Entrepreneurship does not necessarily mean ruining your personal life

March 24, 2011 § 4 Comments

Or does it? This is again, as everything else you hear around entrepreneurship, a relative statement and just a point of view. But I believe it is an extremely important principle to have as an entrepreneur, as Iñaki Arrola (LinkedIn, Twitter), founder of Coches.com, also does. Iñaki told us that his wife is the most important stockholder at any of his ventures and that he knows he will be remembered in life by his kids and not by Coches.com.

Setting the right goal is key. As father of a boy and expecting father of a girl, I know about the enormous challenge of starting (trying to start) a new venture. But it is not impossible. The harder the obstacles, the more focused you get. Your partner is your most important stockholder and therefore, you need to make her happy somehow. Been an entrepreneur is just a way of lifestyle and philosophy, not life itself. Family is.

So, it is possible to become an entrepreneur and a good husband and father at the same time. But if you had to choose, be a husband and father.

To see the live feed about Iñaki Arrola session, please follow the twitter hashtag #ietechstartup

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The formula for raising money is…

March 22, 2011 § 4 Comments

that there is no formula… If I have learned something about entrepreneurship in the last months, is that there are only opinions and points of view, not general rules or To-Dos.  Of course they are principles but this are always context related and at the end all depends on the execution capabilities of the entrepreneurs.  Thats how entrepreneurship works. Starting is hard, but once you are in and get to do an startup, raising money for other startups become much easier.

Yesterday we had the successful entrepreneur Jorge Mota(TwitterLinkedIn) in class as part of the IETECHSTARTUP sessions with Enrique Dans. Jorge shared with us his experience and some basic principles about raising money. I am just naming some few of them:

  • Scalability of the business and quality and commitment of management team is key.
  • Dont give much of your company at the beginning. Give 30-35% of company in angels round (1-3 mill) and for VC no more than 30% not less of 15%
  • Join a startup and learn if you can start your own (remember what we said about the hard that is to start a company?)
  • Have ego is good, but not necessarily from the beginning!
  • Revenues are not always necessary to raise money!
  • Focus on solving a real problem! Develop the process. Then learn to communicate to engineers and finally to customers

They were much interesting stuff Jorge told us, to see some quotes, just follow the twitter hashtag #IETECHSTARTUP.

Again, please note that there is not right or wrong approach for raising money if you are planing a startup. There is also no only one investor type. For you own sake, when raising money, find an investor that you can personaly deal with. Someone that share some kind of values and you will be good to go.

foodieSquare is actually in the raising money process, so, if you know of someone interested on supporting our goal of becoming the European marketplace for high quality artisan food, then let us know!

It’s not the technology, stupid!

March 18, 2011 § 7 Comments

20110318-110050.jpg

The problem with technology skeptics like the many peers I met during my MBA, is that they fail to see that it is not only the changes on technology what is important, but the changes of business models and shifts on consumer behaviors. They just take it personally and refuse to accept changes just because of personal preferences and habits they refuse to change.

There is nothing more troublesome than to meet “dinosaurs” with 30 years old or less! People without a Facebook account because of unfounded privacy concerns, people fearing to blog or to reveal their name somehow online, etc. I wonder what this people have to hide. They don’t understand that is not about avoiding been online, but to learn how to have a positive and educated online presence.

I don’t expect people to know and handle all new tech evolved in almost light speed around us like I do. No! but I do expect them to at least be open to try things out and understand the implication technology has in business and society in general. I watch many of them trying, and those that see the big picture, get fascinated about all this changes as I do! (one year ago I didn’t know what a blog was!, so no, I am (was) not a “techy”!

To be more clear, let me put an example about my frustrations in class. Lets talk about eBooks for 2 minutes. Some classmates my age are worried about the growing trend of eBooks and the fear of not been able to reading on paper in the future. They focus on demonizing digital content distribution instead of seeing all the opportunities it brings. Besides all convenience and advantages that digital books have (there are of course also disadvantages) they fail to see that the digital revolution is not only about disrupting content consumption, but more importantly, about content production!. Authors have now the chance to difuse more their content through digital channels. Call it the “market of niches” or “the long tail”, etc. But even current famous authors like Seth Godin are giving books almost for free if shared via twitter about releases. Other savvy ones give their books for free for some limited time online in order to diffuse their content and they then earn from giving conferences.

