Tulipop Founders – Signy and Helga – Speaker Profile – Startup Iceland 2014

map Startup Iceland is almost here, if you have not booked your tickets please do it. We have a great line up of speakers. Two of the speakers are Icelandic Entrepreneurs Signy Kolbeinsdottir and Helga Arnadottir, the founders of Tulipop, a kids adventure land with a bunch of unique characters. What is interesting about these characters is that it breaks some of the stereotypes that we see in kids stories and characters. There is Gloomy, the adventure seeking and courageous female character and Bubble a cheery, fun loving and timid male character. The stories and settings are in an imaginary island. The story of Tulipop is unique in the sense that both the founders came together after the financial collapse and decided that they wanted to create things, Signy the illustrator and creator of all these characters and stories got really stuffy working at things that she was not really passionate about. Helga comes from the project management and MBA background to take the concept to market and build a company that both of them are passionate about. Tulipop characters and merchandises are unique, high quality, very well crafted and made and sold all over the world now.Helga_Arnadottir-342x227 It is a great story, but they are just in the beginning stage of building a great company. Learn how they are building this world that is now being loved by kids all over the world.

It was interesting to visit their office in Hverfisgata, where tourists stop by and buy the merchandize and get autographs from Signy on them. Maybe the tourists visiting Iceland see something in Tulipop. I believe companies like this are abound in Iceland, many ideas are being created and are on the verge of breaking out, but the funny thing is change itself happens immediately, but preparing for change takes time.

Mission of Startup Iceland is to build a sustainable startup community in Iceland and to share the journey, so we can learn to build these kinds of communities everywhere. It is a great pleasure to see up coming and break out companies presented in Startup Iceland. The previous entrepreneurs who have presented in Startup Iceland are from companies like Clara, Plain Vanilla Games, reKode (skema), Mobilitus, Re-make Electric, GreenQloud etc all of them have gone ahead and are building great companies. I believe Startup Iceland is a platform for Startups in Iceland to be showcased. If you have a startup and want to participate reach out to me. All the speakers who come to Iceland have been generous to allocate Office Hours on June 3rd in Reykjavik University. All the participants have an opportunity to schedule time with the guests, connect, network and build bridges. I wrote a while back about 2 must have skills to be cultivated by Entrepreneurs and Startup Founders, you get to exercise both of those skills during Startup Iceland. Building a company is a hard job, initiatives like Startup Iceland really help local startups to learn and also to be found. In this hyper connected world of Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn, it is very easy to get lost in all the hype, but nothing is more practical and impactful and cost effective than participating in events like this and talking about your startup. Even if you are not a speaker, just being in the audience and networking during the breaks and connecting with other entrepreneurs in Iceland and from around the world can be a unique learning experience. I take every opportunity to meet an Entrepreneur as I learn so much, but it does not happen on its own, we all need to make the effort and take that first step and say yes when opportunity comes knocking. I am excited to learn about Tulipop and where they are going with their vision. Believe me it is not small! They want to give Hello Kitty a run for its money! thats bold…

Here is the video of panel discussion where Thor Fridriksson the founder of Plain Vanilla Games and Sessilja and Vala from Startup Kids talk to John Biggs from TechCrunch.

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Net Neutrality, Startup Communities and Permissionless Innovation

permissionlessinnovationIf you have not noticed what is happening to Net Neutrality and the FCC’s vote on May 15th you really need to. Fred Wilson of USV has written an Open Letter to the FCC Chairman and most of the prominent Venture Firms have signed up. This is an important debate although it is being fought in the US, it impacts all the startup communities around the world. Europe has actually got it right and the way this was done was through legislation, the last mile is the main problem and by legislating that the last mile also be treated like all of the network, the consumer can choose any service provider irrespective of which provider she choose first, think of it like buying a mobile phone with no long term contract and if you don’t like the call dropping just switch the SIM card and get better service. The US has a big problem in this because of consolidation, there are relatively very few players like Comcast, Verizon, Fox Netw, CenturyLink etc and the choices in front of the consumer are quite limited. Here is a video that defines the problem and the challenges. This also opens up opportunities to small startup communities like Iceland to provide a stable ground to do permission-less innovation and disruption. This was the original idea that I wrote about a while back based on Brad Burnham’s blog post, that Iceland has an opportunity to be the “Internet Enterprise Zone”

