Wow! It’s been an exciting week. 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 40,000 startups.
Week of August 14-20, 2011
On Monday, one of the rising stars of the SaaS accounting world announced their US version and last night we went live with an offer to help BizSpark Startups take advantage of their solution.
We’re delighted to be offering Xero to BizSpark Startups.
From their base in Wellington, New Zealand, this startup always had global ambition and we love what they’re doing. From their verticalized set of cloud applications for accountants, and what they do with Dynamics CRM, these guys are building a world-class service, and a next generation accounting solution. The aim is to help small businesses (and accountants) become way more efficient. Part of their strategy is to support bank feeds.
We hope our BizSpark members can take advantage of this great offer – and please let us know if/when you do. We’re keen to know what you think.
Welcome to the US, Team Xero.
Every day, we’re excited to see the growth and successes emanating from the startups in the BizSpark program. The BizSpark One program identifies a small number of the best companies in BizSpark, which is now comprised of over 40,000 startups.
Whether it’s raising a new round of funding, winning startup competitions or being highlighted by analysts and media, we’re honored to recognize and work with these companies. Just over this past week, here are some of the news highlights of BizSpark One members –
Week of August 7-13, 2011
Microsoft is hosting the largest Startup Weekend event ever in the Bay Area on September 9-11 at the Mountain View campus. In partnership with Demo and Startup America, this is the first time that Startup Weekend is running 3 verticals during the same weekend – with a focus on Healthcare, Education, and Gaming.Startup Weekends are 54-hour events where developers, designers, marketers, product managers and startup enthusiasts come together to share ideas, form teams, build products, and launch startups. At the Mega Weekend in September, each vertical will have a winning team and those 3 teams will get a booth at Demo, and a chance to win the audience choice award. The winner of the audience choice award will present on stage at Demo! This is a huge prize and will get your Startup Weekend idea amazing exposure.
Have an awesome idea you want to pitch? We’re inviting you to sign up NOW.
To make it even easier – how about $50 off the ticket price? Use code MSFT.
More info and registration at: mega.startupweekend.orgIt should be a fab mix of budding entrepreneurs, experts, mentors, geeks and hackers...
See you there….
Dear Women Entrepreneurs
Astia is seeking high-growth companies to join the Astia Portfolio.
Companies that apply before August 15, and are accepted to the Astia Portfolio, will on-ramp during the Silicon Valley Entrepreneur Program, October 10-15, 2011. We invite you to apply now to experience the next class of companies run by @AstiaSF
Astia’s network of over 1,100 advisors (investors, entrepreneurs, C-level executives) are committed to accelerating the success of companies with female co-founders or executives. Since 2003, over 60% of Astia Portfolio companies have received funding – with over $1 billion raised, 22 exits and 2 IPOs.
How does Astia do it?
With year-round programming, customized advisor matching, leadership training, investor connections and a strong peer-to-peer network, Astia supports companies at all stages of growth, providing the tools and guidance for identifying, focusing and accelerating towards key milestones to drive success.
Who should apply?
We seek entrepreneurs who THINK BIG and have an innovative business in a high-growth industry – such as technology, clean tech or life sciences. (Preferably software entrepreneurs please J). And it helps if you know how to leverage a network. Your team must include at least one female co-founder or C-level executive.
Silicon Valley – Astia’s Premier Entrepreneur Program
Developed by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs, Astia's Entrepreneur Program is about delivering results in every area of your business. During the intensive 6-day event, you will cultivate invaluable relationships with key players, get candid feedback from leading experts on developing strategies that support growth and work one-on-one with advisors to incorporate these strategies into your business. Format is a comprehensive 6-day workshop in San Francisco (hosted at the Microsoft offices in Market Street) followed by a 2-month program of personalized coaching from premier experts – so you start benefiting from the global ecosystem of Angels, VCs, corporations, and entrepreneurs that is Astia.
Click here to see criteria for applications.
Application Deadline* August 15
Registration for SV Program August 17 In-Person Screening Day September 8
Silicon Valley Entrepreneur Program October 10-15 Investor Forum November 29
Astia is a global non-profit organization built on a community of experts that provides innovative programs to exceptional women-led start-ups. Headquartered in San Francisco, Astia delivers programs for entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, New York, Europe and India. Focused on tangible proven results, Astia is well positioned to work with start-ups around the world as they access capital, grow their businesses, and develop the executive leadership of the women on the founding tea
The Astia model of engaging a community of experts to the benefit of the select start-ups it serves has resulted in an exceptional success rate: since 2003, 60% percent of companies that have participated in the Astia Investor Forums have secured funding or achieved an exit within one year of presenting, totaling more than a billion dollars raised and 21 exits, including two IPOs. Astia has had significant press coverage in major media channels including The New York Times, Businessweek, Forbes and The Financial Times. For more information, visit www.astia.org.
By Brian Hoskins
June 20-24, Microsoft’s Emerging Business team hosted Mobile Acceleration Week at our midtown offices in New York City. This goal of the event was to accelerate a select group of high potential applications on Windows Phone. The group, consisting of all startup companies, represented a variety of applications, including location-based educational donations, early detection of cancerous moles, and a real-time personal shopping assistant. These startups are living proof of how mobile is truly changing the world and how people interact with both their physical and online environments.
This event was a milestone, not only as the seventh program since the original Mobile Incubation Week in Mountain View, but also as our first-ever event in New York City. Half of the startups were building their first-ever mobile applications and plan to launch exclusively on Windows Phone over the coming weeks. I’m particularly excited about how these startups are taking advantage of the new Mango features set to release this fall on Windows Phone.
The event was streamed live via Twitter and was covered in CNET by Jay Greene.
Digital Folio plans to use the new camera APIs to facilitate search and discovery of the best local product deals. With the price of a standard camera changing on Amazon up to seven times a day, their app ensures shoppers find the best deals regardless of whether they are purchasing online or in a physical store. Ignighter is using live tile notifications to notify people of group activities happening around them, based on common interests and friends. With over 1.5 million users and growing, Ignighter is planning a big push of their app when Windows Phone launches in India.
mySkin’s innovative application allows a user to take a picture of a mole on their skin, determine if it’s a precancerous growth, and even find a dermatologist in their area on Bing Maps. mySkin users will automatically be able to track and manage their medical history using Microsoft’s Health Vault.
