Most startup entrepreneurs, investors and incubators will tell you that two founders are better than one. What they won't tell you is two founders are more likely to try to kill each other - or at least kill their startup. Co-founder disasters are a bit of an industry taboo. We never hear about most of them. Many great entrepreneurs have had to sacrifice a beloved startup to learn valuable life lessons about working with partners. This panel brings together four entrepreneurs who lost their prior startups to infighting but survived to tell their tales in the hope that you can avoid some of their mistakes.
by Lyn Graft
Storytelling is one of the most powerful forms of communication you have as an entrepreneur to assist you in starting a company, recruiting employees, raising capital, securing clients and getting press. Stories are universal and almost 100% relatable to people from all walks of life enabling the entrepreneur to inspire and catalyze an audience. Stories also help us structure meaning around complex situations and enable entrepreneurs to make the intangible tangible. Drawing from the experience gained from filming over 300 entrepreneurs, this panel is designed to share thoughts and examples on why and how storytelling should be weaved into your startup, launch and growth activities. Key points covered: Speaking from the heart and connecting emotionally with your audience; Crafting a memorable story and creating champions to share your story; making sure your baby is not ugly and stands apart from the crowd; and telling people why we do and what we do. Specific examples and techniques for digital storytelling will be shown and explained
by Eric Ries
The Lean Startup debuted at #2 on the New York Times bestseller list. This talk draws on stories and insights from the book, explaining the new science of entrepreneurship. Most startups fail. But many of those failures are preventable. The Lean Startup is a new approach being adopted across the globe, changing the way companies are built and new products are launched. Eric Ries defines a startup as an organization dedicated to creating something new under conditions of extreme uncertainty. This is just as true for one person in a garage or a group of seasoned professionals in a Fortune 500 boardroom. What they have in common is a mission to penetrate that fog of uncertainty to discover a successful path to a sustainable business. The Lean Startup approach fosters companies that are both more capital efficient and that leverage human creativity more effectively. Inspired by lessons from lean manufacturing, it relies on “validated learning,” rapid scientific experimentation, as well as a number of counterintuitive practices that shorten product development cycles, measure actual progress without resorting to vanity metrics, and learn what customers really want. It enables a company to shift directions with agility, altering plans inch by inch, minute by minute.
A surprisingly high percentage of entrepreneurs derail their startups because they fall in love with their idea. Emotional attachment to an idea leads to premature scaling and a number of other dangers. But, passion is a sacred topic among founders, who are often just as passionate about their passion as about their startups. Too often, we entrepreneurs equate rigorous scrutiny of our ideas with “negative thinking.” In this workshop we will transcend the false dichotomy between "positive" and "negative" thinking, and explore how entrepreneurial passion can bring danger along with its obvious benefits. Drawing on the latest psychological and business research, we will show how to scrutinize and strengthen your startup idea in a way that deepens your passion and confidence, and elevates your odds of success.
With easy access to new technologies, resources, and ideas, more and more startups outside the Valley and the Alley are finding early success in places like Kansas City, Missouri and Des Moines, Iowa.Having assisted or launched several startups outside the traditional ecosystems, Dwolla’s Ben Milne and Zaarly’s Bo Fishback will discuss the role that the Internet has had in leveling the playing field for the builders of the 21st century. Moderated by Big Omaha and Silicon Prairie News founder, Jeff Slobotski, the candid conversation will provide audiences an unfettered, behind-the-scenes look at how one region is overcoming the odds and cultivating an entirely new kind of startup manifesto."
In June 2011, Vivek Wadhwa wrote that we need a black Mark Zuckerberg. But, what about Markia? Is it hard to imagine that the next big thing could come from a Black woman living in an urban environment instead of one of Indian or Asian descent? What about a woman with Spanish as her first language? Where are the Black, Latino, and female Mark Zuckerbergs? There are plenty of underrepresented minorities and women who have achieved success in the tech field, but not to the level of a Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs. It is a mission impossible or more like improbable?This is not a session that will re-hash and re-frame this familiar problem. This session will present out-of-the-box-thinking solutions to address the issue of diversity head on. It will also present challenges to and action items for attendees that will help to move the needle forward to truly increase diversity in the tech community.
Entrepreneurs often look their own backyard for the right customers and business partnerships to launch their businesses- yet many times, the best opportunity for sales or collaboration are with business people in other countries. Kevin Koym, Founding Partner of Tech Ranch Austin, and Leonardo Maldonado, Founder of Region Fertil in Antofagasta, Chile, understand this well, for both have supported the teaming together of entrepreneurs in the US, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Honduras, and Panama. Kevin and Leonardo will share their approach giving economic development focused community leaders and entrepreneurs a chance to build a framework for success to get ventures off the ground faster and take them further than they ever could on their own.
