It breaks my heart to have to write this post but I’m not giving up on this mission – a read for technical founders who care about Asian representation

It breaks my heart to have to write this post but I’m not giving up on this mission. For the past 10 months, I’ve dedicated my life to building a platform where Asians can represent their unique story, show their personality and transcend stereotypes with the end goal of finding meaningful connections. In short, it would be a video dating app that celebrates the Asian experience.

I was determined to build this platform because I am a product of immigrants who was raised on western media and its negative portrayal of Asians. I’m doing this because I’m still hurting and recognize that we, the collective Asian community, are longing to heal from the generations of ancestral trauma and internalized racism.

We gathered a small group of talented and passionate individuals with the same passion, values, drive and mission to improve the lives of Asian individuals, and were just 2 weeks away from releasing the beta. Over 900 people have signed up to be beta testers and there was genuine excitement and support in the community about this product and our mission.

This all ended abruptly just a few days ago when our CTO was forced to pull out of the project due to unforeseen family reasons and extenuating circumstances. Now, we are left with 900 individuals who’ve been eagerly and patiently waiting for the app, an app that’s about 2 weeks away from beta stage completion and a small group of passionate individuals who want nothing more than to offer a better dating experience for Asian individuals. We’ve come to a standstill.

But we’re not giving up here. We’ve come too far and there is too much at stake – the possibility of helping Asians lead happier lives. As difficult as it was to find our original and amazing CTO, we’re again looking for a talented CTO and co-founder to continue our mission.

The app is built on Firebase and Flutter, and it’s pretty great – again, near public beta shape. We’re looking for a CTO and co-founder who is a senior full-stack developer with experience in mobile development and startups. The most important quality, however, is that this person is passionate about Asian representation and believes in a mission like ours. The team is working remotely so it doesn’t matter where you are. You would join for equity. (So this isn’t a job post.) We have no funding and don’t have any grand illusions of getting any at this stage without users or revenue. But money is not what drives us and it’s not why we’re doing this.

And if you’re curious, yes, we’ve done the research, the surveys, the interviews, the prototyping, the alpha testing. I can tell you straight out: Will all Asians want to use this app? NO. Some Asians don’t want to date other Asians and that’s their prerogative. We’re not here to convert anyone. But do Asians in general want a platform like this? YES. The majority of Asians do see the benefit and value in dating someone who comes from a similar experience and upbringing. And just because you’re on this app doesn’t mean you’re not open to dating non-Asians. And is the app sticky? Fuck ya.

We believe this is an app that has the potential to become the “TikTok” of Asian dating – a cool platform that everyone wants to join. Yeah, nothing like this has existed before so it’s hard for some to even imagine it. But 900 of you and many more that have reached out with support can see that vision and that possibility. This will be a platform where Asians can proudly celebrate our identity, culture and story, and, by telling our stories with compassion, love and empathy, allow ourselves to find self-acceptance and even, perhaps, love.

If you believe in a mission like ours and you’re interested in possibly joining our team or know anyone that might be, please tell them about www.alike.dating and tell them to message me at hello@alike.dating. Fingers crossed. Thank you.

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

10 most underrated pieces of advice for Startup founders

1. Consistency is key. Being consistent with how you show up every day and move the needle is half the battle. Whether you are marketing your business or you are iterating on your product/service offering, keep showing up each day and push to improve 1% from the day before. It all adds up and compounds over time.

2. When things feel like you're pushing a boulder up a hill all the time, I think it's fair to assume something fundamental needs to be changed.

3. If you want a chat feature on your product. Don’t build it. Just pay for a service that lets you add that feature to your product. This is especially good advice when you are still trying to get product-market fit.

4. Fall in love with the problem, not the solution.

5. Just launch. So simple, so true. And relaunch often by reiterating base on customer feedback.

6. Delegate. When businesses grow and mature, you can't handle everything, and more importantly: you can't do it as well as an expert. Then think of all the tasks you really don't like doing or aren't the best at, and start hiring to meet those needs.

