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Monthly Archives: September 2011

Arctic15… check!

15 startups – 10 minutes on stage – 1 (actually 2) winner(s)

Graduateland takes home the Public Prize, based on online votes by the audience (and whatever external networks that could be leveraged). BOOMSHAKALAKA!

Our Business Development Intern, Filip, shows how real networking is done.

Wednesday
Alright, we’ll start at the beginning. We landed in Helsinki Wednesday. We were on the same flight at Martin Ferro from Conferize (also co-founder of Issuu.com) who we actually ended up spending a lot of time with. But wait, who’s we? Since the Graduateland team had other engagements back in Copenhagen, we had needed to split up, and I had invited our Business Development Inten, Filip, along on the trip. He turned out to be a great help, and was a great networker on our behalf. We’re currently competing on who gets most LinkedIn connections.

There was some networking event Wednesday night, called Nordic Meetup. Always good to have others take charge in planning stuff, which you can just tag along to. The buzz was truly entrepreneurial, taking me back to our trip to Silicon Valley. Everybody was talking to everybody, pitching their ideas, challenging the others’ business concepts, exchanging freshly printed business cards and drinking beer. We got to know a Latvian startup called SunyRide, who we ended up bumping into during our stay in Finland, but more of that later.

Also, many of the startups, that had not qualified to the final event were at the bar, however mostly the Finnish teams.

Thursday
The Arctic15 event was hosted by ArcticStartup and located at a conference center just outside of Helsinki downtown. We were 15 startups from the area (Scandinavia, Baltic countries etc.) and everybody would have 10 minutes on stage, in order to convince the four-member jury that they were the most potential startup of the year.

On stage at Arctic15

Pitching on stage at Arctic15

The startups were divided into three batches, which were spread across the event program. Graduateland was in the last batch, meaning that I had to pitch as one of the last. This of course resulted in a much longer period in which I could sit and go though my pitch in my head, however also a much longer period to be anxious. Thirdly, the time to be approached by interested investors was much shorter, as the event finished shortly after the Graduateland presentation.

Anyways, there were some cool businesses on stage, many that seemed that they had potential to become big. However, I found it difficult to concentrate as I was focusing on what I was going to say myself. Of all the pitches there was only one female on stage… where are all the girls? Maybe they are spending their time at university, because it doesn’t seem as if they are out establishing businesses.

As with any tech conference, you need keynote speakers, and Arctic15 was not short of these. We heard the co-founder of Reddit and Hipmunk, Steve Huffman, Felix Smith from Getamen.com, Jens Begeman from wooga.com, Patric Blixt of Rebtel, Richard White of Uservoice.com and others.

The jury’s choice was the Swedish startup, Mancx. Congrats, guys. I hope your vision of paid knowledge sharing pans out.

Throughout the conference people had the option of voting for their favourite startup. Interestingly, many votes were cast much before the startups had even been on stage, our own included. Insane Facebook sharing will forever ruin online votes.
This was the prize we won – The Audience Price – along with €5.000 in adverting on ArcticStartup’s website. Looking forward to come up with a strategy of how to execute it.

The winners were announced at an event in Helsinki later that night, once again while business cards and drink tickets were flying through the air.

The SunyRide team - Kristaps & Sandis, with Filip in the middle

Friday
Last day in Helsinki, and second day in a row where we had to get up way too early, considering our ‘socializing’ the previous night. Off to meet some investors, who had shown interest in our company. However, it turned out to be pretty lame, as the investors didn’t even know what we did, and had just signed up to meet the odd money-hungry startups, that they could act superior to. I don’t have high expectations of what these meeting will lead to.

We met the guys from SunyRide again, and they had apparently participated in a Finnish incubator in the Espoo area during the summer, so they knew the area, and we keen to show us around, and introduce us to the entrepreneurial society. We met with the people at Aalto Ventures Garage, the Aalto University’s incubator program, which seems very cool.

The SunyRide boys also introduced us to a startup, they had met during their stay in June. They were building an iPad based information engine that provides information based on your preferences and on your network. We got a quick demonstration of the product, which will be launched sometime in the future. Keep an eye on Futureful.

Afterwards, straight to the airport, home, out for drinks.

 
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Posted by on 25 September, 2011 in Entrepreneurship

 

Time is money. Manage it effectively.

Living in the 21st century opens up (almost) endless possibilities. To work, study, travel, socialize… and procrastinate in the meantime. Our generation can enjoy a huge amount of leisure time thanks to labour-saving devices like dishwashers. (True story!) And yet, not everybody is able to manage this ‘free’ time, not everybody can live his/her life to the full and stay productive. What has happened to us?

