Entrepreneurship

Reading today how GILT was acquired for $250M (after raising over $286M from VC), how Living Social imploded or Groupon...

Inability to scale, outsourcing, and customer acquisition costs are among the many challenges entrepreneurs face within the first few years of a startup’s operations. A 2012 University of Tennessee study revealed that 25% of startups failed in their first year, 36% failed in their second year, and 44% failed in their third year. With my second startup, Alidoo.com, I joined the ranks of first-year failures within eight months. Alidoo was the European equivalent of Pets.com — a hub of commerce, content and community for pet owners. Alidoo was founded during the height of the internet bubble. Back then, an average of 311 companies went public each year in the U.S. compared to 102 per year since. This was a great time for internet startups and Alidoo was no different. We raised millions of Euros only 30 days into operations. We went from 0-60 employees in roughly six months, and all of a sudden, we were like celebrities being interviewed on TV. Unfortunately, roughly 60 days after our TV appearance, the dot-com bubble burst and the market crashed. I was 28 years old. At the time, I thought it was the end of my life. I thought I would never do anything else. One of the most important life lessons I learned during this time was that as an entrepreneur, you need to be friends with failure. Despite the pain I experienced at the loss of my compnay, this failure gave me everything I had today. Without Alidoo, I never would have gotten my job at LVMH, which was at the time seeking internet entrepreneurs to help their organization innovate. I might not have ever realized my dream to live abroad in the U.K. and then in the U.S. More importantly, it helped me to discover failure at an early age, and it forced me to learn to work through it and eventually even embrace it, no matter how devastating.
In one year, the production of plastic bottles requires millions of barrels of oil, according to The Earth Policy Institute. The transportation of bottled water from its source to stores releases thousands of tons of carbon dioxide and Americans alone purchase 29 billion bottles of water per year, the production of which requires 17 million barrels of crude oil. The recycling rate for those 29 billion bottles of water is only 13 percent. Quite daunting if you consider that it takes centuries (!) for plastic bottles to decompose. Luckily, Ingrid Vaca Diez, a Bolivian entrepreneur and architect, has come up with an amazing idea to solve one of her nation’s most pressing issues (as well as a problem that could ultimately benefit the planet). With more than 40 percent of the Bolivian population living below the poverty level, and the government incapable of providing affordable and livable homes to everyone in need, Diez turned empty plastic bottles into inexpensive housing.
Startups are extremely important to the business ecosystem and can have significant impact on the way the world lives. Job creation, technological innovation and community activism are some of startups’ major contributions to society. On average, one-year-old companies create nearly three million jobs, while ten-year-old firms generate only 300,000, according to data from a 2010 Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation study. Startups represent about 10 percent of all U.S. companies – 500,000 out of five million total — and create an average of three million jobs every year, whereas all the other existing companies combined lose a net one million jobs, revealed data compiled by the 2011 Economic Report of the President. Unfortunately, limited access to capital is crippling startups. Despite a lot of liquidity in the market, early stage companies struggle to raise enough capital at a competitive price. The second issue is a dearth of talent in IT and marketing. Because the growth of the digital economy has been faster than the capacity for schools to train new talent, there is a shortage of engineers and programmers for the many companies who must compete for their skills and support. Thirdly, access to technology has made the barrier-to-entry extremely low for many digital media businesses, which means that innovation is quickly met with copy-cat competitors.
As I am getting ready to leave Singapore after spending 5 days at the World Entrepreneurship Forum, it's time to look back and ask myself the question "What did I witness?". entrepreneur_forum_01 In a constantly changing world, where communications between people are easier than ever, are frequent and often overwhelming or lacking a true meaning, it has been refreshing to sit in a room with 150 world entrepreneurs, top leading educators and politics. Sometimes it only take one word, one meeting, to may be change the way millions are living.