By reducing intermediaries that are not providing value, production cost are shrinking enabling more authors to produce, specially those with hard access to current big publishing houses that are sometimes more focus on making money (delivering best hits) rather than distributing other good work. And we all know it happen very similar in the music industry and will continue happening to more industries where intermediaries used to provide value in the offline world, but don’t do the job any more in the digital world. Change is imminent, so lets discuss about how to embrace it and make the transition sustainable, rather than fighting against it. Specially if you are a top MBA candidate!

There was yesterday a fearly guy in class that first complained about the whole point of using facebook due privacy, bla bla bla, and later, when asked how Facebook should make money, he then simple responded that Facebook should sell the data to make more money. There is nothing worse than “offline” trolls! You can simply not deleted them that easily! :)

Blogged from my iPad! Sorry for any typo.

Will Blogs take over News Media?

March 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

Today at 13:30 (Madrid) Julio Alonso (@JulioAlonso) founder and CEO of Weblogs will join our “Managing Tech Startup” Class with Enrique Dans (@edans). I will be liveblogging from the session via twitter #ietechstartup and see how it goes.

My own experience with blogs has been fascinating. Before I came to IE I did not understand what a Blog was and now, almost 10 months afterwards, I am an active blogger with over 3000 views so far. I also have changed my habits, for example, I am starting to read now more blogs than news website. Therefore my first question to Julio Alonso:

– If more and more journalist are becoming bloggers, when do you expect blogs to outpace traditional news corporations? What needs to happen for this to take place?

The thing I like about my blog is that it is very personalized channel I don’t need any intermediary (besides WordPress). I follow also famous bloggers because of this same feature. Additionally I follow Weblog-like blogs like TechCrunch, Engadget, etc. But there is a limit of blogs I can follow. I have already a queue of 1000 post in my google reader waiting for me =) (and growing!)

My second question goes more about the quality of the content of blogs. Reading TechCrunch I see more and more people complaining about the quality of the post. Some of them look sponsored blogs and based that bloggers are paid on the amount of blogs they write, quality issues are arising.

– How do you maintain bloggers happy and at the same time assure high-quality blogs?

A new feature was introduced by Facebook. Facebook Comments. TechCrunch is experimenting with it and they are some initial data that suggest that “trolls” (people trying to boycott the blogger with negative and offensive comments) have been reduced significantly. I am a pro Facebook authentication. Specially for blogs! Hence my third question:

– What do you think of Facebook Comments? Are they defining how we will interact in blogs and elsewhere in the future?

I look forward for this session to start. Follow the liveblog on twitter #ietechstartup

Managing Tech Startups

March 14, 2011 § 7 Comments

Panoramic view from my seat in class.

I am live from my first elective class “Managing Tech Startups” conducted by Enrique Dans. This is his first elective on the subject, so it will be fun to take part of this experiment.

As in my first class with Enrique, we are assigned to blog about all the topics discussed in class. So expect very interest post in the next weeks. Enrique will be bringing keynote speakers from the entrepeneurial community and I will do my best to liveblog from class and see how it goes.

Enrique expects us to interact with the entrepreneurial community in Spain or around the globe. So, if you have a question for Enrique or the class, please free to send me it per eMail or via this blog.

Update 14:27 – next class Julio Alonso from Weblogs WSL will be joining our class! Topic: how to manage a bootstrap company.

Update 15.03.2011 – Video discovered by Guilherme


Social Media in Enterprises, it works!

March 1, 2011 § 2 Comments

Roberto Carreras, Enrique Dans, Ana Nieto Churruca, Lasse Rouhiainen, Daniel Canomanuel, Tristán Elostegui

Spanish online celebrities: Roberto Carreras, Enrique Dans, Ana Nieto Churruca, Lasse Rouhiainen, Daniel Canomanuel, Tristán Elosegui

Today I attended a Social Media round table-session with spanish online business celebrities like Enrique Dans, Tristán Elosegui, Roberto Carreras, Daniel Canomanuel,  Lasse Rouhiain, and Daniel Canomanuel at IE Business School. The panel was moderated by Ana Nieto Churruca as an introduction to the presentation of her new book La Web en las Empresas 2.0 (Web in the Enterprises 2.0) produced together with Lasse Rouhiain.

