Sep 18, 2012

This is the last blog post I write...

...over here! Because I moved to

I invite you to continue reading my blog posts and to keep an eye on my upcoming book for startups.

Sep 4, 2012

Coworking Europe 2012 Conference - Paris, 8th-10th Nov

With 1800 coworking spaces world wide and 700+ in Europe established in only 7 years, it is obvious that the working styles are changing for entrepreneurs and freelancers, while those running the coworking spaces try to develop and offer better solutions.

Coworking Europe 2012 Conference will bring together European and global coworking space managers, entrepreneurship activists, nomad and innovation experts, collaboration gurus, as well as representatives from the public and the corporate sector. On the menu: best practices sharing and debates on the future of working in a more creative and sustainable economy.

The organizers expect 300 international participants for their 3rd yearly edition. Speakers from all over the world will address openly all topics related to the coworking model, like how to acquire more members, how to diversify revenues, how to design a successful space, how corporates embrace the model as well, how to create a community, how to collaborate with other coworking spaces etc. All these spiced up with a day of unconference and a tour to all the coworking spaces in Paris.

Meet below the passionate evangelist of Coworking movement, the organizer of this conference and the  founder of an ambitious future  coworking space in Brussels, Jean-Yves Huwart:

Aug 31, 2012

All Pirates aboard! European Pirate Summit is coming up next! AAARRR

Founders and funders with a sense of startup adventure (true Pirates, as defined by Michael Arrington) will gather on 10th and 11th September in very "piratesque" location in Cologne for an unconventional tech and entrepreneurship event.

Here are 3 reasons why you should come aboard, if you are not already planning to:

1) The crowd is carefully pre-selected. People can't just buy a ticket, but they have to submit an application for review. This assures a high quality of participants and you can expect to meet there only real pirate entrepreneurs, investors and tech and entrepreneurship journalists.

2) You will be inspired by innovative and disruptive business models, you have plenty of investors around you can pitch to, but most importantly: you will be among like-minded people in a casual and adventurous atmosphere. The program is filled with lots of useful learning, there are also some interesting satellite events, and the list of speakers is impressive. "Last year it was mainly the venue and the atmosphere that helped us become one of the best tech events from the scratch. This time it's two days, 500 participants, even crazier and it will be more hands-on, so people will also learn a lot." says Waldemar Hein, PR @PirateSummit

Here is a sneak peak from last year, so prepare for an even better edition promised for this year:

3) Because you read this blog post, you get some special benefits. Mention in "your message" the name of this blog ("adelinapeltea") and if you submit your application before 1st Sept you get 10% discount, or if you submit it after 1st Sept you will still benefit of the "normal" conditions from before (the early bird ticket price).

And if you are curious how does it feel to be a "captain" of this event, note that they seem to have a great experience with the preparations "It is simply amazing. We got to know people we never thought to be possible, all the thinkers and doers of the European startups scene and beyond. They are very helpful people, so it's good to know them." (Waldemar Hein, PR @PirateSummit) From October they are preparing to launch a new format "Piratize me" to spread the concept in more places. So keep an eye on them if you want to grasp the opportunity.

And if maybe you are also curious about why Cologne for such an international startup event, you might think about the potential of the area from two perspectives: one is talent (as many universities can be found around), and two is good geographical position (really close from Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and London).

So...see you there?

Aug 16, 2012

How DeRevolutione got 1.25M euro funding and why is August a good time for investments in Italian startups

Italian tech startups are set to break some records in investments lately. A Naples-based startup, founded by 26 years old Roberto Esposito, closed a deal a few days ago for an investment of 1.25M euro in DeRevolutione (DeRev)*.

How did the team manage this achievement?

Roberto and his tech co-founders (who actually quit their jobs to dedicate to DeRevolutione) worked on the beta product and the business aspects of it for a year before the first public presentation. Quite perfectionist, he wanted to be totally prepared for all potential criticism when starting to pitch and present DeRevolutione at different events, including at TEDx as speaker. "Especially in Italy where Venture Capitalists are relatively few and know each other, I always tried to earn the esteem of the startup scene and to maintain an excellent reputation." said the founder.

With a good previous track record in business and marketing, Roberto told the investors about the achievements he reached without spending a cent (mainly creating projects with strong impact obtained through unconventional marketing instead of financial investments), adding "Imagine what I can do if you give me one million euro! Because an investment can always accelerate the growth of a startup and open doors to larger markets, besides just being a validation of it."

This determination, previous success stories plus getting 50K users subscribed on the landing page of DeRevolutione in just two months seems to have convinced investors, and the team got 5 offers in the past 8 months, choosing Vertis SGR and closing the deal with them a few days ago. It was not an easy process to review and compare terms and conditions from different investors, and even with Vertis the negotiation process lasted 3 months "of up to 10 hours meetings and 50 emails per day to review and modify lots of conditions of a contract of hundreds of pages" from what the co-founders remember now as "fascinating times".

Now backed by this funding, as well as by a group of internationally experienced business angels from the internet sector that can provide valuable know-how (like Giulio Valiante and Michele Cassucci), Roberto, Fulvio and Antonio are preparing accelerate their growth, first on the Italian market and then on European one.

Why is August a good time for investments in Italian startups?

Usually not much is happening in August in business, as it is more a holiday month. But apparently in Italy there were serious investments going on, like this one and the 300K euro invested in Ploonge, that I previously covered here on my blog. Why is idea though :) I guess just startups never sleep.

*DeRevolutione (DeRev) is a social platform that allows users to turn their ideas into revolutions in order to improve the world we live in. It gives to communities tools to amplify ideas bottom-up, like a crowdfunding tool, a petition creation tool, a system to collect proposals - which can be used in many fields ranging from politcs and research to entrepreneurship and art.

Aug 13, 2012

Italian tech startup, Ploonge, got 300K euro investment to develop social platform

Two ambitious Italian co-founders tackle the social networks business and gain confidence of investors with their determination.

I have met Alessandro and Giorgio over a social dinning tonight in Berlin, where apparently they came to take the pulse of the city and to check what it has to offer to entrepreneurs (maybe establish office here?), as well as to promote their platform: Ploonge.

