Inside Cleantech – S2E2 – Insights of a Green Entech Technologist – Interview with Andrew Eisenberg

Inside Cleantech – S2E2 – Insights of a Green Entech Technologist – Interview with Andrew Eisenberg

First appeared on Cleantech Geek | link

Be Bold. Make the Change. Have a meaningful Impact.

At this series we discuss with experts, senior executives and influencers from the Cleantech and Renewable Energy Industry as well as from the Entrepreneurship and Investment World. Find out about their opinions on the future of Green Entech and Cleantech, get their insights on opportunities & risks, discover the secrets of successful businesses & ventures, learn from their successes and failures.

On this interview, I am discussing with Mr Andrew Eisenberg, CEO at Green IT Energy Applications. Andrew, is giving us his opinion on critical subjects as a technology provider for the last 20 years in the USA. Green IT, has been a pionner in developing technologies specifically designed for the Renewable Energy Industry. Green IT provides end-to-end data capture and management systems on Solar, Wind, Storage and Hydro across North America. Filmed with Zoom in an isolation environment due to COVID-19 pandemic, Andrew and I, are discussing about his journey and the current state of the solar PV industry in the US, the importance of Cybersecurity and critical fact data acquisition, validation and analysis for the Renewable Energy Industry. Get Andrews personal view on how data are critical for the decision making in an unsubsidised environment and how he sees the new normal for him, his team and the wider industry in the aftermath of COVID-19.

Please watch the video and leave your comments below! Don’t forget to subscribe and like!

The Cleantech Geek YouTube channel has been created out of the need to understand the drivers behind the Energy Transition and the necessity to move towards a sustainable economy. Entrepreneurs, innovation and startups will be at the forefront being the early adopters, the pioneers, the disruptors... Join us on this Journey!

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Spread the message. Be Part of the Clean Revolution!

 


An Angel's Insights, Investing in a crisis | Interview with Angelica Morrone

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SL0dJC3INHw&feature=emb_title

An Angel's Insights, Investing in a crisis | Interview with Angelica Morrone

First appeared on Cleantech Geek | link

Be Bold. Make the Change. Have a meaningful Impact.

Cleantech Geek – Inside Cleantech Series – Series 2 : Episode 1 – At this series we discuss with experts, senior executives and influencers from the Cleantech and Renewable Energy Industry as well as from the Entrepreneurship and Investment World. Find out about their opinions on the future of Green Entech and Cleantech, get their insights on opportunities & risks, discover the secrets of successful businesses & ventures, learn from their successes and failures.

On this interview, Ypatios Moysiadis discusses with Angelica Morrone, Fund Manager and Angel Investor in Impactful Ethical Ventures. Angelica, is a co-founder of an asset management company which to date has invested and managed a coumpounded USD 2 billion and over the years she has built a private real estate portfolio worth USD 90 million. She is an active Angel Investor for the last 20 years.

Angelica offers a unique insight into the mind of an Angel investor. She gives us her insights on the current unprecedented situation, how the investors are reacting, which industries are considered safe bets for the future and how entrepreneurs and business should react in the situation. Filmed with Zoom in an isolation environment due to COVID-19 pandemic, Angelica and Ypatios, are discussing about her journey and her decision to invest in impactful ventures through various platforms like Venture Tinkers, how can startups raise money in a crisis and what are the lessons learned from profound time in human history.

Please watch the video and leave your comments below! Don’t forget to subscribe and like!

The Cleantech Geek YouTube channel has been created out of the need to understand the drivers behind the Energy Transition and the necessity to move towards a sustainable economy. Entrepreneurs, innovation and startups will be at the forefront being the early adopters, the pioneers, the disruptors... Join us on this Journey!

See more videos on the YouTube Channel

Spread the message. Be Part of the Clean Revolution!

 


The importance of being ANGEL(ed)

The importance of being ANGEL(ed)

Let’s start from the definition: an angel investor is someone who invests in a new or small business venture, providing capital for start-up or expansion. Angel investors are typically individuals who have a good tolerance for risk, cash available and are looking for a higher rate of return than traditional investments and for companies aligned with tier values or interests. An angel investor return objective is usually in excess of 25 percent.

