On sunny morning of October 11th startup conference “Silicon Valley comes to the Baltics 2014” (SV2B) began at Lithuanian Exhibition and Congress Center LITEXPO. I was invited this year as press visitor to cover the event. During which I’ve tweeted quotes and key points of presentations live from the venue. Now time for day one wrap-up.
Opening ceremony was running late and started 10:34 EEST. After quick introduction by event announcers Andrius and Rasa, who made a quick survey to identify target audience (majority students as compared to startupers and investors), stage was took over by Dovydas from “Enterprise Lithuania“. He highlighted the way how ideas (especially of technologies) are understood by example of his 9 year old daughter who got a smartphone as a present and immediately asked “and where is the charger?”. This shows how our young generation approach tech – they know and intuitively understand much more than we did.
And so presentations began.
Your startup starts with Why
Emily LaFave (forage) talked about what should be your start of a startup. She told that food is her universal language that connects people and her job is to eat for living. These are five key points Emily recommend for you as startuper:
- Write your hate statements (to find out what you love, you have to understand what you hate);
- Map your curiousities;
- Write your future press release;
- Pick your one word;
- Create the universal WHY (understood in the very same way with co-founders).
Main message of the speech was you have to understand why you do your startup.
What building an early stage startup in the Valley means
Damian Eads (Wise.io) continued uncovering primary stages of startup and highlighted that usually if you’re not failing, you are probably not trying hard enough. His key ideas follows:
- More likely wrong than right (about how you initial effort will end up);
- Test your hypothesis and be metrics-driven (numbers are important to reason);
- Human intelligence doesn’t scale;
- Biggest problems are people problems;
- Can’t build something great without a diverse team;
- B2C and B2B models are completely different;
- Tech does not sell itself (developed product does) – product ≠ tech;
- Your goal is not to trick investors. Need evidence of clear plan of action how to execute. Model must be repeatable to sell;
- Get over rejection (many people give up here);
- Appearances are cheap (there are many ways to present your idea);
- Collaboration can waste time. We come out of a womb with PhD in time wasting;
- Learn constantly.
Accelerators and the people that make it great – mentors
Ravi Belani (Alchemist Accelerator) switched this topic and talked about building a billion dollar venture. These are the messages I’ve found in this presentation:
- You don’t need to build a billion $ business – focus and pursue what you are passionate about;
- When striving for growth, aim exponental (not linear);
- Go after business with large margins;
- Technologies has inherited good feel towards them over the years. And consider Moore’s law in how tech grows;
- Tech growth is immune to economic cycles;
- You are lucky – students (majority of audience) are not tainted by history. Beautiful time to be student – to startup and disrupt;
- These times startups win customer as instant effect (quickly);
- Think about network effects (one user recommends to another).
Working with uncertainty. What when where?
Ian McFarland (Neo Innovation) started his speech with contradictory advises: (1) listen to your customer, (2) don’t listen to your customer. However, that made sense after Henry Ford’s example – what would someone reply to him if he asked what kind of transport they need? “Faster horses” probably, but not something like cars.
Therefore Ian recommends not asking customers but instead analyze their behaviour. Because behaviour doesn’t lie.
Unfortunately I’ve visited only one workshop. Nonetheless, heard Peter Cox (Barclays) telling one very good point about having right people at the team: “it’s difficult to fake passion”.
Why are Swiss not worried about the Apple Watch
Last performance I’ve heard was Sridhar Solur analyzing why Swiss can calm down. Speech was very energetic and fully highlighted those points:
- What you wear is fashion. What you carry is electronics;
- Jewelry is timeless. The moment you add electronics it becomes short-lived;
- Accesory you wear must be drop-dead gorgeous (Apple Watch isn’t as most smartwatches);
- Tech and jewelry can be combined maybe only if you have chance to swap electronic part and upgrade it. Like would you say to your son: here is my Windows Vista laptop, use it with joy – that’s never going to happen with tech so that generations would use same accesory;
- There is no common agreement on set of features that smartwatch should have;
- Regulations are probably coming soon on wearables usage (e.g. when driving a car);
- Brands and open systems don’t go well together (one luxury brand would not want to allow competitor to be able to develop for their smart-jewelry). Brand control emotion and there is no space for freedom or something like open source.
See you tomorrow!
Don’t forget to follow me @gytisrepecka for live updates.