#StartupAus, innovation and startups made in Australia

[Please note that I initially posted this article on Medium where you can read it all]

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“What is a long read when it is about a whole country’s future?”

Policy Hack happened. The posts, articles and interviews are now gone. The first takes from the recent activity suggest that the effort still needs to be structured. There has been a lot of buzz and excitement with a whole startup community happy and eager to push its ideas to the current government but, like for any startup, thinking and planning is crucial.

There have now been some ideas bounced here and there and a beta done. It is now time to sit down for a second and make use of the whiteboard.

This is demonstrated by the simple fact that StartupAus “will now curate the content” of the OurSay posts and compile it with the ideas from the policy hack. A task which should have happened prior to the policy hack, not only to bring value to discussions but also define the “champions” who would be invited to discuss these ideas during the hack.

In this particular case, the thinking will be done after the acting. No time wasted but, at the same time a whole day resulting in standard takeaways and some “niche” ideas.

Overall, the policy hack day has been a great success, bringing members of the ecosystem together and feeding the government with smart input and directions. Well done Wyatt Roy and all! However, sometimes, noise is too much noise and critical items may be overlooked. Or, at least, not mentioned a lot in the variety of posts, tweets, etc. published after this event.

Building on experience and bringing an outside look to the table, here are my main talking points about innovation and startup success for Australia.

… Continue reading on Mediumhttps://medium.com/@SamPavin/the-days-after-policy-hack-startupaus-innovation-and-startups-made-in-australia-8bafa753df29#.7exq2fs72

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Gone ‘Camping’

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Not “Gone camping” like in real going out in the wild but still that could make an excuse for the limited recent activity on this blog. Anyway, that is actually “gone to ‘Le Camping’ “.

Le Camping is a French startup accelerator, based in Paris, precisely in the posh building of the former stock exchange of Paris, “la Bourse de Paris“.

I have had little contacts with them in the past, just popped there a couple of times and never really got to catch the spirit of the place and people.

So, stumbling upon a tweet where they were asking for volunteers to assist for their “Media day” (an event where startups part of the acceleration/growth program do present), I did apply. That was end of last year.

And here I found myself, a week after speaking to a crowd of a tousand in Vilnius, volunteering to be a helper for Le Camping.

Funny situation. Great situation though. Being a “normal” attendee does not allow to see how things work – or not – in the background.

Here, I could not only see but also experience, first-hand, the back of the classroom.

So … what did stand out during this day ? (call it evening to be right) And I am making use of those points now as they seem to bear a sense of generality more than being specific to this actual event.

1. Startup events in Paris (at least those I have attended in the recent times) are packed.

Full room again on this evening event.

2. The speech is right, the attitude would need improvement.
It is easy to pick some strong sentences nowadays and make use of them while presenting.
Yet, speaking about taking risks with a voice and attitude crying out loud “I don’t wanna die” does not do the job.

3. Startups have learned to pitch.

They have good stories to tell but if those are interesting they are not inspiring.

4. Look cool but be sharp.

I know that startups are about T-shirts, sneakers, a Mac and having some fun (bear with me, the perfect picture at least) but all the founders I know mix this with an amazing sense of knowing when time is about being serious enough and ready to work. The cool factor only does not get people that far on the road to success, at least not when it is about building and sustaining a successful company.

5. The old and rich ones love the young ones.

Perverted title indeed but very good thing in the sense that corporations are truly showing love to startups. More and more invest in assisting startups development (through money, office space, being a beta user, reselling, etc…) and they are really beginning to be great advocates for startups.

On this particular event, I must show appreciation towards SNCF and BNP Paribas, both well-established big companies doing quite a lot to assist startups.

So, in the end, a successful event but, in my eyes, yet another startup event.

As regards the Camping factor, having not seen much of these startups at the beginning of the acceleration program, I slightly miss the big picture but, still, in most of the presentations, the speech remained very (too) standard, template-based and lacked passion.

A concerning example came out in the form of 3 young guys, out of business school (do not ask me which) who did not have a clue about metrics, focus, customer retention, etc … . Their startup was built because they “wanted to have fun” … .

