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Category: Strategy of Innovation

What Valuable Service is not yet Being Provided ?

What valuable service is not yet being provided? Answering this question is the first step toward creating a company that don’t have to bother with competitors. Peter Thiel asks this question often in Zero to One. Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future, which provides wide array of unorthodox rules underlying creation of natural monopolies by start-ups.

According to Peter Thiel monopoly is not a pathology, or an exception, but a company that is consciously planned to achieve and sustain leading position at the market. Context for bringing attention of Peter Thiel’s readers to monopolies relates to reflection of the author on contemporary stat-up’s market choices. Pether Thiel believes that every big, existing market is a bad choice for a newcomer is a bad choice, and a big, existing market with rival companies is even worse.

Therefore author introduces and thoroughly explains logics and reasons of success of contemporary monopolies, these are companies with significant market shares in what they do, such as Google, Airbnb, or Uber. In that context category of competitionless monopolies might have particular importance for start-ups aspiring to status of unicorns.

So what differs unicorns companies from the little ponies? According to Peter Thiel one of the most important rules is that the technology, which company aspiring to be a monopoly wants to introduce to the market, should be at least 10 times better than its closest substitute. Creation and protection of intellectual property related to such technology is the first step of competitive advantage based on a monopoly status and enabling to outperform competitors. Another factors actively contributing to creation of monopoly are combined effects of economies of scale, company’s network and its brand.

Peter Thiel shares loads of valuable tips, which founders of start-ups can take into account in order to build and maximize their value. According to Peter Thiel founders should have a lot of common experiences prior to set-up of the company, and should think of management team consisting of not less than 3, but no more than 5 members. It’s also important that its CEO pays themselves no more than USD 150 thousands per year. The team, built by founders, should consist only of people, who can fully engage in company’s activity, except external accountants or lawyers of course. There is no place for part-time employees or remote working during the stage when company wants to build its value exponentially. Monopoly status aspiring start-ups should know why they do something important, and why anyone else is not doing it. This is the basis to attract first employees, who don’t have to be offered with high salaries, but non-financial compensation as well, including share in equity in the company they build. According to Peter Thiel such approach to compensation makes long term engagement of first employees more plausible. It’s also important to clearly define areas of responsibilities of new employees. Clear definition and assessment of performance against results in clear area of responsibility enables to avoid conflicts of interest between employees.

Peter Thiel also shares on distribution channels of start-ups products, services, or solutions; and introduces concept of customer acquisition costs being always lower than the customer lifetime value. Only high price of offered good justifies high marketing expenses.

Peter Thiel reveals insights on rules that Venture Capital firms use to make their decisions on investments into prospecting start-ups. One of such rule is that Venture Capital firms can only afford to invest in companies, which return on investment might exceed value of whole Venture Capital firm. Author makes a comment, that because of such a strict rule, there are no other rules.

It looks that, as a partner in Founders Fund, Peter Thiel sticks to what he claimed in Zero to One. Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future. Founders Fund carefully selects and invests in start-ups, which are not popular, difficult to assess, and bear high technology risk, but create their own place at the market.

Before launching Founders Fund Peter Thiel co-founded PayPal, which in 2002 was acquired by eBay for USD 1,5 bln. In 2005 he joined board of directors at Facebook and was one of the first external investors. USD 500k he invested into Facebook turned in almost USD 400 mln during first public offering of the company.

So, what valuable service is not yet being provided ?


Connected Vehicles and Internet of Logistics

How to surf on edge of next industrial revolution and profit from convergence of communication, energy, and transportation infrastructure?

In The Zero Marginal Cost Society J. Rifkin explains tremendous shift in new forms of communication, energy creation and distribution, and transport and logistics resulting in  new industrial revolution that is happening now. According to J. Rifkin the changes we observe will converge to general purpose technology–Internet of Everything, which will be a platform consisting Internet of Communication, Internet of Energy, and Internet of Logistics.

J. Rifkin proves that in competitive markets, in order to win the market share, companies will have to continuously increase their productivity, and simultaneously decrease the marginal costs and prices of the goods and services sold. As a result, the marginal costs will be brought to near zero, what means they will not be subjected to the market forces we know today, and companies will have to learn how to profit from sharing economy and lateral economies of scale.

