Should all startups move to Silicon Valley ?

So during the last couple of months the amount of times I’ve heard “we need to be based in the valley” from startups has increased – a lot.

Yesterday I found a blogpost about the “european ecosystem” for startups – I think the article has a lot of great points, but I want to add my own more-action filled 2 cents.

Should all startups move to Silicon Valley ? I don’t want to move there and here’s why: I want to be at my own personal silicon mousehole called Elsinore, Denmark. Because it’s cool here and it’s where my kid goes to school. See, we are possibly 3 companies up here working with the internet. It’s not even Copenhagen. I don’t see a decentralized tech scene as something bad, I see it as something remarkably “glocal” and an opportunity to tell a different story than yet-another-startup-out-of-the-valley. I think what we need to aim at, is the “clusters” in the different cities, making sure that companies within the same field works together to ensure further growth.

We have a technical ecosystem that makes sure that we can work on projects from anywhere in the world with video and cms/crm/project management systems located somewhere on the internet. And basically being based in the same city makes me not prioritize meeting people here, because I could meet them at any time. I think there’s a huge psychological thing attached to geographical locations that isn’t taken into consideration when talking about “the whole tech scene needs to be in the valley” and the “competitive advantages of valley startups”.

So how do I make sure that people in the  tech scene knows about this little blonde tornado (aka. me)?

I often do tours of Europe to be present at the gatherings that are made in and for the european tech scene, it’s important to me because I get a grasp of what’s happening amongst the firstmovers of the internet,  it makes me connect to people, that are easier to connect with here than if they where in the valley. Oh and sometimes I even meet people at a different conference again – and they remember me.

Think about it. If you want to pitch/sell/get to know some hot shot person (maybe the coolest person in the world) it’s probably better to meet him when he’s out of his context, when he’s in Paris or London or Copenhagen for a week and don’t really have anything else to do there than to speak at conferences and attend meetings. If he’s in the valley he’s within his own context and wouldn’t prioritize meeting you as much as he would if he was in Europe and had time on his hands.

So I definitely see that you need to be present physically in the tech scene, you need to meet people where they are (physically as well as on the internet). But I would rather stay put in my small town and fly out to meet the tech scene physically every second month (europe, asia, US ) instead of being present all the time, backing it up with skype calls and tweets and facebook likes and what have you. Get a proactive and strategic approach to the tech community would create so much more for you as a startup than to be present in the valley at all times.

Live from my personal silicon mousehole

What makes an entrepreneur rock ? clearing the unclear path.

Tara is a fantastic femme that I have run into over the last 7 years, both in Europe and in the US. She did a talk for TEDxConcordia a while back about being a startup entrepreneur – a new opportunity for her to conquer, after being one of the coolest and smartest authors and marketers that I have ever met. The talk is entitled “the unclear path” and it made me think hard about my own path as an entrepreneur and as a business owner.

One of the things I personally struggle a lot with, is that I don’t think I do enough as an entrepreneur. There’s not enough hours in the day to have me do everything I want to do. Also the financial insecurity kinda sucks (as fx. now where we have two rents because we haven’t sold our apartment in CPH yet (oh and if anyone is interested in the coolest new yorker apartment 12 km outside of CPH you can see it here and you can buy it from me =) It’s the space where I’ve build Toothless Tiger and written my book so it just oozes with curly  creativity =))

The thing two rents has taught is to not be lazy and to think smarter. So as I see it the unclear path is a freedom to me – and also the path that without a doubt has taught me the most. I feel so rich in experiences and everytime the clients from hell doesn’t pay on time and I want to throw it all away and it doesn’t work out, I think about what a 9-17 job would mean to me and my family and I feel like a caged tiger. And I quickly change my mind again and I’ve realized there’s no way Im going back.