Angel investment, its most seen occurrence, takes the form of equity financing, whereby the investor’s money is exchanged for an equity position in the company. The valuation used to determine the equity share is a most important subject worthy of its own space.

Angel investors fill in the gap between the small-scale financing provided by family and friends and venture capitalists. Angel Investors can be found everywhere, however they do not advertise and flaunt, which makes it a bit tricky to locate the investor that is interested in your sector and that whose personality is right for you.

Pros and Cons

Getting funded with angel money is a bit like entering into a marriage.  Like any partnerships, it has clear advantages and a few disadvantages.

The big advantage is that funding from an angel investor is much more stable than debt.  Angel Investors do not expect the investment to be paid back in the event of business failure. Even more importantly, most angel investors understand business and take a long-term approach and view. Furthermore, every time an angel investor decides to cut the proverbial check, they are surely investing but also looking to have a positive impact on the venture they are financing.  Most angels invest in sectors that they know or that they feel a kinship with.  With the funding, they also bring to the table their competence, connections and experience.

One disadvantage may be that most angel investors will want to have a say in the strategic direction of the company and in the steps that the management team intends to take to reach their goals.  This may feel like a constraint only if the fit with the investor was not right from the beginning, or if the communications from the entrepreneur is not transparent.

Moreover, it is important to know and to consider what an angel investor usually looks for and whether your venture is in the position to fill those needs.

Criteria of Investibility:

  1. Return – every investor looks for a solid return, they know that the risk is high, hence it’s worth taking only if the potential return is higher than what can be achieved with traditional investment channels.
  2. Reason – every person has different reasons to invest. However, they can be divided in 3 categories: economic, hedonistic and altruistic.  The hedonistic type gets excited in being part of the creation of something new, while the altruistic looks for an investment opportunity aligned with her/his values and that has a positive impact.  Ensure that you know who you are taking to and pitch accordingly!
  3. Team – any early stage investor attributes as much or more value to the management team as to the product or service. The management team has to be dedicated, competent, trustworthy and knowledgeable.  The right mindset will be looked for.
  4. Business Plan – Even at an early stage, an investor will want to see a well devised business plan, it is a way of showing your vision. A business plan is both the roadmap to the vision and the binoculars to see the final outcome.
  5. Investment readiness – while there are different modes of investment, you must ensure that you have thought about your ask and your give, that you have a basic investment memorandum ready before you speak with an investor.
  6. Involvement – as I mentioned before, most angel investors are looking for an opportunity to contribute their skills and connections. Be prepared to offer something that allows for this to happen.
  7. Exit – Even if they take a long term view, investors will want to see certain timeframes and an exit strategy.

In conclusion, like any relationship, establishing a relationship with an angel investor requires work and involvement in order to be profitable and fulfilling.

In my book, Invisible to Investible, What your investors want, I go into more details about the topic.

 

By Angelica Morrone, Partner at Venture Tinkers


6 Major Points to remember when planning for Mobile Device Management in the working environment

Smartphones and tablets have changed the way we operate, the way we work and the way we communicate, both in the work environment and in our everyday lives.

The strategies towards new technological applications that providers and hardware companies are enforcing as well as the bohemian bourgeois lifestyle that the Western World is adopting (see Steve Jobs and Elon Musk) leads to deep penetration of the market and adoption of mobile devices from consumers.

This change in behavior alters the ways that information is transmitted, stored and managed. So much so that companies are forced to develop a corporate policy towards the use of Mobiles and tablets in the workplace.

The guidelines below are the basic lines of policy formation in which any corporation should address this issue.