Thanks to new technology, internet has penetrated already a major part of the population (for example: via smartphones) and this trend just keeps on growing. For now, it should be clear to most small, medium and larger enterprises, that Social Media is far beyond Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In or whatever what the end customer sees and uses to look, discover, review, share and/or purchase goods and services online. Companies need to be where their customers are, but the big question is how? and under which strategy? lead by who? As I commented on my Marketing 2.0 post, marketing fundamentals are still there and have become more important than ever! It is the channel, strategy and skills-set of marketers what have truly changed. Changed drastically! As Enrique Dans said regarding traditional Media Agencies “…I am watching how Media Agencies are just been faced with the new reality and making the same mistakes that the Telecom Industry and others did when their business model was disrupted…”

Social Media is more than just what end-consumer sees

The event was conducted in spanish, hence, I would like to share the most relevant insights about this event for non-spanish speakers and for those that could not attend the event. As the Social Media panel organizer of the 2nd edition of the IE Digital Forum next March 15th @ IE Business School, I am passionate about these topics and about how Marketing 2.0 has emerged that fast. It was only about 4 years ago, when I first directly interact with Marketing back at Siemens. Today for example, I was proud to see how Siemens has launched a creative campaign in Facebook called “/answers“. This is a great example on how multinationals are using Social Media channels wisely and professionally. For me, Siemens is providing a clear message that even the biggest b2b corporations can create innovative ways to connect with their communities.

In order of appearance:

Enrique Dans – Prof. at IE Business School – Blog: enriquedans.com, Twitter: @edans (126k followers). To the question “Is he a celebrity?“, he clearly answered that even though he has tremendous 126k followers online he is by no means a celebrity. “No one in the streets stops me to ask for an autograph“. Enrique did became famous online after hard work and years of experience on the field. He has been blogging almost everyday the past 8 years! He quoted Woody Allen when saying that “success after 10 years of work comes overnight”, and that of course “luck” is part of the process as well. About the question regarding what is key element for enterprises in order to be successful with Social Media, he mentioned just one word: Empathy. It comes all about relationships and how companies interact with their customers. Companies should ask what can they offer to their community. Each community is different and each company has to figure it out by themselves. Uni-directional marketing belongs to the past! Its time for some real marketing.

Finally, during the Q&A session, Enrique brought a very interesting point regarding the ROI of social media. “It is tricky and please don’t make the fool mistake to try to ROI-ize Social Media campaigns to its full extend.” “Not everything that you do with technology is related to ROI”. “Try to find metrics that make sense and that will somehow convert to ROI in the long-term. So far it is still not clear exactly how it converts and nobody knows how to do it”.

Tristán Elosegui – Online Marketing Manager at Secuoyas – Blog: http://tristanelosegui.com, Twitter: @tristanelosegui (6,8k followers). To the question “What are the common mistakes companies do with social networks”, Tristán gave a clear answer: 1. They use Social Media as they would use traditional media, 2. They lack of Marketing objectives and focus only on short-term sales. (Sales do come, but after there is trust! To enable trust, relationships have to be established first!). 3. They don’t allocate the resources required (People, money, time…STRATEGY!)

Roberto Carreras – Social media strategy strategist, Plan B – Blog: robertocarreras.es, Twitter: @RobertoCarreras (8.6k followers). Robert talked about the success of his Plan B project, which is a “Social music discography” concept where music is created by the people for the people. “Tech was always there, but before you needed to know how to program PHP and HTML to create content online. Now due that it is extremely easy to create content (any kind!), creating has hit mainstream”. In his blog, he mentions how Social Media is not only a new channel but also a new way of working!

Lasse Rouhiainen – Marketing 2.0 expert, Video Marketer – Blog: lasserouhiainen.com, Twitter: @lasseweb20 (11,2k followers). As a video expert, Lasse explained the importance of video marketing. “Videos are hardly replicable”. “Video marketing is a most in the marketing plan”. He mentioned 2 different types of videos: 1. The standard videos about products/services and 2. video from the people of the company like employees or the CEO. His experience showed that real employees have more impact on consumers. Finally, he said that it is important that small and medium enterprises (SME) should start to use more videos as a tool. SME are faster, flexible and can produce videos with fewer resources that could have greater impact.

Daniel Canomanuel – eCommerce Director of Telepizza – Blog: blog-e-commerce.blogspot.com, Twitter: @Canomanuel (2k followers). Daniel, the only one representing a consumer good company talked first about the importance of Social Networks. In Spain, there are more than 13 million Facebook users alone! (35% from a 40 million population!) He also stated that customers are switching more and more to the online channel (thanks to technology!). Because he believes that companies have to be where their customers are, Telepizza is now present in all online channels: Web, Mobile Web, App (iPhone, Android, Blackberry) and even they have just launched a Facebook Store to buy pizza without leaving Facebook, and with 50% discount! They are also in Twitter, Tuenti (the spanish Facebook) and are experimenting with foursquare as well. Each channel with its own strategy. To one of the question of the audience on how did he implemented his strategy? Daniel mentioned that he first started with some experiments with support of 3rd parties. After seeing the potential of social networks, they decided to internalize the process. Because the web is broad and Telepizza’s strategy is to be present in all channels, they currently use a mix of internal and external resources.