J. Rifkin provides great deal of insights for start-ups and start-up accelerators, which plan to surf on edge of next industrial revolution by helping existing market players to transform. As we all know, Google and Apple maximize usage of their technologies in existing vehicles and develop driverless technologies themselves to win Internet of Logistics. But let’s take a look at what other vehicle industry players do to catch up with new economy paradigm.

BMW  enables drivers to have remote access to their vehicle. My BMW Remote App enables you to check whether your car is locked or not, when you are not sure to have it locked when getting out. It also allows you to sound the horn, flash the lights, and turn on auxiliary heating or ventilation.

Daimpler, Audi, and also BMW in 2015 together purchased Nokia’s digital maps business for USD 3,1 billion to leverage connected cars solutions they work on. Now Mercedes-Benz offers mbrace – a digital concierge package that will help you out with dynamic route assistance in traffic or bad weather.

General Motors offers apps such as MyChevrolet, MyBuick, MyCadillac and MyGMC, which enable its owners to locate the nearest dealers, or schedule car maintenance, and also  find free parking spots. Another app of General Motors – OnStar leverages both geolocalization and big data to offer coupons for Exxon and Mobil gas station, and help you book  hotel rooms while you drive.

Toyota – which recently invested  USD 1 billion  in Toyota Research Institute (incl. research centers near Stanford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology) -works on open source infrastructure, and develops solutions in telematics to enable safer driving experience. The former one  are also the cornerstone of digital innovation strategy in Mazda.

If J. Rifkin is right about Internet of Logistics, above-mentioned companies, leading in transportation industry, will soon find followers, and other transportation business players will look for solutions enabling them to adapt, distinguish, and compete. It might result in new, unexplored marketspace for transportation and logistics oriented start-ups.

Considering nearly 2 million of companies registered at Angels List, specialization in transportation and logistics seem to be less exploited by start-ups than specialization in energy and communication. Intensity of rivalry in this sector might be, therefore, lower than in the other, densely occupied sectors. On the other hand, because of industry regulation standards and high safety requirements, there might be a need for institutional support for start-ups entering transportation and logistics area.

Luckily there are more and more start-up acceleration programs that  specialize in transportation, logistics, and supply chain. Such accelerators are Dynamo Accelerator from Chattanooga, US, or The Logistics Tech Accelerator organized by RocketSpace with Lufthansa and MAN focused on solutions for smart warehouses, transport, and trade. The Logistics Tech Accelerator’s application process for start-ups opens in September 2016, and plans to kick-off in January 2017 in Vigo, Spain.

So ask yourself, what valuable company in transportation and logistics nobody is building yet.





How Facebook Nurtures Start-ups?

Have you wondered how Facebook attracts and retains growing population of mobile technology start-ups?

FbStart is start-up corporate accelerator of Facebook levaraging development and growth of early stage start-ups working on mobile applications.

Facebook together with partners such as Adobe, Salesforce, MailChimp, Hootsuite, or UserTesting offers package of tools, services, mentorship, and community opportunities designed to grow mobile applications.

FbStart particularly looks for mobile developers that intend to launch their applications and are associated with venture capital firms, start-up accelerators, and start-up incubators partnering with FbStart. FbStart is also open for applications from developers with experienced with launching applications in Apple and Google Play application stores.

Majority of benefits related to support of FbStart lasts up to one year, however start-ups being enrolled to the program for more than one year can still count on mentorship and community opportunities related to access to portals, forums, meet-ups and events.

FbStart also creates opportunity for any organization that would like to become a partner in investing and developing mobile-applications-oriented start-ups.

FbStart boosts position of Facebook as two-sided market platform, and strengthens its position of “dominant design”, which will distinguish it among other social medial platforms, and also possibly attract and retain its users. Initiative is also incredibly interesting from the point of view of further growth of Facebook, especially in already highly saturated markets. One of the business strategies for growth in such markets is “long tail” strategy resulting in delivering personalized and customized content looked  up by diversified groups of targeted customers, which start-ups joining FbStart can contribute to.

FbStart became popular worldwide thanks to its FbStart Apps of the Year Awards, which recognizes the most successful applications among the program members. Start-ups applying for the award are assessed according to the following criteria: growth and engagement, experience and design, efficiency at scale, and leveraging Facebook platform.

Awards of the FbStart Apps of the Year Awards total up to USD 150 000.

The last winner of FbStart Apps of the Year Awards is RadPad, start-up from Los Angeles, US, affiliated with one of my favorite US start-up accelerators – Amplify.

