TMT.Ventures’08 and ‘7 minutes’ contest for Central European start-ups

On February 27th I participated in TMT.Ventures’08 conference for innovative technology entrepreneurs and ICT executives, local and regional VC’s and angel investors, media people and industry opinion leaders. The event was held at the Warsaw Stock Exchange HQ, Poland.

The event gathered over 200 entrepreneurs and investment funds representatives. Over 400 people chatted and watched an on-line live broadcast.

I also co-moderated a ‘7 minutes‘ contest with Reshma Sohoni CEO of Seedcamp:

‘7 minutes’ is a unique competition for innovative entrepreneurs and their projects from the space of telco, new media and new technologies. It is an express elevator up to the community of investors and experienced businesspeople with decision-making power whose recommendations and support are like rocket fuel for the projects aimed in the right direction.

‘7 minutes’ is also a challenge for entrepreneurs trying to make an impression and deliver a convincing presentation in an extremely short period of 7 minutes. It is a test of self-confidence and charisma for the project-leaders standing in front of a demanding audience, their competition, world-class investors, bloggers, media people and TVN CNBC Biznes cameras transmitting the contest from the Warsaw Stock Exchange.

And I wrote that? wow! ;-)

7 minutes Jury in the process of selecting the winner

The honorable ‘7 minutes’ Jury making up it’s mind.

I’ll post a video and some more comments soon. Some pictures are available on New Europe Events‘ website: http://www.tmtevents.eu/7minut/PHOTO/

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Enterprise 2.0 Best Practices

Every tech start-up and especially 2.0 start-up should practice what they preach. Meaning: if you market and sell 2.0 products you should be an enterprise 2.0 yourself. A small enterprise but still ;-)

So here you are – social networking and Web 2.0 “Best Practices” for the enterprise based on biznes.net offerings:

1. Improving collaboration among workers, project groups and departments

1.1. Utilizing the networks of contacts – corporate and private – to achieve corporate goals. Social networking is a tool of achieving business goals with support of FOAF (friend-of-a-friend) known also as six-degrees-of-separation phenomenon. You can look for customers, emploees and partners anywhere or you could ask friends for introductions. Old-school method is to go through business cards, make some calls and ask questions which is time consuming and possibly annoying when done very often. Nowadays you can browse through your friends’ contacts, do a pre-selection of promising leads and send messages or call the right people saving your and your friends time. Social networking may be especially helpful in multinational corporations where cross-corporate connectivity is important.

1.2. Corporate knowledge management – it is almost impossible to put all of corporate know-how into writing, so the only way to maintain corporate memory is to document relationships with key people with social networking software. People come and go but as long as they can be reached they can be asked for valuable project or deal details. Expert knowlegde is very rarly well documented so ability to find the right people across the multinational organization fast (ASAP) is what social networking may help with.

2. Improving office-productivity and time-efficiency away from the office

2.1. More meetings with the right people – conferences and seminars are great to do business with many people in one day as long as there is a plan and an agreement on the subject of the conversation. Many social networking websites provide a calendar of events with a list of confirmed participants. If the event fits their interests users confirm their participation with a short comment and make their business profiles available to others. Browsing through participant profiles may be followed by sending messages with individual meeting proposals at the event. Exchanging messages before the event helps to narrow down the topics to be discussed and saves time during the event enabling users to arrange more meetings in one day.

2.2. E-mail bankruptcy or E-mail 2.0 – not all e-mail messages were created equal but they clog our incoming boxes equally well. Fred Wilson, a venture capitalist from New York, declared e-mail bankruptcy because he was so far behind on email. “If you’ve sent me an email (and you aren’t my wife, partner, or colleague), you might want to send it again. I am starting over.” – he wrote on his blog. Once a killer-app and huge productivity booster over the years e-mail became an irritant and productivity killer – not mentioning incoming e-mail addiction problem. Social networking provides a reputation-based messaging solution where sender identity, reputation, background and network of contacts is well documented. This enables recipients to quickly evaluate which messages are worth the time and effort. Sending messages is not free so mass-spamming is not profitable and therefore non existent.

2.3. Getting things done – is all about managing projects, to-do lists, setting priorities and focusing only on next actions instead of all that needs to be done. Applications supporting that kind of work style are being integrated with social networking portals adding productivity tools to the social context of groups working together. “Getting Things DoneÂŽ” is the work-life management system and book by David Allen that transforms personal overwhelm and overload into an integrated system of less-stress productivity.

3. Relationship Marketing through corporate and private blogs

3.1. Official corporate blogs or product blogs – such blogs are a sign of the times in which marketing has evolved from mass marketing towards relationship marketing. Creating individual relationships with the most active customers – most aware and outspoken influencers and trendsetters – is the key to building trust or confidence in the provider along with a sense of reduced anxiety and comfort in knowing what to expect. Blog readers develop a sense of familiarity and even a social relationship with their service or product providers. In practice, relationship marketing originated in industrial and B2B markets where long-term contracts have been quite common for many years. As internet became an interactive mass-medium individual customers are demanding the same level of care and personal relationships – especially from providers of relatively high value consumer products, when switching costs are high, when customers involvement in shaping products and services is high. Social networking websites for professionals are environments where corporate and product blogs may initiate free word of mouth promotions and referrals which are simply priceless.

