The most promising local growth startups working on solutions in the Internet of Things (IoT), big data analytics, content delivery, cyber security, or customer experience enhancement space have a huge new opportunity to scale their business through Go Ignite, the recently-announced innovation alliance of the Singtel Group with their European counterparts.
The alliance, composed of the innovation arms of Deutsche Telekom (hub:raum), Orange (Orange Fab), Singtel (Singtel Innov8), and Telefónica (Telefónica Open Future), offers to help top startups in the Philippines and abroad find business development opportunities, accelerate the commercialization of their innovations and bring their business outside their home market. Up to five innovative startups will be selected for the program: the global call for startups to apply will be open until 11:59PM CET on April 30, 2016. Applications are submitted via the Telefonica Open Future platform. Shortlisted startups will be invited to pitch to the Go Ignite Alliance members.
“We are thrilled to see developments like Go Ignite giving Philippine startups a path to penetrating the global market. Through the collective resources of these four major global carriers, any startup shortlisted to the top five would have a wealth of opportunities and services to help them accelerate their global growth aspirations,” said Minette Navarrete, President of Kickstart Ventures, Inc., a wholly-owned venture capital firm of Globe Telecom which is also a part of the Singtel Group.
Kickstart is a founding member of Singtel Group’s Innov8 Sparks, a network of technology startup support and funding initiatives. Kickstart helps startups by breaking down barriers that prevent founders from accessing capital, mentors, and markets. The VC firm’s network of business connections build virtual bridges to enable close and relevant engagement between the business community and startup founders.
To translate their ideas into viable solutions quicker, selected startups will benefit from the alliance members’ insights into different markets, introductions to partners, use of co-working spaces, potential investment, coaching, mentoring, invitations to showcases and events, and access to the alliance members’ operating businesses. They will also have the opportunity to gain access to Go Ignite alliance members’ business units and their collective customer base, which includes enterprises and consumers, equating to over one billion mobile customers across five continents.
Edgar Hardless, Chief Executive Officer, Singtel Innov8, said: “The Go Ignite alliance helps startups succeed in multiple markets by providing them with the right resources that are critical for their commercialization. Selected startups can expect access to the alliance’s business units and refine their solutions within a sizeable customer base. Combining our resources together, the Go Ignite programme can give startups a better chance to scale across markets worldwide.”
Interested startups can apply via the Go Ignite website; deadline for applications ends on April 30, 2016. To be eligible for the Go Ignite Global Call, all members of the startup should be above the age of 18. The startups are expected to be in their growth stage with a ready product that can be taken to ecosystems across Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. To find out more about the Go Ignite global call, please visit http://go-ignite.com
Kickstart Ventures was a pitch for innovation to the Globe Board: Kickstart will be a corporate hack that will accelerate collaboration between corporations and startups. In 28 March 2012, Kickstart was launched with three co-founders: Minette Navarrete, Dan Siazon, and Christian Besler. Fast forward to today, Kickstart president Minette sums up the journey of the last four years comprised of 25 digital tech startups with 59 founders in its investment portfolio:
“You know when you go to a carnival, and you sign-up for the roller coaster ride — that’s going to be a series of ups and downs. But somewhere in there, you’re gonna think, ‘why, why did I get on this ride?’ And sometimes, you’re going to be in some places on track where you think it’s exhilarating and exciting, and you’re absolutely freakishly happy to be there. Well, that’s kinda what we all signed up for – the highs and the lows, for the moments where we are in abject terror because we have no control nor idea about what’s going to happen next.” #startupPH #kickstartPH
Squadzip, a mobile-first software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform for productivity and collaboration that applies the ease of use and familiarity of popular social media platforms to a sales and project management context, received an undisclosed amount of funding from corporate venture capital firm Kickstart Ventures and Silicon Valley-based seed-stage investor and innovation platform Plug and Play Tech Center.
