Some notes on notes

As far as taking notes go, I am not sure what the best setup might be for me. Although I consider the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil to be the best digital option I have used so far, I was still not getting rid of paper based notes. This is a pain more often than not, since it takes a long time to digitise the notes in an efficient way. This might not be necessary in any case or for all notes, but still more often than one might think.

notes

Since I ditched my iPad Pro for a Macbook Pro anyway, I am back to the issue of finding a solution that works for me. Even sticking with paper based notes won’t do the trick because whenever I start to use a notebook, I stop using it at some point due to the technology gap.


There are many options

Since I am deeply committed to the Apple ecosystem (not just emotionally), the Lenovo Love Book is nothing I even want to try. Also, I am not convinced by options such as the Moleskine Smart Writing Set (although I would be willing to try it at a much lower price point), Evernote Notebooks (in collaboration with Moleskine), Livescribe Smart Pen, IRISNotes 3 Smart Pen or even the beautiful but not so feature-rich Augmented Paper by Montblanc (which apparently is utilising Wacom technology).

If only this would work, but it doesn’t. Although the pen seems to work quite well, the Montblanc companion iOS app lacks features to use the product in an efficient way and there is no convenient way to transfer the notes to a desktop machine. There are many other digital note taking options to choose from of course, all of which are not meant for me.


reMarkable

The only thing I really like so far is the reMarkable tablet. It is a sunlight readable, monochrome electronic ink tablet with a canvas display at 226 DPI and a promised latency below 60ms and most importantly paper-like surface friction. It claims to be the solution to all of my problems:

“The paper tablet for people who prefer paper. Here to replace your notebooks, sketchbooks and printouts. Paper-like reading, writing and sketching with digital powers.” Source: reMarkable.com


Compared to an iPad the features are very limited of course. But still it seems to fit my needs in terms of reading and taking notes. Unfortunately, it will be quite pricy with $719 and a limited time offer of $479 until the product’s introduction in fall 2017. Without trying it out for myself I am not willing to take the risk of ordering it right away. 

The team bypassed kickstarter and just offered pre-orders on the product’s website to finance its development, which is why I have doubts whether the reMarkable tablet can actually deliver what it promises. The preliminary reviews are quite good, so I will definitely give it try once it hits local stores.

This might lead to an update on taking notes. We will see.

Hamburg’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem and the Next Media Initiative

Based on research into entrepreneurship policy done at UNSW in 2016, I completed my graduate studies at Hamburg University of Applied Sciences in December 2016 with a master thesis on the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Hamburg, Germany, and the entrepreneurship policy approach by the regional government.

The thesis is called “Hamburg’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem And The Next Media Initiative – Public Policy Towards Entrepreneurship” and focuses on Hamburg’s regional innovation strategy 2020 and the dedicated media/IT industry cluster initiative nextMedia.Hamburg. The abstract of the thesis can be found below.

master thesis


Introduction

Entrepreneurship, more specifically the formation of tech startups, is often attributed with economic growth and job creation due to their high-growth potential by many policy makers in the world. This link is widely debated in scientific literature, which does not necessarily seem to inform public policy.

The City of Hamburg established a Next Media Initiative – nextMedia.Hamburg – in 2014, focusing on media/IT industry related innovation to nurture the future development of this industry cluster with the help of high growth ventures.

This master thesis explores the composition of Hamburg’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, local government efforts to facilitate its development and the (dis)connect between municipal innovation policy and academic literature.

Method

With its nextMedia.Hamburg initiative within the media/IT industry cluster, the City of Hamburg aims to support the entrepreneurial ecosystem as well as the media and creative industry in general. In various official documents and on a dedicated nextMedia.Hamburg website the efforts to nurture innovation, to create more ventures and maintain Hamburg as a media industry capital are published.

This thesis will introduce the local entrepreneurial ecosystem along with its most relevant stakeholders and review the regional innovation strategy and nextMedia.Hamburg initiative in 3 parts.

Taking into consideration the current setup of Hamburg’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and its various entities, the first part will summarise salient points of the innovation strategy outlined by the City of Hamburg as well as key elements of the nextMedia.Hamburg initiative’s activities by which the regional government aims to attain its goals.

The second part takes relevant aspects of the outlined strategy and activities and reviews them from an academic perspective, considering arguments presented by Shane (2009), Audio et al. (2007), Morris et al. (2015), and Brown & Mawson (2015).

The third part draws on research findings to classify the outlined policy agenda and its measures to support the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Hamburg and discusses them in regards to Regional Innovation Systems (RIS) analysed by Moutinho et al. (2015) and the Triple Helix Approach (Ranga and Etzkowitz 2016) to asses their possible impact on the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Hamburg.

