Hacking the Retail Industry

[As seen on Money Magazine Issue 30]

Simon Azzopardi meets two start ups in Malta that are looking to change the retail industry in their own way.

Retail has seen drastic changes over the last few years with the emergence of ecommerce and mobile commerce, with giant companies creating new industries previously unimaginable. New technologies such as 3D printing will further increase the pace of change of the industry.

Technology undoubtedly brings new opportunities, and just by being around local start ups that embrace such possibilities, sheds light on what is possible. I sat down with two start ups residing at TAKEOFF Incubation Centre at the University of Malta to understand their views and impact they want to have on the industry.

The first start up I met is Riccardo Lora, CEO of a company called CalypseLab. They have developed a software solution that uses in-store video analytics (amongst other technologies) to track, record and process human behaviours in a retail outlet.

Their highly effective pitch is that they “are the in-store Google Analytics.” Riccardo explains, “the traditional approach involves the construction of strategies on the basis of sales data and the sensitivity or impulses of the staff. How do we measure store performance other than sales?”

“What we want to do is give stores the ability to apply key performance indicators (KPIs) in real time to affect strategies in retail stores,” Riccardo explains. “We can measure the performance of a shop window for example. Using security cameras to capture images, we process data to give you a conversion rate of walk-ins.”

The impact that this has on how a store is managed is significant. If one had to look at ecommerce by comparison, it is entirely a numbers game based on conversions and ratios. Applying the same philosophy of data driven decision making to the retail space is certainly a game changer.

I ask Riccardo how sees this product impact the retail space. “Imagine you make a change in a shop, of a display for example, you can measure the performance improvement, apply the change to all the chain and all the outlets within the chain are more profitable, in only a few days. We measured a shop’s performance where we have installed our product, and saw an increase of 0.5% of walk-ins coupled with a 2% increase in engagement can generate a rise of 29.6% of sales.”

This is ecommerce speak in a retail environment. How will this affect the management skills within the industry?

“We are seeing that managers need new skill sets and are working with change management partners to assist our clients. However, we are also seeing data driven decisions meaning that managers are a lot more confident when deciding upon change.”

Riccardo ends the meeting with this: “Big retail giants have already made the shift in focus from product to customer, measuring and analysing their behaviour. Our tool simply gives you more data to measure and analyse more accurately, delivering less risk and more opportunity.”

Analytics in a retail environment using existing infrastructure and the cloud is certainly an exciting proposition. My next start up mixed retail with an industry well engrained in Malta’s economy.

Lewis Holland is the CEO of DiscountIF, another start up stemming from the local scene. “We are offering consumers cashback on everyday items, based on the outcome of a sporting event. We call it ‘The Power of IF’”.

“The concept is simple. Buy this Samsung TV and get 100% cash back if Chelsea win the league.”

What they are doing therefore is mixing retail (ecommerce) with a game of chance. How has the market reacted?

“We have reached 6 million people on twitter with our offers trending, many using hashtag #NoBrainer. For an early stage company, that is pretty significant. We have backing from major global brands and entrepreneurs further spurring growth.”

Lewis explains how the concept has been tried before with companies like Toshiba selling 10,000 televisions under cash back promises if England wins the World Cup. “The model clearly works, and we are continuously getting requests to add on more products. Our experience in hedging and gaming allows us to offer such a service profitably.”

Is DiscountIF a gaming or retail company? “We are most definitely retail. We offer products for a reasonable price, irrespective of outcome, within a new, gamification-type of customer experience.”

DiscountIF and CalypseLab have not changed the retail space but rather looking to offer their own take on what it could be. Both start ups are being incubated in Malta, currently going through investment rounds, backed by teams with high aspirations.

The retail industry is continuing to change, and great start ups will accelerate the pace at which it evolves. New skill sets will emerge and customer experiences will become the focus of the industry. Retailers need to decide whether they are ready for new customer expectations.

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Country of Angels [As featured in Money Magazine March 2015]

What is a business angel and how do you become one, asks Simon Azzopardi. 

