Archive for ‘2014’

June 13, 2014

Why the publishing industry is broken – John Biggs – Startup Iceland 2014

John is funny and says it as he sees it. Here is a story of John working on a book with a publisher and then working on another book by himself. The talk highlights whats wrong with the publishing business. I think it outlines the challenges most established businesses have with the advent of the new networked model of connected consumers, businesses and value drivers. I think we are on the verge of a break out in rethinking business models and the ways we do things.

To give more data to support the notion that the publishing business is broken, read this post by Brad Feld on why he launched a brand new publishing company called FG Press

June 12, 2014

Why we don’t need a “Silicon” something in Iceland – Ben Kepes – Startup Iceland 2014

I really enjoyed the talk by Ben Kepes, who travels extensively and participates in various conferences as speaker, evangelist and technology blogger and investor. His advice for Iceland made the headlines in the local newspapers. I think he is right, there is only one Silicon Valley and we should not try to create a community with a name that has “Silicon” in it. I like Startup Iceland :) as a name for the Startup Community in Iceland.

It was interesting to read the Twitter Argument between Mark Suster and Kara Swisher about the story that was written by Nellie Bowles on Silicon Beach to describe the LA Tech Community.

 

Mark hates the name and it was interesting for me to read that and relate it back to what Ben was saying. I think every community should have the Silicon Valley mindset i.e Anything is possible, failure is another way to learn and people willing to take chances on each other to create value. When there is a lot of money involved a number of these things gets skewed. I don’t know enough about Silicon Valley to comment on it but Ben does. Listen to his talk, there are wise words there.

June 10, 2014

Liad Agmon on how to get lucky – Startup Iceland 2014

This was one of the funniest talks in the history of Startup Iceland. Liad has a flare for delivery and timing. I am pretty sure he would have been a great stand-up comedian. He used to write jokes for scripts while he was in school. Of course there is a fantastic lesson in the talk about how to get lucky… no, no I mean with being an Entrepreneur and how to get your business up and going. Hint, persistence and having an open mind is the key. Listen to the talk, you will see what I mean.

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June 4, 2014

Startup Iceland 2014 – President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grimsson

The President of Iceland opening the Startup Iceland conference with references to the role Iceland can play in the development of the new world. Giving examples of how Iceland played role in ending the Cold War and the opportunities that this provides the entire world as it relates to Data Protection, Individual Privacy and Innovation.

June 4, 2014

Startup Iceland 2014 – Done!

Ben at Startup Iceland

coverage in Channel 2 News in Iceland

Wow! what a ride, it was so much fun to hear all the great talks, meet so many young, upcoming and established entrepreneurs in Iceland participate in Startup Iceland. Startup Iceland this year engaged the whole stack of the community, we had people from the Government, Financial Institutions, Universities, Students, Entrepreneurs, Service Providers and people who were just curious to see what this is about. The mentoring sessions was also very well attended, although I screwed up and did not do a good job of preparing for the mentoring session. Oh, well, we learn and try to do better next time. I was impressed by the participation, networking and discussions that was going on during the coffee and lunch breaks. I am happy to say we packed the house and I believe everyone learned something new, got a new connection and built a bridge to cross some of the chasms one faces in this entrepreneurial journey.

John Biggs interviewing Jenny and Bre about MakerBot

John Biggs interviewing Jenny and Bre about MakerBot

I am so thankful for all the Speakers, Mentors, Sponsors, Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center facilities and project team there, Reykjavik University leadership team and project managers there and all the volunteers who put their heart and mind into making this event come alive. I am truly blessed to get a chance to work with you all. I know my wife is going to kill me, I cannot wait to organize Startup Iceland again next year. I committed 10 years to building a sustainable startup ecosystem in Iceland and we are 4 years in and 6 more to go. I know with the momentum that we have gathered in the last years, we will continue full speed ahead… As Bre and Jenny from MakerBot continually reinforced to us with their MakerBot Way during the event.

I have to admit that this event is great personal learning experience for me and I learn so much from all these awesome speakers, leaders and influencers who come here and share freely their wisdom. What a way to learn. I am incredibly motivated to start working on a roster of speakers for next year. We will continue to get all the video content ready and start sharing the same through startupiceland.com, I will definitely blog about it so watch this blog post, or do me a favor and just subscribe to it that way you can get it in your promotions tab of gmail.

Lots of exciting ideas and suggestions came up during the event. I will be blogging about that as well so watch this space.

 

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June 2, 2014

Startup Iceland Hackathon Winners and Live Streaming of Startup Iceland Event

A couple of announcements before the write up. Startup Iceland Conference is Today! and we have a couple of things that we did this year. We are LIVE streaming the event, here is the link. We have a mobile app that is available for Android and iOS. You can download the Android version here and the iOS version here.

