Smarter Commerce is theme of next Entrepreneur Huddle

Back in February during our big Entrepreneur Week, we hosted our first-ever Entrepreneur Huddle webcast. Next week, on May 22nd, we’ll have our second Entrepreneur Huddle and you’re invited!

Huddle_promo image_hashtag

 

 

The Huddle is a webcast for startups, tech enthusiasts, current IBM Global Entrepreneur members, and any other person involved or interested in the broader entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Coming on the heels of IBM’s Smarter Commerce Global Summit this week, our next Entrepreneur Huddle will focus on themes in the commerce space, including the CMO point of view, creating a rewarding customer experience, and making moments matter using the right technology. So tune in to learn from commerce experts, as well as a current IBM Global Entrepreneur startup who is using technology to shake up the fulfillment and supply chain model.

During the webcast, you will be able to pose questions and comments on Twitter using #IBMGEHuddle. And if you can’t make the scheduled webcast time, don’t worry. There will be a replay available for you to watch on-demand, and possibly another live broadcast option!

Looking forward to “virtually” seeing you there!

Through the eyes of a student: Jamie Murphey

At the IBM SmartCamp Global Finals on Feb. 7th, IBM was happy to welcome not only business leaders and entrepreneurs in the audience, but many students as well. Here is a piece about the event written by MBA candidate Jamie Murphey from CUNY Baruch Zicklin School of Business. 

JamieMurpheyWhen I walked into the Waldorf Astoria in New York City for the IBM Smartcamp Global Finals this winter I was struck immediately with the energy of the room. Underneath the twinkling chandeliers, the AV team wove their way through clusters of entrepreneurs, investors and innovators with last minute sound checks and lighting adjustments. As the music began to play and the Twitter feed began streaming tweets of encouragement to the competing teams, I could feel the buzz of excitement and expectation rippling through the quickly filling ballroom.

I was delighted to attend IBM’s SmartCamp Global Finals. It was an opportunity to see firsthand as innovators throughout the globe compete for a prize that could transform the lives of their team forever: recognition. Though we were here for the competitors, it was hard not to be dazzled by the speaker lineup. Mayor Bloomberg gave the opening remarks in a charming and self-deprecating review of his efforts to promote entrepreneurship. Several technology and investment thought leaders participated in panels on global entrepreneurship, and a former winner described his experience after being chosen as the winner at a previous SmartCamp.

When the competitors were introduced, it was clear that the competition this year was fierce. The eight finalists would have only 6 minutes to present their answer to IBM’s challenge to envision a Smarter Planet. The range of ideas and reach of ambition was impressive, and the applications were downright futuristic.

From retail solutions to medical applications, the finalists wowed the audience. The mobile company Poikos created a body measurement application that allows customers to shop for clothing online while assessing the fit of the clothes by modeling the outfits on a detailed scan of the individual’s body. StreetLight Data provides geo-targeting solutions for marketing professionals. HistoIndex focused on improving the diagnosis and treatment of fibrosis.

Before we knew it, all eight finalists had presented, and the judges withdrew to deliberate. As we waited for the final results from the judges, Barbara Corcoran, the founder of the Corcoran Group and much-loved Shark from ABC’s hit reality series “Shark Tank” spoke on her early experiences in business, and how tenacity and boldness enabled her to become one of the top real estate brokers in the city.

Then the announcement! The winner of the competition, and one of the most exciting innovations at the event, was MoDe, a technology company that facilitates micro-lending in Africa using mobile phone minutes as currency.  The crowd approved, and the whole ballroom swelled with applause. I looked around at the faces of fellow entrepreneurs as we celebrated one of our own and was struck by the impact that IBM had created with their vision for a smarter planet. By providing leadership and cultivating potential, IBM brought people together from around the world to share ideas and grow together. Now that’s leadership.

What’s new in 2013 for IBM Global Entrepreneur

ibmge_newThe 2012 IBM SmartCamp Global Finals may be over, but 2013 is just getting started for the IBM Global Entrepreneur program. So what’s new this year?

The SmartCamp competition will continue in full swing in 2013 but in addition Global Entrepreneur will offer more events, including all-new Mentor Days. These events will provide an increased focus on mentoring to selected startups, giving them the benefit of coaching and feedback from industry experts, IBM leaders, and successful entrepreneurs in their community. Apply for a Mentor Day near you.

Each Mentor Day will be followed by public ecosystem event, which is open to those in the community who share a passion for entrepreneurship and networking. Registration for public events will open soon!

These new event offerings will provide startups many of the networking and mentoring benefits of SmartCamps, without the pressures of competition. However, companies selected to participate in Mentor Days may also be invited to participate in a SmartCamp event!

So check out the Global Entrepreneur site to keep track of upcoming events near you, and see if your early-stage startup is eligible to apply. Or, if you’re simply passionate about entrepreneurship, look for registrations to open on our public ecosystem events!

As always, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @IBMSmartCamp and @IBMGE.

