Plugg

Beta group meeting in Brussels: Ladies on Stage

Screenshot of Dell's web page I have just attended the European conference on web entrepreneurship, Plugg 2010, and here is another post in my Funky schmoozing category on the same topic.

The Beta group in Brussels was set up a year and a half ago, and its mission is to provide networking opportunities for Belgium-based entrepreneurs passionate about the web. An important part of each Beta group meeting is a series of short company pitches that web start-ups present to a usually sizeable audience of investors, geeks and other web folk.

And imagine this: over the past 18 months, 68 web start-ups have presented their projects on stage, and only two of them were represented by ladies! To address the situation, Jean Derely, the group's founder, came up with the brilliant idea of dedicating one of his Beta meetings exclusively to women entrepreneurs.

It will be on March 30th, and SCHMOOZY FOX is scheduled to be on stage too, with a presentation about specifics of branding for web start-ups. Register for the Ladies on Stage event on March 30th in Brussels here and see you soon!

Plugg 2010 conference in Brussels: March 11, 2010

Plugg2010

Last year, I attended the Plugg conference in Brussels for the first time, and I am happy I'll be going again this year. I found Plugg to be a great way to discover some promising web start-ups from around the world, and listen to venture capitalists and technology gurus talk about business opportunities on the web.

Given SCHMOOZY FOX'S brand and marketing strategy work for web start-ups, an event like Plugg is great chance to check out the fresh web talent out there. I guess this time around, Plugg will be a showcase of advanced technology and web apps. Will the participating start-ups be able to convince us of their commercial and marketing know-how as well? We'll find that out next week.

For those who are not familiar with this annual event, Plugg is a conference that brings together European web and technology start-ups and gives them a chance to pitch their business ideas to a panel of venture capitalists. It’s also an annual celebration of web entrepreneurship in Europe.

Check out the list of all the participating start-ups by visiting the Plugg site.

In order to get a sneak peak at this year's Plugg, I asked Robin Wauters (Plugg organizer, TechCrunch editor, serial

Robin Wauters, organizer of Plugg 2010

entrepreneur and simply an avid user of the web), to talk about the event.

SCHMOOZY FOX: Robin, is it still possible to register for Plugg 2010?

Robin Wauters: Yes, you can register until the day before the event, even. Readers of your blog can register with a 25% discount using the code plugg-25percent here: http://mijnevent.be/en/event/101/plugg-2010.

SCHMOOZY FOX:  How will Plugg 2010 differ from Plugg 2009? Obviously, there will be new start-ups and new speakers, but how else are you going to surprise us this year?

Robin Wauters: To be honest, it will be much of the same as last year. We think the formula works well, and we're really excited about the line-up of speakers and startups for this year. But always happy to receive suggestions from anyone who attends to see how we can improve the conference for next years.

SCHMOOZY FOX: Thanks for organizing this high-level event again this year, and I am looking forward to some schmoozing!

Robin Wauters: Likewise ;)

Celebrating European Entrepreneurship: Funky Brands at Plugg 2009

plugg-logoYesterday, I had a lucky chance to attend the Plugg 2009 conference in Brussels. For those who are not familiar with this annual event, it’s a conference that brings together European Web 2.0 start-ups and gives them a chance to pitch their business ideas to a panel of venture capitalists. It’s also an annual celebration of entrepreneurship in Europe. The event was organized by Robin Wauters, a well-known Belgian blogger and serial entrepreneur active on the Web 2.0 scene. The atmosphere of the venue was quite futuristic and incredibly geeky, with most of the attendees photographing the event with their iPhones, their MACs on their laps, with TweetDecks visible on the screens. It was simply cool to be there. Many in the audience attempted to engage in Q&A sessions with presenters via Twitter – that’s how geeky this stuff is! However, Mike Butcher, the UK TechCrunch editor, made sure the interaction within the audience was free-flowing, uninterrupted by Twitter-mediation.

I was there mainly to spot potentially funky online brands amongst the 20 presenting start-ups. Although fascinated by the technology behind some of the presented business ideas, I wanted to see which of the entrepreneurs would be capable of transforming their high-tech ideas into concepts understood by final consumers.

mendeley

And guess what? Although the majority of the 20 semi-finalists dwelled on technological superiority of their business models, the 3 finalists (Jinni, Myngle and Mendeley) were those whose business models:

1) Concentrated on the final customer and clearly explained their value proposition; 2) Didn’t make technology the driving force of their businesses, but simply an element required for strategy implementation; 3) Were either already profitable, or at least had a more or less clear idea about HOW to make money.

jinniFor the rest, it was surprising to see how much irrelevant stuff presenters put into their pitches – techie language, “we’re the best” messages with no supporting arguments. And almost NOBODY ever addressed this: how is my business going to bring value to my customers, and why would anybody care to pay for it? This basic stuff seems amazingly straightforward, but it didn’t come up in many presentations.

And now, the final word about the finalists. Myngle is an online language learning community (I could draw a lot of similarities between Myngle and busuu.com, which I covered in one of the previous posts), Jinni is a recommendation site dedicated to movies and other entertainment, and Mendeley (the winner of Plugg 09), launched by a bunch of PhDs is the platform which can be used for search and exchange of academic papers within the global academic community of researchers and scientists.myngle

Many thanks to Robin Wauters and Veronique Pochet for organizing this inspirational event. What I find most refreshing about the event is this: even in this chilly economic climate, there is still a bunch of enthusiastic individuals in Europe, who care about creating value and changing the world. And this is great news.