Winners of Startup Iceland 2014Over the weekend we hosted the Startup Iceland Hackathon. The theme this year was 3D Printing, Mobile and Wearable Computing. We sold out all the tickets for the Hackathon, however we had only 3 teams that showed up to participate. I was a little disappointed with the participation only to find out the Hackathon event was competing with many things that were on-going like the Reykjavik City election, The Annual Sea men festival and Graduation party of all the high schools. Never the less, the 3 teams that participated really showed what can be done over a weekend.

The Winner of the Event was the team that created a solution for bridging the virtual gift world to something real through a 3D Gift Card. It is a clever workflow for all those who want to gift a virtual item but still give a physical present. With 3D gift cards you can give a computer game on Steam or an ebook by 3D printing a model with an embedded gift-code. Wrap your present and give to your favorite person! They get their online gift, plus a model to play with or display!

The other two teams did a couple of clever things as well. One of the teams created a Public-key-Private-key Encryption Address book. It is again a very useful solution given that we know each other’s email addresses these days but I would not know how to use your Public Key to encrypt a message to send to you if it is something that I don’t want anyone to see. I think the MailPile team actually want to integrate it and use it right away in their mail client. This is simple but very important service. I want to be able to publish my Public Key so you can use it to send me encrypted messages only I can decrypt. I am really interested in this space and it was great to meet the team that made this possible. This address book is live with even an Android app.

The third team was a team of 1, but a brilliant solution. He created a solution that converts any word into Braille signs. The use case he was going after was big signs in buildings etc. A perfect  use case for a 3D Printer.

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May 31, 2014

Jenny Lawton – Speaker Profile – Startup Iceland 2014

JennyLawton_Headshot-342x228

Startup Iceland Hackathon is today, we sold out all the tickets but everyone is welcome. If you are stuck in this rainy weather today in Reykjavik head over to Reykjavik University and see teams come together to make and build things.

Startup Iceland Conference is on June 2nd, we have over 270 participants. I think it is going to be an awesome event. What we have tried to do with Startup Iceland is provide a platform for Startups to showcase, connect, network and get mentoring with some key influencers, thought leaders and entrepreneurs. Jenny Lawton is one of those people, She has walked the proverbial mile as an Entrepreneur in High Tech and Retail, successfully transitioned from different roles, has networks and relationships in the Venture and Angel Investor communities through her association with Softbank and Mobius Ventures. She is available on a one-on-one mentor for any of the participants of Startup Iceland. Here is a brief profile of Jenny, I am really excited to meet her, get to know her and learn from her experience of being an Entrepreneur.

Jennifer Lawton is the president of MakerBot. She previously held the title of chief strategy officer.  Lawton has been with MakerBot since 2011 and has been responsible for the overall strategy and growth of the company, including strategic partnerships, product development, and retail.  In addition to her work with MakerBot, she is a respected company builder, technologist, and advocate for fostering entrepreneurship.

In 1991, Lawton co-founded Net Daemons Associates (NDA), an information technology consulting firm. With Lawton as CEO, NDA was recognized on the 1998Inc. 500 list of the fastest growing privately held U.S. companies, and on the Deloitte and Touche Fast 50 and Fast 500 lists for 1997 and 1998. In 1999, Net Daemons was acquired by Interliant Inc. (formerly Sage Networks), where Lawton served as a senior vice president. She later worked as an entrepreneur-in-residence with Softbank and Mobius Venture Capital.

In 2001, Lawton left the corporate world to become the owner of the independent bookstores Just Books and Just Books, Too, as well as Arcadia Café in Old Greenwich, Conn. After ten years running successful retail ventures, Jenny re-entered the business scene, serving as COO for Rockin’ Water and RAM Scientific, and SVP Operations for Mercury Solar Systems.

She is currently a board member of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership.

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May 29, 2014

Startup Iceland – Offer to Startup participants and Startup Energy Reykjavik Investor Day

DeluxeBannersStartup Iceland is coming monday June 2nd. We will have over 250 people who will participate in the Conference. I want to make an offer to all the startups who are participating (and if you are not you should we still have some tickets left, contact me), if you have a pull out banner and want to display it in the coffee meetup area, email me your request. We want all startups in Iceland to take the opportunity to showcase what you are doing. It is impromptu offer, just like your elevator pitch, you never know who you are going to meet but having the pitch ready is valuable. You never know where it leads.

I attended Startup Energy Reykjavik Investor Day yesterday, I was about an hour late as in the hurry burry of organizing everything with Startup Iceland I had totally forgotten about the Investor day. Thank you Einar Gunnar for reminding me. Anyways, I participated, I had met most of the teams as I was a volunteer mentor in the program. I am going to do what we have been lacking in Iceland. I am going to work with one of the teams and invest in the team. We have been deliberating and analyzing every team that comes out of these accelerators, I think that is the wrong way to look at this effort. I think we need to start investing in these teams and take bets and make them win. There is no other way. So, I am putting my money where my mouth is.