Here is the open letter written by Fred and signed by most of the VC community:

The Honorable Tom Wheeler, Chairman

Federal Communications Commission

445 12th Street, SW

Washington D.C. 20554

May 8, 2014

Dear Chairman Wheeler:

We write to express our support for a free and open Internet.  

We invest in entrepreneurs, investing our own funds and those of our investors (who are individuals, pension funds, endowments, and financial institutions).  We often invest at the earliest stages, when companies include just a handful of founders with largely unproven ideas. But, without lawyers, large teams or major revenues, these small startups have had the opportunity to experiment, adapt, and grow, thanks to equal access to the global market.  As a result, some of the startups we have invested in have managed to become among the most admired, successful, and influential companies in the world.

We have made our investment decisions based on the certainty of a level playing field and of assurances against discrimination and access fees from Internet access providers. Indeed, our investment decisions in Internet companies are dependent upon the certainty of an equal-opportunity marketplace.

Based on news reports and your own statements, we are worried that your proposed rules will not provide the necessary certainty that we need to make investment decisions and that these rules will stifle innovation in the Internet sector.

If established companies are able to pay for better access speeds or lower latency, the Internet will no longer be a level playing field. Start-ups with applications that are advantaged by speed (such as games, video, or payment systems) will be unlikely to overcome that deficit no matter how innovative their service. Entrepreneurs will need to raise money to buy fast lane services before they have proven that consumers want their product. Investors will extract more equity from entrepreneurs to compensate for the risk. Internet applications will not be able to afford to create a relationship with millions of consumers by making their service freely available and then build a business over time as they better understand the value consumers find in their service (which is what Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Reddit, Dropbox and virtually other consumer Internet service did to achieve scale).

Instead, creators will have to ask permission of an investor or corporate hierarchy before they can launch. Ideas will be vetted by committees and quirky passion projects will not get a chance. An individual in dorm room or a design studio will not be able to experiment out loud on the Internet. The result will be greater conformity, fewer surprises, and less innovation.

Further, investors like us will be wary of investing in anything that access providers might consider part of their future product plans for fear they will use the same technical infrastructure to advantage their own services or use network management as an excuse to disadvantage competitive offerings.  Policing this will be almost impossible (even using a standard of “commercial reasonableness”) and access providers do not need to successfully disadvantage their competition; they just need to create a credible threat so that investors like us will be less inclined to back those companies.

We need simple, strong, enforceable rules against discrimination and access fees, not merely against blocking.

We encourage the Commission to consider all available jurisdictional tools at its disposal in ensuring a free and open Internet that rewards, not disadvantages, investment and entrepreneurship.


