Passion for entrepreneurship has inspired us to create Foundum. We believe in entrepreneurs as they have the greatest potential to drive, change and positively influence economies & societies.

Barcelona 2011 a good year!

July 20th, 2011

2011 seems to be a good year for entrepreneurship in Barcelona. We are half way through the year and there has been an inflow of talent that is mind-boggling. This is clearly visible through the many events that have taken place in the city: 3-Day Start-up, TEDxESADE, BizBarcelona, SIME Barcelona and the Growth Summit are just some examples. Below we’d like to share the main learning outcomes from the star speakers that have joined us in the past months and have pumped our motivation to start ventures and have enriched our knowledge and vision.

Sweat and Tears

Two very clear messages came out from all the presentations, conversations and interviews. The first message is that now is the time to start ventures and jump into the start-up world because companies are not hiring as much and because new ventures are the growth engines of economies and are the innovators of the world. The second message is that entrepreneurship is for those who are open to sacrifice. It’s not an easy career path, it involves long hours and weekends and the success stories that the media speaks of are the exception to the rule. As Steve Blank, retired serial entrepreneur and professor of entrepreneurship at Stanford and Berkley, says, if you have a vision and are passionate about it go ahead and try (BizBarcelona).

In a one-to-one interview with Ola Alvharsson, chairman and host of the media event SIMECaterina Fake, founder of Flickr, narrated the tough path that her team had to go through before Flickr took off. It was amusing to hear such a prominent entrepreneur having to go through tight budgets and instant noodle meals (see a video about it). It’s a reminder to all that entrepreneurship is not as glamorous as one usually expects.

Setting up the right team

People make the difference; there is no doubt in anyone’s mind about that. Venture capitalists like Nenad Merovac, Managing Partner at DN Capital, have reiterated how they invest in people, not ideas, because people can pivot and change the course if the idea doesn’t work (SIME). Geoff Smart spoke for 2 hours at the Growth Summit about the importance and techniques needed to hire the right people. Failing to do so can be expensive and lead to no results.

Steve Blank reminds us how essential it is to distinguish between those people who are good for mature companies and those who are good for start-ups. In all departments of a start-up, although most of the times there is one core team multitasking, the people are supposed to be able to cope with changes in strategy, sales pitches and developing a minimum viable product. Unlike bigger established companies where everything is more certain, almost set in stone and the people revolve around the product’s well-defined and established specifications.

Understanding the business model

A start-up creates from scratch a new business and with that a strategy, a product or service and so on, and a crucial piece of the puzzle is the business model. How will the start-up make money and what will enable the revenue generation? These are crucial questions that entail understanding the customer segments, relationships, the channels, the value proposition and much more. It can be hard for a start-up to understand all the areas that are needed to cover and those that are crucial to a business.

As the Growth Guy Verne Harnish explained at the past Growth Summit  in Barcelona, every business needs to “own” a word or phrase in a Google search if they want to be the leaders in their field. The man that owns the phrase “Business Model Generation” is Alex Osterwalder. He is the person who puts all the key elements of a business model in one page to portray in a visual and easy way all the important elements – value proposition, customer relationships, channels, customer segments, key activities, key resources, key partners, cost structure and revenue streams. We highly recommend going to his website and downloading the canvas for free in order to easily display and visualise the business model of your start-up.

Social media and real time

Social media has reshaped the way companies think about marketing, CRM, HR, and more. Businesses are increasing efforts and budgets to spend into social media in order to speak to customers, communicate new products or take care of their brand. This relatively new phenomenon has also allowed smaller companies to compete with bigger well-known brands since costs to have a profile on Facebook and launch a “cool” campaign are minimal compared to launching an advertisement during the Super Bowl.

Social media can be an immensely positive thing as well as a destructive force. The concept of real time on social media as well as the reach of the Internet may cause huge headaches to start-ups. It’s hard to minimize damages once negative news is out, so companies must act real time to take care of problems, as well as acting real time to take advantage of what’s going on in the world.

Democratization of entrepreneurship

It used to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to launch a start-up before the dotcom bubble. Now with $30,000 a website can be up and running with the first beta testers. Werner Vogels, CTO of Amazon, has spoken to us at SIME about how they are helping start-ups with their cloud services. With very little costs and a simple pay as you use costs structure a website can be entirely stored on Amazon’s servers and be fully active. Steve Blank notes that in today’s world anyone can start a company with little investment. Entrepreneurship is for all those who are willing to go ahead with their vision.

We look forward in contributing to this vision with our own services launching soon, so stay tuned!