Monday, 6 September 2010

Personal update: this blog will hibernate.

Celebrating failure
Back in 2008, during a one year break between the studies in Madrid and Paris and while working in Mexico, I co-founded a technology company. Over the next two years my two associates, who were then based in Ireland and Germany, and I build the services and the company simultaneously to our studies. Working together across time-zones, connected mostly over the Internet, via phone calls and meeting in person every so often for intense retreats, was a formative experience.

Launching with minimum viable products, quickly iterating and integrating our users’ feedback, reaching out to a diverse set of people, overseeing the many aspects of the business, a rather uncompromising time management as well as handling team dynamics were only some of the lessons learned. Fruitlessly chasing venture capital was another: the dominant logic in this Silicon Valley focused industry is to wager on investors. Unfortunately, our own efforts were long directed towards this goal as well. While I did learn something on the way, my main takeout was not to enter this time-consuming game again at such an early stage. Not securing financing was also one of the reasons that ultimately led to the demise of the venture. Although we built a community with several thousand users and a strong partner network, and despite winning awards for the innovative nature of our service as well as being recognized as one of Germany’s promising web and mobile start-ups, the undertaking was jeopardized by disagreements regarding the strategic direction among the founders. Following several failed attempts to realign our visions, we decided to dissolve the company in spring of 2010.

Abandoning our creation, I needed to acknowledge that I had tried but ultimately failed. Failure and the important question of when an entrepreneur should decide to move on is regrettably not something that is prominently and constructively discussed in Europe. Looking back at this experience now, a couple of months later, I would still do it again.

New Ventures
A short break and a couple of months later I am now in the process of building a new venture together with two friends, Habib Lesevic and Vijak Haddadi. We form the core of an entrepreneurial collective, based in London and Berlin, which combines avant-garde venture philosophy with a daring and experimental attitude to the realization of entrepreneurial opportunity. We also love parrots and sailing boats - and as Steve Jobs said: “why join the navy when you can be a pirate?”

We operate as a think tank, network and venture coach, but are also pursuing our own ventures. Starting in 2011, we will deliver an undergraduate module on ‘New Venture Thinking’ at Cass Business School in London. The course introduces our key theories and practices on the entre- preneurial process as well as the generation and identification of entrepreneurial opportunities and presents the ʻvalue creation vs. value captureʼ debate to help the students integrate the role of entrepreneurship in the economic and social environment of today.

In Berlin we were recently chosen to develop one of the Über Lebenskunst initiatives. Über Lebenskunst, supported by the German Federal Cultural Foundation and Haus der Kulturen der Welt, is a global call for groundbreaking ideas that bring together culture and sustainability. Our venture, a game-based approach to energy reduction, explores the possibilities of how a game can be built both economically sustainable and engage people playfully in change.

Regarding this blog
Currently, my focus is not on mobile; and while it's not sure that I won't give another opportunity in this industry a shot at a later stage, this blog will hibernate until then. Thanks for reading... and feel free to check out a collection of things that inspire me on Namaste!

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Mobile Devices Should be About Neither Mobility nor Devices.

[...] One universal we may forget is that our bodies are naturally untethered - that is, wireless is our natural state. (...) to be mobile is to be human. Let's get beyond the thrill of mobility; we're only getting closer to what it should have been all along.

[...] Here's another universal: Human beings live in a social world, which they co-create in conversation. Enriching our conversation with shared experiences brings us closer together. (...) So just as "mobility" is a natural state and hence a distinction we can lose, "social networking" is a natural state, to which 50 years of computing is just now catching up. 

[...] Mobile devices, check. Social media, check. Next up, shall we have a go at expanding the number of cool apps, or perhaps design for being human? Think about this and then ask what it would mean to carry a thousand friends in your pocket.

Via Paul Pangaro on Interactions November/December 2009.

Why I blog this:

Paul makes a very good point to take into consideration the 'universals' or basic human behavior and long-known artifacts when we design new experiences.