June 2, 2014
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.
Over 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.
May 16, 2014
Hackathons are a timeboxed meetup to build and make something valuable. The Startup Iceland Hackathon is scheduled at Reykjavik University on May 31st and June 1st, did I mention there is a $1000 price money for the best hack. We provide the space, refreshments like Pizza and Caffeine drinks (yes, you will be working through the night) So who can participate? anyone! yes, anyone… and it is free to participate. Have you always had an idea that you just did not take the time to build? bring a couple of your friends and/or partner and form your team and create away. We have seen some amazing things being build within 36 hours during the past two hackathons.
Hackathons usually have a theme and this year’s theme for Startup Iceland is 3D Printing, Mobile and Wearable Computing. We will have two 3D Printers and a bunch of people to help you and make something. There is a maker in all of us, it could be software for the mobile platforms. Have you always wondered how these things get build, just show up and see how small teams come together and build things. We are really starting to see a Maker and Builder culture created in Iceland. You can see that when you walk downtown, there is so much street art and going to the Icelandic Academy of Arts I see so many students who are so creative. What if we could harness all that talent, timebox it for 36 hours, make sure the teams that show up have the tools they need, for example the 3D Printers, Cloud Computing Platform like GreenQloud and companies that are already doing this showcase some of the problems that they are facing and release an API (Application Programming Interface) so you can build something using that.
In addition to that the Guests who are coming to share their ideas in the Startup Iceland Conference are going to be mentors/helpers during the hackathon. If you want to get to know them and learn from them then this is the best 36 hours you can use. BTW, did I mention that Bre Pettis the keynote speaker and founder of MakerBot has been on the cover of the Wired Magazine? Do you want to see how the machine that he has build is changing the world? Register and show up for the Startup Iceland 2014 Hackathon.
March 10, 2014
T.A. McCan Entrepreneur
For those who have been reading my blog post, it should come as no surprise that I am a big fan of Hackathons. The reason I like them is that it is built on the premise of Doertocracy, watch this video where Brad explains what this is…
Every Startup Iceland event we have had a weekend of Hackathon, I have received feedback that goes from “it is a joke” to “this is awesome!”. A lot of that has got to do with participation, promotion and positioning. We have had spotty participation and we have not done a good job of promoting the event clearly and for that matter positioning why we do it. So, here is the skinny on what we host hackathons, it is a perfect place to try something based on a theme. This year’s theme for Startup Iceland is all the new platforms that are disrupting even the traditional startups platforms for example Mobile Technology, Wearable, Flyable, Driveable and 3D Printing. I am excited to say that this year’s Startup Iceland is going to be biased towards Doertocracy, we want to do something with this notion of starting up.
The last 2 year has been about Building Sustainable/Antifragile Startup Ecosystems, the broad theme stays as a constant but I want to create some momentum to push ourselves towards some action. That is why I am excited to get Bre Pettis, Kio Stark, Jenny Lawton and a number of other speakers like T.A. McCann to come to Iceland and tell us their stories on how they DID something. If you always wanted to hack at creating something now there are tools and instruments and instructions that will enable you to get started. Hackathons are a great way to time-box and build something of value. I know there is somethings lost in translation especially in Iceland, the most popular “breakathons” that are conducted in Reykjavik University is base on breaking into Operating Systems and the organizers of that put on a good show and I have seen overcrowded class rooms watching people break into each others systems. When I refer to hackathons I mean this
to create, to add, to build things of value.
February 10, 2014
Image via CrunchBase
The annual Startup Iceland Conference on Entrepreneurship and Building Antifragile Startup Ecosystem in Iceland is happening on June 2nd and 3rd, 2014. Mark your calendars. We have started planning and putting the program together. Our focus has always been about Building an Antifragile Startup Ecosystem, this year we will try to bring thought leaders and entrepreneurs to share and discuss the changes that is happening in the world of innovation and how it impacts a startup community.