Einar Gunnar who has been leading the effort in Iceland as it relates to Accelerators and building a startup community, gave a very good talk and showed the video Brad Feld had made about his book Startup Communities – Building Sustainable Startup Communities in your city. I think it was a great way to close the investor day. We are in such an early stage in Iceland that it is difficult to pick winners. I think Iceland as a Startup location works. I have seen it work and I have CLARA, GreenQloud, Meniga, DataMarket, Mobilitus, Plain Vanilla Games, Guide To Iceland, Modio, and many other startups that I meet everyday to validate that great ideas and companies can be created and developed right here in Iceland. What we need to do is Do More Faster, tinker and learn for the process.

What was also very interesting to me was the data on the number of applications that Startup Reykjavik and Startup Energy Reykjavik received. It continues to grow every year.

These are the teams that presented in Startup Energy Reykjavik:

  • he HTPM Gerosion CenterHTPM GEROSION Center will provide consultation, material testing & specialized R&D work for entities in the geothermal/petroleum industries.
  • BMJ EnergyWe offer total solutions for hydro with focus on micro scale. Designed and built from scratch by BMJ both generator sets and controll units.
  • Sodium Chorate Plant
    Small scale Sodium Chlorate production for export and more efficient use of energy.
  • Landsvarmi
    Organization that finances, sets up and operates heat pumps for central heating of houses.
  • BigEddie
    A novel approach to wind resource assessment using a combination of observations, Large Eddie Simulations (LES) and CFD modeling techniques.
  • PEA Aluminum
    Portable Element Analyzer for real-time data in potrooms.
  • GeoDrone
    GeoDrone is providing services for the geothermal industry. We combine modern technology in UAV with advanced remote sensing (e.g. LIDAR).

 

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May 28, 2014

Startup Iceland – Less than a week away! Shout out to all those who make it happen

Startup Iceland 2014 is less than a week away! I am so excited about meeting all the entrepreneurs and the great speakers who are coming to Iceland and to hear the stories of Icelandic entrepreneurs. Startup Iceland as an event will not be possible without you all buying tickets and participating and the generous support of all our sponsors, volunteers, vendors and key service providers. When I started on this journey, I had no clue how to get an event organized but with each and every years, our wonderful sponsors take a chance on us and make this possible.

Icelandair Group – Icelandair Group has been an anchor sponsor for Startup Iceland. Bogi Neil Bogasson the CFO of Icelandair Group and Addy Olafsdottir the Marketing Manager have been great supporters of us getting this event on the map. They understood right away in 2012, what I wanted to create, an Iceland Airwaves like event for Entrepreneurs and Startup Founders. Thank you again for your continued support and encouragement.

Nysköpunarsjödur – Helga Valfells one of our speakers this year has been a big supporter of Startup Iceland. I think Nysköpunarsjödur is an important investor in startups in Iceland and they have played another anchor role in the development of a Startup Community in Iceland. Helga thank you for your continued leadership.

Eyrir Invest – I respect and admire Thordur Magnusson, who has been a sponsor and supporter of Startup Iceland since the beginning. He has played a key role in the development of the startup community in Iceland and I know they will continue to participate and invest in the development of Iceland as a startup place.

Frumtak – Eggert has been a supporter of building a startup community in Iceland and this is the second year that they have sponsored the event. Thank you team Frumtak.

Nasdaq OMX – Kristin and Pall have been big supporters of our initiative to build companies from the grassroot level. They see the potential and opportunities these young companies show and I think a fully functioning capital market is an important piece in the puzzle of building a startup community. Most of the investors who invest in Startups and Entrepreneurs need to see a liquidity event and having a fully functioning capital market is a great value. We thank them for their support of Startup Iceland.

VÍB – Our new sponsors of Startup Iceland is VÍB, the Asset Management and Private Banking service of Islandsbanki. I used to work at Islandsbanki and the team there has always been supportive and I really happy to see them participate and contribute and really add value to the Entrepreneurs and Startups. Thank you Kjartan, Haraldur, Haukur, Bjorn and the test of the team at Islandsbanki.

The US Embassy in Iceland – Paul O’Friel the Deputy Chief of Mission, Paul Cunnigham, Brad Stillwell, Helga Magnusdottir and everyone in the embassy have been so generous and gracious about supporting this initiative that I am humbled by this. I am looking forward to the new Ambassador to take office and build more bridges for Entrepreneurs to the US.

Icora Partners – Gunnar Tryggvasson who is a speaker in the event has been successful in raising capital for Meniga one of the startups that came out the financial crisis in Iceland. Meniga has become a big company now in Icelandic standards. It would be interesting to hear how Gunnar was able to get this done for a Startup.

