Posts tagged ‘LinkedIn’

May 13, 2014

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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May 8, 2014

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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May 1, 2014

Startup Iceland 2014 – A Reason to Visit Iceland

This post was originally posted through the LinkedIn Publishing, LinkedIn has launched a publishing platform and I was invited to publish through it. I did what every startup founder and entrepreneur should always do… plug your idea and what you are passionate about. You don’t get any points for guessing what I am passionate about… ok, if you don’t know it here you go it is about Building a Sustainable and Antifragile Startup Community in Iceland through Startup Iceland. If you have not yet booked your tickets please do we are limiting the number of guests to 300 and we usually sell out and the promotional rates are still on…i.e 50% off for Entrepreneurs and Students.

islandskortI founded Startup Iceland in 2010 with the vision of building a sustainable antifragile startup community in Iceland. Fast forward to Startup Iceland 2014, this is the 3rd year we are hosting the event, it is still organized as a grassroot initiative with support from companies in Iceland that see the opportunity of Entrepreneurship and building a community that is resilient to the ebb and flow of the business world. We have a fantastic line up of speakers, what is usually fascinating to me during Startup Iceland is the interaction and networking that happens. Every Icelandic entrepreneur who has presented and/or participated in the event has gone on to do great things. It has created new businesses in Iceland based on the discussions that ensued during the conference, people have quit their jobs to follow their passion and people got jobs who were unemployed. It is a great feeling to see the unbounded energy that this simple concept has unleashed in Iceland. A number of fantastic companies and startups have emerged out of Iceland in the last 5 years, for a more detailed list of companies from Iceland that have broken out go to Startup Iceland Blog and Pick the Category Startup Profile.

You can book your tickets for Startup Iceland 2014 here. If you need help with travel and other logistics contact Guide To Iceland (disclaimer: I am an advisor to this entrepreneurial team, but they do an awesome job of taking care of the guests who come to Iceland) or me and I can connect you.

So what are you waiting for? Iceland beckons…

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October 8, 2013

Investment Thesis and Strategy

Since I announced that I am setting up a Syndicate, I have had some requests on what and how I plan to implement this. And I really happy that 2 people have already committed to support me in this initiative. I think more would join if they understood how all of this worked. I am going to write a series of blog posts outlining how I am thinking about this and why I believe this is the best way to disrupt investing in Iceland. For those of you wanting to see how Angel Syndicate Works, check out this linkFAQ is here.

I had posted a link to a Prezi presentation of the pitch for a Venture Capital Fund in Iceland that I started putting together in 2009, the vision remains. Here is the presentation:

Investment Thesis

Investment Thesis Prezi

I believe there is enough raw materials in Iceland to build world class companies in Iceland, like everywhere else it takes effort, networks, resources and strategy to execute on that. Iceland has one of the best infrastructures in the world, I am saying that after living in different continents and countries. I believe that software is going to run everything, those who are building software to solve some of the challenges that we are creating are going to create value. My investment thesis is very simple, lets look back each decade for the last half a century. In the 1960, it was companies like Digital, IBM, etc the micro computer manufacturers, in1970s it was Apple, Atari, etc the mini or personal computers, the focus was on hardware and devices, in 80s it was companies that wrote software for those devices like Microsoft, WordPerfect, Lotus, Apple, in the 90s it was the networking companies that connected these computers like Cisco, Sun Microsystems, Juniper Network, Nortel Networks etc, in the 2000s, it was the software companies that wrote software on top of the connected networks or the internet like Yahoo, Ebay, Google, Amazon etc and 2010s it is software companies that are building applications on top of the new internet infrastructure like Apple, Android, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogging platforms etc so my thesis is that any company that is leveraging the new infrastructure to build applications in an industry that is inefficient compared to the speed of the internet will be disrupted and value created. The neat thing about this is that the disruption can happen from any part of the world, including Iceland.

