Startups, bend it like Spartans

Lego Spartans

Startups and Sparta, for a look into how startups communities are collaborating – or not – in order to expand their reach and get visibility on the worldwide stage.

Silicon Valley, and the United States in general, Israel, Berlin and London. These are regarded as thriving startup communities and benefit from a closer look from the market and the overall tech industry.

Yet, startups are everywhere to be found. But some countries, cities or communities are still developing and others struggle to get their name on the entrepreneurial map. Let us have a look into these and draw the recipe for (potential) success.

Numbers and success.

This is a standard but an actual community, or group, is based on numbers. A group of one or two is nothing like a community or ecosystem.

What led Silicon Valley to becoming a hub is the grouping not only of innovative companies but people working there – smart people in fact – who did take part in building a community.

And then it takes success – or at least stories – to get the show running. Think Apple, Google, and various others and this is the success story which tends to trigger a gold rush. Silicon Valley nowadays is just yet another piece of land where some found gold.

The secret sauce to add to the mix is noise. Make some noise, be heard, be seen, be acknowledged.

This is where some great communities do have a lack.

Greatness in hiding.

Some cities or countries, although producing gold, tend to go strangely unnoticed when it comes to speaking startups. Or just being regarded as an ok place despite seriously delivering.

Nordic countries overall have given birth to some major – and successful – startups (think MySQL, Rovio – yes, Angry Birds – or Skype) but still do not show up – nor do they show off though – on the major startup ecosystems map.

Knowing Swedes, for instance, not advertising their success wildly does tend to go with their character. They behave themselves and do not make noise … and do not make noise either on the startup scene (just think Stockholm which could be sitting above Paris, Berlin and London). But no question that the Nordics do host a bunch of thriving and successful startups.

The fight for glory.

On the other hand, some need to get organized and ensure working to achieve goals.

France proves a good and bad example of an actual fight for (startup) glory. No question about the fact that the country hosts a lot of quality startups and is on par, if not beyond, the more known London and Berlin.

However, the World does not know (enough) about it, yet, and rather face the headlines shared between 75% taxes and taxis waging war against the likes of Uber and co.

In a bid to get all entrepreneurs under the same banner and fight the fight for image and visibility in the World, the “La French Tech” (#FrenchTech) initiative has been launched … by the Government … . One can but agree with this initiative that does make sense and is definitely needed. However, it should first have come from the startups themselves.

And this FrenchTech family still has not gotten the point. Communities remain communities, Gallic villages trying to best their neighbors and draw more attention.

From last weekend, having a look on Twitter at the Startup Weekends happening – 2 in France out of 16 overall in the world – I saw this one tweet calling people to make theirs better than the other French event happening (and, ultimately, maybe, get more visibility in front of the 14 other events).

At that point, why not just be a little smart and make noise together while waving the same flag ? (note : their individual hashtags were nowhere near trending).

Now, looking at the fact that, with this French Tech initiative, the Government has 200+ millions Euros to give out to a select group of the best ecosystems or cities or whatever they want to use as criteria, then the fight is only starting.


The “300” film has made it popular. Spartans fight as one single unit, protecting each other. Well, successful startups communities tend to do so too.

By successful, I am not looking only at established ones (Israel, for instance) but also at developing ones.

Looking at Japan, building on a culture similar to France’s (entrepreneurship not initially seen as a career, failure not being an option, …), entrepreneurs have been – and are still – building an ever-growing ecosystem out of passion, sharing and helping each other. And in just a few years, the amount and quality of startups built is amazing. Not to mention that the mentality is changing with entrepreneurship beginning to look like a career path (just writing it is a huge progress) and even the Government actually willing to help develop the ecosystem of startups.

Japan is already catching up on Europe which had quite a head-start. But they do it through collaboration. They are working on something new, something not part of the culture but they have the same goal, hence Tokyo working with Kyoto working with Osaka and so on with the one goal to make every startup in Japan as successful as possible.

And celebrate all.

Two years ago, while on stage in Vilnius, I told Lithuanian entrepreneurs to “focus on working together”. Work together, develop together, succeed together.

And that goes not only for startups but every person, every organization aiming at developing this entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The startup scene is still young in this country and they are still developing but looking at it, remotely, for the past two years, they are developing at the speed of light. And they are putting together the (right) resources and support to make a name for themselves.

