Love was defiantly in the air at this years Techcrunch Geek ‘n Rolla. The tech event, on its second year, had a strong focus on Venture Capital and real world startup experiences. The talks highlighted VC’s love of huge exits and startup entrepreneurs love of making great things. Unfortunately, these two paths to love don’t always meet. But often they both need each other to survive and grow. If you want a full debrief of the event Inma Martinez , Joao Belo and of course Mike Butcher at TechCrunch, have great detailed writeups.
In Tommy Ahlers‘s talk he compared a startup exit to finding love and Eden Ventures described engaging with VC’s as romance. Tommy went on to say “don’t build a startup to sell out.” I’ve heard this before – if you just focus on the money you won’t get anywhere. In the subsequent panel discussion Saul Klein of Index Ventures went onto say “Most entrepreneurs are not looking for an exit, they’re looking to create a great product and change the world in some way”.
Jason Trost reminded us how much startups are “rollacoaster of a ride” and “to be ready for the hard knocks”. He also quoted the cold fact “that 7 out of 10 startups fail”. So why are startup founders willing to throw life savings, time and a personal life at an idea. It’s because Entrepreneurs love doing what they want to do! They love the freedom to create
The startup new product pitches of the day were: Cortexica; Cutefund.com; Decibel; DriveK; GameCreds.com; Gigaboxx; Graph.me; iGlue; LinkCloud.org; Musiio; Pownum; SongHi; and Stripped Finance. Well done guys for have the passion to follow your dreams. And congratulations to Cortexica for winning over the judges and Graph.me for the audience vote. Tamlin Magee has a great write up all the pitches.
Most of these startups have spent many months, or years, and much money building their products. Love of startups is why the speakers, the pitchers and several of the audience were willing to drive across Europe for this event when all the planes had stopped. Well done Mike Butcher for making it these events such a focal point for European tech startups!
In Ewan McLeod’s talk on “The disruptive opportunities for startups in mobile, and getting traction fast” he pleaded with mobile phone app startups to stop their love affair with iPhone app development and look at the market measures. “But love is blind and lovers cannot see, the pretty follies that themselves commit; For if they could, Cupid himself would blush” (William Shakespeare, “The Merchant of Venice”). This is where the VC’s kicks in!! They have to see the reality of money or at least the potential of it. “We’re looking for exit values of $300-400million dollars” Katie Turner, Eden Ventures.
However software startups are not about the money at the beginning. They can’t be – There is no money.. only an idea, a massive loss and very few customers, if any! Employees tend to focus on monthly paychecks but startup founders have to draw their strength and measures from elsewhere. Ultimately you have to do what you really love to do. Startup founders really have to enjoy and relish the startup challenge. “I love sales” said the charismatic and slightly wacky Morten Lund in his entertaining talk.
Without a rush of customers throwing money at a product startup founders have to deal with the VC devil to grow their startup and continue to create. They then have to dance to the pipers tune and move towards a liquidity event. The good news is that once a VC is onboard they’re on the entrepreneurs side, just as long as the founders are moving towards that big exit 😉