Puneet Agarwal, True Ventures

Sam AltmanY Combinator

Kristian Andersen, Gravity Ventures

Sherman Atkinson, Miramar Digital Ventures

Phineas Barnes, First Round Capital

Phil Black, True Ventures

Brady Bohrmann, Avalon Ventures

Mike Brown, Jr., Bowery Capital

Douglas W. Burke, Angel Investor

Brad Burnham, Union Square Ventures

Jeffrey Bussgang, Flybridge Capital Partners

John Buttrick, Union Square Ventures

Jon Callaghan, True Ventures

Jeff Carter, Hyde Park Angels

Joe Chung, Redstar Ventures

Michael Collett, Promus Ventures

Tony Conrad, True Ventures

Ron Conway, SV Angel

Fred Coulson, Five Elms Capital

Owen Davis, NYC Seed

Tej Dhawan, Nestmint and Plains Angels

Gil Dibner, DFJ Esprit

Roger Dickey, Rocket Street Ventures

Chris Dixon, Andreessen Horowitz

Liam Donohue, .406 Ventures

Bob Dorf, Investor and Entrepreneurial Educator

Bill Draper, Draper Richards

Nicholas Eisenberger, Pure Energy Partners

Roger Ehrenberg, IA Ventures

Brad Feld, Foundry Group

Stephen Findlay, Angel Investor

Ryan Floyd, Storm Ventures

Chris Fralic, First Round Capital

Christopher Forbes, Angel Investor

David Frankel, Founder Collective

Christie George, New Media Ventures

Rob Go, Next View Ventures

Matt Golden, Golden Venture Partners

Matthew Greenfield, Rethink Education

Nick Grossman, Union Square Ventures

Bruce Hallett, Miramar Digital Ventures

Rick Heitzmann, FirstMark Capital

Troy Henikoff, TechStars

Eric Hippeau, Lerer Ventures

Bob Holmen, Miramar Venture Partners

Rob Hutter, Learn Capital

Nabeel A. Hyatt, Spark Capital

Mark Jacobsen, OATV

Deborah Jackson, Angel Investor

Jodi Sherman Jahic, Aligned Partners

Nikhil Kalghatgi, Vast Ventures

Mitch Kapor, Kapor Capital

Jon Karlen, Atlas Venture

Josh Kopelman, First Round Capital

Manu Kumar, K9 Ventures

David Lee, SV Angel

Kenneth Lerer, Lerer Ventures

Robert Levitan, Angel Investor

Adam Lilling, Plus Capital

John Lilly, Greylock Partners

Howard Lindzon, Social Leverage

Trevor Loy, Flywheel Ventures

Om Malik, True Ventures

Kanyi Maqubela, Collaborative Fund

Jason Mendelson, Foundry Group

Josh Mendelsohn, Hattery

Aaron Merriman, Eurovestech PLC

Ann Miura-Ko, Floodgate

Howard Morgan, First Round Capital

Dave Morin, Slow Ventures

Dave Moylan, Yenni Capital

Kevin Murphy, Angel Investor

David J. Namdar, SolidX Partners

Farzad (Zod) Nazem, Angel Investor

Jason Neal, Jumpstart Capital

Jerry Neumann, Neu.vc

Tim O’Reilly, OATV

Alexis Ohanian, Initialized Capital

David Pakman, Venrock

Eric Paley, Founder Collective

Andrew Parker, Spark Capital

Massimiliano Pellegrini, Angel Investor

William Peng, Red Swan Ventures

Matt Penneycard, PCB Capital

Perry Rahbar, Rahbar Angel

Sameer Rashid, Pure Energy Partners

Naval Ravikant, AngelList

Eric Ries, Angel Investor & Author

Neil Rimer, Index Ventures

David Ristow, Eurovestech PLC

Bryce Roberts, OATV

James Robinson, RRE Ventures

John Ruffolo, OMERS Ventures

Chris Sacca, Lowercase Capital

Ahsun Saleem, Clippership International

Ted Sapountzis, Angel Investor

Eric Satz, TNCV Fund

Toni Schneider, True Ventures

Andrew Schoen, New Enterprise Associates

Jason Schoettler, Shea Ventures

Christopher M. Schroeder, Venture Investor

Jonathan Seelig, Globespan Capital Partners

Rishi Shah, Jumpstart Ventures

KJ Singh, Techstars

Jim Stewart, True Ventures

Tim Streit, Huron River Ventures

Mike Stubler, Draper Triangle Ventures

Brad Svrluga, High Peaks Venture Partners

Mark E. Swanson, Lane Five Ventures

Brett Topche, MentorTech Ventures

Brent S. Traidman, Fenox Venture Capital

Hunter Walk, Homebrew

Matt Walters, Ardent Capital

Andrew Weissman, Union Square Ventures

Albert Wenger, Union Square Ventures

Boris Wertz, Version One Ventures

Andy White, Vegas Tech Fund

Fred Wilson, Union Square Ventures

Sam Yagan, Corazon Capital LLC

Namek Zu’bi, Silicon Badia

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Thubten Comerford – Speaker Profile – Startup Iceland 2014

