Greg Marsh of Index Ventures

Greg Marsh, of Index Ventures speaking on February 28th, 2007 at TMT.Ventures’07 Warsaw.

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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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Sean Seton-Rogers of Benchmark Capital

Sean Seton-Rogers, venture capital fund Benchmark Capital speaking on February 28, 2007 at TMT.Ventures’07 Warsaw.

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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Pitch Johnson in Warsaw

Last friday I had the pleasure to attend a meeting with Pitch Johnson and mingle with senators, professors, American embassy officials, Polish government officials and the president of the Polish Constitutional Tribunal. What a company…

The meeting was hosted by USPTC which is a Silicon Valley based non-profit organization founded by a group of senior U.S.-based corporate executives and business leaders with professional, technical and practical working experience and accomplishments in both Poland and the U.S.

The goal of USPTC is to help companies and innovators make the right contacts to expand trans-Atlantic trade, investment and cooperation in the fields of information technology and biotechnology.
pitch johnson warsaw

During that meeting Mr. Johnson talked about conditions which must exist for entrepreneurship and innovation to flourish. And the conditions are:

  • Freedom
    • political,
    • economic,
    • personal
  • Government support
    • stimulating commercial banks to support innovative SMEs,
    • indirect co-financing of innovative projects,
    • opening patent and information offices,
    • educating in the field of commercialization and e-ship,
    • moderate taxes
    • existence of public stockmarkets
  • Entrepreneurial climate
    • role models like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates,
    • social acceptance of entrepreneurship as a lifestyle,
    • social tolerance for failure,
    • celebration of risk-taking and success,
    • support for informal social networks,
    • availability of talent, engineering and business skills
    • availability of capital for start-up and seed projects

After listening to Mr. Johnson with attention I concluded that the ‘entrepreneurial climate’ part is something I could help to cultivate. In fact I am doing that already.

After returning from Silicon Valley in December 2006 (I was invited there by USPTC) I started thinking about organizing a grassroots unconference for internet innovators. Tommorrow evening is the first such event called ‘innowatorium’ which stands for laboratory (laboratorium) of innovation.

There is no set agenda. Every participant has 15 seconds to introduce him/herself. Everyone may come and present. Everyone may interrupt and give comments or ask questions. Everyone may propose to change the rules.

Despite lack of media sponsors, advertising campaing or even set agenda the idea of such an open event was very well received in the Polish blogosphere. The number of participants is expected to exceed 150.

The response was so good I even got invited today to Polskie Radio to talk about innowatorium and inspiration coming from Silicon Valley and USPTC. You may listen to it on January 31st at 7.30 AM Polish time.

But thats not all folks! On 28th of February there’s going to be a little more formal event in Warsaw called TMT.Ventures ’07 which I help to organize. The main topic is fostering innovation in Central and Eastern Europe. Special guests from Benchmark Capital and Index Ventures are going to add some global perspective while the President of the Warsaw Stock Exchange is going to talk about the Polish AIM – an alternative stock market for young and innovative companies. It’s called ‘Nowy Rynek’ and it launches in Autumn this year and will surely boost the entrepreneurial climate. Rafal Stroinski – US PTC Director – is one of the panelists at this event.

So there are more and more events building that nice California-style climate which is required for innovation to grow. But we still get lots of snow in the winter. I guess you can’t have everything in life. Anyway, it was great to meet Pitch Johnson in Warsaw.


Franklin “Pitch” Johnson, Jr is a pioneer in Silicon Valley venture capital and has been active in that field since 1962. He developed and taught a course in entrepreneurship and venture capital at Stanford for 12 years from 1979-1990. It was the first venture capital course taught in a graduate school of business.

Since that time he has been an advisor to students creating entreprenurial plans as Business 390 projects. He continues to work as a venture capitalist in his 41-year-old firm, Asset Management Company of Palo Alto. His most recent publication was a paper called “Entrepreneurship and Democracy” in the Hoover Digest, 2005, No. 1.

In the area of entrepreneurship and privatization, Mr. Johnson has served as an advisor to several eastern European countries since 1990. Mr. Johnson is an active jet pilot, is a close follower of the sport of track and field, and has attended ten Olympic Games. He is also chairman of the board of San Francisco Opera Company.

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Edelman mentions – a social networking website for professionals owned by Web² – was mentioned in a report by Edelman on global blogosphere and social networking services. However brief – we love that kind of brand exposure and recognition. :)

Report excerpt:

This paper provides corporations with a guide to participating respectfully in the “horizontal” conversation, with a focus on the global blogosphere. It will help companies participate in the blogosphere locally and globally, and help them understand that social networks connect people with similar interests in ways that cut across languages, nations, cultures, and social classes.

There has been a good deal of research produced about the English-speaking blogosphere, but we know the blogosphere is quite diffuse by language, with 39% of total posts in English, 33% in Japanese, 10% in Chinese, with Spanish, French, Italian, and German all registering between 1-3% of all blog posts as of June 2006 (chart 1). Therefore, we aimed to examinethe differences between markets.

Dowload: “A Corporate Guide to the Global Blogosphere. The new model of peer-to-peer communications” by Edelman (PDF, 3MB)

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Web² funded by MCI Management

I hope you had a great New Year’s Eve party and I hope this trend will continue throughout the remaining 364 days of 2007 :)

For me it was a busy, busy December ’06.