Very passionate and yet modest, they satisfied my curiosity about how they made it and what are their plans. And oh, by the way, they just signed a few days ago an investment of 300K euro from a VC fund, after another previous investment of 30K from a business angel. That is quite something for an Italian tech startup. Especially since they were not trying too hard (it was the first VC they got in contact for this matter, a VC that actually never invested before in internet startups, and they also received another offer from 3 business angels).

But for them that is not the biggest achievement and did not make a big fuss around it (so this is the first media coverage). They are so determined to do it that they think this would have come anyway sooner or later. After all, they did bootstrapped for a year already, living and working from their own savings and dedicating themselves 100% for several months to build the beta platform that was launched in May this year during Milan Food Week. And the whole story started in San Francisco where the two have met for a startup course. One of them already had a startup running (, one just quit a good job to start working on what he believes in.

Now their plans are to rework on the product, improving its design and user experience, and afterwards starting to promote it. The first niche they are targeting is social dinning, but after a while some other niches will be approached, building slowly a social network useful for offline situations when people want to expand their network (either when traveling to new cities, either in their own space when they want to meet new people).

They are really keen on building a great product, through customer development, while making profit doesn't seem to be a pressure (although they estimate the moment will come in about 3 years).

Was a real pleasure to meet so relaxed and yet determined entrepreneurs and I wish them all the best. Was a great dinner too, a great mix between good Italian food and a bunch of interesting international people.

Aug 12, 2012

Open Berlin

Living for two weeks in Berlin is already more than enough to explore the city and the startup scene here in depth. And that is because there are so many opportunities to interact with the startups over all sorts of meetups.

So welcoming and friendly, the city itself has the ingredients of a good startup: fast scaling, acting global, bootstrapping, great team spirit, uniting different talents and attracting investors.

Below some facts and opinions that might be of interest for entrepreneurs and investors that either have an interest or curiosity in Berlin (check all the points below), either would like to develop their local communities or startups (check Great Team Spirit and Uniting Different Talents).

(picture taken at Betahaus)

Fast Scaling

Berlin Chamber of Commerce announced that around 1300 internet startups have been founded in the city since 2008, of which 500 were established in 2011.

Deskwanted counts 70+ co-working spaces to accommodate entrepreneurs in Berlin at beginning of 2012.

With all the media attention lately and the startup stars that are already in town (like SoundCloud, Wooga, Gidsy, Amen, 6Wunderkinder), most probably this number will grow. I actually keep on meeting around entrepreneurs that came to Berlin to check the pulse of the startup city, thinking already to establish here.

Acting Global

"Berlin is the most un-German of German cities" says Om Malik from GigaOm after a visit here. That is for its unique history, geography (the border between West and East) and culture, but also for being so international.

So many nationalities here, that the most encountered language is actually the international well-known English. Ich spreche kein Deutsch and is really not a problem for working and living here (which is really good for startups that need to tap into talent pools of other countries). There are lots of entrepreneurs who came from different lands here (like Swedish and Dutch founders of SoundCloud and Gidsy).

And most of the new startups address the global market from the beginning (example: 6Wunderkinder has about 30% of the its market in US).


Berlin is (still) cheap. Known for being cheaper to live here compared to other Western cities and especially capitals, I would add that is as cheap if not even cheaper compared to Eastern capitals as well - I am comparing living expenses here with those in Bucharest, and I tend to say Berlin is actually cheaper.

However, it might not be so easy for a new-in-town entrepreneur to rent a house. It is already a big competition in some areas and landlords check incomes and stability before accepting tenants. It is really easy though to rent for short terms as many people have to travel for business here, as it is not much of it in Berlin yet.

Work expenses for entrepreneurs are also low: renting office space varies from about 15 euro per square meter in the famous The Factory (where I've been at a housewarming bbq of a startup last week) to about half of that in West Berlin (which seems to start developing as well, but nothing compares yet with Eastern Silicon Allee). And hey, salaries to be paid are not too high (yet).

Great Team Spirit

The collaborative spirit and the knowledge exchange amount here is absolutely fantastic. Daily there are meetups in the startup scene, ranging from pitch competitions to breakfasts, barbecues and parties.

(bbq at The Factory, organized by MentorApp, 10th Aug)

(EyeEm meetup, 10th Aug)

(Pitchslam at Yaam, 1st Aug)

It is amazingly easy to network here and to meet lots of people from startups in a very short time. So if you want to come by and feel the pulse, I would say two weeks would do it (at least from my own experience). People are really open and share without concerns their experiences and knowledge.

And the best proof of this great team spirit of Berlin startups is actually the project I came here to work for: Tech Open Air Berlin -  a festival made by the community for the community, co-initiated by two of the best Evangelist of Berlin as an interactive community, Nikolas Woischnik and Lutz Villalba.

At first, it was successfully backed by local startups to achieve the crowdfunding goal (We would say Tech Open Air Berlin is the first crowdfunded European conference, if no one else can claim it. At least a google search supports this theory.)

Secondly, local startups really got involved in the organization, coming up with ideas and organizing their own "showtime" in the shape of satellite events all over Berlin for 24th August, and even elements for the first day of the festival, on 23rd August (like klashes).

Another cool proof of this team spirit is The Factory, a huge place bringing together many startups in order to foster collaboration between them.

Uniting Different Talents

Berlin is well-known for its artists, that makes the entire city very unconventional.

Tech Open Air Berlin celebrates tech, music and art and aims to show how the borders between these fields are fading. Plus it is itself an unconventional festival (if you look at things like the crazy location, Kater Holzig, the way it is organized and sponsored etc.)

And how does this artistic touch translate in the startup scene?

Well, it seems that Berlin startups are world wide famous for their design and user experience. That is because they really focus on this from the beginning, while most other startups leave this for later and firstly they focus on the algorithms behind.

6wunderkinder's best initial marketing was simply building an easy to use and great looking product (which popped out from a discussion with Simon Chan, who works on their Community and Marketing, and that is also proven by their previous intern, Ricardo Sousa, in this article)

Another interesting discussion on this topic was with Peter Sikking, a 19 years experienced Interaction Architect consultant in Berlin. We both shared the importance of hiring designers and UX experts from the first days of a startup if you really want your first customers to love your product and evangelize it.

Yes, not all the startups do it, but Berlin seems to be one of the places where startups seem to get this right from day one.

A good wrap up article on this matter was written last year by Martin Bryant from The Next Web on why Berlin is home to a new generation of beautiful apps.