ThubtenHeadshot-305x460We have over 2.4 billion people online now and about 2 billion are on the way. In this hyper connected world no longer are you selling your product or service in your neighbourhood, you customers are everyone who is connected to the Internet. As exciting as that sounds, it is not always obvious or easy to get in front of all these people and get them to consider your value proposition or buy your product or service. If you are an entrepreneur the most difficult part of building a company is building an audience and converting a large percentage of those who listen to become your customer. Building an audience is hard, believe me I take a lot of meetings with entrepreneurs and they throw words like Search Engine Optimization, Social Media leveraging and also we will find the “Growth Hacker”, yeah! right! There is no easy way to build an audience, getting in front of a million people is bloody hard. I don’t care what Facebook says, they have changed their algorithm to a point where you have to pay to get in front of the audience. Well, that is Facebook’s prerogative. That is why I am so excited to hear about how one of our guests to Startup Iceland Thubten Comerford has built his audience. He has been named the most connected individual on LinkedIn. If you are an entrepreneur or a startup founder or even an established business, you need to attend his talk. He is going to talk about how he built his audience. Here is a brief profile of Thubten. Thank you Helga Waage to connect me to Thubten.

Acknowledged by Business Insider as one of the “Best Connected Entrepreneurs” in the world, Thubten Comerford is a seasoned business builder who actively mentors startup founders in Portland, Oregon, and across North America.

He has interviewed hundreds of startup founders for his blog, Startup Weekly, which he co-founded in 2010.

Thubten’s primary business is his social marketing agency, WePost Media Social Marketing, which provides social marketing for businesses of any size. With more than 1/4 million followers on his personal and business Twitter profiles, he is a demonstrated master of audience building.

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Internet trends

Mobile Traffic as % of Global Internet TrafficMary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers has been putting out a presentation titled “Internet Trends” for quite some time now. It is a clear articulation of the trends we see year over year. In addition to that she also has written a number of Internet related research reports since the early days of 1995. So, she kind of knows what is going on in this space as she has been looking at it from its infancy. Here are a slide from that slide show which was made mid last year and I am sure she will come out with a new one this year probably in May. What I find fascinating and should not come as a surprise to anyone is the transformation that we are seeing in the Mobile Internet and there is so much more growth possible. In addition, this Mobile revolution is accelerating a number of Technological Cycles. Typical cycles used to take 10 years, however with the proliferation of connected devices the Network effects is creating a hyper loop of feedback on growth and monetization.Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 09.24.50 There has been a lot of discussion around Facebook‘s acquisition of WhatsApp for $19 Billion. I am not as smart as Mark Zuckerberg or his Board of Directors or his leadership team but I understand it. I understand the reasoning behind it and maybe only time will tell. Another one of the presentation that gives more insights to the growth in the Mobile Internet is the talk given by Ben Evans, the first slide shows the number of mobile devices shipped vs PC and the second one shows the Revenue in $billion, it is quite obvious that the mother load is being made by the mobile phone carriers. There is a Winner take all attribute that is starting to show in obvious patterns. I would not be exaggerating if I said that the future is going mobile… well actually, Ben Evans already said it.Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 09.03.28

Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 09.04.38

The implication of this is that how soon or what is your strategy around mobile? If you don’t have one, you better start thinking fast as it is going to be what determines if you are going to be in the tail or not.

Here is the whole presentation by Mary Meeker

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Why we dont have more Women in Leadership

Image representing Sheryl Sandberg as depicted...

