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Soft-Landing: Mobilisation of Speaker-Mentors across EU

[Article by IMT Starter]

 

“EU sets its course further on the startups and scaleups scene in Europe through initiatives with a goal of connected Digital Single Market.”

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Soft-Landing in Paris: Two years of connection, network and collaboration

[Article by IMT Starter]

 

 

Since January 2018 Soft-Landing Paris has met numerous international startups and ecosystem builders.

Soft-Landing, a two-year project under the umbrella of Startup Europe and funded by the European Commission’s H2020 research and innovation program, brought together thousands of entrepreneurs and leaders bringing immersive experience for startups and business leaders from around the world.

The project partners, IMT Starter in France, German Tech in Germany, Startup Division in Lithuania and Crosspring in the Netherland including F6S have created a consortium to facilitate and disseminate the respective ecosystem’s learning and know-how on scaling the business to the international market. This initiative has been focusing on helping entrepreneurs and leaders to discover their potential market, finding partners and potential collaborators, as well as to grab first-hand knowledge of the ecosystem.

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.“I really enjoyed learning more about the startup ecosystem in Paris and meeting so many of its key members. I am already discussing business/investment opportunities in more detail with some of the newly found partners. I am sure these connections will last for a long time.”

 Jaroslav Trojan

 

 

The French Digital Ecosystem and its Key Players

 

 

IMT Starter organised 3 French tech discovery missions over the period of 2 years, facilitating 18 startups and 32 ecosystem builders who applied from all over the world allowing participants to explore, network and collaborate by creating a larger and connected EU startup ecosystem.

 

 

 

 

 

The main highlights of the French missions:

  • Immersive discovery program composed of key players of the Parisian Startup ecosystem.
  • A pool of experienced executives, entrepreneurs, consultants and investors who brought their experience to the growing EU startup ecosystem.
  • Access to platforms like Vivatech.
  • Visits to the world’s biggest startup campus, Station F and innovative corporations like Orange, Sigfox.
  • Open discussion with the panel of Parisian investors and business angel network.

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17 countries, 18 startups & 33 Ecosystem builders with Soft-Landing Mission in Paris.

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After 2 years and 3 missions, IMT Starter met with 18 startup founders and 33 ecosystem builders coming from varied fields discovering the French Digital ecosystems with its representatives like Paris region EntreprisesFrench Tech programWilco and Systematics Cluster and sharing the know-how of their entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Moreover, the founders and leaders also met the local investors and VCs. BPI FranceElaia PartnersBreega who are one of the active players in fostering the Parisian ecosystem.

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A part of the mission was to share stories of the successful entrepreneurs of the ecosystem. The participants met Julian Coulon the founder of Cedexis and shared his entrepreneurial story. Along with the business challenges, he also explained personal and emotional challenges faced by CEOs.

The program also offered startups to spend time with a dedicated panel of mentors and coaches composed of successful serial entrepreneurs to discuss their startup strategy and be challenged by experts on their ideas and strategies.

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“In retrospect, it was extremely valuable for us. We had some doubts beforehand since 5 days is a big-time investment for us, but I would’ve kicked myself if we didn’t participate.

The mentors you guys have in your network are amazing. We don’t get the chance to talk to such people. We learned a ton & there is some investment potential as well. You organized the program in a very smooth way and provided all the necessary information.”

Vorwärts

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We would like to thank all our participant for supporting Soft-Landing’s French Tech Discovery Missions and IMT Starter. You can connect with them via our Soft-Landing ALUMNI community:

Ecosystem Builders:

Mia Rakocevic, Guilherme Serodio, Jaroslav Trojan, Marta, Marel Minok, Rahel Demand, Leitha Matz, Tricia Levasseur, Maria Gross, Maciej Bulanda, Valentin Peters, Simon Dethleffsen, Maximilian Forster, Bori Fozy, Bert Farell, Inbal Kolodziejska, Yael Daniely, Guy Margalit, Croce Mauro, Rapolas Rucinskas, Egle Ciudorienne, Gintare Ambrozaityte, Andra Bagdonite, Tadas Stankevičius, Darius Žakaitis, Maurice Beckand, Rodrigo Olmedo, Stefan Bodi, Diana Rusu, Mircea Vadan, Cristina Juc, Denis Kalyshkin, Robert Lo

Startups:

DoctorMath, Autuno, BESPACEDBEADTracks for TrucksSYSTAGfilesVorwärtsDynamic AI56eParkioTourVRSerfyMultiSense B.V (biometric security by unique platform)ARizeMobileacademy, Ionic AI, Ecapture 3DMeep AppP.aid (PEOPLE aid for BRANDS).