Los Angeles by the way recently develops forms of start-ups support ecosystem, which are extremely intriguing to observe and explore. In addition to Amplify, which belongs to top start-up accelerators in US alongside with Y Combinator, 500 Startups and Techstars, Los Angeles leads Teen Startup Academy – a 7-weeks teenager’s oriented start-up acceleration program, where  teenagers after school classes learn to develop and scale-up their business ideas.

Teen Startup Academy is led by professional instructors and sharpens skillset of nascent entrepreneurs with curriculum encompassing basics of programming, designing, pitching, and other aspects of creating and leading a new venture.

Local entrepreneurship ecosystems such as in Los Angeles maximize entrepreneurship potential of big spectrum of local community.

In that context awarding FbStart Apps of the Year Awards to start-up from Los Angeles is not a surprise.


Learning from the Best – Start-ups Ecosystem in Switzerland

Some time ago I had the great privilege to attend a seminar in Warsaw, Poland, on Swiss start-ups support ecosystem led by Jacques Hefti – Head of Start-up Campus at Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAw). Support for start-ups in Switzerland is quite remarkable. Reports of Innovation Union Scoreboard confirm its overall leading innovation performance in  European Union. Therefore I’d like to like to share with you with the following, useful observations:

The key principles in support for start-ups in Switzerland is its global value proposal, scalability potential, and relatively fast expansion plans. As internal market of Switzerland is relatively small, one of key steps of growth is to go global once internal opportunities are exploited. Therefore Swissnex focuses on enabling new market entrances for Swiss start-ups by activities not only inside Switzerland, but also in US, Brazil, China, or India. Start-ups in Switzerland are additionally supported by Switzerland Global Enterprise (SGE), which launched, together with Google Export Digital, an online platform with approx. 100 educational videos supporting development of export strategy.

Basic R&D&I infrastructure for technology-oriented start-ups is available in over 40 technology parks in Switzerland organized in form of national association called SwissParks.ch hosting over 1000 companies. What distinguishes SwissParks.ch parks from other technology parks scattered in various locations in countries worldwide is their strong cooperation. SwissParks.ch acts not only acts as space provider for start-ups, but also as reputable thought leader and think tank supporting policy making., It is also national manager of know-how related to start-ups, an organ  responsible for its diffusion, key animator of networking activities, and organizer of national initiative called Global Entrepreneurship Week. Information on basic R&D&I infrastructure in Switzerland and start-ups in particular sectors, which can be matched with data of spaces offered by SwissParks.ch is available here.

Technology parks infrastructure is complemented by R&D&I co-financing opportunities enabled by Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI), which is a part of Swiss Parliament. CTI directly co-finances R&D&I projects , but also sponsors globally emerging start-ups pre-acceleration and regular acceleration programmes. Intense mentoring received by the start-ups within such programmes is delivered by publicly funded network of qualified trainers, and is free of charge for their receivers.

Key technology-oriented start-ups clusters in Switzerland are Zurich and Lausanne as leading research and education institutions are there, including Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich) and Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL). The former delivers mentoring, research infrastructure, network, and demonstrates an impressive track record of supported spin-offs. The latter also developed a complex and financing instruments backed-up  ecosystem of support of start-ups affiliated with EPFL. Approach of EPFL can be compared to leading approach of University of Stanford, US, which also offers complex support for its affiliates, including university start-up accelerator and university based venture capital firm I wrote about earlier. Commercialization of all new technologies created by Swiss research institutions including universities, or university hospitals is boosted by umbrella organization called Swiss Technology Transfer Association (SWITT).  To this day SWITT already offered over a hundred,  Swiss technologies ready to be commercialized or licensed out. I value the approach of SWITT, which does in Switzerland exactly what MIT Technology Licensing Office does. Such organizations make inventions visible and commercialization-ready to the world.

Newly created start-ups are monitored and classified by Swiss Start-Up Monitor, which lowers the distance between them and parties interested in cooperation. Buzz and spin around start-ups is fostered by events such as Swiss Innovation Forum, which in this year will take place on 24th of November 2016. During the forum Swiss start-ups are rewarded with reputable Swiss Technology Award. So far hundreds of companies were recognized within the award, which builds credibility and leverages potential for further expansion.

What is the best practice in start-ups support you could recommend?