The other startups, including edRover and GroupMe, are porting their apps from competitive platforms. I was particularly impressed with how slick edRover’s app looked in the Metro UI. During our press day on Thursday, edRover showed the Windows Phone and iPhone app side-by-side, and the difference was amazing. Their app released last week and is available for download in Marketplace. GroupMe has done a terrific job of using the Metro UI, native address book integration, and plans to go big on live tile notifications with Mango.
What Happened During the Week?
Hardcore development, educational workshops, collaboration, and a bit of fun. The event, co-sponsored by Samsung, AT&T, Avventa, AppHub, Waggener Edstrom, and iLink, featured dedicated technical 1:1 support, assisted coding, and a different educational topic each day.
All participants received BizSpark membership, Samsung Focus Windows Phones, AT&T developer SIM cards, and free App Hub registration. During the week, we had professional UI consultations, onsite technical support from Microsoft Consulting Services, and even PR and media training with Waggener Edstrom. Educational sessions covered the Windows Phone Application Lifecycle, How to Nail UI/UX, How to Build a PR Strategy, and the Carrier Perspective.
Development happened around the clock, with many startups working late into the night to hand off code to iLink who used offshore resources to code overnight. The following morning, the startups would debrief on the code from the previous night.
Thursday was media day, with startups presenting to Mary Jo Foley from ZDNet and Sara Yin from PC Magazine. CNET featured an article on Mobile Acceleration Week, highlighting Digital Folio and GroupMe.
Coming out of the program, startups will receive special placement on Windows Phone Marketplace, social media outreach and exposure, support from Microsoft Advertising, and additional visibility through keynotes, demos, and advertising.
In the Words of the Startups…
“The focus and resource access enabled us to begin to work through key functionality for our WP7 product on Mango. We are excited about the possibilities…”
“This was a great experience for our team. We look forward to building a killer app!”
“This is our big bet for the year. We are very bullish on Windows Phone.”
“We got a ton out of the week. We are really glad we did this. The resources and support were simply outstanding.”
Congratulations to Our Participants!
Digital Folio: multi-channel, real-time shopping platform.
EdRover: Nation’s first location-based mobile application for school fundraising.
GroupMe: GroupMe lets you effortlessly group text with the people in your life that are important to you.
Ignighter: changing the way that people think about their options when it comes to online dating.
mySkin: Analyze your skin, find what products and routines work for you, and connect with your SkinTwins
On Friday, March 25th in Central London, we hosted the BizSparkCamp for Azure, a day focused bringing UK BizSpark companies up to speed on Microsoft Cloud Computing
The day designed to offer the following assistance to entrepreneurs, in particular, the CTOs and developers/architects within Technology Startups.
Learn to build new applications in the Microsoft cloud
Get insights and guidance from other startups who have built their applications on Windows Azure
Potential Nomination for BizSpark One (an invitation only program) for high potential startups
Practical “how-to” tips on how to get started in the Microsoft Cloud.
The event consisted of a morning of keynotes and presentations from companies who have already built out applications on Azure.
Mark Taylor, Senior Director of the Developer and Platform Evangelism Group, and Board Member for Microsoft UK, delivered the keynote to the audience. He focused on our Vision for Cloud, and his view of the future.
Sam Rosenbalm flew in from our Redmond Corporate BizSpark Team to talk about BizSpark Connect, and to provide practical support and guidance to the UK BizSpark companies about how to leverage the BizSpark platform on a global basis. http://www.microsoft.com/bizspark/Connect.aspx
Mark Quirk (@markqu) and Eric Nelson (http://blogs.msdn.com/b/ukisvdev/) then spoke around practical hints and tips to help the startups get BizSpark Azure subscription up and running, and advice on how to get started on building their first application. It’s also worth checking out David Gristwood’s blog around Azure. Everything you need to know in one place! (http://blogs.msdn.com/b/david_gristwood/)
Finally, four companies presented their Azure applications to the other startups to give them an idea of how Azure has impacted their business. All the presentations were deeply insightful and really provided hard evidence that showcased the value of the Microsoft Cloud platform to their respective businesses.
1) Exceedra – a BizSpark One company focused on Insight Driven Planning – in the Cloud! - in the Retail and Consumer Goods sector. Exceedra were one of the winners of the BizSparkCamp Pitch Contest in 2010, and the presentation focused on what they’ve been able to achieve in just one year since joining the BizSpark Programme.
2) Xylyx - a BizSpark Company focused on micropayments in the Cloud. Xylyx were also one of the winners of the BizSparkCamp Pitch Contest in 2010.
3) mydeo – myDeo has been working with the Emerging Business Team since 2005, so were a great example of a more established company, and why they chose to switch to Azure. They focus on Secure Enterprise Content Delivery for all a company’s media.
4) AllMyPlans – a BizSpark Company focused on keeping all your finance documentation in one place and up to date.
The afternoon consisted of a series of Technical and Business-focused breakout tracks, where Eric Nelson and David Gristwood presented a series of Technical Briefings. Simon Karn from Microsoft and Andrew O’Conner from InishTech presented a session on understanding the Commercials of the Cloud from a Microsoft Perspective. Exceedra, mydeo and xylyx then followed on to discuss their business models in the cloud, and how it has benefited their businesses. Some great statements were made by all three of them. “Azure shortens my sales cycle significantly - it means that I no longer have to sell to IT, I can sell directly to the Business, and close the deal in a significantly shorter timeframe” “Azure has saved thousands of pounds from my bottom line – it makes complete business sense to us”
We finished off the day with a pitch contest, with five great Judges at the helm and seven startups pitching for the grand prize. Kynetix was the generous donor of a £10k prize for the winner of the pitch contest, to assist the winner in building out their Azure application.
The pitching companies were:
The winner for best pitch was Certivox, and the overall winner of the pitch contest and the £10k prize from Kynetix was Cirrious! Well done Stuart!
All in all, the startups left with a great insight into the Azure as a platform – we provided them with enough information to get out there building the next generation of Cloud Applications on the Microsoft platform.
There were over 80 delegates who attended the day, and 10 Microsoft staff to support the occasion.
As a final giveaway, the Microsoft Technology Centre in Reading, the BizSpark team and the Azure team at Microsoft offered half day Architectural Design Sessions with our Cloud Architects in our technology labs in Reading. As of today, 14 startups have booked the free half day sessions with us in May and counting!
And to finish off, some great quotes from the day:
“Great networking opportunity, feels like a community. Exceeded expectations”
“An excellent event. I look forward to the next Microsoft event”
“Great opportunity to learn about new ways to use Azure”
“Another excellent event. Don't be fooled by my high marks - I'm generally difficult”
“I would love to pitch my company!”
