June 26, 2013

Pearls of wisdom from startup founders & experts

John-Biggs
John Biggs, East Coast editor of TechCrunch, at Bitspiration in Krakow, Poland. (Photo by JD Lasica)

Highlights & takeaways from the Europe startup conference Bitspiration

This is the second of two parts. Also see:

How to create a Social Startup

Target audience: Entrepreneurs, startup teams, tech professionals, investors, advisers, mobile app developers, accelerators, journalists, businesses.

JD LasicaYesterday I wrote about The Social Startup, my talk at the Bitspiration conference in Krakow, Poland, about the importance of socializing your startup from the ground floor.

Today I’ll share some of my favorite moments — from the founders, advisers and investors on stage, anyway — at Bitspiration 2013. Here’s a large set of Bitspiration photos I shot, and here are a few highlights of the event:

Don Dodge, developer advocate at Google, “Don’t fear failure, learn from it. You’re going to fail many times.”

Don Dodge: "If mobile isn’t a big part of what you’re doing, you’re going to be in trouble."

Don Dodge: “If mobile isn’t a big part of what you’re doing, you’re going to be in trouble.”

• More Don Dodge: “If mobile isn’t a big part of what you’re doing, you’re going to be in trouble.” The evidence is in: There were 500 million smartphones sold in 2012 vs. 350 million PCs, and the trend lines will be even more exaggerated this year. As for mobile operating systems, we’re at the tail end of a titanic global shift: US operating systems (Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android and Windows Phone) accounted for 5% global market share five years ago. Today, U.S. operating systems account for a 88% global market share of smart mobile devices.

• How many mobile apps are there? About 800,000 Android apps (Google Play store), 775,000 iOS apps (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch), 125,000 Windows Phone apps, 70,000 Blackberry apps. Apple apps have been downloaded 50 billion times, and they’ve paid out $10 billion to app developers — half of it last year alone. People have downloaded 48 billion apps from Google Play.

Robin Wauters, Europen editor of The Next Web, had a lot of good advice for startup founders looking for media coverage. “Don’t pitch journalists at a conference or event. Try to pique their interest and reach out to them later.”

• And this: Go deep, not wide. “Find 5-10 journalists who will really understand what you’re doing. Don’t try to get wide coverage, find the best journalists to write about the news you’re trying to convey.”

John Biggs, East Coast editor of TechCrunch, admonished startups to get it right early on because they may not get a second chance with early users. “The only company that can get away with a shitty beta is Apple.”

Vitaly Golomb, a judge, to startup founder: “Foursquare is failing, so why do you want to build a more limited version of Foursquare?”

Tim Röhrich, impresario behind the Pioneers Festival in Vienna, shared the estimate that 5 billion people will be connected to the Internet in 2020 — in just seven years — vs. roughly half that number now.

• Internet darling Snapchat, which has that now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t app for Android and iOS, is now valued at $880 million. But hard for me to see how they make money.

• On the likelihood of predicting future trends in technology, someone quoted Steve Jobs thusly: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward.”

Alex Hunter, a key early employee, told some riveting stories about how Virgin America almost never got airborne. When it did, it made all its employees undergo a full-day brand immersion exercise. “We called it the brand bath.”

• Someone explained search engine marketing (SEM) nicely in just six words: “You buy certain keywords on Google.” Of course, that applies to ads, not search results.

A family tree and the close of my journey to Poland

On a personal note, the longer I spend in Poland, the more I’m vividly reminded of growing up in and around the Polish-American community of Garfield in Bergen County, NJ. Thanks to everyone, especially Bitspiration founder Andrzej Targosz and team members Joanna Kapłon and Edyta Kopytko, for your hospitality. You put on a remarkable gathering.

Meantime, I’m off to a little Polish village called Spie tomorrow to do some first-hand research into my family tree. More photos to come on Flickr — which I still think is superior to Facebook for sharing and displaying photographs.

And a side note: I’m hugely disappointed that there is NO easy way to publicly display a living family tree. If I weren’t head down in a project right now, I’d develop a new solution. My Heritage and Ancestry don’t allow you to display information about living relatives — which is just wrong-headed. (Those privacy settings should be at the individual level, not site-wide.)

Family trees aren’t just for the dead.

Past tech coverage by JD Lasica

JD Lasica, founder of Socialmedia.biz, is now co-founder of the cruise discovery engine Cruiseable. See his About page, contact JD or follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.