas with a vast palette of colors and then save your sketch in the Pictures Hub. On the games side, I made an app for popular game of Chess - it is a favorite time-pass for many people around the world and speaks to all people across cultures and without any language boundaries. Similarly, all my apps are easy to use and speak to the users directly. My apps have been very well received by users, with over 300,000 downloads and they have won several awards and accolades from Microsoft and others in the industry. What industry do they serve?
Paras: My apps cater to people of varying interests and range from Productivity App to Utility App, from a Kids App to a Game, from a Transit App to a News Reader App, and more.
What's it like working on the Windows platform? What can you tell us about how its design affects behavior?
Paras: I believe Windows Phone platform has the coolest form factor from an end user's perspective. It brings fresh air into the stale smartphone market. Microsoft has made working with and developing for Windows Phone a breeze. It is much easier to get your app in the marketplace compared to some competition, yet the application goes through a full quality review ensuring that low-quality or malware-ridden apps do not fill the marketplace. The intrinsic design of Windows Phone platform encourages developers to give more thought to the functionality of the app rather than trying to make it look pretty while it does nothing useful. From experience I can tell that users like apps that work better over apps that look good but do nothing, and Microsoft's platform delivers just that. Paras Bio:
Paras is an avid Windows Phone enthusiast and champions other developers to get started developing for the platform. He is an experienced speaker and a co-organizer of the Silicon Valley Windows Phone User Group. He works as a Windows Phone developer at his day job along with consulting for a few other companies, while writing more apps in his own spare time. He is also in the process of converting his Windows Phone apps to the Windows 8 platform and won 1st place in the 30 to Launch competition for Windows 8 conducted by Microsoft in San Francisco. He can be found online on Twitter as @ParasWadehra Apps featured in this article: Chess - http://www.windowsphone.com/s?appid=8d004b25-79cc-43d6-80fe-66adff79a5dc Dictionary - http://www.windowsphone.com/s?appid=9f31b733-8c7b-e011-986b-78e7d1fa76f8 SketchPad - http://www.windowsphone.com/s?appid=01617c98-9923-432c-b7c5-7391624470db Unit Converter - http://www.windowsphone.com/s?appid=a4c7fe59-8f8a-e011-986b-78e7d1fa76f8
It’s BizSpark European Summit rehearsal day and the level of adrenalin here at Microsoft’s London offices – where we’ve got 15 start-ups all being put through their paces ahead of tomorrow’s big day – is high. Like we do every year, we provide the finalists in tomorrow’s pitch competition as much support as possible, so that when they face their panels of judges – among who will be some of Europe’s top investors, visionaries and business leaders – they are ready.
Of course, quite a few of the start-ups are old hands at pitching on stage, but practice makes perfect. Certainly, I’ve heard several start-ups say they’ve really valued the presentation coaching they’ve been receiving for the past few weeks. Today, they did their last practice run in front of their peers (plus a whole host of Microsoft people and mentors) and I have to say that they are a pretty impressive crowd.
My colleagues have also been carrying out video interviews with each of the finalists – expect to see these appear on the BizSpark site and other Microsoft sites over the next few months.
So what will the winner stand to gain? Well, apart from the visibility and credibility that the top slot has given winners in previous years, the prize includes a trip to Silicon Valley to meet with senior Microsoft executives, make some useful introductions and do some serious networking. Through our sponsorship of the European Commission’s new Tech Stars competition, we will also be able to offer one ticket to Le Web London. And, the winner can expect to receive PR throughout 2012 and beyond. There is also a People’s Choice award, open voting for which closes at midnight on June 6th/
So who do I think will win? Of course, I’m biased towards the Israeli cloud security start-up Foresight, but the calibre of all 15 finalists this year is incredibly high. A few of my personal favourites: Jampot (Ireland) with its Appbuilder (lets you build mobile apps very quickly) Germany’s 6Wunderkinder (clever task management) and Fitting Reality, with its virtual fitting room. Any one of them would deserve the winner slot. I think that the judges tomorrow are going to have a tough time picking just one.
I’m looking forward to a packed day of keynote presentations, intensive panel debates (the app economy, the talent challenge and the business of cloud), plus of course, the start-up pitches. I wish every one of them the very best of luck. Catch the live video stream if you can!