Attracting Investors

Yeah, Berlin still has a lot to improve on the investments side in order to be the Silicon Valley of Europe, but things started to look good in this arena as well (as Mike Butcher said a few months ago: "Berlin is still sexy, but no longer poor").

You have here an eye peek from Union Square Ventures (invested in SoundCloud), Atomico (invested in 6wunderkinder), Index Ventures (invested in Amen), JMES Investments (building The Factory), Point Nine Capital (a Berlin-based spin off from Team Europe, created by the entrepreneur and business angel Gadowski after successfully building Spreadshirt, StudiVZ and Brands4Friends), Atlantic Ventures (through Maire, who lives in Berlin since 1993, who invested in SoundCloud, Readmill, EyeEm, txtr), EarlyBird (who moved HQ to Berlin recently). Even Ashton Kutcher keeps an eye on Berlin-based startups (investing in Gidsy and SoundCloud). And there are many more visiting the city from time to time.

I will be in Berlin just until end of August and I will take all opportunities to explore even more the city and the startup scene here. Meanwhile, I can say I found my dream place and I am looking forward to come back here, either for working on a great project/ startup or with a media (so give me a ping if you are looking for an editor/ communicator/ marketeer for customer development and community management), either for building my next startup on this new-born entrepreneurial land.

Aug 7, 2012

Disrupt or die

There is a new accelerator for tech startups in town looking for disruptive potential. Which town? Well, it could even be yours.

Vlad Stan (well known entrepreneur and business angel),  together with Catalina Rusu and Sabin Dima (a team that has previously worked on a number of educational, investment and community facilities aimed at supporting  tech entrepreneurs addressing global markets) founded recently Geekcelerator to help startups with disruptive potential and with great geeks in the team to boost their business through an innovative framework with clear milestones and  experienced entrepreneurs or experts in various fields that work together with the teams as "limited co-founders".

The tour

At the moment, Geekcelerator is on tour, going through different cities from different countries to look for startups to accelerate. Disrupt or Die is a series of local events of two days of intensive hands-on working sessions plus great networking opportunities, offering a great learning experience, feedback and new ideas to the teams.

The aim of the tour is discovery of technical startup teams with potential to disrupt markets, as well as checking the match between them and the accelerator team. It is a great way for teams to test if the accelerator can really bring them value and if there are compatibilities before getting officially involved and sharing their equity.

At the moment, startups can receive invitations to attend Disrupt or Die only after being recommended by the local community and being carefully pre-selected through interviews. Soon, when the official website will be launched, there will be also the possibility to apply online.

Disrupt or Die Cluj

The tour started from Cluj-Napoca, at CoWork Cluj in the last weekend of July 2012. I had the opportunity to attend it as well and I had a great experience - people were really high-quality and there was plenty of food for thought for my own projects.

Five teams that already have a prototype were invited to Disrupt or Die Cluj (out of 20 recommended and reviewed):

Mira - aiming to disrupt medical rehabilitation services by using Kinect technologies and custom video games designed with the support of doctors to make physical recoveries simple, fast, fun and interactive.
Squirrly - aiming to disrupt publishing  by offering bloggers virtual assistance with a technical tool and gamified approach to make blogging easier and more rewarding.
Askem - aiming to disrupt charity by using biddings to help fans get their questions answered by  VIPs  while supporting financially NGOs favorited by them.
Seedbit - aiming to disrupt events sponsorships by using a matching algorithm between sponsors and event organizers to make sponsoring more transparent, easier and cheaper.
Risktronics - aiming to disrupt the credit market by building a platform with trusted circles of friends that lend and borrow money between themselves in order to have easier access to money and no interest rate.

Some of these founders  are students turning their school competition project into real startups, some are already experienced tech entrepreneurs. Keep an eye on them, as their estimated markets are hundreds and thousands millions euro and they want to be real change makers.

Besides Geekcelerator team, there were also different local and international experts invited to work with the teams on the framework, like Till Ohrmann (co-founder Pirates Summit), Lucian Todea (Founder and CEO, Sergiu Biris (Founder, Sergiu Bizau (software geek moving between China, Cambodia, Germany and Romania ).

Participant geeks appreciated:

- working with experts instead of receiving mentoring from an outside point of view ("At other working sessions I attended of accelerators, mentors come and give advice to all the teams from an outside point of view, while at Geekcelerator they actually got engaged first with what each team develops and worked all the time with only one team, being able to give highly valuable feedback and inputs." Squirrly team)

- learning how to turn their technical product into a real business, by following a roadmap and being challenged with constructive questions ("We got a better vision of our business. Before we were doing what we felt, now we have on paper what we think, much more clear. We worked for over a year technically and we were reluctant to get into the business part so deep. These two intensive working days  gave me more confidence and opened my eyes to the entire process. " Mira team, "We learned to focus, before we were getting lost in features" SeedBit team, "We have a very technical solution, at this event we really had to think more in depth and validate our previous steps" Risktronics team)

- the networking activities, especially after 7 pm at Drinkcelerator :)

Technical skills of selected teams were impressive: "Technical skills in Eastern Europe are always surprising me. Most of the teams I met here are real pirates, so it was a very good selection process." Till Ohrmann, co-founder of European Pirates Summit. "In Romania we have people with great technical skills that need help to develop the business skills, which usually lack " Lucian Todea "I really see a huge potential here in Cluj for technical startups. Hopefully some of you will be billionairs. Imagine how this city will be if these teams succeed." Vlad Stan, co-founder Geekcelerator.

Disrupt or Die Cluj on Storify here and infographic here.

Next steps

Future events of Disrupt or Die are planned for Timisoara, Iasi, Bucuresti, Cologne. If you would like Geekcelerator to come to your city as well, the team is open to suggestions. Oh and if you are a local blogger interested to attend one of these next events, please get in touch with me.

After the tour, some startups get invited to a few weeks  of pre-accelerator for customized interactions (of which you can think of as "dating" before both parts commit to a "relationship")and in the end 10 teams are invited into the accelerator, working for 3 months in Bucharest and then being taken to Silicon Valley to raise funding.

Jul 12, 2012

BlueSeed - the awesome international visa-free startup community 30 min away from Silicon Valley

Project overview

Silicon Valley is at the moment the main dream land for entrepreneurs all over the world, for its great startup community and culture, for its investment potential and for its well known success stories. However, non-US entrepreneurs  that want to start working there face difficulties with work visas.

