Boostrapping Cairo

Cool Cat in a café at the Khan El-Khalili Market - with the entrepreneurs in the mirror.

Back in Denmark after an unforgettable trip to Cairo where I attended the event - Next Generation of Egyptian Entrepreneurs 2011, as a mentor from June 28th to July 1st. This was my trip and my impressions.

Day 1. Tuesday 28th. 2011.

In the spring of 2011 the Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen met with President Barack Obama at the White House. The Arab Spring was in action and supporting initiatives were discussed by the two leaders. In Denmark the startup accelerator program StartupBootcamp has tremendous success, not only in Denmark but across Europe, where they are expanding their accelerator program. The Danish Foreign Ministry reached out to StartupBootcamp to get inspiration from their program, and to utilize their mentors. The result was the 5 day NextGen2011 bootcamp, where mentors from Denmark and the US were invited to Cairo, to contribute with their experience and support these young entrepreneurs move forward with their business.

Yesterday I kissed my son goodbye on his birthday to head for Cairo, I had the privilege of being one of the Danish mentors. I explained to my son that I was going to a country fighting for freedom and that I was meeting some of the young people that overruled their dictator, and now have the opportunity to rebuild their country and future.

I looked so much forward to give, learn and to get another perspective of Egypt, through the eyes of the future generation. A generation that will be responsible for rebuilding their country, where one of the key solutions might very well be entrepreneurship.

Despite the language and cultural differences between Denmark and Egypt, what united us in Cairo was our entrepreneurial culture based on creativity, passion and the will to utilize opportunities in the Golden Age of Technology.

The delegates from Denmark and the US in front of the pyramids at 6 am Wednesday morning.

Day 2 - Next Generation 2011 in Action.

Wednesday I met the teams for the first time, although they started Monday. I was so excited to finally meet the young entrepreneurs, hear their pitches, and had no idea what to expect.

I was blown away, together with the rest of the Danish and US delegation. We faced  young passionate minds, who took their business very seriously. A lot of them were already far, had amazing user traction and were using focus groups to understand their target groups better. Despite the language barrier for some, they all did an amazing job communicating their ideas and visions. We spend the day giving feedback to every startup, during panel sessions and one to one sessions with the teams. I was mentoring the outstanding ladies from SuperMama and Inkezny the "tourist feel safe" app.

Out of 38 participants, 6 were women which was a surprising ration, that’s more or less what you can expect at startup events in Denmark. The girls were amazing, but had different views on their role as entrepreneurs. Some said they were privileged since financially supported by their families or hubbies, that didn’t expect anything from them - a perfect bootstrapping state. Others felt they had to be very persistent to proof to their families that what they are doing is important, not only to them but as role models for other women and for their country.

After an intense day, we were invited to visit the Danish ambassador Christian Hoppe. All the teams gave excellent 1 minute pitches, directly to the ambassador and his 60 guests. They improved their performance so rapidly, and the fact that they were able to give short, precise pitches after only two days of training and mentoring - was outstanding.

At 11 pm we were heading back to the Marriott Hotel, ready to be tourists, but due to riads at Tahrir Square, where 1200 people got injured - we were advised to stay at the hotel. That said it is perfectly safe to be in Cairo and with 30 degrees celsius and a calm breeze, the climate is perfect.

The SuperMama team - Zeinab Samir and Yasmine ElMehairy.

Day 3 - The Final.

Thursday was the big final, where the teams were to pitch in front of investors, the press and the delegates. We headed for Smart Village through Cairo's intense traffic, meeting a very polished business community build outside Cairo housing mostly technology companies. Egypt has a perfect foundation for utilizing technology, with great access to developers, low employee costs, and now a historic experience from the power social media can give the multitude. The Egyptian Facebook penetration increased after the revolution, being the platform for cultivating, organizing and executing the revolution.

The teams were as ready as they could get, after working non-stop for 3 days. At the end of the day, culminating the event, 4  teams would be chosen, two of the teams would get an internship at EyeContact in the US, and two teams would go to Denmark for 3 months, to be a part of the StartupBootcamp accelerator program.