7. Learn to enjoy the process, not the outcome.

8. Delayed gratification vs instant gratification. It is quite easy to do things for there's an instant reward/impact, but to do anything worthwhile, it will require focus and belief in delayed gratification (ex. icecream vs exercise). And things compounds – both bad and good.

  1. We always tend to overestimate what we can do in a day or a week, but combined with delayed gratification, the power of compounding can be really used to gain big wins.

10. Do the right thing always when you have to choose between right & easy.

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

10 key players shaping the path for BAME founders in Europe

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to many that the European tech scene is not known for its diversity. In a 2019 report on the state of diversity and inclusion in the sector, it was found that 84% of founders identified as white/Caucasian, highlighting how the industry continues to sideline those from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. 

But while European tech has traditionally struggled with diversity, there are organisations on the continent coming together to widen the opportunities afforded to those communities. Here are some of those initiatives working to create new opportunities, provide connections, and challenge the typical narrative across Europe. 

Colorintech – Founded in 2016, Colorintech is an award-winning nonprofit striving towards a more transparent and inclusive tech economy in Europe. The organization is known for its student programmes, working with governments, universities, VCs and tech companies to create opportunities for those from underrepresented communities. Colorintech boasts a community of 30k, with 1200 programme graduates so far – 84% being from BAME backgrounds. 

Witty CareersWitty Careers has one mission: to equip women from Black and Ethnic minority backgrounds with the skills to build a successful career in the UK tech industry. They achieve this through equipping women with the skills they need to secure full time roles in the industry, with practical skills workshops, mentorship, and talks at the likes of Microsoft and Uber. The Witty Careers team is made up of women with careers in the tech industry spanning 5-10 years, who are passionate about empowering the next generation of BAME women in tech. 

BYP network – Described by many as the “LinkedIn for Black professionals”, the BYP network connects ambitious future Black leaders for networking and job opportunities. They aspire to challenge the “Black narrative” by bringing together like-minded individuals through a job board, diversity conferences, as well as an app currently downloaded in 65 countries. BYP have also worked with top companies like Spotify, Accenture and Deloitte. 

Akwaaba Fest – Akwaaba Fest is a tech festival organised by and for people of African heritage in France, consisting of talks, workshops, live performances and more. Due to be held in 2021 in Paris, the festival objective is to offer an inclusive space, and will be preceded by future online events. The idea for the festival was borne out of the experience of organisers Tolúlọpẹ́ Ògúnrẹ̀mí and Awa Ndiaye created the festival   out of frustration with the lack of diversity in tech, and how this influences the technology being built.

Pangea Accelerator – Pangea is a Norwegian based accelerator programme and investment platform which matches African startups with investors. Located in Oslo, Pangea prides itself on creating an enabling environment, where African entrepreneurs develop business acumen, access valuable networks and capital to reach their full potential. 

Hustle Crew – Led by Abadesi Osunsade, this social enterprise works to promote inclusivity in the tech sector through talks, training and mentorship. The 5000+ strong careers community are focused on giving underrepresented individuals the skills required to thrive in biased and discriminatory workplaces. Hustle Crew have worked with companies like Brandwatch and Backed VC to help them build inclusive cultures with more diverse teams. 

Black in Tech Berlin – With a diverse population in a city where a startup is founded every 20 seconds, it makes sense that Berlin would have its own support system for Black developers and professionals. The community was founded by recruiter Kave Bulambo and later joined by Emmanuel Acquah, and welcomes everyone who is Black and working within Berlin and Germany’s wider tech scene to come together and share expertise within a strong community. BlackInTech Berlin also welcomes committed allies from outside the Black community. 

UKBlackTech  UKBlackTech is an independent organisation with ambitions reaching far beyond Europe – they’re striving to make the UK the most ethnically diverse tech ecosystem in the world. They target corporates, entrepreneurs, tech professionals and graduates, in a bid to connect BAME graduates and founders with the right opportunities, as well as recruitment agencies to help diversity their workforces.

10×10 – Andy Davis, director of accelerator Backstage Capital, has organised informal community 10×10 for around 120 Black founders and investors since 2015. Built up through word of mouth, the community brings the few Black people working in UK VC together, while Andy estimates spending a decent portion of his week advising members of the group on numerous elements on starting up. 10×10 now has its own WhatsApp group, which includes a dozen decision-making VCs.

