Kickstarter thinks Ireland is still in the UK
Kickstarter thinks Ireland is still in the UK
There is a lot of talk from other regions around the world about how they will become the next silicon valley. Calling themselves the Silicon Glen, Silicon Forest, Silicon Alley, etc etc. But that’s what most of it is, just talk. I think the main difference between the real silicon valley and the rest of the contenders is substance. It’s the huge network of venture capitalists here who all know each other and compete for deals. It’s the universities that supply some of the world’s best talent (or at least they are perceived to be the best) to startups. It is blogs like www.techcrunch.com that feed the machine with stories, gossip and fuel the fire of young entrepreneurs, wanting to make money on the next new disruptive technology. It’s also the weather – the weather and landscape around here make it a very attractive place to live and work.
I want to give two examples of this huge difference between here (Silicon Valley) and other regions. Dublin, in Ireland is booming right now, but only in one sector – high technology startups. A friend of mine Connor Murphy, has a startup called DataHug and he can’t find the engineers he needs – there is a huge talent shortage in Dublin as companies from Silicon Valley have sucked up a lot of the local talent. Zynga, Paypal, Google and many others have set up their EU headquarters in Ireland. However, what’s missing in Dublin is one key ingredient – venture capital finance. I was at the excellent conference run by Paddy Cosgrave called the Dublin Web Summit (#DWS6) recently and Mike Butcher from TechCrunch was on stage and asked a few simple questions to the crowd.
1. Who here is a CEO/founder/employee of a startup company?- about a quarter of the hands in the audience went up.
2. Who here is involved in some other way with startups? – again, many hands went up
This is what’s missing in Ireland, but it’s certainly not missing here in Silicon Valley. I know there were a few other VCs in that crowd who didn’t have the balls to put up their hands. It was like they wanted to hide and just not make any deals!
One more example. I was in the Apple Store the other day in Palo Alto, arguably the heart of Silicon Valley. I was getting my Macbook Air fixed and I overhead a conversation by this kid. He was talking to the ‘genuises’ in the store about a software program he was devloping. “I’m a developer” he said proudly. I was really curious, and I started chatting with him and asked:
“So you’re a developer are you?” “Yes, I’m making a game!”
“What are you developing” – “A game on the iPad, called Trigger Finger”
“Where did you learn to code?” – “In a summer code camp, in Stanford University”
“In what language?” – “Objective C”
“How old are you?” – “I just turned 12″
I was blown away – this is why Silicon Valley will always be No. 1. You have a crazy amount of talent here, as witnessed by this young developer. I don’t know what you were doing when you were 12, but I certainly wasn’t coding in a top university. I would have liked to learn to code!
For any aspiring Silicon Pretenders – start thinking more like Silicon Valley – start some summer code camps and start giving money to crazy young startups – you never know what might happen.
Taken from @cdixon and and @techcrunch article…
“But being able to handle rejection, and even seek it out, is a crucial skill for entrepreneurs. The flip side of getting rejected over and over again, of course, is perseverance. It doesn’t matter if 49 VCs pass on your startup if the 50th one hands you a check for $1 million, or if 24 engineers say No, but the 25th is a rockstar who says Yes. Getting to yes means letting the negativity wash over you.”
The New Tech Post recently did an article about us, which is great to see. You can read it here.
It’s been an interesting couple of weeks. Out of the blue EBay announced that they are acquiring Milo.com, the local inventory shopping engine. Retailigence came out of stealth, and retailers are getting savvy to the whole space finally. There’s a lot of talk about acquisitions, venture capital and making a killing. I’ve met with the CEO of Milo, Jack Abraham, and he’s a great guy – very forthcoming, and I think they will continue to do really well with their new partners, Ebay.
Meanwhile we’ve been pitching….to retailers. Just like we’ve done since day one, and we’re continuing to build our company and our huge number of products from retail chains in the US and the EU.
At the end of the day, its all about customers – getting their data, presenting it to customers who want to buy their products and help them achieve higher sales. Its all about keeping retailers happy, and we’re doing our best to do that, by providing them with the right tools, and the strongest platform we can build.
One thing that’s interesting around here is the amount of people who kiteboard and run tech startups. According to some sources, it’s “The New Golf” I’m sure my friend John, from imeegolf.com would agree!
The thing about kiteboarding is that it’s incredibly dangerous. It’s really hard to learn, and you have to absolutley want to learn. It’s not something that you take up on a weekend. It takes weeks and weeks of expensive lessons. The equipment will cost you several grand. You get dunked in the water countless times. You get wrapped up in your lines. You get pulled up into the air and dropped on to the beach like a bucket of stones. You get dragged across the sand and over sharp rocks…
However, once you learn, it is incredibly rewarding. You get to soar through the air, fly across the water at high speed, and do twists and turns in the air as you learn new and more complicated tricks. It also makes you want to get out of the office once the wind is blowing and there is chance that you can get some wetsuit time.
The thing I love the most is the camradarie and fun you have with the people that you meet on the beach. Because kitesurfers really depend on each other (you always need help to launch and land your kite) you tend to make friends easily. Kitesurfers are probably one of the friendliest bunches of athletes you’ll meet (and I know, I’ve spend a lot of time with other sports people who aren’t half as friendly)
However the most interesting thing is the link between risk and reward in business and in kiteboarding. We all love to take risks, big and small, but kiteboarding is super risky, with big rewards. Its a lot like taking a big risk starting a business, making mistakes, changing direction, getting stung, and trying all over again. The ups and downs are exactly the same.
So it was great coming from Ireland, where I run a kitesurfing association, to San Francisco and discovering a great bunch of guys (including guys like Bill Tai, who lent me his kite, board and harness the first day I met him) who are really into the sport and who have created a really open and friendly bunch of kiteboarding entrepreneurs who are all involved in the startup scene in Silicon Valley. Bill has been instrumental in bringing the guys together and organises parties and gatherings on a regular basis.
I’m looking forward to more kite and business adventures in the coming months!
I’m sitting in a cafe in San Jose, and I’m hearing my coffee colleagues talking about term sheets, deal terms and all sorts of interesting ‘valley’ talk. It’s Saturday morning, at 9am, and this is what’s going on. Another sign – when your lawyer is sending you emails at 10pm at night – and not just him, but his associates too. All this adds up to a fierce work ethic over here, with people working all the time. There really is no distinction between work and play, or weekends and evenings.
Evenings over here are taken over by networking events, or pitch events and even social outings are all about who’s who, and what you can learn.
Even the whole kitesurfing scene here, which I love, is full of people who are starting, running or funding internet startups.
I’m not complaining, I think its great! It makes a big difference because after a while because the energy begins to soak in, and you want to make the most of the time here. The productivity of people beings to go up, and you soon realise why people in the valley get so much done – it’s because they are working all the time.
So, I’ve installed myself in the Plug and Play center in Sunnyvale, in Silicon Valley, and its quite the entrepreneur’s hub – its probably one of the best places in the valley to have everything you need to be seen and heard. I pitched at an event last week, which was interesting, to say the least!
here are some of the main findings from their report:
Health and beauty products were the most popular items among 1D (UPC) scans, with 21%. They were followed by groceries (14.4%), books (12.6%) and kitchen items (9.2%)
Half of barcode users are ages 35-45 and skew male (as smartphone/early adopter markets often do)
Android was the most popular smartphone platform, with 45% of barcode users. This is attributable to the pre-loaded barcode scanners on some devices and support from carriers like Verizon.