So what makes an entrepreneur rock ? For me it’s both to take the unclear path and make it more and more clear as you go. Getting more and more people in with different expert areas and grow the vision in that way. (ps. I wrote a free ebook a while back called “why every company should be a rockband” – you can get it here)

I’ve teamed up with amazing people. I have some kickass advisors and a fantastic partner in Toothless Tiger who is giving me structure and helping me out driving my dream forward, it’s something I realized I needed a while back because I was driving myself down like the struggling artist I am, thinking “I don’t do enough, and I don’t manage the business well enough” Well I found someone who can manage the business, My business backbone as I call him, and I can focus on my art: the art of marketing, branding and identity.

And YES I see marketing and branding and identity as art. It’s the art of the glorified word “virality” and it’s something that needs constant planning and taking-care-off.

It’s my art and I am an artist who thinks bigger and crazier and more curly than most other people. It’s how I see that I save the world and make it a better place day by day, especially since I only want to work with people who wants to make a difference.

 

Investors + startups = Rockn’roll?

at Geeknrolla it sure was. I attended Geeknrolla in London, which was an amazing and funpacked conference for investors + startups. Seriously I can’t stretch how important it is for you as a startup/investor to be at places like this. Anyway, I personally, made the trip over to Geeknrolla for researching a new project + I always  love to meet startups with fantastic ideas that they have begun to execute and show to people.

So what’s happening out there?

Au contraire to some of the previous startup events I’ve attended, the startups here was kinda scary- in a good way. Meaning they seemed super smart and it seemed like they’ve got their things really well together, like – on speed. That was really awesome to see. Also I loved the “geeknrolla school” where the startups  came back and told the audience what they have been doing in the last year (since they pitched for the first time at geeknrolla). It was so inspiring and all of them had actually done really well.

Both the talks and the panels where all well put together, and I thought a really smart move was to have journalists as moderators – they took their job seriously and it didn’t become a subjective fireside chat between friends, as it sometimes tends to, when the moderator knows the people they’re interviewing already.

If I had to point to one thing that I really think was something that could be worked more on, then it was the demo area: it broke my heart to see the startups out there, most of them having 2 banners and a laptop only and just wanted to pitch their startup when you started to talk to them. That’s cool and all, but there could be so much more done, But I think crazy and curly like that. If I had a startup then I would do anything I possibly could to OWN the demo-area. bring out the homemade cupcakes and the champagne. Make me feel super special visiting you “booth” and make it into your own space.

Im kinda buzzin’ back home in Elsinore, because I really get so much energy from startup events. Geeknrolla, with it’s edgy, informality and something I would call “the Mike Butcher spirit” is up there at the very top (and hereby also added to my personal conference guide=)

This rockn’roll chick is pleased.

rock on

Support your “local” startup scene

Right now I am sitting on the train, on my way to London and GeekNrolla – an event I also wanted to go to last year, simply because of it’s name (but also because of it’s amazing lineup + the people coming there). Tomorrow is going to be a whole day filled with startups, and who knows, maybe sometime in the near future I will do my own ? The coolest thing about being around startups is that they glow and buzz and are normally living a risky life because of a pursuit of an idea they had a some point, that they decided to bring to life.

Startups is where action begins. Because of a decision to try things out and start building something that’s needed in the eyes of the team. Startups (and SME’s) are  my favorite clients because they tend to build an organisation where all the hierarchical layers aren’t there, and it means that the route from thought to action is minimal.

You actually get to execute things with a huge impact in no time – compared to larger companies where sometimes the outcome becomes something else than what you intended simply because of the layers and the opinions of all of the people in the company. Startups in my opinion is the coolest thing around.
But they can’t do it without the support of the community – and that’s where you come in, I do my best to support the startup scene, by writing about them, by talking to them, and give them my curly-haired outsiderish views on things.
I think you should do the same. why ?
– Because it’s really valuable for them to know that you’ve got their back
– It’s really valuable for you to be inspired by their often action-packed and mad schedule for world dominion
– they’re normally the coolest and quirkiest people to be around
I encourage you to find 5 or 10 startups that you really like and start to follow them around on twitter and give them some facebooklove by “like”-ing them. Also it’s super cool if you get in contact and tell them that you love what they do. I think they need to hear from all of the internet that we love how they change our perspectives and open our minds.
Just a small suggestion from here =)

The woman with the evil plans

I get a lot of ideas – some of them are really huge, some of them too huge and some of them are put into a context that I can carry out on a daily basis – and still have a huge perspective. I thought I would write a blogpost about how I make my evil plans. From HUGE to tiny worldchanging actions.