This blog post was written by guest blogger Amir Pinchas, Finance Director at BizSpark Israel.
Amir Pinchas is in charge of in-depth engagements and industry outreach with Israel’s startup community. He works with local startups to explore areas for cooperation with and help from Microsoft, and helps Microsoft identify interesting technologies to create inorganic growth opportunities.
Amir is a finance professional with over 7 years in finance strategy and business development focused on multinational high tech companies.
In his previous role, Amir led the Capital finance team in Numonyx Ltd. (Intel memory division spinoff) responsible for large scale investments and strategic consulting to senior management. Before that Amir was senior finance analyst at Intel focused on strategic capital analysis and managed over a Billion dollar capital investment budget. Amir also managed over a Billion dollar cash flow of Intel Israel entities.
In the early hours of dawn in San Francisco, I flicked on my laptop and took in the livestream of the BizSpark Euro Summit. Just in time to see a few startups pitching, and then to listen to Bob Dorf, who sharpened people's understanding of what it means to run a startup.
If you are buildng a company or an app (which may one day be a company) you are doing something amazing. You are doing something that not a lot of people can do. you are listening to a set of problems, and you are building solutions for those problems.
Success looks like something that many people cna use to make their lives easier. If you are not building something like that with that mentality, then you are doing something that looks different than your real job.
Your job really is to give customers what they want. I want to really hang on that idea. I get tired of listening to startup founders (you don't hear this from developers much) talking about how they have a solution, but when you ask them more questions, you begin to wonder if they ever listened to anyone when they were building their products. People evoke Steve Jobs and they say, he was famous for saying people don't know what they want. Then why was he in the Apple Store every month? He was watching customers. He was learning how they work, and how they demand. He was not sitting in some kind of lead lined sanctuary, meditating and dropping acid. Well, maybe when he was younger.
It often seems an entrepreneur's own biases, and own experiences shape the app, or the business solution, more than their customer experiences. It's like they have a really cool idea, but they are still in search of a problem. Find the problem first.
You know an app is going to be successful, for example, when you use it, and you are like, "Oh, wow. I like how this solves this problem." Or, "Finally!" You know you might not have a successful app idea when you click on the icon and open up... another photo sharing app! Great!
Here's a rundown of some of these startup heroes at the Microsoft BizSpark Summit, in photographs and in tweets. If you want to join this community, you can do a few things.
Follow @bizspark on Twitter
Join our Facebook page.
Contact me on Twitter @douglascrets and tell me you want to blog with us.
Meet me at RocketSpace, where I hang out about three times a week. But tweet me first to make sure I am there. I might be interviewing people around the city.
And read more tweets and blog posts like this one. Enjoy. This stuff is for you, because it was made by people like you -- startup developers and founders who want to help people,and see the million dollar opportunities that come from such an exchange.
The Microsoft Imagine Cup brings together students from all over the world and asks them to use their creativity and passion for technology to help solve the world’s toughest problems. This year is the 10th anniversary of Imagine Cup and over this period, we have more than 1.65M students from 194 countries who have participated. The 10th Worldwide Finals will be held in Sydney, Australia from July 6-10 and more than 350 finalists from 75 countries will be competing for the top prizes.
Students are at the forefront of technology adoption and Imagine Cup is an example of how students are building apps as a means to solving problems, connecting with people, and experimenting with new business models and ideas. This is the 10th year anniversary of Imagine Cup and we’ve just launched the People’s Choice Awards so that you can vote for your favorite Imagine Cup Worldwide Finalist team. Over 60 teams submitted videos that are packed with innovative ideas – from creating a mobile phone app for early detection of throat disease, to turning a mobile phone into a metal detector so anyone can steer clear of un-exploded landmines, or using a Kinect sensor to engage autistic children into educational and social experiences.
Jessica Watson, Young Australian of the Year 2011 and the youngest person to sail non-stop and unassisted around the world, asks you to celebrate the amazing work of student innovators by voting in the Imagine Cup 2012 People's Choice Award. Check out her video here.
