Tvitomanija - social media for everybody
So, almost a week has passed since Tvitomanija ended and nostalgia can still be found in the #tvitomanija hashtags on Twitter. Both Tvitostalgia and hate. Well, haters are everywhere so I won’t be mentioning them. At least not that often. Let’s see what actually happened.
Tvitomanija, a truly regional social media conference, took place at Novi Vinodolski, a small place near the coast in Croatia in a Novi Spa resort. Novi Spa resort is a big, big, huuge resort packed with well equipped apartments and hotel rooms, spreading over a couple of square kilometers, so vast one has to be driven to their apartment in a “golf kart”. Even though I haven’t seen the actual star number the resort has, my guess would be between 4 and 5. And, as a venue for a conference, that means a lot of opportunities for the participants.
When I say “truly regional”, I really mean it. There were over 600 attendees, mostly from Serbia but also from Croatia, Montenegro and Slovenia. One might argue that getting 500 people to an event that is approximately 600 kilometers away is easy - I would say that it is terribly hard. A lot of hustling and marketing, tweets and TweetUPs, getting everyone’s attention and matching your supply with their demand. Surely one of the factors for getting so many attendees was a really acceptable accommodation and conference price. Hopefully, that won’t change (drastically) in the years to come.
Conference schedule (lectures and panels) was intended so that everybody would benefit - professionals and beginners, amateurs and agencies, bloggers and individuals who use social media for themselves. We heard a couple of great “fights” - print VS social media, TV VS social media, we also heard lectures about entrepreneurship and influence on social media. Even though there were some great case studies (in example from Farmeron’s social media guy) - I hope to hear even more in the years to come. Tackling real problems, being creative and different and spreading your story around is something I look forward to. Anyone can “do social media” - push posts online, organize contests and follow strict FB guidelines, paste memes and bit*h about Mondays while welcoming Weekdays. There are a dozen people/agencies that don’t do (just) that - I want to hear them. I want to hear how they conquered new markets, focused on the demographics no one focused before, new niches and succeeded/failed. Just sayin’.
The “formal” part was great, the “informal” was even better. Great food, great weather (except for some rain - we got over it quickly), awesome feeling when waking up to see the sea from your doorsteps, cold pools and hot saunas with a must try jacuzzi that was always crowded. Having known Torbica, zhurkas or parties were something I particularly looked forward to. They were mostly great, but, in my opinion, the last one was the best!
Also, people were awesome as well - getting to match Twitter profile pictures with real faces is always a good feeling. The energy and positive attitudes that spread around Novi Vinodolski during those days were something the organizers could really be proud of - Torbica, Mina and Ivana have done a remarkable job joining and matching us all together in such a nice place, giving us the opportunity to learn from each other while having the “social media time of our lives”. Well done once again and see you next year! :)
PS - Obviously, Netokracija was there - Ivan, Marina, Mia, Ivy, Marko and myself were constantly present and have covered the conference from the start to the end in both english and non-english. Check it out! :)
PPS - Regarding the haters, I have to say I do not understand them. I can understand being jealous about not coming to Tvitomanija, I can understand just trolling and wanting to get attention. Apart from just not being able to filter-out the tweets concerning Tvitomanija, I’d say the haters have some serious issues and I look forward to posting both pictures and tweets about the great time we had at Tvitomanija. Let the hatin’ begin! :D
Seedcamp Zagreb 2012
As I mentioned from my last post where I welcomed Dave McClure and the whole #GOAP crew to Croatia, startup atmosphere in Croatia is hot.
To prove my point, I’ll point out one event that, in my opinion, has contributed most and has given a biggest push to the startup community. Don’t get me wrong, “Startup Wednesdays”, “Mobile Mondays”, “CISEx Fridays”, the student competitions and all the other ones that were organised are great and have effected and created the community from the scratch, bringing it together, being that creative spark. We had a lot of lectures, met a bunch of important people, had Credo Ventures for a talk and even the guys from the USA Embassy who gave their support.
But, nothing can top Seedcamp. Seedcamp is the biggest european micro Seed Fund for internet technology companies based in London and founded only 5 years ago. It organizes its events around the globe, helping startups in their initial phase with advice, providing network of mentors and, eventually, even with the investment. Seedcamp visited Croatia last week for the second time and have put Zagreb on the startup map of Europe next to London, Berlin, Tel Aviv, Tallinn, Lisbon and Paris. Apart from the direct benefit Seedcamp gives to the teams that get invited (I’ll get to that later), Seedcamp brings along about 40, 50 foreign mentors that mix with about 30, 40 local mentors like Ivan Brezan Brkan from Netokracija, Matija Kopic from Farmeron, Vibor Cipan from UX Passion, Sasa Cvetojevic and Mihovil Barancic from CRANE or Ivo Spigel from Perpetuum Mobile. In that mix, foreign mentors get to know the background of the country, a little about their mentality, the opportunities for the startups and they generally network. That creates contact and opportunities for further visits and even for doing business together. I’ve seen it, it’s not just a cliche.
