I have just returned from three days at LeWeb 2011, a three-day conference in Paris for the world’s internet glitterazzi and the thousands of hopeful entrepreneurs and investors who hope to be among them in the future. Being at the event has provided new contacts, new energy and new ideas but it has also given me a critical insight that has inspired me to start this blog and share it with others.
The theme of the conference, as with the current trends of internet business today, was So-Lo-Mo (Social, Local, Mobile). The event exemplified those three elements, bringing us all together in one location with much mobility in our social interactions. We were ‘social’ but were we connecting? There were thousands of entrepreneurs at the conference, each desiring to pursue his/her dreams, yet seeming to lack creating linkages with other people’s dreams to make them be stronger together.
Sean Parker on Day 3 of the conference shared his insights, which to me zeroed in on that feeling that had been bubbling within me over the event: Too many entrepreneurs are able to stay working in their ineffective silos because it is easy for them to get angel funding. He called out that people with good ideas and talent are not coming together to form great companies. They are pursuing their ideas in isolation, with the help of angel investors, missing critical ingredients in the set of skills to execute well on their plan. Such ventures eventually fizzle out because their founders don’t figure out how to collaborate with others and adapt.
This fits with something that JP Rangaswami, Chief Scientist at Salesforce.com said in extolling the virtues of the larger enterprise: We can do things as enterprises because we have multi-disciplinary talent pulled together in a collective consciousness.
The average entrepreneur tends to revel in doing his/her own thing. What the successful entrepreneurs were reminding us is, in order to survive and thrive we must not act in isolation. We need to bring together diverse, collaborative talent to execute, and be flexible in the realisation of our vision.
My experience at LeWeb was much like being on the web: talking to many people each for just a little while; connecting with the person who happens to be around me at the coffee machine; floating in and out of presentations that interested me. Social Local Mobile indeed. Now, post-conference, is the hard work of making it real – re-connecting with potential partners, investors, developers and making things happen together instead of just talking about it.
I have been working on my internet venture for the past year with many beta clients and am in the midst of development of the 1.0 launchable product. I was grateful to have been sponsored by Silicon Valley Bank and Lepe Partners to attend the conference as part of their ‘Adopt-an-Entrepreneur’ program. In my pitch, I said I wanted to attend so I could learn how to make our launch work the best way possible. LeWeb has been an incredible way to open minds, open doors, see what is possible. We have revelled in the bubble of our ideas and dreams. The gauntlet has been thrown for us get real and make it happen now. Continue to build the team and together we can be stronger.