Megan Jones

Megan is an EU-funded intern at Technoport working on communications and Share the Problem. Before joining the Technport team she worked in conservation research and environmental communications in the UK and US.

ValentinaBook
15Megan Jones

Megan JonesApril 22, 2014

Technoport 2014: Valentina D’Efilippo on the power of infographics

At the end of April innovators, entrepreneurs, business leaders and other technology pioneers will gather in Trondheim for Technoport 2014. In the run up to this exciting event, we are publishing a series of interviews with our speakers to learn more about how they are driving innovation. This week we hear from Valentina D’Efilippo, a multi-disciplinary designer and co-author of The Infographic History of the World.

Why do you think infographics have become so popular?
Beyond just data and words, infographics use images and graphical representations. These key elements – data, words and imagery – operate as a system for simplifying information, revealing new patterns, and producing new knowledge. Though they might not have always been called “infographics,” info/data-based visualizations have always been around. With rapid advances in both technology and the speed at which we consume information, infographics have become an effective way to grab audience attention and deliver complex information in digestible formats.

In 2013 you published The Infographic History of the World. How did you decide to make that book, and what do you hope it will achieve?
Craig Adams, the editor of the book, came up with the initial idea of narrating history through infographics. James Ball, data journalist for the Guardian, and I joined forces to bring Craig’s idea to life. The Infographic History of the World is our attempt to narrate history in an unconventional way. Rather than looking to define the world’s history, this book looks to leverage the power of infographics and refresh an age-old subject for the general public and the specialist alike.

Instead of simply celebrating infographics on a stand-alone basis, we hope to take our readers on a journey through history. If we convert our audience from passive readers of a single story into fellow travellers, they can explore data and use the visualizations as starting points for their own exploration and understanding.

How do you see visual media driving or supporting innovation – either today or historically?
Since our earliest times, humans have attempted to interpret and describe the world around us – past, present and future. Embracing the picture-worth-a-thousand-words perspective, people continue to use visual metaphors to share their ideas with others. Visual media have consistently played an important role in supporting, communicating and delivering innovation.

Visual media bear a responsibility to simplify complexity and record discoveries. Yet, they also have the potential to become the fabric by which we can discern new meaning and share new knowledge. In some cases, there are existing relationships that are only revealed once the raw data has taken a visual form.

How do you think the role of visual media will change with the rise of big data and increasing technology?
With the social data revolution and the rise of big data, we should expect to see increasing prevalence of data visualization through media. As growing amounts of data become increasingly available, there will be a need to understand what is being recorded. Visual media is a likely leader in making this information accessible in a swifter and smarter way.

While infographics have been around for ages, recent proliferation of free and easy-to-use tools makes visual media more accessible to a large segment of the population. Demand for the communication of data-based information is evolving in tandem with advances in technology. Visual media has the opportunity to communicate ideas quickly and effectively. With the increased use of interactive media and new technology platforms, I expect the use of visual media will increase across disciplines.

 

Want to hear more?

Valentina will speak at How Visual Media Helps Us Make Sense at Technoport 2014. She will elaborate on the topics explored in this interview as we shed light on the future of funding new ventures. Learn more about Technoport 2014.

Image credit: Valentina D’Efilippo

roVsPWA
15Megan Jones

Megan JonesApril 16, 2014

Technoport 2014: Dimension10 develops 3D scanner

At Technoport 2014’s Live Crowdfunding Experiment, the first of its kind in Norway, three promising young tech startups will pitch their company to a crowd of investors. This week we hear from each of the startups in turn. We’ve heard about AssiStep and Rom & Tonik, now we hear from Krister Fagerslepp of Dimension10, developers of a 3D scanner.

What challenge does your product solve, and how is your solution innovative?

Our solution solves the difficulty of scanning living objects by scanning the entire subject at the same time within mililseconds. Our solution is innovative because it’s purpose built down to the software that controls it. Our innovation also lies in the areas of use, and how easily we can achieve an automatic process from scan to result.

Why did you decide to develop this company?

The origin for my project is my interest for immersive technology/Virtual Reality. I developed software for Oculus Rift as well as building my own unit before the developer kit hit the market. The 3D scanner is a result of experiments I did to create characters/avatars for this system. I would say the seed for this project was planted around 24 months ago. However, serious work was not initiated until a while after this.

