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Posts Tagged ‘Opportunity’

Yesterday I tweeted about a simple question.

So far I’ve received 15+ excellent comments.

Initially and based on discussions with some fellow (active) entrepreneurs I was of an opinion that we are mainly missing the people (entrepreneurs) to make the idea into action.

This line of thought was justified as we all know there are more ideas than what we can implement. Many of the ideas should, honestly, never be implemented. And many of them are just copycats, yet another facebook-youtube-socialmedia clone which is a pity. Even after these taken away there are many more great ideas than people to implement them. In this light it seems almost funny how desperately (still) some people value just the idea (or an idea in PowerPoint slides).

On the other hand many people, again initially, were of an opinion that you can actually find money if you have a really good idea. The money just may not come from your home country, in this case Finland. There is no real Venture Capitalists left in Finland, and the angel investor community is not very large nor truly active, yet. Luckily at least Veraventure is doing good work to get this changed.

I made earlier a little poll which says many (academic) people skip entrepreneurship as they either don’t have a business idea nor a team.

This week a Finnish business magazine Kauppalehti Optio published a cover story of 80 young people born in the 80’s, the people who are our future and who are going to take over. Guess how many of those persons were entrepreneurs? One. There is hope that some of those classified as “students” still could become entrepreneurs…

The responses to my tweet mainly said, however, that we are missing money and financing. There were also good comments about timing and luck, no matter how good the idea is. For example our idea of mobile carpool service (year 2002) was given no serious attention in the Finnish VC community (luckily the angel investors in Finland, Italy and The Netherlands trusted us) but this year two young students won Venture Cup with the idea of mobile carpool. So it’s also about timing, seven years later. See also a briefing to the subject here. As a side note I would say that if Nokia really would like to “think different”, they should use this Ecolane technology to enter mobile carpool business before Google or Apple do. Disclaimer: I’m a shareholder in both of the companies mentioned.

One thing what I’ve been wondering – if having not enough entrepreneurs is NOT the problem – why as there so little active serial entrepreneurs? I mean those who have tried at least once, possibly succeeded and become a driving force of another start-up with all that experience? Many of those people seem to be now in a more convenient “advisor” role. As one of the active entrepreneurs I respect, Marko Parkkinen, said this week: “After failing in the recent start-up, I was at one point almost desperate enough to become an employee, but luckily I run out of battery in my mobile phone before I said ‘Yes'”.

As one active entrepreneur friend of mine said, “At the first stage of ‘making it big’ the lack of true entrepreneurs makes the start-up market very small. Money matters only after a start-up has started its journey – if there was all the money available, but no real motivation to make ‘my/our company big’, I doubt there would be much success.”

However, I do belive that funding is a key element in building new success stories. Early this year  we start building a new initiative code named “GrowthOS“.

“GrowthOS is an ecosystem for entrepreneurs to build online presence enabling them to receive funding from one or more private investors as well as facilitate all the activities before and after the investment has taken place. Extensive use of web-enabled communication, reputation building and other tools offer a unique platform for private investors to follow, communicate with, invest in as well as follow or participate the development of those startups they mostly believe in.”

If you are interested in the GrowthOS ecosystem (it’s going to be Europe-wide), feel free to contact me.

But coming back to the main question: “Which one of the following is the most critical and the least supplied resource: ideas, entrepreneurs or money?”

What do YOU think?

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I was recently listening to Mårten Mickos, in an event sponsored by SWOT Consulting.

Mårten gave an excellent presentation with the idea of “How would I build a global software company right now”. He almost immediately pointed out that it does not make sense to say “Finnish Global Software Company” as that would already be against the definition. It can of course be that it is initiated by the Finns. As his success and experience from MySQL is well known, it makes sense to pay attention to what he says.

There are both challenges and opportunities (accessible with specific strengths) in this field.

