Last night we had another UX Chuchi meeting in our secret underground Amazee office. UX stands for User Experience and Chuchi is Swiss German for kitchen. At the Chuchi meetings we like to hear about other people's businesses and scrutinize the living daylights out of them. All of this of course goes down in very civilized and constructive ways. Yesterday it was our turn and Gregory presented the Amazee case. With about twenty people from the web scene present it sure was an intense evening. We heard a lot of things we knew we needed to change, but also received a lot of new input, which will certainly influence our future development processes. Thanks, everybody for attending and for your input!
This morning, Miss Swissmiss, Tina Roth Eisenberg, invited creative people from the Zurich, um, creative scene, to attend the first ever Swiss Creative Morning. The series of Creative Mornings usually runs in New York, where Swiss-born Tina works as a designer. She has made a name through blogging as Swissmiss and of course, the turn-out was huge. Everybody came, although Tina admitted that she had not thought so. Keynote speaker and host of the morning was Daniel Freitag, one of the two cool Freitag brothers who produce the hip bags of the same name. He talked a little how he and his brother came to designing bags from used truck tarpaulins and how this sort of fits in with the cradle to cradle theory. Daniel came across as a very sympathetic guy and the Freitag plant, where the Creative Morning was held proved to be a very cool location. Thanks to Tina for organizing and to the Freitag crew for hosting. I certainly hope this wasn't the last installment of this event.
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="The conference corner"][/caption]
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="The conference corner – an old truck tarp construction"][/caption]
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="The stocks of tarp"][/caption]
Please excuse the poor quality of the pictures, iPhone's Achille's heel, you know.
Yesterday evening the first Techcrunch Award “The Europas” took place. Shortly after 6pm people were standing in line to enter the trendy event location Delfina. Once inside, everybody grabbed a glass of Champagne or a beer and started networking.
The event started at 6.30pm with a short intro by Mister Techcrunch Europe Mike Butcher followed by six short pitches by relatively unknown competing startups. The most impressive pitch was by only 18-year old James from GigLocator.
After the pitch competition there was a panel discussion on “Where is Europe standing and going”. The speakers were Stefan Glänzer (last.fm), Michael Birch (Bebo), Brent Hoberman, Tariq Krim (Netvibes, Jolicloud), Sarah Lacy (Techcrunch).
After a short refreshment and networking break the real highlight of the evening started at 8.30pm: the awards!
The first exciting category was Best Bootstrapped Startup as I was holding thumbs for my friends at Doodle. The awards presenter always mentioned the second place (“highly commended” and of course the winner. Doodle made second place and soup.io won.
The next exciting category was Best Social Innovation because Amazee was a finalist! We didn’t make it to the top, but also made second place right behind Mendeley. Also good ☺
Further (almost) Swiss (almost) winners were Amiando, who made the second place in the category Best Web Application or Service and Poken who won in the category Best Real Life Gadget. Congrats to all!
You can find all the finalists and winners here:
All in all the evening was perfectly organized, full of great people. Apart from the panel, personalities such as Craig Newmark from Craigslist, Robert Scoble and many more showed up at the Award Ceremony. As you see below I also met a lot of nice girls of other startups!
The evening was great fun, I was able to make interesting new contacts and am quite proud of the second place of Amazee and the good Swiss rankings!
Unique in it's kind, the Venture Summit brings together the Swiss high-tech venture community for 24 hours of intense networking and exchange. Amazee was represented by me, Dania, and here are some impressions.
The Venture Summit 2009 event started last Friday at 12h00 in Interlaken Ost, where about 70 participants gathered to spend the following 24 hours together. The program was a surprise: no keynote, no round table. Innovation and entrepreneurship through networking, action and fun!
We were welcomed by the organizing team with drinks and sandwiches and learned about the program. After a bus ride to Grindelwald we continued the way up to the summit via the Kleine Scheidegg (where our basecamp was) and further on to the Jungfraujoch. There we did a snowshoe-walk on the Glacier, which was great fun, but unfortunately quite gray and really cold. Arnaud didn't seem to mind the cold too much and was in a great mood - even in his short pants.
The evening program was simple: Apéro, Dinner and Blues Party until the early morning hours with lots of talking and networking.
The following day started about 2 hours after the party: wake-up call at 4am to start our sunrise hike to Lauberhorn! The weather was gorgeous and the views fantastic.
Another few minutes walk down the hill and we were served coffee and a small breakfast at the start of the famous Lauberhorn ski race.
Shortly before the end of the event the"Networking Cup" was given to the best networker of the event. And the winner is Alexandre "Sandy" Wayenberg!
It was a great event, I met lots of friends and interesting new people and hopefully made some contacts that will support Amazee in the journey of becoming the best social collaboration platform! Thanks a lot to the organizers Jordi and Beat from venturelab and IFJ and especially to the sponsors Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year and Gebert Rüf Stiftung.
I'll be back at Venture Summit 2010!
My trip to Boston with the Venture Leaders 2009 is over. It was fantastic and I just want to share a few impressions of our MIT Campus Tour. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a private research university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States. MIT has five schools and one college, containing a total of 32 academic departments, with a strong emphasis on scientific and technological research.
Joost Bonsen gave us great insights during our tour through the campus. Joost is member of the Global Board of Directors of the MIT Entreprise Forum, Co-founder of MIT Innovation Club and TechLink, Host of the weekly TV Show "HigTechFever" and much more - those who have seen his business card know what I mean.
He showed us the architectural highlights...
... and pointed out some remarkable achievements at MIT and important moments in the history of the university.
MIT is an impressive place, check it out whenever you're in Cambridge or Boston!