  1. A Plan: Change is upon us – we need to embrace our changing environment and plan ahead to how we can adopt corporate technological tools and procedure to maximise on and create new opportunities through this changing phase. In this instance, a flexible and adaptable plan is absolutely paramount before the implementation of any such process or system.
  2. A Platform Choice – In the current market there is an overwhelming choice of different devices with different operating systems and different capabilities (see Apple OS, Google Android, Microsoft Mobile Windows, Blackberry, etc). Each operating system is suited to different uses and to the different attitudes of user, so it is only natural that employees make their personal choice of the device and platform they wish to use. Adapting a cross-platform policy for any data or applications you are going to introduce within the working environment means that your employees will be able to work more efficiently and effectively with an operating system that suits them personally. However; in order to implement this change, employers must first make sure that devices are compatible with the systems they use as a business.
  3. A Secure System – If your business deals with sensitive data then you simply must be aware of the risks that come with online devices. Security is a top concern when dealing with many devices and operating systems. Each one of them or each combination has its own security problems and threats. Adopt data security policies, use data encryption, install backup systems, use user authentication and match devices to individuals. Make your employees part of the solution and train them in order to understand the risk and the threats associated with sensitive data.
  4. An Opportunity – People, processes and deliverables: these points represent an opportunity. Businesses must identify the opportunities with which they are presented regarding mobile devices. How can mobility positively help the communication between team members of your company? How can this new technology empower the creation of virtual teams and monitoring of production and projects?; Can your business processes positively change by adopting mobility?; Can you save time and improve coordination?; What about your deliverables – How can mobility help you track production and quality as well as get live feedback from your stakeholders, your employees, your suppliers and your customers. There are legitimate opportunities in technology that will present you with solutions to these problems.
  5. A Simplified Strategy – Ask your employees how the adaptation of mobile devices can be simplified and help them in their everyday work and communication. Actively involve them in order to reduce the resistance to change and avoid adding initial complexity to their working environment. Facilitate different technologies and remember that not everyone is a “techie” Help them keep up with the technology that you are adopting, train them properly, give them the time to swallow changes and provide them with the means to update their devices and applications regularly and when applicable.
  6. A Mobile Device Management System. What to choose? – There are many options when it comes to Mobile Device Management systems; Choose your supplier and your provider very carefully. There are no magic solutions here. If you have identified the need to implement a mobile device management system but you are not proficient with the technology and the different solutions outsource this task to a specialist consultant or hire accordingly. Keep in mind that solutions that worked for others businesses will not necessarily to work for you. I would argue that the biggest gamble in adopting software like this is not the platform you choose, but the way in which you position it with your employees to ensure uptake. Choose an open source flexible solution that can manage cross platform application regardless of the devices used by your people and of their physical location.

Culture, ethics and perceptions are changing faster than we can adapt. I remember meeting the CEO of a listed company in London, over a casual coffee after a simple phone call both wearing jeans and t-shirts. Ten years ago you would need to pass through 3 secretaries and arrange a meeting 3 months in advance to see such an individual at his gentlemen’s only club wearing your Savile Row suit.

The same principle of cultural change applies to mobile device management. In an era of constant technological evolution, it’s simply Do Adapt or Die.

By Ypatios Moysiadis, first appeared on http://cleantechgeek.com/2017/03/mobile-device-management-embracing-change-in-the-working-environment/ 


8 Reasons why Small businesses and Startups fail

8 Reasons why Small businesses and Startups fail

By Ypatios Moysiadis, first appeared on Cleantechgeek.com

“Failure is the opportunity to more intelligently begin again…”

Henry Ford

Today I’m going to explain to you what I see to be the essence of failure management and this is how failure should be managed by entrepreneurs and businesses.

Learn from your mistakes and make them part of your business experience. Try not to repeat them and always try to accumulate knowledge from more experienced professionals or experts. The attitude “I know best for my business” in most cases simply, doesn’t work.

An analyst can classify the reasons for a startup and SME failure in multiple categories. Here I am going to try and present the most common and logical.