What have you achieved so far?

Our 3D scanner is working and stable, with generally decent quality. We have developed the software and hardware to control the rig ourselves. However, the quality of scans still need improvement in our opinion. This means mainly that we need to add more cameras and flashes, to get more angles covered.

Where has your funding come from before?

Funding has come mainly from our own pockets.

Why are you seeking equity crowdfunding?

In order to speed up development we need money for things such as more/better hardware and bigger office space. Selling equity seems like a good way to raise funds in this project.

Where do you see your company in 5 years?

We see ourselves having a working scanner system that is simple enough to operate that we can hire almost anyone to operate it. Once this achieved, the only demanding job is occasional software updates and maintenance.  If we can achieve these goals, we have more than enough ideas to pursue in the field that will keep us occupied and plenty of IP to keep us going. We have no doubt that we will never a dull moment, and firmly believe that our companies ability to produce revenue extends far beyond  5 years.

Check out Dimension10’s FundedByMe campaign here!

Want to attend?

Learn more about the Live Crowdfunding Experiment and register for Technoport 2014.

Photo credit: Dimension10 

IMG_7958_2
15Megan Jones

Megan JonesApril 15, 2014

Technoport 2014: Rom & Tonik makes natural sound absorber

At Technoport 2014’s Live Crowdfunding Experiment, the first of its kind in Norway, three promising young tech startups will pitch their company to a crowd of investors. This week we hear from each of the startups in turn. First we heard about AssiStep, now up is Rom & Tonik, a company founded by Mats Solberg and Birgitte Røsvik.

What challenge does your product solve, and how is your solution innovative?

Our product is proven to be one of the most volume efficient sound absorption products on the market. We work towards reducing noise in office and public spaces to improve the working conditions. We are doing this through using natural rough wool as the actual absorbent. This is a whole different way to do it, and the unique felt that we produce in Mongolia is uniquely efficient. We have also developed a modular and very flexible system that allows the user a lot of freedom when configuring their FeltTile system.

Why did you decide to develop this company?

We wanted to start Rom & Tonik because we saw that there was a huge potential market in acoustic solutions for open offices and public spaces. We also saw the need to make use of the rough wool quality that the textile industry avoided in their products. Making use of a raw material that has a perfectly sustainable profile to solve a growing problem in the interior market made perfect sense. We decided to start Rom & Tonik after winning the regional finals of Venture Cup in Trondheim in the spring of 2012. The company was started in October 2012.

What have you achieved so far?

Since then, we have developed the profile of Rom & Tonik, worked intensely with developing our production and distribution line. We have been hard at work with finalizing our product design for FeltTile and finally we launched FeltTile and Rom & Tonik at Designers Saturday in Oslo Sept. 2013. In February this year, we were able to present FeltTile at the Stockholm Furniture Fair, the leading interior exhibition for the Scandinavian market. On a day-to-day basis we are hard at work with selling FeltTile and we have now sold more than 20 projects around Norway.

Where has your funding come from before?

We have received funding (etablérstipend) from Innovation Norway and Seed capital from Ålesund Kunnskapspark.

Why are you seeking equity crowdfunding?

After visiting Stockholm Furniture Fair we got interest from resellers all over the world. Now we want to start testing the Scandinavian market and establish our network beyond the Norwegian market. In parallel we are working with some very exciting new products with a very good supplementary potential to FeltTile. To be able to develop pilot projects with this new product, we will use some of the FundedByMe equity for product development as well.

Where do you see your company in 5 years?

In five years Rom & Tonik is substantial actor in the interior furnishing industry. The organisation has grown a lot, and we are the go-to company for acoustical solutions and soundproofing. We have our products installed in more than 20 countries in the world, and we have contributed to improve people’s working environment in every project we have participated in.

Check out the Rom & Tonik FundedByMe campaign here!

Want to attend?

Learn more about the Live Crowdfunding Experiment and register for Technoport 2014.

Photo credit: Mats Herding Solberg

AssiTech
15Megan Jones

Megan JonesApril 14, 2014

Technoport 2014: AssiStep helps the elderly

At Technoport 2014’s Live Crowdfunding Experiment, the first of its kind in Norway, three promising young tech startups will pitch their company to a crowd of investors. This week we’ll hear from each of the startups in turn. First up, AssiStep – a company created by Eirik Gjelsvik Medbø, Halvor Wold, and Ingrid Lonar. 

