Szeged’s startup community has just started to blossom: new tech companies are popping up, and initiatives like SzegedBoost, SzegedTech or the startup event series are organized in the city's new cultural and technological center, the Informatorium. Mid-December 2012, I attended the 1st Startup Event, where I witnessed a handful of fresh ideas turn into reality, and startup kids become real entrepreneurs.
The attendees all agreed that starting a tech company to make money from one's ideas is one of the riskiest steps, even if it's fueled by enthusiasm. Surprisingly, they seemed to be very much aware that they first have to survive the Death Valley before a steady stream of revenues is established. No wonder that they could only name 3 Hungarian startups (Prezi, LogMeIn, UStream) from the last 10 years that reached their goal, and became successful enough to live well on their idea. Still they, and probably hundreds more, keep investing time and energy to prove they were right. Although it can be a long way till they get there, with their innovation they hope to reshape the market like The Invisible Bicycle Helmet did, or create their own like Cirque du Soleil changed the whole concept of circus opposing both the Balkanian and the American traditions.
Both current success stories and failures were presented to show that there's no proven recipe on how to make it big, but there are a couple of things that can help you along the way. One of the speakers emphasized the need for a good team corresponding to a certain skill set, since you cannot excel in all the required skills. The other pointed out the importance of your first followers, which made us see leadership from a different perspective.
Unfortunately, we generally don't graduate from school with all the needed practical knowledge for entrepreneurship. The invitees of the event – with the exception of the lucky few who could afford to attend one of the rather expensive business schools - also chose self-education by reading online tech magazines, blogs (such as the Insider) and books (e.g. Brad Feld’s Startup Community), or by watching movies (like The Startup Kids) and following inspiring people (like Guy Kawasaki). As for hands-on experience, there are Startup Weekends organized where product building and startup launches are closely assisted. At Pronovix, we also experimented with such an event for our team members, and we learnt a lot about testing the viability of an idea and developing it into a product. You can read more about the app we’ve come up with on our first product sprint here.
Invitees from Budapest pointed out how important forming and joining the local startup community was, since it’s the best place to meet not only fellow community members, but VCs, business angels or even a future mentor in a much less formal environment. You can find an active community in Szeged, one of the forthcoming events where members can meet and watch The Startup Kids movie together is part of the CoLabs Startup School tour. See you there!