Please go to the People’s Choice Award site and vote – and then ask your friends, family and network to vote. The more people learn about this, meet the students, and see the projects, the more they see how innovative our technologies are and how they can be used to truly change the world.
Here are some interesting facts about how these students are using technology and new software to imagine solutions for the world:
Some of you may have heard about the live workshops we are doing for developers in Seattle and San Francisco. They are opportunities to do some hands-on Windows 8 app building, while being face-to-face with devleopers, architects and other smart people who can help them build their ideas into the new touch-sensitive format.
Some of you can't be in those places during the month of June, so for one day on June 14, we are having a virtual series of workshop sessions.
On 14th June from 9am to 5.30pm PST, the Windows User Experience team is running sessions on how to design great apps that use the platform in cool ways and follow UX guidelines. After the training, you’ll be able to design and build experiences that follow the tenants of great apps, use intuitive information architecture patterns, and use best practices for designing flexible layouts, touch, contracts, and much more.
So, they basically cover the UX issues in Windows 8, and get you comfortable with the theory, the design thesis, and the fundamentals of user design. Hope you can make it.
To cloud your app or not to cloud your app…That is the question!
According to Juniper Research, between 2009 and 2014 the market for cloud-based mobile apps is projected to increase by nearly 90%. This projection asserts my conviction that the marriage between mobile apps and cloud is proving to be a real success.
The question however remains: how can startups make the best out of this marriage? I believe that today’s session at the BizSpark European Summit 2012 tackled this question in a very pragmatic and realistic approach.
We heard from a panel with a wide variety of expertise: Stephen Forte (Chief Strategy Officer Telerik), Rob Fraser (Chief Technology Officer for Cloud Services Microsoft UK), Bernard Dallé (Partner Index Ventures) and Andrew Yates (CEO & Co-Founder Artesian).
Everybody on the panel agreed that starting a company today is very different than 15 years ago: On one hand the amount of capital and risk are much lower and on the other hand the business environment and users’ preferences are moving much faster. As Bernard puts it “the new economy is about innovating and then running very fast”. The rules of the game are: Innovation, focus and agility. Enter cloud!
The cloud is “a tectonic shift greater in amplitude than open source” (Bernard Dallé). Cloud gives startups the opportunity to focus on what counts, to scale and to adapt. However to be successful in the cloud “you need a standard subscription business, recurring revenue model & customers willing to pay" (Andrew Yates). I will add one more item to this list: a great product!
Of course, we are a company that is heavily behind the cloud and mobile apps and today I believe everyone in the room at the Euro BizSpark Summit agreed that this marriage is the future provided it is put in place wisely.
This blog post was written by : Stephan Jacquemot, Emerging Business Lead Germany, Microsoft
If you guys are around your computer around 4pm and 6:10pm PST, you can watch Microsoft Accelerator startup FreaknGenius on the news:
When it comes down to "smart technology," we're not really looking for devices that wow us. we're looking to get things done. Current UX and UI in some smart devices is just too complicated. Seemingly effortless interface and controls actually end up being walls whenever our cultural habits and information processes slam against them.
Take computers, for instance. For people in their 16-45 range, a computer is pretty easy. You turn it on, click open a browser or a document and get to work.
But seniors are not like that, reckons Imtiaz Majeed, a seventeen year old entrepreneur, who is part of our BizSpark community group on Facebook.
He contacted me out of the blue and wanted to know what BizSpark thought about his idea for a super simple computer. Of course, I took the time and looked into it, and made sure to tell him about the next Microsoft Accelerator class that's coming up in Seattle (you can get into the program with nothing more than idea, by the way).
Here's what Imtiaz is reckoning. He thinks that what stands in the way of elderly computer use is the fact that computers are just not simple enough.
The simple user interface latches on to an existing operating system (Windows, MacOS) and creates an easier environment to navigate and do basic tasks. This reduces the frustration experienced by most Senior citizens. Everything is simplified. One click for email. One click for Facebook. One click to share photos and chat with family. Everything in plain sight with no distractions. Simplified for Seniors.