  • How big are you?– The size of each given organization is closely related to the failure rate. In general the bigger the better. This is due to many reasons. For example the number of employees is an indicator of a healthy company with steady growth rate, competitive and better positioned in the market, with larger market share. There is also the “Critical Mass” factor. Some companies are just too big to fail. Just see how the banking sector was bail out during the last crisis in 2008
  • How long have you been around?– The age of the business is again a critical survival factor. The important dates to watch out are the first year, the third year and the fifth year. Within this time period, if you survive, you probably gone through all the “childish diseases” that start-ups and small SMEs face. Sales problems, identity problem, market positioning problems, staffing problems and funding problems. Normally after the first five years you are ready to capitalize on your customers, your network and your business. It goes without saying that after 5 years you are no longer a start up.
  • Which is your main business sector?– An old story when it comes to business failures. The same conditions and the same rules do not apply in every business sector. Take for example the 2008 financial crisis. The first sectors to go were service based sectors (like banking, insurances, advertisement, media) in addition to real estate and automotive sectors i.e. sectors that are consider growth driven. In comparison businesses operating within Energy, Food and Health sectors managed to limit their losses. This is due to the fact that in any crisis survival instincts are kicking in, resulting in spending just for the essentials. Good examples on both sides of the fence are the Royal Bank of Scotland which was saved by the UK government as part of a massive £37 billion bailout deal (as of August 2015, UKFI has a 73% stake in the bank) and Costa Coffee UK’s leading coffee shop chain, which in April 2013 reported an annual revenue growth of 24% with 44 quarters of consecutive revenue growth!
  • Where are you geographically based?– Another critical factor for business failures is the actual place of operations. Countries play a vital role on the development, growth or failures of businesses. Take as example the ongoing economic crisis in the so called P.I.G.S. (Portugal, Ireland, Greece & Spain) countries. Companies in those countries are more vulnerable to failure despite their sector, their size and their age. The reason is that the affected economic environment is changing the consumer behavior trends, investor’s confidence and disrupts financial transactions. For example in 2015 Microsoft cancelled a major new investment in Greece despite their initial pledge to support the technology sector of the country. Coca Cola Hellenic Bottling company Greece’s biggest quoted company left the country in favour of London and Switzerland. Many companies regardless of their size and industry followed by migrating to neighboring Bulgaria and other EU countries or stopped their operations.
  • What are the economic conditions in which you operate?– Closely related to the previous point. You need to be aware of the macro and micro economic environment in which you operate. Nothing is for granted. Be aware how things around you, can affect your business and insure your survival. Taking examples of the recent events, if you are in the green business you are probably going to see a potential growth due to the recent decisions at COP21, the shift of consumer behavior to more sustainable products and services and the recent environmental and nuclear catastrophes. If you are heavily depended on the US market a potential second financial crisis (debt management problems) will affect your customers and can put you out of business, if your suppliers are from Middle East you will probably face supply problems due to the ongoing conflicts, etc.
  • Who is the boss?– This has to do with the capabilities of the people that manage the business. Especially in start-ups and SMEs the abilities and the personal attributes are of essence. The previous experience, the track record, the education and immediate personal environment (family and friends) can play a catalytic role on the survival or failure of a business.
  • Show me your colleagues!– Essentially show potential investors the team, the people who you work with. The team spirit and the team chemistry are important in small sized businesses where multitasking is an everyday occurrences, narrow roles do not exist and the importance of every individual for the team’s success is critical, “…the chain is as strong as its weakest link”
  • What do you sell?– How mature or innovative is your product or service? What you sell, when do you sell it and what is the perception of the market for your product/service can make you or break you! Examine innovative companies with products ahead of their time. Example, the electric cars – the demand is minimal due to price, the non-existing support networks and the infancy level of the technology. So the product is not as yet ready to be mass produced and accepted by the market, despite the noble efforts of TESLA and a few others. However as supportive networks and rapid charging points become available and the technology progresses your product will become more relevant to the market needs.

So always be prepared to make corrections and adjustments to your business model. Try to build up a diversified customer base and try to exploit the biggest advantages you have as an SME; flexibility and the ability to adapt to the market needs.

Always plan to face the worst case scenario. Remember No Plan or Policy can be formulated for any given startup or SME without a fundamental understanding of the importance of business failure.

And to sum up as I started – “… The single reason companies fail is they over invest in what is as opposed to what might be…” quote by Gary Hamel – Business Thinker

Ypatios Moysiadis


The Trap of Pitching for Investment – Why you should Start selling & Stop pitching

 

The Trap of Pitching for Investment – Why you should Start selling & Stop pitching

This post first appeared on Cleantech Geek: http://cleantechgeek.com/2019/11/the-trap-of-pitching-for-investment-why-you-should-start-selling-stop-pitching/

This presentation is conducted by our partner, Ypatios Moysiadis and uploaded on his personal blog. Make sure to check out the blog for interviews, opinions and insights on sustainability and entrepreneurship! Combining articles, video and podcasts he intents to provide the stage for creative thinking and constructive discussions. http://cleantechgeek.com/

At this video I am presenting about a common mistake that many early stage startups do. We see more early stage startups concentrating on pitching for investment, running from pitching event to pitching event and completely neglecting sales, which is the only thing that will sustain them and allow them to grow. Furthermore market validation through sales is guaranteed to bring in investors. I am also giving away practical examples and tips for sucessful sales. So my advice, before you start looking to raise investment capital, validate your idea through the market and start selling! Big thank you to Daniel Priestly, Andrew Priestly and the Dent Global team (https://www.dent.global) for their support and executive training over the past 12 months.