Highly ambitious start up companies with a global perspective, are naturally interesting. Irrespective of background, we all feel and understand what they are trying to achieve. Hopes, dreams, aspirations, innovations, and a lot of sweat seems to come together in order to build an aspiring game-changing product.

Start ups need great people to make them work, but also money in varying amounts. Some need a few tens of thousands of Euro, while others may need seven figures. Where do start ups go for such investments? Angels are internationally a popular choice.

What is a business angel and what do you need to become one? MONEY Magazine catches up with Simon Azzopardi to discuss Angel Investing.

What is a business angel?

A business angel is typically a successful entrepreneur that is willing to invest his or her own money into a new venture due to a belief in a product’s potential and a team’s ability to execute. An angel is typically not a one-time investor but plays an active role with both existing investments and seeking future investments. Therefore, an Angel investor is typically an individual with a certain volume of liquid assets and a high risk appetite.

So, people who have say € 100,000 that they would like to invest, should consider being an angel investor?

Let’s be clear, angel investing is very risky. Typically, 50% of the start ups you invest in will shut down in under two years, 30% will survive, delivering little to no returns, and 20% will thrive, covering the returns for your entire portfolio. Now, keeping this into consideration, it is clear that the number of investments or deals you make need to be sufficient to cover or spread the above risks. With a typical investment of between € 20,000 and € 50,000, in isolation a € 100,000 budget is difficult to justify in order to make a decent return.

So what is that number when angel investing makes sense?

Truth is, there isn’t. You could argue that mathematically, you need in excess of € X per annum of ready to invest cash for it to be worthwhile. However, there are other factors that may influence an angel investor. What motivates an angel investor varies from making substantial returns to social or status reasons. Maybe, it’s simply to remain active in an industry that the individual understands.  What is clear is that Angel investing is not necessarily only about return on investment.

So should someone be interested in angel investments, what would you recommend? How would they go about meeting start ups?

Firstly, let us look at how entrepreneurs in the start up world operate. Start ups, particularly early stage entities, tend to form communities. Start ups tend to be active within start up events, such as Start up Weekend, as well as other meet ups. They do this because they want to be around like minded individuals. They understand that by being around energetic individuals with varying experiences, they would learn from each other, benefitting tremendously.

Angel investors, similar to entrepreneurs also have a propensity to form groups or communities, albeit with a different scope.

Such groups or communities give Angel investors the opportunity to discuss different opportunities as well as compare different start up models. They may also want to group investments between them in order to distribute risk or simply reduce the overheads of managing their investments.

Therefore, my advice for individuals or entities interested in similar investments would be to participate or register an interest at a start up event. This will first and foremost give you an idea as to what start ups are around, as well as a taste of the start up culture in Malta.

Moreover, such events are ideal to start meeting or getting closer to start ups.

What stands out in Malta? Why should I invest in start ups in Malta?

Malta is ideal for start ups. It is a great place to live with access to quality talent and a lower burn rates of capital. Most importantly, there are decent young entrepreneurs.

To give a few examples, there is currently a group of first year University student having, between them, already published several mobile apps, with a few cofounding software and design companies seeing very early success. There are teams of start ups looking to challenge recruitment processes, education, supply chain management and customer support experiences, at a global level. There are start ups based here that are looking to blend industries such as igaming with ecommerce or gamification of class room education.

True, Malta is still very new to this game, however both the quality and momentum at which the space is developing should certainly attract interest from Angels and corporate investments.

Lastly, what about culture? Anything that needs to change here?

One can make excellent returns through Angel investing. However for long term presence in the start up world, a good angel investor needs to be a good person. Angel investing is not a business model where you make money at someone else’s expense. Start ups create wealth, and not in a zero sum game. The beauty of it is that no one has to lose for you to win. If you mistreat the founders you invest in, the company will do worse. Plus your referrals and deal flow will dry up.

This doing good, and giving back without keeping score, is an important mind set for angel investors and to induce such, a community of like-minded active individuals needs to be formed.

