Fresh from the Press

Entrepreneurship, Program

Storytelling: “You had my curiosity, now you have my attention”

Every bit of conversation is an act of storytelling. The inclusions, the omissions, the tone, the emotion… every fraction of verbal communication shapes a story. Stories can be as short as a breakfast meal and as long as a lifetime memory. And they can be as entertaining as a Hollywood movie or as dull as a prescription diary. But one thing rules them all for success.

Engagement is the key factor.

Engaging the audience while delivering your story is fundamental to achieve your objective, be it a friends night out or an investment round. In a program such as The Collider, you may think one’s focus should stand on partners, investors, customers, etc. True. But in fact, anyone should be eligible to test your idea’s  potential.

“An image is worth a thousand words, but a feeling is worth a thousand images”

This assertion by The Collider’s facilitator Victor Ronco couldn’t be more spot on. The moment you find that emotional connection with the listener, you get hold of their attention – and not just their curiosity- as the famous quote from Django Unchained states.

In order to grab that feeling, there is no magic formula, since every person encompasses a unique rationale. But there is a receipt that helps. Victor Ronco discloses the ingredients of a startup storyline. These include mission, context, rivals, assumptions among many other elements.

A good place to start is the elevator statement, not to get confused with the elevator pitch or statement, which is commonly constructed as follows:

  • For (target customers)
  • Who (have the following problem)
  • Our product is a (describe the product or solution)
  • That provides (cite the breakthrough capability)
  • Unlike (reference competition)
  • Our product/solution (describe the key point of competitive differentiation)

Some more advice from our guest expert in storytelling is to stay true and be real; mistakes can play a sympathetic effect in your audience and it’s always better to demonstrate than simply explain.

Finally, the elements are set for you to play with them. The last key factor for an engaging storytelling is practice.

Program, Technology

Venture Building: Mentors, OKRs & Negotiation

As we open The Collider’s Phase 2, participants feel the pressure increasing.

Phase 1 was fun and full of post-its, flip charts, workshops and market research. By now, our runner-ups have their ideas set. Validation is done. Iteration is done. And pretotyping is also done to “make sure – as quickly and as cheaply as you can – that you are building the right it before you build it right” (Google’s word).

On the last day of the Opportunity Validation phase, our participants pitched their projects to an internal committee. As a result, out of the 8 projects, 5 are moving forward, 2 are pivoting and 1 has dissolved.

Following this –intensive- month of ideation January sets start to the next phase, Venture Building. The Collider’s Phase 2 is a four-month journey with a very strict selection process based on OKR standards. In the OKR monitoring, “O” stands for “objectives” and the “KR” for “Key Results”; the first being qualitative and the latter –usually three- being quantitave. If anyone fails to pass the biweekly OKR tests, their situation in the program will be seriously compromised.

 

The Venture Building phase will be divided in 4 stages, with the content organized as follows:

MVP. Focused on defining the minimal viable product, sharpening brand building and learning launch.

Costumer Value. Based on perseveration or iteration, developing sprint planning, and improving the product market fit.

Scalability. Encompasses acquisition and retention, KPI and marketing analytics plus growth formula.

Business modelling. Aimed at improving the model and pitch for the demo day.

 

Thankfully for our Colliders, an extra help is coming along. This phase sees a pool of mentors joining one each team, according to expertise, to supply close guidance and support. Among them, we have experts in health, tech, retail and VC.

But first comes first. Colliders need to open up the fund flow, for which they have a clear requirement: constituting their businesses. But turning a research project into a company requires a lot of negotiation and paperwork: polishing business plans, defining equity, reaching an agreement with the research centers, etc.

If you’re curious to know the result of this process, keep posted for more.

Entrepreneurship

The end of the startup era?

The Collider’s Program co-director, Albert C. Mikkelsen, elaborates on the challenges of the startup era and how tech-transfer can make a difference. Enjoy the read:

 

Most entrepreneurs, engineers, VCs and other experts agree that the next wave of technologies will be AI, Drones, AR/VR, Cryptocurrencies, self-driving cars and IoT Technologies. The common theme among these is that they are not as accessible as the web and smart phone revolutions, each for different reasons. AI requires vast amounts of data not easily available to any kid in any garage; hardware — be it drones, cars or IoT — is hard to prototype and the cycle to get customer feedback and data naturally slows down; all of these technologies require both deeper technical expertise than app or web development, as well as a wider range of experts; also, the impact that these technologies can have on society means that Governments will be wearier and entrepreneurs likely faced with complex and harsh regulations.