Results

This thesis makes 4 contributions. Foremost, several disconnects between local entrepreneurship policy in Hamburg and academic literature on entrepreneurship policy are explored by analysing both the regional innovation strategy and nextMedia.Hamburg initiative’s documents and activities. Additionally it is shown how relevant scientific findings have not been taken into consideration despite collaboration with research facilities at local universities.

Third, it is illustrated how the activities to nurture entrepreneurial activity by the nextMedia.Hamburg initiative lack a connection to actionable metrics to successfully measure results and adapt for change. As a fourth contribution, this thesis draws on common challenges in developing regional entrepreneurship policy and proposes closer collaboration between the research community, industry and policy makers.

Source: Recke, M. P., 2016. Hamburg’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem And The Next Media Initiative – Public Policy Towards Entrepreneurship.


Next Steps

I plan to take this research further in the future. Considering research findings on entrepreneurship policy effectiveness, emerging new transdisciplinary approaches can be utilized to develop a better understanding of underlying mechanics within entrepreneurial ecosystems and their impact on economic development.

For more information, feel free to contact me directly.

Apple acquired Workflow – The powerful workflow automation tool for iOS

When I was talking about my iPad Pro desktop replacement experiment, I mentioned Workflow, a powerful automation tool I use for tasks of many kinds on the iPad and iPhone. It lets you connect various features of many iOS apps in an easy to use interface that often reminds me of Apple Automator on the Mac, an application that Apple is slowly fading out in my opinion… or at least that is what I thought.

Workflow iOS app
Workflow iOS app

As it turned out, Apple just bought Workflow in March 2017, giving me new hope for more professional capabilities on iOS devices. Right now, the app provides the easiest way to generate workarounds for the various restrictions of many system and third party apps on iOS. For many things that are simple to do on a desktop machine, tasks need to be distributed between several iOS apps and chained together. Doing this manually takes forever, with Workflow it only takes longer than on a desktop machine.

With the acquisition I am hoping for a deeper integration into iOS that would allow for easier usage of workflows within and between apps. Also, I would consider it a good idea to broaden the number of preconfigured workflows to specifically target typical desktop tasks. If Apple is really serious about the iPad as desktop replacement, there is still much left to be done.

So I am looking forward to whatever will happen next.

Entrepreneurship Policy Case Study: City of Sydney’s Tech Startups Action Plan

During my time at UNSW in 2016, I worked on a case study to review Sydney’s entrepreneurship policy approach. The case study was presented in February 2017 as a peer reviewed paper at the ACERE Conference in Melbourne, Australia.

ACERE
Australian Centre for Entrepreneurship Research Exchange

In reviewing the City of Sydney’s Tech Startups Action Plan, a comprehensive document, outlining the city’s strategy towards the entrepreneurial ecosystem and measures undertaken to stimulate its growth, several disconnects between entrepreneurship policy and academic research findings have been discovered:

“Abstract: Public policy can shift the economic composition of a region. Many policy makers promote entrepreneurship under the assumption of a link between new ventures and economic growth and job creation. While this link is hotly debated in scientific literature, this literature and evidence base does not necessarily inform public policy. This project explores the (dis)connection between municipal innovation policy and the academic literature, using the City of Sydney’s recent Tech Startups Action Plan as a case study. This paper makes four contributions. First, comparison of the first and second parts of the review reveals several disconnects between the plan and the literature on entrepreneurship policy. Second, the origins of these disconnections are traced back to how relevant scientific findings had not been considered in the composition of the Tech Startups Action Plan. Third, this review reveals further deficiencies regarding the plan’s proposed implementation. More specifically, although the plan attempts to consider the entire ecosystem and its challenges, and introduces metrics to track the ecosystem’s growth, the plan lacks concrete implementation methods. Overall, this plan exemplifies challenges in developing municipal entrepreneurial policy. As a fourth contribution, this paper proposes means for closer collaboration between the research community and policy makers.”

Source: Recke, M. P., Bliemel, M., 2016. The City of Sydney’s Tech Startups Action Plan: A Policy Review.

The peer reviewed paper was used as a basis for further development of the research as well as for a similar case study of the innovation policy in Hamburg, Germany, and its impact on the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Impressions from ACERE conference 2017 in Melbourne

In February 2017 I attended the ACERE conference 2017 in Melbourne as a speaker to present a case study on the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Sydney and the regional entrepreneurship policy. The paper was created in 2016 during my time at UNSW Business School in Sydney.