Anyone can come up with the above idea, as I have written before ideas mean nothing if not followed through with execution. Through the Angel Syndicate I plan to invest in this thesis. I have a proven track record, and of course I got very lucky with our investments. We sold the first company that we invested in to Jive Software, the second company that we invested in is growing nicely. The third company that I am involved in is moving in the right direction but still a lot of work to do. The thing about what we do is that it is hard to predict success but what we do know to do is work with entrepreneurs to increase the odds of success and reduce the odds of failure. Most of the challenges in Icelandic startups is related to Marketing and Sales, Team development and scaling the product or service. Those challenges are not easy to solve if not impossible. The motivation to do this is always to build a sustainable startup community and ecosystem right here in Iceland, if we are able to make it worth everyone’s while who are willing to participate in the journey so be it.

April 14, 2013

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.

January 4, 2013

Startup Iceland 2013 – Building Antifragile Entrepreneurial-Startup Ecosystems

We have started the preparation for Startup Iceland 2013. While the full blow website is getting ready to be launched, I have created a Sign Up page. If you are already signed up for Startup Iceland 2012 and this blog, could you please sign up again and share with your network? We have created an Executive Summary for the Conference, check it out. We are going to have some very interesting speakers and discussion on Building Startup Communities and Ecosystems. Those who are part of the mailing list will get the updates and the journey. I plan to document the journey leading up to the conference just like I did last year.

We have confirmation of participation from:

  1. Brad Feld Managing Director of Foundry Group

    Brad Feld

    Brad Feld

  2. Jason Mendelson Managing Director of Foundry Group

    Jason Mendelson

    Jason Mendelson

  3. Ryan McIntyre  Managing Director of Foundry Group

    Ryan McIntyre

    Ryan McIntyre

  4. Helga Waage Co-founder and CTO of Mobilitus

    Helga Waage

    Helga Waage

  5. Angela Jackson, Managing Director of Portland Seed Fund

    Angela Jackson

    Angela Jackson

  6. Howard Lindzon, CEO of StockTwits, Angle Investor and Twitter personality

    Howard Lindzon

    Howard Lindzon

  7. Alex Torrenegra, CEO of VoiceBunny and a lot more check out his LinkedIn profile

    Alex Torrenegra

    Alex Torrenegra

  8. Rebeca Hwang, CEO of YouNoodle

    Rebeca Hwang

We may have cancelation and updates to this group but we will have more mentors as the momentum builds up. We will have them in different roles for their participation as Speakers, Mentors and other activities. As I mentioned in my previous post, we plan to have an Unconference Event the day before the lectures, where some of these participants will play the role of mentors so everyone who is going to participate in the conference gets a chance to block time with them to ask them any question and pick their brain. So if you are not into listening to lectures then you may want to participate to meet these people one on one and build your network.

As more details role out, you should get updates on a regular basis leading to the conference. We have some wonderful Sponsors already and they are in the order they have signed up:

  1. U.S Embassy in ReykjavikAmbassador Arreage and his Team have shown true leadership in signing up to be the first sponsors of Startup Iceland again. I would like to thank them at the outset. I will do a more detailed profile of each sponsor like I did last year in subsequent blog posts.
  2. Reykjavik University – Rector Ari Kristinn Jónsson, Kristine Helen Falgren, Kristinn R. Thorisson and Björn Þór Jónsson have been extremely generous with their time and resources to support any effort that helps the Entrepreneurship and Startups in Iceland.
  3. Icelandair GroupIcelandair group has always been a great sponsor for our initiatives. I would like to thank Addy Olafsdottir and Bogi Nils Bogasson and the whole Icelandair team that supported us with travel arrangements and accommodation last year. They have once again shown leadership and have agreed to do more this year. We are very excited to have them as our sponsors once again.
  4. WEDO – The Web design, development and marketing company is sponsoring the design and development of the website. I would like to thank Gudmundur R. Einarson (GRE), Orri Helgasson and Charles Christie for their support, participation and commitment
  5. GreenQloud – The Startup Iceland 2013 Conference website will be hosted in GreenQloud. I think building sustainable antifragile startup and entrepreneurial ecosystem should use sustainable energy sources to run the infrastructure. I would like to thank the GreenQloud team for sponsoring and helping with this initiative.
August 21, 2012