 

 

Through the eyes of a student: Yusuf Roso

At the IBM SmartCamp Global Finals on Feb. 7th, IBM was happy to welcome not only business leaders and entrepreneurs in the audience, but many students as well. Here is a piece about the event written by Yusuf Roso from Columbia Business School.

Chubby_Planet_Icon_Western_NewBlue_620Smarter Planet

by Yusuf Roso
MBA 2014
Columbia Business School

When IBM celebrated its centennial, the Economist argued: “IBM’s secret is that it is built around an idea that transcends any particular product or technology. Its strategy is to package technology for use by businesses.” It was this secret that was on stage on Thursday at the 2013 SmartCamp. The idea was using technology to build a smarter planet and the strategy was bringing passionate entrepreneurs from all over the world to New York to showcase their ways of making the planet smarter.

The ideas of the entrepreneurs were smart in a panacean way:

Imagine you can try all the clothes in a giant retailer on your smartphone and let your smartphone tell you what suits you best by just taking your own picture –Poikos (Netherlands) develops technology for imaging and measuring the body in 3D with very high accuracy, using consumer grade hardware such as smartphones, tablets and PCs.

Think of how much faster patients could be treated if physicians had the results of a sophisticated medical test in one day instead of one month –HistoIndex (Singapore) designs integrated medical diagnosis systems (hardware and software) that enable instantaneous imaging and standardized measurement.

Try to conceive the power of accessing credit through your mobile phone in a continent with the lowest access to financial services but with the fastest growing mobile phone userbase–Mo De (Kenya) enables qualifying prepaid mobile subscribers to access airtime on credit and hence creates a platform for the distribution of micro credit products.

The diversity and magnitude of the challenges that the respective entrepreneurs took upon themselves made me think of why these particular companies made it to the global finals of the 2013 SmartCamp. Perhaps, the answer was hidden in Mayor Bloomberg’s speech at the beginning of the event when he quoted former Mayor of New York, Ed Koch: “New York is the place where the future comes to audition.” It wasn’t only the entrepreneurs’ ability to solve problems but it was also their passion to change the future in their given fields that brought them to New York to create smarter planet.

Through the eyes of a student: Mikhail Pozin

At the IBM SmartCamp Global Finals on Feb. 7th, IBM was happy to welcome not only business leaders and entrepreneurs in the audience, but many students as well. Here is a piece about the event written by Mikhail Pozin from CUNY Baruch Zicklin School of Business.

Mikhail Pozin IBMThink. Global.

by Mikhail Pozin
Zicklin School of Business, CUNY Baruch
Honors BBA in I/O Psychology ’12

“New York City is where the future comes to audition,” announced Mayor Michael Bloomberg, echoing the late Ed Koch. Responsive murmurs fanned through the Vanderbilt Room. Moments before, a show of hands indicated how many audience members did not live in New York. An audible sports stadium wave passed through the seating sections; the distinctive majority was full of out-of-towners. The hubbub was only momentarily surprising, however. This was, after all, the Global Finals of the IBM SmartCamp entrepreneurship competition.

The Global Finals featured an expert scientist from China separated from her family during Lunar New Year and an idealistic African businessman jocularly chiding IBM for dragging him into New York City’s frost without the company of his wife. Both took the stage, along with representatives of six other companies who took their experience, ingenuity, and guts to task to build a smarter planet. These are the folks who saw a need and made it their mission to provide for it. Luckily, they are not without a supportive ecosystem.

A large corporation can throw a number of shiny pennies at new projects. These projects will be tackled with its respective standard practices, some of which are far better suited to fostering innovation than others. But if they fail, a write-off solves all. Rinse, repeat.

Entrepreneurs lack the shiny pennies. More importantly, they lack the stability to write off any time and any energy expended. Boy, do they have energy; they are busy creating under their own rules, which are nimble and constantly refined. Those who take this route are sustained by those who nurture their ambition—the mentors, the devout supporters, and of course, the financial backers.

Financial backing, however, is not simply about a paycheck. Entrepreneurs were fearless enough to become parents and it is now up to them to choose the best college for their baby, if it will have them. There is probably some irony in this analogy, what with the debatable necessity of college for an entrepreneur and all. There is also no shortage of financing. With no shortage of angel investments, as well as the plummeting cost of backing new ventures, the barrier has never been lower.

So too with the barrier to entry as an entrepreneur. The world over, teenagers and seasoned PhD professionals alike are pursuing an alternative to the yet standard, if not hackneyed, path. As with their numbers, the influence and perception of entrepreneurs continues to swell. With it, they are ushering in a new set of values—one of embracing failure, admitting weaknesses, accepting coaching, sharing freely, challenging convention, solving problems, and dedicating wholeheartedly.

Our browsers have tabs, our personalities have tabs, and our choices have tabs. This is the new paradigm of business—multifaceted, non-mutually exclusive choice. We are this, this, and that. Overwhelmingly mass adoption is less likely than ever before. Just ask a music mogul about his mainstream acts. There is likely an audience for everything, but it is smaller than may be preferred and it is the most dedicated one you could hope for, after the mere visitors fade. Rest assured, they will fade and pick up something new. This is merely cyclical.

