Summer of Startups 2011

Spent almost a full day last week in Helsinki by invitation of Aalto Entrepreneurship Society (See also: #aaltoes & on FB) to speak to 10 teams of their Summer of Startups program. All-in-all it was a worthy time investment for me, and I hope for the teams too – after a lecture on the history and learnings from building Skype I could spend about 20 minutes in a mentoring session with each of them.

Characteristically to being just in the middle of a 10-week intense effort of forming their products in such an early seed stage it is far too early to tell which one of them will actually fly as a company. It could be well just 1-2 companies and I have my hunches to which one(s), if any – won’t reveal that before their final pitches on August 10th though. Nevertheless that same hunch tells me that out of the people present the ratio of future success will be much higher, and even if their current concept fails they will find a new idea and potentially a differently formed team that will help them succeed in the future.
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On Skype and European Innovation at Stanford

I had an honor to speak at Stanford University on March 9th, as part of their European Entrepreneurship & Innovation Thought Leaders seminar series (see web site and Facebook group). I truly enjoyed the experience, meeting students, faculty and guests and joining a dinner in a smaller circle later for fascinating follow-up conversations around entrepreneurship.

Skype's Sten Tamkivi
(Photo courtesy of Steve Jürvetson, click on it for his notes from the audience)

Here are the slides I used:

As you might notice, my slides were just a light framework this time and most of content was oral and followed by interactive discussion. Unfortunately it is slightly more complicated with video this time. Please follow the instructions here, but beware that you need to create an account with the Stanford SCPD site (which you will hopefully find useful for accessing any other free seminars content they offer) and the videos are served using Silverlight, which may or may not be compatible with your choice of operating system or browsers, like Chrome.


OpenCoffee 10. jaanuaril!

Et aidata Jüril inimesi kokku kutsuda:

Paluks infot levitada: järjekorras teine tehnoloogiainimeste kokkusaamine OpenCoffee leiab aset sel neljapäeval, 10. jaanuaril 9-11.00, samas kohas kui ennegi: Tallinna Kesklinna Scotland Yardis, Mere pst 6E. Kõik huvilised on oodatud.

(vt ka varasemaid OpenCoffee-teemalisi postitusi siin)


Happy Birthday, Mutant Disco!

Mutant Disco 10!
Last night the Von Krahl theater in Tallinn hosted crowds from all over the past ten years to cheer for the tenth birthday of Mutant Disco.
As for many other good things in this category, we have to thank again late John Peel. By becoming a fan of Röövel Ööbik and giving them a lot of BBC One airtime in early nineties, he inevitably helped to build a strong network between the Estonian and UK music circles, with the now inseparable tandem of Raul Saaremets & Chris “Rythm Doctor” Long to start with.
MD has been so much more than another club event here. It has consistently exposed local and international top performances to the scene, shaping our tastes and values. Bringing guys like Bob Jones or Frankie Valentine or Basement Jaxx or Moodymann over to a tiny cold Northern European capital must have been extremely hard for Raul and Chris when they started, but hugely because of their pains of the early years, Estonia has become the vibrant alternative music and culture host it is now. There is a video interview with them available on how they got started (mostly in Estonian): part 1 and part 2.
Over the years, MD has innovated with not just music, but also with consistent branding, their web presence and active online community around md.com forums, creative flyers (first on paper, fully virtual these days), redefining Von Krahl from a theatre to happening, multifaceted event location, etc etc.
But most importantly, Mutant Disco has had an unprecedented effect on building a strong horizontal network inside a certain generation of our small country. Many in their student years gathering to Mutant Discos 10 years ago are now the who’s who stars of business, investment banking, government, law, technology, media and many others making things happen in arts – music, literature, visual arts, cinema, fashion. In the mixed nostalgic-euphoric vibe at the event yesterday, I couldn’t help but wonder what extremely unique value has been created just because of the out of the box mindsets people end up with here. A successful attorney hanging out with music critics or a software developer with his best friends in experimental video think much differently than their colleagues stuck in narrow professional groups of their industry. The experience of belonging to the diverse group of mutants must have released ideas and energy in places we don’t even admit.
Respect, Raul & Chris, and happy birthday again!


Tallinna esimene OpenCoffee juba homme

Jüri on tänuväärselt võtnud vedada esimese OpenCoffee korraldamise Tallinnas, mida Saul on juba mõnda aega tagasi tagant utsitanud:

Juba sel neljapäeval kell 9.00 hommikul toimub esimene mitte-ametlik tehnoloogiaettevõtjate, -investorite, -arendajate ja -huviliste hommikukohvi vormis kokkusaamine OpenCoffee Tallinn. Ürituse eesmärgiks on omavahel paremini kokku viia tehnoloogiavallas tegutsejad, olgu need siis ideede generaatorid, tänased või tulevased ettevõtjad, tänased või potentsiaalsed investorid.

Ise ei ole kahjuks Eestis, aga vähemasti Teller ja Parasiil on siin plaaninud Skype’i poolt ürituselt läbi hüpata.
Kevadel käisin Londoni “algupärasel” OpenCoffee‘l ja ehk Eesti omale jõuan siis järgmine kord.