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  • Start-up Q&A: Bantr

    1. Describe your business in one sentence?

    Bantr makes live football interactive

    2. Why did you set-up your own business? What made you decide to start your own business?

    There is nothing like running your own business and creating something which people want to use. If you can scale a business and disrupt an industry then even better.

    3. When did you open for business?

    We started work on Bantr in October 2010 but launched the business the following August. We actually completed our fundraising 2 days before the site launched.

    4. What were the key elements you thought about/explored before starting your venture?

    The main issue was technology. Our ambition was to combine real time match commentary with fan discussion, opinion and polls. We wanted something which scaled to support large numbers of users so we spent a lot of time reviewing the tech options available and eventually went for a NoSQL database.

    5. How many clients/users do you have now?

    We currently have 8,500 users in our beta programme.

    6. How is your business funded?

    Bantr is funded through a number of angels.

    7. How did you get involved in the music-tech business?

    Obviously not music but I have always worked in digital media and I currently run an agency called McCormack & Morrison. We setup Bantr as an opportunity to take advantage of our website development and digital marketing skills.

    8. What has been the best business move you’ve made?

    Reading The Lean Startup by Eric Reiss, I only wish I had read it 12 months ago.

    9. What has been the biggest challenge to date?

    Building the right product. We always knew there was an opportunity with sports and social media to deliver real time engagement but getting the experience right for the users has been hard. People never use your product how you envisage it so we have rapidly reiterated our product for the needs of the user.

    10. What key factors will make/have made your company successful?

    A great team and a great set of investors supporting us.

    11. What are your plans for the future of the company?

    Our focus now is on improving the product and developing commercial partnerships. We have had a lot of interesting from media owners to betting companies and we need to grow the team to develop these.

    12. Is there a particular idea that you have been excited about in the market place that you wish you had come up with, or helped develop?

    Facebook. I do though really like Taptu, Quora and Wunderlist.

    13. What interests you about the entrepreneurship scene right now in London, the UK, and Europe?

    I think the European tech scene is still in its infancy compared to the States which makes it an exciting place to be, it would be nice to see some of the European VCs show more support for early stage ideas.

    14. What advice do you have to offer other prospective or existing entrepreneurs?

    Read the Lean Startup by Eric Reiss, ensure you understand the data which drives your business and build a really great team. Most importantly believe in yourself and never give up.

    15. What can the government do better to foster innovation and entrepreneurship?

    Provide more funding for startups.

    16. In one sentence, how do you go about making a 4.5 times return on investment?

    Develop one thing, keep it simple and do it better than anyone else.

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  • Start-up Q&A: Bluefields

    1. Describe your business in one sentence?

    Bluefields intelligently organises amateur sport, in order to engage the amateur sport audience and capture the conversation that surrounds sports teams.

    2. Why did you set-up your own business? What made you decide to start your own business?

    That’s an easy question to answer but it isn’t short.

    For me founding startups is a life choice and there are big philosophical reasons that I chose this life. If you asks yourself why they are doing what you are doing enough times, the answer should always be ‘to be happy’; if it isn’t then maybe you are on the wrong path.

    A key thing that stops most people following their heart is that they think it is a risk. I think it is key to understand that these ‘risks’ are not really risks.

    I have always tried to look at the bigger picture. When you compare any decision you make to the fact that there are at least 100 stars in the universe for every grain of sand on Earth then you can gain some real context to your decision. (That’s a low estimate of 10^22 stars in the universe, of which our planet revolves around just one).

    Our lives and deaths, yet alone any decisions we make during them, are totally insignificant.

    Everyone knows the Steve Jobs Stanford speech right?

    ‘Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.

    Because almost everything, all external expectations, all pride, all fear or embarrassment or failure; these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.

    Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to loose.

    … there is no reason not to follow your heart.’

    3. When did you open for business?

    Just about now. Our beta is now public

    4. What were the key elements you thought about/explored before starting your venture?

    I started Bluefields.com because I wanted to shoot for the stars. I want to make a massive, worldwide company and for me the right time to try and do that is now.

    The the key elements I looked for when deciding what startup idea to persue, were a great user acquisition story, obvious revenue streams and a huge worldwide audiance. Bluefields had all three and so quickly became my focus.

    5. How many clients/users do you have now?

    We have around 650 clubs signed up to the beta (around 60k players) but we are rolling it out to them in phases. Saying that we are now accepting public beta signups too.

    6. How is your business funded?

    £100k of Angel investment in mid 2011, £10K from PepsiCo and we have just become a Seedcamp company which comes with a nice €50K bonus.

    7. How did you get involved in the tech business?

    Tech and sports are two of my biggest passions.

    8. What has been the best business move you’ve made?

    Applying to Seedcamp

    9. What has been the biggest challenge to date?

    Raising funding is too hard in the UK. Too many investors here do not understand the value of disruptive businesses and early-stage investment. They ask startups for their 5th year revenue or their EBITDA. There are some awesome investors too but there is a lot of competition to get to them.