Greetings from the BizSpark Team here in the UK! I wanted to take the opportunity to share a bit of exciting news which happened this morning in our Microsoft London offices. The team at Microsoft UK hosted the launch of Startup Britain (www.startupbritain.org) , an initiative similar to Startup America, in our Central London offices. Gordon Frazer, the Microsoft UK Managing Director, (with Team BizSpark UK in presence!) today hosted Prime Minister David Cameron, Chancellor George Osborne and Business Secretary Vince Cable, in addition to 200 invited guests, entrepreneurs and media. Over 60 leading brands have pledged millions of pounds worth of support to new entrepreneurs under a major new campaign launched by the Prime Minister today.
Startup Britain was launched by seven founders (who are deeply passionate about entrepreneurship and are well known to the UK BizSpark Team) for entrepreneurs to support small business in the UK. Designed to celebrate, inspire and accelerate enterprise in the UK, it has the full support of the Prime Minister and HM Government with specific reference from the Chancellor in last week’s Budget Announcement.Speaking at the launch, the Prime Minister stated:
"None of this – none of what government’s doing, none of what StartUp Britain is doing – will mean anything unless people take these opportunities. To drive our economy forward we need thousands to make that step and strike out on their own. "So I want to make a direct appeal to everyone who’s sitting at home or at their desk thinking about starting their own business. Now is the time to do it. "If you’ve been turning over a good idea for years – now is the time to make something of it. If you’re working for a big firm but know you could do a better job on your own – now is the time to make the leap. If you’re dreaming about starting up the next great British brand - now is the time to make it happen. "There are thousands of people out there who are entrepreneurs but they just don’t know it yet. There are millions of success stories that haven’t been written yet. So seize this moment. Take these opportunities. Make it happen – and together we can drive our economy forward."
What is Microsoft UK doing in support of this initiative?
Microsoft UK has pledged to train 5,000 startups in how to use technology to drive their business and marketing activities, including free technology resources worth up to £400 per company.
This support for StartUp Britain is in addition to the successful BizSpark programme in the UK which now has over 2,300 technology startups, which all of you already know about!
Why is Microsoft UK supporting StartUp Britain?
Her in the UK, we think it’s crucial at this time for big companies like Microsoft to back Britain’s startups. Just a little over thirty years ago, Microsoft too was a startup. Why do you think I love my job so much! Helping smaller companies is very much part of our business model – there are over 30,000 partners in the UK, the vast majority of which are small businesses. We support UK government initiatives that encourage innovation, entrepreneurship and growth. We are proud of our nearly three decade long track record of investment and partnership here in the UK which supports the needs of the UK today, for example:
I have to say I am very proud of this statistic, having been part of the BizSpark UK Team since before the launch in November 2008. It’s been an inspiring journey meeting / working with / supporting so many passionate British Entrepreneurs over the past 2.5 years, and I look forward to many more inspiring connections to come….
Here’s a photo of our Managing Director, Gordon Frazer, sitting in the front row with Prime Minister Cameron. That’s me in the background filming, tweeting and photographing away with my Windows Phone 7 for all of you!
I did hear, via the grapevine, that Gordon and the Prime Minister had a bit of a play on the Kinect (a little birdie tells me they played Kinect Adventures) in our London Customer Experience Centre. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall for that one!
Find out how Segoz, a BizSpark start-up founded by a researcher and a student after finishing runners up in a £10,000 entrepreneurship competition last summer, developed an app following a balloon 70,000 feet above the ground.
Guest blog by Brett Laffel
What’s better than Dave McClure and the hottest NYC startups in the same room? Not much.
On Friday, September 23, Microsoft hosted 275 peeps at the 500 Startups’ SMASH Summit in our New York City office in midtown Manhattan. 500 Startups has been a partner of BizSpark since January 2010; their first batch of startups graduated earlier this fall, and their new class just started. SMASH Summit was primarily focused on marketing, with a particular emphasis on online platform strategies and tactics used by successful online companies to acquire and retain customers.
In addition to speakers from First Round Capital, Foursquare, Union Square Ventures, turntable.fm, GroupMe, Facebook, YouTube, Twilio, Gilte Groupe, Meetup, HubSpot, Visual.ly, Birchbox, Jetsetter and DailyWorth, we also had BizSpark One company Flite there.
Pictured on stage here is Fred Wilson (http://www.avc.com/), Dave McClure and Robert Scoble (@scobleizer)
You can read more about the event here.
Next up for Dave and the 500 Startups team – Warm Gun: Designing Happiness
Mini Seedcamp Barcelona is happening on the 16th of November and we’d love to see BizSpark startups take advantage of this program. Apply to THE European accelerator program before 20th October. We’re looking to spend the day with 20 awesome teams to meet and be mentored by some of the greatest mentors from across Europe.
Are you building a supercool new web service that makes life easier? Are downloads for your mobile app going through the roof? Are developers chasing you to use your cool new tools? That’s a pretty good indication that you should apply to Seedcamp Barcelona to meet all the fantastic mentors, to connect, get feedback and attract investment.
I wanted to write to all of you about the second annual UK BizSpark Summit, a one-day event held in Microsoft's offices in Cardinal Place, Victoria, London, UK to connect BizSpark startups with the wider entrepreneurial community of investors, network partners, and journalists and provide information to enable BizSpark members to grow their businesses. This was a CEO-focused, Business event, as opposed to the more technical focus of BizSparkCamps (watch out for the next one soon!)
Key objectives for the event
Summary of the Day
René Carayol, one of the world's leading business gurus was the moderator for the day and I was the event host for the day.
I was joined in my introduction of the event by Cliff Reeves, General Manager, Microsoft Emerging Business Team, who flew in for the event from Redmond, and specifically provided an update on BizSpark Connect (this is well worth you signing up to – just click on the "Connect" tab you see above)
The morning session was devoted to 3 interview based sessions with the CEOs of growing European businesses who were either BizSpark One companies or built on the Microsoft platform – Seesmic, Wonga and Huddle. Each session provided clear insights and advice for the entrepreneurial audience - best summarised as: Just do it and put the customer first.
A panel of BizSpark One CEOs explored the concept of partnership and discussed how best to tackle sales into corporates. The afternoon was devoted to a choice of workshops with Funding and Online topics proving to be the most popular. The event was rounded off by a competitive pitch session of 6 BizSpark Startups – with the winner myworksearch, taking home a trophy and a range of prizes donated by Network Partners.