Coders of ColourCoders of Colour is an organisation on a mission to empower young underrepresented people of colour to pursue a career in tech, by providing them with a safe space to learn, explore, and grow. They achieve this through a hands-on, supportive approach, running free coding workshops for young people, with subjects such as building a website or an app in a day. So far, they’ve trained over 2000 young people, with 90,000+ lines of code written!

For more information on this topic, check out our article ‘Meet the European VC firms funding overlooked founders‘.

EU-Startups

Creating complex web app with AWS for non technical founders?

Hi, I signed up for Y combinator startup school and saw they give a $ 3000 credit for AWS which is great. Is there some AWS function you know about that lets you build complex web platforms with zero programming knowledge? I heard about amplify but it is still kind of technical

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

VC Garry Tan shares 3 ways founders screw up their startups

There are many painful ways for a startup to fail — including founders who ultimately throw in the towel and turn off the lights.

But assuming a founder intends to keeps moving forward, there are a few pitfalls that Garry Tan has seen during his career as a founder, Y Combinator partner and, lately, co-founder of venture firm Initialized Capital.

During a fun chat during last week’s TechCrunch Early Stage, he ran us through these avoidable mistakes; for those who couldn’t virtually attend, we’re sharing them with you here.

 1. Chasing the wrong problem

This sounds insane, right? How can you be blamed for wanting to solve a problem?

Tan says people choose the wrong problem for a wide variety of reasons: Founders sometimes choose a problem that isn’t problematic for enough people, he said, citing the example of a hypothetical 25-year-old San Francisco-based engineer who may be out of touch with the rest of the country. When founders target the wrong problem, it typically means that the market will be too small for a venture-like return.

Startups – TechCrunch

Sherpa Founders Series: A Look Ahead – with Domain Industry Veteran & Serial Entrepreneur Richard…

 DomainSherpa.com: Serial entrepreneur and domain name industry veteran Richard Lau has been highly visible lately as he has been discussing his latest company, Logo.com. We discuss his background in the industry and his thoughts for the future!Any domain investors interested in the future of conferencing, will benefit from today’s show!
Domaining.com

10 Black startup founders in Europe to watch in 2020 and beyond

The current global conversation around systematic racism against Black communities is long overdue. Across industries and sectors, many are finally examining how they can challenge discrimination, foster greater inclusion in the workplace, and create more opportunities for Black talent.

But that doesn’t mean to say that the Black community hasn’t flourished on its own – on the contrary. Even in the notoriously white European tech sector, Black entrepreneurs have made waves across multiple industries, including beauty, agriculture, tourism and more.

Here are 10 promising Black entrepreneurs across Europe who are challenging the whiteness of the tech industry, developing successful new ventures against the odds, and creating a legacy of Black innovation on the continent.

Nana Addison – Born in Ghana and raised in Germany, the self-titled Afropean and tech entrepreneur Nana Addison has founded not one, but two of her own companies. Addison is the brains behind CURL, the creative agency behind CURL CON; Germany’s hair, beauty, and culture convention which caters to the textures and darker skin tones in the DACH beauty world. She is also building Stylindi, a booking and product shopping platform for the independent hair and beauty community, due to launch later this year.

Gerald Manu – Gerald Manu’s entrepreneurial tendencies started from an early age; he famously built his fashion business Devacci through selling crisps and drinks at school in Croydon, London, generating little more than £10 per day. Forward a few years and Devacci is a fully-fledged wearable tech brand, selling 1000s of his designs per month, with a dedicated team of five employees. You can find Devacci in a dedicated online store, and more recently, in the aisles of TK Maxx, who offered to stock the line.

Emilia Makosa – London-based entrepreneur Makosa has answered the call of Black women struggling with hyperpigmentation, with a complete cosmeceutical skincare collection catering exclusively to Black skin. After a struggle with acne, she founded Emeilleurq, a luxury skincare and lifestyle brand with a total of 13 products, ranging from cleansers, to toners, to spot treatments, and an intensive moisturizer. Officially released online from August 20th, the collection has already received rave reviews from customers during the pre-launch trial phase.