5 hours later we had the winners and they were announced in front of the Danish Ambassador, Egyptian representatives, the press - counting New York Times, Arab newspapers and the rest of the NextGen2011 team. The winners were in alphabetical order:

18 Days in Egypt - Crowdit is a social media storytelling platform inspired by the revolution.

Bey2ollak - A mobile traffic alert service, already counting 15.000 users.

Inkezny - A mobile app keeping tourists safe in developing countries by giving easy access to emergency assistance.

SuperMama - a social community providing women in Arab countries quality information about motherhood.

 

We celebrated by sailing and dining up the River Nile, eating exquisite cuisine while entertained with Arab music and belly dance. We ended the day at Tahrir Square where people were protesting again, for three days in a row. The SuperMama team drove us safely to the hectic city market Khan El-Khalili - which isn't a matter of course in Cairo. Families were gathered in the square, and kids running around enjoying their summer holiday. After extensive shopping and bargaining we ended the day drinking strong coffee and mint tea in a narrow alley, where locals smoked water pipes and played music, being magnified by mirrors on the surrounding buildings.

After getting close to these brilliant entrepreneurs, we had an emotional farewell. But it will hopefully not be a past memory, but a relationship that will continue with some of the teams in the future.

Back in Denmark I miss the warm courtesy of the Egyptian people, the sound of drums at the market and the warm breeze - in the city that never sleeps.

More impressions from NextGen2011: My pictures. Excellent blog post by Alex Farcet from StartupBootcamp.

Use The Social Web As The Foundation Of Your Business

Once in a while and so far in every edition, I have the privilege of contributing with articles and digital trends to the price winning Danish magazine Scenario. In the spring I suggested that they should interview Lane Becker, a brilliant mind and a wonderful character. Lane is a serial entrepreneur and the co-founder of several successful companies hereunder, Adaptive Path and Get Satisfaction. That suggestions ended with me doing the article and the result can now be read in the latest edition of the Scenario Magazine.

Appetizer: Lane Becker studied art history and dreamed of a professorship, but became a web pioneer in Silicon Valley. He has resided in this epicentre for communication technology since 1994. It was he and others around him who defined the “blog”, and were behind the development of Google Analytics, Adaptive Path and AJAX (JavaScript), which generates the simultaneous suggestions we get when we put things into Google’s search box. SCENARIO’s Natasha Friis Saxberg met Becker for a talk about Silicon Valley’s wholly unique entrepreneurship ethos, which he now sees spreading to the rest of the world....

Read the rest of the appetizer article at Scenario Magazine.

Facebook reaching 700 m. users. Should we be worried?

Facebook experiences a loss of users in primarily the US, Canada and Russia, this news has hit the headlines of international media including the Danish.

Tuesday I gave my take to DR News - the Danish television station, on why Facebook experiences a decrease of users in specific countries. The pattern shows that once they reach half the population, their market limit is reached. It is also the countries Facebook first penetrated that are now experiencing a loss of users, a fact Facebook denies. Countries that were entered later as Mexico and Brazil is still in high growth.

What Facebook experiences now, is the case for many successful companies, they have traveled the J curve journey, and now they are meeting their market limit, which for Facebook is an impressive 50 percent of a country population. Reaching 700 m. users, we are now spending more than 700 billion minutes on Facebook per month. With a reign of 10 percent of the world population, they are indeed conquering the world, in a way Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan and the rest of the world conqueror club, would never have dreamt of.

With 2.5 m. websites connected to Facebook, there is still a great commercial opportunity. Very few companies knows as much about their users as Facebook, so we should expect further commercial cultivation, or to use a buzz word - f-commerce. I look forward to the day where I have to explain why Gignal has experienced a slight decrease in our 700 million users - a problem to love indeed!

Wanted! Game Changing Test Customers.

One thing we learned throughout the years building startups, is that the best product is build by iterations in close collaboration with real customers and real needs. We have now reached a point with Gignal where we deliver a social media billboard presenting tweets, check-ins, photos and video - from venues and events.