When startups develop, go abroad and take the stage, they do market not only their business but the overall ecosystem and fly the Lithuanian flag – alongside with the Lithuanian startups flag.

And then, Lithuania has been seen in Israel, agreeing on partnerships, at major events like TechCrunch Disrupt Europe, Tech Chill Baltics, etc … .

All working as one.

Work together, develop together, succeed together.

A closing remark, by quoting my own self, as this is the bottom line. Every community draws its origins in the work of many.

And the development of startup communities/ecosystems is founded on the same principle. When people strive to make any project successful, to develop together, cheer for everybody’s success and … basically, collaborate.

[Image credit : Flickr – Leg0fenris]


I am not writing because I am busy writing

Goals and achievements

Time management and workload management. Overused buzzwords somehow but words which do not ring enough of a bell when people use – or just write – them. Managing time and workload, in other words priorities, has become key to being able to deliver both at work and in personal life. And this is the point of this post which I had not written before since I was busy writing … .

I am drowning!

That is somehow one of the most used sentences in the corporate world. With the “I have no bandwidth” motto.

Lol to that. Well tragically enough this has become some sort of norm. People are drowning so they can not answer requests. Especially as they need answers from people who are also drowning and who need answers too from people having drowned … .

Let me get my inflatable rubber duck out first and check this inability to work.

Startups versus the World.

Yes startups are cool so they are better for sure. Provocation aside, a job offer I saw (from a startup), for a CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) position, did trigger this reflection.

CMOs – or people with random titles doing marketing as part of their day – actually end up doing half a dozen “normal” jobs. This job offer I read mentioned marketing indeed but also social media (e.g. community management) and content creation, still a given for a proper marketing job, but also having enough technical knowledge of the product to be able not only to market but also sell it. Oh and selling/business development being part of the role too. Plus a few added tasks.

(On a very personal note that is what I really call marketing. Being at the very center of the company, knowing every piece of information out there and being able to deliver it to any audience)

These startups “CMOs” have more than one job but they share another similarity, they are not drowning … .

Stop whining, start working!

Quoting my own self here – and certainly thousands of people out there.

But complaining usually serves only one purpose : wasting time. As well as not planning well nor focusing enough.

And that is the story of me not writing since I was busy writing. Like these CMOs I mentioned, I have various jobs in one and a few other activities as well. I recently took up an offer to write articles for a sports site. Because a writer needs to write. And because a day is not only 8 hours.

However, as much as I like writing (and that might be the issue), I did not make plans to write posts for this very blog or sports article. In the end, I got busy writing about sports and not completing my articles for my own blog. Not because of a lack of inspiration or will but just out of a lack of organization.

Stick to a plan.

And fix your day.

I came day to planning times to write for one platform and times to write for the other. On top of being a bit more organized – even if writing at anytime sure is permitted – it does force me to keep focused over a short period of time and ensure I complete a full post during that time. Hence leaving aside distraction and other ideas (which I just write down on the side for later) or any question arising about whichever blog or site I am writing for.

In a few words, just plan. Even if just to clear your mind, plan.

That makes a good lifeline for people used to drowning too.

[Image courtesy of HubSpot]

I bet on red Roulette

Thinking entrepreneurship while just out from Vegas, how not to draw a parallel between gambling and starting up.

Get a 100$ note out of your wallet, walk to the cashier, have it changed to tokens and head for the roulette table.

Now, go all in on red.

Why red ? Well, just because it is a warm color, the color of passion.

Then, it is a 50-50 chance to get rich(er) or lose it all.

Reminds you of something entrepreneurs ?

That is how it is like in startup life.

At the same time, that is what it is all about.

I have never called entrepreneur a guy who thinks his idea in order to get rich (best example : copying the ideas that have worked and paint them black instead of red … ).

Entrepreneurs do entrepreneurship. They go for it.

It does not mean that there is no thinking at all behind it, nor reason.

The thinking, just like roulette, is just to take out a 100$ note and lose it maybe.

But losing is indeed an option.

And there is more behind playing than just the will to earn millions. It is about following one’s idea. Or passion. And passion.

Las Vegas, or say the desert outside Vegas, made me want to burn a few notes in buying some land, maybe a small cabin and try to do something out of it.

Unreasonable ? To buy a patch of dry land, 200 miles from an airport ? Maybe.

But that is where entrepreneurship takes roots. In believing that there is an opportunity when most people see craziness.

So, following my roulette round, yes, I do bet on passion red.