3 Day Startup – An analysis of Ass Kicking

Last weekend (2 to 4th of November) I was at 3 Day Startup Lisbon, an event that has been making the rounds around the globe and was brought to Lisbon (Porto and Coimbra had already had one) by the folks from the Entrepreneurs Break and TEC- Técnica Entrepreneurship Club. It was a hot & sexy weekend for entrepreneurship in Lisbon, with at least another event directly competing with 3DS Lisbon.

I’ll make very clear that I’m no expert on the matter, but from what I’ve seen, the general atmosphere at 3DS Lisbon was second to none. From what we know of previous other entrepreneurship bootcamps, courses, seminars, conferences and masterclasses, 3DS Lisbon got some very real enthusiasm from its participants. The end, especially, was beautiful, with people saying goodbye and just sticking around and extending the weekend as much as possible.
In other events this is not always the case, or at least not in the same proportion.

Now, why all of this? Why the enthusiasm? Why people that are used to these things still told us 3DS kicked more ass than others? What is the recipe?
What follows is my interpretation:

1 – 3DS Lisbon is an experience, not a course.

3 Day Startup lasts three days, helps create multidisciplinary teams and strives to result in some prototypes. There are no lectures, reading materials or even a curriculum. 3DS will not teach the same thing to everybody, but will create good conditions for good work to sprout.

People who sign up for 3DS are not doing it to pad their CVs with “Entrepreneurship” as a skill. Of course they can do that, but I think that is not their main goal with 3DS. Actually, most people I asked said they signed up to meet people, not necessarily to start the next challenge of their lives. Surely seeds were planted, though.

2 – 3DS caters to an informal audience

This is a fortunate match, 3DS and Entrepreneurs Break, known for their non-bullshit attitude and even slightly defiant attitude towards giant egos and entrepreneurial cliques. 3DS is exceedingly flat and there are no formalities holding people back. Hell, we had DJs and wine and not just for the last day.

Being informal leads to a relaxed atmosphere, with no wasted energy in politics and ass-kissing. This, in turn, creates openness to discuss things that could otherwise slip under the radar. Also, and this is important: it encourages everybody to participate. At some more formal situations it is common to see more extroverted or accomplished people taking a lead (this is to be expected and does move things forward) and shy people having little opportunity to participate. Not at 3DS, I felt.

3 – 3DS is compressed in time

3DS only has a starting and a finishing date. And in three days, there are no other scheduled moments. You are expected to manage your work and while you have to upload pitch decks at two determined moments, you are free to do as you want. If you have read “the makers schedule” Here, you will understand the value of this. Furthermore, group dynamics go under some stretching with people that had never seen each other working really hard to achieve something. People were quick to notice not just the skills but also the quirks and personal traits that come up at 2am.

All of this makes for a wider spectrum of emotions, not so available on “9 to 5” classes. 3 Days in a row are better than 5 separated ones, I feel.

Summing up:

It all depends on what you want to achieve with the events you create and participate in, but for the positioning of the Entrepreneurs Break, 3DS is a great recipe. Keep it short, agile, intense and loose and people will rise to the occasion, partner in unlikely ways and build the foundations for real greatness.

Ignite LX and Livesketching

Last tuesday (this means may1st) I went to my first Ignite event (in Lisbon).I knew some friends were working on it and I offered to help because:

A – I love helping to set stuff up, stressing out and getting my hands dirty (It reminds me of my times at Natwerk. Which rocked)
B – It was hosted by some people I really wanted to meet.

The energy of the whole event was fantastic, filled with people that are jobless and yet not really feeling depressed about. I saw a lot of active people with potential and drive, and honestly, I couldn´t help but to think of the suckers (yes, i mean this) that let them slip under the radar and out of their previous jobs.

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Entrepreneurship Bootcamp and a new project

For the past few months I´ve been taking a more active approach to learning the ins and outs of business. And although there is a ton you can learn by reading, it is great to have a structured program to follow, with a real project and the support of proven mentors. That is why I enrolled in the Energia de Portugal bootcamp series (Run by a leading newspaper, the national energy company and a national bank). It felt great to know I made it to the selected 200 (we were 1723 at the beginning, so yeah, im happy). And now I have a new project, Apps Freely.

AppsFreely is a place where as a developer you can promote your smartphone apps and as a user, you can get credits for trying them out. These credits can then be redeemed for premium apps of your choice.
(Gonçalo, our app developer already made the website, I can´t take the credit for it)

They say the team is more important than the idea, and I got reasons to like mine. We have an experienced application developer, an IT management consultant, a digital entrepreneur and yours truly (full disclosure: I´ll be handling research, usability and design).

The program lasts 9 weeks (two gone by) and places the biggest focus on the teaching of actionable skills. It is not about “getting people excited about entrepreneurship” but more about “teaching the right tools to take off”. It places a big focus on understanding the market with plenty of mentions to “research”, “testing” and “iteration”. Now this is something I definitely want to get more of.

In the last session we worked with the Business Model Canvas to structure our approach and now it is time to hit the road. And we will need some input, so if you feel that you can help us pick a name, there is a place for that:

Google Forms App name selection
(sorry, the explanation is in Portuguese, but just remember what i said above)

Also, you can sign up for the beta, either as a developer or user, so waste no time:

So, let´s see where this goes! For now it has been great to meet new people, which as usual in these community, are damn optimistic, active and interesting!

Workshop “Breathe, Amsterdam”

During my last visit to the Netherlands, there was a workshop on November 18th in Amsterdam, with the people from Combustic, Pachube  and Booreiland. The topic was  the measurement of air quality in Amsterdam and how it could be achieved on a crow-sourced basis.

Each coordinating party zoomed on one aspect, with Casper from Combustic being all about problem solving and bringing the participants together, while Ed (Pachube) was passionate about collection and access of data and the related infra-structure. Sara, who was representing Booreiland, came to talk about their fresh out-of-the-printers book (check it at metaproducts.nl) and how can we design products that take full advantage of the The Internet of Things, with special attention to the user.

To get the ball rolling, there were three really cool presentations on air quality [1]; the making of sensors [2]  and finally the coordination of sensors and actuators for morphing architecture [3].

With these, we got an understanding of methods and techniques of air quality monitoring, the future possibilities of the field and how to integrate the resulting data in adaptive systems.Important questions were raised on the importance of air quality data, how should it be collected, who builds the infrastructure, who funds it, etc…

Now, data collection on a crowdsourced basis has two challenges: the technical accomplishment of designing systems that measure what we want and are cheap enough to spread around, and the management of users motivation to participate. Tech for the first, People for the second. Managing these two is not always easy, as we’ve already learned.

A big part of the workshop was the method developed by Booreiland to design with the user in mind and still make use of the technical advantages of products connected to the Internet. It was a bit challenging to get people to stop thinking about features and tech specs and consider user experience and motivations, but at the end we had some cool ideas and even better, everybody was charged up to meet and work in between the two sessions.

After all, the objective is to get to a working system that could be used to sense and record air quality around Amsterdam.By the end of the workshop, we had decided on which variables to measure, and that we wanted to also measure indoors air quality, to compare it with the exterior.

A number of issues were raised on what constitutes clean air (some pollutants are worse than others, for instance), how to scale up or down the data collection and how manage user participation.

Unfortunately I won’t be able to make it to the fun session of actually getting things working, but i was a nice introduction to the topic of data collection and crowdsourcing.

For those of you interested in following what happens there, I suggest you start paying attention to the Internet of Things Amsterdam MeetUp group.

Continue lendo “Workshop “Breathe, Amsterdam””