Forbes.com contributor, Jennifer Hicks decided to take on a mini grapevine experiment on Twitter last week on the somewhat dry, yet volatile vertical of “ConnectedTV” and she got back a micro-discussion that led to predictions on ConnectedTV by four strangers around the world – @razzmuzzen @inshot @mediadventurer @CreamHQ @jperrachon @msmobileconverg. We thought it was neat.
Our own Jennifer Hicks, who recently started what promises to be a consistently entertaining and informative column at Forbes.com (Dante’s Soma), wrote a great article on the “Rise of the Knowledge Market” yesterday that profiles two new companies we absolutely love, Mancx and Acabiz. Together, these companies are helping to rewrite the way we think about knowledge.
“Fresh off their second investment round of $1.1 million from two prominent Swedish investors, Mancx is proving their concept of an online knowledge market to exchange personal information for money is a reality. They have set out to create a new set of standards in social search and global trade of knowledge…Think of it as Quora that you pay for, the mature Quora.”
“The idea behind Acabiz is brilliantly simple. They created a platform for academics, which they call knowledge holders, to connect with businesses, known as knowledge hunters, who are interested in their specific research expertise or knowledge. The Acabiz platform allows businesses to easily and directly tap into the knowledge network of thousands of academics worldwide who all have highly specialized knowledge in fields such as architecture, engineering, law, medicine, science, financial, economics, and others.”
Read more about these companies and the knowledge market in the rest of Jennifer’s fantastic article here.
Lot’s of conferences, so little time. Lots of tech and/or mobile start up conferences full of shallow networking and frat boy antics. Now, we have something better. (yea we don’t have the funky little Swedish “o” letter) Mobile Meet Up
One of the organizers, Johan Larsson, who also happens to be the editor of Mobil Business took time out of his busy kick-ass conference planning to talk to us about what has become affectionally known as OMM2011 (you got it #OMM2011 on the old Twitter machine). Also you can 1) follow Johan on Twitter @johanlarsson 2) Join the OMM2011 Facebook page and 3) just buy a ticket and attend!
Tattletech: Another mobile meet up? What makes this one special and why Malmo?
Johan Larsson: Well, the Øresund region (Malmo, Lund and Copenhagen) is a vibrant place where a lot of innovation is happening, especially in mobile. There is a presence in the region of industry giants with Sony Ericsson headquarters and RIM‘s newly bought product development unit TAT. So to arrange a mobile event here feels great. And, this is an event with a European and international profile and Malmo is close geographically to the rest of Europe. Oresund Mobile Meetup is a conference not just for the traditional mobile business, but people from industries ranging from media and entertainment to retail and transportation, and everything in between. For everyone who is interested in how mobile will bring changes to their business.
Tattletech: So you are the editor of Mobile Business in Sweden, what are you seeing as trends among the early stage mobile start ups coming out of the Nordics or Sweden in particular?
Johan Larsson: Sweden has a strong heritage in mobile and the startups frankly, are all over the place. We have quite a few interesting companies working with location-based marketing and retail and also good people doing apps and games. And then there is the more hardcore technology companies. Its a very exciting scene!
Tattletech: A lot of international VCs coming into this day, including the charming Katy Turner, Eden Ventures, Wolfgang Schuster, Vodafone Ventures and Francois Mazoudier, LD & A Global,what do you think this means for the mobile start up scene in Sweden? Or in the Nordics?
Johan Larsson: I think it will be a great opportunity to make new contacts and pitch to influential international people. But also for everyone to learn from each other regardless of being an entrepreneur or a VC or something else, because this will be a gathering of a very special and really cool mix of people, positions and competences.
Tattletech: Who doesn’t like cool people?! So, what do you hope the companies attending will leave with at the end of the day?
Johan Larsson: Hopefully they will leave with some new and inspiring ideas on how to utilize mobile opportunities in their own businesses. And, be super stoked to go out and do great stuff!
Tattletech: Most importantly, if you were a super hero, which one would you be?
Johan Larsson: Very good question! I gotta say Wolverine. Cant´t get much cooler than that. Or maybe that guy in Heroes who incorporates other peoples superpowers cause he´s good at empathizing with them. I like that (although that show was mess after the second season).
Tattletech note: how great is it that some someone says Wolverine? And then launches into a TV show critic? Super awesome.
Mike Martin from eCommerce Times wrote an article about President Obama’s new Start up America initiative that examined the program’s impact. And at the same time, Steve Case was out stumping in BusinessWeek about its not just “start ups” but “speed ups”.
eCommerce Times: Working with start up companies, what do you think of this initiative? Is it needed? Or is it a gimmick?