 

Follow us on our social network for more information: Facebook , Twitter and LinkedInAnd visit the Soft-Landing website  for information on all Missions!

Niraj Karmacharya and the IMT Starter team.

Original article on Medium

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Soft-Landing Mission to Berlin

[Article by GERMANTECH]

 

 

Herzlich Willkommen to the 5th Soft-Landing mission to Berlin! We are very happy to welcome you, startups and scaleups from all over Europe to the great ecosystem of Berlin (and Leipzig!): AichomBestelBewusterembiotseProInn S.r.l.GEEVVSight and F6S. This amazing delegation joined us for an intensive, inspiring and exciting 5-days program led by GERMANTECH Head of Global Programs – Mor Eini.

 

 

We at GERMANTECH had the pleasure to host an international delegation exploring the Berlin Startup Ecosystem.
We had an inspiring a full week! From visiting local accelerators, big players and VC’s to 1on1 Workshops with industry leaders and attending one of a kind future-centric events in Berlin.

 

The first day of the Soft-Landing mission to Berlin started with a warm welcome from the team and followed by a workshop by Robin Weninger about the Entrepreneurial Skill Set you will require in Germany. The delegation got insights about the german business mentality and how Germans like to deal with business issues. Putting in focus the delegation’s interest in expanding their business to Germany, they learned how to get things going in Germany and Robin explained, that it would be hard to build something without having somebody in their team speaking german or is capable to understand german. German is full of different accents, and “Language is definitely an ugly thing, even for Germans.” But in conclusion, Robin thinks “Europe is a great ecosystem itself” and you have a fantastic quality of life in Germany. From the perspective of building a business Robin knows that:

 

 |“If you fail, it’s fluffy.”

 

In the “I Solve your challenge” Workshop GERMANTECH’s Managing Director Maria Gross challenges the Soft-Landing delegation to find a problem that businesses face nowadays and subsequently find solutions according to the challenges’ goals.

For that Workshop the delegation gets divided into two groups to discuss business problems that they had or still have to face, following that they decide for an ambassador, who will represent their problem in the other groups for an open discussion. The participants learn how to see problems and how to focus on one important topic and try to solve them in a short time. The international delegation, all with different backgrounds and country of origin and all with different problems and ways of finding a solution came together in this workshop and connected with one another.

 

 

The second day of the Soft-Landing Delegation in Berlin started with Kaythlin Das, Business Development Manager for HubSpot for Startups, who hosted the session “Aligning Sales & Marketing to Supercharge Growth” sharing her knowledge.

Thank you for sharing your time and experience with us!

For the second part of the day, the Soft-Landing delegation went to visit Berlin Partner für Wirtschaft und Technologie GmbH.

Julia Krüger led a session about the Berlin ecosystem and how innovation can foster the development of the economy.

 

 

 

A big welcome to the Soft-Landing delegation visiting the Leipzig ecosystem!

 

 

The first stop for the Soft-Landing delegation in Leipzig is the office of Invest Region Leipzig.

The delegation got introduced to the Leipzig ecosystem with facts about the region and had an amazing session on how to build businesses in the area by Helen Stoehr, the Manager Business Development of Invest Region Leipzig.

Big thanks to Helen Stoehr for organizing everything!

Markus Börner von TGFS Technologiegründerfonds Sachsen and the CFA Bjoern Bauermeister, CFA of Smart Infrastructure Ventures had a Panel Discussion about their offers to startups, what they did in the past and how it worked out. Also, the delegation learned about the benefits Leipzig’s ecosystem offers in comparison to Berlin, as new startups have a better chance to connect to other businesses and have an easier start overall.

