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!

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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


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 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.

Meet the Global Finalists: CaptainDash

Meet CaptainDash, a French marketing solutions company and co-winner of the IBM SmartCamp European Regional. They’ll be competing for the title IBM Entrepreneur of the Year in NYC, Feb. 5-7! This is part 8 of 8 in our Meet the Global Finalists series. Register for the public session on Feb. 7th here.

1. Briefly, what is your company’s solution, how does it work, and where did the idea come from?

Our Dashboard lets marketers take advantage of the huge amount of data they receive from different sources, be it data on their company’s performance or external data, like weather or traffic jams. CaptainDash aggregates and synchronizes all the data to let the marketing unit highlight key performance indicators in the most friendly and efficient way. We turn big data into great statistics and wonderful data visualizations through a ready-to-use & flexible platform.

Initially, we noticed how lacking the information was on which marketing people were making investment decisions, and we felt it was time to change that once and for all.

CaptainDash_gray2. Explain how the company was born; who are the key players on your team and how did they come together?

When I (CEO Gilles Babinet) sold my previous company, I started to have some discussions about processes in marketing with Bruno Walther, my business partner, who was CEO at OgilvyOne and saw many companies struggling to understand their data. He was selling custom dashboards that had limited flexibility for huge amounts of money. We then felt that there was a business opportunity.

The company has thirty employees, but the four key players are:
– Bruno who heads up the product strategy as well as sales.
– Kilian, who is CXO, Chief eXperience Officer or product manager. His job is to implement the roadmap and make sure that the product continues to be the most simple and friendly to use.
– Nicolas, who is the CTO; he convinced us to move to Hadoop and also leads the Hadoop community in France.
– And myself (Gilles) who deals with business development and sales.

3. How will your solution impact people’s lives for the better?

Marketing is a complicated science which consists of saturating people with messages that align with their real needs. By better understanding each person’s needs, we will get the right message to the right person and stop bothering others with messages they don’t need. Additionally, we will change marketing once and for all by introducing ROI into companies’ marketing practices.

4. What is the best advice you’ve been given or the most important thing you’ve learned in the SmartCamp competition so far?

Advice: “We don’t understand what you do. It is much too complex. Make it simple please.”
Learned: Go to the hard fact straight. Push obvious messages.

5. In what ways do you hope working with IBM will help your company grow and succeed?

We have already proven it. In France we have already made co-sales and opened new IBM accounts since the IBM SmartCamp Regional in Berlin. We foresee millions of euros in joint opportunities in 2013 for France alone.

Marketing_Transformation_Icon_6206. What is the main reason your company should be named IBM SmartCamp’s Entrepreneur of the Year?

Frankly, we believe that we can change the way marketing works, forever. Additionally we can really be instrumental in helping IBM address CMOs’ needs.

‘Shark’ Barbara Corcoran to speak at IBM SmartCamp Global Finals!

Barbara Corcoran, from ABC's hit reality series Shark Tank.

Barbara Corcoran, from ABC’s hit reality series Shark Tank.

IBM is thrilled to welcome Barbara Corcoran, from ABC’s hit reality series Shark Tank, as a guest speaker at the IBM SmartCamp Global Finals in New York City, Feb. 7th. An entrepreneur herself with a fascinating rags-to-riches story, her insights and advice will undoubtedly be valuable for the startup finalists and audience alike. To attend the Global Finals and hear her for yourself, register here!

Barbara Corcoran is the Founder of Corcoran Group and the Chairman of Barbara Corcoran, Inc. Her credentials include straight D’s in high school and college and twenty jobs by the time she turned twenty-three. It was her next job, however, that would make her one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the country, when she borrowed $1,000 from her boyfriend and quit her job as a waitress to start a tiny real estate company in New York City. Over the next twenty-five years, she’d parlay that $1,000 loan into a five-billion-dollar real estate business and the largest and best-known brand in the business.

Barbara is the real estate contributor for NBC’s TODAY Show where she comments weekly on trends in the real estate market. Barbara is an investor/shark on ABC’s reality hit Shark Tank, Fridays at 9pm. In the first season, Barbara bought eight young businesses which she’s shepherding to success.

As a speaker, Ms. Corcoran brings her frontline experience and infectious energy to each person in the audience. They laugh, cry, and learn how to become more successful. Motivational, inspirational, and sometimes outrageous, her tell-it-like-it-is attitude is a refreshing approach to success.

Barbara Corcoran is the author of If You Don’t Have Big Breasts, Put Ribbons on Your Pigtails, an unlikely business book that has become a national best-seller. She credits her struggles in school and her mother’s kitchen-table wisdom for her innovation and huge success in the business world. The book is a fresh, frank look at how to succeed in life and business and is as heartwarming as it is smart and motivating.

To hear Barbara and experience the rest of the excitement at the IBM SmartCamp Global Finals, register to join us at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City February 7th!