Martin Ijaha – Previously featured in our Black founders to watch list, Ijaha is the founder of Neyber, a fintech partnering with employers to let their staff borrow money at attractive rates. Several years after founding the company in 2013, Martin’s former employer, Goldman Sachs, even invested around €110 million in the company. More recently, Feyber has been acquired by Salary Finance.

Kike Oniwinde – Oniwinde is the founder and CEO of BYP network, an empowerment platform for ambitious Black professionals to network with one another and with corporations. Inspired by the talented Black students she met during her study abroad, the lack of diversity plus few opportunities to meet others in the city prompted the idea. Oniwinde has since won multiple awards for her entrepreneurial achievements, while in early July 2020, the BYP network also successfully surpassed its initial equity crowdfunding target on Seedrs.

Deborah Choi – The idea for Horticure came to Deborah in 2018. A Chicago native living in Berlin, she was trying to fill her apartment with beautiful, thriving greenery – and more crucially, keeping it all alive. Horticure connects plant owners with qualified and friendly horticulturalists to support issues affecting their plants, all with the aid of technology. The startup is supported by European Social Funds, Bosch, and Google for Startups, while Deborah herself has bagged a place on the BusinessWeek 25 under 25.

Wendy founder TeachKloudWendy Oke – Ireland-based Wendy is founder of TeachKloud, as well as an Ambassador for National Women’s Enterprise Day in Ireland. Wendy has a PhD in early childhood education, which inspired her with the idea to support educators in reducing their paper work and spend more time doing what they do best – teaching. This year we interviewed Wendy about her journey, in case you’d like to learn more about her edtech journey, how she closed funding and their next steps in scaling up into the UK and the US.

Kerrine Bryan – Bryan is a lead power systems engineer and founder of independent publishing house Butterfly Books. Passionate about the increased representation of women in STEM and tackling misrepresentations in the industry, the house publishes titles like Titles My Mummy is an Engineer, published in early 2020. The mission is to raise awareness among children at an early age of the career options available to them, which in turn can improve diversity and reduce skills gaps.

Kave Bulambo  After developing the idea after graduating, Bulambo founded My Career Path, a career coaching and employer brand development platform based in Berlin. The company’s mission is to prepare and empower young professionals with the critical skills they need to succeed in the modern job market while connecting them with the best employers. Alongside My Career Path and her current talent acquisition position at startup Pitch, Bulambo is also the founder of BlackInTech Berlin, a community of Black professionals working together to foster the representation, inclusion, and empowerment of Black people working in tech.

Jacqueline Ngo Mpii – While a trip to Paris might typically conjure up images of the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and the Arc de Triomphe, Mpii’s business offers something a little more unique. She is the founder of Little Africa, a cultural agency which helps individuals, associations and businesses to connect with the best of African culture in Paris. In addition to curated tours of Paris, Mpii has also published the City Guide to Little Africa in Paris, enabling those across the world to learn more about the African people, presence and influence in the French capital.

For more on this topics, check out our article, ‘Meet the European VC firms funding overlooked founders‘.

EU-Startups

Five key lessons from founders who launched social impact startups

From healthcare, to education, to human rights, tech has the potential to drive social impact at scale. In this moment of global pandemic, growing economic insecurity and an uprising against racial injustice, the need for scalable solutions is greater than ever. But there are lessons we’ve seen founders learn the hard way time and again.

In the spirit of reaching impact at scale faster, we rounded up our top five lessons to take to heart if you want to turn your world-changing idea into a tech nonprofit. Distilled from The Tech Nonprofit Playbook, a free guide to starting a social impact startup, we drew from the learnings of tech nonprofits whose work has transformed their sectors.

1. Get to know the problem intimately

You have a big idea. You’ve identified a social problem you can’t help but try to fix, and you think you just might have a world-changing, tech-driven solution. But you can’t solve the issue you’ve identified without a deep understanding of the community you’re serving. Not doing so is a recipe for failure. If you haven’t lived the problem, bring on a co-founder who has. Then, go meet others who have firsthand experience with the problem. Interview these individuals with a user-centered lens to allow insights and opportunities to reveal themselves.