Start-Up Europe Week has just Begun!

Start-Up Europe is a platform aggregating several organizations, supported by European Commission,that contribute to European start-up ecosystem. Start-Up Europe is a part of European Union (EU) Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan. That is why its mission is to connect players of local start-up ecosystems in EU countries, including connecting start-ups, entrepreneurs, and researchers with start-up accelerators, co-working places, private investors, public funds agencies mentors, or local authorities, which all can support start-ups’ “go to market journey”.

Between 1st -5th of February 2016 Start-Up Europe organizes the biggest entrepreneurship event in Europe. This is 1st edition of Start-Up Europe Week, with 220 cities in 45 countries participating, and hundreds of events being planned, including conferences, workshops, meetups, or mentoring sessions.

If you are a start-up ecosystem stakeholder, you can be a participant of the planned events. And if you are a start-up player, you can support Start-Up Week by organizing event or becoming part of the initiative by using the form here.

Start-Up Week goal is to promote initiatives of Start-Up Europe, which are in force for a while now. My favorite initiatives, which altogether create European start-ups support ecosystem, include:

– Open call for Micro-Grants for start-ups to enable them participating in relevant start-up events, workshops, and usage of local, start-up dedicated services. Micro-Grants are also strong enabler of networking at European level, including events planned for start-ups stakeholders in 2016.

Start-up Future Roadshow with series of workshops for students, and aspiring entrepreneurs, where they will find training sessions on funding opportunities and meet with mentors. The roadshow is organized by by European Young Innovators Forum, and kicks-off in Poznan in Poland on 27th of February 2016.

– Start- Up Europe Club of over 4 thousand investors interested in funding start-ups ad various stage of their development.

European Crowdfunding Network, which is an initiative to support European crowdfunding services providers with self-regulation issues, and strengthen crowdfunding voice of crowdfunding in policy making discussion to result in growing number of local crowdfunding platforms and wider access to capital for start-ups.

Database of almost 300 thousands companies founded in Europe, including funding amounts, and companies’ details, which might be a great deal of support in looking for potential business partners, including suppliers, and customers, but also mentors.

EU Accelerators Assembly, which aggregates over 70 start-up accelerators, I was writing about some time ago. If you are start-up accelerator, you can register there and find partners for Horizon 2020 call for projects called
Startup Europe for Growth and Innovation Radar”, which enables financing of strategic partnerships building between European start-up hubs. Imagine that as a start-up accelerator you can submit an application e.g. for creation of Pan-European acceleration programme with professional mentors, and international demo-day. Find details of applying for EUR 1,5 m per project till 25th of April 2017 here.

– As a start-up you might also be interested in using co-working space for leading your start-up daily activity in Europe. For that purposes you can use information aggregated by Co-working Assembly, where you will find already registered co-working spaces. In case you are co-working space founder, you can submit information on its location and services offered.

– Beside over 4 thousand of private investors Start-Up Europe shares the knowledge on over 1300 other start-up funding opportunities, including public funds’ co-financing, in the database of Start-Up Europe Club here.

If you like what is happening in Europe, and you are start-up ecosystem stakeholder consider to sign a manifesto for Entrepreneurship & Innovation to power growth in the EU.

If you are still looking for “a meat on the bone” you might be interested in Practical guide to doing business in Europe. The guide doesn’t only provide details of starting a company, including registration of European company online including, but also provide knowledge on intellectual property rights protection of your start-up, selling your products and services abroad, employing people in the EU, building up your team, exploring taxes and customs related issues, and  getting the basics of merging and acquisitions, which might be interesting for later stage start-ups considering exit strategies.

If you still feel hungry, reach out to us using our contact form, and still “stay hungry, stay foolish”.

Dzida !


New Models in Start-up Support Eco-system

There is number of new models improving forms of support available for early-stage companies, including start-ups in particular. Except start-up accelerators or Venture Capital firms we’d been already writing about at the blog, some other phenomena have been elaborated by NESTA. NESTA, which brand promise is “Making Innovation Flourish” has been founded by National Lottery of the United Kingdom, and operates at no costs to the government, or tax payers. What NESTA does are investments in early-stage companies, experimental support programmes, and analytical research, part of which I’d like to share with you below. According one of NESTA’s studies, in context of new models in start-up support we can distinguish:

Start-up weekends – format of this support reminds intensive company acceleration in start-up accelerators, but instead of 3-month programme, here its duration is shortened usually to 48 hours. In the US start-up weekends under brand of Startup Weekend are supported by Kauffman Foundation (the largest foundation for entrepreneurship in the world), whereas in Europe they are backed-up by Startup Bootcamp. Another example is Garage 48 located Estonia.

