Seedcamp 2008 was fun

Taavet on panel
Spent a day at London [Seedcamp](http://seedcamp.com/) Week’s [Product and Marketing Day](http://seedcamp.com/pages/weeks_program#2008) again. Hit quite a jackpot on the mentoring group selection lottery and got to spend time with four out of the total seven winners of this year:
* Kyko – online multiplayer gaming by the creators of [Babuki](http://www.babuki.com/mainpage/), with a neat angle of tapping into existing social/IM networks to build their userbase.
* Stupeflix – French startup generating time-synced video clips out of static images and music. [Animoto](http://animoto.com/) competitor with a strong technical performance edge.
* [Toksta](http://www.toksta.com/en/liveconfig/) – whitelabel web based IM client for social networks from Germany.
* [uberVU](http://www.ubervu.com/) – my personal favourite, coming from Romania: crawler based harvesting of comments to and discussions around your content from wherever it get syndicated to. Think of seeing not only the comments to your video directly on YouTube, but also on any random blog that this video got embedded to or any twitter post referring to that video with a tinyurl.
[Decisions for Heros](http://decisionsforheroes.com/) whom I also met have found a very sharp niche of catering the dataporn needs for rescue teams, and I just loved their founder Robin´s passion. Wish them all the best even if they didn’t win this event.
All-in-all and with a few exceptions, I was more impressed by the people and their passion rather than the specific business ideas. Of course, it sort of has to be very hard to differentiate a great company from an utterly silly one before it gets off the ground, otherwise we would all be angel inverstment gazillionaires in a blink. Judging people and their characters is a much more natural task – and I really did like most of whom I met.
In addition to the roster of enthusiastic startups, I am also very happy about making some new friends among [fellow mentors](http://seedcamp.com/pages/mentors), such as [Robert Gaal](http://www.linkedin.com/in/robertgaal), co-founder of [Wakoopa](http://wakoopa.com) (which I have been a user of for a few months) and [The Next Web](http://thenextweb.org/). Chatting with guys like him is very energizing and raises hopes about the vision of Europe as an innovation hub. Which was Saul’s point of creating Seedcamp after all, wasn’t it?


Passime kodus teleka ees, sest see on ohutum

Sel ajal kui ma istusin Pärnus ja kuulasin lugusid Eesti teadmistepõhise visioonidest, saatis sõber sõnumi Emori ürituselt, kus tutvustati hiljutist uuringut Eestlaste väärtushinnangutest: “71% eestlastest oleksid kõige õnnelikumad kui nad istuksid kodus ja ei teeks midagi. Seejuures vaatavad nad päevas 4.5h telekat”.

Kui mõelda sellise kambaga luurelemineku võimalustest (ehk kuidas selliselt meelestatud ühiskond võiks innoveerida, ettevõtteid luua, eksportida, maailmas endast mingit märki maha jätta) tuleb sügav masendus peale.

Emori veebis on veel mõned väljavõtted uuringust, nt:

Oma igapäevatöös eelistavad ligi pooled (46%) töötavad inimesed stabiilsust uutele võimalustele ning vaid iga seitsmes (14%) on kindlasti valmis uute võimaluste nimel oma töökoha stabiilsusega riskima. Pea iga teine (43%) Eesti inimene usub täna kindlalt, et elus on üldse parem olla ettevaatlik: uued inimesed ja olukorrad võivad kaasa tuua (ebameeldivaid) ootamatusi.

Üleskutse riskide võtmisele, mille suve alguses kirjutasin tundub kuidagi naiivse lootusena vist?


Visioonist Lahendusteni 2008

Mõned juhuslikud märkmed selleaastaselt ITL visioonikonverentsilt.

  • Heido Vitsur: 2000. a tõi iga täiendav välislaenukroon kaasa 2 krooni SKP kasvu. 2007 toodab laenukroon 0.5 krooni SKP-d. Ehk siis laenatud raha tarbitakse kohe ära, mitte ei investeerita.
  • Singapuris on huvitavalt kombineeritud teemad: Informatsiooni, Kommunikatsiooni ja Kunstide ministeerium.
  • Singapuri 2015. a eesmärk on 90% kodudest broadbandiga varustada… aga 100% kodudest, kus on lapsed. Mõistlik sisend prioritiseerimiseks.
  • 2007 Eesti IKT turg on 1.5b EUR, ca 50/50 IT vs Telecom. IT osakaal kasvab.
  • 28.9% elanikkonnast kasutab Eestis e-riigi teenuseid. Huvitav, mis see number oleks kui e-tuludeklaratsioon välja arvata?
  • IKT kasutus Eesti firmades:
    • e-mail on mööda läinud post/telefon/faks kategooriast (vastavalt ca 95% ja 90%). Ehk siis meil on juurde tulnud ettevõtteid, kelle kontoris on internet, aga puuduvad telefonid?
    • kõige masendavamad protsendid on kasutusvaldkonnsa “product planning”. 50% kasutab IT-d, 20% plaanib hakata kasutama, 30% ei plaanigi?!
  • Jaan Pillesaar: Kui vaadata meie maksusüsteemi, siis Eestis ei ole mõtet tööd teha. Kapitali liigutamine on sisuliselt maksuvaba, aga kui inimene hakkab tööd tegema, siis on maksukoormus ca 80%.
  • Alates 2000 aastast on Eesti riigi kulud kasvanud +200% ja SKP +150%
  • Idee Inglismaalt – poekäru mille küljes on vöötkoodilugeja. Võtad mingi asja riiulist ja paned korvi, samal ajal seda ära skännides. Kassasse jõudes loeb müüja selle info sealt välja ja maksad kohe, mitte ei passi lindi juures. Samas – Selveri kaheksa aasta taguse e-kaubanduseksperimendi tagasitoomine oleks veel mõnusam.
  • GPSid on suuremates riikides on keeranud vaikseid elukeskkondi nässu. Nt vanur kolib väiksesse külla, et rahu ja vaikust nautida ja siis ostavad 200,000 kohalikku endale TomTomi, mis juhatab nad iga päev sealt külast läbi sõitma, kuna see on efektiivseim tee…