“ACERE stands for Australian Centre for Entrepreneurship Research Exchange, an annual conference in its 11th year. Initiated by Professor Murray Gillin AM and inspired by the Babson College Entrepreneurship Conference (BCEC) in the United States, these conferences were organised annually by Swinburne University (and co-hosts around Australia and New Zealand) under the label “AGSE IERE” (2004-2011). Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Australian Centre for Entrepreneurship (ACE) has produced the ACERE Conference since 2012.”

Source: ACERE conference

It was the first time I attended the ACERE conference and it was a very interesting experience. The discussions around presented research papers were both constructive and inspiring and I certainly met some very interesting people over the course of the conference.

The conference was held at NAB’s The Village and was hosted by QUT (Australian Centre for Entrepreneurship Research at Queensland University of Technology) and RMIT University. The location itself was kind of interesting as well and certainly the most open corporate bank office space I have ever seen.

For anyone interested on what kind of papers were presented, I attached the conference schedule: ACERE 2017 Program

Joining ACERE Conference 2017 to present research findings

In February 2017 I will be at ACERE Conference (Australian Centre for Entrepreneurship Research Exchange) in Melbourne, Australia, to present research findings as a speaker. The conference will be held at NAB’s The Village and is hosted by QUT (Australian Centre for Entrepreneuship Research at Queensland University of Technology) and RMIT University.

I worked on a case study of Sydney’s entrepreneurship policy and strategy towards the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem, outlined in the City of Sydney’s Tech Startup Action Plan, a comprehensive document created in collaboration with entrepreneurial ecosystem stakeholders as well as industry consulting entities over a period of at least 5 years. The plan was adopted by Council in June 2016 and builds on premises such as links between entrepreneurship and economic growth:

“Encouraging tech startups will create more jobs, boost Sydney’s economy, strengthen global connections and make the city a more desirable place to live, work and visit. Our tech startups action plan details how we will work with industry and government partners to create an environment that enables technology entrepreneurs to start and grow successful global businesses.”

Source: City of Sydney – Tech Startups

The case study was done in 2016 during my time at UNSW (University of New South Wales) in Sydney as an international research student from Hamburg University of Applied Sciences in collaboration with Dr. Martin Bliemel, senior researcher at UNSW Business School, and also consists of input by industry stakeholders, policy makers and startup advocacy groups.

The peer reviewed paper will be presented during the conference and might provide an ample starting point for discussions on effective entrepreneurship policy and additional academic work in the future.

Literature research done in this context also provided a basis for further research and a master thesis on entrepreneurship policy implementation in Hamburg, Germany, that was completed in December 2016.

Mentor at Lean Artist – The World’s First Seed Accelerator for Artists

During A/D/A Hamburg I joined new media artist Jeremy Bailey as a mentor for his 3 day Lean Artist seed accelerator workshop. It basically was a boot camp based on design thinking and lean startup principles to create culturally disruptive startups.

lean artist accelerator - Slides

On the first day I joined the selected group of 10 international artists with a cynical review of the worldwide startup economy to promote a more creative approach to generating relevant startup ideas. Jeremy kicked the event off with an accelerated design thinking workshop to generate needs and insights for problem statements. Over the course of 3 days the cohort created startup ideas and iterated product prototypes and pitched their artistic business ideas for additional funding on the last day.

The event also got some media attention on vice.com, so if you are interested in Jeremy’s intention behind the lean artist program, check it out.

Lean Artist – The World’s First Seed Accelerator For Artists

Lean Artist
Lean Artist – The World’s First Seed Accelerator for Artists

 

Check out Lean Artist – The World’s First Seed Accelerator For Artists. The Seed Accelerator will invest 3000€ in 10 artists to create culturally disruptive startups. The Accelerator is lead by Toronto based New Media Artist Jeremy Bailey, whose work is on exhibition Tate Liverpool, Transmediale Berlin, and Balice Hertling in Paris among others.

The first cohort will start August 26-28 2016 as is part of the A/D/A Hamburg 2016, a conference about future utopias for today’s urban citizen. I was asked to join the cohort as a mentor, so I am looking forward to the event and can’t wait to see what the artists come up with.

Another great event during A/D/A Hamburg I can recommend is “How Will We Breathe Tomorrow”, a workshop with Jessica Broscheit about air and urban data at the Creative Space for Technical Innovations at Hamburg’s University of Applied Sciences.

A/D/A Hamburg
A/D/A Hamburg

How to Start a New Venture in 12 Weeks

While being in Sydney in early 2016, I joined a team to create a food delivery startup as part of a Management & Innovation workshop at UNSW Business School in conjunction with Michael Crouch Innovation Centre. I worked on this project part time while conducting research at UNSW into policy towards entrepreneurship and innovation and drafting a policy review of the Tech Startups Action Plan by the City of Sydney.