Investment marketplaces – an example of investment marketplace is Angel List, which puts records of all angel investors online for all to see to open up the process of raising angel’s investments. It doesn’t mean that thanks to Angel List its easier to contact angel investors unless as a start-up you don’t already have a social proof indicating real market potential of what you develop. Angel List had been founded in 2009 by Venture Hacks. On Europe it’s been replicated by Seedcamp in form of Seedsummit.

Start-up Schools – these are  schools with programmes often described as “pre-accelerator programmes”. One of such school is The Founder Institute active in many locations around the world. In the United Kingdom there is Rochard’s School for Startups or TechHub’s Startups at TechHub programme.

Meetups – meetups are smaller, often specialized, meetings of local start-up community. For the United Kingdom some examples are London New Tech, Minibar, or Open Coffee.

Office and co-working spaces for start-ups – co-working offices are spaces tailored for start-ups  available at monthly, or daily rent,with shared meeting and conference facilities and other services resulting from having many companies located in  one place. In one of the co-working spaces I’d been visiting this year – Cambridge Innovation Center in Boston, companies operating from there have even direct access to angel investors, or Venture Companies firms located at the site. Overall number of companies located in Cambridge Innovation Center exceeds 800, incl. approx. 300, which deliver support services for start-ups incl. business consulting, marketing, or design. Relationships building and networking at Cambridge Innovation Centre is nurtured by The Venture Café where you can grab a beer with other co-workers each week at the site, what is of course included in the fee you pay.

Hackdays – whereas meetups are focused on building new relationships, the hackdays are focused on building new tools, or particular aplications of existing technology, and are not focused on creating new businesses as start-up weekends, or start-up accelerators. Some examples include Local Hack Day, or Music Hackday. If you’d like to organize your own hackday, find some tips at The Hack Day Manifesto.

Venture Incubators – these are investment-led incubators, which unlike accelerators  are not time limited, and don’t accept applications from start-ups in cycles, and unlike Venture Capital firms they provide intensive, additional support, often including access to  specialized facilities. An example of Venutre incubator is Betaworks – a movie and audio making studio in in New York, which manages and owns their own start-ups, but also back external productions. Another example is White Bear Yard.

Which models of start-up support eco-system are active in your place?




Why any Plan is Better than no Plan?

In one of my favorite MBA case study books I found a particularly interesting anecdote illustrating importance of always having some kind of plan, even if you feel it is not the accurate at all.
The anecdote was originally described by K.W. Weick in “Cartographic myths in organization” and goes like this:
During soldier maneuvers in the Alps, a troop of Hungarian soldiers got lost during the scouting mission. The weather was severe, snow was deep and conditions were freezing. After two days of wandering around, the soldiers gave up hope and became thought to frozen to death in the mountains. Then, to their great surprise, one of soldiers discovered a map in his pocket. Thrilled by this discovery, the soldiers were able to find way back and escape from the mountains. When they were safe back at the headquarters, they found out that the map was not of the Alps at all, but of Pyrenees. And what is the moral of this anecdote?
It often is that a plan (here a map) is not be perfect, but having it may give a sense of purpose and direction for moving forward. If the soldiers would waited for the right map they could have frozen to death. Map their found brought great deal of confidence motivated them to get up and go, look closely at cues of where they are and where they want to be.
Even if this anecdote is criticized in terms of its credibility, moral, and business applications in current times I still like it. Sometimes even leader is not sure where to go, and the plan they have is not good enough to get their teams out of the snowy mountains. However what leaders have to do is to instill confidence in people and get them moving even in general direction, so by going, listening carefully and learning as a team they can work out better idea how to capture the opportunity they chase.
                                                        Source: www.pinterest.com


What Entrepreneurs Can Learn from Founder of Tesla?