Fun Facts about the Day
Startup Pitch Contest
Over 77 companies applied to pitch and only 6 were chosen to pitch on the day. Myworksearch emerged the overall winner. Four of the Startups chose to take part in pre-event coaching during the night before. The winning startups included Nuji. myworksearch, sentimnt, tweetpivot, projectHUGO, and Cloudhypermarket. Judges for the pitch were all leaders in their field: Julie Meyer, Ariadne Capital, Per Roman, GP Bullhound, Sean Seton Rogers, PROfounders Capital, and Lars Lindstedt, Microsoft. The Prizes were donated by the generous UK BizSpark Network Partners, and ranged from free hotdesking space in Cambridge (IdeaSpace) , to tickets to LeWeb (thanks @loic!) and Thinking Digital (thanks @herbkim!) , to a free trip to Sofia Bulgaria (QuickStart Global) to Value Proposition Development (Inflexion Point) to a fine bottle of Irish Whiskey! (InishTech Software) Thanks very much to the great UK Network Partners who contributed during the day!
08.30 Arrivals & Registration
09.10 Welcome from Bindi Karia, VC Emerging Business Lead, Microsoft and Cliff Reeves, General Manager, .NET Platform Strategy and introduction from our UK Summit MC, René Carayol
09.45 Loic Le Meur, Founder of Seesmic and LeWeb in conversation with René Carayol
10.30 Huddle, 0-60 in 3 years - Alastair Mitchell, CEO, Huddle
11.00 Refreshments and networking
11.30 Disrupting the old world business of consumer credit - Errol Damelin, Founder and CEO, Wonga
12.00 BizSpark One Panel - The challenges of growing businesses with Sarim Khan, Sharpcloud, Richard Nicholas, Exceedra, Peter Ward, WAYN, Steve Semenzato , Cortexica and Caroline Egan, Giant Step
12.45 Lunch and networking
14.00 Workshop Sessions I
15.00 Workshop Sessions II
16.00 Refreshments and networking
16.30 BizSpark pitch competition and prize giving. The judges were: Per Roman, GP Bullhound, Julie Meyer, Ariadne Capital, Sean Seton-Rogers, PROfounders Capital and Lars Lindstedt. Microsoft
18.00 - 19.30 Drinks and networking
The three workshops, as chosen and voted for by the delegates during the registrations process (delegates had to choose 3 out of 6 options) , were: Building business in the Cloud Cloud computing solutions offer agility, scalability and cost reduction but with these benefits come challenges. Legislation and regulations change on a daily basis. What do you need to know about privacy, legal, compliance and security? Who's making money and how?Building your brand online How can you build your brand and reputation online using social media? How do you monitor what is being said about you? How do you maximise your online PR potential? What are the most cost effective online/social media tools to drive business? Learn some tips and tricks and dos and don'ts.Finance (putting some fun into funding) Venture capital is often inappropriate for early-stage businesses. So where should they go? This workshop will help entrepreneurs think through their funding requirements and explore the various funding strategies that can achieve these aims.
A fantastic event, very useful – thank you. Oliver Lovus
Very well organised and very enjoyable Richard Alberg
Excellent event - well organised and very useful content. Speakers were generally of a very high calibre and answers to questions very useful Kevin John-Philip
Better pitches than 2009 Elspeth Levy, Quickstart Global
Continue doing these! Nadim Saad
Excellent, really enjoyed it - even more than I thought Alex Hardy
Outstanding support from Microsoft for this community Rob Anderson
A quick email to thank you again for the opportunity to present Nuji at BizSpark yesterday. It was a great day with interesting panels and I have met interesting contacts too. I'm looking forward to working with BizSpark in the future and can't wait to bring our CTO to London to talk with some of the tech gurus you have here. Vincent Thome, Co-Founder, Nuji
Thanks ever so much for inviting me yesterday and for a brilliant day.I thought the morning was exceptional and the pitches and panel very strong! Marc Bridgen, Founder & CEO, GigJunkie
Thank you for organising an excellent and interesting conference. It is always good to meet other small businesses and exchange views and ideas. Between the presentations and networking there are always useful nuggets of information and ideas that can be gained. . Many thanks for a most thought provoking conference and I look forward to the next event. Norman Shaw, Exacttrak Ltd
Just wanted to say thank you for your help and the opportunity. It was a great event and very well organized. Khash Sajadi, Sentimnt
Bindi - Billion thanks for the great BizSpark summit event yesterday!!!!! Your energy seems to be endless and charged up every participant of the summit. How do you do this!!!!!!????!!! If I were to describe yesterday's event in three words it would be: uniting, inspiring and excellent! You are a star! Elnar from Realeyes
Bindi and Lars - Just to say thanks for a brilliant day/evening yesterday and to all of you for your continued support to sharpcloud. All the feedback from the day was terrific and we enjoyed the panels and exposure Sarim Khan, Sharpcloud
Was a great day – I could not attend all of it but generally there seemed to be a great buzz and everyone was very engaged Christine Mullin, UK Business Strategy and Development, Consumer & Online, Microsoft
Thank you so much for organising this great Bizspark event. We made a lot of good contacts and it made us proud of being a Bizspark member! Nadim Saad, Result.com
Several people blogged about the day. Check out these great links!
Other links for you
In the words of the Telegraph Article: "BizSpark Summit, a top-quality, invitation-only conference that's rapidly becoming a highlight of the London start-up calendar."
We look forward to hosting this event next year!
All the best,
In the most closely contested Mobile Incubation Week to date, WaveMarket pulled out a dramatic victory in the fourth Mobile Incubation Week in Washington, D.C. September 28-October 2. The event featured a strong line-up of startups, ranging from an enterprise-focused project management tool to a mobile application focused on skincare for women. Spry took home the Team Spirit Award, capping an intense week-long marathon by all teams. Follow our Twitter site for the play by play.
The week started off with a feature on ABC News on Mobile Incubation Week and the launch of Windows phone and Windows Marketplace for Mobile. Alex Housley from Rummble, a MIW London alumnus, joined me for the news segment on ABC’s Ahead of the Curve.
