Calling All StartupsYour Startup idea could win it all at
IBM Entrepreneur SmartCamp
If you’re okay running a – your– local business, don’t read on. If you’re okay staying below the radar in a
nice comfort zone – don’t read on. If you think you can make it without guidance – and, in particular, without
advice from a 100 year old technology company – don’t
read on. If you think you can conquer the world alone – don’t read on.
Given the fact you’re still reading, I presume you want your startup to grow madly, go international, become a
leader in your market; or maybe you get that extra kick one gets being one’s own boss. Let me share with you
what we – Worldsensing, IBM Smart Camp
London Winners in 2010 – got out of the event.
First, as an experience, going through the entire Smart Camp process has been a true eye opener! Though it’s
difficult to admit, Worldsensing had been a “hobby” project for around two years ever since its inception in
June 2008. Then, in June 2010, we began communicating with IBM and everything changed. Completely. We learned a
lot, and we revolutionised our business, along the road.
The application process, though very simple, forced us for the first time to focus and to identify who we were,
what we wanted, and whom we served. It may seem a trifling matter for most Anglo-Saxon companies, but the
remaining part of the planet seem to find this aspect of business extremely difficult. Throughout the early
application phase, the first phone chats with IBMers, the London finals mentoring, and the world finals
mentoring; we learned to hone in and to drop everything not core to our business, no matter how much we loved
it – painful (!) but rewarding on the long run.
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The benefits of taking part for Worldsensing have been
priceless. In fact, they have been a driving force behind the major transformations that have made us a
competitive international business today. Apart from the above-mentioned advice to focus, we have received very
competent mentoring on all aspects of running an early-stage business; we have learned to pitch, an art on its
own; we have learned what investors like to hear and what they don’t; and we have been exposed to direct
competition on an international level.
From a business perspective, the engagement with IBM has put us not only into their database, but also onto
their customer’s radars. As of today, we are engaged defining and participating in several Smart City projects with our Smart
Parking solution. Our ability to co-sell with IBM has made our business not only interesting for IBM but also
for their customers all around the world. The label, in the end, matters.
The day we won IBM Smart
Camp against the odds back in the summer 2010 we made the transition from being a small unheard of
business in Spain to a player on the global stage. The event immediately brought into the international
limelight and an avalanche of news items, press releases and awards soon followed. In the year since the event,
Worldsensing has been labeled by the
prestigious Pike Research as one of the 17 companies actively shaping the Smart City eco system. We have
featured in the Wall Street Journal as well as various TV programs and we won the Stockholm Smart City Living
Labs Global Awards in 2011.
Learn why IBM wants to help Startups
From a business point of view, it transformed us from a small local Spanish garage-company into a two-digit
million Euro business as of Q3 2011. The exposure we have got alongside IBM since the event has given
Worldsensing some serious credibility with investors. Closing investment rounds has also turned out to be much
easier with IBM helping to “screen” participants. Thank you IBM!
We have also found that customers feel reassured when they see our partnership with IBM. Working with a company
who has survived more than 100 years in an environment where technologies change on a monthly basis definitely
gives our customers peace of mind.
Finally, a note on IBM themselves. We
have found the company astonishing, not only as a business, but also at a personal level. It is a truly unique
company with real international flair. It does not matter whether you or your contact is in Spain, the UK, or
China; IBMers are always engaged; there to take the phone, respond to your emails, try to help or to link you
with others that can. Above all, IBM is in the field, out there, working with your potential customers to make
Is IBM Smart Camp 2011 for you? If the most important
thing you feel before closing your eyes after another mad day is “Today, I had fun – again!”, then don’t be shy
and apply. There won’t be any regrets. It’s the start of a life-changing journey.