6
may

Meet the Startups in Area 31: Mingles

Escrito el 6 mayo 2014 por entrepreneurship en emprender

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Andrés Pazos has been in Area 31 (IE, Madrid) for two consecutive calls. Originally he was selected for his startup Bidrink. This time around he is presenting mingles.es, which he has founded along with his two partners Amanda Wolffenbutel and his brother Gabriel Pazos. Mingles believes that the best way to improve language skills is through conversation practice. The concept is small conversation groups organized by levels and led by native speaking teachers. Sessions take place at trendy bars and cafes where you can speak while you enjoy a drink. All of it promoted and set up by an unique use of technology: mingles builds an online social network that comes to life offline.

Where did you get the idea?

Amanda, originally from San Francisco, is the mother of the idea. After teaching English in Madrid for quite some time, she realized that: 1) students needed a more dynamic way to learn and practice languages and 2) students always asked to go to a bar. So we’ve put the two together and came up with Mingles.

How does the business work?

Mingles offers a professional, social and flexible way to practice languages.

Whenever you feel like brushing up on a language in a social environment, all you have to do is go on to our web site (www.mingles.es) and find  a place and a time that works best for you and you are ready to mingle! Mingles brings you the experience of socializing and having fun while improving a language skills, all of this always guided by our native speaking teachers. You only need to sign up on our website (very soon with an APP) and have fun at your session.

What is the business model?

The business model is very simple; the students pay online 10 € for each Mingles’ experience and they are offered a drink on us. We also offer ONE to ONE sessions and passes with a 20% discount. Mingles wants to grow and become a “long tail” for language learning services.

What kinds of investors does the company have?

We have been in touch with different investors, but at the moment the founders of the company are funding Mingles. We want to make our startup grow before asking for bigger investment.

What is the stage of project now?

Mingles is running at six bars in Madrid, offering sessions everyday of the week, both in English and in Spanish. The business model has been validated and now we are testing how to grow. In June we will establish Mingles in Barcelona.

What role do the members play in the company?

Amanda is the director of studies, responsible for teachers and creator of the Mingles method. Gabriel is the CEO and project manager and Andrés is the CTO and business developer. But the reality of startups is that everybody has to work in different fields in order to make the project run.IMG_6009

What have you learned from your experience as entrepreneurs?

Creating your own company is an amazing experience, but you really have to believe in what you do. It requires a lot of work including weekends and holidays. Sometimes things do not work out as expected. As an entrepreneur you have to make a lot of decisions and I would say you learn something new every day.

What are you most excited about the project at the moment?

We are moving all the operations online and the project is starting to run on its own. We are very involved in the sharing economy movement and we want to be a reference for learning languages and become the “Airbnb of languages”.

What are the most difficult of entrepreneurship?

Being an entrepreneur and building your own business is not like working for a big company where you receive your salary every month. Things happen slower than you expect and sometimes you have to accept it, but you should never lose the energy and motivation that you need to run your business. It is very hard to get lots of people to like and appreciate your product, but when they do so, it is very rewarding

In your opinion, what are the most important personality traits to be a successful entrepreneur?

To be hardworking and persistent

Is there anything you would go back and do differently if you had the chance?

Of course many things could have been done differently. But now I would not change them because every single step and movement helps us grow, believe in, and improve our company.

What new understanding since you started has had the most impact on your original plan?

Our project is based on the experience and satisfaction of our students and teachers, so being able to listen to them everyday has helped us improve our service.

Our profit is based on volume of people; often times we want to grow providing more bars, more languages and more areas but it is very important to understand the needs of your business in terms of development and prioritize them.

What advice would you like to give to potential entrepreneurs?

Build a great team that believes in the startup as much as you do. It is important that all the team members be involved from the beginning. Find the balance between technology and marketing and run them at the right time together, one without the other does not make much sense. And, finally, keep working hard with passion and brain to make your ideas happen.