Following a similar format to our previous Mobile Incubation Week events in Mountain View, London, and Singapore, the week was a mix of educational workshops, 1:1 business coaching, technical support, and development sprints. Featured sessions included a chalk talk on Windows Mobile 6.5 and Windows Marketplace for Mobile, How to Work with Mobile Operators led by Sprint, and How to Get the Most out of Mobile Incubation Week led by Rummble. The 1:1 business consulting sessions focused on business plan improvements, opportunities to partner with Microsoft, and pitch refinement for our final judging on Friday. Two technical experts from Microsoft’s Premier Consulting Services were on-hand to answer questions, give advice, and speed development time.
Final judging took place on Friday and included a diverse panel with a wealth of experience in the mobile industry, including: Michael Avon from Columbia Capital, Saj Cherian from Valhalla Partners, Jackie Luo from Sprint, Dayakar Puskoor from GlobalOutlook, and David Steinberg formerly at Swapdrive and now advisor to Core Capital.
Special thanks to our partners for the week, including Sprint, Muranosoft, and Corpus Mobile. Murano and Corpus supported with onsite staff and offshore developers during the week.
Most importantly, congratulations to our startups for a job well done. All five companies developed a working Windows Mobile application from scratch or greatly improved their Windows Mobile application during the week. Mobile Incubation Week is part of Microsoft’s continued efforts to find and support great startups on our platform. These developers, selected from over 150 applicants to participate in the event, showed tenacity and talent getting the job done this week. Congratulations to all our finalists!
· mTools: mTools is working with Microsoft on a mobile content management tool for Windows Mobile. With mTools, you can effectively manage and share files, contacts, settings, and bookmarks for end users and enterprise making your mobile life style easier. Sign up for an account for free, http://mtools.guiang.net
· Spry: Spry is comprehensive insight for software projects. Spry brings the real-time activity stream into the world of software development and helps teams make better decisions.
· Wavemarket: Wavemarket is building, Veriplace, a platform that provides a comprehensive, secure API for location-enabling your web or mobile application with WiFi, Cell ID, and GPS location data from mobile devices, unlocking LBS opportunities for both developers and their users. The Veriplace Location Tag is a smartphone application for Windows Mobile devices, enabling battery-optimized periodically pushed locations, asynchronously on-demand pulled locates, and geo-fenced location alerts. Users maintain complete control of their privacy preferences, have an audit trail, and can revoke or amend authorization at any time.
· mySkin.com: MySkin finds products that work for your skin. With mySkin’s mobile app, you answer a series of questions about your skin. mySkin.com’s proprietary technology returns a highly customized combination of products at various price points that are right for you. You can maintain a journal where you take pictures, note products that you used and track changes in your skin via a simple report. All data are transferred to your account online and can be easily accessed via your Virtual Shelf.
· My Kid is Safe: MyKidisSafe is the single application that caring parents need to keep their kids safe. Features include: Sexting monitor, location-based services, blocking texting while driving, scanning pictures for nudity and much more. Parents can have comfort that they have the information to help their kids avoid pitfalls from unwanted influences.
This past week, Microsoft wrapped up two more exciting Mobile Incubation Weeks in London and Singapore. Both events featured an action-packed week of development, educational sessions, and close collaboration with members of the product teams.
Applications came in from around the world. Finalists represented a diversity of countries, stages of development, and ideas. The final list of finalists can be found here.
In addition to Microsoft star developers, MIW Europe was supported by two Microsoft Partners, Murano Software and Avanade.
The week culminated in a final day of judging before a panel of venture capitalists and members of the press and blogging communities. The winners were awarded prizes, trophies, as well as an opportunity for early participation in Windows Marketplace for Mobile.
A big congratulations to our winners, 2359Media in Asia and Deimos-Space in Europe!
Both events were well-received in the press and blogging communities, with local coverage in Asia and featured articles in the Telegraph in the UK (read the mid-week report and final report). In keeping with our real-time reporting, event happenings, updates, and the winners were broadcast live from Twitter.
Below are the full recaps from each event!
Recap: Mobile Incubation Week Asia (Singapore)
Mobile Incubation Week Asia finally draw to a close on June 1st, 2009, attracting a total of 8 companies and 20 developers.
With the objective of developing an application within a week, Mobile Incubation Week 09 attracted a large number of developers. Those who participated took part in three days of intensive Windows Metro training and set out to develop their applications across Day 4 and 5 and through the weekend.
The participants came from diverse backgrounds. Some were developers of other mobile platforms, a few had .Net developers but were new to the mobile platform. Everyone was excited about what Windows Mobile has to offer. The applications that were built were also equally varied, ranging from applications that took advantage of location-based services to image processing, from widgets to Chinese Language Learning Modules. All developers worked through their code, often foregoing tea breaks and lunch!
It was not all work though. We invited phone manufacturers, government agencies, VCs, as well as folks from Microsoft to share with the developers their perspectives on the outlook and trends of the mobile platform.
To close off the event, the developers and their applications were paraded through a panel of judges on June 1ststarting at 3pm. While some came prepared with slide decks and brochures, others were busy trying to resolve last minute kinks to their software.
The event closed off at 5:45 pm after the last group presented their applications to the judges and the winners were announced.
Recap: Mobile Incubation Week Europe (London)
The judging panel:
Overall Winner: Mobots (by Deimos Space). The Mobots application allows mobile users to create small personal applications on their Windows phone by linking together any of a wide range of preset functions. In a noisy night club, you can’t hear your phone ring, but with a personal Mobot, when it recognises a friend calling, automatically sends an SMS letting that friend know where you are. The judges saw Mobots as a potential game changer using a disruptive technology which may be able to open up the gateway to having services via the mobile phone. The ideal scenario is to see this integrated with the phone OS as part of the runtime environment, so that people can discover the application and customise accordingly. Mobile mashups for the masses!
Most Improved: Rummble/Total Hotspots. According to Dimitri Nikouline, the Rummble / Total Hotspots team performed a near “miracle” and pulled together a decent working version of the application within the week - from scratch - though a combination of hard work and great teamwork with MuranoSoft. Rummble/Total Hotspots were able to produce a very functional and useful application for the Windows Mobile phone. The amazing fact that the combined team has been able to achieve that from scratch in just three days is the ultimate testament for their technical prowess. The judges noted a number of factors in play which made it an interesting application to watch. Their proprietary trust algorithm impressed everyone, and the judging panel saw a number of great applications of the technology over social networks and other areas. The technology was interesting and innovative, and they saw a number of opportunities for business models.