 

 

Right after the Panel Discussion, the Soft-Landing delegation met Andre Hofmann, the CEO of biosaxony who spoke about biosaxony’s business model, their mission, portfolio and their outlook on the future.

The delegation also learned about the upcoming Medtech Accelerator and the Bio City Campus Leipzig.

The delegation got introduced to the Gesundheitsforen Leipzig by Vicki Richter-Worch, the Head of Marketing and Sarah Quellmalz, the Project manager for Strategy and Innovation, learning how the Gesundheitsforen Leipzig and also the BioSaxony can be helpful for them, and how these organizations help startups to reach their goals. Following the panel, there was a very lively Q&A session with all participants sharing their thoughts.

 

The next stop for the Soft-Landing delegation in Leipzig was at the SpinLab — The HHL Accelerator. Introducing the Spinlab Matthew McDermott, the Innovation & Business Development Manager explained how The HHL Accelerator supports entrepreneurial teams in growing and creating innovative businesses. A lot of information for the delegation!

Also, interesting for them to see, how the SpinLab works and what a startup would profit from them. Following that, the delegation listened to a short presentation by Tobias Theil, who is the Co-Founder of Stiki. Communicate smarter., which is part of the Accelerator. “Stiki gives growing teams a central location to share information that deserves to last longer than a few minutes in Slack.” After Stiki, Johann Bauerfeind, the Co-Founder of Solaga, presented Solaga their mission, while highlighting, how the accelerator helps his company.

For the final session at the SpinLab in Leipzig, Aparajita Deb from VNG AG, which is a partner of the lab, shared his insights on the Accelerator and how startups in the lab profit from VNG’s partnership.

 

Our amazing day in Leipzig with the Soft-Landing delegation ends in a networking event with ecosystem leaders at the office of Impact Hub Network Leipzig where Martin Jaehnert lovely introduced the Impacthub mission to the delegation and after that had a great chat with each other. Mor Eini our Head of Innovation Programs spoke about the importance of collaborations between both ecosystems and how startups can value from this connection. We would like to thank Victoria Schuster from PRISMA European Capacity PlatformAnne Moskalenko and Andreas Heinecke from InfAI — Institut für Angewandte Informatik for sharing their knowledge, experiences and their mission. Also thanks to Felix Erler Deutsche Bahn and CleverShuttle for giving the Soft-Landing delegation some insights about how they operate and how they managed to build the business.

 

A special thanks again to Helen Stoehr for making this day in Leipzig happen!

 

It’s Thursday and we are full of energy for a new and exciting day in Berlin! Our morning was packed with great coffee and discussions on growth financing topics in the tech industry led by Dr. Benjamin Ullrich and Dr. Tim Schloesser.

Thank you Victoria Gieseking for making it happen!

The next stop was at the WeWork at the Spree, where the Soft-Landing Delegation had a great talk with Joanna Sides, the Founder & Managing Director at Changing Perspectives.

In this Workshop, the delegation learned a lot about communication in a team, and how to build trust in it as well as how to deliver information in a correct way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last stop was the VOLKSWAGEN DIGITAL:LAB.

The Soft-Landing delegation got a tour through the DIGITAL:LAB by Suhail Bhat and Yonatan Chelouche.

Following the tour, Suhail and Yonatan gave an introduction to the Lab, how it works and insights into past and future projects.

 

 

 

 

Since its the last delegation of Soft-Landing in Berlin, we invited our partners, startups, alumni, mentors, and friends to celebrate with us European Entrepreneurship in a networking dinner. We had a great time meeting new people, creating professional opportunities and fostering innovation. It was the perfect time to thanks all of our networks for sharing their time, knowledge and experience with us in order to help startups and ecosystem builders to Soft-Land in Germany.

 

 

Check out our video of the last Soft-Landing Delegation in May, where the whole procedure is explained and you get some visual insights in the Mission!

