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5 things I have learnt at Venture Café this year

I have experienced Venture Café for the first time in Boston, USA, when I was finishing my MBA studies some time ago. Venture Cafe concept appealed to me so much that I attended almost all of its Thursday Gatherings organized in Warsaw this year. Therefore, what is Venture Café, what value it delivers and to whom?

Venture Café is an open platform focused on gathering in physical place inventors, entrepreneurs and investors to connect them and make things happen. Thursday Gatherings combine well-curated panel discussions, educational sessions and demonstrations of new technologies. It enables  thousands of people to meet in 11 cities worldwide where Venture Café is present, including Warsaw from this year onward.

According to Kauffman Foundation fostering connections and learning among start-up ecosystem stakeholders, which Venture Café is all about, is even more important than creating start-up incubators or co-financing of venture capital funds.

Basing on attendance in Venture Café Warsaw this year I find their open gatherings as contributor to lifelong learning that enables one to stay on top of emerging trends, technologies and their implications. This year panel discussions covered future of work, new lifestyles, new communication, new finance, new transportation, new education and new retail.

Key trend affecting future of work is its automation

Key findings related to future of work are about risk of work automation and skills needed for new jobs. Globally required job skills are impacted by growing development of web-enabled markets, digital trade and cloud computing. In line with the emergence of new jobs, many stable roles become redundant, especially those related to information and data processing. Hence, skills of the future relate to ability to learn, unlearn and re-learn, and cooperation and communication in virtual teams set up with culturally diversified members working form various locations.

Key role of teacher is to navigate joint research rather than to be an expert

Trends affecting business and required skills influence on how people learn, and explain why one of the most popular MOOCs last year at Coursera was about how to learn new things effectively. Contemporary role of a teacher also evolves, and now is r defined as someone you are researching and exploring potential answers to questions together, rather than someone who is subject matter expert. This shift is related to growing trends of alternative free schools, peer-to-peer learning and forms of teaching combining blogs, podcasts and explanatory videos.

Key denominator of majority of customer segments is connectivity

Among contemporary lifestyles one can distinguish urban lifestyle, rural lifestyle and also a lifestyle called digital and automated. Often criticized Anglo-Saxon theories ,distinguishing generations such as generation “X”, generation “Y”, Millenials and generation “Z”, fade down in context of  a concept of generation “C” – where “C” comes from connected. This idea is proliferating well in the context of hyper connectivity in world of digitized interactions, processes and business models, where traditional segmentations of the market are failing and hyper connected single customer is king.

Key response to apocalypse of retail is customer service beyond one e-commerce delivers

Crowding out of traditional retail caused by rising e-commerce is called the retail apocalypse. It forces traditional points of sale to reinvent themselves, so they could offer more than what could be delivered through online orders of goods. Examples of such transformations include brands like Lululemon, offering yoga clothes and running gear, whose stores are more like showrooms where you can come and discuss about your passion and try out new products, or clubhouses for customers of Rapha, which offers cycling apparel. Nike has also reinvented itself to prove that it is much more than shoes and sports gear. Nike House of Innovation opened in New York enables one-to-one appointments with Nike Experts. In era of chat-bots and virtual assistants such as Google Assistant, Siri, Alexa or Cortana attention to human attention may become a good of premium character.

Maintenance of faith in people over algorithms, and stronger belief in purpose rather than profit are the core of the next stage of organizational designs, where jobs are self-organized, employees rather supported than supervised, and profits shared rather than accumulated. An example of so called benefit corporation is Patagonia, manufacturing outdoor apparel. It has on-site child development centers, encouraging parents to interact with their children throughout the workday. The company also dedicates 100% of its revenues on Black Friday to the planet, teaches customers how to do self-repairs of purchased gears, and offer  no-time-limited product’s return policy to minimize environmental footprint and maximize social-economic impact.

Key business models in hyper-connected world are subscription, membership and sharing economy

Pace of changes and hype connectivity typical for generation „C” contributes to shift in business models from traditional ownership to access without need of ownership. This is what membership economy, subscribed economy, and sharing economy are based on. Knowing that average car is not used by 90% of its lifecycle, future Tesla’s owners will enjoy earning profits from self-driving services of their vehicles, when they do not use them themselves. Lynk & Co is enabling car sharing to single users even today. Having access instead buying might even relate to subscribing to wardrobe service, fitted out with outwear and apparel you might enjoy for a season, and then would like to change.

Tendencies expressing the needs and possibilities to satisfy them might eventually convert into trends. The old saying “trend is your friend” might encourage you to visit the nearest Thursday Gathering organized at Venture Cafes locations worldwide, and follow sources often discussed by events participants such as Trend Nomad or Trendwatching. So, which next Thursday Gathering are you planning to attend?