To see this in action, consider Upsolve, the TurboTax for chapter 7 bankruptcy, helping low-income Americans recover from crippling financial crises. During their user research phase, the co-founders asked brick and mortar legal aid organizations for their waitlists, and passed out their cards in legal aid clinics where people were seeking help around debt lawsuits. These strategies enabled Upsolve to consider a broad sample of perspectives and develop a deep understanding of the problem from the users’ point of view. Don’t skimp on this — your user research should inspire and inform your initial product idea.

2. Build a tech for good product, but don’t start from scratch

Now, it’s time to put your product idea to the test by piloting a minimum viable product, or MVP — an early version of a product that surfaces learnings about your users with little effort. Your MVP needn’t be a fully fleshed-out product. In Upsolve’s case, it was a physical space where they helped users file for bankruptcy in real life. Run a small-scale pilot of your MVP to confirm, deny or alter your hypothesis. Once you’ve piloted your MVP for enough time that you’re confident you have a viable solution, it’s time to build a beta product.

To build your beta product, or an almost ready-to-launch product, leverage existing tech solutions to address your new use case — don’t start from scratch. For Upsolve, it was a Typeform, an online plug-and-play form. From less technical products like website and communication tools, to more technical ones like app development tools, databases and APIs, piecing together existing tech building blocks will drive your startup costs down and ultimately make it easier to maintain your product. With your solution out in the world, build user feedback into your product as you continue testing, refining and iterating to more closely serve your mission.

3. Learn the art of nonprofit judo

Being a tech nonprofit comes with a pretty unique set of advantages that, when leveraged, are what we like to call nonprofit judo. A critical nonprofit judo tactic is forging aligned partnerships with other organizations, funders and companies to create mutually beneficial relationships that drive sustainability for your tech nonprofit and increase user acquisition.

Take CareerVillage.org, which crowdsources career advice for millions of underserved youth. For the first few years, recruiting volunteers and fundraising each took a lot of the founding team’s time. But a solution arose when they learned that Fortune 500 companies were looking for easy and scalable volunteering programs for their employees. CareerVillage.org built a sustainable “earned income” revenue model centered around volunteering engagements for corporate employees.

This nonprofit judo has become a major driver of the organization’s rapid growth. Win-win.The Tech Nonprofit Playbook digs into more strategic advantages nonprofits can leverage, and shares real-world examples of nonprofit judo. Rather than going into your tech nonprofit journey imagining an uphill battle, turn the scenario around by tapping into the unique opportunities it presents.

4. Your people will make or break your organization

To achieve your mission, find the people who believe in your cause and can help you get there.

Most importantly, find a complementary co-founder early on who is either technical or an issue expert. Co-founders fill in each other’s gaps, distribute the work and build a strong foundation for the team.

Next, focus on hiring talented, mission-driven people (they exist!) who can help you build and scale. This doesn’t mean hiring as many people as possible once you have the funding for it — something CommonLit, the free reading platform for students, learned the hard way. After winning a $ 4 million grant, founder Michelle Brown raced to hire 15 people in 40 days. After the fact, Brown realized that you cannot hire people as individuals, you must hire a team. The individuals powering your organization will define what it becomes. Choose wisely.

5. Be intentional about how you measure impact

Impact is a tech nonprofit’s true north. Before you can get down to creating impact, you have to figure out your “who” and your “why,” or distribution ethics. Distribution ethics, the framework shared by Josh Nesbit, founder of Medic Mobile, is the concept that deciding who you are going to help and why they need your help over others is an ethical stance — and will impact everything you do as an organization.

