Cutting edge technology is not only being developed in Silicon Valley. New and exciting business models are being tested and deployed by new start-ups every single day globally. The World Cup Tech Challenge hosted by SV Forum and held at the Microsoft Campus in Mountain View is an excellent opportunity to gain insight in some of the technologies currently being developed all over the world. It also highlights that the battle of successful launches and landing venture capital is becoming still more hyper-competitive.
This year we celebrated the 10th edition of our SCALEit program. To mark this milestone, we have decided to bring the valley spirit to Copenhagen. Therefore we invite every interested entrepreneur to join us on June 1st in Founders House in Copenhagen. This day we will host the biggest pitch workshop ever held in Copenhagen, and also tell you more about doing business the Silicon Valley way.
What does Be My Eyes, the eye-crowdsourcing platform have in common with Danish virtual bookstore Saxo.com and newly launched Recho, a spatial bank of memories? Together with three other start-ups, they have just been through Innovation Center Denmark’s 10th SCALEit program.
After placing the companies in the middle of highly entrepreneurial Silicon Valley, the startups are challenged through five intense days of workshops and presentations with leading experts from the entrepreneurial scene. Here they get to perfect their pitches, revisit their business plans, and meet up with potential investors.
But does it actually matter to the companies? What is exactly the purpose of SCALEit, and how does it create value for the participating startups?
Scale up your business!
The short answer to the question above is that the startups should learn how to scale up their activities, hence the name SCALEit.
However, scaling up a company in a profitable way requires many aspects to be fulfilled at the same moment. According to Christian Vinther, Co-organizer of the SCALEit program, the companies leave Silicon Valley feeling highly inspired armed with the right tools and contacts to improve their business plans and shape their companies for successfully entering the world markets.
“We want the companies to be ready to take on the world and feel prepared to seize their opportunities – whether it is raising capital from new investors, developing new software for their products, or simply entering the US market. Usually, all companies leave Silicon Valley with their arms raised above the head and a new perspective on their own business, which is also our main success-criteria”, says Christian Vinther.
New investors on board
The climax of the week is the Nordic Pitch Night that concludes the week’s program. Here, the startups get to pitch in front of a large audience including venture capitalists – and this time was no exception. At a local incubator venue with well over 100 people in place to watch the pitches, the startups displayed their new competencies and all managed to amaze and thrill the excited audience. Well done after only one week of training!
After participating in SCALEit, some of the companies headed on to the large South by Southwest tech-conference in Austin, Texas (link til wordpress artikel om dette). However, some of the companies had already established so many contacts and new business opportunities after the SCALEit week that they decided to stay in Silicon Valley and have meetings with potential partners and investors.
The above pretty much encapsulates what is in it for the participating startups. They are inspired to pursue their business opportunities and they establish the right contacts that will help them move forward and scale their companies – which is what SCALEit is all about.
The SCALEit program propels participants into the Silicon Valley ecosystem through a number of relevant and value-adding workshops at exciting and inspirational venues. The workshops, networking and presentations among others include; thorough pitch-training from local expert consultants; presentations and discussions with established Danish Silicon Valley entrepreneurs; and sessions with PR-consultants, lawyers, etc. Thereby, the participants get the whole range of angles on how to deal with startup issues and how to make it in Silicon Valley.
The next SCALEit will be held in Silicon Valley in September in connection with the Tech Crunch Disrupt conference.
Why would you ever want to use those strategies? Hopefully you won’t, but you might be in danger of doing just that without even knowing it. “How to make your startup fail” was the key topic when Paul Ahlstrom, founder of Alta Ventures Mexico, made his phenomenal speak on the last day of Startup Grind 2015 in Redwood City.
Why would I ever want my startup to fail?
Well, you wouldn’t! But sometimes you can get caught up in all the well-meant advice from friends and business partners who have just the insights when it comes to making your startup become the success it deserves to be. You know that feeling?
A lot of things can be learned from success, that’s for sure, but failure is quite the learning experience too. So instead of telling you what to do to succeed, Paul Ahlstrom chose that day in the old Fox Theatre to tell you what to do if you are looking for failure guarantee.