Soft-Landing Mission to Berlin May 2019

 

 

If you want to learn more about Soft-Landing, than check out the official website: https://soft-landing.eu/

 

original article here

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Soft-Landers meet in Madrid – Highlights & resources from the #ScalingMasterclass

It was a pleasure to gather our startups and ecosystem leaders from all over Europe in a single moment in time and space: the #ScalingMasterclass in Madrid, on 1 October 2019. Let us guide you through it (includes video)!

The event was powered by Soft-Landing, together with our sister project Startup Lighthouse – two successful Startup Europe initiatives. It brought insights not only into European startup ecosystems (Berlin, Dublin, Lisbon, Paris, Vilnius and Zoetermeer), but also global markets (Boston, New York, Silicon Valley, India and Israel). (more…)

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Landing your startup in the Netherlands

[Article by Crosspring]

7 Fintech startups and 3 ecosystem builders from 10 different countries were invited by the startup incubator Crosspring in the Netherlands for their final Soft-Landing mission. 5 days and 96 stroopwafels later, they explored the Dutch startup environment, met new businesses to partner with and most important: learned if they want to land their startup in The Netherlands.  (more…)

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Startup Alumni AmberScript on our Berlin Mission: “I would say, go for it. You will have an awesome time and at the same time meet potential new clients and investors.”

AmberScript is one of the startups that joined our mission to Berlin! 

AmberScript works on the cutting edge of speech recognition technology, bridging the gap in speech recognition between China/USA and the rest of the world. Their self-developed AI speech to text engines obtains the best results (even better than Google’s) in the market. These are used directly (e.g. to enable the deaf and hearing impaired to understand the municipality meetings of around 130 Dutch municipalities) or through their online SaaS tooling which helps their customers to bring the audio of interviews to perfect transcripts (e.g. market research agencies, the police) and of video to perfect subtitles (media producers, broadcasters). AmberScript is growing fast and has been used by over 60.000 hearing impaired, journalists, scientists, students, doctors, media professionals and lawyers. Please visit www.amberscript.com for more information.

We had the chance to talk to Peter-Paul, co-founder & CEO of AmberScript, about his Soft-Landing experience.

 

It’s been some time since the Soft-Landing mission, and even longer since your startup applied! But we are interested to know, could you think back to when your team Amberscript applied and tell us what you were hoping for this mission?

We were hoping to get connected to potential German customers and investors, as well as learn which conferences, hubs and people we should be aware of in the German tech ecosystem.

 

 

Beyond the specific agenda of the mission, what insights did you gain, or what skills did you improve throughout the week?

We learned about the business preferences and investment philosophy of German investors.

 

You’ve already mentioned to us that one of the benefits of Soft-Landing for you was making new collaborations. Could you tell us more about building your network? 

We met GTEC, the German Tech Entrepreneurship Center, which has proven to become a great collaboration partner. They have introduced us to investors and other startups. We have an office space and a lot of credibility because of them in Germany.

We have also met a lot of investors which we are still in contact with.

 

 

Now, at 6 months after the mission, have you gained any new partnerships or closed any deals as a result of the Soft-Landing mission?

Our contacts and knowledge have given us credibility in Germany, as a result we have around 500 German clients now, among which the German Landtag Mecklenberg-Vorpommern, Audi and Humboldt University.

 

Since returning home, have you implemented any of the lessons learned in the mission into your own work, or even shared tips with your local ecosystem?

We have promoted the Soft-Landing missions across our network!

 

What would you say to a startup or an ecosystem leader thinking of joining our upcoming missions?

I would say, go for it. You will have an awesome time and at the same time meet potential new clients and investors! Potentially even more, like an office location and collaborations with partner startups.

 

 

Want to join our free, full-organised missions too?

Applications are now open for New York, Silicon Valley, the Netherlands and Berlin.

APPLY AS A STARTUP      APPLY AS AN ECOSYSTEM BUILDER

 

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5 things to know if you want to scale up in Boston

From 24-28 June 2019, we whisked away a delegation of 30 ecosystem builders for a 1-week mission to Boston, Massachusetts. Immersed in the local ecosystem, this bright group of serial entrepreneurs, investors and ecosystem representatives (from accelerators, incubators, innovation centres to local governments), took away insights about how to scale up a European startup in this fascinating ecosystem. Let’s take a look at what they learnt!

