This global gathering of innovators and entrepreneurs from around the world, is held throughout Tel Aviv in mid-September comprising of many events, conferences, and gatherings, all focusing on different sides of digital, technological, social and urban innovation.
Saxo Bank has sponsored the Danish leg of the competition for three years and it has always been exciting for me to participate on the judging panel with other successful Danish entrepreneurs, including my good friends. Morten Wagner and Tommy Ahlers.
This year’s winner was Velocatr from Odense, who won after a very close competition with Startup Travels and Edukarma.
Velocatr has developed a tracking technology for bicycles that enables you to find a bike that has been stolen. Cycling theft is a big problem in cycling-crazy Denmark, with nearly 70,000 bikes stolen and only a tiny fraction ever found again. Combining this tracking device with an induction driven bike light is both clever and ingenious.
Bike theft could become a thing of the past because of Velocatr's
tracking technology. Photo: Sean Gallup \ Thinkstock
But the true idea is really about distributing a MESH network in a smart way in urban areas, and then begin to exploit the value of such a network in multiple other ways.
Each of the three finalists had 30 minutes to pitch their idea to the panel of judges, responding to probing questions on their respective business models and the technology they had chosen to use.
The calibre of the three entries and their innovative ideas resulted in much deliberation before a final winner was decided upon. We had a real exchange of views in the jury and had to delay our award ceremony a bit to reach a conclusion - just the way it should be when you have strong entries in a competition.
Potential for more
I think Velocatr’s exciting “peer to peer” technology has the potential to be more than “just” bike tracking technology. Hopefully, the participants at the DLD Tel Aviv Innovation Festival agree with me, and can challenge fully any technology issues even better than us.
The Velocatrs’ trip to Tel Aviv offers a unique opportunity to meet fellow entrepreneurs as well as investors and potential business partners in the capital of what is truly a start-up nation.
1. Israel’s spending on R&D is at a higher rate than any OECD country.
2. Israel has the largest number of start-ups per capita.
3. Israel boasts the largest number of NASDAQ IPOs of any country outside the U.S. and Canada.
4. Israel is third in the world for venture capital availability.
As for the two teams that didn't make it to Tel Aviv, I told them that they should push on, because their ideas were great, too.
Arriving at a great idea is not accomplished overnight and making it to the final of this competition is a testament itself to the jury’s belief in their potential.
The most important lesson from this year’s guldæg.dk competition is that entrepreneurship in Denmark is going from strength to strength. We received a number of great proposals. I have been impressed, in particular, by a common characteristic of each proposal – a clearly defined audience strategy.
Because - to be honest - when Kim Fournais and I founded Saxo Bank in 1992, we weren’t as clear of what we wanted to do as these three finalists were. I would love to say that Kim and I had a grand vision of everything Saxo Bank has become when we first met but the truth is that - at the time, in the summer of 1992 - we were driven by what we considered to be an immediate opportunity.
I think that what saved the first difficult years was that both of us had some experience in the market we were entering. I have seen many young entrepreneurs fail not because their ideas weren’t good but rather due to lack of experience.
Kim and I happened to come across the internet in its early stages. We quickly understood that the internet was our real chance to differentiate Saxo from the marble palaces of Wall Street.
It gave us the opportunity to democratise the market by having a more transparent online service that could handle smaller trades and provide better pricing for our investors.
Since then, much of our development has been driven by our desire to continue to differentiate Saxo as a nimble, innovative bank that consistently remains responsive to the needs of our clients.
22 years is a long time and a lot has happened since Kim and I first met in Nyhavn, a 17th-century waterfront canal and entertainment district in Copenhagen, to enjoy a cold beer on a hot summer's day.
Today, competition remains fierce and market conditions as tough as ever. Traders and investors increasingly demand usability, mobility, performance and service when investing. That is why technology is still at the core of our operations.
Technology rules the world
Technology has allowed us to maintain a strong competitive advantage. It wasn’t always easy for Kim and me but - most of the time – we had lots of fun.
The candidates for this year’s Guldæg.dk prize demonstrated clarity of foresight and an ability to uncover opportunities through understanding their customers, and most importantly preempting their needs.
A stolen bike, bringing together entrepreneurs doing business overseas or a social platform for students who need career advice are not simply problems: they’re also business opportunities across a variety of fields, namely education, travel and GPS tracking.
All three startups were established on the basis of a good idea, a commitment to realising that good idea and a sound business plan to be implemented by a talented team.
Ultimately, that’s what will drive your start-up forward.
Please check our three finalists out right here:
: (no official website but a description of the project here)
I wish the winners the best of luck in Tel Aviv!
-- Edited by Martin O'Rourke