This is the problem BlueSeed is aiming to solve, by having a vessel on international waters outside US regulations, 30 minutes away from the shore, where more than 1000 entrepreneurs can work on their startup without needing a work visa and going to Silicon Valley for meetings just with business/ tourist visas (or move there when they scale and have enough power to sustain themselves there). Moreover, the space itself is becoming an attraction, just thinking of such a great startup community working and living on the vessel, exchanging knowledge and enhancing motivation.

The project is estimated to be launched in Q3 2013. At the moment preparations are made, startups can apply and investors and other partners are searched.

For entrepreneurs

Benefits of joining BlueSeed:
- living and working close to Silicon Valley without needing a work visa
- living and working space in a modern tech environment for one year, at lower prices compared to Silicon Valley ones (payments can be made through different combinations of rent fees plus equity)
- access to an awesome community of disruptive startups, bold entrepreneurs from all over the world (inspiring environment)
- good internet connection and technologies to work with
- non-stop catering, access to gym, game rooms and other entertainment facilities, plus medical services
- a ferry for transport to San Francisco

Who can join? And how?
- open to the boldest, brightest, talented individuals from high-growth, scalable, disruptive startups, regardless of nationality
- until 24th July 2012, BlueSeed counted already the interest of 850+ entrepreneurs, from 250+ startups, from 58 countries
- to get in, these individuals and companies have to be referred to BlueSeed through reputable business angels, VCs, entrepreneurs netoworks or trusted contacts (or through submitting an online application and getting selected)

For investors and supporters

BlueSeed also welcomes aboard individuals and organizations (examples: incubators, media, cleantech companies) willing to support the startup community there.

Peter Thiel backed the project so far with his name and a promised sum that BlueSeed will receive only if more investors join in. Blueseed also wants to set up a Venture Fund for the startups aboard (aiming to raise 60-120M $).

BlueSeed presented by founders

Jul 9, 2012

How to Web - helping South-Eastern Europe companies to move from outsourcing services to creating their own products

How to Web 2012 - the most important conference on web business and technology in South-Eastern Europe, takes place in Bucharest, Romania, on the 7th and 8th of November. It aims to bring together more than 800 participants with tens of international speakers from over 15 countries. The conference will address topics on innovation through technology, business and product development in domains like gaming, Software as a Service and mobile, web business development in global markets vs. local markets, particularities of web business development in Eastern Europe and financing opportunities.

Below is my interview with Bogdan Iordache, organizer of How to Web, covering the specifics and the evolution of the event, as well as his motivation to run this event for its fourth edition this year:

Adelina: How do you see the entrepreneurship development in Europe? What are the differences between different regions? 

Bogdan: Entrepreneurship is definitely gaining momentum in Europe. Five years ago there were not so many things happening. Now we've got new companies, tons of events & communities kicking off, tens of accelerator programs. Venture capital industry has also grown significantly. The hottest areas right now are London, Berlin and Moscow. London has the advantage of being the European center for all advertising agencies, also the most important financial city of Europe. However, in the last years we've seen a more and more tech companies coming out of Berlin, using the fantastic artistic potential they have. Now Moscow, with the Skolkovo project, might be the next hot thing.

Adelina: How is How to Web contributing to the further development of entrepreneurship in South-Eastern Europe? 

Bogdan: When we started How to Web we thought: "There is so much tech potential here, but nobody innovates.". As you know, South-Eastern Europe is very focused on outsourcing. Giving the context, we thought that our mission is to inspire people to start create their own products, but also to help them get the practical knowledge and connections they need. This is what we're still doing right now, and we've seen more and more companies moving from services to products. On the other side, we've helped startups connect with investors and accelerators representatives at the Startup Challenge competition we're hosting every year. This year we'll showcase over 30 startups that we'll go through a fantastic program including workshops, public pitching, mentoring sessions, 1:1 accelerator & investors meetings.

Adelina: What would be the benefits for local participants? 

Bogdan: Well, we think How to Web is rather a regional event, not a local one. We're addressing the issues the SEE tech industry has been focusing on very practical talks: case studies, how-to talks, and combining them with regional specific challenges and information on global trends. On the other hand, Romania is known as a great place to have a great time. There are a lot of networking opportunities during the conference and during the endless parties that start in the evening and last till morning. It's a fun time.

 Adelina: What about the benefits for participants from outside the region? 

Bogdan: Because of How to Web's reach and structure, we'll be gathering some of the most interesting tech companies around and outside the region. This is why last year we've got participants from UK, Germany, France, Finland etc. who came here to see who's who and find partners for their projects.

Adelina: How to Web 2012 is the fourth edition. What is the evolution of the event from one edition to the other? 

Bogdan: Every edition of How to Web was different. Every year we've improved the structure of the event, and I think the one this year will be the best ever. We surely learned a lot, and doing a conference in an emerging tech ecosystem like South-Eastern Europe is a very different thing. In terms of numbers, we've grown quite fast. From a 150 people event in 2009, to 800+ people probably in 2012. We take great pride in this organic growth and the fact that we have a very strong fan base.

Adelina: Are there any future projects emerging from it? 

Bogdan: Definitely yes. We've got a lot of fresh ideas and we'll pursue some of them in the near future. Some of them are already announced (like the hub we're planning to open soon), others will be launched this year or next year soon.

Adelina: What is your motivation to organize this conference? How is the How to Web experience helping you with your other projects?

Bogdan: Well, for me personally How to Web is a big help in understanding how tech ecosystems and the global web works. It surely takes a lot of time, but it's been a fantastic ride so far. Also, the knowledge and the people you meet will definitely help us in reach the next level.

Jul 5, 2012

Crowdsourcing and Crowdfunding for Tech Open Air Berlin Festival

Tech Open Air Berlin Festival

TOA is a summer festival made by the community for the community, where hundreds of like-minded people can share their passion for entrepreneurship, technology, creativity and innovation, where people can inspire and learn from each other. It should take place in Berlin (the melting pot for entrepreneurs and artists) on August 23rd and 24th, if the crowdfunding target is reached - and today is the last day we can all show our support to the initiative. 