One of the most intriguing innovation that is starting to make a difference is the world of 3D Printing, Wearable Technology and its impact on manufacturing. I don’t believe that traditional manufacturing is going away the same way people traveling on horses has not gone away, but it is going to be disrupted with the advent of the capacity for every individual to invest, create and participate in the manufacturing economy. I spoke to Jenny Lawton, the President of MakerBot and She has agreed to come and talk about the trend, and she is bringing Bre Pettis, the founder of MakerBot with her. I am so excited to hear them speak about this fascinating change we are seeing in front of our eyes. Someone told me that the future is now, because there are a number of people creating the future as I type this blog post.
As always, we will have a Hackathon before the Conference and we plan to have mentoring sessions and one-on-one meetings with the speakers and entrepreneurs who participate in the conference. More details about the conference to follow shortly. We are updating the website and starting on the promotion of the event this week. I just wanted to give a heads up and blog about what I have been thinking about this year.
July 10, 2013
It has been more than a month since Startup Iceland 2013 got done! I took a sabbatical from writing and a couple of weeks off which I had not done for the past 5 years. Once again, we pulled off a great event, more than 13 speakers, over 280 participants, a hackathon, UNConference and just all round positive energy around building antifragile startup community in Iceland. There was so much to learn and got a number of items validated through out the session. I want to take this opportunity to thank Nyskopunarmidstod Islands, who sponsored and managed all the video production of the event. We have a Startup Iceland 2013 video channel setup in Vimeo for those who were not able to attend the event. Here is the President of Iceland opening the conferene:
Startup 2013 – Mr. Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, presedent of Iceland from Innovation Center Iceland on Vimeo.
The event would have not been possible without our great support of sponsors and patrons and the Startup Iceland Team that basically volunteered their hearts and minds to pull off a great event. Now that we have done year 2, I am confident that this event is going to be a main stay for the Entrepreneurial community in Iceland. In addition to all the great speakers and the learning, Startup Iceland was also the platform where we announced the new batch of Startup Reykjavik Teams for 2013. 10 new startups going through the bootcamp for 3 months. I am very excited about all the positive developments in Iceland supporting entrepreneurs and startups. As I have said before, this is a long journey and the community needs to continue to invest, participate and contribute to build an antifragile startup ecosystem. I am confident that it will happen.
May 29, 2013
Nicholas Nassim Taleb (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Just a quick status update on the Startup Iceland 2013 organization. We did our site testing in Harpa, worked with the Reykjavik University Events team to organize all the requirements for the Unconference and Hackathon. We wanted to test the Televideo link ie Facetime with Nicholas Nassim Taleb, I have to say I was very nervous and excited to finally talk to one of my virtual mentors. He was really cool and jovial and conversational. I glad to have got connected to him and get him to share his views on the Startup Iceland Platform. He had accepted to come on Video for Startup Iceland 2013, how cool is that? anyway, I am sure a lot of you are wondering who is this and why I am giddy like a kid in a candy store… well, what Mr.Taleb has written about in his 3 very popular, best seller books are gems of advice on how to live. Maybe not everyone sees it but I am a big fan. Anyways, we finally got through to Mr.Taleb who was actually in Northern Lebanon, his hometown. We really wanted to stress test the fragility of technology, to all our surprise everything went smoothly we were able to connect to his laptop, got him on video, he showed off how nice the weather was in Northern Lebanon and we talked a little about the format and schedule. Mr.Taleb is going to come online for 10 minutes talk about Antifragility and Entrepreneurship.
All the guests flights are confirmed, bought, hotels and accommodation booked. itinerary and other logistics planned, still have some loose ends like transportation within the city. We are still struggling to get more participation, i.e we are not selling as many tickets as we thought we would but I am sure everyone will see the value in this conference and participate. We are calling everyone today and do a hard sell. We would like all startups to setup booths in RU to present their startup during the Hackathon and UnConference, we want those startups that are doing anything with Software to publish their API and get others to build something using the technology. We want everyone to come to the Unconference and talk about how to build a sustainable and antifragile startup ecosystem in Iceland. Please note this is for the future of Iceland. There very few times in our lives we get a chance to redefine, transform and reshape an community or for that matter build one. We have been presented with that rare opportunity in Iceland, I think everyone from the community needs to contribute, volunteer and mentor the future generation on how best to walk the path. I am sure the message will get out, we have been doing a lot of media outreach and got coverage in the Grapevine, MBL, Arctic Startup etc We have the East Coast Editor of TechCrunch coming over and Renee Blodgett, a writer and columnist for Huffington post. We will get a lot of coverage post event but we are trying to get more coverage pre-event so people can participate. I don’t even know if anyone is reading this post but I think I should give an update on how I am thinking and here it is.