Most Innovative: Comufy. People have a combination of 7-8 different ways to communicate with each other, resulting a information overload. Comufy addresses this problem by allowing the user to decide who can contact them, when and how - no more annoying calls or messages, while ensuring they receive those most important to them. Solutions like this have a real future, according to the judging panel, and this provides interesting opportunities both as a service and as a product, which could be of interest to both Telcos and Infrastructure Providers.
After a rather intense week with late nights, a series of hiccups, and then, eventually, some successes, the Emerging Business Team in the UK are finally able to announce the Winner of EMEA Mobile Incubation Week. I thought it would be good to start with a brief description of how the week was conducted, which culminated in a final pitch session on Friday morning in front of a panel of mobility experts.
The week was supported by two Microsoft Partners, Murano Software, based in California (who also supported the original Incubation Week in California); and Avanade. Murano Software provided two Project Managers, as the full-time support of eight software engineers (via Skype), based in Russia. Avanade provided two Project Managers and supported four out of the eight start-ups.
The start-ups were each allocated a room in the Customer Centre of the Microsoft London Victoria Offices for the week. The four Project Managers distributed their time between the start-ups over the course of the week. The Russian-based Murano Software Engineers were each assigned a start-up, and they communicated with the teams via Skype. In the words of Dimitri Nikouline, MuranoSoft President, miracles happened over the course of the week, as several start-ups were able to develop and deliver a Windows Mobile 6.5 application within four days. These applications will be featured in the upcoming launch of the Windows Marketplace for Mobile.
The start-ups also had two opportunities to pitch in front of different audiences in advance of the final pitch session on Friday. On the Wednesday, several team members from the Windows Mobile Product Team, as well as key players from the Enterprise Sales team who own the Microsoft relationships Europe's largest operators, provided constructive feedback to the start-ups. On the Thursday, all the companies took the opportunity to pitch to Platform Strategy Advisors from the Developer and Platform Evangelism team, who were able to provide feedback on both the technology and the business models.
Feedback from the participants thus far has been very positive – many told me that they were pleasantly surprised by the level of support offered by Microsoft, as well as Murano Software and Avanade. The time spent with the dedicated Russia-based MuranoSoft engineers via Skype was invaluable. One start-up mentioned to me that this saved him weeks of development time, thereby really improving his chances of speed to market. All also appreciated the opportunity to network, with both the Mobile Product Team and the Emerging Business Team, as well as amongst themselves and other industry experts. A successful week overall!
The EMEA team awarded prizes over three categories:
The judging panel consisted of:
Steve Butcher, Senior Consultant, Avanade; Guillermo Escofet, Editor, Mobile Media, Informa Telecoms and Media; Carlos Espinal, Doughty Hanson & Co Technology Ventures; Dimitri Nikouline, President, Murano Software; Mark Taylor, Senior Director, Developer and Platform Evangelism, Microsoft; Barrie Whipp, Executive Chairman, Crimson Tide; Milo Yiannopoulos, Consulting Editor (Technology), Telegraph.co.uk
And the winning teams are:
WINNER: Mobots (by Deimos Space)
Most Improved Application: Rummble/Total Hotspots
Most Innovative Application: Comufy
On the heels of a very successful event in the U.S., Microsoft is hosting the second Mobile Incubation Week in London. After sifting through many applications, we think we have a really interesting group of mobile ISVs from across EMEA and are very excited to be working with them throughout the week to help incubate their applications on our Mobile 6.5 platform.
The format will be the same as Mobile Incubation Week in Mountain View. The event will feature technical and business gurus from Microsoft, technology veterans who have built their own Windows Mobile applications, and influential venture capitalists and industry experts. We will lead interactive discussions, provide helpful advice, and facilitate actual application development on the Windows Mobile platform. As in the Mountain View event, at the end of the week, we will select a winner who will be eligible for prizes and special PR opportunities.
Please follow the UK Team Blog throughout the week, and I will keep you up to speed about what has been happening as we work to incubate the ISV applications.
Drum Roll please.....and the Finalists are:
Goodway Technologies, Sweden
Founded in 2007, Goodway are based in Eslov, Sweden. Goodway has developed a mobile j2me/j2ee user created content software and service application with a social location context. It is in betaand has not been publicly released yet. In the next generation of this software Goodway are building a photo transforming application layer on top to let the users stitch photos together into panoramic views of buildings, creating a street view to connect to online map services as Virtual Earth.
Founded in 2006, Rummble are based in London, UK. Rummble make it easy to find stuff nearby which you love using this is done using trusted location-based recommendations sent instantly to your mobile. You should be able to walk out of a building and within 60 seconds discover what places or points of interest are nearby that YOU will like. Rummble is not a niche application, it is designed for the man in the street. More people than ever are eager to utilise their phones beyond SMS and phone calls. Windows Mobile 6.5 is another major step toward releasing the potential of a users mobile device.
Total Hotspots, UK
Total Hotspots give you a access to a huge database of wireless hotspots. Wherever you go Total Hotspots gives you precise details, locations and pricing for over 170,000 hotspots in 100+ countries around the world and more are being created all the time. In addition to this you can find the Wi-Fi that suits you. Total Hotspots integrates Rummble's 'trust profile' algorithm to give you personalised rating for locations, based on other places you like, your social network, and the wider community. You can quickly add, rate, review, tag and photograph your own hotspots and share them with others.
Wubud is an application driven social network for mobile people allowing you to take your social network in your back pocket everywhere you go, enabling you to locate friends and venues on a map and share your world. Providing users with the ability to locate friends when they're close by and arrange to meet them, explore the cool hangouts, the hip and happening parties, and find out who's going to be there, find a venue recommended by a friend, share your photos, location, reviews and social networks with friends.
The Deimos-Space application is really innovative and allows end users (non-developers) to create small applications on its own mobile device using a very easy visual graphic interface. Nowadays, User Generated Content is driving the internet. Furthermore, Web 2.0 API´s and mash-ups are exploding the creation of new application on the web, BUT for the first time, "End Users" can create small applications with all the technologies available in its own handsets.
Our Application "BlueID" is the digital bunch of keys for your mobile phone. You can receive digital keys like a electronic ticket on your mobile and use the mobile like a remote control to open, close or operate doors, barriers, cars or computer. In addition to facility management and automotive versions of the application "BlueID" we will launch a new authentication product "BlueID Login" in July 2009.
Our mission is to provide you with the most useful, enjoyable and inspiring GPS application for your mobile digital companion! Have fun with GPS while exploring! Reperion enables you to show your tracks in real-time, in Virtual Earth 3D or Google Earth, you can upload video and pictures straight to your live track, send and receive i-SMS, find nearby friends, get alerts for millions of types of actual nearby events...broadcast a message to people around you.... Your Location....is Everything!
