Focusing on something important fundamentally changes the kind of organization you are. It instills a sense of purpose, and makes it easier to ride the daily ups and down of entrepreneurship—because you know you’re surfing the long waves. How do you know what a big bet looks like? And how do you resist the lure of the quick-flip, game-driven startup world? In this opening keynote, Guidewire Group founder and veteran observer of the startup world Chris Shipley looks at what it means to work on something that matters.
by Dave McClure
A Midsummer Night’s Dream had Bottom. King Lear had the Fool. As You Like It had Touchstone. Shakespeare loved his jesters—they told the truth, made everyone feel a little awkward, swore a lot, and ultimately, saw the future. Tech startups have their own jester. He’s called Dave.Like the jesters, Dave’s a famous curmudgeon who doesn’t suffer fools. But beneath this crunchy exterior is a soft-candy inside made from a degree in engineering and math, years of coding and managing at startups like Paypal, and one-on-one involvement with more startups than he can keep track of.For the last few years, as the chief instigator at 500 Startups, Dave’s been travelling the world, putting geeks on planes to the far-flung corners of the planet. He knows that entrepreneurship is universal, In this session, Dave will take us on a tour of startup ecosystems around the world. He’ll open our eyes to the possibilities of the coming years and, in true jester fashion, warn us why the coolest thing we haven’t yet heard of may come from a place we can’t quite pronounce.
by Sean Ellis
Understanding customer feedback and motivation is a powerful way to drive breakthrough ideas for improving product, customer acquisition, conversion and retention rates. This session will teach you to ask the right questions to generate insights for driving success in your startup.
Are the best startup ideas those that come from years of experience ina particular field, making something with which you’re immenselyfamiliar? Or should they come from left field, allowing you to bring anew, and often disruptive, perspective to bear on an industry thatneeds some shaking up? It’s a tough dilemma, forcing you to choosebetween the predictable familiarity of evolution and the bloodshed andtransformation of revolution. In this session, Sendgrid’s IsaacSaldana will discuss getting from the fundamental idea to the earlysteps of execution, drawing on his experience launching and growing three very different startups.
Today’s early-stage companies are obsessed with data. They rely on analytics to understand every facet of their business, optimizing the way they acquire and engage customers, how they spread the word, and how they extract revenue. After all, you can’t improve what you can’t measure. But this obsession with data has a cost. What if you’re optimizing the wrong things? What if you’re already better than the rest of the industry in one dimension, but falling behind in another? How would you know? In this session, Bjoern Herrmann shares his research into thousands of startups. Working closely with entrepreneurial visionaries like Steve Blank, Bjoern and his team have collected and analyzed the key performance indicators of a broad range of startups, and codified this data into a system that understands what “normal” looks like.
by Lisa Gansky
It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. This is the basis of the mesh, an economy where connections and interactions trump ownership. Since the first commerial website—GNN— in 1993, Lisa Gansky has been connecting the world, building the mesh we know today as social networking, on tap mobile apps, and the world wide web. The future of society is sharing, and in this session Lisa walks us through our transition from stuff to experiences.
Today, the app economy seems obvious. It employs over half a million people, and buying small programs for a few pennies has upended the world of software development. Casual games are a big part of that revenue—but until recently, nobody took them seriously. Nobody, that is, until Farmville invaded our desktops and our lives.Farmville showed that casual games could work, at scale, across demographics that traditionally eschewed gaming. And riding that rollercoaster was Zao (Sizhao) Yang, who built Farmville and sold it to Zynga, and has since worked on M&A within the casual gaming giant. In this session, you’ll learn practical advice for how to get acquired, what acquirers are after, and why deals always take longer and are more complicated than you think they’ll be.
by Dan Martell
Motivation trumps knowledge How do you go from nothing to millions in 1 year? Most think it’s know-how, Dan believes it’s motivation. During this talk Dan will share a personal story of one of the top entrepreneurs he’s ever met and how they went from near bankruptcy to millions in revenue in 12 months. The major lessons you will learn from your customers and applying Lean Startup techniques to a non-tech industry. You won’t want to miss this.
by Jon Gosier
Jon Gosier is the founder of metaLayer.com, a drag and drop data science platform that makes the world’s information easier to understand visualize and share. Prior to founding metaLayer, In 2009, Jon Gosier joined “Ushahidi” to lead the SwiftRiver initiative, an open source project which used machines and crowd sourcing to filter information during crisis events. Ushahidi is a website initially developed to map reports of violence in Kenya after the post-election fallout at the beginning of 2008. It quickly became a platform for collecting and filtering information. In this session, Jon gives us an inside glimpse into how data platforms like metaLayer and Ushahidi are changing nations, and how this vision of human and machine collaboration is driving a new generation of tools to cope with today’s information flood.
At Jewish weddings, a Tummeler is hired to encourage everyone to dance. It’s no secret why communities flourish—they’re catalyzed to do so through a combination of engagement and collaboration. In this session Tummelvision founder and Geek Interpreter Deb Schultz, a founding partner, now senior fellow at San Francisco’s Altimeter Group, talks about innovation, communities, and the compelling economics of giving in order to receive.