May 24, 2013
I am the Master of my fate
I have been debating this internally, I would really like your feedback on this. Do you feel that there is value in a conference like Startup Iceland? I think there should be, here are my reasons:
- Inspiration and Knowledge: The purpose of events and conferences is not just to listen to someone talk about their success but to get inspired to act. Take ownership of challenges and act on them. Having people who have walked that path share their experiences gives us motivation and courage. My guess is if you hear some of the speakers share their troubles and tribulations, you may say, hey, that does not sound so bad maybe I can do it. I think we have a fantastic line of speakers, any conference around the world would love to have this roaster…
- Networking: One of the most popular blog posts that I wrote was about the 2 Must have skills for Entrepreneurs, you guessed it right it is Networking and Selling. During the conference, you as an entrepreneur get the opportunity to have a booth where you can sell your idea and while doing that get a fantastic chance to network with local participants as well as all the guests who are coming into to Iceland. The guests who are coming are curious about Iceland and want to learn more about it and guess what you are the expert there, you live in Iceland. It is a fantastic opportunity for you to present Iceland and your company or your idea or your dream, whatever to build a relationship with someone across the pond. Having contacts around the world is invaluable to doing business. If your idea takes off and you need to go sell it in the US or Europe or wherever, having someone who you have met, connected in Iceland gives an excellent bridge into whatever you need to do in that persons home market. Don’t believe me ask Gunnar Holmsteinn, how he built CLARA’s presence in Silicon Valley. It is all networking and building relationships.
- Participation: Not everyone has the time or the energy to organize events like what we are trying to do with Startup Iceland, but we are doing this to bring value to the Startup and Entrepreneurial Community here in Iceland. We have fantastic press coverage, a lot of people want to come to Iceland and see this miracle of a recovery that is happening in Iceland. Dont you want to participate in this transformation? How can you contribute? well, it is simple, just show up! if you don’t have time to volunteer, then you can take the time to attend the event. There are 3 events, the Hackathon which does not require any fee, you just need to have a computer and know how to write software programs in any language, we provide the food, drinks and all the help you need to build something of value. The last hackathon winner got recruited into GreenQloud and the solution he build was released as a service by Twitter 2 week after he had built it. So, you don’t have software development skills no worries, show up for the Unconference event, where all we need is for you to participate and share your ideas on how to build a sustainable, antifragile startup/entrepreneurial ecosystem in Iceland and in the world over. All of us have ideas, here is a platform for you to contribute. You are shy and don’t want to do that, no worries, the 3rd event is a simple conference where you just participate and listen to those who have walked the path.
…all this being said, I hear people complain about the cost of the conference. I believe very strongly that the ticket price to participate in Startup Iceland is an Investment not an expense. An investment you are making in yourself, your company or your idea or your dream. Why would you not want to invest to build yourself? rather than focusing on the cost, focus on the value, what is the value you derive from participating? If you don’t think there is value in this event, I want to hear about it please share it with me, I have my email in the public domain it is bala at startupiceland dot com. We are here to build something and those who give feedback do it only when they care. So please care!