The first thing you need to do, is to know what your HUGE evil plan is.

I like to say I have several.  Actually I have one for everything I do, and they are all attached to my driving forces in life: epic, unusual, creativity and action. Really when it comes down to it I just want to die at 120 years old and know that I made a huge difference in the world. That I mattered, and that I’ve created a legacy that my family is going to be proud of.  I strive everyday to be the change I want to see in the world. But I want to make a lot of money and have a ton of fun doing that as well.

To make that happen I need other plans – such as business plans.

I find inspiration in other fields of work than my own for my business plans. I find inspiration in large companies and software in general, and I find inspiration in NGO’s and cold canvas sales. I mostly find inspiration in what it is they should do, and aren’t doing, and I tend to tell them as well.

Then I find inspiration in my darling network and especially with my advisors. I pay a lot of money for advice and inspiration, and I value it so much more than I pay.
I find so much inspiration in music, art, nature and health.

And I find inspiration in unusual business books.  One of the ones I refer a lot of people to is Marina Hjørdies “the visual businessplan/den visuelle forretningsplan” (only in danish so far, but hey, you get to brush up on your danish as well =)”

I love the “business model generation” book and I could cry myself to sleep at night, thinking about the fact that we didn’t have that book when I went to school, I would have loved it because it literally makes business models into a game =)

To make business plans happen, I need my action plans.

I think a lot in flows. I like to ask questions. A question I get a lot is “how do we turn this viral?”  The answer to that is that we create great content that our target group actually adores, and make sure that they love us as well. It’s that simple (and yet very complex at the same time). I mean we could make the best content but if the target group is wrong there’s not a thing in the world we can do to to make it viral. It’s not gonna happen. So we turn things viral with more questions and answers to more evil plans.

To make my action plans happen I need to take action.

It kind of make sense right ? But I love to see my actions as creations. I love to see my work as art and change. If I am creating art and change instead of business, I’m more inclined to do so. Here’s a secret for you: I get so turned off by boring things. If I think a thing is boring, there’s not anything in the world you can do to make me prioritize it. I think business per se, is really boring. However I think that business unusual and how I make my living is crazy cool and fantastic – and it’s still business – but not business as-we-know-it. It’s Henriette-business because it’s defined by me, and it is me who decides if it works for me or not.

To take action I need my lists and my structures.

I need my to-do lists and my timer to take action. I set the timer on a half an hour or something and then I work work work until it rings, take a break and then over again. I need structure in form of people telling me what to do, or timers, otherwise I end up not prioritizing what’s urgent or important, but what’s fun (sometimes I’m lucky that it’s both urgent, important and fun=)

And that’s the evil plans of Henriette Weber. What’s yours ?

 

My takeaways from Copenhagen Startup Weekend

Picture by Jeppe Liisberg

I used half my saturday mentoring Copenhagen Startup Weekend.  It was crazy cool and left me floatin’ on a creativity trip, just from spending around 5 hours at the venue, together with the teams and the organizers. I can imagine how much inspiration the team members have gotten from a weekend filled with executing ideas. Anyway I got to mentor 5 ideas and the concept behind all of them was great.  I’m hoping that they all would be executed well and be some of the cool startups of tomorrow – like some startups emerged from last year (cough Memolane and Planely cough).  So this was where I saw that the teams I mentored where heading.

Using “online” to create convenient offline services

Actually, when I think of it, most of the teams weren’t doing communities on the internet or social websites, they where using online connections to create convenience in the real world. The talk was more on apps, RFID tags and censors then on “building the next facebook for xx”. I was happy because I’ve gotten a bit put off lately by the amount of web services that saw themselves as the next facebook (or facebook for businesses).