What challenge does your product solve, and how is your solution innovative?

One of the biggest obstacles for the elderly and people with mobility issues is stair climbing. It’s one of the most common reasons that people need to move away from their home. At the same time, stair climbing is the most effective training method in your own home, but the consequences from falling can be dramatic, which is illustrated by the 50 casualties and 30,000 injuries from stair falling each year in Norway alone.

If we can solve this problem by adding increased support, increased safety and stimulate people to continue to use their stairs, our users will become more independent, get increased exercise, and continue to live in their own home for longer.

Why did you decide to develop this company?

Through a large number of interviews with users and therapists, we learned  how big the stair climbing problem actually is, and that there aren’t good enough solutions out there today. By creating AssiTech AS, we can make people more independent, and at the same time establish ourselves in a market with a big growth potential over the coming years.

What have you achieved so far?

We’ve established a passionate and ambitious team that really wants to make a difference by creating innovative and user-friendly products. We’ve raised over 2 million NOK in soft-funding. We’ve developed a lot of prototypes, and  at this point are ready to produce the first series of AssiStep. AssiStep is a trademarked and patent-pending product.

Where has your funding come from before?

We’ve raised over 2 million NOK in soft-funding to date, from Innovation Norway, NTNU Discovery, our biggest customer NAV, and the Tekna scholarship 2013, in addition to the equity we’ve put in ourselves. We’re now at a stage where we need to raise private capital, in order to initialise production of the first 60 products.

Why are you seeking equity funding?

Because we know that a lot of people out there really believe in AssiStep, and want to see it go into production. Equity funding makes it possible for ordinary people to make a difference, by becoming a shareholder in a company with growth potential. In order for us to start delivering value to users and customers, we need to raise capital for production of our first 60 products.

Where do you see your company in 5 years?

In 5 years our product portfolio have grown to something more than AssiStep, making use of our strategic distribution partners outside Norway. AssiStep is by then an established product also within markets outside Norway, and should be the natural choice for stair mobility. Our organisation consists of creative people that wants to make a difference by creating innovative products that solve big problems.

Check out the AssiStep Funded by Me campaign here!

Want to attend?

Learn more about the Live Crowdfunding Experiment and register for Technoport 2014.

Photo credit: AssiStep (from left to right, Eirik Gjelsvik Medbø, Ingrid Lonar, Halvor Wold)

CFX
15Megan Jones

Megan JonesApril 11, 2014

Last-minute chance to crowdfund your start-up!

We are excited to announce a last minute opportunity for an exciting new start up to join us at Norway’s first live equity-based crowdfunding event. This follows from the success of Bad Norwegian – one of our original participants – which is now close to reaching its fundraising target.

To take advantage of this fantastic opportunity to pitch to a live crowd of investors at CFX on 29th Apr, just send an e-mail to aleksander@fundedbyme.com by 12:00 p.m. on 15th Apr. In the e-mail, explain in one page who your startup is and what products and/or services you are looking to develop. All participants will also receive free entry and merchandising space at Technoport 2014, and a free crowdfunding campaign on Funded by Me.

Women of Technoport
15Megan Jones

Megan JonesApril 11, 2014

Bridging the gender gap in entrepreneurship

Gender inequality at work is a global problem, despite undoubted progress in many areas over the last decades. Norway is an international leader in some aspects – not least for its paid maternity and paternity leave – but even in Norway there are fewer women in entrepreneurship. In today’s blog we hear from some of the inspiring female entrepreneurs in Norway working to promote innovation and break the gender divide.

A global challenge

Arguably every country and every sector has its own challenges when it comes to gender, but it’s a fact that around the world women are still more economically excluded. A 2013 report by the World Bank Group concludes that only half of women’s productive potential is being used globally, for reasons that can include “lack of mobility, time, and skills, exposure to violence, and the absence of basic legal rights”.

Women are similarly underrepresented in entrepreneurship. In the words of the 2013 Women’s Report by Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM): “In nearly every economy there are fewer female than male entrepreneurs, and they appear to show reluctance to scale their businesses or to enter new and less tested markets”. In general, GEM found that women were more likely to:

  • start business as single founders with fewer employees,
  • start a business out of necessity than opportunity, and
  • struggle to maintain their business once started or to find enough financial support.