Next step is to add more value to venues, events and through that the audience. We have a clear idea of the direction, what we need is customers that will help us verify that we actually deliver a cure for their pain. While our customers help us evolve, we will also help our customers with:

- Become first movers by utilizing the latest technologies. - Enrich your venue & event, by monetizing social media buzz. - Spread customer case studies through our PR campaigns. - Branding as an agile and game changing business.

We need customers that either has a large venue or event, wanting to present a social media billboard for their audience, to entertain and enrich them, added with some secret sauce to be revealed when our first date is set.

Want to be our test customer and collaborate with us using the latest technologies? Please contact co-founder and CEO Natasha Friis Saxberg: natasha at gignal.com +45 23901797

See you at the launching pad!

photo credit

Let your location do the talking!

Checking in from your location has become far more known after Facebook Places has been launched. There are a broad variety of LBS (Location Based Services) providing information based on your current location. Some finds it brilliant, now information can be filtered based on my location - neat! Others find it creepy - does that mean that "friends" like my employer, wife and other subjects can see where I check in - they can if you do!

But what are the potential of geo-location for consumers and corporations?

From a consumer perspective you can get situational information, so when in Rome you will get info on cultural events, hotel offers or the direction to the the best restaurants in town - recommended by your network. And even though social and mobile shopping is still in its rising, there will be a huge potential on how to combine your purchases with your social network patterns and real time location. Facebook Places will unlikely show us a new dimension on how to use peoples personal information, their updates, social curation and purchase patterns together with their location.

Businesses must rethink their marketing, going from mass- to situational marketing, by aiming at consumers in situations where your product actually adds value. So instead of trying to make your customers adopt to your product and campaigns, you support your customers behavior and needs - when and where it is needed.

This is a big-mother scenario, where we accept receiving offers, campaigns or information from a supplier, as long as it matches our need at a given location. And to avoid a big-brother scenario remember - common sense also rules online!

photo credit: flickr - ciccioetneo

Quora - Redefining Relations

Twitter came first with their social network structure, based on thematic relations rather than the ones we know from LinkedIn, Facebook amongst others, which take-off on first or second level physical relations. The big problem with Twitter is that it takes a significant while before you find a group of skilled people that represent the topics you are interested in following. And to get value from Twitter you also need followers to establish a dialogue. This is also why so many people abandon Twitter before their second tweet, they just don’t get this new networking structure. Creating a new thematic network takes a lot of time, but when established, they can in many ways become more valuable than traditional relations - or even be so.

What I love about Quora is that it offers dynamic thematic relations, making the various networks so accessible, allowing you to jump directly into the stream of knowledge you need. You instantly get access to the entire crowd of topic specialists and questions, which could take months or years to establish on Twitter. Quora takes us from our social graph to a dynamic interest graph i.e. our relationship might only last a question.

This new thematic network structure will allow us to focus on the quality of our network, rather than the quantity of people we follow or have as “friends”. Value comes from a qualitative focus and design, which I hope and believe will be the future digital network structure.

Another beautiful feature is that you can follow and ask questions directly to a crowd of specialist, that are following a specific topic. In the good old online days (before Quora) that would have taken a lot of effort to achieve.

Quora now has to proof that the questions asked get answered rather fast, and that the quality is high. So a top priority for their community managers is to attract specialist to cultivate valuable conversations around the world of themes.

Previous post on gaining online quality rather than quantity. Can real time web bring real world change?

Present & Spread Conference Buzz

Geo-location has undoubtedly been the tech darling of 2010, and we have probably only seen the beginning, many more "must have" geo-location services will rise in the years to come. And we intend to provide one of them - with Gignal.

We basically aggregate data from a specific location or tag - to show what people are talking about at events. There is no difference from creating an opinion in a physical environment to an online. You scan what people are talking about, you chose conversations to follow or participate in. And by tapping into to those conversations you get other peoples perspective from an event. You also have the chance to connect with the people you dig and thereby expand your network. In many ways you can get the exact same value from an event online as offline, since we communicate online even if we sit next to each other at a conference. The barrier for talking is some how lower online.