Finally, Daniel brough an interesting topic when mentioning the new entrants like Groupon and how Google’s monopoly has ended. Telepizza has currently 75k fans en Facebook and overall around more than 150k loyal customers (followers) in all Social Networks. His advices: “Make the community more dynamic, cause fans don’t come alone”. “Social media strategy has to be clear”. “Be ready to listen good but also bad reviews”. “Measure, measure, measure performance”.

Disclaimer: it was quite of a challenge to listen in spanish and transcribe to english simultaneously. Please let me know if I have interpret or express any  translated quote from some of the speakers incorrectly.

The Advantages of Failure

February 24, 2011 § 3 Comments

Today I attended the IE Venture Lab event: “The Advantages of Failure” at Auditorio Rafael del Pino where very interesting people like Jose Maria Castillejo (Zinkia International – Pocoyo), Jesus Encinar (Idealista.com & 11870), Alberto Knapp (The Cocktail), Gustavo Garcia (Ex-CEO BuyVIP) and other interesting speakers shared their entrepreneurship experiences and what they have learned from failure.

Every time I am at a great entrepreneurship event like this I get the same messages: “if you want to become rich and you want to avoid suffering, risking all you have, flying economy class and eating cheap food…then you shouldn’t become an entrepreneur!”

I believe all this is true. On the other hand, if you don’t want a Boss telling you what to do or you want to be independent and have control of your destiny, create jobs and most of all, learn the great experience of creating something new by meeting extremely interesting and helpful people, then definitively you should become and entrepreneur!

I guess this is why it is called entrepreneurship “spirit”, because it is all about the spirit! If you just look for making money, then you will be better becoming a banker. You want perfection and solve problems, then better become an engineer. You like to talk to people and motivate them to buy your product, then you should become a marketer or a sales man. But, if you really like to get things done and create from scratch with a 99% uncertainty and knowing that most probably, and not matter what you do, you will fail, then you are an entrepreneur!

Entrepreneurship is about the journey. The more experience the better and failing is just part of the process.  And this is why only people with a strong spirit can be entrepreneurs.

See below some interest quotes I gather from the event:

Jose Maria Castillejo (Board of Directors of Zinkia Entertainment SA, POCOYO)

  • “When you are an entrepreneur you have to be ready for total failure in 60 days”
  • “The most difficult part been an entrepreneur is to be able to pay the checks every month”
  • “Focus on opportunities, not the problems”

Jose Encinares (Founder of idealista.com)

  • “Investors give you money If they see you hungry”
  • “The safe bet is to be an entrepreneur in the long-term but you have to start young”
  • “The unthinkable always happen!”
  • “Entrepreneurs are people that goes hunt with the resources they don’t have”

Alberto Knapp (CEO The Cocktail)

  • “We start a company with technology we didn’t understand, with a business model we did not know how it would work.”
  • “You have to be ready to suffer! Every day you have to deal with failure”
  • “If you fail, you will have the opportunity to start something new.”
  • “If you want to learn and not get rich, start an internet startup.”
  • “In Internet you fail faster but lighter, so it’s not that painful. Buy you need a lot of money for Marketing to get your brand known”
  • “Entrepreneurs have to ask themselves where do you see yourself in 3 years if the company fails”
  • “Select your partners wisely! A divorse is easier that splitting from your company partner”
  • “The challenge of Internet is building a brand! It can take 3-7 years to build a serious brand!”

Book recommendation: Delivering Happiness (Zappos)

Gustavo Garcia Brusilovksy (EX-CEO BuyVIP)

  • “To do something big, you have to go out of Spain”
  • “Be strict with the strategy and flexible with the details and execution. Don’t lose focus, because you don’t have the resources to do so”
  • “You need someone to think other to execute”

Book Recommendation: Boo hoo a dot com story

Yaron Samid (Techaviv.com, register.com, Billguard)

  • “If you are not careful, a VC can become your BOSS!”
  • “The job of the VC is to fire the CEO when time is right. Entrepreneurs are good building stuff but not always maintaining them successful”