Event: START-UP Pitching Workshop: 11 September 2019 | City University, CASS Business School Organised by: Talks.dev Hosted by: CASS Entrepreneurs Network Presenter: Ypatios Moysiadis – Cleantech Geek – Coach, Mentor, Angel

Please watch the video and leave your comments below! Don’t forget to subscribe and like!


Can Disruptive Innovation and Start-ups provide the new “Miracles” tackling Climate Change?

Climate Change is a Fact. The world has just begun to understand and feel the magnitude of the damage caused in economic, social and environmental terms.

Unfortunately the time of the Prophets are long gone. No one can really predict the impact that climate change will have in our lives. Nobody can predict how the rise in temperature from greenhouse gases and the changes in weather patterns and precipitation will affect different areas in the world. There are many unknown variables and much to learn about the effect of climate change in agriculture production, economic activities and our health. Furthermore we need to ask ourselves whether the consequences of climate change or the threat of them can cause far worse problems and even violence.

Climate Change, Sustainable Energy, Water Harvesting, Food Security, Urban Farming, Energy Poverty, Energy Storage are buzz phases we hear every day in our lives. Do they actually mean anything, do they have an effect on how we interact with each other and the environment, on how we live our lives? Or they are just an intuitive way for the commercial establishment to push more products or demand more money from our societies?

Well the answer, whether we like it or not is simple. All of the above are effecting millions of people not only on the developing countries but also on modern developed western economies. Everything is interconnected.

As this is a very broad argument it would be useful to focus our attention to two major variables that are both causes and consequences of Climate Change. Energy Poverty and Food Security are major drivers for emissions of greenhouse gases from developing and 3rd world countries.  According to Harvard Researchers the emissions trajectory depends greatly on poor countries with the expected fastest annual growth through to 2024.

We only need to take a glance at the infographics below to understand the magnitude of the problem.

And if the facts and figures cannot persuade you, maybe the “Terminator” with his strong, politically incorrect quote can…

“I don’t give a f*** if we agree about climate change…First – do you believe it is acceptable that 7 million people die every year from pollution? That’s more than murders, suicides, and car accidents – combined.” 

Arnold Schwarzenegger – Actor, Former Governor

Modern energy services are crucial to human well-being and to a country’s economic development; and yet globally over 1.3 billion people are without access to electricity and 2.6 billion people are without clean cooking facilities. More than 95% of these people are either in sub-Saharan African or developing Asia and 84% are in rural areas.

Another map by the International Energy Agency presenting People without electricity as a number and as a percentage. We can identify a positive decreasing pattern by 2030, however we cannot predict whether the additional energy will be provided from fossil fuel or from renewables.

How to achieve global energy access by 2030. $48 billion per year needed or a total of $914 billion.

UN has set a clear roadmap for achieving universal access to energy. To achieve that by 2030, on top of approximately an annual global investment of $50 billion, you need: New Mini / Micro Grids, Decentralised low cost / low maintenance energy generation from renewable sources like solar, small scale lighting solutions with renewable energy and energy storage solutions and finally pioneering government policies and willing leadership.

Infographic showing the need for food production increase
http://www.foodmanufacturing.com/news/2014/10/infographic-global-state-agriculture

A clear and strong indication of the pressures and shocks that we are likely to face on an increasing rate in the future – https://www.newclimateforpeace.org/G7-report/infographics

A wonderful infographic by OXFAM demonstrating the impact of climate change, waste and hunger  on our food production system http://www.engineeringforchange.org/whats-wrong-with-our-food-system/

Where will the world’s water conflicts erupt?

The map displays nearly 2,000 incidents, involving conflict and collaboration alike, over shared river basins from 1990 to 2008. The circles in the sidebar compare about 2,200 events—including another 200 disputes over resources other than shared rivers—from the same period.