 

 

1. Prioritise connecting with local talent (find mentors, consultants, students, partners)

“One of the biggest assets of Massachusetts is definitely its talent pool. There are over 300,000 students from all over the world, eager to learn and innovate.”

Olla Jongerius, Boston alumni

 

Did you know how the Boston innovation scene got started?

Since the 70’s, Boston has produced a plethora of creative graduates from top universities (Harvard, MIT, BU, etc.). The pleasant nature of the city (historical highlights, climate, coastal location, family-friendly feel), and its highly collaborative atmosphere, have convinced many of these bright, innovative minds to stick around. Over the years, this has snowballed into the development of more and more innovative companies, often run by pioneers in their field.

 

 

In 2019, the process continues. Innovation labs are commonplace at Boston universities, with students being openly encouraged to create with very little guidance (the ‘hands-off’ approach). Students are encouraged to find a problem and solve it in a revolutionary way – i.e. not just slightly differently than before, via a radically new approach. As we were told on our visit to MIT, “if you’re not making a difference, you shouldn’t be doing it”.

All of this means that whether you’re looking for advice from a local consultant or a new member for your team, whoever you meet in the innovation sphere in Boston is likely to offer you a wildly new perspective to your business. Get connected!

 

2. It’s easy to network across sectors – but get ready to follow up fast

“Networking is crucial. People are constantly looking for new connections. Some local communities are very open (e.g., you can easily go to see a Nobel prize winner in MIT if you work there).”

Ricardas Valanciauskas- Boston alumni

 

 

There are plenty of opportunities to make new connections and network in Boston. From visiting spaces like Venture Cafe, to finding weekly meetups, there is an environment of cross-collaboration between sectors and fields. When we visited the MIT Nano, we learnt about how no-one ‘owns’ the offices there – the space is completely open, including shared ‘clean rooms’ for experiments, to walk-in galleries.

When you’ve made a new connection, expect to follow-up in a few hours, to avoid losing the contact. Unlike within Europe, sending an email next week might be too late. Expect to follow up within the next 24 hours.

 

3. What impact can you offer the market?

“European technology is at least as good as American technology, however, the US tends to exploit it commercially much better.”

Ricardas Valanciauskas- Boston alumni

 

While in Europe we pride ourselves for our technological developments, we can often get stuck at this point and miss the chance to fully explore the economic impact. 

If your product is pushing boundaries, great – but what impact will it bring for the customer? What is it’s full commercial value?

 

 

When presenting your solution to new partners or investors in Boston, this is a crucial aspect to highlight in your pitch or presentation. Don’t get lost in the research behind your solution!

 

4. Legality: Set up locally and protect yourself with patents

“A common trend in the U.S. as well as in Europe is that VCs only invest in local companies. Although a few VC funds are investing internationally, most of them request foreign companies who are looking for financing in the U.S. to establish a Delaware Corporation.”

Samantha Michaux – Boston alumni

 

Investors in the US prefer to invest in what they know – either American startups, or foreign startups that have set themselves up locally. As we learnt at Cooley, a law firm with extensive experience of supporting European startups as they soft land in the US, you can jump over this hurdle by opening a subsidiary in Boston, a process which is simple to complete and offers favourable conditions. 

Then – are you protecting yourself with the right patents? You don’t need to have all the patents under the sun, just the ones that matter. Think about the various ‘layers’ of protection that you might need, i.e. which specific elements of your product/solution, in specific groupings, need protecting. Don’t forget you can leverage your patents as collateral when negotiating with investors.

 

5. Be less humble and more practical

“To attract capital for ventures you need to provide a positive outlook. Europeans tend to be too humble.”

Daniel Szemerey – Boston alumni

 

A final pearl of wisdom imparted to us at Cooley refers to one of the main ‘business-cultural’ differences between Europe and the US. When negotiating with investors, European startups and scaleups tend to be on the humble side when it comes to stating how much funding they need, with American investors being used to bigger numbers.