This reminds me of what a gentleman named Rich described to me at AOL the other day, right before the AngelHack hackathon started. He said that TV is way more confusing than what it needs to be. "Smart TVs are too smart," he said. "My mother only needs one or two buttons to use to operate a TV, why are there dozens of controllers and hundreds of buttons on these things?" His idea was to create some kind of UX or UI for smart television that took away all the guess work, and the wormholes from the Smart TV experience.
Imtiaz is thinking something similar. It's not like he wants to create a completely new computer. He just needs to create some kind of interface that reinforces new habits, but doesn't feel like it is educating the user. It should be so simple that the user forgets he or she is going through a process to use it.
I am not a designer, so apologies if I am treading on toes, but Facebook seems like a super simple layout, and it seems, to me, to offer a very transparent version of the information that makes up our user experience. I don't have to guess at all as to what any of this information means. I don't confuse structure of the layout with my "calls to action." I don't get confused about what I am supposed to do. I know I can view, scan, comment on, LIKE, or ignore. I'm not at all bothered by what is presented to me.
Is Imtiaz talking about a kind of OS that operates like a Facebook interface, or the Twitter interface?
What goes into design like this? And what do we give up if we move from email to other forms of information processing and presentation?
How do you convert something that feels manual and seems machine-embedded and make it as simple as getting out a piece of paper and writing a letter? If you look at email and letter writing, they are just as simple as each other. I think the thing that stands in the way is that design makes it seem like the elderly have something to lose by giving up letter writing and going to email. I know my mother always worries about privacy. She doesn't know which emails to click on, because in the end, they all look the same.
How do you design so that design gets out of the way? Do you work within the template for email, or the template of the computer OS? These are questions about fundamentals, but altering these fundamentals creates new realities for how people and information interact.
Well, they are not talking specifically about you, but the way these people are talking, it's wonder you are not listening to them.
One of the common traps for startups is that they stop thinking about what didn't get them into the game in the first place. That's right, they fixate on what they are good at doing, and then they lose meaning in the market.
Do this in your own business. Do it now! Rather than make incremental improvements that make your product or service better – set aside time and ask yourself what you would do if you were to start a business competing with your existing business. Don’t ask how you would change some of the things you’re doing – focus on what you would build from the ground up. Would the product or service look the same? Would you want to poach the people working for you now? (if you would not – let them go. Now!) Would you even start the same business?
And when you are done competing against yourself, reflect on the stress, lack of sleep and disorder that permeates your life as you build your startup dream. Consider the great startup roller coaster by Elad Gil, in a blog post hosted on our partner Founder Dating's site. There are things you can do outside of the daily haul of building a team and a product to make your life more meaningful. You can help others in the meantime.
Do your best to maintain key relationships. I had to cancel a pre-planned family trip with my girlfriend in order to work. She was super understanding, but the startup lifestyle can really stress relationships. Try to find ways to connect with loved ones on a regular basis as their support will help get you through tough times – and will help with decompression! Buy your girlfriend flowers or take your boyfriend to Sausalito. Find a way to connect and be with one another.
It's also important to think about the cultural implications of what you are doing, and the technology you are working with to get that mission accomplished. We are not just building gadgets or things to do while working with gadgets.
Really great startups and the technology they use -- can end up changing the way we make sense of the world, and then function in it.
People are using the human body to create a kind of instant programming language, in some case. Take FreakNGenius, for example. They have an application that lets you layer a two dimensional human body experience onto a one dimensional graphic experience, to create animated stories with your body.
As we develop startups, it's important to listen to what other people are saying, not because we are paranoid and we want to know who is targeting our weaknesses. No. We want to listen because the work we do in startups is the work of helping other people, and it makes sense to know where we sit on that impact graph. Where have we moved the needle? What needles still need moving?
Get out of your incubator and start cracking.
Six technology startups selected to help change the future of entertainment.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – June 7, 2012 – Turner Broadcasting today announced the companies selected for the Media Camp 12-week accelerator program this summer.
The companies will benefit from one-on-one mentorship with television and film executives, a comprehensive curriculum on media-specific topics and the opportunity to commercialize their business to Turner’s entertainment, news, sports and animation networks.
