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21

Nov

2014

Global Entrepreneurship Week: Social Innovation in City of Gaudi PDF Print E-mail

Jessica Straus

Written by Jessica Straus   
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As part of our series featuring leaders in innovation during Global Entrepreneurship Week, we spoke with Eric Hauck, the Director of Impact Hub in Barcelona, Spain. Impact Hub is a global network of social innovation incubators with 7,000 members in more than 60 cities worldwide. In Barcelona, the Impact Hub is based in the Plaza Real amid the city’s historic gothic quarter, which is the cultural heart of one of the world’s most visited destinations.  

For a city known for its architecture, food, art, and its fierce political and cultural independence, Hauck provided his perspective on the global events over the past two decades that have shaped Barcelona into something new — a center for social impact and entrepreneurship. As Hauck explained, “In the last weeks and months, many people from Berlin, San Francisco, London, Singapore — cities that are more developed in terms of social impact ventures — are turning their heads toward Barcelona. Barcelona is a good place to seed a startup, because we have a creative atmosphere that creates a kind of color that attracts social innovators.”

In many ways, the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona catalyzed the city's status as a world-class cultural center and destination. The wide-scale development of new infrastructure for the Games enabled the city to begin welcoming more visitors, a figure that now stands at over seven million visitors annually. For Hauck, the Olympics as a force for cultural understanding, collaboration and impact looms large – a precursor for modern day global organizations like Impact Hub. 

The new leadership of the Generalitat, the government of Calatonia, has also helped to develop a flourishing social innovation ecosystem by making it a key priority. Public institutions in Barcelona provide seed funding to early-stage ventures and have been a convener of entrepreneurs. Social innovation in Barcelona traces its roots back to the first-ever Universal Forum of Cultures Barcelona in 2004. Hosted by the Spanish Government and UNESCO,  convening hundreds from around the world to address the linkage between sustainability, culture and peace. Despite the elevated attention and powerful partners behind the event, in Hauck’s estimation it was a philanthropic vision that came too early and was not well understood in Barcelona. One key legacy of the Forum was that it produced to the first group of social impact incubators. Copperfield, a social impact incubator founded by Hauck, emerged from this event.

Hauck spent his early career as a journalist, serving as a foreign correspondent in Sarajevo during the Siege. Reporting on the destruction of Sarajevo – a sister Olympic city with a vibrant, cosmopolitan culture reminiscent of Barcelona – was a pivotal experience for Hauck that developed his sense of his ability to have a positive impact amid horrific tragedy. After the Siege, Hauck stayed to lead aspects of the reconstruction effort to revive Sarajevo’s social and cultures institutions, employing a strategy focused on corporate partnerships and global collaboration that would become a blueprint for much of his future work in Barcelona.  His team established a formal link between the Sarajevo and Barcelona by having the war-torn city declared the 11th neighborhood of Catalonia’s capital city – a relationship that remains in place. In Barcelona, Hauck has played a key role in fomenting the social innovation movement and more importantly, has been instrumental in integrating the concept of social impact into mainstream thinking.

He strongly believes the venture capital community should be involved in social innovation. Even if venture capital firms don’t fund projects, the mentorship of venture capitalists can help social impact companies on the whole grow into a sector with reliable business models. To that end, Impact Hub Barcelona has developed relationships with U.S. VCs  to help Barcelona companies reach the North American market. They have developed a three-month program to incubate Barcelona companies in the U.S. and to teach Spanish entrepreneurs how to market to North American customers.  

Impact Hub knows it has started to succeed, in part, because multinational corporations now approach them to explore ways they can tackle environmental sustainability and affect real change. In Barcelona, the critical social issues include youth employment, low income housing, and building a sustainable tourist industry. Entrepreneurs at the Impact Hub are tackling these issues one by one. We specifically spoke about tourism, as Hauck explained, “Sixty million tourists visit Spain every year and spend at least one night in Catalunya. We would like to create a culture to integrate tourists and welcome them as temporary citizens. We want to offer them real things, real experiences so that Barcelona doesn’t simply become a theme park.” Giving tourists the experience of Barcelona as a place, rather than a tourist destination, will change their experience of the city, educate visitors about social innovation in Barcelona, and, of course bring them back.