A Wantrepreneur, is someone who wants to be an entrepreneur. The term implies a big talker, that hasn’t really achieved anything significant and doesn’t really know what they’re doing. But none the less the term does define someone who at least wants to take control of a problem and attempt to solve it. Do we need more wantrepreneurs? Time for a debate.
by Dan Bricklin
Numeracy is a fundamental skill for thriving in an information society. But only a few years ago, tables of figures belonged to accountants and mainframes, not bake sales and community theatres. The personal computer spreadsheet changed all that, giving us a fundamental tool for working with numbers. Dan Bricklin built Visicalc, the killer app for the personal computer. In doing so, he changed forever how the world works with numbers.
by Randy Smerik
If you’re reading this, you’re probably someone who cares deeply about the movement of money. If you’re an entrepreneur, then you probably want that money to move from investors to you. And if you’re an investor, you want that money to grow significantly when (if!) it moves back to you.Well, the world has changed tremendously in the past three years. An investor is no longer just an accredited rich person or venture firm with a huge pool of money. With the advent of crowdfunding, your startup’s cash infusion can come from a large number of “tiny pools of money.” And with this trend, the expectations of investors and entrepreneurs alike have changed profoundly.The US government has added fuel to the crowdfunding fire with the SEC-blessed “Jumpstart Our Business Startups” (JOBS) act that passed in April. In this session, Randy Smerik—a serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and widely sought-after speaker on both sides of the investment table—offers a no-holds-barred look at the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of how crowdfunding really works.
It’s all about the hustle. Startup heavyweight Marc Andreesen says that while he invests in tech companies, he passes on the ones that haven’t figured out how to go to market. In the end, it’s all about the hustle. In this chain reaction panel, a lineup of street-smart entrepreneurs take the stage to interview one another about their startup fun. They’ll share hard-won lessons in scrappy marketing, showing the scars they earned as they grew their companies, street-fighting style.
Entrepreneurs are great at lying to themselves. They can rationalize anything to preserve their most treasured beliefs, right up until the moment they hit the wall at a million miles an hour. There’s only one thing that really matters: do your customers care? If they do, they’ll help you grow and even act as a safety net when you make mistakes. If they don’t, you’re wasting everyone’s time and money. In this blunt, and perhaps uncomfortable, session, Jamie Siminoff shows how to know for sure if your customers give a crap.
Being in the right place at the right time makes all the difference. The rise of the personal computer spelled the end of the fax machine—but not right away. From 1988 to 1995, Delrina’s WinFax dominated the PC fax industry, fundamentally changing the economics of an industry and created a Canadian software company that was sold for over $450m. Mark Skapinker gives us a look at what it’s like to stand astride two huge industries, the fax and the PC, and ride their convergence to fun and profit. Mark will also relate this to current opportunities.
Marketing is a big term that covers lead generation, media relations, content marketing, social media, messaging, sales support and a huge heap of other things. Most startups have a puny budget and few (if any) dedicated marketing folks to get this stuff done. Yet many manage their marketing efforts more like a random to-do list than an integrated program. In this talk we’ll talk about the common pitfalls of disorganized startup marketing execution and outline a lightweight template for creating a marketing plan that makes that most of your limited marketing resources.
In the past year there has been a surge of activity in social fashion and fashion. Retail and online fashion seemed to be stagnant since the first wave of startups led many brick and mortar stores to sell products online. But with the sudden appearance of Pinterest on the scene and the realization that fashion brands are getting more and more socially savvy, the attention has been on the rise of the Fashion:Tech startup. This panel will discuss how fashion brands are using and partnering with startups and revolutionizing retail in new ways as well as bring the VC perspective to Fashion:Tech as an investment.
Howard Lindzon is co-founder and CEO of StockTwits a social network for traders and investors to share real-time ideas and information. StockTwits was recently named one of the top 10 most innovative companies in web by FastCompany and one of the 50 best websites by Time magazine. Howard created Wallstrip, and more than 400 original web video shows, which was purchased by CBS Corp. in 2007. He is an active angel with many success angel investments including: Rent.com, (purchased by Ebay in 2005 for $415 million), Golfnow.com (purchased by Comcast in June 2008), and Lifelock (lead investors include Bessemer Venture Partners and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers). Howard’s new media and internet business investments also include: Limos.com, Blogtalkradio.com, Buddy Media, Ticketfly, Assistly, Bit.ly and Tweetdeck.
In 1998, Microsoft exec John Wood took a vacation to Nepal that changed his life. He left his career to pursue what was then only a vague vision: to set up libraries in the developing world. Years later, Room to Read is a powerhouse non-profit that sets the standard for effectiveness and impact: It’s built over 12,500 libraries and 1,500 schools, and sent more than 13,500 girls to school through its Girls’ Education program. It’s distributed over 10 million books and changed the lives of 6 million children worldwide. In 2006, John wrote about his experiences in Leaving Microsoft to Change the World. Convinced that the world needs more “action-oriented optimists,” he’ll talk about changing his life and changing the planet.
11th–13th July 2012