When Nesbit first launched Medic Mobile, the organization was implementing healthcare tools in partnership with on-the-ground organizations. In doing so, he was providing tools to local partners who already had human and financial capital. Nesbit realized this framework wasn’t reflective of his moral stance — he wanted to help those with the least access to medical care. This realization helped him refocus the organization and redefine its product vision to serve those most in need. Since then, Medic Mobile has been building open-source tools that enable a decentralized network of community health workers to deliver effective last-mile healthcare. And it has made a huge impact: Last year, Medic Mobile supported a global network of 27,477 health workers, which provided more than 11 million services for their community.

As you grow, be intentional about how you measure your impact. Impact measurement dictates your organization’s architecture by aligning your work with the value you want to create for the world. It’s a critical practice that not only centers your output around your mission, but helps you raise support for your work through funding and partnerships.

Startups – TechCrunch

“I wish to inspire more female and unrepresented founders to join this tribe of challengers”: Interview with Roberta Lucca, co-founder of Bossa Studios games and BAFTA winner

Our interviewee for today is Roberta Lucca, a Rio-de-Janeiro-born, and now London-based, entrepreneur. She has been named in Forbes’ Top 50 Women in Tech, Top 30 Women in Games, and nominated by the Evening Standard as one of the Most Influential in Creative Arts. Not only that, she is also the co-founder and CMO of Bossa Studios, angel investor and keynote speaker on the future of games, entrepreneurship and leadership.

Bossa Studios is a London-based, VC-backed multimillion-dollar video games developer and publisher. It is known best for their category-defining games that are loved by millions of players, as well as the biggest influencers worldwide. Its first game, Monstermind, won the BAFTA award in the ‘Online–Browser’ category in February 2012.

Aside from being invited to speak at conferences and events, Roberta is very active on social media, and especially YouTube, where she gives advice to young entrepreneurs looking for practical lessons on leadership.

Thank you for joining is Roberta! Let’s dive into the basics first, how did you get started in the video games world?  

I started my career in technology and entertainment at the second-largest commercial TV network in the world (Rede Globo). What excited me most about the company was the immense possibilities to trigger people’s emotions – make them laugh, smile, connect with fictional worlds created by some of the best writers, directors, actors. But also, how interactive media can make you feel you belong to a tribe of like minded people who share the same experiences as you do.

After a stint in working in the mobile and luxury industries at Nokia’s luxury subsidiary, I wanted to join the industry that was creating entertainment for the future, future thinkers, future generations. I loved playing games as I was growing up but the games industry lost me for a few years, when games became a “gamers’ hobby”. In 2010 when I started Bossa Studios, games were opening up again to new audiences. It was the moment the likes of FarmVille and Minecraft started conquering people’s minds and hearts.

Bringing my innovation and marketing background to a games company, and joining two incredibly seasoned games makers, was all I needed to jump out of the corporations and venture into the unknown.

Have you seen an increase in the popularity of video games, during the last few months of the pandemic?  

Absolutely. Not only that, I’ve seen how much games are now evolving to become amazing social networks where people come for the game play and stay for the community, and connection. Look at Fortnite bringing a massive Travis Scott show to its players (watched by 12 million people!) or Roblox allowing more and more players to co-create experiences.

The same is happening at Bossa. In August, we’re launching Surgeon Simulator 2, the reinvention of our biggest IP, loved by millions of players and thousands of YouTubers/Streamers. 

In Surgeon 2, you can play and create together. It’s not only about laughing on your own or at your favourite YouTuber anymore, it’s about feeling fully connected with a community of creators making incredible things happen in real time.

What new innovations do you see for the future of gaming in the next 5-10 years, for example regarding transmedia storytelling e.g. video games choices in films?

Bandersnatch, the interactive series, which was part of Black Mirror, gave us a glimpse of how TV and Movies are looking at ways to make their medium more engaging and attractive to new generations. Gen Z are born gamers, they are used to having an active role when it comes to consuming entertainment. When playing a game, you decide what to do next, which bubble to pop, which monster to kill, which path to take to discover the world you’re in. That’s so different from passively consuming a movie. 

So when I look at the future of entertainment, we have to consider how our brains are evolving to desire experiences that make us feel truly connected with each other. Not isolated in a world, but bridging between online and offline in a seamless way. What we’ve been seeing with parties and events transitioning to online during the pandemic, this is only the beginning and a very clunky way to connect still. 