The event is not a typical conference. The value will be in the participating crowd and not on stage. There will be lots of knowledge exchange between participants and startups or any other kind of organizations can organize their own events on a crowdsourced agenda. The event just wants to connect people that share passion for technologies and innovations, offering maximum opportunity for networking at a festival organized in a decentralized way, but still including workshops, hackathons, speeches and parties.

Basically, day 1 will be in an open air location (Kater Holzig, a former soap factory), and day 2 will be all over Berlin (hosts of satellite events - open office day, BBQs etc.)


The initiators of the festival went for crowdfunding their bold idea, in order to see the support of the community and to make sure they can cover the minimum costs generated. The crowdfunding goal is set at 20K euro, so far 76% is reached and the deadline expires in one day. So now it is your chance to show your support for Tech Open Air Berlin, book your early bird ticket, book space to showcase your startup/ project, be a sponsor or finance a documentary on the festival with your brand standing out.

Later edit: Tech Open Air Berlin has reached its crowdfunding target so it will take place! (15 hours before deadline for crowdfunding, the project raised 109% of the target)

Jul 2, 2012

Not another entrepreneurship conference - It is Pioneers Festival, baby!

After an incredible success with their first European event last year (Startup Week 2011 - more than 1300 participants, 100 speakers, top entrepreneurs and investors), StartEurope is preparing now to rise above all expectations entrepreneurs and innovators can have from an event designed for them. They are preparing Pioneers Festival, that will take place in Vienna from 29th to 31st October, while also having Focus Events in parallel all over Europe.

Registrations are now open and, more importantly, applications for Startup Challenge are also open. If you are looking for great places to pitch, I highly recommend you to apply here. Last year the competition was taugh, more than 500 startups applied and only 10 made it to the final pitches. But it is totally worth it since 7 of those 10 finalists last year got funding afterwards between 500K and 2.2M from Ycombinator, Business Angels and VCs. This year to begin with, the winner of Startup Challenge pitching will receive 25.000 euro at the event, besides the great exposure.

I am one of their Ambassadors, I was present last year and I am going this year again, so in case you have questions, do not hesitate to contact me.

A brief overview of last year's edition:

And the promise of this year's edition:

Jun 29, 2012

Intrapreneurship - the concept, the conference, not the misspell

With all the economical crisis and the opportunities brought by technology development, entrepreneurship is very much encouraged. If entrepreneurs are born or is still a debate. But even with all the push from government, universities, media and so on there is still a small percentage of people that turn out to be entrepreneurs sooner or later - and it is normal: we do not only need entrepreneurs and leaders, we also need teams to work with them.

To make things work we need a whole system with many pieces integrated to drive growth.

Hence, there is one more ingredient that needs to be added to entrepreneurship - and that is intrapreneurship. New, not so popular and often considered a misspell, intrapreneurship is for all those people that are not entrepreneurs, but still have a huge power to drive innovation and growth in the companies they work in. Intrapreneurs are employees with entrepreneurial mindsets. Are those who see opportunities for the companies they work in and make them happen, with the resources of those companies. Are those who go the extra mile, beyond their job description.

I think most media is a bit misleading with all the shiny aura they put around entrepreneurs, making it seem like you are either one of those glorious people or nobody, just a slave of the system. But it is not like that and it should not be like that.

Intrapreneurship - the what, the why and the how will be debated at International Conference on Intrapreneurship by corporate leaders, entrepreneurs, investors, recruiters, consultants, business coaches, professors, public affairs representatives and youth as future generation of employees. The conference will take place in Mamaia, Romania from 19th to 22nd July, gathering people from all over Europe. It is organized by JADE Romania and JADE (European Confederation of Junior Enterprises), and I am its proud Project Manager, driven by the desire to foster entrepreneurship among students - meaning entrepreneurship mindset, that they as future employees can have as well, that is not all about starting new companies.

Registrations are open until 8th July, so go ahead and secure your place if you are an entrepreneur that wants to know how to gather a great team or you want to know what career opportunities you have as employee.

Jun 28, 2012

Bucharest rising - new support for startups

Romania -  best known among entrepreneurs as a great pool of IT talent and with a few internationally known success stories lately (UbervuSkinScan, Brainient, Summify, Clearly etc.) - offers now more support for local startups and for foreign startups that want to tap into this talent pool of skilled and ambitious people:

1.  The recent launch of Digital Catalyst Fund in Bucharest

Digital Catalyst Fund targets US and European startups and offers them, besides financial support and mentorship like most incubators, connection to Romanian developers (possibilities to find CTOs or form tech teams). Applications are open until 15th July 2012 for the first round of startups to be incubated. The 10 selected startups will receive a total of 500 K $ financing and will start at the end of August a 3 months boot camp to work on prototypes in a house of 10 bedrooms, fully equiped for all technology needs and even with a 24/7 chef. The board gathers big names, among which are the entrepreneur Emi Gal and the well-known gymnast Nadia Comaneci.

2. The recent launch of Geekcelerator in Bucharest (spin off of Bucharest Hubb that will close down)

Geekcelerator targets tech startups and offers them mentorship while working on the product, and when they are ready to take next stepts, it connects them to London or Silicon Valley to get market traction. More details will be announced soon by Vlad Stan and his team.

3. A new edition of How to Web conference in Bucharest

Bogdan Iordache and his team are preparing for the 4th edition of How to Web that will take place in Bucharest on 7th-8th November 2012.The event gathers international participants and speakers, with the main aim to help the South-Eastern European startups develop and innovate. It is a great networking and learning environment as previous editions prove. I am Official Blogger for the conference so more blog posts on it will follow.

4. The preparations to launch The Next Hub in Bucharest (by How to Web organizers)

The organizing team of How to Web is working hard these days to launch a hub for the tech community in Bucharest. The future co-working space and hub is being built based on constant feedback from those interested in it. All help for them in order to launch The Next Hub is welcome.

Jun 10, 2012

Can Europe compete on startup scenes?

Last month at Next Conference in Berlin, I have met  Daniel Fogel, founder of BeeFM - one of the finalist pitching startups - and I had a very interesting discussion with him about Israeli startup scene and how an entrepreneur activating there is seeing the development of Berlin as a startup scene.

