IBM SmartCamp

An IBM Global Entrepreneur Showcase

Why you want to demo and pitch at LAUNCH Festival

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You might’ve heard that this year’s SmartCamp events are being powered by LAUNCH. Why did we decide to do this? Because we attended LAUNCH Festival last year and were blown away by the opportunities for founders to demo, learn, and launch. We wanted to give those same opportunities to our SmartCamp participants and Global Entrepreneur members, so that’s what we’re going to do!
This year, ten SmartCamp semi-finalists from around the world will be given the opportunity to demo at both LAUNCH Festival and LAUNCH Scale! (What’s LAUNCH Scale? We will tell you about it next week).
Here are the top 3 reasons why you want to attend LAUNCH Festival:
1.    Demo – Angel investor Jason Calacanis was tired of seeing conferences where startups had to pay thousands of dollars to demo, so he made a conference where demoing was free. The catch? Jason and his team curate the demo pit by extending invitations only to the smartest and most innovative companies they find. Getting to demo at LAUNCH Festival is quite an honor – and also a good opportunity to meet potential investors.

2.    Learn – In 2015 some of the speakers were: Andrew Mason, Jeff Weiner, Marc Benioff, Naval Ravikant, Peter Thiel, and Yancey Strickler. So when you’re not in the demo pit securing your next round of investment or finding your next big client, you can learn from the folks that made Silicon Valley what it is.

3.    Launch – This is really what LAUNCH Festival is all about. Throughout the event startups get on stage and do a live demo to compete for various prizes. Past winners include Mint, Yammer, DropBox, Stack OverFlow and FitBit. Not a bad group of alumni.
While all ten of the SmartCamp semi-finalists get to demo at Festival, three finalists also get to demo live on stage for the final leg of their journey through IBM SmartCamp. There are no losers here – of course one of those companies will land a spot in the LAUNCH Incubator and a $25K investment from Jason Calacanis.

SMARTCAMP: 30 cities, 10 finalists, 1 winner |

SMARTCAMP: 30 cities, 10 finalists, 1 winner |

30 cities image


Jason Calacanis talking water system improvement and plugging SmartCamps 2015 last week on “This Week in Startups.” Thank you Jason!

IBM and LAUNCH Present The 2015 SmartCamps Competition in Sixteen Cities and counting!

IBM is excited to announce the launch of our 2015 Global SmartCamps in collaboration with angel investor, and serial entrepreneur, Jason Calacanis (@jason) and LAUNCH Media in sixteen cities worldwide and counting.

If you think your startup is changing the world, IBM SmartCamp and LAUNCH are here to give you the tools to make it happen. We’re helping startups build a smarter planet by providing access to ideas and advancements through education, mentorship, business services and industry access.

LAUNCH Festival 2015
LAUNCH Festival 2015

This year’s program offers startups the opportunity to get training from, network with, and pitch to top-tier mentors from local businesses, startups, and VCs. Winners will get the chance to be accepted into the LAUNCH Incubator with $25k investment from Jason Calacanis , and become IBM’s Global Entrepreneur of the Year.

Wondering how it works? Here are the details:

Step 1: Application
Apply to a local IBM SmartCamp in a city near you.

Step 2: Compete in a Local IBM SmartCamp

Step 3: Semi-Finals: 10 local winners will be invited to study + demo at LAUNCH Scale, an exclusive, invite-only event in Silicon Valley

Step 4: Finals: Pitch live at LAUNCH Festival to win IBM Global Entrepreneur of the Year and a slot in the LAUNCH incubator, with a $25k investment

Want to engage with IBM Smart Camps and LAUNCH on social media? Keep up with the story and follow us @IBMSmartCamp and @LAUNCH. Tag your photos #IBMSmartCamp.

From IBMer to founder: How my experience at IBM taught me what I needed to know to be a great startup founder

I founded a hardware startup back in 2004 as a project to deliver mobile service oriented (vacuum cleaners, logistics, security) autonomous robots. The project was going on in my free time while I was working full time at IBM. We incorporated in 2007 with a team of passionate engineers and with the help of friends & family. We got a seed investment back in 2011. From that time, thanks to healthy sales of technology, our services, as well as obtaining some R&D funds from EU, independent development started. After reaching this early stage with around 20 engineers employed I opened offices for my startup in Silicon Valley. Since that time I decided to step down from leading the company in 2015 to make room for more adequate leaders to take over for me and I returned back to IBM.