Jennifer Hicks: As a niche global PR agency that works with start ups around the world, we think it is a great idea. In many ways, Europe has been doing this on a country by country level with their incubator programs through the governments with small seed funds that provide both cash and resources. Silicon Valley is purely driven by the next big thing, but this program is a good way to continue to foster and grow the entrepreneurial spirit not just with start ups but with small companies with revenue that also need to push into regional or international markets.
The more global a company can be from birth the better. Finland is a great example of a country that despite its small GDP, puts a large amount funding, both private and public, into innovation programs for start ups or small companies across ICT, Clean tech, Life Sciences and eHealth.
ECT: Lots of tech giants have signed on. What might that say about it?
JH: I think that tech giants today are struggling to find their relevance with innovation. I mean to say that the standard methodology is to just acquire and absorb, but what if they have the opportunity to foster and incubate without a tie back to their own company? I think the world is global and tech giants still search for that next big thing. Microsoft invested a lot in outside vendors to bring Kinect to life and that investment for the first Kinect boxes came from a start up out of Israel that supplied the natural interface technology. So I think that in many ways, they need the agility and innovative thinking that comes out of start ups.
ECT: The Obama Administration has been criticized for being unfriendly to business, and for having too few business people in its ranks. Do you think this foundation will help raise awareness — a key public relations endeavor — in the Administration about the needs and importance of entrepreneurship?
JH: All change requires time, but I do think that any initiative a government or administration can take to back innovation will only help the country in the long term. When you think about change in terms of technology, we should be looking at investment into technology that feeds the sectors most likely to affect us in the long run – health, clean tech, services – and the application of innovation into those markets will, over time, affect citizens and how they interact with their environment, their health care providers and the businesses they interact with.
- The White House Partners With Steve Case, Facebook, Intel, IBM And Others To Jumpstart Entrepreneurship (techcrunch.com)
- Obama Administration Launches Entrepreneur Group (dailyfinance.com)
- AOL Founder to Lead White House Small Business Effort (thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Startup America: Will Obama’s New Initiative Live Up To Its Name? (huffingtonpost.com)
It keeps us warm, grows our crops, burns our skin, bleaches our hair and it also heats our homes, powers our computers and powers our cars. But the future is in solar and other renewable energies. We got super lucky and had access to one of THE leading solar experts around – Jan Schelling, who currently gives guidance to Hyrdo’s solar direction and despite his PhD, he actually boils the market down for us. You can follow his solar updates on Twitter @janschelling.
Tattletech: What’s the deal with solar (or PV) these days — can you describe the challenges in manufacturing solar panels and how the cost is currently being reduced due to new production methods?
JS: The challenge the PV industry is facing these days is to cut costs in line with reductions in financial support schemes around the world to maintain profitability for both the solar industry itself and investors in PV systems. Some years down the road, the solar industry will have to live without government subsidies in form of grants, investment tax credits, and feed-in tariffs and compete directly against more polluting sources of energy.
There are two main pathways to reduce cost: larger-scale manufacturing and technology innovation. The solar industry will have to do both. The three main technology routes are higher efficency of the solar cells (more power per area), faster processing (higher output per factory) and the use of less or less expensive materials. Tomorrow’s winners will have to succeed in all of these areas.
TT: Is it true that the earth’s supply of silicon suitable for solar is running out ? If so, how much is left?
JS: Silicon itself is not a scarce resource. If someone talks about a shortage of silicon, they mean the highly purified kind, which until five years ago only a handful of companies were able to produce. The same material that is used for computer chips. Silicon as a raw material is the second most abundant material in the Earth’s crust.
Think ‘sand’ which is essentially silicon oxide. There have been and will be periods during which highly purified silicon is in short supply but based on market demand, the silicon industry will increase its capacity and fill the gap in due time.
TT: Why are emerging markets ahead of the game when it comes to solar?
JS: Emerging markets are not necessarily ahead of the game, but solar provides a great opportunity. Well proven turn-key manufacturing plants for PV modules are now available. This allows emerging countries to generate their own solar panels and produce clean power. Similar to the adaption of mobile phones before major investment in land-based telephone systems where made, emerging economies can prepare their power grid for distributed rather than central generation, thus accommodating for a high penetration of intermittent renewable energy sources.
TT: What interested you first in the solar industry – I mean why did you throw your PhD brain around this ecosystem?