    I think it is still going to take a while for us to get there (unless maybe the government steps in Israeli Yozma/BIRD/Incubator style)

    10. What key factors will make/have made your company successful?

    We have a great team, a huge addressable market with a key problem, a clear way to acquire users and a naturally viral product. Now we just need to execute it all. Easy Eh?.

    11. What are your plans for the future of the company?

    World domination.

    12. Is there a particular idea that you have been excited about in the market place that you wish you had come up with, or helped develop?

    It’s not about ideas, ideas are about 10-20% of a business. I have new ideas every day but they are worthless sat in the back of my notebook (Evernote actually). Too many entrepreneurs confuse ideas with businesses / execution. I get excited by awesome startups with great teams and great ambitions.

    Saying that, there’s certainly a lot of value in starting a simple B2C SaaS business (I like the business model simplicity with potential big upside). I sometimes ask myself if I should have tried that model first. An example of a great startup in that space would be twitspark.

    13. What interests you about the entrepreneurship scene right now in London, the UK, and Europe?

    The London scene is great. There is a real sense of reciprocity between tech startups. I love that. Actually we have a little group called the Startup Mafia that is all about reciprocity.

    14. What advice do you have to offer other prospective or existing entrepreneurs?

    Read The Lean Startup (Eric Ries) before you do anything.

    15. What can the government do better to foster innovation and entrepreneurship?

    Stop doing things that are ‘nice’ and actually solve the real problem; lack of capital at early stage. Look to Israel for inspiration as to how a government can really kickstart innovation.  

    16. In one sentence, how do you go about making a 4.5 times return on investment?

    4.5x? If we execute as we hope, our first investors could well make a 100x return.

    Read more...

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  • Start-up Q&A: Live Music Stage

    1. Describe your business in one sentence?

    The most advanced platform for broadcasting and monetizing live music online.

    2. Why did you set-up your own business? What made you decide to start your own business?

    I had been an entrepreneur before, working as a music technician and teaching vocals. When I got the initial idea for LiveMusicStage.com, I knew I had to do something about it.

    3. When did you open for business?

    We did beta testing for quite some time before, producing special gigs for the online audience only under a Finnish name. We opened LiveMusicStage.com for consumers in Summer 2011. The platform part we started promoting in September 2011.

    4. What were the key elements you thought about/explored before starting your venture?

    I was first looking to run a service only for the Finnish market. I did plan it for half a year before actually starting the company in the beginning of 2010. During that time I did a business plan, went over the official and legal stuff involved and looked for some necessary partners.

    5. How many clients/users do you have now?

    Audience sizes vary widely depending on the band still. We are looking towards taking in our first channel partners (live show producers) this spring.

    6. How is your business funded?

    For the time being, angel investments and R&D money from the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation.

    7. How did you get involved in the music-tech business?

    I studied information systems’ sciences for a couple of years at the university, then forgot about that for extensive music studies of various kinds. And what do you know, here I am again.

    8. What has been the best business move you’ve made?

    To take some time to develop the business, but also not being afraid of taking on new things to learn on the fly.

    9. What has been the biggest challenge to date?

    Having come from a geek and music background, financing has been the part I’ve had to study the most.

    10. What key factors will make/have made your company successful?

    Solid planning combined to living the dream. As somebody said about athletes: “Being talented helps, but you also need to have the guts to stay on top.”

    11. What are your plans for the future of the company?

    To become the YouTube of live music events.

    12. Is there a particular idea that you have been excited about in the market place that you wish you had come up with, or helped develop?

    There are numerous ideas like that :) Let’s say the future is in streaming anyways.

    13. What interests you about the entrepreneurship scene right now in London, the UK, and Europe?

    There’s a huge startup boom in Finland. Helsinki is definitely an interesting place to be at right now.

    14. What advice do you have to offer other prospective or existing entrepreneurs?

    The same old stuff – be honest and learn which things you really shouldn’t be doing yourself. Then find the best people you possibly can to do those for you.

    15. What can the government do better to foster innovation and entrepreneurship?

    At least in Finland, it’s about building even a better ecosystem for funding start-ups, especially ones that are not concentrating on traditional industries.

    16. In one sentence, how do you go about making a 4.5 times return on investment?

    By turning existing live events into real experiences online, thus creating new revenue sources for both the artists, producers and us as a platform.

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  • Start-up Q&A: Novativ

    1. Describe your business in one sentence?

    Novativ is the first completely interactive taxi media solution that engages the passengers rather than ‘captivating’ them and is suitable for taxi/mincab companies who genuinely care about their passengers.

    2. Why did you set-up your own business? What made you decide to start your own business?

    Because we saw an opportunity to make a taxi media which works. We also have experience in the space as we’ve built smaller networks and advised big clients (British American Tobacco, Carrefour and others) on digital signage strategies

    3. When did you open for business?

    About a year ago

    4. What were the key elements you thought about/explored before starting your venture?

    We explored what the competition does. We also thought carefully about a clean user interface that would be visually pleasing and engaging. We also thought about building an open system that would allow us to pivot easily in case we discover we need to.

    5. How many clients/users do you have now?

    None.