Squadzip is the first co-investment between Kickstart Ventures and Plug and Play Tech Center. This also marks the first investment of Plug and Play Tech Center in the Philippines.
Squadzip was inspired by CEO and co-founder Roman Mercado’s own frustrations in using productivity solutions while he was working in enterprise sales for medical, banking, and digital media industries.
In his corporate life, Mercado saw many corporations sink huge amounts of money into enterprise solutions, the implementation of which meant high upfront fees, hardware cost, complex user trainings, and time delays. These solutions ranged from the free to typically expensive legacy enterprise platforms. The situation prompted Mercado to tap colleague and now CTO and co-founder Joaquin Barandino to help build Squadzip, a productivity tool for businesses that allows teams to communicate in real-time and share data without having to endure lengthy forms.
“For our enterprise customers, Squadzip is like their own private company social media platform and wiki. Activities are posted in real time on a live feed which are time- and location-stamped, while business intelligence is captured from each post to be classified and organized easily and in real time into Intel Pages. Also, sales teams involved in specific deals can collaborate and access data from anywhere in the world,” said Mercado.
Mercado and Barandino capitalized on the Filipinos’ proclivity for social media apps in a bid to ensure easy adoption by those assigned to use Squadzip. Instead the traditional task- and form-based paradigm commonly seen in other solutions, they created a hashtagging system called “ziptags” based on natural reporting behavior which allows users to quickly categorize, search, and retrieve data on customer histories, competitors, and service issues as well as added powerful geolocation and timestamp features that allow businesses to know what is going on and where it is happening.
Mercado further shared: “We make it a point to work closely with each client to make sure we remain responsive to actual needs and pain points they go through in their day-to-day operations. Our customers today use Squadzip to locate, monitor, and track sales teams remotely; capture and organize valuable customer data, service issues, and leads seamlessly; and analyze sales funnels, monitor ongoing projects, and track performance. ”
Since July 2014 when Squadzip was adopted by their first paying enterprise client, it is now in smartphones carried by teams traveling to different parts of the world. Squadzip is being applied in various use cases including sales, customer relationship management, and project management.
Enrique Miguel Valles, Mida Food Distributors president and chief operating officer, is an early user of Squadzip. His company signed up after experiencing unending difficulties in monitoring frontline itineraries resulting to lost opportunities and unanswered leads.
“Squadzip helped us implement a quicker response time: rapid deployment of sales reps as soon as needed by clients, better inter-department communication, and a more strategic approach to itinerary planning, all of these resulting to a record-breaking 2nd half of 2014,”Valles stated. Their use of Squadzip resulted to a year-on-year top line sales increase by 20%.
Another enterprise client, Apo Floors, a local manufacturer of vinyl and luxury resilient flooring, is on its 2nd year using Squadzip. Their vice-president and general manager Alfredo Mamonong shared that Squadzip allows them to save information on customers, companies, competitors, products, opportunities, and projects in real-time which become helpful references for decision-making.
Squadzip is, likewise, a perfect fit for companies with teams working in different parts of the country. Maria Ceres Reano, Broadchem Pharmaceuticals head of product research and development, is able to work with her mobile teams while out in the field dealing with agricultural corporations and farms.
“Using Squadzip has allowed Broadchem to remotely monitor and review activities of our territory managers and the status of their on-going promotions and projects,” said Reano.
Kickstart Ventures, Plug and Play Tech Center co-invest
In just 18 months since they started, Squadzip has already gained a portfolio of enterprise users across multiple industries. The funding from Kickstart Ventures and Plug and Play will enable the founders to further improve their product and scale distribution here and abroad.
“CRM remains to be an interesting space for Plug and Play. Particularly those with very creative solutions in enhancing the user experience and interphase, like Squadzip. Its approach to ease of use and intuitive tagging of information I believe is key to its success. Squadzip is the first investment of Plug and Play in the Philippines so we’re excited to work with Roman and his team and we hope to accelerate Squadzip’s potential globalization, possibly to become the next Salesforce or Sugar,” said Jojo Flores, Co-Founder and Vice-President. Plug and Play engages over 300 corporations in Silicon Valley.