5
may

Interview Jeffrey Char – Venture Day 7th May

Escrito el 5 mayo 2014 por entrepreneurship en emprender

Jeffrey Char

Interview by Nir Hindi

Jeffrey Char is a serial entrepreneur and he will attend the coming Venture Day. You have an opportunity to hear him… here is what Jeffrey has to say about entrepreneurship:

 Describe your biggest challenges or mistakes as entrepreneur?

Staying focused on the customer.  It is very simple, but difficult. I’m often too early and need to constantly remind myself to remain focused on solving the problem we set out to fix for our customers. Once the company starts up it is easy to get distracted with all the daily work issues and forget about the reason we started the company in the first place. As you scale up the team and the business it becomes increasingly difficult to remain focused on the customer.

Describe your greatest achievement as an entrepreneur? 

 To get up and keep going after repeated failures and being told no all the time.

 What tips can you give to IE’s entrepreneurs?

Don’t start with a business idea. Find a meaningful problem to solve that you are passionate about solving. Figure out an innovative way to effectively solve the problem. Find like-minded people to join you in this adventure.  Start solving it today. Keep at it and don’t give up easily.

 Jeffrey Char is a serial entrepreneur with a focus on social and tech ventures. He’s CEO of J-Seed, Tokyo based venture incubator and he’s also chief mentor at Venture Generation. Originally from Hawaii, Jeff has been a long-term resident of Japan. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Jeff worked as an attorney and investment banker.

5
may

Interview Howard Lindzon – Venture Day 7th May

Escrito el 5 mayo 2014 por entrepreneurship en emprender

howard lindzon

Interview by Nir Hindi

Howard Lindzon, entrepreneur, investor, and business angel will attend the coming venture day and you have an opportunity to hear him… for the mean while we ask Howard few questions to help you learn from successful entrepreneur:

 Describe your biggest challenges or mistakes as entrepreneur?

Recruiting and Hiring have always been the jobs I have struggled with as an entrepreneur.  You have to be constantly thinking about growing the team and keeping a strong pipeline of candidates.

 Describe your greatest achievement as an entrepreneur? 

Biggest achievement is always making a return for investors.  Our job as entrepreneurs is to create shareholder value.  If you can create a product that people love and a work environment that people love to be a part of, the final ingredient is an outcome that is great for shareholders.  If there is only one, than it must be return for shareholders and while that is not sexy to talk about, it is what entrepreneurs are judged on.   For me, helping my limited partners invest in multiple billion dollar companies from the seed stage is my greatest entrepreneurial achievement.

 What tips can you give to IE’s entrepreneurs?

 The best tip is to focus on the structure of your business, legal, cap table, financial very early as mistakes made early compound as you add capital, people, and all the moving business complexities.  Go slow while building that initial core to the structure.  Be deliberate and extra careful.  Also – get domain expertise early and by that I mean focus on a passion because companies take years to perfect and grow and survive the starts and sputters so if you don’t have a passion for the product/industry you lose a huge edge.

Howard is the founder of Stocktwits, the Facebook of the financial community and an active mentor to entrepreneurs. He is also the creator of Wallstrip, the successful business satire news video podcast, which was purchased by CBS. As a managing partner of Social Leverage seed fund, he invests in early stage web businesses..

29
abr

Venture Network Verticals: Cloud Computing & Cyber Security

Escrito el 29 abril 2014 por entrepreneurship en emprender

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Great to see another good turn-out at our latest Venture Network Verticals event, this time focused on the Cloud Computing & Cyber Security sector. This is a very topical space at the moment, with concerns around privacy and security high on the minds of consumers and businesses alike. Spain is home to a number of very exciting businesses in this area, testament to the strong engineering talent found here. Once again we saw over 100 people make their way down to the basement here at IE’s Area 31 for a Heineken, a little chit chat and to see three exciting young start-ups pitch to our expert panel.