“Each of the six Media Camp companies have compelling innovation that they are bringing to the media industry,” said Balaji Gopinath, VP of Emerging Technology at Turner Broadcasting and founder of Media Camp. “We are here to help them lead the charge in making the next generation of social and interactive entertainment engaging and successful.”
Here are the members of the first class:
Chute's platform enables publishers, brands, and app developers to seamlessly add any photo or video functionality to their apps or sites. We handle the entire backend from uploading, image processing, and API integrations, to features like moderation, commenting, and sharing.
Matcha is the easiest way to find the best Movies and follow your favorite TV Shows from Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, Amazon and more video services, in one place.
Showbucks develops fun and engaging apps that combine social video with social games.
Socialize believes people strongly influence each other even when they aren't 'friends.' Anyone who shares a common interest is influenced by others with that same interest.
Socialize is creating a social platform that can predict user intent by mapping an interest graph across users and content.
SocialSamba is the leading social storytelling platform, enabling fans to "friend" their favorite fictional characters, and experience personalized stories with them. SocialSamba has served more than half a million scripted social experiences to fans.
Switchcam recreates the experience of live event like sports games and concerts by combining and syncing fan footage, making you the director.
We are also pleased to announce companies that have committed to working with Media Camp to provide valuable resources, services and/or products to each of the startups. Media Camp affiliates include:
Media Camp’s investor demo day is scheduled for mid-September. For event updates, sign up for the newsletter at www.mediacamp.com.
Startups can apply for future accelerator classes at http://www.mediacamp.com/apply. About Media Camp Media Camp, a Turner Broadcasting initiative, is a comprehensive accelerator program that educates entrepreneurs and enables them to build innovative media businesses. Key features of Media Camp include presentations and workshops focused on media technology, formal mentorship from media industry experts, community events and knowledge sharing, as well as direct investments including partnerships and vendor relationships. For more information, visit www.mediacamp.com and follow us at twitter.com/themediacamp.
About Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner company, creates and programs branded news, entertainment, sports, animation and young adult media environments on television and other platforms for consumers around the world.
Startup founders often turn to hybrid management solutions to put together their teams, but is this always the right strategy when trying to turn an app into a huge company with traction? How can founders solve this problem? Microsoft Blogger Yuriy Zaytsev, who is responsible for startup engagement and recruitment in Central and Eastern Europe, says that app companies may not have all the right talent to create a smashing success.
One of the things I have loved about this year’s European BizSpark Summit is the focus on creating an environment that nurtures early stage businesses. A lot of us in tech world love to think technology is critical – but there’s a lot more to turning an idea into a success story.
The session on talent got straight to the point – how do you find great people who will make this success story with you? We heard from Jerome S Engel (Adjunct Professor, Haas School of Business, University of California), Neil Gandhi (series entrepreneur and investor), Nick Thain (CEO of fast growing UK company Sports New Media) and Mark Gillet, Corporate Vice President, Skype Product Engineering & Operations, Microsoft.
The panel pointed out a couple of big hurdles. In many countries (like UK) there’s already a dearth of technical talent out there and demand growth continues to outstrip available talent. At the same time in other markets for example in Eastern Europe there’s a lot of highly qualified technical talent.
Then there is the big question – do app companies have their unique needs? Most of these start with a small core team, usually with hybrid workers who are design/dev/ops/test all in one. But here’s the danger: very few individuals tick all those boxes very well. And as the company grows, finding more good people is essential to preventing lack-of-talent from turning into a barrier that could cripple a young company. When (and if…) do you specialize? How to get all the skills seamlessly matched in a team, how to get chemistry working?
So what is the answer? The panellists didn’t have a single silver bullet, but I liked their suggestions. Modular team design, spread across multiple locations makes it possible to mix and match strengths of local talent markets. Using different recruiting channels is a must – mix of social, rewards to internal referrals, good old external search. Big part of finding talent is about selling the job – team leads who are doing it well can pick the best talent. “Do you want to build software used by millions of users” – this gets attention.
Everyone agreed on the importance of core skills – finding them is hard, but it’s well worth the effort. Get people who have them, nurture them and give them opportunity to grow – that’s a recipe for success.
Whether you agree with him or not, I’ll give the last word to Skype’s Mark Gillett, who says that the problem for the app economy is ‘Human Capital’ not ‘Venture Capital’.