Women also had less faith in themselves as entrepreneurs, for instance: “women in Europe and the U.S. are much less likely to believe they have the capabilities for entrepreneurship compared to men in their economies.”

This is a problem that female entrepreneurs also observe on the ground. Aurora Klæboe Berg, VP of Business and Market at Norwegian success story Dirtybit, suggests that, “by stereotype, women have more self-awareness while men have more self-confidence. Women want to know that they will succeed before trying in fear of failing. Being an entrepreneur is high risk, and requires a mix of both self-awareness and self-confidence – independent of gender.”

Tanja Holmen, Project Manager at NxtMedia, a Technoport 2014 conference partner, makes a similar case. “I think part of the solution lies in the need for security, financial resources, and ambition. The fact that so many female entrepreneurs become self-employed or start small enterprises says something about the need to encourage certain attitudes – especially a willingness to gamble with one’s own finances. Entrepreneurship involves a lot of gambling…not to mention madness and fun!”

So what’s happening in Norway?

According to GEM’s report, in Norway half as many women as men are involved in entrepreneurial activity, and half as many own an established business.

In 2008 the Norwegian government set out the target that 40% of entrepreneurs would be women by 2013. In fact, that percentage is decreasing – from 32.6% in 2007 to 25.8% in 2012. This puts Norway third from bottom in Europe, and fourth from bottom in GEM’s list of 24 innovation-driven countries.

“I don’t think quotas and things help very much,” says Stina Nysæther, Co-Founder of Startup Norway. “It’s more about highlighting the good female entrepreneurs that are out there and the work that they’re doing – and not so much focus on them being women, but to create role models for girls. Our focus at Startup Norway is to get people interested in entrepreneurship.”

Aurora Klæboe Berg agrees. “I don’t think that the focus should be on specific initiatives for women, but rather improving the mind-set of our nation. In Norway people are not encouraging each other to succeed the same way as in the US. Everybody expects you to fail, and when you do, they say: ‘I could have told you so. Why’d you bother even trying?’ While in the US the mentality is: ‘That sucks, but what’s your next entrepreneurial adventure?’

“Just a few people are successful at their first attempt. That means we have to be strong to try again several times. In Norway we need more innovation and crazy entrepreneurs so our economy can rely on more than just oil in the future. So if we for some reason fail with Dirtybit, I urge you to encourage us to continue!”

Moving towards a more equal future 

“In Norway we need more funding and more programs, it’s true,” says Stina Nysæther, “but we also need more entrepreneurs – people need to be inspired to start a business.

“What we see that helps in Norway is not about focusing on women but focusing on health, or fashion – picking the topics that potential future female entrepreneurs would be interested in.

“The women and men that show up to our events don’t have differences in ambition or knowledge, but they do see problems in different places,” explains Stina. “For example the winning app at our Startup Weekend in October was Weather Ware, an app designed by a female preschool teacher to help parents make sure their children are dressed for the weather.”  

“I believe that with more success stories, more entrepreneurial attempts will occur,” concurs Aurora Klæboe Berg. “We all need role models, and I hope I can encourage others (both male and female) to follow the entrepreneurial path by being one.”

Tanja Holmen is also optimistic: “I think a lot will happen in the innovation scene in Norway in the future, both for female and male entrepreneurs. Advances in technology are bringing better ways to produce, establish, distribute and communicate. Hubs and flexible workspaces are also increasing with record speed. These are very welcome arenas for innovation, and vital supplements to the more established, traditional incubators that we’ve been using so far.

Perhaps even just this change in entrepreneurial culture in Norway will encourage more women to take the plunge.”

 

Women of Technoport 2014

Successful female entrepreneurs and innovators sharing their expertise at Technoport 2014 include Leila Janah, founder of Samasource; Liz Wald, Head of International at Indiegogo, Lauren Anderson, Community Director at Collaborative Consumption, and Siri Skøien, founder of Comlight. To find out more about these and other speakers or to register, head over to the Technoport 2014 website.

Comlight
15Megan Jones

Megan JonesApril 9, 2014

Technoport 2014: Siri Skøien on entrepreneurial success

At the end of April innovators, entrepreneurs, business leaders and other technology pioneers will gather in Trondheim for Technoport 2014. In the run up to this exciting event, we will publish a series of interviews with our speakers to learn more about how they are driving innovation. This week we hear from Siri Skøien, an award-winning entrepreneur and founder of Comlight, a motion-sensing street light system to reduce energy use.