JS: Solar energy is the present and the future. Unlike many other sources of energy that are either here now, but gone tomorrow or have and always will be “only 20 more years of research away from commercialization” (fusion, hydrogen) — solar energy finds many great uses already today and it is the only source of energy that is abundant enough to meet the energy needs of an ever growing human population.
For someone who is impatient and gets bored easily, the solar industry is a great place to be in. Things happen and they happen fast. You don’t need to wait for a lifetime to see if your ideas and predictions were right. A year or two is normally enough. Solar energy is also a very interesting mix of technology development and global market dynamics with almost unlimited demand. And on top of all this, it feels good to help save the world.
TT: Why should corporations or municipalities turn to solar instead of wind or other renewable energy sources?
JS: I wouldn’t say corporations or municipalities should turn their back on other renewable energy sources. There are locations that are very favourable for wind, biomass, hydro, geothermal, wave or tidal energy and we should use what is available without putting too much stress on the local eco-systems. Solar energy can be used almost everywhere for power production, heating or even cooling and roofs of buildings are a great place to start. We don’t consume more land and the energy is produced where it is needed.
An investment in solar energy is a great long-term investment: While requiring a significant up-front investment, solar installations provide virtually operating and maintenance-free energy for decades and safeguard against rising energy costs.
TT: Have you seen the movie, Sunshine, where the sun burns out in the near future? What’s the ETA on that?
[note that some PhD's miss TT's misguided attempts at humour]
JS: I must admit I have not seen the movie Sunshine, but I think there are more
pressing issues than worrying about the sun burning out any time soon. The sun is a pretty big ball of gas in which hydrogen is turned into helium by nuclear fusion, thus releasing large amounts of heat. This process is gradually accelerating and will eventually increase the temperature of the Earth so much that all water will evaporate and life will cease to exist. However, it is estimated that this will not happen until 1 billion years from now and that’s pretty long-term on almost any scale.
- Suntech Power Stock Shines With 25% Upside (blogs.forbes.com)
- Ikea Continues Solar Push (solarfeeds.com)
- Don’t Stay Out Past $14.40 With SunPower (blogs.forbes.com)
- Can Renewables Power the World in Under 4 Decades? (solarfeeds.com)
- Can the U.S. Government Help Domestic Solar Companies Compete? (scientificamerican.com)
- Meeting MENA’s energy needs: Has the solar boom begun? (renewableenergyworld.com)
Tough week, even though it ended in Barcelona, it was the final event of the 2010 and we give thanks. But the week did bring some insight we can’t even print here, but what we did learn we will share with you.
1. Barcelona is really pretty at Christmas time and all those annoying sweaty tourists are joyously missing.
2. When you approach a table with three VC’s and not one of them gets up to 1) offer you a chair or 2) offer you a glass of wine from the bottle they have on the table; They are just impolite and have no manners. Run away.
3. Surprisingly, it is still very much a man’s world when it comes down to old school networking and investment discussion.
4. If a man turns to you and says, don’t worry we are just talking about VC stuff, walk away, that guy is a jerk.
5. People take advantage.
6. Reality is a prison.
7. Fishnets with a knee-length black dress are a perfectly acceptable attire for a cocktail party with uptight European VCs and money men in Barcelona at La Pedrera.
8. Clean tech is sexy, ICT is a boring piece of re-hashed, re-heated slop.
9. If the bartender can’t make a Gin martini, leave.
10. If a man walks into a dinner meeting already making excuses for how tired he is, or how busy he is or how annoyed he is by his own circumstances, get sick and leave.
A great replay of why PR doesn’t work anymore. If you have 57 minutes, start at slide 14 and sit back and remember, its not the news its the story. Tell the story.
For two days beginning December 1, ink Communications’ President and bGrand Co-Founder Jennifer Hicks will share her knowledge as an expert reviewer and academy coach at e-Unlimited’s second European Venture Summit in Dusseldorf. The city is Germany’s major biotechnology hub, so we can understand why biotech, industrial biotech, new energy and information technology entrepreneurs are flocking to the event. The entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to make international investment partnerships and do all the networking they can handle within those two days. On December 2, Hicks is moderating a review session at 13:20 which includes companies such as Spaezuvius VOF (Nulaz), Wadja Media Limited, Vocab AB, Entym Solutions and Favy Ltd. Devor Hebel of Fidelity Ventures, Philipp Schroeder of Active Capital Partners and Christian Nagel of Earlybird Venture Capital will also be on the panel to help these start ups get to market and find funding.