SOMA Barcelona, Spain
Based on Bluetooth technology, it is designed to identify people in a 10 meters distance and infer connections between them through their profile information. Since we just use Bluetooth to identify devices and not to connect to them, our software is not intrusive in any way or presents any security concern. Our solution consists of a central server, which contains information about users and different matchmaking methods. Mobile devices can connect to the server via 3G or GPRS to get information about any possible matching and users' contact info.
Comufy is the next generation communication platform: it allows YOU to decide who can contact you, when and how - no more annoying calls or messages, whilst still receiving the important
ones. No need to give up your current means of communication, as Comufy manages them all. You can "comufy" anywhere through intuitive web and mobile interfaces, providing a unique and pleasant user experience.
We've recently published case studies on two of the companies on the Microsoft Startup Accelerator Program, Corebridge and Viapost. Both are great examples of the business benefits that startup companies can get from using Microsoft technologies. Through the Accelerator Program we have provided these companies with some additional assistance, but the many advantages that the technology provides are of course open to any startup company that chooses the Microsoft platform.
Entrepreneurship is alive and well in Europe. I've spent the last few days in Brussels attending the Benelux Venture Forum.
There is certainly no shortage of great technology start-ups and venture capital in the region from what I witnessed.
Investors were various and numerous - I was on a panel with Cees-Jan Koomen from Point-One and Herman De Latte who set up Big Bang Ventures and previously Solid Ventures both of whom have invested seed capital in several of the high-growth companies. Patrick Polak from Newion moderated a lively session.
I also spent time with Jenny Tooth who represents GLE in London, who in turn are involved in EASY (supported by PRO INNO) and part of EBAN. Jean-Bernard Schmidt from Sofinnova and Rene Savelsburg opened the morning session discussing where they reckon the hottest investment opportunities are.
William Stevens from the organisers Europe Unlimited presented the latest Ernst & Young statistics - European investment is flat at just over €1bn last quarter, the #1 investment sector is Biotech and Software is #2 (then IT services/Internet at #3 and Mediatech #5).
In terms of geo's, the UK represented 25% of the €1.2bn invested following by FR and GER. Then Switzerland, Netherlands, Sweden and Spain. Venture One stats show there were 353 deals in Q2/2002 as compared to 217 deals in Q4/07.
Paul Webber from Europe Unlimited released the Benelux Venture top 50 companies list.
Companies who pitched innovative propositions in the ICT track included David Schrieberg from Cinelan who have a platform for short films targeting online publishers; and online e-lending company Boober.
Scense from Rotterdam, backed by Solid Ventures, and Mirror42 also in the Netherlands, have solutions to make enterprise investment in IT more effective. Koen from Scense - an impossibly well-educated and successful serial entrepreneur and all-round nice guy - won the award for a great presentation.
Marina Tognetti showed a new online language platform and was also selected for an award.
Myngle will go forward for the European finals in December.
In the mobile / social networking space we saw Teydo with Location Based Services which is useful for tracking (in the US apparently the most popular application of this technology is 'spouse tracking'), for 'buddy finding' and for other 'peace of mind' applications e.g. child safety. In the future it will have a lot more uptake by operators as the mobile platform evolves beyond navigation. iNewit also presented as did the very entertaining ex-VP of Real Networks, Marco Menato, CEO of 24access solutions.
Cellixx launched their B2B travel application last year and already have Jumeirah and Hertz as customers. Wheras cameramanager allows you to keep an eye on things while traveling.
On the subject of asset tracking, Ambient Systems are doing some interesting stuff in the field of active RFID (or Real Time Location Systems as it is also known). Apparently investment in this technology was accelerated after the the Pentagon realised they had a use for active tracking of stuff after the US Army lost the equipment en route to Kuwait during the second Gulf War. Fascinating day............
Today I spent the afternoon and evening at the Second Chance Tuesday event in London. In the afternoon there was an "Early Stage Funding Workshop" for an audience of about 100 companies, which consisted of a panel discussion with entrepreneurs and investors talking about what setting up and investing in a business is really like.
After a networking break the evening event started, where the auditorium at the Royal College of Physicians was filled to the brim with over 300 people; entrepreneurs, investors, and media. We were treated to a rare public appearance of Niklas Zennström, founder of KaZaA, Skype, Joost and Atomico Investments in a "fireside" chat with BBC Technology Correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones.
Niklas went through the ups and downs of his serial entrepreneurship career, from being sued out of existence with KaZaA, working for a year with no funding when starting Skype, to re-visiting his old friends in the media world from the KaZaA days with his new venture, Joost.
Rory kept Niklas on his toes with some good questions, both for Niklas (Q: "So you've done three 'successful' start-ups but none of them making any profit?", A: "Actually, Skype is profitable, with number of users, revenue and profit all growing."), and for the audience (Q: "Who here has tried Joost?", A: a large majority of the audience. Q: "Who here is using Joost regularly?" A: not one hand raised that I could see) - in his defence Niklas pointed out that the premium on-line TV/Film market that Joost is addressing is still at a very early stage.
Overall it was a very entertaining session, and gave a few insights into the thinking and processes behind companies that have achieved a critical mass of users in a short time. This involves things like focus on solving problems that people care about (in this case sharing files, making cheaper/free international calls) in a way that is "friction-free" (easy to acquire and install), easy to use, and so compelling that you get the viral effect of users introducing their friends to the service.
I think Niklas perhaps underplayed the level of technical sophistication that is also necessary to be successful. At the root of each of these ventures is some very nifty networking and peer-to-peer algorithms that required some serious technical innovation. Building a business around a core piece of intellectual property is more important than it sometimes appears in the Web 2.0 world, and the current generation of web entrepreneurs should think carefully about this.
From a Microsoft perspective, this event was important because we used it to announce the next five companies to join the Microsoft Startup Accelerator programme. They are:
Although these companies operate in some very different spaces, they all have some great capabilities, and we're looking forward to working with them towards building successful businesses. We will of course be writing more about all of our Accelerator partners here in the future.
The Second Chance Tuesday event also had a number of media outlets in attendance, and I expect we'll see some coverage on Channel 4, Startups.co.uk, TechCrunch, and Newspepper amongst others.