He listed the following challenges anyone building a software company (in Finland) will face:

  1. Finland is too small and too expensive. This can be overcome by either focusing or going into volumes.
  2. Finland is good in utilizing software, not so good in producing it globally.
  3. We are slow.
  4. The Finns believe too much in institutions. More sales work, less filling in forms for subsidies and grants.
  5. There is room for improvement concerning the will to really fight (to become successful). In some respects, life is too easy for many. True winners are those who learn to fight for the success!
  6. We believe (still) that we are a leading edge country (“We come from Finland, country of Nokia”). More humble approach would be good as well as partnering with foreign complementary people.

The Finns have many strengths, however, which could and should be utilized better:

  1. The working moral is good, better than in USA/Silicon Valley as is the management style.
  2. The quality of work is good, honestly. Even when nobody is watching!
  3. Well-functioning society, everything works. (Author’s comment: not without briberies some statistics show, it’s just different)
  4. Mad creativity in development, making Finns suitable for all kind of pioneer development.

Utilizing the strengths and becoming successful also requires:

  1. Being in the right time, in the right place. You also need luck!
  2. Going into one of the large markets (EU, USA or China) quickly.

Mårten also gave his view on the software market status as of now:

  • Consolidation is taking place. You have to either find a pioneer market or find a niche in the consolidating segments.
  • Convergence means there are no borders between web and mobile, one must be capable to operate in both.
  • Increasing complexity – select your target market with care.
  • Global growth – do your market research concerning the existing players with care.
  • Market domination game requires you to find weak point of the market leader and take advantage of that.
  • Utilize the Open Source opportunities.
  • Everything is in the Net, and so will you.

Mårten summarized all this by saying that one must be brave but humble, ready to conquer the world BUT aiming at carefully selected market segments and geographical locations with carefully selected go-to-market-plan.

There are, in my humble opinion, many good points in his presentation. There’s is always something to learn!

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I was recently listening to Mårten Mickos, in an event sponsored by SWOT Consulting.

Mårten gave an excellent presentation with the idea of “How would I build a global software company right now”. He almost immediately pointed out that it does not make sense to say “Finnish Global Software Company” as that would already be against the definition. It can of course be that it is initiated by the Finns. As his success and experience from MySQL is well known, it makes sense to pay attention to what he says.

There are both challenges and opportunities (accessible with specific strengths) in this field.

He listed the following challenges anyone building a software company (in Finland) will face:

  1. Finland is too small and too expensive. This can be overcome by either focusing or going into volumes.
  2. Finland is good in utilizing software, not so good in producing it globally.
  3. We are slow.
  4. The Finns believe too much in institutions. More sales work, less filling in forms for subsidies and grants.
  5. There is room for improvement concerning the will to really fight (to become successful). In some respects, life is too easy for many. True winners are those who learn to fight for the success!
  6. We believe (still) that we are a leading edge country (“We come from Finland, country of Nokia”). More humble approach would be good as well as partnering with foreign complementary people.

The Finns have many strengths, however, which could and should be utilized better:

  1. The working moral is good, better than in USA/Silicon Valley as is the management style.
  2. The quality of work is good, honestly. Even when nobody is watching!
  3. Well-functioning society, everything works. (Author’s comment: not without briberies some statistics show, it’s just different)
  4. Mad creativity in development, making Finns suitable for all kind of pioneer development.

Utilizing the strengths and becoming successful also requires:

  1. Being in the right time, in the right place. You also need luck!
  2. Going into one of the large markets (EU, USA or China) quickly.

Mårten also gave his view on the software market status as of now:

  • Consolidation is taking place. You have to either find a pioneer market or find a niche in the consolidating segments.
  • Convergence means there are no borders between web and mobile, one must be capable to operate in both.
  • Increasing complexity – select your target market with care.
  • Global growth – do your market research concerning the existing players with care.
  • Market domination game requires you to find weak point of the market leader and take advantage of that.
  • Utilize the Open Source opportunities.
  • Everything is in the Net, and so will you.

Mårten summarized all this by saying that one must be brave but humble, ready to conquer the world BUT aiming at carefully selected market segments and geographical locations with carefully selected go-to-market-plan.

