Archives for the month of: July, 2012

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Our September Silicon Valley trip has been booked up and we are getting ready to go! Now we are at the detailed planning stage and would welcome ideas on accommodation around San Francisco. Watch out the detailed itinerary for our visit soon with the help of  UKTI and other friends and  contacts on the ground – any assistance/introductions are highly appreciated.

Here is the number of goals for SV trip:

Inform investors about the quality of European startups

We would like to increase awareness of the amazing European startup talent on the Dreamstake platform by exposing it to a cross section of  VCs and angels.  This is all part of our strategy to use the power of the web to build a Europe/Silicon Valley bridge where there is greater transparency and increased deal flow. We will go to The Valley armed with some amazing examples from our portfolio and plan to have an event at one of the leading co-working spaces during the first week of arrival. This will give us early exposure to the scene and a chance to present any investment ready Dreamstake startups during the event. If you would like to be considered please email me at paul.dowling@dreamsake.net.

We believe that there is strong potential both for Silicon Valley investors to invest in startups based here or to move a smaller number of startups to The Valley.  In either case the platform will provide investors with the visibility they need.

Build our knowledge of the unique Silicon Valley infrastructure

We want to understand how European startups can benefit from being linked with Silicon Valley. We would also like to identify the success factors of The Valley that are most relevant to the European scene. We want to experience, first-hand, the networking and openness of the eco-system and figure out how much we can replicate using the Dreamstake platform.

Identify possible investors for Dreamstake

We are now ready to scale and monetise the Dreamstake platform and are looking for investment to make this happen. Therefore, part of our trip will be to present our business plan to potential investors.

Stay with us – the ‘Dreamstake comes to Silicon Valley’ Blog will be updated regularly in the run-up and during the trip.  We believe that there is an amazing opportunity to learn from the most sophisticated startup environment.

Dreamstake is an online accelerator for startups.  We combine data from Linkedin and Crunchbase with other startup related details to provide a startup launch platform. A key feature is advanced profile search which allows entrepreneurs to find resources from across the 6000 members. We also connect entrepreneurs at our regular events and in the workspaces we partner with The Workspace Group.

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This week we spoke to Andrus Purde, co-founder of the innovative startup Achoo. It was interesting to see how he is embracing lean techniques and clearly learning a lot along the way. We admire his candid comments which we publish below;

Tell me a little bit about your background and why you founded Achoo

I’m a lifelong marketer, after a career of selling various things people didn’t need via mass media, I made a leap to web/tech side of things, where product, marketing and users are much better connected. I started out at Skype where I spent 5 years, and have been building and consulting startups for a couple of years now.

Since quitting my last “proper” job more than 2 years ago my LinkedIn profile has become unimpressive at best. If you consult, freelance and work on multiple projects, and that’s is where the job market is headed, the traditional resúmé, and services built around that, simply fall flat. Achoo is meant for people like this, so we are just scratching our own itch.

What is Achoo all about? What is your vision?

Achoo is a place for “socially accepted bragging”. It’s a great way to showcase what you’re achieved and accomplished career-wise, and who you’ve really worked with. It lets others peek behind fancy job titles and impressive company names. This is the crux of professional networking, online and offline, and it’s almost comical LinkedIn and other networking sites are still using the traditional CV format.

How do you monetise? What is the business model?

Professional networking is great because there are multiple sources of revenue: profile owners might want to pay for highlighted listing and customisation, recruiters for access to more data. That said, none of the premium features are live now, we’re really focused on building the user base first.

Tell me about your team

We’re three people with skills that complement each other very well. I’m a marketer and not the worst customer development person (I guess time will tell). Veiko (http://www.achoo.co/veiko/) designs the product and he can also write front-end code. And ShyCTO (http://www.achoo.co/user/ashycto/) is a proper hacker, he just likes to code.

What stage are you at with the business and what comes next?

We launched publicly back in April and can’t claim to have found product-market fit right away. That said, we have some happy users and we’ve learned what we need to change, so now we’re busy getting the next version out.

Money-wise we’ve decided to bootstrap as long as possible. We might be able to try more things faster with external funding, but this would have meant sacrificing some time for fundraising. You win some, you lose some kind of thing and because we’ve seen a couple of startups suffer from raising too early, we wanted to avoid making this mistake.

What is the main challenge you face?

We’ve struggled with focusing on the right thing. You can work on countless features, improvements and use cases, and sometimes it’s been really hard agreeing what’s the one things that needs to ship fast. Because we’re bootstrapping, we haven’t been able to dedicate all of our time to Achoo, and this hasn’t helped either. On the positive side, we’ve gotten better and better at overcoming challenges in the process.

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself.

I fell in love with British stand-up during my four years living in London, so I started my own comedy night after moving back to Estonia. So every couple of months I invite someone like Patrick Monahan, Zoe Lyons, Paul Foot or Mitch Benn to Tallinn and have a blast. I think doing a bit of something that is not tech related at all helps to keep life balanced.

www.achoo.co