This was an important takeaway for our delegation. Don’t be shy in asking for more for your long-term growth, just make sure that you can reasonably justify your plan.

 

 

Want to join our free, full-organised missions too?

Applications are now open for New York, Silicon Valley, the Netherlands and Berlin.

APPLY AS A STARTUP APPLY AS AN ECOSYSTEM BUILDER

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You are invited to our FINAL event: community gathering & interactive masterclass!

We are excited to announce that registration is now open for our FINAL event, which will be held on Tuesday, 1 October, at Google for Startups in Madrid (the day before South Summit)! This free, 2-part, interactive event (morning + afternoon) will be your chance to meet and mingle with our top startup community, as well as learn from flash talks, rise & fall stories, and expert workshops!

Wow, what a ride! After taking more than 270+ startups and ecosystem builders to discover the markets of Berlin, Paris, Vilnius, the Netherlands, India, and the United States over the last 2 years, the SoftLanding project will soon be coming to an end.

During our missions, our alumni made 6000+ new connections, created 70+ investment leads and some even locked down investment deals during the week! 

To go out with a bang and celebrate the last 2 years in style, we have joined forces with SoftLanding (our sister project), to plan one final grand community gathering, and you are officially invited!

This is your chance to meet all the other SoftLanders that have visited Berlin, Paris, Vilnius, the Netherlands, India and the United States, as well as the alumni of the Startup Lighthouse project, PLUS founders, accelerators and investors from all over Europe! : )

 

 ‘Scaling up Europe – Masterclass’
@Google for Startups in Madrid
Tuesday, 1 October (the day before South Summit)

REGISTER NOW!

 

  • 10:00-12:30 Startup Europe Alumni Chilling – scaleup challenges and founder confessions

Are you one of the lucky startups that joined EU funded acceleration programmes? Are you a Startup Europe Ambassador mentoring scaleups, running an accelerator, startup conference or tech blog?

Get to know other founders and key players from multiple startup hubs in this informal Startup Europe community gathering. We want to hear how you get it done in your company/ecosystem! Queso y jamón on us.

  • 14:00-18:00 Open Masterclass – Scaling up in Europe

Join this energetic afternoon designed around the learnings, failures and successes of 400+ startups and ecosystem leaders that explored the hottest startup ecosystems and learned how to scale up abroad.

Get access to key notes on scaling up, inspiring startup flash talks, a supercharging panel, Lighthouse awards, and networking over a copa de vino with founders and ecosystem builders, the day before ‘South Summit’.

 

What is South Summit?

Set in the stunning capital of Madrid, our final event will be the perfect warm up to South Summit (2-4 October) – we’re all gonna be there! 

South Summit is one of the biggest startup events in Spain, but that’s not all – it offers the chance to connect with players from all over Europe and the world. Last year, +650 investors, +3500 startups and 4300+ top founders gathered together in Madrid, to hear 450+ speakers and take part in +2000 1:1 meetings! Some of our startups will also be competing in the Startup Competition! 

So, will we see you there? 🙂

 

 ‘Scaling up Europe – Masterclass’
@Google for Startups in Madrid
Tuesday, 1 October (the day before South Summit)

REGISTER NOW!

 

 

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Alumni Kamil Barbarski on our US missions: “The Softlanding Mission to Silicon Valley was an eye opener for me. In just one week I got a good feeling of what the Valley is about.”

Kamil Barbarski joined our mission to Sillicon Valley! He is an entrepreneur, ecosystem builder and innovation hacker from Cologne/Germany. His goal is to help people and organizations follow ideas that matter for themselves and others so that they can focus on what’s essential in life and business.

 

Hi Kamil! It’s been 6 months since the Soft-Landing mission to Silicon Valley, and even longer since you applied! But we are interested to know, could you think back to when you applied and tell us what you were hoping for this mission?