The idea was all about the end-users

No matter if it was a business-to-business or a business-to-consumer idea, it was all about the end-users. Involving them in ways that could make you collect data from them, and create a win-win situation for you (smarter companies) and for them (more relevancy and substance in the interactions with the companies).

Most of the ideas were built on visions of making the world a better place

Again it was about convenience but the drive came mostly for making the world fitter and happier.  I love when it’s not all about the money – I mean, money is fantastic, but the love I have for people who want to change the world is enormous.

I left Startup Weekend confirmed in my own hunches for the future, inspired and filled with enthusiasm for the teams – I’m sure they will do extremely well.

 

 

The scandinavian “female entrepreneurs who do startups” list

So a couple of days ago, Fast Company launched a “25 women-run startups to watch” list. Today I am advisoring the Copenhagen Startup Weekend teams – so this is the weekend of startups for me.  Anyway the Fast Company article had two awesome women in it, that I’ve had the chance to meet and fall a little bit in love with, Tara and Wendy who rocks. But I think we should have a scandinavian list as well. Seen from my perspective, it’s a great way of giving out information about what ladies are in the startup scene up here. I have defined the ladies on the list as people who are running startups themselves, and not agencies, blogs or consultants, but startups as in convenience and services for the public.

Now, I know the list could be better, I hope that there are more ladies in startups in Scandinavia, that I just don’t know about. SO : If there’s anyone you think is missing on the list – please let me know in the comments – I personally think that there could be so many more ladies on the list. Im totally missing some startups from Norway. Anyway have a look at it – and let’s see if we can build this out more – together.

Here’s my list, most of the ladies on are people I’ve been introduced to, met or who I see regularly, they are truely an inspiration to be around:

 

Heidi Harman founder RunAlong and co-founder of Geek Girl Meetup. Runalong is a female health community focusing on group runs or walks. Geek girl Meetup is an un-conference for Geek Girls taking place so far in Stockholm, Göteborg, Øresund and Copenhagen.

Anna Oscarsson is founder of  Kvittar – a startup with the purposeful and convinient aim of making all the receipts of Sweden index’ed and searchable.

Ulla-maaria Engeström founder of thinglink a startup aiming to turn photos into a surface for advertising, commerce, entertainment, search and social connection

 

Tine Thygesen is CEO of 23 video – a company that helps individuals do visual sharing. She’s also the former CEO of Venture Cup in Denmark.

Annika Lidne is the founder of Disruptive Media – a company that helps people to understand the revolution within digital media.

 

Maija Itkonen is the CEO of Powerkiss a company that does wirefree charging through surfaces and furniture.

 

Camilla Ley Valentin Partner in Queue-it – a virtual queue system that prevents website crashes during user peaks.


Natasha Friis Saxberg of Gignal – presenting your event online.

 

 

Mette Lykke, co-founder of endomondo a community based on free gps tracking on sports.

 

Malin Str̦man Рformer VP of Stardoll a game and fashion community for girls.

 

Silje Vallestad founder of Bipper – a safe mobile tool for your kids

 

Tina Aspaila founder of Eat.fi – a finnish national restaurant search and review site

 

Tuula Antola founder of Kaipaus – a company that makes beautiful scent dispensers – jewelry like.

 

 

 

 

Can there be a storyliving web without lotteries ?

definition of storyliving by Henriette Weber

I don’t really like lotteries. I think they are incredibly mainstream, and I don’t do mainstream very well. I do Storyliving very well indeed. But:

I constantly deal with lotteries in social media, because it looks like it has become the commodity on the internet; that it is the way to involve people on the social web: lotteries.

Giving people cake as Marie Antoinette would have put it.

I’m biased as I write this, because I know that a lot of companies out there are trying to grasp the social web and social media and win over more and more people to like them, involve them, engage them, follow them around like puppy dogs, digging what they do, making them into a cool company and brand.