At the same time, in a world where our anxiety levels are increasing, I see games being created to trigger the oxytocin (our “love” hormone), as opposed to dopamine (our “drive” hormone), becoming more and more relevant.

What tips do you have for gaming startups on branding and online presence, especially post-COVID?

Consumers are overwhelmed with content so finding a way to capture their attention is the best piece of advice I can offer. Generally, attention spans are getting shorter so brands need to find a way to cut through the noise, create an emotional engagement and monetise an audience.

The good news (for Bossa at least) is that companies who lead with authenticity, with the ability to adapt and iterate content, can swing their sails to catch the winds of trends in the attention economy and really succeed!

When you were little, did you ever think that you’d be between the Top 50 Women in Tech and amongst the Most influential in Creative Arts? What does it mean to you aside from being an incredible career achievement? 

The word that my parents and cousins used to use to describe my behaviour as I was growing up is ‘challenger’. My motivation to start new companies, start a YouTube channel, a podcast or become a better keynote speaker or leader was never to win a prize but to provoke change, spark new perspectives, new ways of seeing the world. 

I’m absolutely thrilled and humbled to get those accolades. But for me, the meaning of it is about opening doors and ears for people to see you can be whoever you want to be. Everyone can challenge the rules of the world and how society wants us to behave. It’s all about being open to embrace changes, and following your curiosity.

What advice would you give to someone that wants to dive into the video gaming world?  

If you want to be a games creator, make a game. All the tools are free or easily accessible nowadays. If you want to learn the basics of game design, the best book to read is A Theory of Fun, but learning about psychology can also give you so much edge. 

If your passion is to be a games artist or games marketer, pick a game you love and re-create its characters or universe, or make an incredible video or social media strategy to launch that game. Then go to LinkedIn or Twitter and find the studio behind that game. Send them what you’ve got. Showing your work and passion means so much more than saying you can do it.

Having won a BAFTA is an incredible career achievement, congratulations. Do you see awards shows like the Golden Globes or the Oscars introducing a Video Gaming section in the future? 

I can’t see why not! When Gen Z becomes the new leaders and directors driving decisions about these awards, I truly hope they challenge the status quo and bring new and adapted-to-the-new-world-categories into these Awards. 

We noticed you run a YouTube channel giving advice to ambitious founders. Could you tell us about the more standout failures/learnings? 

I fail every day. All founders do. We’re half scientists, half artists. That’s how our brain gets wired once you become an entrepreneur. Scientists and artists know that only after hundreds of experiments and ugly paintings you can truly achieve something good or have an ‘a-ha’ moment, or find your unique style. It’s hard, because only a few people see failures or constant change as incredible opportunities to learn. 

When I started my YouTube channel, I was craving to show the world the real behind the scenes of the life of an entrepreneur. I don’t know if all my videos showed that, but certainly the one founders empathised with most was the story of the break-up with one of my business partners in a business I started that I ended up closing after a couple of years. 

These hurdles don’t get discussed and while I went through a massive pain during the process, I was told in confidence by more seasoned founders that this happens more often than we know. 

With my new podcast Hyper Curious (launch on 30th July) I want to unveil the areas we don’t speak about, chew the fat and get to the realities of the life story of those leaders in their industry. I want to demystify the perception of success being someone on the cover of the magazine. It takes lots of hard work and courage and discomfort to fail in order to succeed.

Video games have always been something more directed to the male, white, cis audience. Have you seen a change in that in the last few years? 

Millenials and Gen Z are much more committed to fight the big problems we have in the world – be it climate change, BLM, diversity, sexism, depression, etc. As they enter the workplace or start their own games studio, they want to be on the driving seat of this change. And the leaders of today have the duty to listen to them, to do things differently, and create worlds and characters that do represent the wide range of the 2.7 billion gamers in the world. Games are media, and so we do have an opportunity to shape how people see the world. 

How is it for you to be a female founder in the video gaming world? 