If this is paired with the fact that it is possible that VC & PE will have an increasingly harder time to raise funds as with the raise of central bank’s interest types other investment vehicles will become attractive again, the investment in start-ups may become smaller or, at least, pickier.

This sets the stage for what has been named “The end of the startup era”. The fact that, as that article points out, it is, for most people, impossible to name any of Y Combinator’s alumni after 2011 could be taken as a simple, visible even stupid but indicative proxy. Since 2011 the most recognised incubator in the world has not produced names that everyone recognised as being poised to take over the world, as it once did with Airbnb, Dropbox or Stripe.

But as much as the startup era as we know it may be coming to an end, it is widely recognised that the technologies mentioned in the first paragraph have an outstanding potential to change the status quo of many industries and, hence, represent an astonishing economic opportunity. Thus the question is not if, but how.

There are several approaches that will tackle this, definitely corporate innovation will be one (as the cases of the tech giants are already exemplifying) and, alongside it, an M&A market will likely become hyper-active (read more on Why the end of the startup era could be great for entrepreneurs). But the questions remains, where will the entrepreneurs with unique technologies, extreme hunger for success and unique ideas that will be financed or acquired by corporates come from? A good pretender is bridging the gap between tech transfers and incubator/accelerator models.

Where tech transfer initiatives take advanced technologies usually from universities to find market application, incubators and accelerators helps startups with training, office space and connections to customers, partners and investors. The mixing of the two should generate fertile terrain to generate start-ups with a differential capacity to compete in a complex, less quick and more expensive technological context.

Joining the two seems obvious but is not trivial. At First we have had the opportunity to lead the program for one of the first of such initiatives in Europe: The Collider. The initiative, launched by Mobile World Capital’smVentures, creates teams of three, with one STEM PhD who brings the technology and two business profiles, usually a clear CEO and COO profile.

Although it is still early to report on the results, as the program is yet in its first out of 10 months, some early observations can already be made. Firstly regarding the most prominent challenges. As the model is still in its infancy, there are many issues that need to be worked out: the creation of teams from scratch; the rapport between extremely different profiles who have extremely varied backgrounds; regulatory aspects regarding for-profit applications of publicly funded research; and even the adaptation of startup management methodologies and techniques such as design thinking or lean startup to mention the most well-known.

Secondly, about the model’s potential. In the first place regarding the interest generated; universities and research groups are showing great interest in finding market applications for their developments. Entrepreneurs are excited about the opportunity to bring cutting edge technology to markets, usually in which they have been working for a long time previously. Corporates have shown great interest in having teams demonstrate their wondrous technologies. In the second place regarding the format of the program: the technologies being transferred require the program to have both deep technical and regulatory expertise. Also, the time-to-market time frames are different for reasons already exposed, and thus the length of the program and funding given need to adapt to these requirements.

Thirdly, the required close relationship with established organisations. Whereas Y Combinator has roughly 50% of its startups developing B2B products, The Collider barely has a 20% of B2C start-ups, some of which are rather B2B2C rather than direct B2C. Also, it is likely that given the aforementioned funding, access and data requirements of these start-ups, their need for strategic partnerships and potential for early acquisitions is likely higher than in more traditional accelerator and incubator programs. They are more likely to work as providers, in partnership or as part of established corporates than to try to compete face to face with them.

Despite Kurzweil’s Law of Accelerating Returns, in today’s context some of the main opportunities for entrepreneurs are more complex, slow and expensive than we have grown accustomed to see. This does not mean that there are no outstanding opportunities outside the tech industry, nor that through the creativity that characterises great entrepreneurs, solutions that are simple, fast and cheap will be found. But speaking in general terms, it will still take a few years before AI, Drones, AR/VR, Cryptocurrencies, self-driving cars and IoT Technologies become as accessible as Python. Although some have achieved to hack their cars to be autonomous for $700, that story is more similar to someone connecting a computer to a network in the early 90s than the widespread adoption of the same technology in the late 90s and particularly in the 2000s. Hopefully, the same way that incubators and accelerators have been a cornerstone in seeding and helping early stage start-ups un the past 10 to 15 years, focused tech transfer initiatives will do so for the context of the decade to come.