Now that was the simple version from a user perspective. From a conference organizer perspective we want to help reinvent conferences, by extending them with an online platform, that can strengthen, prolong and cultivate the event for participants before, under and after the physical event, making it a whole year experience a - conference 365.

We would love to hear your thoughts, ideas or needs on how a conference can become more valuable with Gignal, whether you are a organizer or conference participant.

Gignal in action. TEDxCopenhagen New Media Days Danish Media Conference

7 must-have geo apps

1. Foursquare - Checkin at a location and share it with your friends, including tips, special offers and photos. 2. Layar - Augmented reality browser/platform. Hold your phone in front of you and see where the nearest tweet is posted, where to buy Pizza - or what your search might be. 3. Lonely Planet iPhone City guides as we know them. 4. Google Maps - An oldie but certainly a goody. 5. CauseWorld - Do good while you turn your checkins into karma and donations. 6. Yelp - Search for places to eat, shop, play and get reviews from the local community. 7. Soundwalk - Get a real-time city tour on your iPhone based on your location - this is really cool!

Gignal 2010 - from startup limbo to company launch.

We are about to kiss 2010 goodbye, which is always a bit sad since time flies to rapidly, but it is also exciting to see what the new year will bring. For us 2010 has been a journey with detours, ups and downs, frustrations and thrills - a typical startup experience.

In January 2010 we made the first version of Gignal, because we needed it at NordicMeetup, which we co-organize. It actually looked very similar to the interface we have today, but not as stable and with less services. We took a heavy and costly detour by focusing on music events, but choose to trust our gut feeling and turned our effort back into tech conferences, where networking, sharing, dialogue and gadgets are key. In November we had our first conference launch at the New Media Days conference, followed by a Journalist Festival and TEDxCopenhagen. It was a much needed thrill to see 9 months of work in action, and to get positive feedback - a true energy boost.

In December we took Gignal back into the lab to focus on the lessons learned in November, adding more core value to our product, for conference organizers and participants. But the hardest part was to decide when enough is enough, and focus on wrapping Gignal up, with what we have for now. And from a developer perspective enough is never enough.

So though we are not close to provide our final vision with Gignal, we are very close to launch our first public version. We can now provide a generic tool, so you can create, aggregate and present your event, from geo-tags and tags, on Gignal’s site or your website and on physical screens. You can integrate our widget on your website, with your own custom design. And if that is not enough you can access our API and do your thing from there. We also offer event analytics, so organizers can learn and optimize their event based on online user behavior.

And due to the Christmas spirit we are wrapping Gignal up, by baking a new design, which we expect to take out the owen very very soon. But what we look most forward to experience in 2011, is going from a garage bootstrapping mode into a company state of mind, selling our service, being sustainable, and thereby continue to proof that we support a need, and that we actually make a difference to our stakeholders.

So that’s it for now folks - we look forward to feed you with much more event candy in 2011.

All the best New Year wishes from team Gignal!

NordicMeetup #3 co-hosted with TEDxCopenhagen

On November 30th 2010 at 7 pm NordicMeetup will take place at our usual venue – Ruby’s. We are proud to announce that we will co-host the third event together with TEDxCopenhagen.

This time we will facilitate the party and ask you to sponsor your own drink(s). Get your ticket at NordicMeetup - register now.

Looking forward to see you at NordicMeetup together with TEDxCopenhagen!

Cheers, Petra & Natasha

Event hashtags #nm3 & #tedxcph

P.S. NordicMeetup is sold out but - register for extra tickets.

The 2. NordicMeetup on May 26.

It is time for the 2. NordicMeetup on May 26, 2010 at our favourite spot - Ruby’s. We are co-locating the event together with TechCrunch Europe who is in Copenhagen for their third TCNordic event.

Since NordicMeetup got sold out in 1.5 hour - and before we had a chance to publish the tickets, we have arranged with TechCrunch Europe that if you buy a ticket to TCNordic, you will get a special offer by using the promotion code: nordicmeetup giving you access to the evening event as well.

