Today marks the culmination of the IBM SmartCamp global entrepreneur competition. Nine startups from around the globe have spent the past three days in San Francisco learning from venture capital and business leaders, honing their VC pitches, getting feedback from mentors and networking with one another. Today, at the Bently Reserve, they made their final pitches and listened to speeches by government and business leaders.
The winner is….
Profitero, from Ireland (by way of Ukraine and Belarus), is the winner of the IBM Global Enterpreneur of the Year award.
The People’s Vote Award Winner is….
IDXP, from Brazil, won the popular vote with 845 votes of a total of 2537 votes cast. Profitero came in second, and C-B4 came in third.
The Start: 1:30 p.m.
Lt Governor of California
Entrepreneurship and Economic Development
The city is a city of dreamers and doers and entrepreneurs.
We have a formula of success. There’s intention if you want to create an entrepreneurship economy.
We have so much diversity here. That’s what we’re all about. We’re about inviting the best and brightest, where you can take risks and change the order of things.
San Francisco is becoming Silicon Valley north. The big problem is a shortage of people with the right skills. Education will be the differentiator.
The state is beginning to turn around.
We need to do more and better to make our academic innovations available to business.
In 2005, we hosted World Environment Day in SF. It also marked the first time that more people were living in urban areas. We know where the trend lines are going. The opportunity is self evident. The challenge is obvious. How can we create a sustainable framework for people in urban areas?
We have to bring the top talent to bear on these challenges and opportunities.
Panel: The New Intelligence: The Power of Insight
Evangelos Simoudis, Trident Capital
Promod Haque, Norwest Venture Partners
Alexandra Johnson, DFJ VTB Aurora
Moderator: Mike Riegel, IBM
Riegel: Talk to us about the growth of global entrepreneurship.
Johnson: We started on working on this a decade ago, and now we’re seeing things happen, especially in places like Russia and China.
Also the growth of mobile computing in emerging markets made it possible for those markets to leapfrog the mature markets.
Haque: We’ve been investing in emerging markets since 2005. The emergence of the middle class in those countries is creating opportunities. We have a single global fund. All our partners are sync-ed together. We have teams on the ground in all these countries, and we’re working together.
Simoudis: We’re seeing a lot of knowledge coming from outside the us and affecting the way we think about investing.
Riegel: Is analytics a big opportunity around the world.
Pramod: In the US, we’re in the third generation. In emerging markets they still installing things like ERP systems. So the work on big data is happening here. It’s the volume of data and the variety of data, and we have real time data. It’s not about reducing costs but about making my company grow.
Simoudis: People are moving from spotting patterns in data to actual insights. We’re focusing on companies that are industry specific. The software can saw to the user because of these patterns you should change the marketing budget in the following way.
Johnson: We see all sizes of companies change their behavior based on analytics. Big banks have embraced business analytics tools, and smaller banks are trying to get into the game in the same way. If they can predict the behavior of their customers and go to the places where their customers are, then they can expand their businesses.
Pramod: We have machine learning now. You can inject real time data. You have the location based information. You can make precise recommendations to users in real time.
Riegel: What’s your best advice to the entrepreneurs here?
Simoudis: I’ve been an entrepreneur twice. First, you need passion and optimist. Also, remember, your investors are your friends. Treat you money like it’s theirs.
Haque: My advice is don’t give up–no matter what happens. Figure out a way. If you’re passionate about what you’re doing, you’ll stick to it. There are a lot of new disruptive technologies coming, and those are opportunities for you.
Johnson: Choose your investor carefully. It’s a long term relationship. Find a way to build a company where 2 + 2 = 9.
IBM Watson Solutions
My lessons from being an entrepreneur
I worked for 3M for several years and then moved to Austin, and launched my first startup. I used 13 credit cards. In early 2001 the company was bought by Commerce One. Then I started another company, which was bought by IBM
The companies created about $250 million of value and nobody got hurt in the process.
As an entrepreneur you have to understand your personal core competence. My skill is transferring something from a Powerpoint into a business. IBM is making it possible for me to do that again.
Entrepreneurship is changing. There’s a lot more realism about how businesses are built. It’s no longer Build it and They Will Come. Now it’s, If they Come, You Can Build It. You need to validate the market before invest a lot. It’s about building a business, not building a startup. Back in the dot-com era, entrepreneurs just wanted to build quickly and flip it. They didn’t build a business model. Today, people are building real businesses.
Also, you have to build a business with a bigger purpose. It has to be about more than you bank balance.
The other lesson is great companies are build by exceptional people. Don’t start a company with your beer buddies. It’s the team that gets you through.
How Watson helps create a smarter Planet.
It’s been nearly a year since Watson won on Jeopardy! This was one of IBM’s Grand Challenges—to prove what computing can do.
Last August, IBM formed a new business unit to commercialize Watson. It’s a Deep Q&A system. It can process and understand a tremendous amount of information in a short time. I can deal with unstructured data. We can create information based applications rather than data based applications. Before Watson, computers were big calculators; After Watson, they’re learning and thinking machines. It’s the third generation of IT.
Watson helps to create a smarter planet. The world is getting more instruments, interconnected and intelligent, which creates a lot of new opportunities.
Watson represents one of the most advanced capabilities in computing—and a great opportunity to apply intelligence to solving the world’s problems.
How does it work? Three steps:
–It understands human language at massive scale.
–It generates possible answers and gives its confidence level, and can explain why it came up with the answer.
–It learns from its experiences.
The first question was: where do we apply Watson?
Our first target is health care. There’s a tremendous amount of medical information, yet doctors can’t absorb it all and apply the information at the point of care.
This is the grand challenge for Watson to take on.
It’s so difficult because there’s so much unstructured data. Most computers are not designed to understand unstructured information. Watson understands human language and understands the question that is being asked, so it can find answers.
It can serve as an advisor to doctors. It’s not making decisions. It’s the physician’s assistant.
Garage Technology Ventures
The Lessons I learned From Steve Jobs
I worked for Apple from 1983 to 1987 as a software evangelist for the software division. I worked for Steve Jobs. I had a great time there. We were trying to change the world
I’m sure right now Steve’s telling god how to run the universe.
–“Experts” are often clueless. As entrepreneurs, if you listen too much to the experts, you’ll go wrong. The most dangerous experts are people who are successful and rich. Rich and famous doesn’t mean smart. Most of the time it means lucky.
–Customers can’t tell you what they need. Nobody told Apple to build the Macintosh. Customers told us to build a better Apple II.
–Jump to the next curve. Don’t just duke it out on the same curve.
–The biggest challenges beget the best work. Apple took on IBM. Find a mighty competitor for yourself.
–Design counts. It’s not all about price. Enough people care about design.
–Use big graphics and big fonts. Example from Jobs: iTunes: The best windows app ever written. The optimal number of Powerpont slides in a presentation is 10. You should give it in 20 minutes max. The minimum font size should be 30 points.
–Changing your mind is a sign of intelligence. When things change you have to react and change.
–A-players hire A-Players. I’d say you should hire people who are even better than you. A+ players.
–Real CEOs can demo. They can show how the product works. They don’t hand it over to the vp of engineering.
–Real entrepreneurs ship. They don’t wait for the perfect product. I say: Don’t worry, be junky.
–Marketing = unique value.
–Some things need to be believed to be seen. In order to see a Macintosh, developers had to believe in it first.
(His slides had very large fonts, but his talk lasted 30 minutes and he had way more than 10 slides. His retort: “These rules are for you, not for me.”)