Image via CrunchBase

I have written about why this is the best and by far the most exciting time to be a women in technology or for that matter in any leadership role. I have been reading Sheryl Sandberg‘s book “Lean In“. I have to say that it has been a disappointing experience to get women to take a seat at the table or to jump on a opportunity. I think context is in order, as CEO of GreenQloud one of my jobs is to hire world class people to build a world class team. In my opinion, a balanced team is more effective so I have been searching to get more women to join Team GreenQloud. Here is my experience so far… we have made 3 offers to women and all of them have rejected our offer. One of the women was still in school who was interested in what we do, I offered her to spend whatever time she could with Team GreenQloud, we would train her in what we do and when she feels that she is ready to join the team I said we could discuss the role, compensation etc the usual stuff. What do you think happened? she showed up for 2 weeks, then quit. Ok, understandable, she got another opportunity. We got requests from 2 more women who wanted to join us for Summer jobs, we made an offer to both of them to join… guess what? both of them turned it down! I am curious to learn the reasons for their decisions because I very strongly emphasized that we will train them and give them all the opportunity to take on challenging roles and tasks within GreenQloud. But they decided not to participate. I am not complaining, just stating facts. Despite my pep talk that they should not be scared about technology and we are motivated to make them part of Team GreenQloud, they still did not take it. This is not the end of my effort to get more women to join GreenQloud. We are going to make a concerted effort to get more women to join GreenQloud.

I am curious and want to understand why this is so, then I bumped into a TED lecture by Sheryl Sandberg and there it was obvious and clear as is in the book. Here is the lecture by Sheryl:

So, if you a women ready to jump into an exciting Startup company in Iceland and you are not afraid of technology, contact me bala at greenqloud dot com. We want to hear from you and we want you to take a seat at the table. I don’t believe we will win without having the talent, intuition and intelligence of women in our team.

Economics Shimeconomics

Iceland: Viking Rune

Iceland: Viking Rune (Photo credit: vicmontol)

The financial markets generally are unpredictable. So that one has to have different scenarios… The idea that you can actually predict what’s going to happen contradicts my way of looking at the market.
George Soros

I wrote a small comment yesterday about a news article that I read in Reuters, this article still comes up on top when you look for news about Iceland in Google. The title of the article is “Analysis: Iceland chooses lonely road back from economic segregation” by Balazs Koranyi. I am pretty sure Mr.Balazs Koranyi is standup gentleman and I don’t doubt his analysis is based on facts around what is going in Iceland because he writes for Reuters or atleast that is what one would think. The truth of the matter could not be far from it. I am sure Mr.Balazs Koranyi has never visited Iceland or met the people of Iceland. The article is based on quotes by some experts like “Investment Advisors”, “Former Bank managers” and “Economic Professors”, I don’t know these people but I would love to meet them to learn how they come to conclusion about something as complex as a country’s psyche because the article is about how Iceland is going to be lonely in its path to recovery given the current election results and the statements made by the leader of the political party which has been given the mandate to form the Government. Once again, I am not an expert and I usually remind myself to be humble when a part of my ego takes over trying to rationalize somethings that I observe and start making conclusions about them. The election results being one.

I believe that structural transformation of any economy even one as small as Iceland takes time. I have written a lot about this Structural transformation and I did not stop there I put my money, time and effort where my mouth is ie. I invested in startup companies in a space I believe can get Iceland out of the challenge of the Financial Crisis of 2008. Yesterday my bet was vindicated, the Software Company that we invested in CLARA (I wrote about it here and here) was acquired by Jive Software, a Nasdaq listed company in Silicon Valley. I will write a detailed post about the transaction later. There was a viral sharing and congratulations that was going on in Facebook. I am very pleased to see the result and it is even more sweeter when you read the analysis written by Mr.Balazs Koranyi.

My post yesterday on Facebook was

“While we are quietly creating value by Starting Companies like CLARA, GreenQloud, DataMarket, Meniga, Plain Vanilla, Mobilitus, ReKode… in Iceland mainstream talking heads are into pschyo-babble talk of economic isolation and what not. I am not sure who this Asgeir Jonsson is or Thorolfur Matthiasson but they are “investment advisors” and “Economic Professors”, they all should come to Startup Iceland and see how a country is reinventing itself out of a crisis.”