– http://www.popsci.com/article/science/where-will-worlds-water-conflicts-erupt-infographic

While we let politicians tackle the bigger picture and argue about policies, one question remains. What can we do as individuals or communities through innovation and creative design to improve our carbon footprint and have a positive impact by generating renewable energy and increasing production of carbon neutral food to feed the ever expanding population on our small blue planet?

The Bill Gates CO2 equation and the “energy miracles”: PxSxExC=CO2

Bill Gates in this year’s open letter for Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest foundation wrote about the our civilisation’s challenge of climate change and the imperative to innovate and develop “energy miracles”. He also came up with a mathematical equation that calculates carbon dioxide emissions as a product of the factors P (population), S (services consumed per person), E (energy used to supply those services) and C (the amount of carbon emitted per unit of energy). According to Gates, the only way to elimination carbon emissions is for C to be zero as P, S and E cannot be at zero and most likely will increase. He argues that for C to be zero we need many “energy miracles”

He concludes by stating that for the “energy miracles” to happen you need, funding, research, innovation and disruptive start-ups.

“… It’s possible there’s some guy in a laboratory today who’s investing something miraculous…”

Bill Gates – Microsoft Cofounder and Philanthropist 

The facts above present a massive challenge but also an opportunity. Through design and innovation and by creatively combining current technologies with emerging technologies we can conjure our own small “sustainable miracles” and create practical solutions to tackle most of these problems. The approach should be simple. In the short-term it starts by identifying the problem and then implementing existing of-the-shelf technologies combined with an innovative way, thus providing practical solutions to many problems.

In the long-term develop disruptive new innovative solutions which make commercial sense and provide an added value proposition for the market with a strong social impact potential.

Unfortunately Harry Potter lives only in the fantasy world. So no magic solution for the mess we create and no magic spells to make Climate Change go away. For the rest of us “Muggles” there is only one way to tackle Climate Change and this is through intuitive hard work that pushes boundaries of applied sciences to new limits.

Can Disruptive Innovation and Start-ups provide the new “Miracles” tackling Climate Change? By Ypatios Moysiadis


Entrepreneur’s Insights - Interview with Rafael Badziag, the “Billionaire Magnet” [Video]

Entrepreneur’s Insights - Interview with Rafael Badziag, the “Billionaire Magnet”

This post first appeared on Cleantech Geek: http://cleantechgeek.com/2019/04/entrepreneurs-insights-ep1-interview-with-rafael-badziag-the-billionaire-magnet/

The interview is conducted by our partner, Ypatios Moysiadis on his personal blog. Make sure to check out the blog for interviews, opinions and insights on sustainability and entrepreneurship! Combining articles, video and podcasts he intents to provide the stage for creative thinking and constructive discussions. http://cleantechgeek.com/

Cleantech Geek Entrepreneur’s Insights Series – At this series I will be talking with inspiring Entrepreneurs from our world. We will be discussing about various topics and issues, giving their points of view, sharing their experiences and personal leanings.

At this video I am discussing with Rafael Badziag. Rafael, is a pioneer on e-commerce. He started one of the first successful e-commerce sport related platforms before the .com rise. He then invested in cryptocurrency and domain names amongst other interesting ventures. Despite his success, Rafael did something remarkable. He embarked on a journey to interview and learn from the Billionaires of our generation. Through the process, he tried to unlock the secrets behind their Entrepreneurial Mindset and success. In this interview he talks about some of the learnings and experiences of his journey, gives valuable insights and shares with us the launch if his book: The Billion Dollar Secret: 20 Principles of Billionaire Wealth and Success.

Don’t miss this video with the “Billionaire Magnet”.

Rafael, talks about his background, his successes and failures and how he decided to embark in this almost impossible journey of finding and interviewing 20+ Billionaires of our day. He shares some of the lessons he learned and also discusses about the difference in mindset which is a common denominator across all billionaires.

Watch the video and stay tuned for more! Don't forget to leave your thoughts on the comments below and share it with your network if you found it insightful.


Identifying the 3 Key “Ingredients” for a successful Information System Project Development

Are you prepared to take on the next big IT project on your company? What a nightmare! In any given case in almost every company when dealing with Information System Development you face three highly explosive ingredients for a big bang, resulting in either delay or failure.

Meet the ingredients!