This time BvHD has made NordicMeetup a reality, by sponsoring the ticket to a free drink at Ruby.

PetraI are so thrilled to see the amazing support for NordicMeetup, people are offering their help, also with co-hosting in other Nordic cities - and most of all by showing up, having fun and supporting the Nordic startup environment, this is exactly what we hoped for.

Looking forward to see you at NordicMeetup!

NordicMeetup - Connecting the Copenhagen Startup Scene.

A year ago I attended Geek'n´Rolla in London organised By TechCrunch Europe. The following day I was invited to attend a meetup called DrinkTank sponsored by the London startup Huddle. I was told that the purpose of the monthly event is to have an informal meeting point where startups, investors and other people related to tech and entrepreneurship can meet and kick tires. This event reminded me that we needed a meeting point not only to connect Copenhagen, but also to connect like-minded people in the  Nordic area.

What characterises thriving startup environments, is a well connected community, events, proximity to money, creativity and talent. The vision with NordicMeetup is to strengthen the local scenes and to concurrent connect the Nordic cities with each other, to benefit from more scale than a small scene can provide.

Together with Petra Johansson, I started to organise the event. And now NordicMeetup is finally a reality thanks to our sponsors Sunstone Capital and StartupBootcamp.

We will start out in Copenhagen, on April, 8. More info and registration at NordicMeetup. Follow the Twitter stream hashtagged #NordicMeetup.

Mentory - next step

We launched Mentory almost a year ago. A lot of interesting profiles have joined as protégés, mentors and even as both. All sorts of skills are represented, but the majority of users are tech and entrepreneurial oriented.

While people have been supporting the idea and the need of an online mentorship, the ideal online transformation still needs to be developed. We must find the way to motivate for participation for all parties, so conversations will flow. Some has mentioned the mentor/protégé relation as a barrier - they do not see them selves as either. The need of access to global skills has been expressed, but not necessary only between two people. Some believe the mentors should be paid, or as in real life get something in return from the protégé i.e. time.

Our thoughts is to strengthen online conversations, and global connection between people. One way is to emphasis the “advisory board”, so one person is connected with a board of people representing different skills. The initiator/protégé can post questions to the board, and the best suited will answer and thereby also share their knowledge with the other members of the board. We are also inclined to turn the focus towards Tech Entrepreneurship, so Mentory will become more focused as a community within this area.

Our objective is to support our users needs, any ideas and feedback to our thoughts are more than welcome - so please throw a comment.

Can real time web bring real world change?

green_iranelection

We continually spent more time online - now an average of 13 hours per week. Facebook connectivity increases within new demographics, and the voice of oppressed groups is strengthened online. The platform for social and real-time web is the communities that place the individual in the centre, with tools that helps us construct the story of our ideal self-image.

The range of social services we use including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. covers different needs, but the similarity is that they fulfil our need for curiosity, recognition and profiling. The success of the individual is measured quantitative in terms of the number of friends, followers or connections we gain. By focusing on the ego in a social context, makes our behaviour and perception rather predictable. By keeping us self-centered, has web 2 and social media thereby limited us rather than liberated us as individuals?

Participatory motivation Linking community behaviour with Maslow's hierarchy of needs, shows a coverage of our need for social belonging and recognition. Maslow's hierarchy of needs can also reflect the evolvement of the Internet, from focus on basic infrastructure and security to the services we use today that support our need for social belonging and esteem. This thesis indicates, that the future of web will move towards supporting our need for self-actualization. According to Maslow our need for self-actualization will rise when the previous needs are met, and therefore not attract us all. So we will probably continue to use services that stimulates us socially, fortifies our ego and most of all - just entertains.

Maslow-self-actualization

The end of web 2 But as with other trends, we might experience a backlash, where the measurement goes from quantitative in relation to the number of friends, towards qualitative in terms of individual impact and influence in a group with value, meaning and actual change as key indicators. First movers on the web will probably soon sort out friends, contacts and followers, that gave them status during the social web era, and instead move towards the era of "value web" where a friend is chosen on the basis of value. To be a part of these value groups, you will either provide impact, or be exclusively chosen, bringing status to the given social hierarchy.