    6. How is your business funded?

    At the moment – friends and family

    7. How did you get involved in the music-tech digital out of home business?

    We have experience in the space from previous projects.

    8. What has been the best business move you’ve made?

    Having different teams for markets in different countries.

    9. What has been the biggest challenge to date?

    Regulations and licensing in the UK.

    10. What key factors will make/have made your company successful?

    Proving our model and showing that we can engage people in minicab cars.

    11. What are your plans for the future of the company?

    We are getting through a long licensing process, raising capital and trying to sneak in front of advertising executives to sell them on the idea

    12. Is there a particular idea that you have been excited about in the market place that you wish you had come up with, or helped develop?

    The urinal digital signage game is pretty awesome!

    13. What interests you about the entrepreneurship scene right now in London, the UK, and Europe?

    There is a great community here of entrepreneurial people.

    14. What advice do you have to offer other prospective or existing entrepreneurs?

    Don’t listen to everybody.

    15. What can the government do better to foster innovation and entrepreneurship?

    Simplify bureaucracy.

    16. In one sentence, how do you go about making a 4.5 times return on investment?

    We work with very low costs both in terms of investment needed, running costs and production of content (we have designers and coders in low-cost destinations) and we will sell ad space at great margins and very competitive rates.

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  • Start-up Q&A: Pepper

    1. Describe your business in one sentence?

    Social mobile application connecting friends through live music.

    2. Why did you set-up your own business? What made you decide to start your own business?

    We became aware of a problem and believed we had the expertise to fix it. The app is a product that we have wanted for a while and didn’t trust anyone else to do a good job on it.

    3. When did you open for business?

    April 2011

    4. What were the key elements you thought about/explored before starting your venture?

    Concept development and competition in the marketing place. Almost all of the application was mocked up before we started out.

    5. How many clients/users do you have now?

    Currently up to 500 clients including Mitchell & Butlers and The Royal Albert Hall. Launching the mobile app in February.

    6. How is your business funded?

    Private investment.

    7. How did you get involved in the music-tech business?

    Both David and I previously worked for a tech start-up in Brighton called ParcelGenie. We got bitten by the bug and felt that music was the best area to apply our skills to considering our backgrounds.

    8. What has been the best business move you’ve made?

    Having a dedicated sales/business development team.

    9. What has been the biggest challenge to date?

    Getting buy in on concept before it has been developed.

    10. What key factors will make/have made your company successful?

    The design of the app and concept. It has mass appeal and is easy to understand why people will use it.

    11. What are your plans for the future of the company?

    Global expansion, develop the Pepper brand. Introduce new forms of interaction between users and their mobiles.

    12. Is there a particular idea that you have been excited about in the market place that you wish you had come up with, or helped develop?

    Not really, that’s why we created Pepper

    13. What interests you about the entrepreneurship scene right now in London, the UK, and Europe?

    It’s vibrant and very exciting to be a part of. Being a company based outside of London we thought we may be slightly isolated, however the caliber and quantity of startups in Southampton is very high as well.

    14. What advice do you have to offer other prospective or existing entrepreneurs?

    Get into the habit of wearing odd socks. If you’ve got time to be matching them up then you’re wasting time that could be spent pushing your business further.

    15. What can the government do better to foster innovation and entrepreneurship?

    Better grants for taking on graduates. They are next to useless when they come out of university and have such high expectations on their salary. Yet they are highly motivated and can be molded a lot easier than more experienced staff. It’s a considerable risk to take them on as a startup, but it would be a risk worth taking if it could be supported in some way by the government.

    16. In one sentence, how do you go about making a 4.5 times return on investment?

    Be outrageously ambitious and try and make a 10 times return, if you fail you’ll probably end up making 4.5.

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The 2Pears blog – bringing you start-ups, technews and other great things

Since you've found your way to our blog you might be familiar with the 2Pears already. You will perhaps know that we run the Music 4.5 events, bringing the tech and music industries together to discuss how bright the future could be if we all work together. You might also be familiar with our techpitch 4.5 and MUSIC techpitch 4.5 events where we give talented start-ups a chance to pitch to a panel of industry experts and investors. If you haven't heard about us, welcome anyway, this blog will hopefully allow you to get to know us better.

This blog will be run by the 2Pears team Rassami Hök Ljungberg and Petra Johansson and their Nordic partner in crime journalist Charlotta Hedman, aka Lotta. We will bring you Q&As with up and coming start-ups, technews, and the latest about our events and pitches. We will focus on entrepreneurialism and how to make a return on investment (preferably by 4.5 times). We're interested in what makes businesses and start-ups successful, what makes the tech world tick... and what is changing it. We like cocky newcomers and disruptive business strategies. If this applies to you or your company get in touch! We love hearing from you and growing our network of entrepreneurs and people who can help them.

If you're interested in issues affecting the technology sector and want to know more about funding, government initiatives, politics, infrastructure, international trade and development keep coming back. And do let us know if there is anything you would like us to cover.

We hope you will find this a thought-provoking and fun place to get your tech news. Follow us on twitter if you want to keep an eye on what we're up to and to hear about the latest blog posts as they go up.

Rassami, Petra and Charlotta

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