[Full magazine can be seen here]

Internal hackathons can lead to big cultural changes

Hackathons are those mini focused events where groups of people look at a problem and solve it in a free-to-do-as-you-please manner. Basically, teams hack a problem – i.e. manage to solve a problem, by proposing validated, detailed ideas. Some may involve code/tech, but not necessarily.

Hackathons come in many shapes and sizes. From the large public events where anyone can join, to the closed corporate event where employees can focus on new problems.

Hackathons are great. Not only do they break boundaries and get teams to work together, but results can be meaningful and very real. However, for them to have any impact on real improvements, you need to follow a few key steps. Here are a few things we need to keep in mind when suggesting an internal, corporate hackathon.

Safety – Employees need to feel that if they mess up, they will be fine. Failing is fine. There are no KPIs for hackathon participants under than experiencing and learning. And let’s face it, many failures were successful eventually (for example – bubble wrap was initially designed to be wallpaper!)

Timing is key – Look for that week where teams have more time on their hand. Timing is really everything. Setting up a situation where teams are focusing on a hackathon and yet loads happening at their office will result in greater stress and not much innovation.

Death by Frequency – I love prawns. Love them. Juicy succulent stuff. Give me prawns every day and will hate them very quickly. Hackathons are great but only do them as often as possible, and not more.

Hackathons are not lost development time. Hackathons held monthly may be overkill. Try and look for that balance and start small. Think about each hackathon as a big deal, and avoid letting them become another boring Monday innovaton thing that your staff doesn’t get. Keep them excited!

It is a priority – Let’s face it, if something is not made to be important, than it is likely to never happen. Is there CEO buy-in? Does your staff feel that what is being done is important? Is it appreciated? Is it easy to get out of it? Show that this is not a team building exercise but a strategically important event that aims to change the way you do business. (Yes, it can be that important!)

Give it a theme – Themes are great! It gives some focus. Do not give requirements.

You want to give themes a framework for the event, but you do not want to give teams a list of requirements. Themes allow teams to go down similar paths. Requirements ensures they all end up in the same place. Worse still, requirements lead to manager pointing fingers saying our staff is not innovative!

Winners are important – Let us face it, competition is a great driving force. We all want to win, or at least, no one wants to lose. Therefore have winning teams! Give prizes! Yes, give prizes!

Mentors work – Teams often come together by ideas and energy, rarely by perfectly matching skill sets. Give teams mentors. External mentors may add an extra spin. Give them energy to feed off of. Mentors go a long way!

Make it count – Hackathons need to be part of a process. In isolation they are great, but ideally you need to know what happens next. How do projects come alive? How are they managed? What happens to the employees that thought about the new ideas? How are they treated? How are they involved? How is the new idea reintegrated into the company? How should teams work on the new idea? How are resources going to be allocated? How are road blocker type of people going to conform to change and new ways? How are you going to make good ideas become a reality yet diminish risks?

Have you ever tried an internal hackathon? Was it a success? Would love to hear your comments below if it was grand or ‘meh’!

Interview for MONEY Magazine

Startup, Malta, Simon Azzopardi

[As seen on Money Magazine]

  1. How would you compare the local start-up scene with that in the rest of Europe and in the US?

Over the past 24 months, we have organised several events and involved several international investors and entrepreneurs within the local community. I believe that their feedback is a good measure as to where we stand. Maltese start ups, and by this I mean start ups founded by both the Maltese and expats that live in Malta, are certainly promising. In fact, an early investor in LinkedIn, who was judging a recent start up event, described a Maltese start up project as visionary.

That said, we need to be realistic. Malta is a tiny community in comparison to any of the EU and US states and comparing such would be futile. However, what we need to do is look at Malta and understand what we can offer to the start up scene. Where can Malta add value?

