Monday, March 31, 2014

The most interesting startups from Poland 2014

By Luka Sučić

This post is a dedication to all of the Polish teams, ideas and startups that you should be aware of in the the next period. 

Since one of my tasks in hub:raum is to evaluate as much startups as possible and to identify the true innovators and disruptors we usually crunch quite a lot numbers, listen to a lot of pitches, read and discuss about this or that startup or a new technology. Every once in a while we stumble upon something amazing and we want to share it with everyone.

Our focus on telco related startups can prevent us from investing in some of them but that doesn't mean we should not support them any way we can. This post is a dedication to all of the Polish teams, ideas and startups that try to make the ground move and tremor, innovators, misfits and disruptors.

Read on...

This a repost of an article that appeared on on March 31, 2014

Friday, March 28, 2014

Pioneers Unplugged to Come to Krakow!

Hello Krakow!
I am bringing Pioneers Unplugged to Krakow. For those who don't know what it is, Pioneers Unplugged is a premium one evening event highlighting the best of the local startup community. 

By having Pioneers Unplugged in Krakow, we would be joining a community of over 40 major European and 5 continents globally.  It would also increase our exposure to the international community.  We would be joining a network that includes Prezi, Honestly, and Podio.  

You can sign up here:

Attendees will have a chance to win a ticket to the Pioneers Festival in Vienna worth over 600 Euros.
As a bonus, my partner will also get a complementary ticket to the Pioneers Festival.   

I am looking for Content contributors.   I am looking for a person who will help me organize the event.   More information to come shortly.  I am looking for volunteers.

Get ready for a night of fun, inspiration, and awesomeness! If you would like to help please contact me. 

Thank you so much!


Polish Startup Has Reportedly Started Producing Graphene

Zachary Shahan

Commercial graphene production has reportedly begun in Poland, the first place this supermaterial is being produced commercially.

Living in Poland for 5½ years, I can tell you that there is a very high number of tech geeks/experts here, but I have to admit that this news came to me from a CleanTechnica reader. Following an article I published about Lux Research’s projections regarding when graphene and other advanced materials might be commercialized, this reader sent me two links about a Polish startup that has reportedly just begun producing graphene.

The startup, established back in 2011 (before graphene was on the radar of most of us), is co-owned by mining giant KGHM (where my father-in-law and brother-in-law actually work) and the Industrial Development Agency (ARP). It is using technology that was developed at the Institute of Electronic Materials Technology in Warsaw.

Here’s some more information on the technique used: “The method, an adaptation of epitaxy, relies on the crystallization of carbon from an outer source, which means the carbon is settled down in the form of a one or two atom thick layer on the surface. The EMT says that the process is efficient and cheap and uses commercially available equipment.”

In a Polish solar PV engineering publication, Prime Minister Donald Tusk is reported to have commented on the achievement while attending the opening of the production facility, calling it a historic moment. That report notes that this is the only company commercially producing graphene. Indeed, the Lux Research article I noted at the top projected that “graphene’s major commercial inflection point is still off in the future – expect graphene to begin to find widespread use in battery electrodes or conductive composites around 2025.”

Of course, graphene has many insane, unprecedented properties. To catch up on those, scroll through our graphene archives. Some of the industries it could make a big difference in include solar power and energy storage.

Perhaps I should swing over to Warsaw and find out more about this reportedly breakthrough production process and the product links it is currently targeting.

This is a repost of an article from

Friday, March 21, 2014

A Wonderful Primer into the World of Cryptocurrency

By Paul Chen

I was at a talk in Stanford on March 4, 2014. It was moderated by Dr. Condoleezza Rice, Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google and Jared Cohen, Director of Google Ideas discuss how technology will change privacy and security, war and intervention, diplomacy, and terrorism. "When you empower people with tools like technology, democracy flourishes," said Schmidt. 