My startup adventure was possible thanks to the experiences I gained working for IBM. I worked at IBM for over 10 years before I decided to separate to work exclusively on my startup.

Here are three important lessons founder lessons for you that I learned by working at IBM:

1.  At IBM I  learned how important it is to build a profound relationship with a customer. In a startup, often your first customers become your partners and mentors.

2. Building the team of motivated engineers to deliver a solution on time was key to developing the first products in scope and time. IBM taught me how to invite people to join the team instead of forcing them to deliver. It was vital to demonstrate that there was something of significant value for everyone. And from IBM I learned how important it was to help my employees grow professionally.

3. Lastly, at IBM I perfected my presentation and PR skills. I often presented at conferences as well as organizing events to promote new products and generate sales leads. That came with a significant amount of hands-on training. Later on I leveraged those skills so many times as a founder. You pitch your idea of the startup to investors, passerbys, waiters, etc. Practice your pitch on everybody. It will help you to perfect it and you never know when you’ll run into your next big customer or investor. It really often happens just by sheer luck!

marek bio picMarek Sadowski, is a MobileFirst Developer Advocate at IBM. He is also developing an Internet of Things & Bluemix powered robot vacuum available soon on Kickstarter.

You can reach him on Twitter @blumareks.

Partnering with Corporate Venture

This week, National Venture Capital Association will host its annual VentureScape event in San Francisco.  IBM is very excited to take part in the event, and in particular, in Office Hours, which links entrepreneurs from the across the U.S. and around the globe with VCs and other entrepreneurs to help build the next generation of game-changing companies.   The theme this year is “Where Transformation Takes Shape” and it is a very timely topic given that corporations around the world are in the midst of transforming themselves and the role of the startup is front and center in that transformation.

Today, large companies are partnering with the startup community to help fuel innovation and to keep their finger on the pulse of new technology trends.  Corporate venture capital and corporate innovation initiatives are becoming strategic “must-haves” at leading organizations now.  According to Global Corporate Venturing, the number of corporations investing in venture capital has grown to more than 1100 corporate venture units around the globe.

For an entrepreneur, this is good news.  First, it certainly means many more choices when it comes to raising funds.  But beyond capital, there are many other significant benefits in partnering with corporations.  Entrepreneurs have the opportunity to leverage their large, established customer base, credibility and brand, and deep  expertise and network within an industry.  Most corporate VCs will have a strategic nature to their interest, whether its furthering existing solutions, getting into new market opportunities, or expanding into new geographies. The reach and distribution that a partnership with some of these largest companies in the world could provide is certainly something to think about for the growth of any startup business.

If you will be at VentureSpace on Tuesday, May 6th, I hope you will join us as we continue this discussion at the VentureScape Workshop on Wednesday, May 6th, 2015.

Wendy Lung is a partner in IBM’s Venture Capital Group.  Since 2000, IBM’s Venture Capital Group (VCG) has been dedicated to building strategic relationships with venture capital firms and their portfolio companies to create exciting new customer solutions and identify growth opportunities in new markets. 

There’s A New Way to Startup – IBM meets Reality TV

What happens when IBM meets Social Entrepreneurship meets Reality TV? We’re about to find out! On April 26th, 2015, the first episode of an IBM original web series called “A New Way to Startup” will be released here.

What’s this all about?

Ten social entrepreneurs were picked to pitch their startups at SXSW last month and now five of them are moving forward and moving in together for a week in Austin, TX to participate in a series of daily challenges using IBM technology like Watson Analytics and IBM Verse.

Who are the social entrepreneurs?

The entrepreneurs include:

Aaron Horowitz from Sproutel, who is building the “Sesame Street of healthcare.” Horowitz was inspired by his experience dealing with a terminal illness as a child to create a new way of teaching kids about chronic illnesses like Type 1 diabetes;

John Guydon from LassyProject, whose mission is to find lost children faster by giving parents the ability to notify a community about a missing child within seconds;

Jordan from Owlet, who created a baby monitor in the form of a sock that infants wear to protect their heartrate and oxygen levels;

Lauren Foster, from Stretch Recipes, whose mission is to help people eat better and save more money through “an app that lets you choose your budget, pick your meals and automatically get coupons;”

Stephen Garten, from Charity Charge, who created a credit card rewards website that’s partnering with banks to help cardholders contribute their points to their charity of choice.

Hear all ten pitches and meet the five finalists here. And be sure to watch the series because viewers will be in charge of voting for the winning social enterprise!

Good luck to all the entrepreneurs!