For me it was the perfect timing when I discovered Soft-Landing. I just left my company and was looking for new adventures. My first thought was: That’s so great. I can see more of the startup world, serve a bigger purpose and get to know like-minded people. I’m always looking for good opportunities to help myself and my business grow and this was a perfect next step to do so. And I’ve never been to Silicon Valley before. I had been working in the startup scene as an entrepreneur and ecosystem builder for more than 6 years, heard and talked so much about the Valley but never experienced it hands-on. If you are in the startup community you have to go there at least once.

 

Beyond the specific agenda of the mission, what insights did you gain, or what skills did you improve throughout the week?

I learned a ton about how the valley is working and connected with amazing people. The huge number of startups and innovation initiatives and the straight forward culture that is much more goal oriented are the things that impressed me most. On the other side I also recognized what we’ve got in our ecosystem that I really appreciate. In my personal experience these are things like our social security systems that reduce risk for founders if they fail and a stronger connection to work-life balance, as well as social responsibility. I also learned how to network and communicate in the Valley, what investors are looking for and most importantly when and how it makes sense for European startups to move to the US. It’s so great to have all this knowledge and share it with startups that I meet in Europe so that they gain more possible roads to success.

 

You’ve already mentioned to us that one of the benefits of Soft-Landing for you was bringing “back home a strong network”. Could you tell us more about building your network in Silicon Valley?

We had amazing speakers and hosts in various companies, startups and accelerators. I connected with most of them and know now who to ping if I need infos or want to start something in the Valley. It makes a huge difference if you meet the people in person, shake their hands, even if you don’t work together immediately. I have a lot of ideas what I could do with my contacts in the valley.

 

 

 

Now, at 6 months after the mission, have you gained any new partnerships or closed any deals as a result of the Soft-Landing mission?

So far I’m in contact with two participants from Berlin with whom I’m talking about specific projects. I also have a long list of people I can meet in almost any European country and the Valley that I will definitely contact when my new projects get to a certain level.

 

Since returning home, have you implemented any of the lessons learned in the mission into your own work, or even shared tips with your local ecosystem?

Yes, of course. I reached out to my ecosystem via social media and offered anybody advice who wants to know more about Silicon Valley. I met with a couple of founders and ecosystem builders. The things that I told them were mostly new insights for them. I also included my learnings into my talks, workshops, accelerator programs and startup coachings.

 

What would you say to a startup or an ecosystem leader thinking of joining our upcoming missions to New York or Silicon Valley?

Just do it! Especially if you’ve never been to any of these ecosystems. It will be a huge benefit for you as person, for your business and for all the people in your ecosystem. The more we connect, the more we can work together and make a bigger impact for startups and innovation in general. Thank you for making this happen!

 

 

Want to join our free, full-organised missions too?

Applications are now open for New York, Silicon Valley, the Netherlands and Berlin.

APPLY AS A STARTUP          APPLY AS AN ECOSYSTEM BUILDER

 

 

 

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Alumni Olla Jongerius on our US missions: “Do it! You won’t regret it. It’s very well organised and you will make new connections easily”

Olla Jongerius joined our mission to the United States (Silicon Valley!) She is an Intercultural, diversity & inclusion trainer and founder of TCC Tribe – a network of over 2000+  self-employed trainers, coaches, and consultants in Berlin. She is passionate about bringing people together, creating inclusive environments and challenging people’s status quo when it comes to communication in diverse teams and across borders. 

Olla is a citizen of the world: Russian-born, New Zealand-raised, Germany and Spain educated, with working experience in Russia, South Korea and Australia, and currently based in Berlin, Germany.

 

Hi Olla! It’s been 6 months since the Soft-Landing mission to the United States (Silicon Valley), and even longer since you applied! But we are interested to know, could you think back to when you applied and tell us what you were hoping for this mission?

To be honest, I did not know what to expect. Of course, I had this Hollywood, media-influenced, romantic idea of Silicon Valley, and read a lot about unicorns and wanna-be unicorns, and cut-through, competitive environment. In general, I was really excited to experience it first-hand. I was well aware of the American hands-on, entrepreneurial mentality and philosophy ‘never give up’ and was curious to hear from people who ‘made it’- both the locals and Europeans. As an intercultural trainer, I was of course hungry to learn about intercultural differences when it comes to communication and business relationship development. My goal for the mission was to get additional knowledge about community building, self-employment trends, diversity and inclusion management strategies in the US and edtech innovations, much needed in Germany.