He was telling me that Israel is considered to be a "Startup Nation" with an entrepreneurial tradition of more than 20 years encouraged by the Government and by the existence of many great engineering graduates. Therefore, many Israeli startups rise and shine ("At the start of 2009, 63 Israeli companies were listed on Nasdaq, more than those of any other country", according to Wal-Street Journal), especially in the high-tech industry. Many of the local entrepreneurs turned Business Angels and now they help younger people to succeed. VCs also found a great investment potential in the region ("Venture capital investment per capita in Israel is 2.5 times more that in U.S.and 6 times more than in the U.K.", according to Wall-Street Journal). And big high-tech companies run successful R&D departments there.

Daniel, originally from Serbia, found Israel to be a great developed area for an entrepreneurial spirit like him. Besides the advantages mentioned above, he also added the spread of English language, especially since startups there are built to go global, and the low costs of living compared to Western Europe.

Looking now at how Berlin is developing it's startup scene, on the trial to become the number one place in Europe, Daniel feels it is "like Israel 10 years ago", and he adds that Berliner entrepreneurs should, most of all, get the right mindset about entrepreneurship - they should prepare for "an amazing journey with lots of sacrifices, but that might lead to success".

Will we see European startup scenes (most recent bets being on Berlin) taking over Israel, Silicon Valley and others? And if yes, what do they need? Perhaps a peek outside Europe will help, and Israel is a great example.

Jun 7, 2012

Interview with Chris Kowalczyk, organizer of Bitspiration and HardGamma Ventures Partner

Bitspiration – the conference on new technologies, business and startups, with a special focus on Central and Eastern Europe, will take place on June 12th-13th in Krakow, Poland. The event is organized by Chris Kowalczyk, HardGammaVentures Partner,  in order to boost Krakow as an entrepreneurial hub for Central and Eastern Europe. I had the pleasure to interview him and find out what is the current entrepreneurial status in Poland, what are the trends and how is Bitspiration helping the local (Poland, and entire CEE) startup environment. Read below the entire discussion.

Adelina: How is the entrepreneurship scene in Poland evolving lately (local startups, business angels, VCs)?

Chris: Although the market for VC / startups in Poland is still at its early stage of development, we do have funds, which have global companies in their portfolios. In comparison to more developed markets, the majority of Polish investments are made on seed funds-scale and oscillates around more than dozen up to tens thousands Euro. It’s rarely an amount of few millions of Euro. Even so, funds such as HardGamma advise their companies to go global from day one, not stay only on a local market. To keep that in mind is very important.

Adelina: What are the advantages of the area? How open it is to internationalism?

Chris: One of the biggest advantages of Poland in terms of new technologies development is a very high level of education for mathematicians, computer scientists and designers. Our coders are always in the first, second or third place of worldwide championships in group coding. We have technology parks, we organize startup weekends all around the country and numerous incubators where people can share ideas, learn from mentors and develop their products. So Poland already is a great space to gain knowledge and meet people that can help you create new projects. Are we internationally oriented? Yes. You can meet Internet entrepreneurs from Poland at SXSW, LeWeb or NEXT, cities like Krakow where Bitsiration will take place are very international, with offices of big companies like Google, Motorola or IBM. Come to Poland, you’ll see yourself!

Adelina: And how does it influence the European and global scene?

Chris: The first influence of Polish coders that we can notice easily is that our engineers have a great brand all over the world because they are initiative and talented but at the same time they work for less than American coders. For a company that is looking for someone who will come up with a solution, Polish programmer is a great candidate which is why a lot of big players from all around the world are headhunting in our country, setting up its offices here etc. I also think that Poland is mature enough to come up with a project that would be a global success compared to Skype or Soundcloud. .

Adelina: What does it need for further development? 

Chris: I think we still need to educate young entrepreneurs on how to be able to sell their ideas to the world and pitch them to investors and mentors. I work for international incubators like Springboard and very often see Polish and American people pitching their ideas. Usually Polish people have better projects and interesting technical solutions behind them, but these are the Americans who will get the funding, not them. Just because they know how to make a good presentation, they understand the value of networking and they have good business skills. For us this is still a challenge but I  believe we’re getting there.

Adelina: How is Bitspiration planning to help the development of the Polish startup scene (and perhaps Eastern Europe)? What is its competitive advantage?

Chris: If you go to LeWeb in Paris or SXSW in US, you have thousands of people running around and listening to speeches of invited guests. It’s usually very difficult to have an actual conversation
with the speaker – after his appearance he disappears in VIP lounge. We limited the number of tickets to 150 and instead of a big venue, part of the conference will take place in coffee shops in one of Krakow’s most picturesque neighborhoods. That atmosphere gives every participant a unique chance to meet in person a co-founder of Youtube or an investor from Silicon Valley, talk to him and have a real benefit from the conference. Second big difference is the price. For a conference on similar level in Paris, Berlin or Texas you have to pay around 1000 euro. Ticket for Bitspiration is only 500 euro which gives our friends from countries like Lithuania, Ukraine or Estonia a chance to also come and participate. The third difference is that Bitspiration has this Eastern European accent which is very attractive now for investors from USA or Western Europe. We combine experts from CEE with leaders of the industry form USA, London, France or Germany, which makes a unique mix.

(Tickets still available:

May 23, 2012

How to deal with Official Bloggers for conferences

So you organize a conference and you do your best to get as much media coverage as possible. Have you considered Official Bloggers as well? And if yes, do you know how to find them and how to deal with them? This post will give you a few tips & tricks on this, gathered from several occasions when I have been an Official Blogger (and a good example with pictures below).

What are Official Bloggers?

An Official Blogger is a person that is invited to a conference by the organizers in order to publish posts on her/his personal or professional website/ blog related to the conference content. The articles may be published during the conference (live blogging) or afterwards.

Why do you need Official Bloggers?

Even if you are a conference at its first edition or at its 10th edition, Official Bloggers will help you spread the word in new regions or niches or certain tribes. So if you want to expand internationally,  you need bloggers that are popular in their countries and write in their national language. If you target a specific group of people to attend your event, you need bloggers that write on that niche or have a great network among your target group. Even if they might bring immediate results, I would suggest however to have long term communication goals - Official Bloggers prove to be quite useful for conferences that have multiple editions and that grow each year. The number of Official Bloggers you should have also depends on your objectives and the size of the conference you run.

Why would Official Bloggers come to your event?

Some bloggers are quite frequent Official Bloggers at many conferences. They simply love it and/ or find it useful for themselves as well. Some haven't been Official Bloggers at conferences before, but that should not be a barrier for you. They will come if the topic of the conference is in their interest or the content they can create from your conference fits their readers profile.