Whats Next – Start Selling

We have a guest post again by Ashwin Bhambri on what the next things the teams should focus on now that Startup Reykjavik is over. I think he has good points and strategies on moving again. It is hard after all the hype and now it is real life, the teams needs to get on the road, meet customersand try to do what I call the hardest of things to do… SELL. I have included the new Startup Curve, which is what typically happens after a big rush of media blitz, everyone wanting to meet with you as the founder and everyone saying how you crushed it in the presentation (guilty as charged!) etc but the reality is that the teams are still in their infancy and they need to go through the Product to Market Fit phase and then through creating a Repeatable Business Model phase and while doing all this they need to build a team culture, develop processes, maintain customer interest and solicit investors if the teams are starting to run out of money. Did I mention that doing a startup is HARD!



Startup Rekyjavik has been an amazing experience and it’s now come to an end.  As startup founders we are faced with the question where do we go from here and what should be our next move. This is a typical scenario faced by every startup exiting an accelerator around the world

Startup’s move on with investor liaison, completing the product and the tons of other things start-ups do nevertheless there is a one thing that is a must do for every startup exiting an accelerator program. Start meeting customers and focus on sales, I repeat start selling whatever you have built in the last three months irrespective weather its good, bad or ugly

Sales and getting customers is the reality that’s hit me in the face today. I am still hesitant about our MVP and think it’s not refined enough however I do have to take into account that I have just few days left in Iceland and if I dont make an attempt to sell this is going to be a lost opportunity. Secondly, talks with investors are going to be futile if you cannot demonstrate customers interest and last but not the lest you wont believe how big a motivator getting customers is. Taking a page out of the ‘Do more faster’ book authored by Brad Field & David Cohen refer to the ‘Be Tiny Until You Shouldn’t Be’ chapter where a startup failed to raise funding but started selling and got cash flow positive

I have a few sales tips that could work for whatever its worth

  1. When you meet investors, ask them for sales leads. This would build their confidence in your startup
  2. All start-ups share the noting that their product is not ready so engage potential clients by asking for feedback and you can sell to the interested ones down the line
  3. Invite potential customers to attend focus groups. This might be a tough one to pull off but works amazingly well
  4. Contact you mentors and ask them for references
  5. Email marketing works
  6. Don’t forget approaching friends & family
  7. Use LinkedIn, it’s amazing

Would it not be amazing to connect with an investor with the alibi ‘we got customers and need money to service them’ maybe you can help us with that.

April 24, 2012

The Startup is YOU

Here is an excerpt from the column by Thomas Friedman of New York Times with the title The Start-Up of You – “Hoffman argues that professionals need an entirely new mind-set and skill set to compete. “The old paradigm of climb up a stable career ladder is dead and gone,” he said to me. “No career is a sure thing anymore. The uncertain, rapidly changing conditions in which entrepreneurs start companies is what it’s now like for all of us fashioning a career. Therefore you should approach career strategy the same way an entrepreneur approaches starting a business.” he is referring to LinkedIn’s founder, Reid Garrett Hoffman, one of the premier starter-uppers in Silicon Valley — besides co-founding LinkedIn, he is on the board of Zynga, was an early investor in Facebook and sits on the board of Mozilla — through his book “The Start-Up of You,” co-authored with Ben Casnocha. Friedman says the subtitle could easily be: “Hey, recent graduates! Hey, 35-year-old midcareer professional! Here’s how you build your career today.” How relevant and valid are these statements given the discussions we have been having in Iceland? I cannot imagine a better place to be having this discussion, Iceland does not have a huge market, it is an island, if we are to rebuild this country for the future what should it look like? Those were the questions I was asking myself after the Collapse of the Financial System in Iceland in 2008. I am biased towards action and I invested in myself and Entrepreneurship, the jury is still out if that was the right decision or not, but I have never felt more energized, motivated and passionate about what I am doing (you can tell from the daily blog post, 24-7-365 on Twitter, Facebook, Email et cetra et cetra).