Where did you get the idea for Comlight from, and how did it start?
It really started as an idea – I had no engineering or technical experience, I come from a business background, but I knew that if I didn’t do this someone else would. So for the first year I was working alone, getting the marketing plan off the ground and starting the patenting process. And from there I worked on incorporating electrical engineering and so forth.

How did you find the process of looking for early stage funding?
It was very difficult – very difficult, even in Norway.  This was seven years ago, and I think there’s been some progress since then, but I spent a long time looking for funding. You know, I would keep calling people and I’d get 200 noes and eventually one yes, and that’s what you’re waiting for. One thing I did was I used the local press to get the word out, I tried to get coverage of all the new developments in the local press. And actually it ended up that our first investor contacted me! It may be that I got very lucky, but that’s how we started.

Since Comlight has been going for seven years, as you say, how has the product changed over time?
We’ve made some improvements to the radar detection, and recently to the backend so users like road authorities have a better computer programme to see all the lights individually and manage them. That’s been a big project.

With the radar system, the first generation of Comlight could only detect cars and trucks and other vehicles. It took two years of intensive research and development to create a system that could detect pedestrians, which is what we have now. We’re always working to incorporate market feedback to increase the functionality, and so customers can adapt the system to their needs.

So how would a pedestrian experience street lighting in a place where Comlight has been installed? I can imagine that people would be concerned about safety.
Yes. In fact, though, I often have people come to me and say, “Are you sure it’s working? I can’t see the lights turning off anywhere.” And I say, “That’s great!” That’s how it’s supposed to be. We wanted to create a product that is so effective you don’t notice that the lights are off in front of you or behind you. If you’re walking through a park you don’t want have that spotlight feeling of being lit up on a stage. This applies to cars as well. It’s about safety as well as energy savings – safety and security is a big priority. So the system is working and saving energy, but our eyes can’t detect it.

Where is Comlight going in the future?
We want to stay small and stay innovative – to always be one step ahead, because the customers are always asking for more things. We do have some work going on in Canada and the US, but for this year we are mostly focusing on Europe. Our target customers is big lighting companies like OSRAM and GE, because it’s very time-consuming to go after the end-customers ourselves. Companies like that want to offer smart lighting but they don’t have what Comlight has, so they buy our product and sell it on to road authorities, city agencies and so on.

In terms of developing the Comlight system, we’re looking to increase the functionality so it can do other things like monitor traffic, count vehicles or check speed. It’s possible to incorporate things that aren’t even connected to lighting and energy efficiency, and that’s where this technology is going.

Are you optimistic about the future of smart lighting?
Yes, I’m very optimistic. Smart cities as a concept is really taking off, and the market for smart lighting has grown a lot recently. Norway has fallen a bit behind, people tend to want to install the same systems as they always have, but still it’s increasing here too.

Smart cities are one of the biggest movements of our time, and this has really expanded even in just the last year. This is where the world is headed.

Want to hear more?

Siri will feature at our Venture Angels and Crowd Investors event at Technoport 2014. She will elaborate on the topics explored in this interview as we shed light on the future of funding new ventures. Learn more about Technoport 2014.

Image credit: Comlight AS

Samasource
15Megan Jones

Megan JonesApril 4, 2014

Technoport 2014: Leila Janah on Samasource and social entrepreneurship

At the end of April innovators, entrepreneurs, business leaders and other technology pioneers will gather in Trondheim for Technoport 2014. In the run up to this exciting event, we will publish a series of interviews with our speakers to learn more about how they are driving innovation. This week we hear from award-winning social entrepreneur Leila Janah, founder and CEO of Samasource.

How would you explain Samasource and how it works?

“Sama” is the Sanskrit word for “equal”. The entire SamaGroup (which also includes SamaUSA and Samahope) was built on a shared vision – that of an equal opportunity world, where people aren’t suffering in poverty simply because they happened to be born in a disadvantaged region. We connect people in need to medical care and to dignified work that enables them to take control over their futures.