But my idealistic, outsider-ish self says that it becomes too much of a commodity for the public to sell their personal facebook identity to win a lottery on a brand page I mean you are giving these companies permission to be right in your center of attention: the newsfeed! My point is not the lottery in itself. Heck sometimes I, myself even enter and win stuff (and I’m happy when I do!). My point is that;

1. It’s filling up my newsfeed on facebook. I mean I evangelize that with the social web you have a hands-on tool to save the world for the better, and you decide to earn your own fame instead, by doing lotteries? What happened to storyliving ? aka. When you, in addition to telling the story (storytelling), document it on the social web?

2. It’s filling up my rss reader – the place I turn to daily to get my ladies magazine kick and getting to know what smart people think about business.

2. Lotteries are so widely succesful that it is the ONLY thing that a lot of companies do on facebook to involve people. You can WIN! Wow. I want to be a winner! It reminds me of all those times where I have sat in agency meetings talking about a new concept and the finishing touch to that concept often becomes: “let’s  get some celebrities to endorse this”. People will identify themselves with the celebs and we sell, sell, sell. I really hate those concepts.

BUT: I am willing to cut you some slack people. I am willing to accept that you need to do this in order to get more people involved in what you’re doing, on one condition:

that you also start doing something else: Storyliving

 

Here’s some advice for what I would do if I was you (in addition to the lotteries):

Find 3 things in the soul of the company. Communicate them. Storylive them and get people to see that you’re not just a lottery company, you do cool stuff as well.

– Practice strategic creativity. Don’t just put up stuff on the internet that are going to get you facebook likes and followers and stuff, because it’s cool. Define how the creativity is going to bring in the dough. What is the strategic flow of your actions on the social web?

You may say I’m a dreamer I’m madly in love with companies that dare to tell the world what they dream about for the future. I get euforic when I see that they are working towards it in a targeted way. Have you told the people around you (aka. your peers) today what you dream of, why they should give you the money instead of the competition, Because you’re sassy, cool and you dream and act big, not just for the sake of the company you work for, but for the whole world.

I look forward to see how you’re storyliving out there.. =)

 

The complete creativity 100 – 3: What doesn’t work in one context – might work in another.

This is the 3rd article out of 100 about creativity – you can see the total list here (3 years old).
As you might know, i decided to elaborate on the oneliners in the list- and here goes number 3:

“What doesn’t work in one context – might work in another. Test your options”

Context is one of the most important things, to whether or not your thoughts are looked upon as creative, or not. Context to me, can both be on a personal, a micro level (such as surroundings) or a macro level (culture, countries, regions etc).

I wrote in my Klout and PeerIndex article a couple of days ago,  that one of the things that bothered me about Klout and PeerIndex was that it seems like they both measured your influence (or your index with your peers) without context, or without naming in what context it’s given.

It could be that your klout score is huge within one context, but not so huge in another. Context is super important, because it gives us definition, especially because of the culture we’re in. Now if we switched a part of the context (or we changed the culture). The “score” might be different.

I guess it’s because perception is so different – not only from person to person but also from culture to culture. So if something doesn’t work in one context, I think one of the things you can do, is to find another context to show it in. I think it’s one of the cores of creativity, that it’s never constant and that it’s continuously changing because the context is different.

So if something doesn’t work in one context, try another, on a smaller or larger scale.

The complete creativity 100 – 2: creativity means choices of inclusion and exclusion

One of the most fantastic books I’ve ever read, was “Story” by Robert Mckee. It was a book I read as a part of my  media studies at Copenhagen University. One my key takeaways from “Story” was that creativity, to dear Robert, was choices of inclusion and exclusion.

Some of you already knows that I am a sucker for reusing stuff and think that this approach to creativity is about copy and pasting bits and pieces from the old and put it into new shapes and boxes. I had a teacher at commerce college who insisted that everything that needed to be created, was already created. I beg to differ, but he has a good point, and I think it’s absolutely impossible to create something from scratch nowadays. There’s so many other roles you can take, there’s so much information and inspiration. But the strategic approach of choices of inclusion and exclusion is something I really digg. And something I think it’s needed for people who doesn’t see themselves as creative people.

It’s simple: Include + Exclude = Creativity