 

 

Beyond the specific agenda of the mission to the United States, what insights did you gain, or what skills did you improve throughout the week? 

As mentioned above, I was very much looking forward to learning more about the American mentality and what ‘makes’ and ‘breaks ’ the deal here. I took a lot of initiative and asked my network to connect me with whoever might be worth meeting while I’m across the pond. Networking works differently in the US and from the first sight, people seem to be happy to meet you, but then would not show up or cancel at the last moment – simply because it was inconvenient and awkward for them to say no.  It was at least my experience, so take it with a grain of salt 🙂 Americans tend to mince words, smile and be friendly – but don’t be fooled- it is just a form of politeness. In Germany people are a lot more direct and straightforward. I have also managed somehow to organise a spontaneous learning and development & Edtech Meetup for 15 people – which brought me a lot of knowledge and value- I met people from HP; Linkedin and several very interesting edtech stratups. Make the most of your time there, you never know what people and companies you will end up meeting and how they will influence you and your business. 

 

You’ve already mentioned to us that one of the benefits of Soft-Landing for you was collaborating with alumni, speakers and partners. Could you tell us more about building your network in the United States?

I don’t work directly with alumni, since my field was very specialised and different from the rest, but I a lot of useful got second-degree connections from the network. People are so friendly and willing to help, so even if you have nothing in common ( businesswise), they try to think of a connection that might be useful for you. Additionally, it is great to get a bit of outside of your ‘bubble’ and mingle with people from completely different fields- it helps you to think outside the box and use the strategies and apply cross-functional solutions to your own business model. I know that Norbert from Berlin Partner promotes me whenever he meets self-employed and I’m very grateful for that. whenever he has an opportunity I keep in touch with some of the speakers and follow several companies. GTEC is always very supportive and inspiring- it is a wonderful network to be part of!

 

 

Now, at 6 months after the mission, have you gained any new partnerships or closed any deals as a result?

I will put it in a different way: I launched my business I was too afraid to launch 2 weeks after Silicon Valley. I’ve learned not to be afraid! I know, sounds cliche’, but in Europe we are focusing too much on building something ‘perfect’, overthinking it, changing it, adapting, researching, having second sounds, doubting ourselves. I launched my platform which was beyond not ready.. but it got tracktion straight away and proved the hypothesise that I am on the right path! I think I would’ve spent another year thinking and perfecting it and maybe not even launching it if I hadn’t visited SV 

 

Since returning home, have you implemented any of the lessons learned in the mission into your own work, or even shared tips with your local ecosystem? 

As mentioned above- I’ve learned to take the first step then learning to build wings to fly. I have given several talks in mine and other communities, inspiring people and encouraging them to apply and experience it first hand. Another lesson I’ve learned: in Europe the idea of Silicon Valley is too romanticized and exaggerated: Berlin is just as active and vibrant and is not worse, just smaller since it’s always a numbers game. Some aspects might be even more advanced in Europe- we have a wonderful work-life balance, mental and emotional health considerations and less financial pressure compared to startup builders in Silicon Valley. We should not take these things for granted; the grass is not greener on the other side. Sure, there are definitely a lot of things we can learn from Silicon Valley, but several things we can also teach 🙂 Europeans should cherish these advantages and be aware of the difficulties before they take the plunge and move across the pond. 

 

What would you say to a startup thinking of joining our upcoming missions to New York or Silicon Valley, particularly female participants?

The program is very well-thought and inclusive, it gives an opportunity for everyone to make the most of their time, regardless of experience, professional field or background. Do it! You won’t regret it. It’s very well organised and you will make new connections easily – at networking events, while on the bus on the way to different location, at breakfast and after-drinks. Surely, you will have to skip a week and not focus on your work, but this week will give you fresh insights, new perspectives and inspiration. American mentality is something that we really need in Europe. And if you fail, pick yourself up, brush yourself off and do it again. And that’s why they succeed. 

 

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