To do this, Barcelonans are looking toward the sky — they are reconquering the rooftops. Impact Hub, which has a large rooftop, is teaming up with the Barcelona Rooftop Association to open to the public 3 million square meters of rooftop for cultural events and initiatives. Musicians, artists, entrepreneurs, students, and importantly, tourists hanging out in the Plaza Real will be invited up to join.  Hauck said, “We want to convince those outside of our community of the value not only of social impact, but to bring them here and treat them as citizens of Barcelona. Back home, they have their own ecosystems. But if they are simply passing through Barcelona, they won’t take the opportunity to join us. We want to create opportunities for them to contribute to our movement and to be part of our ecosystem.”

Last Updated on Friday, 21 November 2014 16:54
 

21

Nov

2014

President Obama's Executive Order on Immigration Benefits Innovators PDF Print E-mail

Emily Baker

Written by Emily Baker   
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Last night President Obama announced his executive action to fix the nation’s broken immigration system. Key provisions of the Executive Order benefit the innovation ecosystem and represent a victory for NVCA.  Here is a short recap of the provisions that relate to high-skilled immigrant entrepreneurs, the venture capital industry and why this is such an important achievement for NVCA.

Immigration reform has been a top priority for NVCA for more than a decade and we have been working on the Startup Visa for more than four years.  The original concept of the Startup Visa, developed by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Jared Polis (D-CO), aimed to provide immigrant entrepreneurs with the ability to raise angel or venture capital and build their businesses in the U.S.  Former NVCA board members Jason Mendelson (Foundry Group), Deepak Kamra (Canaan Partners), Keith Crandell (Arch Ventures), Ray Rothrock (formerly of Venrock) as well as NVCA members Jeff Bussgang (Flybridge Capital) and Shervin Pishevar (formerly of Menlo Ventures) have all testified before Congress on the importance of providing visas to entrepreneurs who receive venture capital so that they can build their businesses in the U.S.

The Executive Order expands opportunities for foreign entrepreneurs who receive venture capital (or angel investment) and meet other criteria such as job creation and revenue generation.  Achieving these milestones will allow the entrepreneur to stay in the U.S. and, if successful, be on a pathway to getting a green card.  Importantly, this visa program is uncapped and entrepreneurs can remain in the U.S. for an unlimited amount of time as they grow their business.

The Executive Order does not specify the details of the Startup Visa.  Instead it calls for the appropriate federal agency to provide guidelines and rulemaking on the specifics.  Because NVCA has been working with lawmakers and officials at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for so long on this issue, we believe that the criteria around this visa are well-defined, even if they are not public at this time.  In the case of the Startup Visa, we anticipate that the entrepreneur will have to raise a certain amount of capital and create a certain number of jobs in order to be eligible.  The inclusion of the Startup Visa in the Executive Order is a tremendous success, but doesn’t negate the need for Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform that becomes the law of the land.

The Obama Administration will now turn its attention to defining the regulatory terms of the Executive Order over the next 120 days.  NVCA has already been in discussions with the White House and DHS to ensure that the rules for these visas are written in such a way that they achieve the intended results for the startup community.  In the weeks and months ahead, we will continue working with the Administration on the regulatory front and Congress on the legislative front.

Today, Bobby Franklin, NVCA President and CEO, discussed the positive impact of the provisions included in the Executive Order that benefit the innovation ecosystem on CNBC’s Squawk Alley. Watch the interview.

We encourage members of NVCA to join in sharing their support for the provisions of the Executive Order that increase access to visas for foreign-born entrepreneurs.  Whether you write a blog post, discuss on social media, or in conversations with reporters, we ask for your contributions to make clear that the inclusion of the Startup Visa is a win for innovation, job creation and economic growth in the U.S.  There is broad bipartisan support in Congress and the White House for the high-skilled immigration provisions in the Executive Order and we want to demonstrate our support for these provisions to be included in any legislative effort. Please share your contributions with NVCA on Twitter at @NVCA. 