Minette Navarrete, president of Kickstart Ventures, a wholly-owned venture capital subsidiary of Globe Telecom also welcomed the addition of Squadzip in their investment portfolio. “Squadzip is an enterprise solution designed to be frontline-focused, and architected to be enterprise-grade. Frontliners and head office management share the goal of growing their business, delivering great quality service to customers, and sharing information in real-time, frequently over multiple locations,” she said.
She added: “Squadzip’s intuitive user interface makes it easy for distributed teams to collaborate and report information; and the back-end keeps it simple for management to make good decisions and communicate these quickly. This balance makes Squadzip a powerful tool in business development in today’s fast-paced environment.”
With the funding we’ve received from Kickstart and Plug and Play, Mercado expressed confidence that they are in an even better position to help more businesses serve their customers better and faster while saving them time and money.
Singtel Innov8 has announced a new program which opens doors for startups to collaborate with Singtel to create innovative solutions for business challenges faced by the Singtel Group, which includes leading Philippine telecommunications company Globe Telecom.
Through Singtel Innov8 Connect, which was launched on January 12, selected startups will receive up to S$75,000 to test and validate their solutions with Singtel. Successful solutions may lead to commercialisation with the Singtel Group, providing startups access to the Group’s customer base which includes both enterprises and consumers and over 575 million mobile customers across Asia, Australia, and Africa. They will also have the opportunity to seek funding from Singtel Innov8 and tap on its network of co-investors and partners across the globe.
The move is a step forward from the existing initiatives across the Singtel Group, where affiliates run programs that actively support startups and entrepreneurship programs. Globe Telecom in the Philippines, for example, has Kickstart Ventures, a corporate venture capital firm that makes investments in digital startups ranging from Seed to Series “C” stages. Other startup-oriented initiatives are run in affiliate operators AIS in Thailand, Telkomsel in Indonesia, and Optus in Australia.
Kickstart in particular runs two funds: Fund 1 is the original US$5Million seed-to-early-stage investment fund focused on startups that originate in the Philippines with an ambition to expand at least regionally; and Fund 2, announced in March 2015, is its US$50Million growth stage fund focused on strategically-aligned startups anywhere in the world. Demonstrating collaboration across the Singtel group, Kickstart last year invested along with Singtel Innov8 in Teridion, an Israel-based startup focused on network optimization and content acceleration.
“This development not only serves as another opportunity for Philippine startups to penetrate the global market and realize their global growth aspirations but also gives Globe and the rest of the Singtel Group a chance to benefit from the innovations that these startups may bring. Kickstart’s mission is to break down barriers and to build bridges to enable close and relevant engagement between the business community and the startup founders. Working with Singtel on Innov8 Connect will drive that goal forward,” said Minette Navarrete, President of Kickstart.
Kickstart is a founding member of Innov8 Sparks, Singtel’s network of startup support and funding initiatives across Southeast Asia. It currently has 25 portfolio companies with various products and services encompassing SaaS (Software as a Service), e-commerce, social impact, digital lifestyle, FinTech, and HealthTech, several of which have already ventured to other countries.
Edgar Hardless, CEO of Singtel Innov8 said: “Since Innov8’s launch in 2010, we have invested and partnered with many talented startups globally to help them expand their businesses and introduce innovative technologies to the Singtel Group.”
“Entrepreneurs are looking for problems to solve. This programme enables Singtel to share real-world business challenges and invite solutions from startups globally. It is an excellent opportunity for startups to work directly with Singtel’s business units and validate their solutions,” he added.
Mr. Peter Ho, CEO of Hope Technik, a Singtel Innov8 portfolio company said: “The investment and support from Singtel Innov8 have really helped Hope Technik punch above its weight class. Through Singtel, we have a better understanding of the opportunities and challenges faced by large enterprises, which allows us to create more relevant and impactful solutions.”