On the 21st I inked a deal with the leading CEE technology venture capital fund MCI Management. MCI decided to support my Web 2.0 start-up. My company Web² will get 130K Euro to develop and market and services in Poland. It may seem that the ammount I mentioned is… kind of small but it just shows you how cost-effectively Web 2.0 technology can be developed in CEE. For MCI it’s a promise of a high return rate.

We also have plans to develop new Web 2.0 projects either by launching them ourselves or acquiring existing services and most importantly top talents in the CEE internet industry.

Of course one of the value driving factors is going regional/global with the most promising services and applications.

We’ll be looking into these opportunities and adjusting further funding accordingly.

And now to the deal-related paper work… ;-)

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Web 2.0 Wave in the U.S. and Poland

As I mentioned earlier I was in the San Francisco Bay Area recently. I went there to participate in a discussion panel at the event entitled “Web 2.0 Wave in the US and Poland” organized by USPTC and the Polish Consulate at Stanford University, CA.

I met many great people there trying to build bridges between the Polish technology innovators and the U.S. market. You can learn about the proceedings of the event from a former FT reporter Tom Foremski (who was late for the event but has some thoughts on it nevertheless). Most of the anonymous quotes of the ‘the Polish panelists’ are mine ;-)

The event was very smoothly moderated by Stanford professor Charles Petrie whos very simple introductory presentation you may find here. No Microsoft products were used to prepare this presentation as Prof. Petrie mentioned ;-)

The next day I went to another conference – this time on Enterprise 2.0. Many interesting people there – again. Had a great time, made some valuable contacts and discussed some very interesting concepts. It seems that enterprise software (also 1.0 ;-) is big over there. I guess they don’t make those Fortune 3000 lists for nothing.

I also found out that I really connect with ICT businesspeople from India. We both have an outsiders perspective on the U.S. market and it really helps when evaluating our products’ chances or the future of the U.S. market. And we don’t even live on the same continent!

For example we both recognize the same differences in the adoption barriers of some products/solutions in the U.S. and other parts of the world. Some barriers in the U.S. are lower making it easier to sell certain solutions. On the other hand some inefficiencies don’t exist making certain business models (working elsewhere) obsolete.

That lack of perspective leads people to believe that WiMax has surely a big bright future in Europe or that Poles are passionate about Skype for other reasons than relatively high telecom rates due to slow telecom market liberation.

Anyway it was an eye-opening experience and a I had loads of fun too. Later on I’ll be elaborating on the ideas and doubts that came to my mind as a result of this trip.

Below are some pictures to give you a flavour of what I’ve seen and done over there.

This is an opening slide of the US-Polish event.

Ewa Stepien of New Europe Events.

From the left: me going yadayadayada, dr Greg Badros (director of engineering at Google Inc.), Marcin Malinowski (director of the business incubator department at Onet) and Paul Bragiel (CEO of the Meetro social networking site)

Our little excursion to Google HQ (there IS such thing as free lunch – but only at Google!)

I also went to Intel’s tech museum

Anybody recognize this? :-)

I met some friendly chip-makers there…

…who attempted to check out my conductivity

American corporations love to show off their big… logos

I like this one ;-)

They actually do some kitesurfing in Santa Cruz even in the winter. I wish I brought my gear along. The conditions were like in September at the Baltic sea.

It’s a pretty amazing place as you can see. (I remember a movie “A view to a kill” in which James Bond fights on top of that bridge).

Ok, time to go home…

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Hello world!

I just realized that the default WordPress post subject “Hello world” reflects the main topic of this blog very well. Doesn’t it? And I guess every tech-related adventure should begin with this all-times all-star phrase.

As I wrote in the ‘About’ note the objective of this blog is to explore and discuss the opportunities and success factors for global expansion of an european ICT company with a special focus on the Internet companies from the CEE region.

So… Hello world! ;-)

Inspiration to blog on this topic came from many directions. First of all – several ICT conferences which I co-organized in Poland during which we had several guest speakers from the US and UK. Secondly my recent trip to the San Francisco Bay Area during which I met great people who gave me some great ideas. And last but not least – going global sometimes is the only way to gain momentum, publicity and reach critical mass. But is it possible for a relatively small European company to go global?

Surely the incentives are there. Launch your internet services and with some nice PR you may attract attention of the blogoshpere and the tech media. Then you get some users who invite their friends and co-workers. The global market is so deep that almost every service will get some users. If you have a good product it will get traction relatively easy compared to services available only in local European languages. If you are lucky you capture attention of the big media and popular bloggers, gain global publicity, more users and VC’s interest. If not there’s allways a M&A option. Sounds good doesn’t it?

I was having lunch in Google HQ in Mountain View when someone asked me ‘so what is it that you do?’. ‘Oh, I represent an European internet smart-up doing this and that and thinking about the english-speaking market’ – I replied. ‘A start-up I mean’ – I corrected myself quickly. ‘No, no, a smart-up is probably a better description for what you intend to do’ someone said.

So there you go. I represent a European smart-up and therefore I think it would be smart to talk and to listen to people who have similar interests and experiences. This is how innovations start in the Sillicon Valley. People talk and write and read. Constantly. They ask questions and challenge other people. Eventually that’s how they win. It is not a part of the European culture – not from my experience. But you have to start one day…

In January 2007 there will be a conference in Warsaw for the local VC/PE industry and technology entrepreneurs. Some guests from the U.S. VC funds are invited. I will write about this soon.

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