I found the talk to be very engaging and educational.  It is not everyday that you get to sit so close to leaders of nations and industry at the same time.  I posed a question before the end of the talk about cryptocurrency which despite being around since 2009 is a really hot topic recently.  Dr. Rice stated that the idea is of a concern to governments everywhere to have a currency that is unregulated.   Mr. Cohen is more concerned about the safety of where the currency is stored as is exhibited by the recent Mt. Gox hacking.  However, Mr. Schmidt said the thing that is even more impressive is the programming architecture behind the cryptocurrency.  The fact that it is unable to be copied can have far greater implications and applications than Bitcoin. 

Have a look at this article from the MIT Technology Review.  It illustrates Mr. Schmidt's point in a comprehensive manner:

Marginally Useful

Bitcoin itself may fail as a currency, but the underlying technology is beginning to suggest valuable new applications.

By Paul Ford on February 18, 2014

Bitcoin, a purely digital currency, is backed by no commodity and governed by no central bank, but it exists because a small number of humans have chosen to believe in its legitimacy.

Its pseudonymous creator (or, more likely, creators) “Satoshi Nakamoto” willed it into existence in 2009, not only describing how the so-called cryptocurrency would work but shipping a full working implementation. The original software had all the hallmarks of a gag or hack: a great, metastasizing practical joke played by clever cyberlibertarian coders upon all who put their faith in fiat (that is, government-backed) currencies.

Then came the believers. Today, there are thousands of people loyal to the ideology and opportunities that Bitcoin represents. They imagine a world where economies are less dependent on banks and governments, and they’re actually using Bitcoin, often in disruptive ways. The currency had a rocky start when it became the medium of exchange for illegal drug transactions on Silk Road, but that huge narcotics marketplace was shut down last October and its founder arrested. Indeed, the currency seems more or less respectable. Since Bitcoin is essentially a kind of transaction log, where past transactions are public and known to the world, it is of great interest to prosecutors, who have called the coins “Prosecution Futures.” Last year, even U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke gave them his cautious endorsement.

Read on...

Friday, March 14, 2014

Marc Andreessen’s View From the Top

Joe Hansen

Esteemed entrepreneur talks startups, literature and history

Marc Andreessen spoke at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business on Tuesday to a packed audience that included his wife, Laura Arillaga-Andreessen, and his father-in-law, John Arillaga.

Andreessen covered topics from his views on the current tech landscape to how he assesses entrepreneurial talent to his partnership with Ben Horowitz. He also shared thoughts about journalism.

Despite the fact that many MBAs (Stanford and elsewhere) are flocking to the industry, Andreessen is adamant that there is not a tech bubble. He said it was simply entering a mature phase. He would not discuss Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp, noting that he was on Facebook’s board. He compared today’s companies with shell companies of the late 1990s that ignored details in favor of deals. He said today’s startups are not as strong in the sales and marketing space.

Andreessen joked that MBAs could find roles in startups by trying to become a Sheryl Sandberg equivalent: a high-powered businessperson with deep expertise and a willingness to be a No. 2 person to a tech founder. He cited other examples such as Bill Campbell (who partnered with Scott Cook at Intuit) and Dick Costolo. He said when great pairings like the ones above occur, teams can really crack the code and make 1+1=3.

Andreessen said that as he and Horowitz created their venture fund they talked to many VCs but the only two VCs who provided much help were Jim Breyer (Accel) and Aneel Bhusri (Greylock and Workday). Bhusri tweeted to The Dish Daily that it was nice of Andreessen to say that, “but he didn’t need much help :-).”

He noted that Andreessen Horowitz was built on the notion that a VC firm could empower an entrepreneur with a large network of recruiters, reporters, customers, CIOs, CTOs and other business contacts that VCs typically possess.

Andreessen noted that there are roughly 4,000 startups each year that contact his firm and that his firm only invests in 20. His—and the other VCs at A16Z’s—job is to crush entrepreneurs’ hearts and dreams.

