The Big Project - Let's meet innovators and start with video games

Here's a big project of mine: over a month and a half period, I'll be interviewing and shooting videos of startupers from Paris. I call this project "The Big Project" aka TBP.

While moving forward in my geeky-2.0-life, I met those guys through my personal connections (no comment ;-)) and a couple of discussions were enough for me get fully enthusiastic about their projects and to propose them the "Big project". It somehow pleased them:-)

Now, we're just in the early stage of TBP and written impressions and videos won't be ready before a while, but I want to share my first impressions after the first round of videos.

Shooting are scheduled on Saturdays, (as I do TBP on top of my job :-)) and therefore have been baptized the SaturdayStartups.

Prepping & shooting have been... EXHAUSTINGLY FUN! First impressions so far:
  • First obvious common factor is enthusiasm - Well, of course it is. Those guys (very dramatically sorry but no gals met, so far...) just want to change the world. I mean what the fuss of creating a company if you only want to duplicate something existing, duh?

  • Second: innovation - The four first startups we videoed on SaturdayStartup#1 , have come up with never-seen-before ideas, products and services. Either B-to-B niche solutions or B-to-C services that will - I swear - really stun you.

  • Third: diversity - Yesterday I met startups working in very different fields: B-to-B, B-to-Xpert, B-to-C in the field of finance (ThinkStraight), telco (stealth mode...), IT (Hereda Technologies), process automation (Kedeal). Their profiles are also stunningly different: from fresh-graduate to over 30-year experienced guys, each of them dropping (very) comfortable employee positions, to make their project come true. Wow.

  • Richness directly linked to the diversity of those founders' profiles. Some of the entrepreneurs we met yesterday have been head of development in some of the most famous international companies, consulting / legal practices... Makes you feel humble(r) and is extremely energizing :-)
I knew the risk existed. But here I am: contaminated.

Keep posted to see how illness develops.

I want my iPad

Unlike most the comments I've red since THE keynote, I want my iPad!

But I remain puzzled by the quantity of moaning and bitching comments that overflowed the internet, while "mass media" such as TVs and radios were so embarrassingly enthusiastic.

Being the mother of an adorable, though noisy teenager tribe, the online world reaction really sounded to my ears as the reaction of a spoiled child.

My favorite comment remaining: it's just a big iPhone that doesn't allow you to phone.


Anyway, I can't wait to get one! Maybe just one thing to fix before I buy it though: how to print ?



One size doesn't fit all

I've been recently discussing a lot with friends of mine launching their own startups. I love those guys: they are full of an impressive positive energy, each of them working hard to change our way of working, living, inventing new ways...

Sooner or later I'll have to present them in this blog.

For now, I want to talk about one of the (many) common issues they are facing: recruiting talented people. They find it a nightmare... at best.

Key pain points:

- Lack of the startup culture that blossoms in the Valley - particularly in Europe.
- Existing job boards misfitting their needs: overload of out-focused resumes for any open position posted and lack of internal time and resources to sort and deal with them
- The inner time of startups ticks far too fast for most applicants: the job was to be done yesterday, so how could startup afford to wait for an extra period of 1 to 3 months (common length for periods of notice) for the person to come on board
- Looking for highly skilled and experienced people while the standard startup package can't compete with the apparent security of working in a big company.

Keeping the discussion further with my enterpreneur-friends, they all confess that higher the position they want to fulfill, the bigger the nightmare.

And then eventually, they identify the right person. Most of the time she/he holds a similar job in a huge company. They must recruit this person: she/he is the "Messiah" who will solve all current issues and enable the startup to cross any chasm and eventually succeed to change the world.

The seduction game starts.

It takes them weeks, if not months - but they keep on - The Messiah MUST join. And eventually he/she joins.

Here starts the real trouble:
When you've spent many years in big companies, you're accustomed to processes, to precise job description, to structured annual planning, to deal with budget, resources and support teams. Not to mention car allowance etc. Basically everything that a startup cannot / shouldn't have.

From Day #1 the Messiah gets on board, disillusion strikes hard:
- you're now on the fastest track of your industry: little time to assess, evaluate, discuss every single decisions
- you're on your own to produce and deliver
- you must re-invent your job along with the evolution of the product and its market fit
- you get little to no support
- your budget is a joke

When everything turns that sour, there's only one solution: stop the experience and go on each one his side.

Well then the TRUE nightmare begins: it costs huge time, money and energy to get rid of a Messiah-type of co-worker. Exactly what a startup cannot afford to waste.

Listen to Hjalmar Windbladh CEO of Rebtel, while presenting his experience as serial entrepreneur at Seedcamp in 2009. It's hilarious

Seedcamp Week '09. Day 1. Navigating the Start-up Rollercoaster with Hjalmar Windblah from Seedcamp on Vimeo.

Truth is: One size doesn't fit all :-)