EVANS, Jon (2017) After the end of the startup era via TechCrunch available at: https://techcrunch.com/2017/10/22/ask-not-for-whom-the-deadpool-tolls/ [Last accessed December 12th 2017)

FLAHERTY, Joseph (2017) Why the ‘end of the startup era’ could be great for entrepreneurs via TechCrunch, available at: https://techcrunch.com/2017/11/04/why-the-end-of-the-startup-era-could-be-great-for-entrepreneurs/ [Last accessed December 12th 2017]

 

Source: Medium

Entrepreneurship, Technology

Bootcamp Wrap-up and Happy New Year

Today we’re wrapping up the bootcamp, the first phase in The Collider’s program. It has been a month-long fulfilling experience, with daily workshops, afterwork talks and intensive fieldwork. Our Colliders came here without knowing each other and now they’re about to pitch for their first investment round.

In order to get the first bit of capital, all participants have to prove the profitability of the technology they represent. This means submitting an extensive report on the challenge, the context, the validation process, the competitive landscape and more. Today, they present in front of the internal committee the results of their opportunity validation journey and their performance will determine the amount received for the next Phase.

Such a crucial day comes after a creative rollercoaster, diverging and converging ideas, exploring different industries to find the best gap in the market. They have had the help of experienced professors such as Toni Dávila, José Manuel Pérez Prado, Richard Lagrand and Xavier Sansó among others. They have met experts from a wide range of industries, serial entrepreneurs and corporate representatives, including investors that are already keeping an interested eye in all projects.

Unfortunately, we can’t yet disclose the the full details of the final projects but what we can say is that we’ve got very strong healthcare services and that most startups are directed to B2B. Thus, very powerful technologies taking shape to hit the industry and make it a better place.

Among the resources offered through The Collider’s bootcamp, there has been special interest in the landscape monitor, the lean startup and the business model canvas. These tools have been specially unfolded to follow a step-by-step guided process of ideation and market research. Overall, all guests, materials and tools have aimed to offer a deep understanding of opportunity validation and prepare the entrepreneurs for the next harsher venture building phase.

Entrepreneurship, Program, Technology

Expert’s word: learning from failure

In spite of how brilliant your idea might seem, it is very likely that someone else will have covered similar –if not the same- steps before.

Therefore, it will be an essential part of the start-up journey to scrutiny companies within one’s landscape, both the antilogs (companies you want to differentiate from) and your analogs (companies you resemble to) to set up your business role model and philosophy.

On The Collider’s keynote over the Reactable’s tech-transfer project, Pep Viladomat stressed the importance of sharing a common vision within the team because “a product doesn’t make a company”. Team alignment is known as one of the key causes of startup failure, along with lack of product market fit or scaling too early. So knowing what went wrong, even in apparent golden eggs, will be key to save efforts –and money.

Together with the above-mentioned, CBInsights published recently an overall of 20 major reasons for failure in startups. You’ll find that managing a flexible mindset is a common thread to most of the cases, especially when it comes embracing feedback and pivoting. Knowing there are such common drivers, can only be taken as an advantage to build and, more importantly, keep a proactive and open-minded approach.

Our teams are currently in the phase of exploring competition while diverging/converging ideas. As they narrow down the options and straighten bonds as a team, we can already tell there are some promising opportunities to be validated soon.

Entrepreneurship, Program

The landscape monitor: a tool to sense what’s coming

The Colliders face a major challenge at the start of the program: spotting opportunities on the business landscape. It may seem easy, but it’s not.

As professor Antonio Dávila stated in his workshop, the next battle will be becoming excellent at seeing change before anybody else does. This is particularly challenging in a fast-growing tech-driven society in which information goes viral at the blink of an eye; as a matter of fact, while it took 75 years for the telephone to reach 50 million users, it only took four months for PokemonGo to reach the same figure in 2016.

Thus, it is critical to constantly scan and assess the landscape and there are tools that will help us do so. That’s the case of the landscape monitor, a tool to sense what’s coming, which was presented at The Collider by one of its authors, Antonio Dávila, professor of Entrepreneurship and Accounting & Control at IESE Business School.