I don’t know entrepreneur, who wouldn’t like Tony Spark, described by himself as “genius, billionaire, playboy and philanthropist”, and played by Robert Downey Jr in Iron Man movie series. 
Why do we start with Iron Man in the post of Elon Musk, know as Tesla Motors founder?
Despite sheer entrepreneurial zest Elon Musk and Tony Spark have in common, some scenes to Iron Man 2 were in fact directed in one of the manufacturing sites of company founded by Musk. 
So what Elon Musk does, and what entrepreneurs can learn from him?
In a nutshell Elon Musk is founder of PayPal (instant online payments solution), SpaceX (rockets and spacecraft designer and manufacturer), Tesla Motors (electric vehicles designer and manufacturer) and member of the board at Solar City (the largest solar power provider in USA).
There are couple of things I believe distinguishes Musk’s way of disrupting the status quo:
Firstly, his inventions solving big world challenges are presented are explored in context.
In other words it’s not about massive release of “super new things, technologies, or materials”, but encapsulating them in form of complex solutions to real life challenges (which of course embrace super new things, technologies and materials).
A perfect example of this is Tesla Model S – fully electric vehicle introduced to mass production by Tesla Motors in 2012. Tesla’s car efficiency and safety seriously disrupt conventional premium cars segment, but electric cars need charging stations. They need them badly, and the perfect situation would be to have them scattered across the continents, so the drivers could enjoy travelling without empty battery surprises. So what Tesla does is setting up network of superchargers – charging stations, claimed as free source of energy for Tesla users to create literally “traveling for free” experience.
Secondly, on top of innovating in context and addressing “the bigger picture” it is the user’s experience being at core of inventions supported by Musk. Referring to Tesla car, my wife called it a vehicle for ninja, as the only thing you hear during the ride with the sunroof open is the gentle whizz of air. If you have a night-vision device, you’ll enjoy exploration of your neighborhood at night unnoticed. For me  driving Tesla’s could be compared to steering a spaceship due to magical lit up of car’s inside, impressive 17” touchscreen functioning as control panel (today’s world of smart phone natives would love this way of car control), and car’s acceleration getting you into the feeling of a plane taking off.
Thirdly, the thing about Elon Musk I believe, is that he lives BHAGs to the full, which stands for Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals. He’s not afraid to set goals, which are out of this planet, and gain people on board to work on them with him. On 30th of April 2015 Musk is to announce its new invention. The gossips about it range from Tesla hoverboards to Tesla jetpacks. After announcement of plans toward Hyperloop enabling traveling people in capsules with speed of bullets in the riffles, these rumors doesn’t seem to be unjustified.
                                                         Source: Own pictures library.






E-stonia – a Nation of Digital Natives?

Estonia has become the first country in the world to offer e-residency with state-proven digital identities giving an access to registering businesses, signing contracts, online banking, education, healthcare and thousands of other local services. Until now Estonia has issued more than 1 100 000 of e-ID cards
Tallinn, the capital city of Estonia with population exceeding 430 000  is the seat of companies like Skype or GuardtimeThe latter is public-private partnership of Estonian government and private sector, which lead to creation of keyless signature infrastructure used in Estonia, but also by world telecommunication giants such as Ericsson. That’s why Tallinn is vastly visited by governments to learn more about e-government and cybersecurity.
It is commonly considered that Tallinn  offers entrepreneurs one of the deepest pools of technical talent per capita among European capitals and in 2014 Estonian companies were among top 50 of the fastets-growing technology companies in Central Europe.
Are e-residencies also a way to tackle the challenge of depopulating and slowing down Europe?
E-residency was primarily aimed at those who had connection with Estonia through business, studying or tourism, but now in fact it offers digital services for people with no Estonian affiliation. So yes, it’s entrepreneurial way of leading demographic policy in modern world and attracting new business to the country.

If you look for a space in science park with neighborhood of companies like Toggl.com or Defendec take a look at Technopol– a Start-up Incubator, which cooperates closely with Tallinn University of Technology and IT College.
When looking for a co-working space you might be interested in Technololis Ulemiste located near the Tallinn airport and seat of companies like Signwise or ZeroTurnaround. Garage48 HUB is a place for you if you look for something in the centre of Tallinn.
When looking for government co-financing of start-up activity just turn to government led initiative managed by Estonian Development Fund called Startup Estonia.
                                            City of Tallinn



To Do Something Good, you Actually Need to do Something

To one of the entrepreneurs I’ve good fortune to meet. For that she finds time to dream big on fostering empathy of humanity in between of work, studies and basketball practices.

