I was sick during the first day of Latitude 59.
I have taken a flight to Tallinn, spent money in hotel and flights and I was filled with motivation but I could not separate my body from a clean toilet for more than three meters or forty-five minutes depend if we measure space in distance or time magnitudes.
So I jump directly to second day.
Even going there just for one day I still find Latitude one of the best conferences in a money / quality ratio.
Bus pick up us on time. Drove us through the city, so we could see the real Tallinn. The soviet blocks, the not-taken-care-of but all around great green areas, the bad asphalt, the elegant walkers, the open business looking half-closed, the german cars, the lack of obese people, people entering to offices with a good spirit. Old town of Tallinn looked to me a bit too much of a recreational city; nice clubs and restaurants in gorgeous buildings, dressed up girls, striptease clubs and the constant presence of big guys in each door. After my first walk around I baptised it as TTallinn, city of bouncers. So the bus ride was great to see a busy city not giving a damn about tourists.
The conference started as all second tech days start, with some references about the last night of partying and jokes on hangovers. Not great, not horrible.
Then Deborah Magid. She felt like somebody important in IBM. Not a super big fish but somebody used to speak in public and who represents the nicest,start-up friendly, face of IBM. The presentation was formal, slightly standardized but solid. In a way we have heard this talk before but it was good to have it delivered by somebody with actual power to decide. Two good thoughts; the real chance to do something useful thanks to technology -so come on start-ups do not think just in the next way to add filters to a picture – and that somebody like Ms. Magid had a major in Psychology which gave all of us without a tech degree a bit of hope about our chances to get a role in startup world.
Then the crowdfunding experts. Really good panel. Different views. The guy with a biggest experience was the one talking the least but still really good. Not reiterate and well-directed by the moderator. I missed some questions regarding Europe, regulation and what we should expect from European elections in 2 weeks. This is the weird thing about politics nowadays. We do not even expect nothing from them because we tend to believe they will not listen. Some important ideas from the panel:
1. We can build a community of investors.
2. We should always ask our minimum desired amount
3. Crowdfunding has to start before you make public your campaign.
4. Fraud is not that common. Because is already hard to raise money for good reasons, imagine to do it for fraud.
Overall good. And maybe the ones willing to kick ass the most. Good punches at the face of VC regarding levels of failure.
Then the 1 minute pitches. God is hard to pitch an idea in 1 minute. God you need to have a good english and a powerful voice. Really good job by some of them. But 1 minute! How hard it is to sound appealing in 1 minute.
Break. Coffee. Pealed fruits. Internet.
Jonathan Bradford came with good own experiences. How he was good at some things and really bad at some others. You can feel his passion there. In other cases they talk about passion but you see the suits and you know is also about pocket, in the case of Mr.Bradford you see somebody believing in tech and in accelerators and thriving to find a way. Refreshing. The best part, when somebody was asking about IP (intellectual property) and the possibility of ideas being stolen when showed. Answer: I don’t understand most of the time what you are pitching, I just see if the team or the people are or will be good. Amazing.
Then the panel on Angel Funding. Suits. Mercedes Benz. And where is my money. A realistic approach. We are here to make money and to be a bit cruel and a bit funny in the same moment. Chris Burry was insightful, clever and made you smile. They are like the old brother – more than a husband as suggested – who bully you a bit, and push you a bit and will not take excuses. I loved to hear this guys talk and I would be a bit afraid of making business with some of them. But, still , I would need them. At the end, as always a random guy appearing asking for Angel. He presented a badly exposed idea. And they just killed him. Honestly. That was mean.
Lunch. Hard meat and cold pasta. I had to work a bit so no time for networking. I looked horrible so I hide myself all the time. I would like to keep on going to conferences and I just hope nobody will remember my looks. I had to skip most of the panels during the afternoon because I had some things to attend. I was there but I was not taking notes so they turned to be a little confusion of already heard ideas and a bit of bragging all around.
The day ended with the final pitch contest. I found remarkable an american man- who finally won- presenting a new kind of paper for external printing, the guys with the bike locks and a couple of softwares, nothing mind-blowing but some of them handled really well the judges, who were being a bit sharky.
Really good day. Interesting atmosphere. Some sadness because people get a bit desperate, even pitching in bathrooms but overall really healthy and quite pro. My only question is why one of the guys moderating – Mike Reiner- insisted in being an ass. He was smart, no need to add the ass part.