We had the same discussion last year, and I wrote a blog post on who should attend the event. Lets talk about costs, it costs thousands of ISK to get a flight ticket, hotel room etc to go to a similar event outside of Iceland. It should be obvious that having all these speakers come to Iceland would be beneficial to the local Entrepreneurial community. Still people complain. All I say is try organizing an event like this and provide food, drinks, venue for 250+ participants, flight tickets to 9 guests, hotels, taxi etc I have thrown the challenge out to many people, you have better ideas to organize this event please contact me and tell me how we can do this better. Every member of the group that is organizing Startup Iceland is a volunteer, none of us get paid to do this and if you thought this does not take time and effort, please reach out to me I will buy you coffee and you can tell me how we can do this better. I am not an expert but I am committed and motivated to build a startup ecosystem in Iceland to help the future enterpreneurs… help me to help them. Participate! nothing happens by magic or miracles, it is the age old saying, a lot of blood, sweat and tears have been spilt to build society. This effort is no different.
May 21, 2013
GreenQloud Hackathon Winners
In case you have been under the rock or not been following this blog, we are having our Annual Startup and Entrepreneurship Conference in Iceland on June 1-4, 2013. The first two days June 1st in the afternoon to the end of the day on June 2nd, we are organizing a Hackathon. Hackathons are a tradition that we are starting to implement in Iceland, we conducted one last year and found really talented software engineers and developers who created a fantastic solution in a very short period of time. I have gone on record to say that we are very serious about recruiting those who can “Show Us” their skill than “Tell Us” about their skill. Hackathons are a perfect platform for that. GreenQloud sponsored and organized a Hackathon during UT Messan 2013, the annual IT conference in Iceland, the Winner of the hackathon was hired by GreenQloud. The clincher in this is that both the winners are still in high school. I believe very strongly that this is the new interview process of the software industry, no longer are you required to have a piece of paper telling others what skills you have, you can demonstrate it and build something of value that can be launchpad for your career. Startup Iceland Hackathon is that platform, have you made up your mind about participating in it yet? It is free and we provide all the food and drinks during the entire hackathon event. What are you waiting for? contact us and we can get you registered to be a participant in the hackathon.
March 5, 2013
I am the first one to reject the notion that Ideas don’t matter, but to a certain degree they do. Usually a problem drives one to think about how to solve the problem. I actually like this video that talks about this, by the author of the book Where Good Ideas come from? Steven Johnson. There is one element of the video that really appeals to me which is connecting with other people, sharing our thoughts and idea actually helps in formulating, incubating and birth of new ideas. It was the basis for me to found Startup Iceland – A Conference where Entrepreneurs from all over the world could meet in person, share ideas, thoughts and take away a great experience and do it a place like Iceland which is inspiring in its own right. I get inspired every time I leave my home and start running in the running trails. What if we could expand on this notion? Would it not be wonderful if we could have a retreat- a place to basically kick back and let our ideas run loose? well, that is the ultimate plan. My partners and I are also in the Hospitality business, ie. we build hotels, invest in hospitality technologies and run hotels as well. Our intention is to build this retreat in Iceland.
I think it is not a bad idea if I say so myself. Now we just need to Execute and make it happen. There are several insights in the video about Ideas. I have not read the book but I think Accelerators and Incubators that I have been writing about are the same things, they put a bunch of motivated, smart people in a single physical space and let them interact and solve different problem. That is the same reason I love Hackathons, and we are promoting the periodic hackathon events by GreenQloud.
February 23, 2013
GreenQloud Booth – Career Day Reykjavik University
We had our planning meeting yesterday and Stefan suggested that we should have the startups from Iceland and around the world come and setup a booth during the Hackathon and UNConference event. We all thought that it would be a great idea so we are going to market and allow Startups from Iceland and all over to setup a booth space. This would be a perfect setting where more than 350 people who are interested in Startups, Entrepreneurship and Startup Communities will be present and a great audience to present one’s startup idea
Remake Electric – UTMessan 2013
I have felt that it is a great way for people who are starting up to tell a story about their vision. The original idea was to give a 5 min slot to a handful of startups to present during the conference, which is too short a time and does not give enough depth to a startup and the audience will not have time to absorb why they should be interested in the company. So we are calling all startups to contact us by sending an email to booth at startupiceland dot com and reserve your space. This is a perfect opportunity to practice your pitch and who knows maybe you will find your angel investor. Let us know what you think of the idea as well.