Kui ürituse slaidid võrku jõuavad, soovitan lugeda Jaan Pillesaare (ettepanek radikaalselt muuta teabetöötajate maksustamist), Allan Martinsoni (sissejuhatus riskikapitali) ja Kristjan Rebase (Arengufondi IT-seire vahetulemused) omi.

Üldiselt on kümneaastaseks saanud konverents kuidagi väsinud, et mitte öelda lausa morbiidse olemisega. Vaadates suure saali tühjasid rõdusid, tekkis mõte, et sinna oleks võinud tuua nt 6-7 bussitäit abituriente või tudengeid. Oleks ehk nendest visioonijuttudest rohkem kasu kui kitsas IT-inimeste ringis omavahel heietades.


President’s Speech on Innovation

President's opening address
Last week’s [Baltic Dynamics 2008](http://www.teaduspark.ee/?q=/eng/BD) conference was opened by an address by the [President of Estonia Toomas Hendrik Ilves](http://president.ee/en/), speaking on Innovation. As the full text did not make it to the president.ee website’s [speeches section](http://president.ee/en/duties/speeches.php) yet, I pinged his office and they kindly provided me a full copy in a few hours. Transparent government in action, love it.
As I think this is one of the best condensed summaries of the major issues — such as investments, education, attracting labour — Estonia and Europe are facing developing as technology hotbeds, I am re-publishing the whole text for your reading pleasure. Really worth your time.

**Welcome address of the President of Estonia
at the opening of (innovation) conference ‘Baltic Dynamics’
Dorpat SPA Hotel, Tartu, 4 September 2008**
Ladies and Gentlemen, dear friends,
I am glad to speak here at the opening of the 13th ‘Baltic Dynamics’ conference, an increasingly international meeting, as it should be the case in the field of innovation.
This time the conference takes place at amidst a global economic slowdown, a situation that is frankly unfamiliar for many in Estonia. According to some (admittedly somewhat dire) predictions, this may become the most severe global downturn over the last decade. In terms of our domestic economies, all three Baltic countries stand on the threshold of a paradigm shift; the motor of rapid growth — a competitive advantage based on cheap labor seems to be over. As indeed we have all hoped it would be, for a rise in wages and quality of life is, after all what convergence is all about. But this also creates a new challenge: further development of our economies can come only from higher value added products and services. In this sense innovation is naturally the key to shifting from slowdown to growth.
We must ourselves – how did we reach the state of affairs where we are now? Our economic development has been very rapid, but not always enough forward-looking. The recent slowdown in our economy is – at least to a certain extent – caused by overinvestment in sectors that have provided high yields in the short term (such as real estate) and which are prone to move in correlation with fluctuations of domestic demand. That said, it does not mean that some investments are less necessary than the others, but in the longer term a very small economy cannot rely solely on the domestic market. Indeed, even the second and third largest economies in the world, Japan and Germany cannot rely solely on domestic demand either.

Read the rest of this entry »


Summer – over and out

It is obviously the back-to-school-and-work season now.

First: I’m receiving complaints that this blog has seen just 2 posts in last 2 months… In July nor August nobody cared, including myself. If you were one of those worried about silence – I now know that you have not subscribed to the feed. My Flickr feed you receive as an automagically embedded freebie when subscribing to this blog, has actually had a full trail of mobile snapshots of what has happened over the summer. And I have twittered.

Secondly, the travel season has started. Looking at the calendar, in the month of September I will drop by Tartu (spoke at Baltic Dynamics there last week), Pärnu (attending From Visions to Solutions), London (a wedding + Seedcamp), Athens (Skype Beta Days), Luxembourg, San Francisco / San Jose.

Hope this is enough chances to see you in person. And if not – I’ll try to be a better boy when it comes to dropping a line here on the way. Thanks, your pings to see if I survived the slow season are heartwarming.