In the past people called them visionaries, humanitarians, philanthropists, reformers, saints or great leaders. Nowadays  social entrepreneurs emerge from every walk of life.

Who is a social entrepreneur?
To put it simply it’s individual, who refuses to accept status quo, approaches huge public challenges with new perspective, and uses entrepreneurial business techniques to address them.
Where the social entrepreneurs come from?
Social entrepreneurs have been active from always, but the tidal wave of people passionate about their ideas and turning them into reality peaked together with so called “Millennials”, this is the generation that you the most probably represent (at least the blog’s statistics say so). “Millennials” are people, who were born between 1980-1994, and in terms of global qualities are described as energetic, optimistic, idealistic and committed to creation of humane and just world. Personally I like when they are called “idealistic, but pragmatic”.  
What differs “Millenials” from other generations? 

I like the explanation made on “Millenials” by D. Burstein in “Fast Future”, who refers to 1970’s futurist A. Toffler introducing famous concept of the “future shock”. Future shock was about changes taking place so quickly that people and institutions couldn’t keep up  with new circumstances. And there we go, decades later “future shock” is day-to-day reality, which is the only reality “Millenials” know. For “Millenials” there is no “future shock”. It’s a “present shock”. So it’s not a big deal.

Now you know where today social entrepreneurs recruit from. This is the group which is ignited by different kind of fuel and is able to give and achieve more. No surprise that global companies want to at least understand what motivates “Millenials”. As. in case of my previous employer who did global researchhow “Millenials” operate to create  job places enabling them to utilize their full potential, incl. numerous social engagement initiatives that let them fight for righteous causes.
Social entrepreneurship is becoming more and more important for global business, also thanks to The Rockefeller Foundation and the “Impact Reporting and Investment Standards” developed by it.
O.k., but what concrete examples of social entrepreneurship are there?

Just take a look at Fabio Rosa, who brought electricity to countryside in Brazil, Vera Cordeiro, who founded Association for Children’s Health providing medical services to poor Brazilians or Van Kirk, who created in the US Community Enterprise Solutions working with micro-entrepreneurs in villages on identifying products and services needed at underserviced areas to grow and successfully providing them with water purifiers, solar panels and vegetable seeds.

Is then social entrepreneurship  about the profit?

Whereas business entrepreneur’s goal is to create profit, social entrepreneur focuses in the first place in improving the society. However, sometimes you can do both. As explained by J. Elkington and P. Hartigan in “The Power of Unreasonable People” social entrepreneurship business models includes among others “leveraged nonprofits” – with no material profit goals, “hybrid nonprofits” – mixing nonprofit approaches with for-profit aspects and finally “social businesses”, which is about for profit undertakings organized to achieve social goals.

So how you could work on your social entrepreneurship concept? A piece of advice comes from B. Schwartz, author of “Rippling. How Social  Innovation Throughout the World”.

B. Schwartz advises to start with a “Purpose”, this is a clear intent to acts as a guiding compass of whole undertaking. Having the “Purpose” combine it with “Passion”, as it will be your main motivation fuel. Try to work out a “Pattern” for creation of idea that is scalable and which other people can easily duplicate. Last, but probably the most important thing you need to think about, is “Participation” and inspiring others to make your dream a reality.
So where can you  get inspired and learn social entrepreneurship? If you are an American( blog’s statistics say that with high degree of certainty you are from the US), take a look at Office of Social Innovation created by Barack Obama to leverage social entrepreneurs’ innovative ideas into national government policy making.

For me one of the best knowledge sources, but also a fountain of friends I can go to the moon and back with is social entrepreneurs association “Ashoka: Innovators for the Public” set up by Bill Drayton in 1978. I remember Ashoka founding scholarship for people having regular jobs, who would   every week utilize  just a couple of hours of their time  to spread their social innovation zest. Nowadays Ashoka recruits volunteers also via LinkedIn. By the way not many people know, who Ashoka was, so let me share with you that he was pioneer of social change in South Asia, who lived in 3rd century B.C.

But let’s say you have an idea how to change the world, you’ve gathered know-how and built network of contacts, but where is the money for a start? For this take a look at Schwab Foundation of Social Entrepreneurship or talk to your central government to consider creation of “Social Innovation” public funds program as the Polish government did, enabling people to finance meaningful ideas that tackle  real world challenges.

                                                          Source: www.pinterest.com


 Dzida !