WEDO – GRE or Gudmundur Einarsson has been supporting and helping all our initiatives, through the design, development and maintenance of the StartupIceland.com website. GRE and his team are key members of Startup Iceland. We would not have been able to launch the conference without a platform like the website that was created by WEDO.

Reykjavik University – Ari and Kristinne have been instrumental in getting the whole Reykjavik University behind the entrepreneurial development efforts. They have given us the premises and hosted the hackathons, provided the infrastructure to facilitate creating an environment that fosters startup community building. Thank you again.

Deloitte – The leadership at deloitte have been very positive towards what we have been doing with Startup Iceland and they provide all kinds of help, for once they allow Agusta my wife who works for Deloitte to take time to help me with this crazy endeavor. They provide us with Administrative and Secretarial help during the event. Provide mentoring for entrepreneurs as it relates to the services they provide. I am very thankful for their support.

Practical – Helga, Marin and everyone in Team Practical were instrumental in coordinating all the speakers’s itineraries and schedule. They were such a pleasure to work with and they have the can do attitude to get anything done. I am very thankful for their service and effort.

Ölgerdin – All the caffine drinks and water during the hackathons are provided as sponsorship by Ölgerdin, Andri their CEO has been always receptive and wants to really help in the effort. Thank you Andri.

TeqHire – Stefan and Kristjan are key core team members who have been preaching the Startup Iceland gospel. I am really excited to see that they have found a business model that enables them to serve startups and companies all over with find talented IT team members. There is a big gap in the market on how to find these people and I believe Stefan and Kristjan are onto something here.

Paula Gould – Paula is tireless in helping put the event together, curating speakers, managing public relation and media, coordinating things and just being awesome and getting things done. She is a leader and a valuable team member in any team. Thank you Paula.

Last but not least my wife Agusta, she is basically brings balance to the force. I am really lucky to have married such a smart person. She bring sanity to our household when I go do crazy things like host a conference in Iceland, she makes it happen with her organizing, discipline, courage and love. Thank you Agusta mein. I don’t know how I will pull this together without you.

There are a number of people who continue to support, help and be cheerleaders to this initiative, Toti and Helga with Mobilitus, Alex Richter with Think GeoEnergy, Haukur Gudjonson with Bungalo, The team at Klak Innovit. If I have left out someone please bear with me just been a whirlwind of activities that my brain in swimming. I thank each and every entrepreneur for being who you are, you are my tribe and I am at your service. Please reach out to me if there is anything that I can do to help.

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May 18, 2014

Startup Iceland Mini Events

nordursaltAs a build up to Startup Iceland at the end of this month, WEDO one of our sponsors and partners started organizing Mini Events to get people talking about startup and entrepreneurial stories, we had stories of Nordur Salt a company focused on making our food experience unique by making one of the best Salt in the world, using sustainable methods and sustainable energy. I think the message is fantastic. I love stories like this, an Entrepreneur going on a journey to build something sustainable and contrarian. Check out their website, and this feature of them in Iceland Design Center, it is really cool. Here is a small video describing the story.

140305_-_iglo_and_indi_1The mini events provides a platform for Entrepreneurs to gather, connect, tell stories and learn from each other what is working and what is not working. I think it is a powerful tool. Startup Communities are made of these kinds of activities. I continue to ask the question, why don’t investors and others who should have an interest to get to know these entrepreneurs and startups show up to these events? What is interesting to me is that there are so many small companies like these that are being created in Iceland, the creative force has been unleashed after the financial collapse in 2008. BTW, Iglo and Indi was formed in 2008. So was Meniga and Startup Iceland and CLARA and DataMarket and GreenQloud and Mobilitus and Plain Vanilla Games and Tulipop and many many more companies. I believe a crisis like what happened in 2008 has really created tremendous economic value in Iceland. I continue to get questions whether the economic troubles of Iceland like the currency controls etc really impact investments, sure it does, but Entrepreneurs and Startups are not thinking about those things, they are focusing on building value and creating products and services that are sustainable, unique and beautiful. Makes me very optimistic about the Startup Community development in Iceland. I have committed 10 years to this journey and I will continue to write about and do everything in my powers to create a vibrant sustainable startup community that is entrepreneur friendly and creates a culture that fosters value creation.

AR-140519160The next story was about Iglo and Indi, a children clothing designer and manufacturer from Iceland. The team at Iglo and Indi have done a great job of marketing their message, putting the kids first in terms of the clothing, comfort and family. It shows in the product the level of attention and care that has gone into making this product come alive. In the age of mass production at the lowest cost, sustainability and design is given the least of the attention.

Our second Startup Iceland mini event got coverage in one of the online newspaper in Iceland, here is the link it is in Icelandic but you get the story. We plan to run these mini events throughout the year to help everyone network, connect and share stories of what is it about being an entrepreneur and building a community of people who are creating value and deciding to take ownership of their lives.

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