This is where Malta could certainly stand out. Malta has several highly skilled technology and marketing individuals, English is the business language of choice, it offers a superior quality of life, and is all wrapped up in a tax and expense efficient package. Breaking it down, a start up that is tight on cash would be able to do a lot more with a lot less in Malta, reaching their milestones on an island offering good weather, food and social elements.

So when discussing such areas, one needs to look at where Malta’s potential markets or attractiveness lies. To whom does Malta add value? What countries could we look towards to promote Malta as a start up jurisdiction? This needs to be the conversation that government and local stakeholders need to look at.

  1. What are currently the trending start-ups?

There are a few start ups making a positive sound in the market, as well as start ups that have moved on and cannot be considered start ups anymore. Due to the size of the start up scene, it is hard to see trends.

The two emerging trends though are that we are seeing several foreigners looking at Malta as a potential start up platform, as well as a few companies in Malta where employees move on to develop their own start up. Both are encouraging trends for the local scene and culture.

  1. Are the majority of start-ups ICT-related? If yes, why?

IT start ups are certainly the most accessible. With a laptop and an internet connection, anyone can start up a business. Other industries would typically require greater capital investments and therefore greater risks.

  1. Should start-ups think big or first focus on the local market and then expand slowly in other markets?

Think global, act local. A bit cliché though this is paramount. Start ups cannot conquer the world in the first battle. Rather, they need to win the local battles before world domination. Therefore, start ups need to look at who their initial customers are going to be, and focus on wining those over, but always thinking scalable.At start up stage, being too local means that you solve a handful of customer’s problems and cannot scale. On the other hand, being too global means that what you offer will be lost in the noise of everyone offering something similar.

  1. What kind of resources do start-ups need?

Firstly, the will or hunger to want it. Bill Gates or Steve Jobs have the exact same 24 hours in a day that you have. They did something special. If you want to do something special than you have the time. Secondly, commitment. You will have hurdles such as finding a partner, looking for that first customer, or bringing in an investor. Unless you are committed and conscious of the fact that this is going to be tough, than you will give up after a few hurdles. Lastly, fun is vital. You need to enjoy what you do, and how it gets done. Starting up a business is a bit like creating a tribe or a following. You need to get people behind you and if it lacks any joy whatsoever, than why would anyone follow you.

  1. How critical is the funding element in a start-up scenario?

The question here is, what does the investment you need buy. Do you need time? Infrastructure? A team? Could you get things done without an investor? Could you part with equity instead of investment? Bootstrapping, i.e. the process of developing your product and business with no investments is too often overlooked, yet is very often the better way to go.

Another aspect often overlooked is corporate financing or collaboration. Corporates need to innovate and build new products, yet often by design they struggle to do so. Start ups are designed to be innovative and react quickly to market changes as their livelihood depends on it. This creates the possibility for an ideal partnership between a start up requiring a corporate’s credibility, experience, infrastructure, people or channels. As always, a win-win situation needs to be created and more importantly managed.

  1. What should fuel the relationship between start-ups and entrepreneurs willing to invest?

Start ups and investors, particularly in the early stages, need to get along. Entrepreneurs have vast knowledge, and not just capital, that needs to be exploited. Therefore, besides having a common understanding of commercial expectations, ensuring that the two characters are compatible is crucial.

In Malta, we certainly have a small community or pockets of entrepreneurs willing to invest. In terms of high growth start ups however, I do believe that investors often need guidance in terms how to manage their investments and expectations.

  1. Personally, what gets you excited about start-ups?

I live on both sides of the fence in that I coach and mentor start ups or corporate companies that need to think like a start up, as well as having two start up businesses myself.

This gives me deep insight into the way of thinking, allowing me to really understand the various phases and facets of starting up a business. Start ups are excited about their projects and tend to see opportunities everywhere. I find that successful start up entrepreneurs do not complain about politics and the economy but rather take control of the situation by using what is happening around them to their advantage. This energy is addictive. I get to meet interesting entrepreneurs with a ‘take over the world’ mentality.