During this session, Steve Case, one of America’s most iconic entrepreneurs, and Tim O’Shaughnessy, CEO and co-founder of LivingSocial, will explore the role entrepreneurship plays in launching some of the world’s fastest growing businesses. As LivingSocial’s first investor, Steve (and his investment firm, Revolution) was one of the earliest believers in the transformative power of local commerce. Tim will share his experience working with early investors and building one of today’s most promising new companies, as well as his vision for how LivingSocial is poised to bring local commerce to a new level. And looking more broadly, Steve will talk about his efforts to support entrepreneurs through his investments at Revolution, as chair of the Startup America Partnership and a member of the President’, and what we can all do to tap into “America’s secret sauce” to ensure that the US continues to be a leader in innovation and growth.
by Drew Houston
Drew Houston, CEO and Co-Founder of Dropbox, has led Dropbox's growth from a simple idea to a service millions around the world rely on – a modern day Network Effect. From the classic example of the telephone to today’s social networks, every so often a new medium grows from obscurity to ubiquity because the more people that use it, the more enticing it becomes. That nearly 60% of adults online own at least two Internet connected devices not only increases the capacity of sharing but creates a need for it. In this session, Drew will sit down with a well-known tech influencer to discuss how to take a need in the market and turn it into a service so fundamental to people’s everyday lives, that it encourages them to recommend and share it with everyone.
Ginger Rogers may have said it, but today's female entrepreneurs are proving it. Right now, women are starting and leading new and innovative companies at an unprecedented rate. From e-commerce to healthcare to Internet infrastructure, women are breaking new ground across all industries these days. But, why now? What are today's female entrepreneurs doing differently to build sustainable businesses and get the attention and credit they deserve? What unique struggles do they still contend with and what advice can they share with tomorrow's generation of female leaders? These questions and more will be addressed in this entertaining panel.
In the strange new world of micro-entrepreneurship, roaming, independent publishers operate from Buenos Aires and Bangkok. Indian bloggers make $200,000 a year. Product launches from one-man or one-woman businesses bring in $100,000 in a single day, causing nervous bank managers to shut down the accounts when they don't understand what's happening. Oddly enough, many of these unusual businesses thrive by giving things away, recruiting a legion of fans and followers who support their paid work whenever it is finally offered. How is this possible? And how is this model different from all other Internet businesses? *** To be published by Crown/Random House in May 2012, 'The $100 Startup' is based on a comprehensive, multi-year study, and is accompanied by the world's first 7-continent book tour. This session at SXSW will be the first public presentation of the data.
Everyone in a startup should be able to give the "elevator pitch", even the programmers! Having the right pitch can help you land a big customer, attract investors, and just explain what you do to your mom. Learn about the 3 secrets to a killer pitch from an expert speaker who has pitched at TechCrunch50, SXSW Accelerator and Ignite. Then pitch your startup and get feedback on the spot. Not for beginners! We have seen thousands of pitches and invested in hundreds of companies. Come after you’ve already practiced your pitch a 100 times and are ready to take it to the next level. First I’ll spend 15 minutes talking about the 3 secrets and show some killer examples. Then YOU get up on stage and give YOUR 90 second pitch, and then one of the panel will give YOUR pitch showing how we would improve it. If you want to pitch your startup, send a link to your 90 second pitch video to firstname.lastname@example.org
Even though the U.S. workforce is comprised of 50% women, our society still finds it unusual for women to hold roles in certain fields – one of them being technology. In fact, only 25% of people that work in tech are women, and a very small percentage of that number are women in top-level positions. It’s still widely assumed that women who assume upper-level positions in their profession will be forced to make sacrifices in their personal life.
In this panel you’ll hear from four successful female CEOs/Founders of tech companies about their (wildly different) paths to the top. The panelists will provide a unique perspective about what it’s like to be a woman in tech today, the changing role of the CEO, the past and present obstacles of this profession, and advice they'd give to aspiring CEOs of both genders.
From running an online training startup, to co-founding an online event registration site with their spouse, to having served as a CEO for both enterprise and consumer tech companies, these women are at the forefront of leadership and innovation in technology. Learn from their successes and mistakes and ask them questions about their careers and work-life balance that you’ve always wanted to know.
J-Lab counts more than 1,200 entrepreneurial news start-ups around the country. Placeblogger counts 4,000-plus placeblogs. These sites often get bad raps from traditional media for being the equivalent of unlicensed drivers behind the wheels of quasi-journalistic enterprises, trafficking in rumors and opinion. Yet many are trying to do the right things, tip-toeing through pay-to-play pressures from advertisers, navigating the reporting of locals' minor infractions, sunsetting search-engine tidbits, and fielding partisan accusations from political candidates. A corps of entrepreneurs is developing new codes of rights and wrongs.
by Phil Libin
Imagine building a company that lives through booms, bubbles and busts; a company that keeps innovating and creating value; a company that’s around in 100 years. It’s not as crazy as you think, but it requires a radical shift in start-up and investment culture. Far from the quick exit, it's all about believing in your vision and focusing on your users. If you do, then your company will last well into the future. In this presentation, Phil Libin will share how Evernote is winning over lifetime trust in a service, while simultaneously building what hopes to be a century old company.
9th–13th March 2012