Yuriy Zaytsev is with Microsoft’s Central & Eastern European headquarters, and is in charge of startup engagement and recruiting all kind of partners to develop solutions on Windows Azure.
Yuriy has over 15 years of experience in high tech in various roles in startup, consulting and multinationals.
Previously in Microsoft Yuriy held several roles in audience marketing, partner & channel development and enterprise sales. Prior to Microsoft Yuriy delivered strategy consulting projects while at Analysys in UK, ran technical pre-sales team for Oracle in Ukraine, and founded his own company. Yuriy holds PhD in Applied Mathematics from Kiev University and MBA from INSEAD.
Tomorrow is the first day of the BizSpark Euro Summit 2012. To prepare, we asked a few of the judges some questions about startups, mobile and the culture of apps. We caught up with Reshma Sohoni, who is one of the co-founders of SeedCamp. Here's what she had to say about what she looks for as a judge, and the situation around desktop vs. mobile.
BizSpark: Practical question first: Does a company have to have traction in order for it to be a good idea? Or, is a good business model enough? In other words, what is the first thing that catches your attention about a company’s business plan?
Reshma: I do think that rather than spending a lot of cycles on creating beautiful Excel or Powerpoint or Word documents around an idea that time should be spend building the idea into a product. Obviously basic strategy and thought documents are critical but get out there and actually start to build things. B/c all that paper you've created will be useless if what you build isn't quite the original idea you had.
BizSpark: Now for a theoretical question: What do you think of apps as being a place where you can develop communities? Do you look for apps that have an ability to create community, or do you just look for apps that get tasks done?
Reshma: We look at both. Apps as platforms are very interesting but really difficult to build. In either case, whether the app develops into becoming a platform or whether it stays as an app that gets tasks done, there has to be inherent value and appeal to the app itself. That app usually has to prove it can attract users and customers. It's pretty rare to just build a platform app from day 1. And of course those apps that are valuable and then become platforms are exponentially more valuable so that's extremely attractive to investors.
BizSpark: Mobile has been said to solve the issue of immediacy – wanting something done now. Do you think mobile solutions are creating any pressures on desktop computing? Or does desktop computing just turn into just another thing we do?
Reshma: I think they are complementary but the pressure is building at a faster rate to ensure that whatever your desktop offering is that you have a mobile offering thought through. There are more and more things users can buy, consume in faster than real time and so that puts pressure on nearly every company or person that comes from a desktop-centric vision. I think those who divorce the two do so at their peril.
It may be a cliché, but our collective future really does depend on the brightest and best of youthful talent. Here in Europe, Microsoft has initiated a huge focus on nurturing the next generation of entrepreneurs, across a wide variety of projects and programs. The latest of these is our commercial support for the participants in the UN Convention Young Innovators event taking place in Brussels 26-27 June.
The current crisis has shown the structural difficulties European economies are facing. Against this backdrop, the UNconvention brings together young Europeans with innovative ideas and those who will inspire, guide and support them: leading businesspeople, experts, entrepreneurs, investors, top politicians and officials to stimulate innovation and growth in Europe.
And what a line-up of keynote speakers: representative of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (Alec Ross, Senior Advisor on Innovation), representative of UK Prime Minister David Cameron (Rohan Silva, Senior Policy Adivsor), European Commissioner Neelie Kroes, our very own Chairman of Microsoft Europe Jan Muehlfeit, plus representatives from a whole host of other organisations, including the European Investment Fund, The World Economic Forum (WEF), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Seedcamp.
But while this is an impressive list of VIPs, the focus of this event is on young innovators. So, as well as discussing how we can work together to create a better for them, young entrepreneurs are encouraged to participate and make their voices heard. They’ll get a chance to network directly with the delegates, tell them what they’d like to see in the way of help for start-ups across the region and even have a chance to engage with potential investors. Plus, six early stage entrepreneurs will compete live at the event for the first ever Young European Innovator Award.
By the way, there are still some places left for anyone interested in attending, but you need to act very soon. More information can be found here.
This blog post was written by Ruud de Jonge, Audience Marketing Manager for Microsoft in The Netherlands