cool girl. amazing interview.
Last week I had a great time at hy!Berlin. Aydo & Hans organized an amazing conference. Probably the best startup event I’ve been to in Germany. I met a lot of people I actually always wanted to meet and had some great discussion with other founders.
In my opinion the major differences to all the other startup events in Germany were:
- truly international
- focus on product (not funding)
- felt exclusive
- free for founders
- lunch on the berlin tv-tower
Startup events are probably one of the biggest distractions for founders. There’s almost an event every day you could go to. There’s almost always some speaker you would like to hear/meet. There’s always something you could miss. And of course, there’s almost always the chance to pitch, win a price and meet potential investors/employees.
On the other hand, you could just stay at the office and work on your product. I love to go to events, meet people and talk about WHY own it. But honestly, it won’t have that much of an impact as all these events promise. Startup competitions are mostly better for the organizer of the event, than the startup … and I doubt that lot’s of startups got funding just because they attended a conference that brings together founders and business angels/VCs.
Anyways. This is a note to myself: think twice, before you go to an event. Let’s see if I can manage to only go to one more startup/web event this year (which will be Online Marketing Rockstars).
Another amazing Foundation interview.
This time Ben Horowitz of the VC firm Andreessen Horowitz.
- get the product right
- communication structure within the company
- don’t appeal to VCs
- board meetings: are we on track?
- software impacts the world (industries)
The past two days I’ve been to the NOAH Conference, met a lot of people and listened to a couple of talks/pitches.
Besides all the noise there was one pitch that I actually really liked. Maarten Beucker Andreae, CEO of 2dehands.be, referenced to the legendary Scarface’s lesson number two: don’t get high on your own supply.
While Scarface was probably one of the most influential movies in HipHop as well as Maarten’s favorite movie, he claimed that lesson number two is not true for founders.
Founders should get high on their own supply!
I believe that this is one key factor to success. There are millions of business ideas out there. Choose one that you are passionate about. Be your best customer!
Here’s some more inspiration.
About 6 weeks ago, a good friend of mine asked me if I have ever considered going to the US with WHY own it. That same day I found out that the TechCrunch Disrupt is taking place in San Francisco in September. I told Julian from QUOTE.fm that I was thinking about going to the event and two days later we bought tickets for the startup alley.
The lineup of speakers was amazing.
First speech I watched on Monday was by Jack Dorsey, Founder of Twitter and Square.
Here some of my notes:
- Companies have various founding moments.
- You need people with the attitude to change course to have impact.
- Revolution has values, leaders and pushes people to do the right thing.
- Have an impact on the world.
Working in the collaborative consumption field, I was looking forward to the panel of AirBnB, TaskRabbit, brit.co and Lyft. Surprisingly this panel wasn’t as good as I thought it would be. Even more surprising, when the audience was asked to ask questions, nobody stood up. So I did and asked how they reached their first 10k users …
check out the headline: “Airbnb, Brit + Co, TaskRabbit, And Lyft Founders Share How They Nabbed Their First 10K Users“
After that talk, Dave Morin from Path opened up to drop some numbers. Path has 3 million downloads with an active user rate of more than 50%. China is their second biggest market.
There was a lot of hype about Jessica Alba being on TechCrunch. Together with Brian Lee she talked about her company Honest. Saying that people are asking for better and higher quality products that are affordable reminded me a lot of Avocado Store.
So on Tuesday we arrived with our roll-up banners, stickers and business cards. Built up our stand and were looking forward to show people our products. QUOTE.fm just launched its iPad App and the international update of WHY own it was just approved by Apple.
Of course there were 2 talks that I couldn’t miss. Kevin Rose in the morning and Mark Zuckerberg after lunch.
Kevin Rose talked a bit about the beef between Y-Combinator and Google Ventures. The 3 things I took out of his interview were the following:
- Focus on the company.
- Edit the team.
- Healthcare & education.
There were a couple of people passing by at the WHY own it stand. Not as many as I expected, but it wasn’t even lunchtime yet.
At lunchtime Daniel (exebs) invited me to go have lunch at the AirBnB office, with was pretty mind-blowing. Amazing what those companies are doing to keep their employees happy.
After lunch Mark Zuckerberg was interviewed by Michael Arrington:
- He believes in mobile.
- Mobile with get his stock back on track.
- Mobile: more users, more engagement (time), more money.
- Mobile is like TV.
- Ads have to be more integrated into the product in order to perform better.
The rest of the day I was at the stand talking to various people coming by. I got some good feedback and met some interesting people.
On Wednesday I watched Travis Kalanick from Uber. Amzing guy.
- Competition is fun.
- If tho’ the guy is sleeping, I’m going to kick his ass.
- 98% of business angels don’t help (even tho’ they say so).
- You have to be fighter. If not, do something a little less disruptive.
Vinod Khosla from Khosla Ventures:
- Likes being the first.
- Focus on hiring the right people.
- Health care.
- Willingness to fail will lead to success.
- If you succeed, it has to be consequential.
- Give accurate feedback to entrepreneurs.
- Entrepreneurs don’t get the right help.
- Entrepreneurs need mentors.
- Think: “How can we get 5 times bigger”
Was it worth it? Of course! Even though I haven’t meet as many people as expected, I’m coming back to Hamburg with a lot of inspirations. I cannot recommend a stand at the Startup Alley tho’. It makes only sense to be on stage! Thus apply to the Battlefield!
The two best advices I got from two developers. One was working for Twitter and Google and is now doing his own thing. He gave me a lot of feedback to WHY own it and said I should just focus on what I’m doing and investors will show their interest pretty quickly.
Another developer said something similar. The really good people are not going to these events. They are either at the office or at home. Therefore meetings with people should be organized beforehand.
That said, I decided to make a rule for myself: In future I will only visit such events, if I’m either on stage or have at least three confirmed meetings per day.