October 30, 2010
F.ounders: Davos for Geeks Side-by-Side with Dublin Web Summit
Founders, funders, entrepreneurs, investors, and men who can all tell a damn good story are gathering in Dublin Ireland this weekend for two technology conferences, demonstrating that it's not just the yanks and most certainly not just Silicon Valley geeks who can come up with successsful start-up ideas.
Skype founder and now Atomico Niklas Zennstrom sponsored the kick off F.ounders dinner last night, the invite-only event co-organized by Paddy Cosgrave. The event, dubbed 'Davos for Geeks' in Dublin, is spread over a 2.5 day period.
It runs along side with the Dublin Web Summit, which has managed to pull 600 attendees, all registered for a series of 'sessions' that ranged from developer tools and social media best practices to digital marketing and advertising today and successful company case studies.
Both events are extremely well organized and have a number of high-touch elements to them, including a private whiskey tasting, sit down dinners, book signings (@vanessafox has a new one out called Marketing in the Age of Google), pub crawls and walking tours.
American and European technology visionaries flew in for the event as well, giving talks at both events while holding media interviews with the local press. Jack Dorsey of Twitter (and Square) was on local TV and Jack, together with Directi founder Divyank Turakhia, Niklas Zennstrom, YouTube's Chad Hurley and Bebo founder Michael Birch were photographed for the Irish Independent and the Irish Times.
What's with the visionary GLASSES guys? No doubt, it must have been a fun one to shoot I'd imagine. Love the lighting in the hard copy newspaper that people still read in Ireland.
READING was a notable difference here - very few entrepreneurs had their Twitter handle on their business cards and I discovered countless people reading books, magazines and newspapers in Dublin's St. Stephens Green (which dates back to 1663 btw) NOT on an iPad, iPhone or a Blackberry, even in the drizzly rain.
Dublin's mayor who apparently is one of the few in office who use Twitter regularly, gave a talk at the opening dinner as well. Niklas followed before we all did a 'ching ching' (with an Argentinian Malbec) before, during and after salad, soup, a main course of chicken, potatoes, string beans and squash. Dessert? Berry tart with powdered sugar and ice cream of course, what else?
Immediately before dinner TechCrunch Europe's Robin Wauters interviewed Chad Hurley in a small but crowded standing-room only room. Funnily enough, they had English quartered sandwiches and American beer by the bottle (I guess that's what the after event pub crawls are for since there have been plenty of yummy Guiness, stouts and ciders for the taking on every corner).
Three out of four panelists in the "Life as an angel: Seeding Innovation, Culture, Clashes & Funding" panel were yanks: TechStarts Tom Keller, Dave McClure and Jeff Clavier (okay, so he's French, but he lives in the Valley which impacts perspective), and Reshma Sohoni from Seedcamp (based in London).
Everyone else outside the states has an inferior complex someone threw out there and "doesn't need to." Says Jeff regarding lack of capital, "you don't need that much. You just have to be really smart about getting $50K, then you can bring on sales, then you build a real business, then build cash flow, but just start somewhere.....raise $50K and take off from there. The whole premise of having to raise a ton of capital to build a real business is not necessary. Build a business that produces cash flow."
Others agreed and McClure told Irish investors and entrepreneurs that they better invest here at home because if they don't, developers and creators will go to the states or get funding from somewhere else. He says, "if any of you own a car that is worth more than $25K, you have money to invest."
There is increasingly more activity in the angel investment sector than there is with traditional VCs and it's continuing to grow, particularly in the states. Companies simply don't need the kind of capital they did, even five years ago, to build a company that is sustainable and profitable.
Take a look at a few fabulous overviews: Mike Butcher's TechCrunch post , David Rowan's Wired UK article (what Dublin can teach Downing Street could learn from Dublin), Matt Mullenweg's photo gallery and Ben Rooney's recap in Wall Street Journal Europe.
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