As the venture arm of the Singtel Group, Singtel Innov8’s mandate is to scout for and provide the Group with insights and early access to emerging technologies, as well as to nurture the innovation ecosystem in Southeast Asia. Innov8 Connect is part of Singtel Innov8’s initiatives to create greater awareness for Singtel’s innovation agenda and engagement with startup ecosystems.
Through the Innov8 Connect portal (innov8connect.com), Singtel Innov8 will publish briefs detailing various business challenges. startups with relevant solutions are welcomed to submit their applications through the portal. Selected startups will then be invited to pitch to a panel of management representatives from the Singtel Group. After a rigorous selection process, one company per brief will be chosen to work with Singtel to trial its solution.
The first set of 10 project briefs are focused on business challenges in areas such as enterprise cloud, smart and safe city and customer experience. The briefs are now open for submission from all startups in the Philippines and across the globe at http://innov8connect.com.
Lifetrack Medical Systems (LTM), a healthtech startup that provides quality interpretation of radiology diagnostic images for hospitals and clinics, recently announced that it had closed a round of funding from strategic investors, including the Philippines’ Kickstart Ventures, Inc.
Radiology readings are increasingly critical in medical diagnosis, especially in the detection of orthopedic and soft tissue conditions. Most hospitals and medical practitioners require data from procedures such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRI tests but there are too few experts in the field. This shortage is nowhere more felt than in developing countries like the Philippines and Indonesia, where there is typically a 10- to 30-fold lack of radiologists per capita versus the developed countries, and where experienced radiologists make up 1% or so of the total practitioners.
Lifetrack addresses the shortage of radiology experts via their unique radiology software platform with a two-fold value proposition: increased efficiency in radiology reporting and more radiology knowledge workers trained.
Lifetrack’s platform complies with global Radiology Information Systems (RIS) and Picture Archiving and Communications System (PACS) standards used by all leading computer imaging providers like Siemens, Philips, General Electric and thereby, allows interoperability with existing systems and equipment of hospitals.
The company’s unique browser-based radiology software with onsite and cloud-based servers offers hospitals and clinics the ability to leverage their existing radiologists with their efficient approach to radiology reporting while also providing on-demand access to a pool of radiology experts, thereby helping improve patient care at an affordable cost. The platform’s radiology software contains context-sensitive decision support which helps improve existing radiologist’s skill sets while also making the platform perfect for learning institutions’ Continuing Medical Education courses and subspecialty training.
“Part of our advocacy is to reverse the brain drain, which we’ve seen far too long in the country’s healthcare industry. Through Lifetrack’s affordable software and professional services, we can bring in radiology studies from around the world to be read by Filipino radiologists based here. This, in turn, can lead to attracting high-income knowledge-based jobs from overseas to local radiologists. In fact, we have already brought in at least 50 medical jobs from abroad” said Eric Schulze, founder and chief executive officer of Lifetrack.
He further added, “We do struggle in finding people with domain experience in radiology IT but since we engineered our software to meet the needs of our target market, we end up mentoring more people to develop those skills.”
The system is so unique that Duke NUS, a collaboration between Duke University and the National University of Singapore, is using it in partnership with Lifetrack to provide sub-specialty certification and training to radiologists throughout the region. Duke NUS Medical school is also using Lifetrack to train their medical students in interpreting pediatric chest X-rays.
Schulze expressed confidence that with the strong backing from Kickstart, Lifetrack will be much closer to achieving its goals. “The people at Kickstart are wonderful mentors and can draw upon a wide range of experience and resources to help us find new clients, as well as build out our infrastructure and human resource needs. We are always looking for referrals for new hospitals and clinics — clients who want to experience 24/7 coverage and high-quality fast reporting turnaround time.”