First off we heard from Jorge and Christophe from Smoobility pitching their way to help people manage documents across multiple devices. This was their second pitch that day (busy guys!), great to see one of the Area 31 teams up there. They were followed by Guillermo from Torus Software Solutions who have a new protocol to accelerate applications by bypassing TCP/IP. This is a big market they are tackling and with a patent and a solid team behind them they seem set for good things. They walked away with our prize this month, which includes two tickets to the Sherpa Summit in Bilbao on 06 May and the opportunity to pitch at one of IE’s international Venture Network or Venture Day events (London Venture day is on 5 June, might be a good one guys?). Rounding out the event Oscar from Prot-on pitched their encryption software which lets users control access rights to documents stored in the cloud.

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Big, big thanks to these guys for coming down and presenting their ideas. And a very special thank you to our amazing panel. Asking the tough questions this week we had Moisés Israel, the Chairman and Founder of Gigas, one of Spain’s largest cloud hosting businesses; Yalda Pourian from Microsoft Bizspark; Rocio Pillado from Adara Capital Partners; Carlos Rodriguez-Maribona, Senior Associate at Axon Partners Group and our very own Liz Fleming.

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None of this would be possible without the support of IE Business School and the Sherpa Summit who generously supported our prizes this month and our long time sponsor Heineken for ensuring we don’t go thirsty.

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Next month – Food Technology

Next month we’re focusing on Food Technology. This is a hot space at the moment following Just Eats billion Pound IPO earlier in the month. We’ll send out some more detail on this soon but if you have a start-up in this space or know someone who has applications are open -  www.ieventurenetwork.co/apply-pitch. Hopefully someone will bring in something for us to taste!

In the meantime our weekly events are on as normal, 7pm each Thursday at Area 31. We hope to see you there.

Sadface

This is the last event for Cian, Peter and myself. Alas, we’re at the end of our programme at IE and unfortunately that means we have to return to the real world [insert sadface]. I think we’ll all be lurking around Venture Network for a few months to come but we leave you in extremely safe hands with the team of Hadar Barak, Chris Holman and Yoav Shachar. Make sure you say hi to these guys.

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29
abr

Investors Day Pasion>ie

Escrito el 29 abril 2014 por entrepreneurship en emprender

23
abr

Beefeater London District

Escrito el 23 abril 2014 por entrepreneurship en emprender

Beefeater_London_District

23
abr

VENTURE NETWORK VERTICALS, 24th APRIL

Escrito el 23 abril 2014 por entrepreneurship en emprender

22
abr

Meet the Startups in Area 31: Mercambu

Escrito el 22 abril 2014 por entrepreneurship en emprender

Authors: Jose Luis Gandullo & Javi Gallego Castillo
Where did you get the idea?
Before founding Mercambu, we worked as lawyers with very tight schedules and we had no time to do shopping in a supermarket, we couldn’t buy online either because at time of delivery of the products no one was home. Thats why we decide to create this service, to solve this problem: a online supermarket that delivery the products to the work places.
 
How does the business work?
The customer makes the purchase on our website and on the same day they can pick up the products at their workplace in a electronic locker.Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 3.23.22 PM
What kinds of investors does the company have?
Our own capital, family and friends.
 
What is the stage of project now?
We have a few companies that we work with but before we work with more we want to improve the service.
 
What role do the members play in the company?
Javier and Jose Luis are responsible for the commercial side and business. Gabriel and Mario are web developers, and are responsible for the design and online marketing.
 
What are you the most excited about the project at the moment?
All the logistics of organizing orders and transport is one of the biggest challenges, but at the same time is very gratifying to see the progress we make in this field.
 
What is the most difficult part of entrepreneurship? 
I think there is nothing easier, but more daunting and sometimes frustrating is dealing with the government.
 
In your opinion, what are the most important personality traits to be a successful entrepreneur? 
Perseverance and ability to roll with the punches
 
Is there anything you would go back and do differently if you had the chance? 
Of course, many things, in fact, although we can not return to the past, similar situations in which we are given opportunity to rectify mistakes, we try to.
 