3.2. Grassroots corporate blogs – corporate marketing departments do not have a monopoly on blogging about their companies. Sometimes to their surprise company workers spontaniously start blogging about corporate life, products and customers. Some of these blogs gain corporate support and become an important element of corporate culture – within new company policies on blogging and disclosing documents, procedures and other kinds of information.

3.3. Project group blogs – small teams and project groups discover new tools of tracking their progress, stimulating discussion, documenting know-how and brainstorming sessions. Tools of conducting every day business like blogs and wikis are becoming a valuable addition to corporate culture.

3.4. Market research blogs – discussion forums have always been a pool of valuable consumer generated data. Blogs enable marketing and R&D departments to stimulate more structured discussion and ask questions directly.

Some quotes (from News.com):

“Adoption of blogs, wikis and social software within business applications is in its early days but I see potential for them to take hold slowly.” said Andrew McAfee, an associate professor at the Harvard Business School, said at the Collaborative Technology Conference last week.

In the past when it came to adopting new technology, corporations were on the leading edge and consumers were underserved. That’s all turned around now, said Rajen Sheth, product manager at Google Enterprise.

“The currency is different in consumer applications. Individual consumers want to save time and be more productive. In business, you’re trying to make a group more productive,” said Christian Heidelberger, CEO of Nexaweb Technologies.

These Web 2.0 technologies won’t necessarily replace complicated and more structured content or document management systems, analysts said.

But new Web standard products could push people to stop using e-mail to share documents and instead collaborate through shared workspaces like wikis.

Allowing employees to share information through blogs or mashups with outside Web services poses significant security challenges for corporate customers, analysts said.

Promoting ad hoc collaboration and multiple modes of communication can be beneficial, but employees need policies and IT administrators need tools to govern those policies, said John Crupi, CTO of JackBe

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Nozbe.com @ Office 2.0 Conference, San Francisco

It was great to participate in the “Web 2.0 Wave in the U.S. and Poland” event last November in SF. In case you were wondering – we keep on surfing that Web 2.0 wave with some success I must say. I wanted to share that news with you…

My friend Michael Sliwinski is coming to San Francisco next week to talk at Office 2.0 Conference about ‘Getting things done’ application (productivity tool) called Nozbe.com which he created. Michael had enough skill and persistence to become one of the leading providers of such services on the US market. Here’s the buzz: http://www.nozbe.com/page/buzz He also created one of the first such productivity tools for iPhone without even using one (it’s not available in Poland yet).

You can see a video interview with Michael talking about how he’s riding the Web 2.0, “Getting things done” and iPhone waves :

UPDATE 04/20/2008: The Guru of ‘Getting things done’ David Allen was in Warsaw and also met with Michael Sliwinski

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Google Day in Warsaw

May 17th, 2007 was a ‘Google Day’ in Warsaw. I did some recording for you to see:

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Vinton Cerf, Google evangelist in Warsaw

Vint Cerf (bio1, bio2, bio3) visited Warsaw as a part of his Central European Roadshow co-organized by Google and Bonnier Business publishing company.

video #1

video #2 – click to open in youtube
video #3 – click to open in youtube
video #4 – click to open in youtube
video #5 – click to open in youtube
video #6 – click to open in youtube

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Innowatorium with Yegor Anchishkin

On March 1st, 2007 we’ve had a special, unformal ‘innowatorium’ event (unconference) with Yegor “I’m a global guy” Anchishkin. We had a lunch and talked about his business and opportunities on the Ukrainian market. Shortly after I drove Yegor to the airport and we almost had a car accident – too much distraction caused by car-window sightseeing. ;-)

Yegor Anchishkin is a Co-Founder and a Product Manager at Viewdle – a startup that originated from Ukraine but offers its B2B services of video indexing and search to the biggest media corporations. But let’s allow Yegor to speak for himself:

Viewdle is a next-generation video indexing platform that powers private label search engines for TV, online video, and enterprise content. Viewdle was founded by a team of engineers from the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Hummingbird (Nasdaq: HUMC) and Jumpcut, who developed a product from idea to a stage where it is considered by Fortune 500 corporations.

The day before during TMT.Ventures’07 Warsaw event Yegor talked about “VC investments in technology prototypes with global market potential” and gave practitioner’s view on strategy and tactics for hi-tech startups to utilize the best from new economies of Eastern Europe.

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Miro S. Parizek, Corum Group International

Miro S. Parizek, Corum Group International speaking on February 28, 2007 at TMT.Ventures’07 Warsaw.

video #1

video #2

The video was recorded at TMT.Ventures’07 Warsaw – the most interesting event for venture capital and private equity industry in Central Europe.

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