Impact sourcing is one piece of this strategy. In simple terms, it refers to the practice of outsourcing labor to disadvantaged populations. So if you’re a large corporation and you’re regularly sending work to business process outsourcing (BPO) firms, impact sourcing allows you to use some of those contracts to fight poverty and improve lives. If only a handful of the world’s largest corporations dedicated 5% of their outsourcing portfolios to impact sourcing service providers, it would make a significant dent in global poverty.

Samasource uses the Microwork model. Can you explain what this is and how it has been implemented?

Think of the way an iPhone, or any peripheral device, connects to a computer. You use an adapter cable that allows the two devices to exchange information. The Microwork model is like a massive adapter cable that allows people in poverty to plug their brainpower into global enterprises. It’s a way of connecting these two groups – corporations and the impoverished – for mutual benefit.

Customers approach us with large data projects that require vast numbers of small human judgments. For example, a company might have thousands of photos featuring pieces of furniture that need to be carefully tagged so that computers can be trained to recognize the shape of a chair, or a couch. We break that project down into irreducible tasks, and set up a workspace for them within our technology platform. These tasks then get sent to our delivery center partners in the field, where members of disadvantaged populations are trained to complete them.

Through the Microwork model, you might see a single mother who’s lived her entire life in a Kenyan slum tagging images for a major international corporation. But what’s truly unique about the Microwork Model as a solution to poverty is the way it invests skills and experience in workers. 89% of our workers either go back to school or find further employment in the formal sector.

Some have criticized Samasource for outsourcing the work of US citizens to other countries. How do you respond to this?

This is a common misconception. The services that Samasource provides to its customers – which include huge global brands like Google, Microsoft, and LinkedIn – would in most instances be too cost-prohibitive to complete in the United States. So it’s not as if our workers in Kenya or India are out-bidding Americans for jobs. If our workers weren’t completing these data projects, they’d be completed by a BPO firm or simply not done at all.

With that said, Samasource recognizes that poverty is a global problem, and we’re equally dedicated to fighting it here in the US. I started SamaUSA for this reason. SamaUSA is a domestic program that teaches digital skills to low-income community college students, and helps them to find work on online job platforms like Elance and oDesk. SamaUSA is running in three California community colleges already, and we’re poised to scale the program through the entire country.

Do you have plans for scaling up the impact sourcing model further?

A solution to poverty is only viable if it affects a significant number of individuals, and Samasource has always targeted women and youth who support multiple dependents for this reason. We want the wages we pay to positively impact families and invest new capital in entire communities.

But we’re just one participant in a growing trend, in a fledgling industry. Right now, we’re trying to use our influence with large corporations to support the entire impact sourcing space. We believe that we can scale this model collaboratively, by compelling major brands to commit part of their outsourcing portfolios to any number of impact sourcing service providers.

Have there been any technological challenges associated with outsourcing work? What does the future hold for this?

The lack of reliable Internet access in the developing world has been a significant challenge. One of our model’s limitations is its inability to reach populations that are off the grid. In a lot of remote areas, infrastructural investments must be made before the Microwork Model can be applied and people can be recruited.

We’ve had great success, however, when those infrastructural investments have been made. We’ve partnered with Oxfam Novib and a number of other international NGOs on a project called Internet Now! that’s bringing Internet access and computer-based work to rural areas in northern Uganda. This region was devastated by the country’s civil war and never recovered. Many people there still live in huts, and walk miles every day to collect safe drinking water from public pumps. But with our partners ALIN and Inveneo, we’ve set up solar-powered, Internet-enabled centers in three rural Ugandan communities. The people there may not have running water in their homes, but they’re getting paid to complete computer-based tasks for huge global brands. It’s amazing.

What have been your main triumphs and tribulations as a social entrepreneur, and what advice would you give others? 

Samasource has now reached over 20,000 people through the wages it pays to workers. I consider that a colossal triumph, although it’s just the beginning of what we hope to accomplish. Experiencing the spark of inspiration as a social entrepreneur – that “a-ha” moment when I get an idea that I think can help people – is exhilarating, but that moment is the start of a long, arduous journey toward real impact.

When raising money to get Samasource off the ground I heard “no” from a lot from potential funders. I’ve also faced people who think I have no business being in the tech industry as a woman, and as a woman of south Asian descent. But I’ve also been lucky to find kindred spirits who are just as excited as I am about using technology to change the world.