Still ok but the very bad part, in my regards, was that their moving to the USA taught them about the “real life” of a startup.

It raises the question of what they learned during their time in France … .

One usual point : startups are born out of friends and booze + an idea/project. Fair enough.

But successful startups then need drive and mentorship to get on the right track.

In the end, this event did look like a fun party where all friends gathered to have fun. Yet, it did only remain a friendly party until the end, showing just one side of the coin and leaving me wondering about the other.

There had been chats among the community, at the end of last year, about accelerators and the point was that Paris did not need more accelerators but more mentors (well, say good, qualified, mentors). Building an incubator or an accelerator must not become some kind of cool career path, neither must “mentor” be the blue ribbon on the CV of an entrepreneur. The point is in driving startups success, not figures.

I raise my voice again here, the need is for good mentors.

(Picture credit, Marco_bh)

SVC2Baltics : Entrepreneurs in the birth.

Entrepreneur was born a French word … .

At i7 Summit , last week (Oct 10 to 12th), Tim Draper was asked a question regarding France.

Basically, what should be done to make France successful, or say a successful business in some way ?
The reply, with a grin, was about breaking it down and rebuilding.

Suits me well. At least we share the same view on this matter.
No point in throwing away everything but, for some parts, entrepreneurship (or just entrepreneurial spirit) in the country has to cope with what I would call the “habits”.

Heritage regarding bad practices, poor company management and development skills, a looking-for-big-money-only spirit in some, etc … .

And those can hardly be turned back to the right direction. And how do you break down such a huge piece of past ? Try beating down a stone wall with a straw.

The current economic situation and random legal moves from the Government on taxes (for entrepreneurs, on profit, on earnings, on whatever … they seemingly wake up every morning with another new … idea for a tax) could maybe help sort the entrepreneurial landscape in the (near ?) future.

Well, even during dark times, the sun does still rise.
Have a look East and a buzzing startup scene is in sight. That is Berlin. Strongly developing, drawing in a lot of talent and showing the potential to be some new European “Valley”.

Still, keep looking East and there, one will see Lithuania. The new, new hub for startups in Europe ? Future will tell but, so far, the country has been making some noticeable noise on the startup scene.

With a reputation for boasting strong technical skills, the country does have a similar basis as France and, funny enough, still tend to have to overcome some of the same hurdles.
There is not yet much of a tolerance for failure there. The ecosystem still has to be developed, be it locally or internationally (especially when it comes to investors) and the Government would have to get more involved in the overall process of pushing entrepreneurship forward.

However, the startup culture in the country is growing.

People to meet when willing to have a look into the future : students.
Lithuanian students are quite ok with working part-time while studying and setting up their own businesses at the same time. Add to that a high level education, multilingual talent pool, fair investments in internet infrastructures, shake and you get the seeds and birth of a buzzing entrepreneurial culture with many young startups developing at country level and on the way to going global.
While still not shining on the startups world map, Lithuania is quietly but strongly developing, luring entrepreneurs through a relatively low-cost startup ecosystem mixed with talent graduating from local universities.

So Lithuania has a very large – and talented -youth base that basically needs entrepreneurial skills and mentorship.
With good work ethics and risk taking minds driven by senior and innovative mentorship, they will blossom and deliver.

Now, what better way of doing it than bringing Silicon Valley to this youth base ?
Let them experience, for a couple of days, what startups truly are about. Let Lithuania have a taste of where the next milestones should be.
What better opportunity is there for a country, for a startup ecosystem, to actually build on clear foundations with the advice – and enthusiasm – of the bests ?

That is what “Silicon Valley comes to the Baltics“, a two-days event, in Vilnius, Lithuania, is about.
This, from my point of view, is going to be an awesome event.
Putting together the next force behind the country’s future (e.g. local, talented, youth), inspiring Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, the Baltics business community and some random guys like myself from all over Europe, that definitely is the way to develop a sound and strong community around the startup ecosystem. And bring entrepreneurs, The spirit.

I am definitely looking forward to this event and to the actual development of Lithuania as a European startup hub.
Prove me right guys!

[event links : http://svc2baltics.com/@SVC2Baltics]