Meet the Global Finalists: Poikos

Meet Poikos, a 3D body imaging startup from Amsterdam and co-winner of the IBM SmartCamp European Regional. They’ll be competing for the title IBM Entrepreneur of the Year in NYC, Feb. 5-7! This is part 6 of 8 in our Meet the Global Finalists series. Register for the public session on Feb. 7th here.

1. Briefly, what is your company’s solution, how does it work, and where did the idea come from?

Poikos is a computer vision systems company which has developed a revolutionary patent-pending technology for imaging and measuring the body in 3D, using consumer grade hardware such as smartphones, tablets and PCs. It is called FlixFit.

We are developing a platform to deliver our technology to partners within the health, bespoke and fashion e-commerce, and entertainment sectors for a range of new capabilities across all industries.

We were shortlisted recently for a Cisco BIG Award, and Cisco tell us that they now want to work with us to see how our technology can affect the 3rd world. What the experts say:

“I just heard about Flixfit technology from a friend and was blown away by it’s potential. I’ve 15 years experience in the sporting goods industry, working for Nike, and believe technologies such as Flixfit will revolutionise the way we do business.”

PoikosFlixFitTrans2. Explain how the company was born; who are the key players on your team and how did they come together?

From CEO Eleanor Watson: “My dream was of a world where affordable mass customisation of apparel was a reality. This would mean that anyone would have access to custom-fit clothing within days, at prices roughly comparable to the mass market. I wanted to make a real difference for people all around the world who face problems in this area (I think most people do, to some degree, particularly women).

There is a suite of technologies out there which is emerging (such as Direct Production on Loom), which almost make this possible. I realised however that in order to customise something, one needed accurate data on what one should customise it to. All the solutions out there required expensive, bulky and inconvenient proprietary hardware, which I never really considered to be a viable solution. From my background in e-commerce, and from teaching post-grad computer science and computer forensics from the age 24, I reckoned that there must be another way.

I spent six months travelling around and picking the brains of very smart individuals and groups of professors all over the world. Everyone basically said it was impossible, but I kept digging, like a detective, and eventually I had amassed enough information that we could begin to put a system together which can work on any PC, tablet or smartphone.
I raised a brilliant team, and we got straight to work. One year later, working with no less than 8 Universities here we are, finally bringing our UK and US patent-pending technology to market.”

CEO — Eleanor Watson — Taught Post-grad Computer Science and Computer Forensics, co- founded, career in e-commerce prior. Insatiable obsession with actualising new technologies which can be massively scaled.
CTO — David Evans — has been presenting at hacker conferences since the age of 12, recently graduated with an MSc Computer Science. David has a background in Math and Physics to design incredible computer vision technologies.
CFO — Derk Jolink — an entertainment industry veteran who held several key positions at major record companies. Starting off by recording artists in the seventies, he became A&R manager and international marketing director for CBS/Sony, marketing director for Warner Brothers, managing director for BMG and international VP for Wegener Arcade.
CCO a.i. — Mark Schiefelbein — has worked with Internet and technology startups for many years, as a growth hacker, helping founders and investors unlock growth.

3. How will your solution impact people’s lives for the better?

A Mintel Report on Fashion Online 2010 shows that almost 36% of online buyers feel that the clothing they order do not meet their expectations. This figure is even higher for women at 46%, because women tend to have more difficulty finding clothes that flatter various body shapes.

With our FlixFit solution, we will eliminate the stress felt by online retail customers when they don’t know their size. They will be able to shop online with more confidence and experience fewer returns and exchanges, saving them time, effort, and money. From a business perspective, FlixFit enables retailers to increase their conversion rate by a substantial margin–research shows that up to 40% of all clothes bought online are returned to retailers (source: Daily Mirror 2011).

Since nominal sizes offered by brands differ, FlixFit would allow customers to know their size irrespective of the retailer they are buying from. The concept also ties in with campaigns for real sizing, celebrating the fact that every person is unique.

4. What is the best advice you’ve been given or the most important thing you’ve learned in the SmartCamp competition so far?

The most interesting advice came from tech investor Bill Liao, who suggested that we found our own accelerator based around our technology to help push it forward. That really blew our minds!

5. In what ways do you hope working with IBM will help your company grow and succeed?

IBM has a very strong and well-known brand; IBM is solid, enduring and dependable. Poikos’ association with IBM provides us with respectability and credence, which for a scrappy little startup doesn’t always come easily. Furthermore, IBM’s suite of powerful technologies and software which it has offered us has the promise of really helping us to drive our innovation forward.

Smarter_Commerce_Icon_6206. What is the main reason your company should be named IBM SmartCamp’s Entrepreneur of the Year?

Poikos has an opportunity to powerfully disrupt a wide range of sectors in business, including mass customisation, fashion & e-commerce, and health. It is this mix of disruptive change to business and everyday life, lead by a vision of a more intelligent porting of personal biometric information which we believe makes our company so exciting.