Television happened. Addictive on-line gaming happened. Clubs and leisure parks happened. Advertising and colourful distractions happened. As a consequence, we find ourselves clueless as to how to fit work, studying (optional), social life and sleep into the 24 hour-day. We end up stressed, complaining about how much snowed under we are, frustrated and unhappy – although having all that fancy stuff we see on TV which “guarantees” being “cool and happy”.

The thing we need to learn is effective time management. Checking Facebook cannot take more than ten minutes (the “fun” is actually to be found here), complaining about a boss should be kept to minimum anyway (to be quite honest, nobody cares that your boss thinks you shirk your work – (s)he might actually be right), and not sleeping is not an option (yes, not even for IB students).

Fortunately, there is an easy way out of this modern hysteria. Being organized is not a matter of talent, but rather a matter of determination and self-discipline. Let’s have a look at 10 “golden” rules for managing your time effectively.

1. Keep a diary/an organizer. It can be a Google calendar, an easy organizer on your mobile phone or even the old-fashioned (?) paper diary. Keep track of things you need to do (and when is the deadline). You are never going to forget an important meeting again!

2. Plan. The usual deadlines do not work – make your own deadlines (and make sure that they fly by before the actual deadlines). This will urge you to do work sooner than the evening before THE deadline which means that a) you will have some time to check your work and b) if something unexpected goes wrong, you do not have to come up with an excuse because there will be some extra time to do the given assignment.

3. Prioritize. You cannot reasonably do EVERYTHING and do it NOW. If one project is due later than another, it is not a priority at the moment. Especially when a nervous boss/teacher expected you to hand something else in more a week ago.

4. Focus. E.g. – one thing at a time. Do not expect that you will be able to multitask all day long. Do not reply to e-mails while calling a customer while signing a form while planning your dinner. Not only that you will probably forget a vital part of the recipe and your evening with your significant other will be a culinary disaster, but your work productivity suffers as well.

5. Take regular breaks. If you work for 12 hours straight, that’s workaholism. (Get help.)

6. Delegate responsibilities. You are not a super(wo)man, deal with it. You cannot answer 100 e-mails, write a 30-page report on a new product and attend an international conference in one day (and remain sane). And an insane worker is not particularly productive.

7. Ask for help early enough. If you are failing behind, do not pretend the problem does not exist. There is probably someone who can offer a helping hand.

8. Tick “done”. Not only that it makes you feel good when you see your everyday progress, but it also makes it easier to follow what remains to be done.

9. All work and no play make you a dull… Which is not to say you should get wasted the night before an important meeting or exam (only college freshers do that, right?).

10. “Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy wealthy and wise.” (Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard´s Almanack) Seriously, get up 30 minutes earlier. You would be surprised how much extra work you will do each week.

…That wasn´t difficult, was it? Has it helped? Please comment and share your thoughts on this.

 
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Posted by on 23 September, 2011 in Random

 

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Start a business – 15 ECTS

We just had an election, which resulted in a new government. This new combination of political parties has a more left-oriented way of managing the organisation called Denmark, and it becomes interesting to see how this circus turns out.

Since Denmark has surpassed the magical 50% of voters, who are not part of the working force, too much of the political debate revolved around care taking of elders and the weak. Which ever party that could satisfy the needs of these large demographic segments would obviously win the election.

Another important topic was economic growth. Everybody had plans, but all on macro level – speed up public investements, work more, pay more taxes, sell you houses etc. Only Liberal Alliance tried to concretise the tools, with which we can encouraging people to start up businesses. Businesses that subsequently pay taxes (in this way contributing to the public sector), hire people (thus decreasing unemployment), and export products and services (thus improving our balance of payments).

Anyway, encouraging startups is also the goal of the organisation, Gate to Create. All Danish universities have their own student run organisation, which try to strengthen the local entrepreneurial environment, and Gate to Create is the umbralla organisation on top. I am currently, writing some blog posts for these guys (obviously it’s called PR Manager on my LinkedIn profile), and we just published the first post.

I write about how universities solely prepare students for a career in corporate life. When you go one of the recurring career events, only the huge MNC’s have booths, thus the perception is that your career opportunities are limited down these corporate paths. Where are the booths with the small startups? They are too busy working, and don’t have time to fill you with bullshit and m&m’s. Read the blog here (it’s in Danish, though).

I argue that the introduction of the option of starting your own business is something that should be more integrated in higher education and the university environment on a more holistic level – especially in a business school! This is one very concrete proposition, which guarenteed will create economic growth in the future. But as long as there are so many people, who claim the right to be nursed by the state, we spend all money, time and energy on tending to the symptoms, and neglect curing the root of the decease.

A friend of mine studies at Roskilde University (RUC), and just won some innovation award, as well as a substantial money prize. However, he later admitted that he was the only one who’d entered the competition. Aparently there’s not much innovation out there. Even though, congratulations Malthe!