On Tuesday I was at the launch of the Ideas Igloo at Thames Valley University, Ealing, which was one of the Enterprise Week events going on this week. The Ideas Igloo is a roadshow of events that will visit about 20 universities between now March. This is all part of raising awareness and getting more young people involved in entrepreneurship, which is of course important for all of us since the nature of work is changing. Entrepreneurial drive and skills are needed if you're starting a new company (obviously), but are also highly sought after by established companies that are looking to be more competitive through innovative technologies or business practices.
Part of the Ideas Igloo is a workshop to give the students advice on how to turn an idea into a business, which includes advice that has been developed by our researchers at Microsoft Research, Cambridge (see below). Then we had a group of four entrepreneur-types, including Alex Tew of MillionDollarHomePage fame and James Eder of studentbeans.com, who sat on a "Dragons' Den"-style panel, to see pitches from students on cool ideas that they had come up with.
It was a fun session with some very inventive ideas. With each presenter given only 60 seconds to do their pitch, they really had to think hard about how to get their point across, and on the whole they did a very good job. The top three ideas where:
The winner got £150 and the opportunity to go forward to a national final together with the winners from approximately 20 other universities , where all the winners will compete to win £2,000 plus a package of Microsoft products to help them get their business underway.
The event had a great buzz about it, and Jonathan Moules from the Financial Times was there to cover it for ft.com. Then on Wednesday I got invited to chat about it on the Chris Evans drivetime show on BBC Radio 2 with an audience of many millions of listeners. My three minutes of fame happened about 2 hours and 30 minutes into the 14th of November show, which is available to listen to on the BBC web site until next Wednesday, the 21st.
So Ideas Igloo is pretty cool, and I think the advice that my Microsoft Research colleagues is useful for everyone who wants to turn an idea into reality, not just students:
Get Your Entrepreneurial Game On
Microsoft Research Cambridge Offers Five Tips on How to Be an Innovator
Ask any successful entrepreneur, and they will tell you that what drives them is not just the financial rewards but also the opportunity to do something that changes the world. With each new idea that takes hold in the marketplace, an innovator has — in a small way — changed the way the world works.
At Microsoft’s research labs in Cambridge, UK, over 100 people are focusing their talents every day on innovation in computing. They are inspired not only by the excitement of invention itself, but also by the potential of software to address some of humankind’s biggest challenges — things like sustainable living, healthcare and modeling climate change.
So what does it take to be an innovator, in technology or any other field? Microsoft has come up with a series of tips, based on learnings from its Cambridge lab, to help aspiring entrepreneurs develop great ideas and bring them into the world. The software leader is sharing these tips with Higher Education and Further Education students at a series of innovation roadshows, which launch in London during Enterprise Week and roll out nationwide in 2008.
Andrew Herbert, MD at Microsoft Research Cambridge says, “Innovation is at the heart of everything we do at Microsoft, and we believe it is within everyone’s reach – from PhD graduates working in our laboratory to foundation degree students. By sharing our experience with students nationwide, we hope to inspire a new generation of young people to start thinking in fresh ways, and give them the confidence to be the innovators of the future.”
1. Look for the gaps. Often the best ideas are right in front of you — you just have to see them. Innovators are consummate observers of what people do and how things get done. They identify gaps between existing products and technologies, and consider how a new approach might be more efficient, engaging or cool. For example, Microsoft researchers observed that traditional answering machines do a poor job of helping people manage their voice messages, particularly for an entire family. So they developed the Bubble Board, a wall-mounted touch screen that gives families a simple, visual way to identify and manage individual phone messages. Try this: Devote a half day to watching how different people interact with an object of your choice, such as a mobile phone or a bicycle or a ticket kiosk. How could the object be improved for a better user experience? What other objects are related to your chosen object’s function? What new strategies might be used to accomplish the same objective, but smarter, faster or more enjoyably?
2. Many heads are better than one. Inspiration drawn from numerous disciplines tends to lead to the most successful products, and rarely does one person embody all of the knowledge required to develop a viable concept. That’s why collaboration is so important to the process of innovation. Surface computing — tabletop computer displays that interact with people and objects in a remarkably intuitive way — is one such example. The research behind surface computing drew upon people who understand electronics, human-computer interaction and computer vision techniques. Microsoft’s Cambridge lab added another layer of innovation on top of this with C-Slate, which allows people at different locations to work together using surface computing. For this project, social anthropologists worked closely with the technical developers to create a useful and intuitive interface. Try this: Invite two or three people who represent very different educational and professional backgrounds to a brainstorming session. Present your innovative idea to the group and ask them to offer their impressions and related ideas. Lead the discussion to capture their creative thinking and practical insights.
3. Do your research. If your idea is so great, why hasn’t someone else already thought of it? The internet is your first stop, to find out whether your idea has already been developed. Online articles, patent information, blogs and company websites are all potential sources of relevant information. You should also reach out to primary sources of information. What experts can you identify who would be willing to advise you and share their knowledge? Try this: Identify a technical or market-focused expert and make an appointment to discuss your innovative idea. Consider your questions carefully beforehand, to ensure you gain the insight that this person can provide.
4. Don’t let failure get you down. Failure is an integral part of innovation and, while painful, it is one of the best teachers. The hard part is recognising when things are going badly, and being honest with yourself about it. Of course not all ideas are great ideas and timing is also an important factor in market adoption. You have to be able to admit when it’s time to quit, and recover from that. At Microsoft, researchers minimise the number of dead-end projects by placing high value on peer review. By critiquing each other’s work, researchers receive critical help identifying the weaknesses in their concept. As an innovator, you must become comfortable listening to skeptics and develop the personal confidence to defend your convictions, while recognising that others may have insight that you do not. Try this: Develop a 1-minute sales pitch about your product and test it on five people for their reaction. Encourage them to give you their honest impression — the positive and the negative.
5. Develop your business know-how. For any start-up, the research and initial concept typically represents 1% of the overall investment. Getting that product to market consumes about 10%. And the remaining 89% is spent on sales, marketing and support. As an innovator, you will have to develop a feel for business. This does not mean you need a business degree, but you will need the perspective to entice investors and introduce your product to the marketplace. You will also need to develop a business model that protects your intellectual property and prevents others from taking your idea and doing it better. This protection could take the form of a patent or it could hinge on your product being the first out of the gate. There are many schemes for young people to learn basic business skills, such as Young Enterprise or The Working Knowledge Group, to help you gain perspective on the facets and pressures of running a business. Try this: Determine what the “secret sauce” of your innovation will be. How will you secure a leading position after you have launched your product?