After Juan Senor welcomed everyone just after 9:15 CET, Dan’l Lewin took the stage to talk about the importance of entrepreneurship in taking us back to economic growth, how innovation drives regional competitiveness, and Microsoft’s role in that. Dan’l mentioned our founder Bill Gates; but put the success of our company on the partners that build on and do great things with our products.
Then it was the turn of our venue host, Frank Stockx, CIO ING Belgium. Frank put up a slide entitled “A Gradual Silent Revolution – Innovation in Banking”. In the current environment banks are finding it increasingly difficult to operate across borders. ING Belgium are the #4 bank – so “too big to be small and too small to be big”. They are trying to make a difference in the market by looking at the best ways to apply technology to get an advantage and drive new business, while ensuring they don’t lose clients in the branch. Since 2007 they’ve been using MSFT technology to deliver innovation in services. Like car insurance delivered 100% online, ING being the first ones to do this. Their aim? To be one of the leading innovators in banking …with devices.
In the “What’s Another Year?” session, Andrew Yates CEO Artesian and Vincent Vergonjeanne from Kobojo took the stage to bring us up to speed on their progress, having jointly shared the prize at BizSpark European Summit 2010 in Paris. Andrew spoke about their team’s enterprise software background – his view: enterprise software was a dirty word especially with VC’s a few years ago, but Artesian are using their expertise and leading-edge cloud architecture to take the agility and cost benefits, and time-to-value to the customer. Andrew said sales grew 700% in the past year, seeing new big customers with big demands, and said how important Windows Azure is in meeting that demand. On the question from Juan about whether these things really matter and really make a difference? “Our traffic online went up 2000% when we did the 2010 Microsoft Summit. We definitely got credibility being associated with that”. (Read more on their last interview in my past post)..
Vincent @Kobojo said making money on social is all about growing users fast. (Mais bien sur). They used the cloud to help them scale from zero to 1.6m users in 1.5 months. His advice for entrepreneurs? “Instead of looking for funds immediately take baby steps; you don’t need massive marketing budgets”.
“Follow your instincts” was Andrew’s advice.
To the audience of entrepreneurs nervously anticipating their pitches today, Andrew said: “Listen to Mike!”. The [Mike Sigal], coach extraordinaire, took the startups through rehearsals yesterday. It was fun to watch. Andrew said “Seeing energy and passion is cool. You have five minutes to tell folks why you’re going to be a world beater. Good luck to today’s presenters”. Vincent’s parting words: “I remember Guy Kawasaki in Paris last year talking about ‘Hot or Not’. Be Hot today!”