What do we really achieve from our numerous online hours - do we in fact strengthen our relationships on Facebook, or is it rather entertainment and curiosity that leads us to spend time observing “what is on the mind” of the 10% of users that actually participate.

When Twitter emphasises the situation in Iran after the June 2009 election, whereafter to be surpassed by Michael Jackson's death, how great impact has our participation actually had? As Queen Rania expressed at LeWeb:

"Can the real time web bring real world change?"

rania_leweb

There are not many services available today that support self-actualization, altruism, and other elements that moves focus from the ego towards value in and to a group. And will motivational factors supported by the successful communities of today, still be necessary on the value orientated communities of tomorrow? Does the multitude truly want to act for a good purpose, if they are not rewarded with recognition and profiling? One thing is to show that you support a good cause on Facebook - which also supports our perfect online image, another thing is to actually spent the necessary time to act and change.

Social web - limits rather than liberates Maslow´s hierarchy of needs is distinguished by its visual simplicity, but there are other interesting thoughts on what motivates us to act. Spinoza´s philosophy is that everything is determined by cause and effect, so even if we believe as individuals that we act based on our free will, we are in fact externally influenced including socially.

Maslow also considers a self-actualized person as free in relation to social influence, which enables us to make decisions based on our beliefs and values, rather than social norms and rules. Taoism and Zen Buddhism has a similar view - man is truly liberated when freed from worldly possessions, social pressure and power, thereby decisions are no longer made on the basis of external authority. Spinoza´s definition is a virtuous free person who pursues goals that benefits all, sharing knowledge and makes other virtuous, free and good, the focus is not on the ego but on the surrounding world.

As long as the web of today supports egocentrism and restrains us in a social context, do we then loose the opportunity of self-actualization, self-development and ethics, thus other underlying values?

From social to value web If only some of our countless online hours were spent on altruism, we might ultimately get more sustainable gratification than Facebook and similar services are able to give us today.

My personal hope is that services and users in the future stimulates value, meaning and altruism in a social and global context. Research indicates that altruism affects the same area of the brain as sex. If altruism is so closely related to this driving force, why aren´t more people doing it? Are we able to influence altruism by how we design our web services, in order to motivate people to do something for others with ultimate satisfaction as reward?

But is it not okay to spend our time on social trivialities and entertainment, without necessarily being self-developed or changing the world, but where the objective is just to relax. The answer must depend on the individuals needs, but hopefully the future communities will make it easier for individuals to make a difference.

What´s in it for me? The views above are based on the believe that people desire more meaning and value, but in a busy daily life it can be difficult to see how we can actually contribute. If we look at community behaviour, we are more inclined to contribute if we are rewarded, whether we gain recognition or profiling. The interesting aspect is how to motivate individuals, in a direction that gives a more prolonged and/or enhanced satisfaction. So, from quantitatively measurement by the number of friends, the future services will rather measure the impact of the individual, whether it is in a group, in society, or globally. If this proves to be the trend for the future, we may get closer to - real time web bringing real world change.

Danish version

Jam session startups

jamsession When a jazz band gather for a jam session it is all about improvising based on experience, skills and creativity. They are focused on the opportunities that arises from the chord chart (the frame that defines the rhythm and harmonic). They sense, they listen, they collaborate while creating unique unpredictable art.

Based on the same principles we create jam session startups, meaning that we set a course and we gather the perfect team of highly skilled people. We do not create an agenda or agreements, but we focus, do our best, sense and listen to our users. We collaborate on creating unique, unpredictable and user driven startups.

What happens when we skip the business plan, the agreements and the technical specifications? It is simple - we execute, learn and improve. Instead of a business plan, we set an overall strategy i.e. our course, set up milestones and deadlines, and we take these very seriously. Our deadlines makes us prioritize and fight the perfectionist part of us, that want´s to launch a perfect service, which will never happen.