  1. What value do start-ups give to a national economy?

Start ups deliver tangible as well as intangible economic value. Its tangible value is that, by definition, they create innovative products with a global potential, delivering employment, investments, tax expenditure, etc. Start ups also deliver a culture of openness and creativity that has a longer term value that is transferable from industry to industry. A government that invests in start ups by putting the right support behind them is investing in both short and long term. Like with anything however, investing in a start up community is only a minor element, execution is key.

  1. What, in your opinion, are the prospects for local start-ups in 2015?

The local community have built quite a bit of momentum in Malta. We have branded Malta’s local community as Startup Island and we continue to organise events to bring people together. I am confident that 2015 will see a greater interest from entrepreneurs willing to get involved, an increased number of corporates willing to support and integrate as well as government showing solidarity.

However, Malta needs to look overseas and needs to invest in overseas communities for better integration. We need to have a roadmap that reaches out to high growth start ups and integrate them into the local community. We need to develop our entrepreneurial and risk taking appetites. We need to learn that failing at a start up is not looked down upon, but rather a sign that you have tried, learnt and a step closer to success. Malta needs to act local but think global in its endeavours to build a stronger and truly innovative society.

What I learnt while giving an innovation workshop

[As seen on LinkedIn]

A few weeks ago, I was giving a workshop on innovation and creativity. The client wanted to foster an intrapreneurial way of thinking with their staff and asked for an interactive session. The workshop was held at a hotel on a sunny Friday morning.

At 8:30 am, employees from a client of mine started to walk in. Different departments, ages and backgrounds. All struggling to wake up. From their mannerisms, you could tell the varying motives as to why they were there.

Some were there because they had to. Others wanted to win brownie points. A ‘few’ were generally interested in the topic.

The event started and it was clear that a lecture style ‘workshop’ was expected. They were wrong.

Bored audience

What I did was try to bring ‘start up’ culture in the room. I made them pitch, talked about pivoting ideas, explained the concept of an MVP. I gave examples of awesome startups that had brilliant ideas and execution. I explained how most had mediocre ideas that became brilliant over time. I explained lean thinking and approach.

The atmosphere in the room changed. They were excited. Even the Facebook-obsessed few at the back of the room were interested in what their colleagues had to say. They started to challenge each other. They got up to pitch ideas. Most importantly, they got excited.

This was a revelation for me.

Creativity, innovation, startups, thinking outside the box. They are achievable for anyone. All you need is to be excited for a long (long) period of time, and that eventually becomes a passion.

This means that every company can become innovative, no matter who your employees are.

Knowing that, the next question I asked was, should they? Should businesses challenge the way they do things and be innovative? Should processes change to allow for creativity and not just efficiency. Should companies think motivation, rather than just KPIs.

An easy answer for most, yet so few companies adopt it. Fear or knowledge? This is the next question I need to answer.

Got thoughts on the subject? Leave a comment below!

Drones, crowd purchasing and digital currencies – Local start-ups think BIG for Startup Week

IMG_3074-compressor

Malta based start-ups came together for a week full of activities, adrenaline and action for the week starting 13 October. The series of events gave local start-ups the opportunity to practice their pitch, to learn about the various forms of start up financing, as well as to attempt starting a high growth business in under 54 hours.

“Startup Week was an excellent opportunity for the local start-up and entrepreneur to learn, build relationships and meet motivated thinkers. With such great energy, ideas and persistence, it was truly a Silicon Valley-style week”, says Simon Azzopardi, organiser of Startup Week.

During the week, start-ups looked at local and global problems and used technology to try and solve them.

“Start-ups came up with ideas and products that solved real problems, such as traffic congestion, lack of funds when a start-up has an idea, inefficient taxi management and expensive mobile app development. They also looked at technology to help make our lives easier, using drones and concepts such as crowd purchasing.”

“Over the weekend, seven teams developed their own ideas into market ready businesses, all in under 54 hours. Teams were given support in terms of tools and mentors to develop their idea and learn the ropes of thinking lean and building a viable and scalable business,” continues Mr Azzopardi.