The process of attending Seedcamp is pretty easy, the team applies and then 20 teams get selected and invited based on a various criteria. During the event, each team has their 3 minute pitch in front of the numerous investors, mentors, sponsors and partners followed by the the 40,50 minute opportunity of talking to some of them individually, sharing their problems and seeking advice and suggestions. Since mentors all have very diversified backgrounds, every team will have all their questions answered regardless of their nature (finance, marketing, technical or other).
Till now, I haven’t had a chance to participate in such an event. I was really impressed with the teams and their ability to pitch. Bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, like on a track, one team pitched after the other, 3 minutes, bum, there comes another one. Disciplined, with no delay, perfect. Of course, there were differences between teams and pitches. Some of them came more than ready, having known what exactly were they going to say in those 3 minutes while others were not that well prepared, stuttering, having their PPT presentations done poorly. I noticed one other thing. I understand that most teams have at least two co-founders and that both of them came to the Seedcamp event to pitch. And that’s ok, but I don’t understand the point of having both co-founders “pitch”, both co-founders on stage when in fact only one of them is pitching. Is it a visual thing, does the other co-founder (the one not pitching) give his support in that way, does he just want to be visible, will the pitcher actually do better if he has his compadre standing next to him. Maybe. I don’t know but that’s one thing I found most interesting to see.
Apart from that, I was fairly surprised about the approach teams had. Common belief about Seedcamp and fund events is that teams come there simply and only to raise money, to get an investment. That’s what I thought. But, and I can’t say for the other events, but on Seedcamp, teams come not just for the sole purpose of raising money. Some teams even state that during their pitch. Since during the Seedcamp event teams can talk to mentors and gather advice, that is what they’ve come to get. Advice, contacts, suggestions, business and payment model help. That fact brings the whole thing to a totally different level.
You can find the teams that came to Zagreb here. I will just highlight some of them I find interesting. 6sync, a team of two who are developing a hosting management platform whose goal is to cut down the hosting costs. Mash.me, a Kinect web application for video recording with real time motion capturing and effects had a nice, structured and down to earth pitch. Table&Friends, a group dinner reservation system. Anctu, a social search engine with detailed analysis. Publification, a cloud-based ebook in browser reader had an awesome, most energetic pitch. Their pitch was different from all others by far and I’m sure it will be remembered. Last but not least, Shoe Addicts, a lovely photo sharing app for the shoe lovers.
Like I said, I haven’t participated in such an event before so I would really like to thank Carlos and Kirsten from Seedcamp on an opportunity they’ve given me to help organize the event. The whole event was absolutely unbelievable with the informal part at the end that rocked! I am sure everyone who was there will agree!
PS - This song brings me a whole other set of associations now. Along with Austin Powers. :)
#GOAP is coming to Croatia!
In my little country of Croatia that is mostly tourism oriented with not that much production and manufacturing companies and a big consumerism attitude, it is safe to say that startup atmosphere is hot. It has been cooking for a while now and it has reached a temperature of no return. The ingredients are ready and its peak, its boiling point, when the meal will be prepared for serving, is expected to happen in the next year, maybe two. At least, that is my prediction and I really hope I won’t be wrong.
I don’t know when it really started, but I think it is fair to say that the startup community got a pretty good push back in 2010 when the first Seedcamp was organized and the and the teams like Giscloud and Salespod won and were selected by a popular vote. Not much things changed from then but the young tech savvy people saw that successful projects can really be done and that a bright perspective exists. Last year, Farmeron came, along with some of the other top startups such Shoutem. That push gave a lot to the community and consequently led to the organisation of the 2012 Zagreb Seedcamp.
Meanwhile on Twitter, the whole startup community was fighting their war against Poland. Dave McClure, one of the most influential venture capitalist and the founding partner at 500 Startups had a dilemma - where to go next, which country is hotter. He decided to let “the market” sort itself out and let the Twitter audience make his mind up.
Of course, in that moment, all bets were on Poland. Poland with about 38.5 million people against small Croatia with about 4.5 million people. In Twitter numbers, I know that (only) about 20 000 Croats are on Twitter. So, I would assume that at least 250 000 Polish people are on Twitter. We Croats have always fought against the odds.
Having our best Twitter troops mobilized and organised through Netokracija, our leading social media and startup site, we did out best. Numerous tweets, wave after wave, going and flying through the tweetersphere like dry leaves in the wing on the automn night. Countless RTs explaining why Croatia is hotter, describing the pros and letting Dave know what would he expect in Croatia. Mentions were high, I assume Dave’s smartphone mention notification must’ve popped.
Eventually, our President and Minister have also come to the rescue having their official invitation given. Apparently, that was a final blow to the Polish candidacy.
The days have gone and the unbelievable startup week has come to a close. And then BAM! The announcement has come from their blog site - Zagreb, Croatia has been chosen! Seriously!
Well, Twitter exploded, Dave, I’m sure Your smartphone is off by now and going crazy out of notifications. :)
All jokes aside, to Dave McClure and the rest of the team, You are most welcome to Croatia, I am pretty safe to say that we will make sure You have the time of Your life here during Your stay - sea, islands, food, wine, women (and men :D ), music and a rocking startup atmosphere capable of reaching the stars! Welcome!
PS - Being a geek that I am, I have to say that I also contributed to the Twitter war, having sent two tweets Dave favorited. #CroatianMafia won! :)