It is very typical to measure mature of startups ecosystems in terms of new startups, growing startups, investors, investments, exits, etc. and it makes sense as cities use these statistics in the best possible way to communicate their economic growth at high level and to attract other relevant people, investors, big companies, more entrepreneurs and other stakeholders.
These indicators are however the result of many smaller activities present in a startup ecosystem that contribute to these higher level results - as any startup ecosystem is the sum of multiple variables of an unbalanced equation inherent to the interactions of the startup ecosystem itself.
So, as you can figure out, you need much information to talk about matureness of startups ecosystems. But most of all, you need a good understanding and analysis of your startup ecosystem at different levels and mapping it usually is a good starting point to set up new strategies and achieve a better economic development.
But the thing is that properly mapping a startup ecosystem is more than just to create a good map to show who is who in your city or region. It is crucial to work at different levels and in more detail:
We truly believe everyone should work on this model, as it makes the investments to growth and innovation truly visible and measurable - as only the things that can be measured can be improved. And the faster the feedback loop, the faster things can be improved.
Actually we are working with this model with few key cities like Helsinki at ecosystem level and even more broadly with independent organizations and we are clearly seeing that it is possible to build a vibrant startup ecosystem in a city in three to five years, what is half or less, compared to known average.
Future entrepreneurs and current startups deserve this new scenario that we at Startup Commons are creating and we encourage others to contribute and develop innovation, better, faster and with less resources.
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From Alicante to Helsinki. This is the travel of Alejandro Santacreu since he finished studying a grade of technical bachelor at High School in Alicante until he started working in Puzzlephone in Helsinki.
A startup which, since its #ideation in 2012 have advanced to Phase -1, the #concepting with a clear and meaningful target on direction for the next 3 years and with milestones on how to get there.
How would you describe Puzzephone?
Puzzlephone reduces #ewaste improves #repairability and #obsolescence and represents a new way of engineering and manufacturing.
You come from an entrepreneurial family. What did you learn from your parents in that sense?
Be cautious (father), the Evil in the details (father) and nobody is indispensable (mother).
What were you doing before Puzzlephone?
I was and I am studying at Laurea University of Applied Sciences in Espoo, Helsinki. Before that I was working as Product Manager of mobile internet devices at Energy Sistem, an Spanish consumer electronics brand.
Mobile phones market is a hard game. Also, you are going in the opposite direction. What is your ace in the hole?
We are aligned with the incoming new ways of manufacturing and new emerging and game-changing technologies that will move the value, at least part of it, from the traditional big brands to a more organic ecosystem of developers openly linked to their suppliers and partners and less dependant on IPR.
Where do you see Puzzlephone in 5 years?
As a forerunner and at the same time an inevitable consequence of the early days of this new Industrial Revolution that we are living, sometimes without even notice it.
What technologies are you using to build first prototypes? What is technically the most challenging part of building Puzzlephone?
The main spatial and mechanical aspects are being developed with quick 3D sketching software like SketchUp, then our Industrial Engineer “industrialized” (in our internal slang) the concept introducing all the necessary aspects for 3D printing or CNC milling such as tolerances, mechanical interference or coatings thickness at the same time our “artistic” partners (like the Finnish Design Studio Siltanen & Sandberg or our marketing supporters from Kinetic Pixel, a Finnish/Spanish company located nearby, in Helsinki) work on those concepts from a purely creative point of view, unconstrained by technical limitations. At that phase they use classical and well known profesional solutions for 3D rendering, video-editing and so forth. Finally we will reach, hopefully soon, a third phase where engineering and art will meet and decide how to combine both approaches in a balanced way and always keeping in mind the core principles of Puzzlephone which are: upgradable, repairable and reliable.
The biggest technical challenge is to solve the disconnection between hardware and firmware, the lack of a "Wintel standard" is harming the UX in terms of usability and security. and it is also increasing the obsolesce of the devices by making its effective after-sales support almost impossible. To fix that requires to convince some big players that it will be good for them too, but that’s connected with a new paradigm in the actual business model that, at some point, requires nothing less and nothing more that the willing of making the things better.
What kind of supports/partnerships are you achieving?
Finland public entities has provide great support in the form of both financial and networking. Starting with the Laurea Entrepreneurship Society and Laurea University of Applied Sciences, the great people from the Cambridge Judge Business School and the amazing Venture Camp intensive training program. Special thanks to Alan Barrell, Jack Lang and to our mentor Steve Mallinson. The people from Otaniemi, a Finnish office for the development of local business in Espoo area and the NewCo Factory, a business acceleration service launched by the City of Helsinki quiet recently. The University of Aalto has been also supportive by providing their legal advisory services.
What are some of the challenges you face as founder on a day to day basis?
Finding the so called "smart money”. We do not simply need investment, we need the right investor. Ecological factors have been always there but the technological marketeers have just started to experienced how this trend is slowly becoming part of the purchase decisión. We are still far away from that but getting there, we are witnessing the arise of the “Ethical Customer” as a consequence on how the critical point reached by the IT technologies (fast, relatively cheap and ubiquity) are making us aware on the importance of the processes behind our consumer behaviours, so just by saying: “I want to make a better device which lasts longer and it is easy to repair and so forth” it is not enough right now. At the same time new paradigms delivered by new technologies are always hard to scope and locate in the big picture and any proposal based on how are those going to behave is usually take with a huge dose of skepticism.
You are based in Finland. What’s the startup ecosystem like there?
There are lots of small and medium software startups but just a pretty reduced bunch of hardware pioneers, the days of massive outsourcing maybe are fading out but the re-location wave has barely hit the Finnish shores… by now ;)
Can you convince the reader to buy Puzzlephone in under 100 words?
How often do we place our phones on the table? Phones are our virtual and physical connection with the world and the people. It represents the things we care about. Are we all the same? Do we all have and share the same tastes? And at the same time: Do we all care about the world and the people? Are you aware of the value of your own personal statements? Then we have something in common.
Your big mistake?
Mistakes are what they are until we find some value on them. I am a rational believer of the “all is for good” so there are a lot of mistakes in my backlog but I am positive about finding, sooner or later, a useful meaning for them.
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