The landscape monitor is based on 4 principles:

1- Share a common view of the landscape: think of the main actors (society, customers, partners) and map their needs/actions.

2- Use as many eyes as possible: crowdsource, use contributions from Internet users to obtain needed services or ideas.

3- Use the talent not only to execute but also to create: businesses have already become excellent at execution, the challenge is really to hit on the innovation formula before anybody else.

4- Capture events both from public sources as well as individual experiences: every bit of data is key since everybody is liable of spotting challenges (and risks), from your competitors to your parents.

It is on the Colliders’ hands now to apply this knowledge to learn from the context and test their assumptions. For anyone interested to know more about the landscape monitor, you’ll find it available here.

As years go by the cost of technology diminishes exponentially. Just as an example the price for a full-body scan decreased from 10,000$ in 2000 to 500$ in 2014. The same will happen with all new-born technologies today, and therefore, our Colliders have to be swift and bright translating innovation into value added opportunities.

We trust they will succeed. Keep posted for more.

Sin categoría

The first mission: spotting the problems of tomorrow

Starting a company from scratch isn’t easy, most specially if you’ve only just met your journey companions. But our Colliders are made of real entrepreneurial material and are willing for such a challenge.  For the next 10 months, they have the mission to turn leading innovative technologies into profitable businesses.  

Organized in teams of 3, led by a scientist plus two entrepreneurs, all 21 participants undergo a month-long boot camp to kick-start the program. During these intensive days, they will drive through ideation, prototyping and business modelling to find their own positive contribution to the cities of tomorrow.

The first week in The Collider is focused on “reshaping the problem”.  This means stepping back and looking at the big picture: industry challenges, trends, opportunities and customer needs.

For that purpose, we’ve welcomed various industry experts to lead our quest in terms of mobility (SocialCar), health (Biocat), urbanism (MediaURBAN), basic supplies (Suez) and more.

In the starting line of The Collider, we have mostly cutting edge technologies looking for the open doors in the business market. These technologies reach 7 heterogeneous sectors: GPS, language processing, IoT, 3D, blockchain and two “point of care” (POC) devices.

If you’re curious to know which product form and industry path will each team take, be sure to stay tuned to the blog.

participantes y organizadores posando
Program

The Collision Weekend, in pictures

The Collision Weekend, which took place during the weekend of November 18 and 19, was one of the key moments for The Collider given that it was the first meeting between the scientists and entrepreneurs selected to create the startups of the future. Through this post, we invite you to be part of the event as we relay the contribution given by these people during those two intensive days.

The kickoff was at 9:00 am on Saturday. There was much enthusiasm on the part of all the participants who received an advice that proved to be very useful throughout the weekend: be open to new contributions.

The first part of the day on Saturday was dedicated to inspiring talks through which participants adopted the principles of design thinking, the lean startup and other key elements needed to enter the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

 

Entrepreneurs and scientists, divided into teams, faced different challenges, as the objective was to find ways to improve people´s lives. These challenges covered the areas of mobility, health, housing, public services and social justice.

Sunday began with Jaume Rey as a special guest. Jaume is CEO of Nexiona and he came to Collision Weekend to explain his experience as an entrepreneur. As he pointed out, “we are very afraid to share ideas for fear of them being stolen. Share them, it´s better to have 33% of a company, than 100% of a power point”.

Some games helped the participants to stimulate their creativity and get to know each other a bit more. The idea was to strengthen the bonds between team members and lay the foundations for collective work.


The teams elaborated their MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and went out to the street to validate it with their potential clients, checking if the proposed solutions were meeting people’s needs.

Knowing how to sell a project is equally important as developing one. The last challenge was the elevator pitch. Internalising the message you want to convey is vital for finding clients, in addition to being able to do it in a few minutes.

Program

The Collider program overview (and phase 1)

The Collider is a 10 month journey of ideation and venture building that places the challenge for its 21 participants to build their own successful tech-transfer companies. It is a major challenge but they won’t be alone: they will be assisted by relevant experts, scientists, entrepreneurs and mentors along the way. And together with our participants, all our readers will also have the chance to access these bites of knowledge, and get hooked to The Collider.