How to find Official Bloggers?

First of all, define your objectives: where do you want your conference to be known? Which geographical areas, which niches, which tribes? Then you mainly have 3 options (and I recommend to use them all in parallel): use google to find blogs that fit your criteria, read them and contact the ones you like; contact people you already know to make you recommendations of bloggers that fit your criteria; have open applications for Official Bloggers on your platform.

What benefits should you offer to your Official Bloggers?

- free entrance to the conference
- free and good internet connection during the conference (eventually a dedicated area)
- facilitated access to speakers (eventually schedule some meetings for them during the conference)
- an Official Bloggers "angel" (a person they know they can contact for any requirements)
- a Curator (someone hired by you, in charge of communication, that follows blog posts by Official Bloggers and can republish them on the official website)

Nice to have:
- facilitated networking between Official Bloggers (Facebook groups, official list with contacts, pre-parties for them etc)
- accommodation (if you can get a good deal or a partnership with some accommodation providers, would be great)

What should you expect from your Official Bloggers?

I have never seen organizers imposing anything to Official Bloggers. And my advice is: do not impose anything. No minimum number of posts, no time of posting, no length of posting etc. Do not worry about their commitment and professionalism (that, if you chose them well in the first place). Because the conference content is in their own interest, as well as in yours.

Below a few highlights from Next Conference 2012 (Berlin, 8th-9th May) where I have been Official Blogger:

- Before the conference, Official Bloggers were in touch with each other through a very vibrant Facebook Group: "The Next Bloggers". Closer to the event, a contact list was put in place and emails started to flow on different arrangements. This is how me and Guilhem found out our flights land in the same time and how I got a great welcoming at Berlin airport.

- Our first destination was a party dedicated to all the Official Bloggers, organized the night before the event at the office of one of the partners, on a Berlin roof top. Our "angel", Lea, welcomed us and took care of everything. Great for networking, meeting new people or catching up with known ones.  Free bar and chillout music helped as well to create a great atmosphere. 
- Next destination of the night: a great apartment just for Official Bloggers, offered by one of the partners of the event: Airbnb. The representative of airbnb was really nice and provided us with lots of goodies. Being 5 of us from different countries in the same apartment helped again strengthen some bonds. 

- During the two days of the conference, we (Official Bloggers) spread at different tracks, being able to create a huge buzz with tweets and live blogging. Lots of interviews with speakers took place as well (scheduled or adhoc). We were meeting during breaks in the dedicated area, writing or exchanging opinions.

- In the main room of the conference there was also a dedicated area for Official Bloggers: tables, plugs and cable connection (as backup to wireless) - everything a blogger could need during the speeches. Quite an international presence there :)

And don't forget to check The official blogger happiness list for conferences, written by Henriette,  a fellow Official Blogger from Next Conference.

May 21, 2012

Facebook first users were in Ivy League. Where can you start from in Europe?

Ok, so you (tech business) have a target group of users/ consumers. But what is the first pool of people you address to and where do you find them?

A smart first step of Facebook was to address certain tribes of intelligent early adopters, connected between themselves. Mark Zuckerberg started inside Harvard, then expanding to other top universities from Ivy League, then to high-schools and so on. That led to a natural unbeatable growth, incomparable to advertising in vain to everyone (which seems to be facebook target group today).

Another social network, mycube, based in Singapore, created an insanely attractive internship programme before they launched. This way, they got the attention of many bright students all over the world that were trying to secure their place in the programme. It offered the company a great entrance to top universities all over the world and their first users there. Seems quite smart to invest money in attractive internships and to create buzz through the interns, rather than paying for advertisements.

And there are many more examples... do you plan to make your first move?
If you are a tech startup interested in a great first pool of users, students from top universities in Europe, interconnected...then I would like to introduce you to my network: JADE - European Confederation of Junior Enterprises. What can be more of a golden mine for you than a network of early adopters from top 200 universities all over Europe, that are connected among themselves as well and that can use your product for personal or professional use (as they run their Junior Enterprises)? Our first partner in this sense: Podio

Tell us about you and let's find the best partnership opportunities. Contact me or go on the contact page of JADE website. 

May 15, 2012

Time machine - Next Conference, departure from Berlin

2000 founders, investors, marketing and media experts, designers and developers from 28 countries have met last week at Next Conference at Station-Berlin to takeoff on an amazing journey into the future that is already here, but not evenly distributed yet. 

Parallel tracks covered different topics, from how fashion is going digital, to the internet of things and to launch of new tech startups, all connected into one main topic: Post-Digital (how technologies change our life). Are we actually into a Post-Digital era? My conclusion was: not yet (common, for example most were still exchanging paper business cards there), but we are rapidly heading towards it - so if you are an entrepreneur or marketeer: be prepared and think forward!

And here are some take-outs from Next trip into the future that might help you:

- There is still huge business potential for tech startups because there are plenty of things we do in a "traditional" and not digital way. But entrepreneurs should not be driven by technologies, or marketeers by how to persuade people - they should all be driven by usability and solving real problems (sounds simple, but most fail here). Also, keep in mind that even if technologies are here already (and there were many showcased at Next), people have to be ready for them as well. 

- We are getting closer and closer to web 3.0. Having access and being exposed to a huge amount of data, people do not want to search for things anymore. They are willing to feed Big Brother with their personal data and history, so that they get in return systems that can anticipate their needs and give them what they need without even asking/ searching. To put it simple: they want pro-active systems, not reactive. So you might mind that if you are planning to build a new tech business. 

- Corporates become more pro-active with the startup scene as well. If they usually just keep an eye on it in order to buy and incorporate them, now they are giving more support to the startupers. Example: Deutsche Telekom launched at Next Conference an incubator - hubraum, in order to support startups from the beginning. To be incubated by them, you have to have a strong team and proven expertise on the idea you want to pursue, but not an existing product or even business plan yet. 

- The word "control" will not exist anymore in business or marketing language. Consumers are more and more empowered. So you can launch, but then  you should just listen and support them, do not try to control anymore. Which opens opportunities to the Research industry, if they adapt their tools and methodologies.