He said out of the thousands of business plans they narrow the number of investible companies to a couple of hundred and that the hardest thing to decide is whom to invest in among the couple of hundred. Within that couple of hundred, there are teams that are fundable by any of the top tier VC firms. Each year, there are probably 15 companies that will generate 95 percent of the industry’s returns. Andreessen said that “even the top VCs tank half of their deals and that funding is not a complete validation of a startup’s idea.”

He said the best founders have a combination of courage and genius, and that one of the A16Z partners liked to quote Fridriech Nietzche, saying that those entrepreneurs have the will to power. These courageous entrepreneurs “simply will not stop.”

He also belittled the oft-repeated notion in Silicon Valley that it is acceptable to fail; he doesn’t buy it.  A16Z believe “failure sucks.” He said that the most exciting startups are led by the bright founder who can walk an investor through an idea maze and move the investor from a crazy position to a point where it seems like an executable idea in the real world.
Andreessen highly recommended three books to the audience. The first is The Innovator’s Dilemma, which many in Silicon Valley recommend. The others were more surprising: Technological Revolutions by Carlota Perez and Ben Horowitz’s The Hard Thing About Hard Things, which just hit the shelves.

He noted that his relationship with Horowitz is similar to a marriage, and provided the analogy of the old couple on a park bench who sit at opposite ends but nonetheless sit together. He said that “they had been working together for so long” and that they “understand each other and know when to defer to each other and when to trust each other.” He added that “they argue about everything and constantly argue because they come from different points of view.” He acknowledged that Horowitz was a better operator.

He did answer a question about Carl Icahn’s attacks about him being on the board of Ebay. He quipped that he thought Ichan would be introducing him today, and that the fact that there is activist activity in the tech space indicates that tech is not close to being in a bubble stage. He said this was especially true for older companies as they generally have very high cash balances and low multiples.

Andreessen said he spends most of his Mondays in partner meetings and that it’s a very good sign for entrepreneurs to be invited to the Monday meeting. He also said that it’s best for startups to pitch early in the day rather than late and that the partners will typically meet with 3-5 startups each Monday. He said A16Z is run very methodically and that they have a pipeline report and run the deal process through a salesforce pipeline. He added that A16Z comprehensively tracks companies in their portfolio and companies they are sourcing.

He said he hated copycat startups and startups that are variations of successful startups. He noted the flappybird clones and the snapchats for dogs.

Andreessen finished the talk by answering two questions. The first question was around journalism, and he noted that his interest in journalism was less from an investment point of view as A16Z doesn’t really invest in content and media production. But he thinks news journalism is very important and believes that newer entrants to the field will be able to make the business sustainable again. He noted that another reason he cares about journalism is because he is an avid reader.

The second question he answered was what areas of the tech industry he found exciting. He said there were three areas with great potential: healthcare, education and financial services. He noted that early on the plan for A16Z was to do “no rocketships, no space elevators, no drugs, and no biotech and healthcare.” It is interesting to note that all three of those spaces are heavily regulated.

Throughout the discussion, Andreessen displayed a deep appreciation for history. He cited tech pioneers such as Thomas Watson, David Packard, Ross Perot and Tom Perkins. He quickly captured the zeitgeist of the late 1990s during the tech bubble. He also provided a broad overview of journalism’s history.

Andreessen was interviewed by Andre De Haes, an MBA2 at the Business School and who will be a venture capitalist working at Index Ventures after graduating in June. He’s included in our list of Stanford students who are VCs.

This is a repost of an article that appeared on The Dish Daily on March 5, 2014

Krakow's Tech Community Hacking for the Good of the Community

Natalia Stanko

Disadvantaged people have every reason to toast the success of a charity drive that brought IT experts together in Krakow.

Talented software App developers got in the inventors’ saddle for a 48-hour non-stop Hackathon in aid of needy communities, and came up trumps.

Seven teams created innovative smart technology tools to help transform the lives of disadvantaged people in Poland and worldwide. 

Read on...