My invitation still stands, if you are a journalist or an expert or found this article searching about Iceland and Startups, come to Iceland, participate in Startup Iceland Conference, meet the young entrepreneurs who are changing the face of what Iceland is all about before you write about Economics of Iceland.

Traction brings money; Money does not bring traction

seedforum-logoI was at the Seed Forum this year, but I could not participate for the whole day but I attended the cocktail hosted by the British Embassy in Iceland. It was fascinating to see the British Ambassador pitching to the startups to look at UK to locate or move their startups when they scale out of Iceland… he even went to the extent of saying moving to the US was not a good idea :) I am happy to see different countries pitching to startups and entrepreneurs in Iceland to move to their country, it is good for the Entrepreneur and it is good for the Startup Ecosystem that there is growth path out of Iceland. I got a good impression of all the teams that were pitching. I have written about why Startups should not be focused on raising money. I am going to repeat this until I turn blue, the focus of the startup should be to solve a really itching problem, win customers and raise capital from the customer first. As much as I support the initiatives like Seed Forum, I really believe that it muddles the real issue facing startups and entrepreneurs. The Seed Forum this year had a famous Icelandic Entrepreneur and Cofounder of Opera, Jon Von Tetchner, actually he lived and worked in Norway but he is Icelandic. He had a very good talk and Q&A session about being an Entrepreneur. His advice and the advice given by Brad Feld and every other entrepreneur who has walked through the fire of creating a company and successfully transitioning says the same thing – Delay taking money from Investors as much as you can. Sometimes it is not possible i.e if you need machines, or equipment or buildings you need Capital but with startups in Software you dont need any of that or Capital to get started… that is one of the reasons that I am so bullish on the fact that Software based companies that are building solutions on top of the new Infrastructure of Cloud Computing, Google, Apple, Amazon, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest etc will be able to bootstrap much better, faster and get through the valley of death without pledging your soul to the devil, no, not all investors are bad but there are different incentives if you are an investor vs if you are an entrepreneur.

In other news, Klak and Innovit merged into Klak Innovit… I am happy to see some movement in the Accelerator, Incubator and Institutions that help entrepreneurs collaborate and optimize in Iceland. Accelerators are a key ingredient in the Startup Community development and I believe Kristjan Kristjanson the new CEO of the merged organization has his heart in the right place. He also runs Startup Weekend, Startup Reykjavik and has been of great help to many startups since he started working with entrepreneurs in 2007-8 I think.

Startup Risk

Cover of "Fooled by Randomness: The Hidde...

Cover via Amazon

I usually get really worked up when I am speaking with some employees in a bank about Startups and Entrepreneurship, they immediately say that it is Risky. I always ask them could they please tell me why they believe Startups are risky? Their usual answer is well 90% of all startups fail, which is anecdotal evidence because there is no way anyone has documented all the startups in the world and calculated the failure rates. I have written a lot about how we as humans are wired to be fooled by statistics and we just underestimate the risks associated with many things. What is even fascinating is that those same people from the bank were still working in the bank when the entire financial system in Iceland collapsed. I think banks are bigger risks than startups, atleast with Startups you know the risk of failure will only wipe out what you invested, whereas with Banks it can wipe out the entire equity base of Iceland. No wonder, Warren Buffett called Banks sit of Weapons of Mass Destruction. The risk on banks are exasperated by leverage, were as Startups run on equity which means what you put in is what you loose if the company goes under. Typically Startups that I have been pounding the table on require very little capital to validate, build a Minimum Viable Product and get market traction.