Kickstart, in turn affirmed Lifetrack’s vision of improving healthcare services globally. “The world’s healthcare systems have not scaled in step with the world’s demographic development. It doesn’t matter whether you are in a developed or emerging market: the sad truth is, there are not enough resources to offer the quality and speed of diagnosis and treatment that everyone needs. Lifetrack can help improve healthcare systems globally, deploying a concentration of skilled diagnosticians and making them available to hospitals on-demand, reducing patient waiting time, hospital costs, and the risk of misdiagnosis,” said Kickstart president Minette Navarrete.
Lifetrack is based on the experience of building a successful US-based teleradiology company founded by Schulze in 2003, which he subsequently sold in 2011. The undertaking gave Schulze valuable insights on how to do efficient radiology while being freed from the constraints present in existing legacy RIS/PACS systems.
Kickstart Ventures, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Globe Telecom, has made 24 investments globally. It is committed to accelerating the growth of new businesses and entrepreneurs in the digital technology space, as well as co-creating a dynamic innovation ecosystem in the country.
Local digital startups under the portfolio of Kickstart Ventures, Inc., a wholly-owned venture capital firm of Globe Telecom, are expected to benefit significantly from the recently announced partnership among the startup innovation arms of Singtel (Singtel Innov8), Orange (Orange Fab), Deutsche Telekom (hub:raum), and Telefónica (Telefónica Open Future).
The four telecom giants have joined forces to bridge the startup ecosystems across Southeast Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East with the aim of catalyzing the growth of eligible startups and launching them beyond their respective home markets.
“We are excited over this development since this global mutual support network is especially relevant to our own startups which have global growth aspirations. Singtel, Orange, Deutsche Telecom, and Telefonica are a formidable partnership covering all of the planet. We couldn’t have better telecom partners to start a global journey with,” said Minette Navarrete, President of Kickstart.
She added: “It is Kickstart’s role to build bridges to enable close and relevant engagement between the business community and the startup founders. Thus, working with other incubation and investment companies drives that goal forward, fostering collaboration and creating a startup community that goes not only beyond the Philippines’ borders but even beyond Southeast Asia.”
Kickstart currently has 22 portfolio companies with various products and services encompassing SaaS (Software as a Service), e-commerce, social impact, digital lifestyle, FinTech, and HealthTech, several of which have already ventured to other countries.
The partnership benefits are available to startups supported by hub:raum, Orange Fab, Telefónica Open Future, and Singtel Innov8, as well as all members of Innov8 Sparks – a network of startup support and funding initiatives across Southeast Asia, founded by members of the Singtel Group including Kickstart.
Select startups will have the opportunity to tap the resources and network of the said telecom leaders. This includes market insights, introductions to partners, the use of co-working spaces, and access to the companies’ operating businesses as well as gain access to all operators’ collective mobile customer base of over one billion people across the globe.
[vc_row][vc_column text_color=”” animate=”” animate_delay=”” width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Monday, 6th July 2015, saw the Philippines hosting the largest ever tech startup gathering in the country: SlingshotMNL, the official APEC-related tech startup conference, which attracted 1,200 participants and 120 startup exhibitors. People trooped to the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) to listen to key government agencies, global tech companies, local startups, academics, investors and other key ecosystem players participate in a two-day conference that aimed to help build a bridge between the public and private sectors in the country who had an interest in building a more robust startup ecosystem. The Department of Trade and Industry was the key government agency here; but the Department of Science and Technology was visibly present and supportive.
I moderated a panel on “Opportunities in Tech Investing” in the afternoon of Day One. I had a great panel!