The most valuable advice I’ve ever heard comes from Silicon Valley leader and investor Ben Horowitz: “Don’t quit.” Especially in the tech world, where successes can become obsolete within the blink of an eye, it’s crucial to a have an inner voice simply telling you to keep going, keep refining, keep striving.

Want to hear more?

Leila will speak at our A Tool For Change session at Technoport 2014. She will elaborate on the topics explored in this interview as we shed light on how innovation and entrepreneurship can change the world. Learn more about Technoport 2014.

Image credit: Samasource.org

Shareable.net
15Megan Jones

Megan JonesApril 2, 2014

Technoport 2014: Lauren Anderson on the game-changing power of collaborative consumption

At the end of April innovators, entrepreneurs, business leaders and other technology pioneers will gather in Trondheim for Technoport 2014. In the run up to this exciting event, we will publish a series of interviews with our speakers to learn more about how they are driving innovation. This week we hear from Lauren Anderson, Community Director at the pioneering shared economy organisation Collaborative Consumption.

1. How would you explain “collaborative consumption”?

We describe collaborative consumption as the reinvention of old market behaviours such as bartering, lending, swapping, trading and exchanging – but this time they’ve been reinvented for the Facebook age! Social, mobile and location-based technologies are enabling us to share and exchange all kinds of assets now – from physical stuff to less tangible things like time, skills and space – on a scale and in ways that wouldn’t have been possible even 10 years ago.

2. How is collaborative consumption disrupting existing models of doing business?

We are already seeing collaborative consumption disrupting established 100-year-old industries such as car manufacturing, hospitality and even banking by putting the power in the hands of the people. These new technologies are not only more efficient and often more affordable, but they also provide more authentic and personal experiences over mass-produced and standardised, which is something people are hungry for these days. Having said this, there are many ways that existing companies can, and should, get involved in understanding how this consumer shift might affect them, and what they can do to maintain relevance and build brand loyalty with these new consumers.

3. What are some examples of different types of businesses that are leading this movement?

In our directory of examples we have documented more than 1000 examples of collaborative consumption globally, and have found examples in more than 100 countries. But while there are many small local marketplaces in this space, there are also some bigger global companies who operate across a number of continents.

Airbnb, the p2p accommodation marketplace, is arguably the biggest collaborative consumption platform in the world, behind sites like eBay. TaskRabbit and similar task marketplace platforms have been hugely successful. Carsharing and bikesharing platforms are up and running in hundreds of cities around the world, transforming the ideas of mobility. And for a local start-up, EasyBring is a collaborative distribution service, or ‘crowdshipping’, tapping into a network of deliverers who can send packages for others.

4. Cities are also getting involved – tell us a bit more about that.

Cities look after a lot of the regulation at a local level, and in many cases collaborative consumption companies are not adequately dealt with in the current legislation, causing a lot of uncertainty and fear. Other than that, there are many ways cities can adopt collaborative consumption-based models to supply services to residents and also build a culture of empowered citizens rather than a passive community. We expect to see many cities following the likes of Seoul in South Korea, and Portland, Oregon, to really make Shareable Cities part of their mandate.

5. What role can collaborative consumption play in overcoming global challenges such as climate change?

As an example, most collaborative consumption platforms are focused on maximising the ‘idling’ or underused capacity of the things around us – ensuring that the things we own are used to their full potential. Other platforms are dedicated to the redistribution of stuff from where it’s not wanted to somewhere it’s needed, extending the lifecycle of products otherwise headed to landfill. And perhaps most importantly, collaborative consumption encourages people to consider whether they really need to buy something new, or if there are other ways they could access it, which might involve connecting with other people in the community.

6. Where do you see collaborative consumption going in the future?

In the future, we definitely see that there will be much more involvement from existing organisations, as well as local and even federal governments, as collaborative consumption becomes a much bigger part of the consumer ecosystem. We will start to see the most successful models of collaborative consumption being scaled and replicated around the world, and local economies will be strengthened through these new ideas. Ultimately we believe that we will be able to reduce our reliance on the consumer machine, and that we will be able to restore the balance of community and contribution that we are missing today.

Want to hear more?

Lauren will feature at our Troublemakers event at Technoport 2014. She will elaborate on the topics explored in this interview as we showcase stories of some of the individuals behind disruptive companies. Learn more about Technoport 2014.