“During the week, we also launched the Startup Island brand. Startup Island is the brand to represent the local start-up community and help promote Malta as a Startup jurisdiction overseas,” says Mr Azzopardi.

Several high profile individuals were also present to show their support including Andy McCartney from Microsoft Ventures, Luka Sučić from hub:raum and Rumen Iliev from LAUNCHhub.

The main sponsors of the event was Microsoft Innovation Centre who not only hosted the event, but also utilised Microsoft’s network and resources to ensure that some of the biggest names in this space got involved.

“Microsoft Innovation Centre is all about supporting the start-up community. We offer local start-ups the space and tools to reduce the pain of starting up a technology business, and also assist local start-ups with integrating into our other centres across the globe,” says Edward Portelli, manager of the Innovation Centre.

Microsoft also offered the BizPark program to all participants in the weekend start up competition.

The event was sponsored by Microsoft, KPMG, Altaro, MITA, SAP, BusinessFirst, and SkyParks.

The event will most certainly not be the last. Startup Island, together with the local start-up community, have already started to organise future events, including meet-ups, hackathons pitchathons and other start up related events.

www.startupisland.org

What every company must have for innovation

Innovation, the term on everyone’s mission statement, is rarely taken seriously yet is the only way to survive.

This subject is something that comes up regularly with clients, government and friends as to how can innovation be encouraged or brought into a company.

Innovation is a process, not an end game. The ownership of innovation within a company lies with every employee and is not a delegated task. But for this to happen, two elements are crucial.

Culture – a culture of innovation must be fostered. Employees must want to suggest new products, process and possibilities.

Flow – once an idea or suggestion is received, than what? How is this idea going to be nurtured?

The easiest way of changing a culture is to change a process and watch the effect of that change.

Therefore, if you want innovation, develop an internal accelerator for ideas. Develop KPIs for that accelerator. Create a team to manage and promote the process.

Change by doing not by thinking about it. It is a lot easier, effective and result driven.

Silicon Valley style start ups in Malta

start up Malta venue

(As seen on Times of Malta)

What do you do if you get what you think is a brilliant idea? You can either set it aside to simmer, expecting it to lay the fabled golden egg. Or else, you can pitch it to an audience, get precious feedback from your peers, develop it and launch your own start-up business.

The latter, of course, is the option that gives you the best returns. And it’s what young entrepreneurs are doing during the Malta Start-Up Weekend, a regular event that brings together designers, developers, entrepreneurs and experts to embark on a start-up journey. Around the world, entrepreneurs are joining the movement: Start-Up Weekend is a global network and part of Up Global, a non-profit charity. It is organised in various countries, building a global network of passionate leaders and entrepreneurs.

Simon Azzopardi, the local representative of Start-Up Weekend, is the physical embodiment of such enthusiasm and speaks about start-ups with passion.

“Developing and launching a start-up is a very exciting process,” he says. “During Start-Up Weekend, around 60 to 80 entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs meet to find out if their ideas are viable. Attendees are usually a mixed lot: some have a technical background while others have business experience.

“On Friday, they propose their ideas and the best 10 to 12 are chosen. By Friday night, teams are formed and for the next two days, they will work on how to convert an idea into an operating viable business and prepare their pitch for potential investors. Then on Sunday night, they present their start-up in a Dragons’ Den-style pitch.

“During the event, they also receive support from mentors and coaches, who are experts in their respective area,” adds Azzopardi, who apart from his involvement in Start-Up Weekend, is also the managing director of his own company, Tain & Able.

“This coming October, we wanted to complement the Start-Up Weekend with other events to attract a wider audience. Rather than just the weekend, we are inviting start-ups, entrepreneurs, investors and corporates interested in this space to join us. We will be joined by TMobile’s incubation hub, Hub:raum, who will also be conducting a series of workshops on lean start-up methodologies as well as have local start-ups share their experience with acquiring funding. The events will be open to anyone interested in this space, including corporates.”