The panelists, in alphabetical order: * Jay Fajardo – CEO and co-founder, Proudcloud; and our partner for the Launchgarage acceleration program from 2012-2014 * Justin Hall – Principal, Golden Gate VC (SG) * Daniel Hersson – Cleantech VC/PE Team Leader and Consultant, Asian Development Bank * Hugh Mason – CEO and co-founder, JFDI * Shyan Menon – Investment Director, Infuse Ventures (India) * Koichi Saito – Founder and General Partner, KK Fund
I sent the panelists an advance email with the themes I planned to cover. Brilliantly, the startup community pitched in over the weekend with questions of their own! Which was great, because whilst the panel’s original intent was to point out opportunities for investors, clearly the founders’ perspective was key to a balanced discussion. Shoutout to Vin Dancel, Pavan Challa, Eric Clark Su, Maoi Arroyo, Gian dela Rama, Alvin Edwald Chan, Valenice Balace, Marielese Tan, Carlo Valencia and Gerry Cruz, who gamely joined my weekend prep for the panel!
We got quite positive feedback about the panel and the flow of the conversations, so I thought I’d share the content here. I won’t edit the draft: you’ll see the original thoughts, and can compare them with the actual discussion. Like a good startup, a good panel moderator has to be agile, and pivot when the situation calls for it!
First, the questions:
A quick round of introductions: maybe 2 minutes each, to say what you do, and what you want to get out of SlingshotMNL
After the round, we could do a quick show-of-hands summary: who’s been a founder / who’s worked for a startup / who’s invested in a startup outside of their own / who’s worked in corporate / who’s worked in VC — it’ll be “raise your hands for all that apply” to help the audience remember the context of each panel member
Investing is a tough profession, subject to both the company execution as well as market shifts; and tech is a sector that has shown rapid shifts. Why invest in tech?
What are the upsides investing in tech vs traditional industries?
What are the risks? How do the opportunities outweigh them?
How do you mitigate this kind of risk?
Do you have different criteria for investing in different regions / markets?
Which KPI matters most to you for valuation, and does this change from seed to Series A and beyond?
The literature on tech investing suggests more generosity, transparency and collaboration than is prescribed for traditional industries.
Do you subscribe to this when you make your own investments? How?
Have you seen bad investor behaviour, and how do you deal with it?
People say “tech investing” as if “tech” was a single category, subject to a single set of factors. But the truth is that tech has a broad spectrum of sectors, each of which is its own universe. Are there sectors that you are currently focusing on?
Any global tech trends that you are observing?
Any regional shifts that you anticipate coming to SEA?
Thoughts about specific regions / markets:
In your current investment portfolio, where do you have the most exposure, and why?
Do you favour any market or region for your current investment activity? Would you start to shift in or out of any particular region?
Are there government or regulatory policies that the SEA region needs to accelerate the development of innovation ecosystems here? Any best practices we should adopt?
In fact, should governments get in on the act at all?
In SEA, we talk about a gap between early stage to Series A, and we see a number of startups raising bridge rounds to get them to milestones that will allow an A raise.
Do you believe this is a systemic gap, caused by smaller seed rounds, more modest valuations in the region, or slower growth due to inherent market characteristics?
Or do you think this is par for the course, and not unusual given that only exceptional startups in any market achieve the kind of traction that gets them to a Series A without a bridge round?
There are growing concerns of a possible tech bubble, in the US and in a few other regions.
Do you believe there is a bubble? Why or why not?
Last: What is your fearless forecast for tech investing in the ASEAN from 2015-2020?
It wasn’t meant to be a punchlist to be checked off in sequence. The panel’s perspective was to share experiences and insights that could be useful to public and private sector participants who care about accelerating the development of a Philippine startup ecosystem. We kept a brisk pace, provided differing perspectives, and tried to keep things interesting and fresh for the audience. I certainly enjoyed, and I hope the panelists and the audience did, too.
Next up: the discussion highlights.
(You may also view the session below beginning at 33:29)
“The future is already here: it’s just not very evenly distributed.” – William Gibson, American-Canadian writer who has been called the “noir prophet” of the cyberpunk subgenre of science fiction
Attending the GSMA 2015 conference in Barcelona illustrates William Gibson’s observation in rather dramatic fashion: in Fira Gran Via, the main event, dominated by guys in suits, walking around 500sqm exhibits of large global brands, presenting in slick, full-on fashion the future of telecoms: Apps! Internet of Things! Wearables! Big Data! Smartphones/watches/kitchens! Amongst the big brand exhibitors, hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue, marketing budgets, and market capitalization. All very much in the mainstream future.