Image credit: Shareable.net

Wozniak NTNU
15Megan Jones

Megan JonesMarch 17, 2014

Steve Wozniak in Trondheim

Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniak, came to Trondheim on Friday to speak at StartIT, an event run by Start NTNU and Spark NTNU to encourage budding IT entrepreneurs.

A gifted engineer and a charismatic speaker, Wozniak entertained the auditorium of 500 students with anecdotes about Apple’s beginnings and advice for new inventors. Here are some of his choicest stories.

On the origins of Apple

Before Wozniak took the stage the organisers played the famous 1984 commercial, setting the tone for a trip down memory lane. According to Wozniak, he and Steve Jobs started working together “for fun – not doing it thinking we’re going to have a company, a job”. They were part of a group of people talking about social revolution, he elaborated: “I never did it for the money… it was something I was good at creating and something I thought could help other people – I really wanted to be part of a revolution”.

Beyond that, though, his sheer enthusiasm for his inventions was clear in every sentence. “Once you have a computer it’s a platform,” Wozniak told the crowd.  “I had a goal of someday owning my own computer – then all of a sudden it was apparent I could build that computer”.

In particular he talked about the Apple II. It would be a computer you could use straight from the box, and it would be in colour. “They only used black and white televisions for arcade games in those days… and I was thinking about colour TVs – how they use a nice wave at exactly the right speed – and then the idea popped into my head of using 1s and 0s at the right speed and the computer would think it was colour”.

“We were bringing colour to the world,” he concluded.

The Apple II, launched 1977.

On Steve Jobs

When Wozniak talked, the years rolled away and you could imagine being back in California in this moment of intense innovation and excitement. You could imagine Steve Jobs would walk out on stage any second.

In Wozniak’s story, Jobs and he made the perfect team: “Steve was the entrepreneur, I was just the designer – I understood the market really well, because the market was one person, me. He didn’t know the cost to build but he knew what people wanted and which engineers were able to achieve the impossible”.

Jobs persuaded Wozniak to go further and achieve more: “to design a game that young, game-loving people would like would be the highlight of my life – and Steve said you’ve got to do it in 4 days.” Wozniak explained that this was in the days of hardware, not software, but – “I didn’t question him. We had four days and nights with no sleep – both of us caught mononucleosis, but we delivered it to Atari!”

Advice for IT entrepreneurs

For all the fun of hearing about the past, what really grabbed to audience was when Steve Wozniak turned to the future – to the innovators and entrepreneurs in the room.

“When we started the company we were like all of you… we were young, we had no money, and we had no business experience,” Wozniak began. But “if you want to do new outstanding different things, they don’t have to have value at first – look at Apple…If we didn’t make a profit it didn’t matter, we would have a company that we cared about.”

“What really matters is when something’s in your own head, nothing can stop you,” Wozniak continued. “You do as much as you can with the few resources you have…We bought our computer parts on credit, so you have 30 days to pay for them! We built the computers in 10 days, and got paid cash.”

Steve Wozniak quoted the advice of their angel investor and second CEO Mike Markkula: “we’re going to be a market-driven company, because the greatest companies like IBM were market-driven, not engineering driven.”

To “all these people come out of business school”, Wozniak had this to say: “Please, find the engineering students. All these people who like to create, original problem-solvers…the engineers will be able to give you ideas you never thought of.”

And with that engineering foundation, “build a working model that somebody can play with and interact with – because you’ll be able to convince a lot more people it’ll be fun to use.”

When asked if the students in the audience should pursue a business or finish school, Wozniak laughed and said: “If you have a chance to start a company with a few friends, do it, you can always go back to school! On the other hand, if you can do it while you’re at school…”

Looking forwards

When Steve Wozniak finished speaking all 500 students rose to their feet – a tribute to the man and to the legacy that continues to shape our world.

Earlier in his talk Wozniak threw out the idea that “Steve Jobs would say the computer age is gone”. Hard drives are increasingly located elsewhere – devices like iPads are more like displays.

Technology has come so far from the invention of floppy disks and colour screens in the 1970s – what will the future bring?

Want to hear more?

What is the future of technology and innovation – and what role will Norway play? At Technoport 2014 we will explore topics like this through keynote speeches, hands-on workshops and live crowdfunding. Learn more about Technoport 2014.

Photo credit: Start NTNU and oldcomputers.net