- Berlin is definitely developing into Europe's new "Silicon Valley". I do remember this trend starting last year at Next Conference, followed by TechCrunch encouraging it even more. There are more and more entrepreneurs here, very well connected, with great facilities and with plenty of media promoting Berlin as the entrepreneurial city. But as long as Berlin's entrepreneurs still go to US to find investors or move there when they grow,  means that it is still much more space for improvement. What I like is that is really up to us to make Berlin a strong entrepreneurial city or not here, in Europe. 

Was great being there and meeting so many remarkable and inspiring people. Now let's see what we will all do today with the inspiration we got from this time travel into the future.

(More details on the content on blog, curated by Adam Tinworth)
(A few more blog posts related to the conference will follow from my side as well - I have plenty of materials :) 

May 14, 2012

Junior Entrepreneurs turned Entrepreneurs [case 1]

There is still a debate if entrepreneurship can be taught or not.

Before giving opinions, I suggest to look at the facts. In my past few years I was a member of JADE - European Confederation of Junior Enterprises - a network that utilizes the concept of learning by doing to develop entrepreneurial mindsets among students. 

Lately, I am bumping more and more often into colleagues from these years that after the Junior Enterprise experience started their own businesses. 

So I decided to spot and highlight them, showcasing how this network can foster entrepreneurship. 

My first showcase: - a startup of two former Junior Entrepreneurs, members of icons, an Austrian Junior Enterprise. I have met them at Next Conference in Berlin last week - they were one of the 10 finalist pitches. They were telling me how they became co-founders after working together in the Junior Enterprise (so this is a great way of testing potential co-founders before starting your business) and how Austrian and German Junior Enterprises help them now spread. So let's wish them success or, even better, let's help them grow.

In the video below you can see what they are doing and especially, how the Junior Enterprise experience and the network helped them get where they are today.

More showcases to be posted here on my blog soon.

Apr 29, 2012

Post-Digital Big Brother

Decades ago, Orwell was publishing a Science Fiction book called "1984", describing a world where "the Party" was permanently tracking what everyone was doing and saying, which seems like a nightmare for us today. "Big Brother is watching you!" is most probably something we would not want to experiment nowadays.

However, with all the emerged technologies and the rise of the app-economy we choose to share our data, our life in every detail. We share our thoughts, we check-in in different places we go to, we share our network of contacts, we upload pictures and videos, we use apps that track our everything... And all the data about us is there, in the clouds, managed by different businesses that gave us the tools to track and share and upload.

We have created a Big Brother with the innocent belief that it is worth it, that what we get out of our data is relevance in a highly crowded informational world (examples: offers available at your location, search results adapted to your search history), is self-management help (examples: calendars, task lists, cycling tracking), and last but not least, is the way to satisfy our belonging and self-esteem needs (examples: sharing pictures with your friends on a social network). Sometimes you hear us concerned about our privacy, but facts show that we do not really care.

So better than talking about privacy, we should talk about Return-Of-Shared-Data - this is the one we actually care about.

After Next Conference edition of last year on the topic of Data Love, this year (Berlin, 8th-9th May 2012) the focus will be on Post-Digital - how all technologies, apps etc (a.k.a. the tools we use to share our data) are impacting our life. Or how we live now in front of the Big Brother we have created.

I will be there as Official Blogger, sharing with you interesting perspectives of speakers and participants. Yes, sharing I said.

(This article is published also on Next Conference website:

Apr 25, 2012

Let's gamify

I am studying lately a lot about gamification, preparing a new startup in HR industry that will use it in order to drive the change in attitudes and behaviors.

When used wisely, gamification can lead us to great improvements of the world we live in and, before I can tell you more about my startup, I would like to share with you these two great speeches as some food for thought:

Jane McGonigal: Gaming can make a better world


Jesse Schell: When games invade real life

Mar 27, 2012

21st Century Nomads

Through all the history of human kind, people were moving from place to place in search of better resources. Although one would say that nowadays we are not nomads anymore, and that we are more settled, I cannot stop noticing a new interesting trend in our lives.

In a globalized economy and with Y generation growing as proportion in workforce:

1 We cannot be tied to just one office, in one fixed location. Therefore co-working spaces emerge - there are more and more of them, and they get more and more connected. (More info here: )

2 Working in different places requires living in different places. Therefore home exchanges emerge - more and more platforms to swap houses temporarily. (Examples:, etc.)

Video interview about co-working with Matti Biskup, Head of Business Development at DeskWanted:

Video interview about co-working with Jean-Yves Huwart, CEO Entreprise Globale and organizer of Co-Working conferences 

Mar 23, 2012

Show me the money

Got to love how people discuss intensively about Google Plus, while missing the point. Is just like in the beginning when Google was seen just as a search engine, while missing to predict the smart turn into the biggest player in the online advertising industry.

In 2010, Google had 44% of global online advertising revenues, and in 2011 it reached 50%, according to ZenithOptimedia's report and Google's financials. Ah, and guess what: in 2010, Facebook only had 3% of global online advertising revenues. And for both, advertising revenues are their main source of incomes.

What we should follow more is Google's intense development into recreating our real world into a virtual world where it can...surprise, surprise...sell virtual reality advertising space. Picture the growth in revenues and their new dominance.

For several years now, Google puts lots of effort into building different kinds of Maps. From Google Earth to Google Indoors, from Amazon Forest to Moon and Mars, from Street View to Ocean etc. And they also have Google Goggles. Smart, huh?

Some months ago there was an interesting article about who owns the advertising space in an augmented reality world that was just starting to raise this very important question, behind which are lots of future revenues. Theoretically everybody can place augmented reality advertising everywhere, but when you build your own virtual world on top of the real one and you are the most used platform, I would say the augmented reality advertising revenues will go into the pockets of the one who made the virtual world - and needless to say Google is far away in this development (and I see it is prepared not only for buildings or streets, but much more). There are patents to be obtained, new legislation to come, still most probably Google will be the winner. Getting better and better at being a great player in the advertising industry.

In the meantime Google is also trying this monetization from maps: charging businesses for maps services. But that is nothing for what is to come.

Also in the meantime Google can play with social networks and other things, that relate more or less to their big hit.

But we keep on talking about Social Networks, while ignoring Maps and other smart moves alike. And then no wonder we end up with so many startups developing social networks and tools for them, driven by the mirage, while failing to inspire them towards true business success in terms of revenues.

Looking forward for the future!