Starting from the bottom line, this 10-month journey is structured in 3 key stages that help mark the milestones in the venture process:

Phase 1 – Opportunity Validation (1 month): Aimed at acquiring tools and methodology to validate at least one business opportunity per team.

Phase 2 – Venture Building (4 months): Aimed at refining the opportunity and starting its acceleration.

Phase 3 – Incubation (5 months): Aimed at the incubation of the idea and initial scaling.

 

 

The 21st November will mark the official start of The Collider’s Phase 1, a month-long bootcamp focused on team building and exploring relevant opportunities for each team’s technology. The bootcamp, is organized at the same time in 4 blocks, to ensure a step-by-step dive into the tech-transfer process. These stages are structured as follows:

 

1st Week – Reshaping the problem. Aimed at understanding the context of the challenge; that means, industry problems, trends & opportunities, as well as specific customer issues.

2nd Week – Ideation and Pre-totyping. Aimed at brainstorming multiple ideas to address the customer problem, followed by micro testing and deploying a detailed value proposal of the selected idea.

3-4th Week – Prototyping & Iteration. Elaborating a validation plan:
underlying hypotheses, key actions, KPIs and expected outcomes. That includes service/ product technology details, marketing & distribution strategy and validation outcomes.

5th Week – Business, Communication & Feedback. Working on business model, seed investment financial plan, cooperation agreements and alliances, team and, finally but most importantly, elevator pitch.

 

Now it is our chance to invite you all to follow the Colliders in this exciting journey. You will find program updates, videos and speaker insights here on the blog as the program develops. Be sure to stay tuned and let us know any thoughts or suggestions in the comments.

Let The Collider begin!

Technology

How technology helps us to improve water management

Water is one of the most precious natural resources on the planet. The scarcity of water or poor water quality in a region has an impact on health, food security and many other areas, putting the people who live there at risk. 

In addition to the irreparable damage to the ecosystem and the hazardous factors that can result from bad water management, the scarcity of useful and potable water—or the excess of contaminated water—makes basic services more expensive, and can thus intensify social inequality. It is not surprising, then, that efforts are being made to optimise the efficient management of water. In this sense, the possibilities offered by technology are an essential.

New technology facilitates the prevention and solution of water-related problems—production processes, commercial issues and the management of the services sector—and aims to improve citizens’ quality of life, all while creating sustainable cities that contribute to curbing climate change.

The concept of a “water footprint” is an interesting tool to raise public awareness about how much water people use every day. When we think about the amount of water someone in a First World country uses, we usually only consider the direct water footprint; that is, the water we consume for drinking, cooking food, bathing, watering the garden, washing the car or cleaning our clothes and houses.

However, the majority of the water we use comes from our indirect water footprint, which is the sum of all the water footprints of everything we consume on a day-to-day basis: electricity; fuel; all foods (produce must be watered, and the packaging, transport and manufacture of other foods require water); the production of our clothing, cosmetics, electronic devices and packaging; and the management of all the waste we generate. With regard to the latter, for example, well-formulated waste disposal routes with eco-friendly vehicles could significantly reduce water use and pollution.

Current technology allows smart cities to utilise advanced devices for leak detection, remote meter reading, and the prediction and management of water demand in urban areas, in order to create adequate infrastructure.

In addition, photovoltaic purifiers are now a reality, as well as advanced real-time management using remote sensors that provide atmospheric information to the relevant authorities in order to prevent or report floods and disasters.

One of the unresolved matters regarding sustainable cities, however, concerns urban planning and architecture. An environmentally conscious building system can reduce the consumption of energy and water by 30 to 50%. Cities like Berlin and Shanghai, among others, have already begun to design plans for so-called “sponge cities”, where the urban landscape will be used to create a “water sponge.”

How is a sponge city created? They use green roofs (planted with vegetation), better-climatised buildings, light-colored materials (to avoid the use of air conditioning in areas with high temperatures), urban wetlands and permeable materials for streets that absorb water during periods of heavy rain. If water drains quickly, it is less likely to be contaminated, and therefore less likely to contaminate the water with which it comes into contact.

Information and communication technologies allow for the collection and analysis of environmental data and public behaviour. This information is of great interest when it comes to creating a design that promotes more responsible use of a city’s natural resources.

Let’s raise awareness from now on. Do you know the size of your water footprint? Dare to calculate yours here.

Share This