Last Updated on Friday, 21 November 2014 16:49
 

17

Nov

2014

Global Entrepreneurship Week: Catalyzer Accelerator Helps Entrepreneurs Seize Opportunities Hyderabad PDF Print E-mail

Jessica Straus

Written by Jessica Straus   
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Catalyzer 1

In our second series of interviews in support of Global Entrepreneurship Week, we connected with Dr. Madhulika, Co-Founder & Director of Catalyzer Startup Accelerator in Hyderabad, India. The Catalyzer team works with prospective entrepreneurs through a mentorship-driven startup accelerator program based on systems theory to facilitate accelerated learning through appropriate research methodology and data analysis.

Catalyzer accepts startup teams with innovative ideas and helps them grow by providing access to seed funding, office space, mentors (who themselves are successful entrepreneurs), academia and investors—all resources startups might otherwise struggle to find. The team has launched three initiatives as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week including the Chai, Biscuit & Startup Bi-monthly Startup community gathering, Startup 3 for three days free workshop for prospective startup founders and Entrepreneurship for Students, which includes free workshops and mentoring support for students.

In our conversation with Dr. Madhulika, she spoke about the importance of exposing young minds to entrepreneurship, the cultural factors that shape Hyderabad’s startup ecosystem, and the government’s renewed focus on policies to spur innovation.

Why is Catalyzer participating in Global Entrepreneurship Week?

Catalyzer is committed to the development of entrepreneurial ecosystems through outreach and awareness programs. Global Entrepreneurship Week is a great opportunity to consolidate the outreach work at Catalyzer in tandem with thousands of people across the world. Awareness and outreach programs carry more weight and impact when a common purpose and agenda are linked to them; we at Catalyzer feel Global Entrepreneurship Week is one such opportunity.

Our events for GEW 2014 are aimed at the youth with workshops on “Introduction to Entrepreneurship” for high School and college students. We are also actively engaged in mentoring students throughout the week and beyond.

With Catalyzer’s location in Hyderabad, one of the largest cities in India, home to several academic institutions, including the Indian School of Business, and a diverse economy, how does the environment support entrepreneurship and the work of Catalyzer?

The environment provides us access to human resources, relative low cost of operations are an added plus, and the city is an IT hub so connectivity is not an issue. The diverse economy provides a fertile ground for customer development and also finding the right resources for product development.

Imagine you were speaking with an entrepreneur from another country who was applying to Catalyzer to launch their business locally, what are the main advantages and/or disadvantages of starting a company in Hyderabad?

Like any other place in the world, the socio cultural factors play a key role when starting a company in Hyderabad. The advantages being ease of finding and recruiting human resources in technology, relative low cost of operations, ease of connecting in a major IT hub. The local culture is very risk averse and job oriented, so even though opportunities are many, there are very few individuals geared towards entrepreneurship. But, this situation becomes an advantage for an outsider because the market is very huge and local interest in entrepreneurship very negligible.

However, the disadvantages are also equally compelling. The local population is very skeptical of changes and new ideas. Networking and connections form the backbone of entrepreneurship in Hyderabad, these aspects maybe a hindrance for the outsider. An association with a local group or body is almost a necessity to start a new venture in Hyderabad.

In terms of growth strategy, does Catalyzer encourage its entrepreneurs to bootstrap their companies or raise outside private capital or to explore non-traditional capital sources, like crowdfunding?

At Catalyzer, we conduct a needs assessment for our startups at every stage and depending on their product development cycle and customer development process startups are encouraged to boot strap or raise private capital or explore nontraditional sources of funding. We believe different solutions are required for different problems; one solution does not fit every body’s needs and requirements.

Governments play a key role in the decisions of investors and entrepreneurs. Tell us more about how the government has impacted innovation in India in the past, and under the new leadership of Prime Minister Modi, what you hope to see happen with government policy in the coming years.