Launch without a customer in mind
The number one foolproof way to guarantee the failure of your startup is launching without a specific customer in mind. You might be busy analyzing the market, doing product development or simply just thinking, that as long as your product is kick-ass awesome with features to die for, then the customers will be there. Recognize this? If this is the case you are in danger of repeating the Ford Edsel blunder.
In year 1958 Ford launched the Ford Edsel developed and designed to be car of the year. Unfortunately the wishes of the customers had only been guessed upon and no actual potential customers had been involved during the development process. Guess what! Despite intensive marketing campaigns, the Edsel could not bear the hype, and it was a HUGE failure.
Therefore, always remember to develop your product with a specific customer in mind. Ask them what they want. Challenge them on what they want. Use prototyping and testing. Don’t launch before you know exactly what pains your product is going to solve for your customers.
Compete with the biggest market leader for the same customers without being ten times better
Do you want to compete head-to-head with the biggest and meanest market leaders in your field of expertise? Well sure, go ahead! But please make sure that you are more than ten times better at doing your thing than they are, because otherwise you will end up being the one coloring the ocean red with this red ocean strategy.
In order to take on a market leader you have to make sure that your solution is so superior and compelling that the customers will almost ask you to pull them in – no hook needed!
Scale before you nail
If you start writing your marketing materials before knowing exactly how your product or service is going to be like, or if you start hiring your sales teams before you know what to sell, then you are definitely in danger of failing due to premature scaling.
To avoid this failure guarantee remember to nail your business model first! What is your market fit and what pain do you solve for your customers? Paul Ahlstrom is co-author on an entire book on the subject. That much of a problem is premature scaling! So start with the nailing, and after that you will have the right foundation for scaling!
Failure is the way to success
Avoiding the three strategies mentioned above is of course not a guarantee for success but they will definitely help you avoid some common mistakes experienced by more than one startup throughout history.
One of the unique things about the startup mentality here in the valley is the fact that even though your startup might fail it does not mean that you have failed as a person. It is more than okay to fail here, because you get the chance of gaining invaluable insight and knowledge that can be key to you succeeding later on.
Now go on and make your own foolproof strategies of failing so you can share them the next time you find yourself in a situation where a fellow entrepreneur is getting flooded with advice on how to succeed!
“CES is one of the main events each year for us to show the world our latest progress, meet with customers and create interest for our technology among the developer community. We usually get a lot of press attention at CES, which helps us gain momentum business wise,” says CEO Sune Alstrup Johansen.
This year marked the debut of a finished product and not just a prototype showcase. The Eye Tribe won the Best of Innovation Honoree in Accessible Technologies as well as three other Innovation Award categories:
- Computer Peripherals
- Embedded Systems
- Gaming Hardware and Accessories
The Eye Tribe’s software solution is designed purposefully for integration and is based on industry standards (MIPI, I2C, USB). Because The Eye Tribe software relies only on standard affordable components easily integrated into next-generation devices, the company is able to help OEMs fast-track strategies to move new products to mass-market consumers featuring robust eye tracking functions at affordable prices
”Our main focus is integration of our technology into consumer devices like smartphones, tablets or glasses. As our technology gets seamlessly integrated into consumer products, the full potential of eye tracking will be unleashed,” says The Eye Tribe CEO.
In addition to a $1.3 million grant from the Danish government, The Eye Tribe raised a total of $1.8 in seed/angel funds. Sune is excited to share the news that his company is currently in the process of setting up office in Palo Alto:
“The world’s biggest mobile manufacturers and semiconductor companies either has their HQ in Silicon Valley or they have a large R&D office there. All of them can be reached within an hour’s drive, so it is the perfect place to engage with clients.”
At ICDK, we’re excited to welcome another SCALEit alumni back to the Valley. As the company previously has stated, their eventual goal is to partner with hardware makers, so this decision indeed makes sense. With all the remarkable achievements so far, we will certainly be keeping our eye on this company in 2015 (pun intended).