Startup Iceland Conference is a fantastic way to be inspired, connect and start on the Entrepreneurial journey. The word Startup has been hijacked by the technology based early stage companies and initiatives but I believe otherwise. Here is the definition:

The word is about setting things in motion, Startup Iceland Conference is about setting Iceland in motion. It has to be a community effort, and it is about the Ecosystem. When a single group of people in a community try to move things we have seen it always leads to sub-optimal results. The entire community has to contribute to make the initiative really make a difference. So what are you waiting for? what action have you taken to take charge of your career? your life? Startup Iceland Conference is an event created to celebrate this spirit… so go register for the workshop and take charge of yourself. You owe it to yourself.

March 2, 2012

Innovation Clusters – Why they don’t work

Here is an interesting article about “How to make a region innovative”  by Strategy+Business portal of Booz & Company. Why am I writing about this? well, because there is all this talk about Innovation Clusters

Innovation Clusters

Innovation Clusters

in Iceland around Geothermal Energy, Seafood etc In My Humble Opinion (IMHO), it is a waste of time! this is old school thinking that never works. Don’t take my word for it go and read the article. I am not the only one who thinks this way, there is a need for new thinking on innovation and entrepreneurship all around the world so how does one go about creating this new value i.e new equity. We are here because of our over indulgence in Debt which has basically eaten away all the equity in the world. I am sure we all can agree that is the case in Iceland, but more and more countries are starting to feel the pain of this… hello! have you seen the news about Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal… and the USA? So, here is a thought start hyper growth companies that can innovate at the speed of the internet and it can be done only by small teams because of many things especially team chemistry, mechanics, change management etc. There is enough evidence to support that Bigger a company gets the smaller their rate of innovation, I am sure there are exceptions to this, but the majority of large companies fall into What Clay Christensen calls the Innovators Dilemma. If you have not read the book I highly recommend it. The only way to innovate out of crisis is to start small, start at the grass root and change the entire paradigm of thinking and radically make traditional businesses obsolete. There is only one sector that is good at this and that is the Internet based companies in the the Startup Nation! Actually I would go one step further and say… you better be thinking about a Startup Of You, no wait Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn just wrote a book with that title. People these days, always stealing ideas :) just kidding. Go and read that book it is fascinating to think about the fundamental changes that are happening right in front of our eyes, but we need to be aware to see or suddenly you become obsolete. Are you getting obsolete?

February 16, 2012

Isafjordur the next Startup Hub?

I saw this video on Bloomberg TV, the interesting thing is many of the new “hot” startups are cropping up in NYC because I believe there is a transition that is starting to happen, the technology is getting easier to put together the cost of creating a company is also getting to be not a huge hole in your wallet. NYC has many of the Fortune 500 companies, so if your startup is in the business of Media, Advertising, Fashion, Financial Services or even Pharmaceutical NYC is not such a bad place to be. Goes back to the Investment thesis that I wrote about, all the traditional businesses are now the users of new technology infrastructure built by Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Amazon, Apple etc.
The investment thesis is quite simple, if one looks at:

  • 1970s: Successful companies that created a lot of value were the hardware companies like Atari, Tandy, Radio Shack, Apple etc
  • 1980s: IBM PC, Microsoft, Lotus 123, WordPerfect, HP, Compaq, Apple – Software companies that built applications for the Micro and Mini computers (back then Personal Computers were called that!)
  • 1990s: Sun Microsystems, Cisco Systems, Microsoft, NeXT, Novell – Network related companies that made the plumbing of the Internet work
  • 2000s: Google, Amazon, Ebay, PayPal, Yahoo, Apple, Microsoft – Software companies that build application on top of the Internet infrastructure
  • 2008+: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Apple, Google, Amazon – Software as service companies that run on top of the software that connects the Internet.
  • 2010+: Any company that is building applications on top of the software stack of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, Amazon and the Mobile Devices
What is even more exciting is that the companies in the future that are building things on top of the Internet Software Infrastructure can be located anywhere and still sell it to the entire world. This creates an  awesome level playing field for places like Iceland. You can be in Isafjordur or Egilstadir and still create companies that solve a global problem. The picture is from Isafjordur, not a bad place to start the next Google. Nobody says it cannot be done!

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