I have tried both ways of running a startup, but somehow the more effort I put into planning, structure and great business plans, the less I achieve. The reason is that I miss out on spontaneity, which in many cases are the best source for innovation.

When we build Mentory, we knew that we should launch a basic version i.e. no Rolls Royce to start with, but instead sense the adaption while listening to our users. In the past three months since we launched, we have learned lessons and gotten ideas that couldn´t have been predicted up front. The journey is also much more exciting, we know our course but we do not know where it will take us a long the way, and in the end - it is all about Jazz.

Sharing is learning

When we are online it is all about sharing and participating. This is not our natural offline behavior, but we change attitude in the digital sphere - most of us anyway. And the amazing thing is that it is contagious. We trust, we share, we participate and so does everyone else, meaning that you can get almost any question instantly answered by complete strangers.  When we share, we give others the opportunity to take advantage of our knowledge and experience, making it evolve in the minds of other individuals. This is basically what a mentorship and Mentory is all about. 

So why have a mentor relation when it can be done sporadic on Google.

As a protégé you set a goal with your mentorship. And while having the relation, you are able to ask specific questions, reflect on the answers and try it out. After trying, new questions rice, and here comes the benefit of asking a mentor that know your case and background. 

We all have mentors, formal, informal, unconsciously and in different areas in life. Some inspire us with our carrier and on our dreams while others strength us as individuals. 

And what is more giving than giving? Receiving a grateful, moved or happy email or expression on a persons face, when what we did made a difference - it makes our effort worth while. Most mentors reap the gift of supporting their protégé through the different phases from questioning, frustration, trying and finally achieving. Only made possible from the fact that we shared!

Mentorship 2.0 - Open versus closed

In the analogue world mentorship relations are often initiated by a physical meeting and if continued it is a quite anti-social and confidential conversation between the protégé and mentor.  Creating Mentory made us question if the analogue process is the best way to run your mentorship. As a believer in sharing, participating and being open, I see the opportunity of evolving the mentorship towards this idealism. Which gave birth to the idea of Journster (spin-off to be revealed in details later).

When choosing your mentor or protégé, you judge based on chemistry, the goal and expectations. Some times you do choose wrong, finding it difficult to know what went wrong in the process. Was it the goal, the mentor or protégé response or your own ability to act upon the input. 

Making the mentorship and your goal open while broadcasting your questions, gives you instead multiple and varied answers to choose and act from. Remembering of course to pass on the experience you got based on the answers, to benefit others and continuing the sharing circle.

The challenge is barriers. Are we willing to reveal deeper goals, show our insecurity and lack of knowledge? In that case you can decide to close your mentorship, after validating the person(s) based on the broadcast response. 

The nature of an open mentorship may be based on skills, rather than chemistry and presence that defines the closed and analogue relation.

What type of mentorship would you choose? 

Mentory phase 2 - Spin-off

We launched Mentory on February 2. 2009. It was a really exciting day, and the positive response and help from our fellow tweeters was astonishing - thank you all! But launching also means full steam on bug fixing, improvements and further development based on all the user feedback.We decided to take a day out and work on the matchmaking process of a mentorship - the vital part of Mentory.

We experienced that we were drawn in two directions. 1 - developing a process that matches an offline mentorship. 2 - developing a process that supports online behavior i.e. redefining the mentorship. We want to support both, so we are enhancing the online process, integrating Mentory with other services, using API´s and then dada... we got a really neat idea since it is generic and supports the ideology of our other start-up concepts (the service former known as Journster.com - Jacobs brainchild).

Since we apparently are first movers I will only reveal a few details. We move towards semantic web, we observe synchronicity but yet we build and use services in a silo. This is basically what we want to change. In the futile search of a name, we discovered that one of our other start-ups, had the name we needed, so we took it - Journster.com.

For now we will improve Mentory in it´s first version, integrate video communication and then we will work on this new service to optimize the mentorship matchmaking.

We expect to launch it on Mentory within 2 months - so if you are up to become a beta tester please signup on journster.com