  1. The Client – Ever-demanding and in most cases lacking clear knowledge of the specifications or the project itself. He just wants you to complete his job at minimum cost and with great urgency. He needs the project done yesterday! He feels sorry and sympathetic towards the developers, but he pays so he demands!
  2. The Analyst – The connecting chain link, the multi-tasker, the translator, always under stress, running around just to survive. He is buried up to his neck in responsibilities, with back and forth communications, time schedules, deadlines, budgets, GANTT charts, demands and denials….
  3. The Programmer – Another breed of people, living in their own tech bubble lost between reality and virtual cyberspace. You need to hover over them just to keep them on time and in line with the project’s specifications and customer demands.

Do you need more? Mix the above into the leaking pot of myriads of applications and technological solutions and you have a ticking disaster on your hands!

Survival Guide for the Unprepared

Do you consider yourself a dummy? Are you a rookie? Follow the basic guidelines below and you might have a better chance of survival in this jungle.

Being the Client

Okay, you have the money, you pay and everything you say is “right”. But is what you think you are paying for what you are going to get at the end? That’s the question!

So please:

  • Plan and Plan…and then Plan again.
  • Clarify in your mind for the benefit of your business and your money what exactly it is that you are paying for, a clear image of the project you are developing and how it will benefit your business.
  • Is your initial budget large, small or reasonable for the value you hope to extract from the project? Check similar applications, what they can do and how much they cost.
  • If you are not able to describe your needs and your project specifications, hire a third party to do it for you. There are specialized consultants for that. Keep track of the project and the deliverables. Don’t expect your project developer to play the role of the consultant as well.
  • Always check out the competition. In most cases, you can benefit from the experience of your competitors by capitalizing on their advantages and avoiding their mistakes. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel all over again.
  • Cross-reference the project development company with their customers and check their track record on similar projects.
  • Try to communicate in a written format and keep track (perhaps some kind of a diary) for the communications between you and the analysts.
  • Meet the development team. Sometimes chemistry and mindset is a success factor when it comes to intellectual projects.
Being the Analyst

Don’t assume that you know and have seen everything. There is always something new to face and something different to experience when it comes to handling projects and people. Every project is unique.

  • Learn more about your clients. Make the effort.
  • Have detailed knowledge of the capabilities of your team, their previous work, the libraries or platforms they use for development.
  • Always communicate any problems, changes or suggestions to the client. Be patient and conservative. You will be happier at the end.
  • Find ways to keep yourself motivated and to motivate the programmers or other members of the team as well.
  • DO NOT over work or disrupt the workflow of your programmers. Do not toss at them more tasks or disrupt them with smaller projects. The only thing you can achieve is to agitate them and lower the standards of their work.
  • Handle budgets carefully! A service-based development project, especially when it is custom-developed, can easily go over budget and over time.
  • Plan your work and the work of the team like the maestro in an orchestra. The more detailed the planning the better.
  • Try to interpret the needs and the specifications of the client in a meaningful way for your programmers. Remember you are the translator between them. They DO NOT speak the same language.
Being the Programmer

First, you must take a pin and break the big protective “cloud” you have built around yourself. It is not just you and your PC in this world.

  • Try to meet the client and get as many details you can about his company and what they are trying to achieve with this project.
  • Have your eyes and ears open.
  • Try to put yourself in the position of the client
  • If you do not know something ASK. Don’t assume! That is why you are working with an analyst. Utilise his communication skills and his previous knowledge.
  • Manage your time. If you cannot do something on a specific time schedule, say so. Don’t over work and don’t stress yourself in order to be liked. At the end this will have an effect on the quality of your work and it will come back to you like a boomerang.
  • Organize your libraries and keep them well maintained and up to date in order to minimize the work load that you have to undertake for each project.
  • Communicate any problems you have to your colleagues and ask for their insight or help.
  • BACKUP, BACKUP and BACKUP more.

Well, I guess you have the big picture. There are tons of books and information about each one of the above cases.

However I get the weird feeling whenever I am faced with a similar situation in project development that no matter who, when or where, the same issues will arise again and again and again….

Please feel free to add your comments and your insight on this topic.

By Ypatios Moysiadis, first appeared on http://cleantechgeek.com/2018/04/decoding-information-system-project-development/


Small Fish, Big Sea – What are the chances startups survive in the current environment?

