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Today at Arctic 15, the major entrepreneurial event in the Nordic countries, a number of startups from Eastern Europe (broadly defined as ex-socialist camp by GoalEurope) are presenting. Amongst them are:
Campalyst measures whether social media helps brands sell.
Streamtainment Systems, Estonia
Streamtainment is developing a software platform that enables realtime streaming of interactive applications into variety of low-powered end-customer devices over broadband connection.
Real-time team information sharing.
LinkedIn meets Path. It’s a space for sharing achievements, showing your skills and discovering those of others.
As the conference continues, we publish a blog post by Jevgenijs Kazanins, the CEO of Latvian Campalyst, the Seedcamp and Startup Sauna Warmup company. Here it is.
It’s been a while since I wanted to write about how (and perhaps, why) Campalyst not only survived, but thrived after Garage48. The “48-Hour Startup” story by Businessweek made this post a must.
So here it goes; a summary of the three most critical things and events that helped us turn a project into a company (ok, a startup for now:). Hopefully, other startups coming out of Garage48, Startup Weekend, Seedhack or any other hackathon will find it usefull (feedback us always welcome! here in comments or @jevgenijs on Twitter).
Keep bringing the good news, every single day! Someone has to take the role of keeping the team motivated to continue working on the project. It is usually too early to see your project becoming a thriving business, and there is no revenue stream, and you have to keep up with your day job…there are tons of things that will prevent each and single team member from continuing the work. So someone has to bring the good news daily: find a friend that will start using your product (no need to tell the rest of the team you bribed him with a box of beer for that), get a mention on some random blog (there are millions of those, one will definitely want to write about you), find an article that proves you have a chance to go big (you can find proof for anything on the Internet). No need for big achievements, everything counts in those very early days.
Ask for help! Other entrepreneurs have gone through this mess and will be willing to help! Find a mentor (or as many as possible), enter accelerator program, apply to a startup competition, go to startup meetups, do everything to get help from other people! In our case, we were lucky to get accepted to Startup Sauna, which actually gave us all of the abovementioned. Tons of feedback and practical help from mentors (serial entrepreneurs that built and sold businesses), competitive spirit giving extra adrenaline to work overnight, and access to fellow entrepreneurs in Finland and Silicon Valley. To illustrate the role of the program: right before going to Finland we were accepted to present at Mini Seedcamp Stockholm. No surprise, we weren’t accepted to Seedcamp family. We came back (with the same idea!) after graduating Startup Sauna and pitched Campalyst at Mini Seedcamp NY…and finally got in! You make conclusions.
Build a team with the same passion, as you build the product! When looking at the fist months of Campalyst, I should admit it was the easiest month in our 6 month history. Each month, each new achievement, each new level brings additional challenges. So if you don’t start building a team strong enough to go together through any challenge the very next day after the hackaton, you might be dead after the first wave of success. I have seen and heard of huge egos of people coming up with the idea (claiming it’s all about the idea, not the contribution from the other team members), and I have seen destroyed culture already during hackaton (calling people names is easy, retoring relationship is way harder). We made a simple rule: everyone is equal. Ideas are cheap and plenty (and you will realize it very soon) and talented engineers are hard to find. And though we have disagreements from time time we are always able to come up with the solution that is best for the whole team and for the company.
That’s it about hackathons. In the light of Startup Sauna Warmups, I get questions about the program from people applying or considering to apply. I will write a separate post on this, but if you can’t wait till then, just ping me on Twitter (@jevgenijs).
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