What new understanding since you started has had the most impact on your original plan?
I guess in our case, to go deeper into the field of food distribution and household products, has been what has most changed our original plan.
What advice would you like to give to potential entrepreneurs?
Try cheep, so your still trying.
10
abr

Meet the Startups in Area 31: Fik Stores

Escrito el 10 abril 2014 por entrepreneurship en emprender

logo-fikstores

Author: Bill Murphy

Where did you get the idea?

I’ve been helping companies establish their online presence, or grow their already existing presence for a number of years on a per project basis. From well-known Internet companies to small startups with no computer knowledge. Marketing wise, strategies for large companies can be replicated in small companies and vice-versa. From the technical point of view, they all have similar needs, fast, cheap, professional and scalable projects.

Developing a site for a customer, teaching the customer how to use the site, keeping the site up to date, helping the customer grow their business was a lot of work but not very scalable. Contracting people to do the job or referring customers to other colleagues when I was busy became a work of its own. The number of clients asking for online stores has been growing fast over the past five years.

My brother likes programming as a hobby, he’s also really good at marketing. He started a few years ago to develop a system where he could open his own online stores with ease. Thinking of all the problems I had as a freelance developer, I got into his project, giving it a larger scale. And that’s where it all started.

How does the business work?

People who wish to sell online can sign up for an online store at Fik Stores, they can upload their products and configure everything. If they need any extra services, like a customized design, content for their blog, photos of their products, a marketing campaign, they can contract those services through our marketplace.

What is the business model?

Fik Stores is a platform, or two-sided market. On one side we have our stores, business owners that want to sell online. On the other side we have our partners: Internet professionals, payment gateways, logistics services, and anyone who can offer services to online stores.

- For store owners, we have a subscription model, charging a monthly fee.

- For partners, we offer a marketplace where they can offer their services.

What kinds of investors does the company have?

We started with private investment from the founders, lately we’ve been bootstrapping and looking into public loans offered by Spanish government like ICO or Plan EMPLEA and ENISA.

What is the stage of project now?

Our online store platform is already working; we have very satisfied costumers in several countries. We are now working and focusing on our partners, creating tools and enabling them to better communicate with our stores.

What role do the members play in the company?

Minaya Serrano is our tech head; he provides the in-depth technical knowledge.

Natalia Sánchez-Herrero is our in-house designer and customer support.

Bill Murphy is the product manager and CEO.

* We are looking for a Business Development Director; get in touch if you’re interested.

What have you learned from your experience as entrepreneurs?

I’m constantly amazed by interactions with people I meet, people I know and people that surround us.

Opening up, talking about your worries and the lessons you learn makes you learn even more.

What are the most excited about the project at the moment?

We are receiving a lot of positive feedback, new customers are reaching us in a viral way, we are negotiating with partners and large companies are talking to us and asking for updates and following up on company progress.

What are the most difficult of entrepreneurship?

For me it’s balancing your personal life. I guess it’s harder for your family and partners. Your friends also see you less than what you would like to.

In your opinion, what are the most important personality traits to be a successful entrepreneur?

Being relentless, also being able to minimize the emotional roller-coaster, willing to take risks and not afraid on the new.

Is there anything you would go back and do differently if you had the chance?

If I had to say something, probably letting go faster, keeping assets or people in the company when they are not necessary usually is just a burn.

What new understanding since you started has had the most impact on your original plan?

Building a platform is very hard. The model works very well at scale, but starting is slow.

Limited by resources, you have to focus on one side of your market at a time. Get stores, find partners, then build better experience for our stores, then a better experience for our partners… step by step, lean, bootstrapping.

What advice would you like to give to potential entrepreneurs?

Believe in your vision, talk to people, listen to what they have to say, be open-minded.

Sometimes it gets difficult, but keep on going. Never stop looking and working for your clients.

8
abr

AGENDA VENTURE NETWORK, 10th APRIL

Escrito el 8 abril 2014 por entrepreneurship en emprender

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