The workshop was organised around the structure of typical startup accelerator programs, working on specific challenges while developing a working business model over a period of 12 weeks. It was a 5 person team with local ties in Australia, Denmark, Germany, Spain and the U.S. and backgrounds in engineering, marketing, business and process management.


The Lean Startup

As one might expect, the workshop was organised around methodologies postulated by Eric Ries in his book “The Lean Startup”. Based on lean principles such as validated learning and innovation accounting, the team worked through several Build-Measure-Learn feedback loops to iterate the main features of the business model, especially the value and growth hypothesis’.

lean methodology diagram
THE LEAN STARTUP PROCESS – DIAGRAM by theleanstartup.com

The team utilized design thinking methodologies, experimented with real life feedback and consulted with industry mentors. While defining and differentiating the product, support and feedback on topics such as design, financials, financing, valuations, growth, IP and pitching to investors was provided by UNSW staff and additional industry professionals.


Business Model Canvas

Key element of the 12 week program was the business model canvas, a strategic management template for developing and documenting business models. It helped the team to visually describe all important elements and to iterate through various versions of the business model while working through the Build-Measure-Learn feedback loop. Also it allowed to sketch and discuss the business model on paper within the group, which made it very easy to discover flaws and potentials for further improvements.

the business model canvas
THE BUSINESS MODEL CANVAS by strategyzer.com

As could be expected, the business model changed from week to week and many apparent problems were eliminated through validated learning and evidence based iteration. By getting user feedback as early as possible and accounting for every change made to the business model, waste of funds while developing the minimum viable product was minimized as much as possible.


Fantastic Five – B2B Breakfast Delivery Service

In week 12 the team pitched the state of the startup, its business model, go to market strategy, key metrics and financial projections to real investors within the local startup scene in Sydney and was offered to talk about possibly joining food delivery startup activities currently active at a local accelerator program in Sydney.

Fantastic Five
Fantastic Five

The pitch was presented during a demo day at the Michael Crouch Innovation Centre within a lineup of several other startups with a pitch deck of 1o slides in a time slot of 3 minutes with an additional 3 minutes for questions by the potential investors. The jury was made up by prominent members and angel investors of the Sydney startup community.


How much time and money does it take to start a new venture?

All in all, it was a very interesting experience. Considering the effort put into the project one can only imagine the results if one would be committed full time. I spent roughly half a day to a day per week on this project and expect the other team members to have been involved in a similar or slightly deeper manner.

So basically the business pitched to the investors was the product of 250-500 hours of work with no significant additional budget. All templates and tools used were free and everything surrounding the actual product was designed, developed and tested by the team members.

So as all of you know, it just takes a lot of effort and the willingness to put in the time to ideate something of value. It certainly is feasible to create a venture with high-growth potential within a matter of 3 months. In fact, considering the experience of this workshop, it might be possible to do it a lot quicker if the commitment and skill set of the team members match up.

Powermat Wireless Charging at Starbucks in Palo Alto

I recently went to Starbucks in Downtown Palo Alto for some Frappuccino to kill some time. While waiting for the hours to pass, surfing the web on my iPhone, I ran out of power quickly. This is when I noticed the Powermat wireless charging stations they offered in the store. This is how it works:

“Powermat lets you power your phone without wires or cords or worries. Simply visit one of our Powermat locations. They’re easy to find using our app. Plug in your Ring and place on a Powermat Spot to start charging.

When plugged into your phone and placed on a Powermat Spot, the Powermat Ring wirelessly recharges your battery. Powermat charges your devices just as fast as a cord, while being conveniently within reach (no more crawling around looking for outlets). The Powermat Ring comes in multiple colors and fits all Android and iPhone mobile devices.”

Well, I appreciate the effort and can say after some issues with the loading mechanism stopping when the iPhone goes to sleep, I was able to recharge my iPhone 6 Plus. There were only a few tables equipped with the Powermat Spots, so I also had to wait until a ring became available. Apparently many people are still using the old 30-pin iPod connector since they had far more of those rings than for lightning connectors. For some reason they also had usb connectors for Android user, but I didn’t see any at this particular Starbucks. Anyway, the charger worked well enough.

The main issue with this type of charging station is that I can’t really use my iPhone while charging. If the iPhone moves just a little, charging gets interrupted. So even when using the iPhone lying on the table, it hardly possible to keep charging. I suppose preinstalled cable based charging outlets would provide a better service for Starbucks’ customers and would work better. But that’s not very innovative and that’s what Palo Alto is all about, right?