This week will serve to strengthen the local start-up scene.
“The local start-up scene is a bit dispersed. However, the community spirit is getting stronger. There is a phenomenal interest from abroad, especially from Nordic countries: entrepreneurs from these countries find Malta to be very affordable and they are also attracted to the local lifestyle.

“There is also a strong interest from other Mediterranean countries: in most of these countries, the economy is suffering, whereas the Maltese economy is doing well. Just last April, for instance, we had several start-up pitches from Italy. Other entrepreneurs from North Africa and Egypt in particular are also looking towards Malta as a potential space where to incubate their ideas.”

Failure is not the end: just a lesson learnt in the process to try again
There is a lot of value in incubating start-ups in Malta.

“Given its small size, Malta is the perfect test-bed: if you fail here, it’s not the end. We also have good quality, English-speaking human resources and enjoy access to other markets. Moreover, start-ups incubating in Malta bring fresh thinking, new skill sets and the potential for the development of intellectual property: this further generates the local economy.”

Various studies show that around 85 per cent of start-ups fail, not only in Malta but also in most countries. What contributes to the success and sustainability of a start-up?

“First of all, finance may seem essential, but it isn’t. Of course, it’s good to have the capital, but without it, you can still achieve a lot. Not doing anything because you don’t have the financial strength is just an excuse.

“For me, the two essential ingredients that contribute to start-up success are community and entrepreneurship.

“Community is everything. Locally, we tend to be very jealous of our ideas and are afraid that someone else might steal them. In fact, during Start-Up Weekends, most attendees find it difficult to share at first. But then, they see others pitching and discussing their ideas and they follow suit. We need to recognise that the community is invaluable in helping you pitch and develop an idea.

“Entrepreneurship is also important. The essence of entrepreneurship is the drive to try, fail and try again until you succeed. Failure is not the end: just a lesson learnt in the process to try again.”

Azzopardi is finalising the details for the Start Up Week, which will start on October 13.

start up Malta venue

“The event will be held at Microsoft Innovation Centre, Skyparks Business Centre and as previous years, everyone is welcome to join, irrespective of age, background or idea. All you need is drive.”

For more details, visit www.startupisland.org

A lot more than Start Up Weekend this coming October

Start up weekend is awesome! I am a huge fan of the event! Like-minded individuals passionately competing to win a competition over a stressful yet super rewarding weekend. What is there not to love! 

However what about those that have started up? We need some activities for them also. 

This year, the organisers behind start up weekend are taking it to the next level and organising a week full of start up relevant events. 

Yupp! A whole week!

 Start Up Weekend Malta 2014

We are organising a pitchathon for early stage start ups that need pitching practice in a constructive environment. 

We are inviting some awesome local start ups to share their experience in acquiring start up funding, or approaching the funding issue in a ‘nothing-will-have-to-do’ (bootstrapping) approach! What did they learn? What did they struggle with? What advice can they give you? Real stories from real start ups. Sounds awesome? Not done yet!

We have confirmed hub:raum to come along and give a few workshops and talks on lean start up methodologies. Hum:raum is a fantastic accelerator/incubator based in Germany and Poland and is an offshoot of TMobile.

Microsoft is also giving a few talks on their BizPark program! This is the program offered at various Microsoft centres throughout the world. 

Lastly, we are going to end the week with start up weekend because we strongly feel that start up weekend is the ideal place where future start ups and existing start ups can integrate, add value, help each other and live that exciting start up culture for a week(end).

This year, we want to really work on integration (no coding required). We want to get different faces into the room. This year, we are encouraging a wider mix of people to our events. We want expats, foreigners, (tourists – we always get a few!) as well as corporates. Why? because each one of those communities add tremendous value.

As for corporates, wouldn’t you want to know what the local innovators are up to?  

Dates? All this is going to happen between the 13th October and 19th October 2014.

A super-massive thanks to Microsoft for their immediate support and belief in us (the community) to make this a reality.

Want to know more? Check out startupisland.org (What’s this? Yes, we are launching a start up community focused website for Malta based start ups!)