I wrote a post a few weeks ago about our road to iCatapult and I promised that I would write again about our goals in iCatapult.
This Sunday morning I read an article about Eric Ries backing a Rails development firm that created a fund targeting startups. Long story short, after I read this I could not postpone writing this post anymore and now I want to share with you our problem-solving vision.
Before jumping in, I would like to remind you of the last paragraph of my previous post:
"Despite the fact that Digital Natives' original business model now functions like a well-oiled machine and we helped clients from all around the world with tech and startup knowledge this past year, and despite the success of MIXGAR and others, we still felt we lacked expertise in market entry and the ability to really reach global markets. So we sought out new partners and friends, talked to global entrepreneurs and did some soul searching ourselves..."
First of all let me tell you a little bit about what iCatapult is doing in my own words. What we do is match-making. We find the promising early stage products, teams or sole Developers/Designers/DJs/Product monkeys/Tea ladies/CEOs/CTOs ... and we try to put them in the right environment, where they can get out the most from themselves.
The right environment means basically access to three important things:
1) market knowledge 2) ability to execute 3) cash.
These 3 items seem to touch on totally different aspects, but in reality there are not huge distances between them. There is a simple reason behind that: all of these are available via people. What iCatapult offers is simply access to the right people and to the right know-how, namely how to develop your product to make it eye-candy for the best CEOs, Developers, Designers, DJs, Angels, VCs and Tea ladies. This means practically speaking, using the Lean-startup methodology, or maybe I should say principles and "religion".
We have access to the Lean methods everywhere in the world, thankfully. But the chance to meet people who can add the other pieces of the puzzle I mentioned above (market knowledge, business execution and cash) are rarely located here in Budapest or even in the CEE region. Especially when we talk about globally scalable products; there is an even lower chance.
If we think that some things are lacking, then what DO we have here?
We have sheer, unadulterated talent. We invented the Rubic’s cube, ballpoint pen, telephone exchange... :) Ok, but seriously:
What we really have are talents in technology, design and concepts. I experienced this talent intensity when we had the chance to work together with different startups from 5 different time zones, including Silicon Valley, Chile, UK, Abu Dhabi. Our experience says that there is no difference between a US developer and a Hungarian one, maybe just in the mindset and the language. I proud to say that I found our teammates to be maybe even a little bit more creative and efficient than the others.
Now we have big plans and high hopes. We'll fly out the first few teams to NYC in May. They will have the chance to work at We Work Labs and meet the best people to help them with those areas listed above. We'll come back to you soon with fresh news, what to expect from this trip, and the full schedule.
And last but not least, here is a short FAQ on our involvement in iCatapult:
Q: What is the role of Digital Natives in iCatapult?
A: We provide our technology, product planning know-how and capacity. We'll help startups on different levels, based on their needs. Some of them might just need our help to facilitate "focus keeping" brainstorming sessions, others might need assistance in the execution, too. We're ready to meet teams where they are and help in any way we can.
Q: What is the exact relation between Digital Natives and iCatapult?
A: Digital Natives is a Co-Founder of iCatapult together with Primus Capital. So we can say that this is another new startup of ours.
Q: Does Digital Natives continue its daily work?
A: Definitely. We help our clients from all around the world - better than ever - and we support our existing startups as well (Mixgar, TaxiLike, Palyertise)
PS: Here is the Eric Ries related article for those of you who are interested: http://gigaom.com/2013/03/09/eric-ries-backed-neo-innovation-launches-new-fund-focused-on-lean-startups/