At the Pioneers Festival in Vienna end of May I had the chance to talk to change-agents, leading entrepreneurs, business angels, impact investors and system changing innovators. Let me start with Daniel Kim from Lit motors, who designed two-wheeled vehicles with innovative and disruptive technologies to create the AEV (auto-balancing electric vehicle) – the“C-1″ and the Kubo cargo scooter. Kim did scientific research on high way commuter traffic in the US. It did not make sense he says to drive with a SUV alone 48 km to work.” Then came the idea for much lighter and energy saving technology. His fascinating journey from being a designer, then researcher and finally entrepreneur and fund raiser was compelling, in a nutshell the combination of know the world, combine know how and know who, know yourself and know how to be an entrepreneur.
Conrad Egusa, a former VentureBeat writer has started the PR company Publicize, his company is changing the way start-up approach PR. His begin his first journey as entrepreneur, when he was a student and opened a local community within Facebook and successfully advanced it to a university newspaper. When working for VentureBeat, the leading source for news & perspective on tech innovation he realised that the PR industry’s business model was broken for start-ups.
With Jon Teo Founder and Managing Partner of Binary Capital I spoke about ecosystems and the founding blocs of ecosystems. “For me, platforms are vehicles for audience and distribution and very different from ecosystems” he explained. Whereas platforms can be good at establishing a new way of communication and distribution, Ecosystems change the conversation, establish new commons and create a new philosophical foundation. Wikipedia succeeded because investors aligned with the philosophy of equal access to information for all, Facebook with the vision of designing yourself and Snapshot with making it easier of showing another side of yourself. Ecosystems change the way people talk about things.
Marvin Liao from 500 start-ups has been an angel investor; a mentor and accelerator prior to joining 500 start-ups as a partner. His credo is we have to make it easy for investees to succeed and give them all support we can Being an entrepreneur requires migration and immigration talent, a new mind-set and a new form of entrepreneurial education. The same applies to investors, he adds. And you have to be able to accompany your pre seed or seed investments through the whole growth cycle from seed to start up to growth and maturity.
Tim Draper is not only a super successful venture capital investor and incubator, but also likewise an innovator, accelerator, educator, funder, philanthropist and ecosystem creator. In July 2014, Draper received wide coverage for his purchase at a US Marshals Service auction of seized bit coins from the Silk Road marketplace website.
With Draper University, the Draper Associates Funds and Hero City he provides a full fledged ecosystem for investees in order to make them bolder, better entrepreneurs and more resilient. When I asked him whether it is to early to write for me on a new so far undisclosed project he answered, “oh, it is always the right time.”
Erik Bovee, Founder and Partner of Speedinvest I had a great conversation on being a Seed Investor, Speed Investor and Mentor. He started consulting start – ups prior and this developed into being a seed investor. “There are not a lot of serial entrepreneurs in CEE, he told me. So start – ups need to learn, how to hire, how to scale, how to raise funds and how to access International Markets.” Therefore Speedinvest often takes a co-founder role. Their fund model and structure for seed investments is unique with no hurdle rate and no interest carry and puts emphasis on the alignment of interest between investee and Speedinvest. The intent of the model is to raise the floor and have less burnout of start-up founders.
Keyvan Peymani, Venture Capitalist, Investor, Entrepreneur and Tech optimist is looking for sustainable innovation and impact in his investments. Venture Capitalists have to offer capital and contacts, empower entrepreneurs, he says. In the seed capital ecosystem he sees an explosion of seed capital, venture capital and equity, a Morris Law like activity happening there. The next step needs to be partnerships with Lead Companies, joined Tech Events. Big companies could be “friendly customers “ of start-ups, try and test their blueprints and start-ups could do reverse mentoring for Leading companies.
It was inspiring talking to Ryan Bethencourt. He is a scientist, entrepreneur and a pioneer in the DIYbio movement best known for his work as program director and venture partner at Indie. Bio, a biology accelerator and early stage seed fund. International VC firm SOSVentures has been capitalizing on the now buzz worthy biotech investment trend with the creation of IndieBio, the first accelerator to focus on just life sciences. Ryan’s investment philosophy is addressing global challenges with biology and tech. One of his favourite investment stories is Memphis Meet, a company growing meet in a lab. “It is 20 times less resource intense, no human rights violations like in the cattle farming, no slauther houses and no animal dying2, he says. The technology uses less water, less CO2 is emitted and the meet is vegan. The technology is incredible disruptive and also profitable. It opens the door to a post animal economy, Ryan adds. Bacteria are biological nano-machines and he believes in this form of bio-nano – technology.
Conventional nano-technology has not delivered he says and it will be very hard for conventional technology to compete.
Chancellor Kern was also present at the start-up event of the Pioneers Festival. We need a start up mentality, a new deal for start – ups in order to foster innovation and create wealth. He spoke to the right High Five community. Over 500 investors were present at the festival.