I feel I have a big responsibility to be the role model I never had. My role models are my mom (who’s a massive high achiever) and people like Bjork, David Bowie and Maya Angelou. People who dare (or dared) to be original, who found their voice, who influenced millions of people to reinvent themselves. They show it’s possible to defy the constraints of what society expects from you. And I find this so much more inspiring than lots of business leaders in our current world. 

Being the odd one out as I grew in my career and now as a female founder has been lonely at times, required me to develop a really tough skin, and sometimes accept that people will perceive me as pushy (instead of assertive or driven). So I wish I can inspire more female (and other unrepresented) founders to join this tribe of challengers and be brave to create the new world they want to live in. 

EU-Startups

Former SoundCloud founders launch e-bike subscription service, backed by BlueYard

You’ve heard of e-bike and e-scooter rental startups spreading across cities. But today three veterans of the startup world will launch what appears to be a brand new take on the “e-revolution” sweeping cities in the wake of the global pandemic: subscription e-bikes, or, if you will, “EaaS” or “E-bikes-as-a-Service.” The previous founders of SoundCloud and Jimdo will today launch Dance, a new subscription e-bike service, backed by a stellar lineup of European investors.

The invite-only program kicks-off first in Berlin, with an all-inclusive service package of a €59-a-month “introductory price” and its own design of e-bike. The founders’ goal is to emphasize the community aspects of the rental service, just as they did with SoundCloud.

Dance is co-founded by SoundCloud founders Eric Quidenus-Wahlforss and Alexander Ljung, together with the co-founder of Jimdo, Christian Springub. While Quidenus-Wahlforss and Ljung are best known for co-founding SoundCloud more than 10 years ago as CTO and CEO, respectively, Quidenus-Wahlforss is taking the CEO role this time, while Ljung will be chairman. Ljung remains chairman of SoundCloud in the meantime.

The main institutional backer is Berlin-based VC BlueYard Capital, together with entrepreneurs and investors such as Ilkka Paananen (founder & CEO Supercell), Jeannette zu Fürstenberg (La Famiglia), Kevin P. Ryan (founder & CEO, AlleyCorp), Neil Parikh (founder & CSO Casper), Bjarke Ingels (founder & CEO BIG Architects) and several others.

Here’s how it will work: Users will download an app and register for the service. A fully assembled e-bike is delivered to a subscriber within 24 hours. If the bike needs maintenance or gets stolen, the user alerts Dance via the app and the bike is replaced “immediately.” That’s more or less it. Here’s the current design of the bike:

Image Credits: Dance

However, a specially designed Dance e-bike will look closer to this rendering at launch:

Image Credits: Dance

Quidenus-Wahlforss, co-founder and CEO of Dance said: “Dance means having a state-of-the-art e-bike always and only available to you, but without the hassle of buying and owning it… Dance is the perfect solution for those who are looking for a healthy, environmentally friendly, time-saving and joyful form of mobility.”

“We are convinced that Dance provides the missing piece of the puzzle at the right time to accelerate a broad and lasting movement from individual car ownership to daily use of e-bikes,” he added.

The startup notes that 45% of Germans are interested in owning an e-bike, while the European market is projected to double by 2025, according to some estimates.

This could be a disruptive moment in the e-bike space. E-bikes are generally considered the fastest and most efficient means of individual urban transport on routes up to 10 kilometres, but the pandemic has put new emphasis on their utility.

But with an average purchasing price of €2,300, e-bikes can be expensive and have a higher probability of being stolen, leaving many consumers out of the market.

At the same time, more than 930 kilometres of new cycling infrastructure have been implemented in Europe since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has shifted populations away from “risky” public transport.

Ljung commented: “You save time and you save the environment. You exercise, but you don’t sweat. And besides that, riding an e-bike is simply joyful. Music was one of the first industries to experience the shift from ownership to subscription. At SoundCloud we helped usher in this transformation… Now we want to transfer this experience to the mobility space and start a movement that will ultimately make our cities more livable.”

Springub added: “We have carefully analyzed the mobility market in the past years and we are deeply concerned that despite the new options out there and the clear necessities set by climate protection, car ownership continues to be high, along with all its negative implications such as congestion and pollution.”

Startups – TechCrunch