If you live in Zurich or the Zurich area, be sure not to miss our presentation at Dock 18 at Rote Fabrik this Friday, the 26th. Lucas and I, Mathias, are going to represent for Amazee and talk briefly about our little platform and social collaboration. There are several topics on this evening, among others, Oliver Gassner, blogger from Germany, will be lecturing. Be there or be square! The event starts at 6:30 p.m.
As I mentioned in my blog post from June 12, I want to tell you more about a great visit at the company Demandware in Boston.
Prior to founding Demandware in 2004, Stephan Schambach was CEO of Intershop, an ecommerce company he founded in 1992, built to market leadership, brought public in 1998 on the Germany and in 2000 at NASDAQ in the US. After the IPO he wanted to change Intershop in a very significant way. He didn’t believe that the “Web 1.0” way the software works will work in future. Downloading software and paying a license fee is just not the way to go; he wanted to change to Software as a Service (SAAS). But somehow, the Board didn’t really agree with his vision. Instead of pushing through his idea – being the largest shareholder, CEO and president of the board – he quit. This was probably the first big surprise for us in the audience. He explained that he needed people the carry the transformation along and they didn’t exist in the company. So he left Intershop as CEO and president of the board and started Demandware – in a time where e-commerce was almost equal to a swearword.
Demandware provides SAAS for large retailers or, in their own words:
“The vision—then and now—was clear: bring to market an enterprise-class ecommerce solution that would put more power and innovation in the hands of merchandisers and at the same time would remove the technical costs, risks and complexities of running an ecommerce operation. We took what we knew of great ecommerce merchandising (our founders have been in ecommerce since 1994) and applied to it the then-emerging advancements in Software-as-a-Service architectures and dynamic grid computing. Then we worked hard. We stayed up late. We drank lots of coffee. And ultimately, in late 2005, we delivered the market’s first on-demand enterprise ecommerce platform.”
They revolutionized the business by introducing cutting-edge products and selling them not against a license fee, but for a revenue share of their clients. Second real surprise for the audience. How can you pursue clients buying a software to pay a few percents of their total revenue? Just build a product that significantly increases your revenue and they are in.
Stephan seems to be a very straight forward, honest, sympathetic person and on the other hand you have the feeling he’ll turn anything he touches into gold. And when telling us his success stories, I always see this boyish smile on his face, somehow not believing what he really has achieved and amazed what has happened.
He is a true entrepreneur, invested 10 million of his own money into Demandware – next to 50 million of venture capital. Now they’re aiming for an IPO whenever IPOs happen again. One of his statements helps to describe the way he thinks and acts:
“You have to be careful in applying to much experience to the things you do. Some things that weren’t a good idea a few years ago, may be good now.”
Amazee has the great opportunity to be part of Venture Leaders 2009! Venture Leaders is a competition organized by venturelab, an initiative of the innovation promotion agency CTI in Switzerland and supported by Ernst & Young –entrepreneur of the year. It sponsors 20 promising Swiss startups to attend a program in Boston for a 10-days “entrepreneurial development program”, comprising company visits, presentations, networking with investors, startups and experts and entrepreneurship training by experts and at Babson College.
So I (Dania) am now in Boston representing Amazee and will keep you posted on some of our activities here!
Tuesday evening we all met at Zurich airport and boarded flight LX 052 to Boston. Wednesday at 7.30m the official program started!
Our homebase for the entire VL program is at Swissnex Boston, where we spent the whole day.
We started with a presentation by Jerry Schaufeld on growing a venture. He is an experienced entrepreneur and Professor for Entrepreneurship and gave us great insights and his view on different stages in a company’s life.
After a pitching session in front of some experts, Marion Howard gave us an entertaining speech on business etiquette in the US. She – being a German citizen living and doing business in the US since many years – pointed out some major cultural differences that are crucial to consider when doing business in the US. The last part of the day gave us the opportunity to practice our negotiation skills in a workshop led by Emily Epstein. I negotiated a VC deal with Friedrich Hahn, which was both fun and educating.
At 7.15 am two black buses (with shaded windows) picked us up in front of our B&B Irving House. Needless to say that we felt a bit like VIP’s ;) We drove to Woburn, where we visited two companies.
Mike Mountz gave us a tour through his company Kiva Systems that builds cool robots for warehouses. Afterwards Stephan Schambach, founder of Demandware told us his very impressive success story, which I’ll tell you more about that in some later blog post.
The afternoon was fully in the hands of Ernst & Young located in the 47th floor of Hancock building in downtown Boston. We were able to pick some brains on all issues around venture capital, legal requirements in the US, corporate structures, M&A and business building. They sponsored a dinner in Restaurant Mamma Maria, which was the great end of a truly inspiring day.
Yesterday a couple of enthusiastic community managers met again on the occasion of our very informal Marketing & Community Chuchi (Swiss German for kitchen).
A variety of topics has been discussed as for example:
- How to welcome new users to a platform
- How often to send notifications to users
- What content a good newsletter should provide
- How to use Twitter, social networks like Facebook and corporate blogs for community building purposes
- and many more ...
It's always a very interesting thing to share your experiences with people who work in different companies but are actually confronted with the same possibilities and difficulties as you are. So Matze and me (Amazee) have learned a lot from Oona (Wuala), Mirjam (cmsbox), Luc (Guzuu) and Franco (Collanos). And we hope they all did so as well!
Be there next time if you host a community or if you do the marketing. No date fixed yet but you can just join the event's project on Amazee to be informed about future meetings. And if you're rather interested in UX stuff: The UX Chuchi will serve your favorite dish on June 8 in Berne.