 
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Posted by on 17 September, 2011 in Education, Entrepreneurship

 

The college interview – survival of the fittest?

When applying to college, writing a motivation letter or a personal statement is usually the easier part. You can usually consult your friends, teachers or other applicants and gradually improve the final document that you will hand in. However, the paradise ends at the very moment you get invited for an interview (presumably at a highly competitive university you really care about). Now it is going to be your turn to show what you are really worth.

Let´s assume that you have already a) prepared for the interview and know what is expected of you, b) managed to reach your desired destination, and c) are now about to go to the interview. Is there anything you can do ten minutes before you are offered a 15 – minute chance to make an impression? Are there any simple tricks that can make you less likely to fail? Fortunately, the answer is yes. Let´s look at some of them:

1. Be on time. Nothing worsens your prospects to get a place than a late arrival for the interview with a feeble excuse (I needed to call my mom, I was watching Battlestar Galactica, I ate too many muffins at breakfast and thus was sick… you name it).

2. Dress up. Not only that a suit or a (long!) formal skirt look more professional, but they also make you feel more professional (and hence more confident) than – for example – if you wore your favourite “Go, go Power Rangers!“ T-shirt.

3. Have a pen and a scrap of paper in your pocket. You never know what you will need to write down. Warning: NEVER play with a pen when answering questions (or any other object, for that matter) – you will look more nervous than you probably are.

4. Do what you have to do. If you know you need to calm down with your favourite song and breakdance, do it. If you know that tons of chocolate work for you, go for it. If you are certain that you are going to vomit, try to do so before, not during the interview. Seriously.

5. Don´t get freaked out by other applicants. Just because that young gentleman ran away from the interview in tears doesn´t mean that you have just seen your inescapable destiny. And even if you felt the need to burst into tears during the interview, please – save it for later. Big girls don´t cry – not to mention big boys. Right?

6. Be yourself. Be enthusiastic about the things you do, show them that you are “more than a test score“. Have you won a maths competition? That doesn´t make you a nerd, that makes you special. In a good way. Remember that.

7. “When you are nervous, stop being nervous and start being awesome instead.“ Honestly, this one works like magic. 🙂

Surviving a college interview is tough. Having a good feeling about your performance is probably even more difficult – but that does not mean that you should not give it a try. However, there is one thing you should always keep in mind: They wouldn´t have invited you if they hadn´t seriously considered offering you a place.

Good luck!

 
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Posted by on 13 September, 2011 in Education

 

Myth uncovered: The ultimate college conundrum

“Welcome to college. Good grades, social life, enough sleep. Pick two.“ An urban legend that is spreading like wildfire among college freshmen and haunting them at night. If only they noticed the sophomores´ chuckles as they plan the next party, if only they knew that all the three pieces of a college puzzle can go together.

At first college may seem rather like Mission: Impossible due to many factors such as new responsibilities, a huge amount of workload, a (seemingly) illogical schedule or a statistics professor who apparently does not speak any human language. Being stressed and insomniac becomes acceptable,sleeping less and having all exercises done becomes even a matter of personal prestige and social status. “You can sleep when you are dead” is always a handy condescending response.

Fortunately, just as Mr. Stein might put it: “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.“ This might sound trivial, yet it usually takes many weeks until the freshmen realize the underlying wisdom that they can sometimes have their cake and eat it too. Before they do, their (cirrhotic) livers stand a chance of regeneration.

Since time just flies (especially before the first mid-term exams), basic human needs slowly induce the students to learn to plan their studies as well as fit a late-night party and afternoon sleep between two lectures and one tutorial. What as first looked like defying laws of physics (provided that you did not have Hermione´s time-turner) became sweet college reality.

As a matter of fact, successful students who do “have a life” need to stick to only three simple rules:

1. No Facebook*. At least not before exams or homework deadlines. Right?

2.  Sadly, lectures are not a good substitute for a good night´s sleep. Correct, not even History of philosophy, no matter how boring it may be. Having good notes saves valuable time when cramming (let´s face it, nobody studies much in advance) for an exam.

3. If housework takes up a large percentage of your free time, you are probably doing something wrong. Quick tips:

  • Do not iron everything. Your mother won´t check.
  • Delegate work. (Which might be problematic if you live on your own.)
  • Multitask (even if you are male). Sweep the floor while cooking – or simply do not sit in front of a washing machine… (video – 6:30)
  • Don´t be a perfectionist. It eats up time and the (visible) benefit is close to zero.

Your professor who – for the millionth time – moans “It´s the graphs, stupid!“ actually has a point: It´s the planning, procrastinator!

*Applies to Twitter, gaming sites or anything else which is irrelevant for the studies. Which means that this rule does not apply – for example – for this video (if you study economics):

 
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Posted by on 2 September, 2011 in Random

 

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