While governments in the past have been supportive of entrepreneurship, the efforts were scattered and not aligned together. We are hopeful that in the coming years we will be able to see a much more consolidated and concentrated approach towards encouraging entrepreneurship with a stronger focus on engaging youth in entrepreneurial activities. Support and encouragement should also be coupled with awareness about innovation, creativity and knowledge construction and management.

Looking ahead 10 years, what does Catalyzer hope to have accomplished?

Catalyzer aims to have constructed a self-sustainable startup commune in the next 10 years. Catalyzer was started by entrepreneurs with a passion for sharing their know-how, skills and expertise with startups. In a world ridden with cut throat competition and negativity, Catalyzer is a sincere attempt to bring people together to form a commune and help each other build and share wealth; be it social or financial wealth. Catalyzer is a startup commune for entrepreneurs built with commitment and a vision to be a launch pad for startups. 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 November 2014 09:30
 

17

Nov

2014

Global Entrepreneurship Week: Entrepreneurial Opportunities Abound in Durban PDF Print E-mail

Jessica Straus

Written by Jessica Straus   
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As part of Global Entrepreneurship Week, our team at NVCA connected with leaders in innovation ecosystems around the world.  In the first of our series of interviews, we spoke with Nkululeko Mthembu, the founder of the Durban Innovation Hub in Durban, South Africa. Durban, a city of over three million people and home to the country’s largest port, has a diverse economy driven by trade, industry and the presence of multinational corporations.

 

Durban Innovation Hub 1Mthembu founded the organization with the vision to foster entrepreneurship throughout Durban through collaboration, connection, education and mentorship. Whether they are connecting first-time entrepreneurs with experienced industry players, convening events like the monthly Hook Up Dinners to give entrepreneurs the opportunity to break bread and pitch each other, or hosting seminars on Lean Startup methodology, Mthembu, aptly known as “The Head Honcho,” is creating space for entrepreneurs to learn and create. Why the focus on connection? As Mthembu told us, “The entrepreneurial journey is long and very lonely, so we put together spaces and clusters and little hives where entrepreneurs can meet.”

The collective work of the Durban Innovation Hub, many other incubators, corporations and government entities, like the National Youth Development Agency seems to be having an impact. Every year, in partnership with Deloitte, NVCA surveys 300 venture capital investors to measure their confidence in investing in startups around the world as part of our Global Venture Capital Confidence Survey. In 2014, confidence in growth prospects of South African startups increased among investors in the U.S., Brazil, China and Japan.

Mthembu and his team know firsthand the reasons to be confident in South African startups. He pointed to the huge opportunities that exist. In addition to having the largest port, Durban has the most land mass in the country, advanced agricultural and industrial ecosystems, and multinational corporations right in their backyard. Many universities have dedicated research and development initiatives focused on innovation across the value chain of agribusiness, including improving crop development and developing alternative energies.  In addition, compared to other economies, there is very little red tape coming from the government, so it can be easy to get things done.

However, the challenge remains to educate more people about the concept of entrepreneurship and creating an ecosystem that will attract international talent at a time when many workers leave for Johannesburg, Capetown and the UK. Amid a fertile environment for potential corporate partnerships, job opportunities to build technical skills, Durban can be very silo-ed. Durban Innovation Hub wants to break down the barriers hindering innovation.

In Durban, Mthembu believes the pathway to success will come from tapping into the structures that already exist, and in order to do so, collaboration is needed. Durban Innovation Hub has formed partnerships that benefit the rising generation – working with student entrepreneurs in their teens, on up. The Hub has partnered with a local college to offer free coding classes, developed relationships with successful entrepreneurs to provide mentorship, and is working to leverage corporate resources.

As the Durban Innovation Hub team pointed out, everyone in Durban brings a competitive spirit to the ecosystem.  When companies seek to raise outside capital, the team strongly encourages bootstrapping. They believe bootstrapping builds out the character of the entrepreneur, their ability to think and enhances their natural inclination toward competition. Once an enterprise has developed its business model, entrepreneurs in Durban may turn to crowdfunding through South African crowdfunding platform Thundafund or other similar services.