In another part of the city, in Fira Montjuic, a rather different and no less exciting GSMA event – 4 Years from Now (4YFN), the segment of the MWC devoted startup innovation ecosystems, i.e. founders and investors. Significantly smaller in scale and much lower key, its attendees walked around in jeans, t-shirts, and sneakers (socks optional). Wearables were very much on display: not in exhibition booths, but on people’s wrists. The booths themselves were similarly low-key: standard-issue two-by-three metre spaces manned by startup founders and team members, eagerly pitching to the attending investors, corporate executives, and to each other. Here, everyone was similarly enthralled by thoughts of the future – but a future not yet defined by devices, products and software. In 4YFN, the future was something coming in waves: tangible and unrelenting, but not something one could hold in the palm of one’s hand.
Some of these waves:
1. We are evolving into “Homo Digitalis.” – John Lunn, Senior Director of Developer and Startup Relations, PayPal / Braintree
a. Current notions of usability are that tech is designed around intuitive user experience and real-world usage habits (eg food delivery apps built upon the traditional food delivery business). But these habits are changing, too, as the use of tech modifies the way we do certain processes (reading a book, getting directions). We are building new habits as technology allows us to do more and different things (selfies; obsessive checking of email and social media).
b. Beyond our behaviour, technology is being developed around human physiology and psychology. Many of us would’ve heard of Google’s contact lens, developed with Novartis, that has a built-in blood sugar meter. Perhaps less popularly known are developments around identity authentication using heartbeat patterns (Bionym’s Nymi), brainwaves (UC Berkeley) and arterial/vein configuration, or in-ear and subcutaneous magnets to bring hearing to deaf people, and possibly deliver music in the future.
c. Much has been written about how the present and future generations use technology for self-expression. At the fringes, we are seeing how hardware + software + biology “splices” can be used for auto-identification, as well as to address a number of other health-related issues.
2. Technology is ambient. And it needs to be magical.
a. The broad base of the current generation in both developed and emerging markets are no longer impressed by tech; it’s just the way things are.
b. Corporations cannot keep up, or claim to be innovative, simply by “going digital” (ie being present in online/social media). To truly engage their customers where they are, companies need to rethink workflows and re-design product and service offers around their customers’ evolving habits.
c. Tech needs to be invisible. And even as an invisible underlying layer, it is expected to…
i. offer a broad range of options for users (who want to express themselves, discover solutions, etc);
ii. and protect their interests (privacy, security, trustworthiness built through experience rather than conferred by authority);
iii. whilst creating magical experiences (high usability and reliable delivery on promises).
d. Beyond reliability and efficiency: there is a return to purpose, meaning, beauty, design. Notegraphy, a Barcelona-based startup styles itself as the “Instagram of words,” i.e. an app providing a range of striking original graphics and typography to add beauty to the words that people post on their social media, or save to their personal galleries. A proposition built upon beauty. And they have raised a total of €575,000 based on this proposition.
3. Access is the new Ownership. Contribution is the new Conversion.
a. Our beliefs about how we derive utility and benefit from things – our relationships to objects and service providers – is changing.
b. Services delivered by companies are now being delivered by networks of individuals and organisations. Similarly, the way we used to rely upon financial institutions is shifting to FinTech (algorithms used in everything from stock purchase recommendations to credit ratings and loan qualification).
c. Platforms and companies are shifting from being merchants to enabling marketplaces. Like typical marketplaces, the motivations are a combination of economic and non-economic factors. There is value beyond pricing; and community standing is a valued attribute.
d. Community standing and reputation are gained not necessarily through purchasing the most goods or flashing the most prestigious brands. In many marketplaces, individuals strive to be recognized for how they support other people’s goals (crowdfunding), or how they serve the community in general (reporting potholes and bribes).