I have written about the books that really changed my perspective on Risks and I have Nasim Nicholas Taleb to thank for. I listen to audio books all the time and I think this is the 100th time that I am listening to his classic book “Fooled By Randomness“. There are so many pearls of wisdom in that book that I discover something new every time I listen to it. The only positive aspect of risk taking is in the Startup world because a black swan event ie. the chance of finding a Google or Facebook or Twitter or Amazon is very low but when it does happen it usually results in such a positive impact I don’t know why not everyone invest a small portion of their investment egg in this asset class. The monstrous returns that are possible can only be achieved if one takes enough bets but the size of the bets are usually very small and thats the point of doing this.

Women in Technology

Marissa Mayer

Marissa Mayer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Image representing Sheryl Sandberg as depicted...

Image via CrunchBase

There is a lot of coverage and tweets about Sheryl Sandberg‘s new book “Lean In” and for the decision Marissa Mayer made to stop Telecommuting at Yahoo. If only there was this much coverage for all the decisions made by CEO’s of the Fortune 500 companies or for the books written by others? I am really happy to see them both getting good media coverage because as one of old saying goes in Hollywood “Does not matter what you write about me just get my name right!”, maybe it does not apply to these cases. I am big proponent and supporter of getting more women in the workplace, equal rights or actually increase the benefits, rewards and compensation primarily because they are a lot more committed to focusing on Work and Family, which is a very important requirement because without a proper balance anyone can burn out in the world of entrepreneurship.  There are a number of women leaders today in many large organizations like IBM, HP, Xerox etc so I am pretty sure the Glass ceiling that people talk about is not as prevalent as it was a decade ago.

I actually want more women to participate in Software development and DevOps, because I think they are excellent in it. We are running an experiment in GreenQloud, where any student especially women who are able to take a couple of hours in a week and are willing to spend that time in our office, will be paired with our Development and Operations team members so they can teach the students what we do. We now have 4 interns like that… all women! learning about running Cloud Computing Infrastructure and Software development in the real world and being part of a startup. I wish more companies would be open minded about taking on interns this way as it would really solve the skills challenge that IT and Software companies always seem to complain about. And I also believe it will solve the gender diversity problem, more opportunity for women to participate then there is no bias.

Framework to build Great Companies

Source: Good to Great by Jim Collins

A framework is more like a guide, it does not tell you how to walk the path but gives you guideposts on what you should focus on. Building great teams is the bedrock of building great companies. I have mentioned many times that when you are investing in a startup, the team matters a lot. Building great teams that execute is an important necessary condition. All other things you can change but the team dynamics is critical, it is hard to encapsulate and constant changes in team members and structure always leads to confusion and delays progress.

I believe the framework build by Jim Collins in his Good to Great book clearly articulates what I mean. The first stage in all great companies before they became great was the build up of disciplined people. Without disciplined people all other things falls apart, what do I mean by disciplined people? I can sum this up in one sentence, disciplined people are those who Make and Keep Promises. It is as simple as that. If you one can build a discipline to do that one can get disciplined in anything. There are a number of qualities that are required to be disciplined, I like :

  • Relentless
  • Resourceful
  • Resilient
  • Responsible
  • Respects other opinions

This is by no means an exhaustive list of attributes that comprise the winning team, however it is a good start. Paul Graham wrote a very interesting post about being relentlessly resourceful, he was of course referring to startup founders. I think the concept can be applied to anyone. I would like to be in a team that is relentlessly resourceful, that is resilient ie. when adversity hits the plan the team has a way to stand up and keep moving forward. Responsible is another word that I really like Dr.Steven Covey talks about this a lot in his books, the word responsible can be broken into Response-Able ie. have the ability to respond. Respecting others is not a nice to have but a must have quality. No-one knows everything if you want to win in the market place you need to bring people together who can compliment each others weakness. Thats the way winning is done! I wanted to leave this blog post with words of wisdom from a very famous philosopher Rocky Balboa.

The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows, it is a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there if you let it. You, me or nobody is going to hit as hard as life… but it ain’t about how hard you hit, its about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much you can take and keep moving forward… Thats how winning is done!