4 Reasons Why Hybrid Cloud is Becoming the New Normal

To understand why every cloud in the future will be a hybrid cloud, you must realize that cloud is a key enabler of business model transformation. To remain competitive and relevant, every business must transform and adapt.

Let’s examine four major reasons that support the assertion that hybrid clouds will be the standard.

The majority of businesses have some type of existing IT infrastructure, which makes it unrealistic to move all services to the cloud.

As much as service providers would like, few businesses will be able to completely eliminate their IT infrastructure and rely solely on the cloud. Many businesses sign long-term leases for data center space and purchase capital assets for their IT infrastructure that are depreciated over several years. Most businesses simply aren’t positioned to move all legacy applications to the cloud.

While many providers define a hybrid cloud as the utilization of private and public clouds, IBM opens up the idea that traditional IT can be paired and integrated with external or even internal clouds. This means that you don’t need to move all of your traditional IT infrastructure to a private cloud before you can use a hybrid cloud approach.

Businesses can no longer afford to build out dedicated infrastructures that have been designed to support peak capacity needs.

The typical IT infrastructure must be designed and built for peak utilization. These processes typically take between three and 12 months, given the lead time to deploy and achieve steady state.

The average utilization of physical servers tends to be no more than 12 to 18 percent. Businesses have begun to virtualize their physical servers to potentially increase this utilization rate into the 30 to 40 percent range, if the virtualized servers are in a resource pool.

One way to increase utilization is to create a private cloud. This cloud would essentially be a group of virtualized servers in resource pools with self-service portals that allow new server workloads to easily be created, modified and deleted. This would expand the ability of a business to use the private cloud across lines of business with different peak needs, and can help drive utilization up to approximately 50 percent.

To drive physical servers up near 80 percent usually requires multi-tenant public clouds with a mix of businesses that have varying peak demand time periods. Many consider this to be an oversubscription of servers for individual customers, but this model can be successful since customers will have peak needs at different times.

conceptual average physical server utilization

Customer expectations continue to shift.

Gone for many are the days of finding a product or service and sticking with it over time. The Internet affords customers the ability to quickly compare prices, availability and reviews of similar products and services. In addition, social media influences purchasing decisions, raising the demand of low sales products and services and often taking local demand to global levels. This drives variability to individual business demand, and non-cloud IT infrastructures simply cannot be adjusted quickly enough to avoid lost sales and lost business opportunities, as customers will simply move on to the next provider.

Regulations often force some data to remain on client premises.

While business demands may shift from local to global, there are often local regulations that force some business data to remain local. Typical examples are the European Union Data Protection Directive, as well as any governmental regulations for finance, banking, healthcare or insurance. Keeping this data local while utilizing a cloud for global expansion of the business can be a great solution to these issues.

Join in the conversation and let us know what you think by leaving a comment below or by reaching out to us on Twitter @DavidWeck and @AJirau.

This post was co-authored by Ariel Jirau

About David Weck

David is an Architect leading the Global Delivery Planning of Cloud Managed Services within IBM’s Cloud Service Division. CMS provides options for Public on IBM premise and Private on Cient premise Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). He creates and interlocks the delivery model, the cost model, and guides new releases of CMS into production. David can be reached on Twitter @DavidWeck.

Insight Robotics’ fire fighting solution won the day!

Insight Robotics wins SmartCamp 2014! Congrats to Insight Robotics for winning what was one of the most competitive SmartCamps ever! Very impressive!

The difference for Insight Robotics is that they had proven technology that was very innovative with a great social impact: fighting fires.

insight robotics logoUsing thermal imaging sensors and advanced artificial intelligence vision technology, Insight Robotics’ solution allows fire fighters to locate a forest fire quickly, giving them a jump at extinguishing the flames. So precise is their solution that it can spot fires as small as an area of 2m x 1m within 5km radius!

Also, congratulations to blue, Inc. for winning the People’s Choice Award! Clearly, blue, Inc. has a loyal fanbase. Be sure to check them out!

Congratulations to all our finalists!

Viva Las Vegas! SmartCamp Finals is here!

Mentoring session at SmartCamp Finals inside the MGM Grand

Today’s the big day! SmartCamp Finals is here!

The earlier part of the private mentoring sessions is halfway done. After a break later this afternoon, the startups will fine-tune their presentations for the final pitch!

In the meantime, we need your help in determining who will win the popular vote: the People’s Choice Award!

Need help figuring out who to vote for? Check out the finalists in our Spotlight Series:

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