A panelist, David Rose of The New York Angel Network, remarked that entrepreneurship is also cyclical, but this time, it is different. An increased capacity to accomplish, coupled with decreased limitations on support and funding, means that the world is a tad smaller. No longer are a brilliant mind and an executed idea restricted by its country of origin. This is how the planet grows smarter. Those who are driven to execute and surround themselves with supporters are beyond elementary financial motivation. Their goals exceed their individual selves. They are out to create, fix, revitalize, disrupt, amend, delight, enlighten, redesign. They are out to dream and to do, because being isolated by their location is no longer a hindrance. The elimination of geography as a limiting factor is the great equalizer—and the bolsterer.

An overwhelming number of ideas will fail. Teams will dissolve, competition will usurp, and hypotheses will fall flat. Let them. This is how the planet grows smarter, with a cycle in which all sides of the new holy trinity—entrepreneurs, financiers, and users—adjust to a landscape of ever-growing options. Some of these options are fueled by existing businesses seeking solutions beyond their capacities, therefore turning to larger institutions who in turn to entrepreneurs. Luckily, IBM has already been prepared for this with its three-horizon company portfolio since Gerstner. Supporting entrepreneurship has now become its premier emerging business opportunity.

At the peak of every cycle lies excess waste, full of me-too drudge and chindogu. These are the pests of entrepreneurship—recurring, costly, and altogether a nuisance. They are not, however, without merit. They are a training ground for both the hard and soft skills so instrumental to traversing the newly redefined paths to success. Some entrepreneurs will bow out of college, perhaps even high school. Others will continue their higher education and take their advanced skill elsewhere. Neither should be glorified or shamed—these are merely alternative paths previously unavailable. Both are needed for balance, just as each team needs its set of “expanders” and “containers.”

The recent upsurge in global entrepreneurship is indicative of more options, bigger appetites, and ample accommodations for our varied learning styles. As it becomes more front-facing, its values will change the business world, and in turn, the planet. That means a smaller planet, a more connected planet, and ultimately, a smarter planet.

As for next year, I reckon IBM should keep its eye out for an Antarctic dark horse.

SmartCamp alum Sproxil named #1 innovative healthcare company

SproxilFastCompany
Fast Company names SmartCamp alum Sproxil the 7th most innovative company in the world. Sproxil CEO Ashifi Gogo pictured here.

The business magazine Fast Company has recently released their annual guide to the state of innovation in the economy, featuring businesses whose innovations are having the greatest impacts across their industries and the culture as a whole. They identified the World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies of 2013 and we are proud to announce that IBM SmartCamp 2010 finalist Sproxil was named #1 in the Healthcare industry and #7 overall, ahead of the likes of Google and Apple.

Sproxil’s service places a scratch-off label on products which consumers remove after purchasing to reveal a unique, random code. The code is sent via SMS to a country-specific short code, and the consumer receives a reply almost instantly indicating whether the product is genuine or not.

Sproxil’s services are currently used by several pharmaceutical companies in the fight against counterfeit drugs. The fake drug market, according to the World Customs Organization, is estimated to be a $200 Billion a year industry. The problem of counterfeit drugs is particularly acute in emerging markets; the World Health Organization estimates 30% of drugs in these markets are fake and may be very harmful to consumers.

Now Sproxil is expanding into other fields and discovering that customers for all sorts of products are eager to confirm that they got what they paid for, from agricultural goods to auto parts to the copper in electric wires. “There are lots and lots of uses for our services,” CEO Ashifi Gogo says.

Congratulations to Sproxil on this recognition, and IBM is proud to have been a part of their entrepreneurial journey. Best of luck and much continued success in the future!

IBM SmartCamp Global Finals People’s Vote!

The IBM SmartCamp Global Finals are happening this week! Now that you’ve met all of the finalists through our Meet the Global Finalists series, it’s time to cast your vote. Take a last look at each of the eight startups and vote for your favorite in the poll at the bottom of the page. The winner of this online People’s Vote will be announced next week, February 7th, at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. To attend the event, register here, otherwise you can still catch all the action on our Livestream!

CaptainDash_squareCaptainDash provides the ultimate dashboard for marketers. Learn more in our previous post or watch the video below.

getway_squareGetWay enables any industry to precisely monitor real-time sales data. Learn more in our previous post or watch the video below.

histoindex_squareHistoIndex has an imaging solution which enables early detection and better treatment of fibrosis. Learn more in our previous post or watch the video below.

mode_squareMo De provides nano-credit for mobile services and other utilities in emerging nations. Learn more in our previous post or watch the video below.

Poikos_square

Poikos has 3D body imaging technology to help online shoppers find clothes that fit. Learn more in our previous post or watch the video below.

QLabs_squareQuintessenceLabs has harnessed the properties of nature to better protect data. Learn more in our previous post or watch the video below.

skyfoundry_squareSkyFoundry helps building owners and operators “find what matters” in the data produced by today’s smart systems. Learn more in our previous post or watch the video below.

streetlightdata_squareStreetLight Data helps retailers know how potential customers move around their city. Learn more in our previous post or watch the video below.