Do you have what it takes as an individual to become the next “unicorn” entrepreneur? To follow on to the steps of Richard Branson, Steve Jobs and Elon Musk? Do you have a killer idea, an economic sense and the seed capital to start it up? What’s next? What is the story with all these entrepreneurs and small firm start-ups? Can you, a tiny little fish, survive in the deep sea?

If I had clear answers to all the questions above, I would have been a billionaire by now. But one thing I have learned in life is that things are not always black or white. Let’s elaborate a bit more….

Success in start-ups comes down to a number of factors. Of course, a solid business plan and a plausible idea are essential. But success also comes down to timings and perseverance. If at first you don’t succeed, try again.

The perception of entrepreneurship and SMEs have changed dramatically over the last century and especially the last 20 years with the introduction of technological solutions such as PCs, Internet and mobile devices that have reformed the way business is conducted and empowered the individual with instant knowledge and mass communication capabilities.

To support my case, let me provide you with some hard facts.

  • Within EU-28 about 99.8% of businesses are defined as SMEs on non-Financial sectors. In total, SMEs employ about 90 million people and provide 67% of the total employment in EU-28.
  • A huge 93% of them are micro business (micro-SMEs) with less than 10 employees and a turnover of less than 2 million €. To see its magnitude nine out of ten SMEs are micro businesses with an average of 2.1 employees per enterprise.
  • Actually from 2008 up to 2014 the number of SMEs in the EU-28 was increased by 3.6%, with a potential of further increase of about 1.2% until 2016.

This is a strong indication that a small firm and entrepreneurs can survive. But how many actually do, and for how long?

There is another important indicator to examine and this is the Net-Entry Development of SMEs. In simple words it questions how many SMEs are established and how many cease their operation in annual basis.

This rate differs between regions and countries within EU-28, but up to 2014 and despite the crisis it remained positive with the UK achieving the highest SME value added growth with 11.6%

Another critical element to examine when considering the survival of a new enterprise is the Business Dynamics. Business Dynamics can play a major role on many qualitative and quantitative factors within a business sector. Business Dynamics is a perspective and set of tools which enables us to understand the structure and dynamics of business by measuring and tracking various indicators such us:

  • The entry, growth and exit rate of businesses
  • The job Creation and Job Destruction
  • Market Share or Firm Market Participation (in a given sector / industry) and geography
  • Number and Type of Products and Services Produced
  • Customers classes

Usually new enterprises and small firms are established by young entrepreneurs with new ideas and ambitions that are able to introduce innovation and apply new technological and managerial models to their operations. There are numerous examples of new innovative and disruptive business models, such as Uber, AirBnB and Kiva (microfinance platform), which demonstrates the intuitive way that entrepreneurs are exploiting technology to create new models within very traditional industries.

Last we can take into consideration two more barometers. One the Total Early Stage Entrepreneurial Activity Rateis positive for the major economies worldwide despite the conflicts and the oil price dropping. Two the statistics indicate that the five key sectors for SMEs 1) Wholesale and Retail Trade, 2) Manufacturing, 3) Construction, 4) Business Services and 5) Accommodation and Food, demonstrate positive growth rates, in EU-28. Even in crisis people find the means and the ways to diversify, adopt to change or more intelligently start over after a failure, having learned from their mistakes the first time around.

I could provide you with more data to support my argument that small fishes can actually survive, but there are widely available in the internet. The above statistics were taken from the Annual Report on European SMEs 2014-2015 produced by the European Commission.

Source: Annual report on European SMEs 2014-2015

Entrepreneurs are essential for a healthy and vibrant economic environment. Startups can be more independent as they can choose not to comply with set market policies and rules, their market exploitation is based on personal conduct and their true investment is more in time than money, but most importantly a small firm is a reflection of the personality the capabilities and the limitations of the founder.

Business culture and the financial institutions as a whole are willing to facilitate innovation and fresh ideas. If an idea is plausible, you approach it with the correct attitude, and you’ve done your market research, there is a strong chance your business will work. You don’t have to re-discover the wheel, you just need to make it more efficient and most importantly believe in your idea.

Remember it is not just about the money, but mostly it is about the journey and the facilitation of your creativity, your personal needs and your personal goals.

by Ypatios Moysiadis, first appeared on http://cleantechgeek.com/2016/09/small-fish-big-sea/