Often, the best motivation can come from the heroes of innovation.  When we asked aspiring entrepreneurs in Durban who they admire most, they immediately named Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and South Africa’s own Elon Musk as their most iconic figures. Mark Shuttleworth, one of South Africa’s most revered entrepreneurs and the first citizen to travel to space, looms large as well. All the role models play a huge role in shaping South Africa, and their perceptions of what is possible.

Looking ahead 10 years, we asked what the Durban Innovation Hub hopes to have accomplished. Mthembu and his team listed off several milestones they are working toward. By 2024, the Hub hopes to have contributed 10% growth of the local economy, convened over one million minds, built R&D facilities, attracted foreign direct investment from international players, created an enabling environment for entrepreneurs, and increased interconnectedness with the global communities by 5 percent. With their track record in Durban and a clear roadmap, they are well on their way. 

 

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 November 2014 09:10
 

17

Nov

2014

NVCA Celebrates Global Entrepreneurship Week PDF Print E-mail

Jessica Straus

Written by Jessica Straus   
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GEW

This week, NVCA joins in celebrating Global Entrepreneurship Week and the people around the world who foster innovation and build ideas into companies. The entrepreneurial spirit is a force for economic development, creativity, increasing efficiencies, job creation and innovation. Across geographies, there are a few traits that can be found in entrepreneurs worldwide – a passion to tackle a challenge they perceive in the world, a desire to build something new and a willingness to take risks to see their vision through.

From Algeria to Zimbabwe, the new companies emerging are as diverse as they are numerous.  Whether entrepreneurs are finding ways to increase efficiencies in agriculture, manufacturing, or renewable energy, or building software that transforms entire industries, the singularity of each solution points to the influential role the surrounding environment plays in shaping innovation. As with politics, entrepreneurship is local. In any given region, it is the ecosystem—local industry, universities, transportation and infrastructure, and public policies—that fosters an environment where entrepreneurs can solve big problems by leveraging the local talent pool and available resources. 

In support of Global Entrepreneurship Week, NVCA will explore the diversity of the global entrepreneurial ecosystem through a series of interviews with leaders on three different continents. We give our thanks to the leaders of the Durban Innovation Hub in Durban, South Africa, the Catalyzer Startup Accelerator in Hyderabad, India and the Impact Hub in Barcelona, Spain who are shaping the future of global innovation and generously shared their stories with us. Stay tuned for more throughout the week. 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 November 2014 08:59
 

03

Nov

2014

NVCA Advocates for Increased Efficiency and Efficacy in Fair Value Reporting PDF Print E-mail

John Taylor

Written by John Taylor   
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The cycle of innovation in the U.S. ecosystem is driven, in part, by the dynamic flow of capital among limited partners, traditional, corporate and growth equity venture capital investors, entrepreneurs, and, in the event of a public offering or acquisition, retail investors and companies. Limited partners (LPs), whose ranks include foundations, endowments and pension funds, invest in venture capital funds to put capital to work growing innovative young companies.

As part of their capital commitment, LPs require audited financial statements that report the fair value of venture capital firms’ portfolio company investments.  Assessing fair value presents a considerable challenge to both auditors and the Chief Financial Officers and Administrative Partners at venture capital firms, who are responsible for the preparation of quarterly and annual financial statements of the funds. More often than not, portfolio companies do not yet have proven business models or technology, making it difficult to precisely state their current fair value using traditional financial metrics.

Since 2003, the National Venture Capital Association’s CFO Task Force has been actively engaged in bringing increased efficacy and efficiency to the fair value reporting and auditing process.  Today NVCA, in conjunction with the CFO Task Force, sent a letter to the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) outlining the challenges that exist with current auditing methods, defining our shared goals with the PCAOB and providing our recommendations to improve fair value reporting.  

The CFO Task Force is made up of CFOs and Administrative Partners of almost 100 of NVCA’s member firms. They are responsible for the financial statements of hundreds of venture capital funds and many aspects of the back office operations of their firms.

Download the NVCA's full letter to Public Company Accounting Oversight Board

 

Last Updated on Monday, 03 November 2014 16:41
 
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