There are, in my humble opinion, many good points in his presentation. There’s is always something to learn!

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Innovation in the big corporations is in crisis. This is obviously no news to many of us. Either there are not enough innovations in the company (typically due to corporate culture focusing on maintaining the Status Quo) or alternatively, there are too many of them. This is the case with Nokia which has in the recent years spent hundreds of millions of euros (if not more) in inventing new ideas, researching many of them, trying out some and patenting quite a few. For one reason or another, many of them have got “no-go” decision for any further action.

Technopolis Ventures, a subsidiary of a Finnish public real-estate corporation, has made an agreement with Nokia to offer some of these left-over innovations for Finnish Start-ups in Oulu and some other selected cities in Finland. Sounds too good to be true? Read on!

Nokia Outsources Finding the Golden Eggs to the Finnish Startups

Nokia Outsources Finding the Golden Eggs to the Finnish Startups

The project itself has been launched already some time ago in Oulu, the home city of Technopolis. Today there was the first marketing event for the project in the capital area. The concept is aiming to find an alternative way to commercialize innovations, the traditional way being focusing on inventing new technologies within VTT (state-owned research center) or in the universities. The new idea is find a way to commercialize ideas born within large companies (such as Nokia).

The idea is good, maybe even excellent. The project is taking place in next three years (2009-2011). The total budget is 5 M€ and is paid by Tekes, the participating cities and companies. The amount of money seems somewhat small if they really aim to get 100 projects/startups involved.

The ideas now available cover some 60 Nokia-selected  innovations in the fields of Near-Field Communication (NFC), Environment, Health Care, Location-Based Services (LBS), Mobile Security and Future Internet Services.

There’s a catch, however. There is no free lunch, right?

The companies willing to take advantage of this must have a Finnish VAT number. Technopolis Ventures will match the companies and available innovations in the Nokia innovation pool. After evaluation and screening by Technopolis Ventures, and signing the NDA and contract with Nokia, the funding can be applied from Tekes. It is currently unclear whether the company actually MUST look for Tekes funding or can it also do without.

There were few interesting questions asked in the event today. Here are some examples:

Q: Can I get in touch with the original inventors of an innovation at hand?
A: Maybe, it depends.

Q: Can we see the list of the innovations available?
A: No, you have to provide some keywords describing your own idea (or company business) and we will see if there are matches with the available innovations.

Q: Inventing new ideas and innovations is easy. What about Go To Market strategy and help concerning that?
A: As Finland has one of the best innovation systems in the world, it will take care of that… (Note: This answer was given in a sarcastic tone)

Q: As Nokia keeps parallel rights to everything they “give away”, does it mean that Nokia can at any later time do the same thing than the startup?
A: Yes.

Q: Are there any restrictions concerning the exit phase of a company building its business on one of these innovations?
A: Yes, for example Nokia may forbid selling the company to a Nokia competitor (definition of this remained unclear).

You can also take a look of the Presentation Slides (in Finnish).

Nokia Technopolis Innovation Mill (Process)

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I think this year (2009) is going to be an excellent opportunity for anyone who has recently started (or is about to start) a new company.

The reasoning behind this is

  • It’s the recession; your business idea might be more thoroughly thought as times are tougher (or at least it should be)
  • You might also focus more on thinking who’s gonna pay for whom and why (btw: don’t count on the advertising business model)
  • You might have few friends who might lose their “steady” job in a big corporation; it might be easier than ever to get co-founders
  • In any case it’s going to be easier to find qualified people for more down-to-earth salary level (the law of supply and demand)
  • Getting funding is tougher and valuations lower than they used to be; but maybe the remaining funding is given to better concepts?
  • There is going to be less competition on the market as some of the companies with high burn rate are going to disappear; more room for new startups

It’s going to be interesting how many great new ideas are going to be successful in the next two years. It could also of course be that the customer behaviour has changed; or is about to change. So forget also copying and “improving” an idea you have seen somewhere else – now it’s time to innovate new ideas. Maybe getting everything out of the recession is going to be a fun exercice, we’ll see!

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