4. Data is the new oil.
a. Data is a high-value commodity: many people sitting on large sets of data, but not everyone realizes it’s there, or knows how to extract/use it. Over the long run, however, data could hold the same value for everyone once everyone starts to use it well – however, until then, those who control the data and the tools for extracting analyses have a distinct competitive advantage.
b. Having said that, in some respects, there is a shift from Big Data Hype to Big Data Hangover: having bought into the proposition, some companies are learning that the hockey stick is not about the increasing income they derive from analytics, but the increasing investments they have to make in order to remain competitive!
c. So why is it so valuable? Because everyone needs data to fuel better management strategies and tactics, to engineer operating efficiencies, to deliver customer delight. Going into the future, companies will stay relevant through intelligent use of data, or they will overlook their customers’ early warning signals, and slowly make themselves irrelevant.
5. There are serious constraints in the Internet of Things (and humans are a necessary part of the solution).
a. The Internet of Things was on everyone’s mind: sensors, meters, wearables, devices and networks that are auto-managed through pre-set parameters and algorithms.
b. However, far from being utopian and Jetson-esque, there is a maturing view that this exists within a universe that is resource-constrained (eg size, power, in situ durability), dynamic and distributed, making security more necessary but also more difficult.
c. Operating in the real world is unpredictable: hence choosing which conditions to monitor, and creating the decision framework for automatic (ie non-human) triggers, are necessarily more probabilistic rather than deterministic.
d. A key insight regarding data: the intelligence and security in the Internet of Things will need to be self-configuring. Hence, the architecture and hierarchy of decision processes will need to be deeply thought-through from the beginning. By humans, of course.
6. The world is my backyard. “Global is the new Local.”
a. There is an emerging broader understanding of how inter-connected our markets, and our lives, are. For more evolved societies, this results in a greater sense of responsibility for the impact that we have on the planet, and for other countries and people around the globe.
b. In parallel, there is a sense of a bigger opportunity for corporations, startups and investors – geographic boundaries are not the constraints to create value through collaboration; other factors – economics, culture, regulations, etc. – are. Both of the above underscore the importance of connectors to link problems and solutions; innovators and innovation investors; inventions and go-to-market; agility and scale.
c. “Global is the new Local” is an acknowledgement that we operate in a more complex environment, with risks as well as opportunities. Not just “the world is my oyster” but also “the world hosts my competitor.”
7. Corporations and Emerging Markets: Not your typical VC.
a. Aside from the usual suspects (ie startup founders and investors), an atypical and prominent presence in 4YFN consisted of large established global corporations: Banco Sabandell, Bayer, Telefonica, Ooredoo, El Pais, Audi. Unsurprisingly, a common thread is that their traditional business models – retail banking, branded pharmaceutical, telecommunications, newspaper, automobile manufacturing — are under threat from their customers’ changing views about the utility of their products and services, and the emergence of non-traditional competitors.
b. Emerging market public players (cities and national governments) and educational institutions are also surfacing as stakeholders in driving the innovation ecosystem forward. With no legacy interests, and the prospect of leapfrogging long-established markets and players, these unconventional investors are turning the fast-changing environment to their advantage. Whilst they understand that the entry ticket is usually via discount pricing, they recognize that pure price plays are a race to the bottom. Innovation, on the other hand, creates customer value beyond price.
c. How can these non-traditional players compete? They recognize that the Big Business’ inertia is not apace with a fast-changing world and a fickle consumer. Boards of directors, project management teams and decision committees will be too slow and too conservative, and “this is the way we’ve always done it” is a death knell for innovation and attracting innovators. Recognising that speed confers competitive advantage, large corporations are building new capability – usually through hiring external talent, creating new processes, and respecting the differences in skills, metrics and culture that these new teams require to operate effectively within the systemic shifts, even before these shifts are obvious to mainstream business.