Credit: Jan Nechvíle

published 10 May 2013 by Chris Hague in Czech Republic 6 minutes 29 seconds to read

Pioneers Unplugged goes international – first stop: Prague!

Pioneers Unplugged hit Prague last night for its first international appearance and with a planned roll out of the event across other European cities, the organisers need to develop its niche role within the current brand.

Czech startups Pioneers Pioneers Unplugged STARTeurope Prague Cognitive Security Flow Studio Aircharts.co startitup.co NoteSlate

Pioneers Unplugged hit Prague last night for its first international appearance and with a planned roll out of the event across other European cities, the organisers need to develop its niche role within the current brand.

Last night the first of the Pioneers Unplugged events to be held outside of Austria was hosted by the dedicated team at Techsquare in Prague (see our report of the event series’ kickoff in Vienna in April). Tim Röhrich of the Pioneers Festival was there, as was the Pioneers Unplugged main man, Allan Schlundt-Bodien. 50 people, mainly mobile developers, rocked up from the Prague scene with some disappointment locally that more people hadn't joined the event (there was a suggestion that Prague is spoilt for events lately and that an event in Brno may have attracted a better crowd!). 

The Pioneers Festival is a huge deal – a massive chance to show off everything tech in the most massive way possible, the Unplugged offshoot of the brand is quite the opposite. It is a much more low key, personal experience whereby startups and CEOs get to showcase their projects in a 'safe' environment of their peers. With some tweaking this event can develop to be a very strong regular presence in the European scene but Unplugged can't rely on its big brother festival's reputation it has to get its own, and quickly. So, what did you miss? 

Bugs 

Martin Rehak, Founder & CEO of Cognitive Security, gave the Keynote speech about his company's fight against malware. I liked his analogy at the outset, that somewhere dodgy, dodgy people are sitting in a room just like we were, but discussing just how they can destroy things people like us (not journalists but developers) were trying to create. 

Rehak is clearly a brilliant guy but he had a lot of heavy stuff and probably too much for his 15 minute slot. He had some great info about what he is doing and how he is doing it but with time short it got a bit lost. I get the feeling that Cognitive Security is to malware what the A-Team is to bad guys – the best. Aside from the tech part of his speech, what was extremely pertinent were the questions he suggested asking when considering whether or not to sell or keep your startup as success starts to knock at your door:

  • Am I being bought because I am of value or is it to remove me as someone else's obstacle?
  • Can I still achieve my goals?
  • Can I fit into the organisation that is considering buying me?

Great take away information that resonated well with the audience. Rehak also wins the  award for the Best Answer To An Audience Member Question.

Audience: “Did you have any trouble finding Angel investors? We are having a lot of trouble and there are none around.”

Martin: “No, we had the US Government as our investor.” 

Watch this space, now move your hand ... ahhhhh cool!

Next were the guys from Flow Studio (Richard Horin and Petr Fodor) who definitely had the most impressive demo of the night, with their showcasing of the Leap Motion Controller. Flow Studio have designed two neat looking games that are currently available on iTunes, Power of Logic and Sortee.

Last night's claim to fame for them, was that Sortee has been developed to be used with Leap Motion. It was a great chance to use the device in conjunction with their game and proved to be really popular after the event. The boys were lucky enough to have one of the 12.000 developer units released and as such are at the forefront of the soon-to-be whirlwind that will surround the device when it releases on the 22nd of July.

While their presentation was mostly a commercial for Leap Motion, their enthusiasm for what it can deliver to their games and the wider community was well received. It is an exciting piece of technology and it would have been good to hear more of how Flow Studio intend to use it themselves in the future, or some of the challenges of developing software to use the device. Being part of the Leap Motion development program must be a really exciting time for Flow Studio and I hope we see more from them.

The Emperor's New Tablet

I must have been the only person in the room that didn't get what Martin Hosek from 'NoteSlate' was on about. I use quotation marks because 'NoteSlate' isn't really anything and after three years he seems to have only proven that while bullshit can create buzz, that's about all it can do. 

Martin Hosek comes from a product design and graphic design background. A few years ago he had a cool idea – a simple tablet that mimics paper and pen. That's all it does – lovely idea, I even put my hand up when he asked, “Who still uses paper and pen?”. I lose bits of paper, the iPad is heavy and doesn't emulate paper and pen very well at all – gee, that 'NoteSlate' is a great idea! This is where my enthusiasm for 'NoteSlate' ends. But see what Martin Hosek had to say about his startup:

“We didn't have a product but we had a website advertising the product's price of 99 dollars and the release date of July 2011.” 

“Social media exploded about the device! Our website alone had 1,5 million unique visitors!"

"We had 85.000 pre-orders, 750 dealers wanted to distribute it!!” 

This all seems very exciting, but when considering that this was about a product that was still only an idea, you might not want to overinterpret those figures. 

By Hosek’s own admission, a lot of negative criticism began to surface online about 'NoteSlate' and he was keen to share the blindingly obvious lessons he learnt. Lesson one was to create a community and buzz about your product – he then suggested that it was a good idea to bring your product into reality. Really?! I didn't bother listening to his four other lessons.

I read an article online written late last year about what happened to NoteSlate – I can answer that, nothing happened to NoteSlate because it was never anything. If you need more proof visit the website www.noteslate.com

5 of the best! 

Unfortunately the last two speakers were jammed in at the end with 5 minutes each as time was running short. I say unfortunately because I have spoken to both of them at length and they have great, simple ideas supported by sound personal philosophies. Lukas Haraga spoke about his software, Aircharts.co, an easy to use web analytic software – you will be hearing more from them soon on inventures.eu. 

Edward Liu is a Taiwanese/American guy working out of Techsquare for a short time and he has the “ultimate startup guide”, www.startitup.co. It is a step by step process to help startups take the best next steps and ask the right questions about their project as they seek to develop it. Liu's keys messages are inspired by the lean startup philosophy and dispensing with a 'build first' mentality, instead, concentrating on an MVP (minimum viable product) and an MVB (minimum viable business). Check out their work as they are both impressive projects that need more support.

Pioneers Unplugged has great potential to further engage local startup communities and provide solid networking opportunities – but make it easier to network and have people's job titles on their name tags! By the way, there were women there too, really pretty ones.

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