[Startups! All #LeWeb Founder, Fundraising, Pitching, and Conference Hustle Advice Now In One Place]

“LeWeb is about entrepreneurship. It’s about being international. It’s about inspiration. It’s about the best of the best.” Loic Le Meur

I’d like to add:

“LeWeb is about pay-it-forward culture.”

While the official LeWeb theme was SoLoMo, Social, Local, Mobile, I felt this year was particularly about the entrepreneurial stories, the successes and failures that thrive the change. Steve Blank explains the pay-it-forward culture best: “We’re all in this together.”

In the spirit of pay-it-forward culture, I’ve gathered the most important learnings from 10 exceptional founders on stage, advice given at startup competition, and finishing with Mr. Karl Lagerfeld himself, also a high school drop-out, and probably the most entrepreneurial and curious soul at LeWeb this year.

Daniel Ek, CEO and Co-founder of Spotify

I was truly glad that Daniel Ek, CEO and Co-founder of Spotify, made it to LeWeb this year, and together with Loic shared the importance of pay-it-forward culture. All success feeds each other and no startup cluster, hub or ecosystem won’t grow, nor bloom, without sharing those successes. I think the European, and specifically Nordic startup ecosystem needs to hear it explicitly from today’s change makers.

Daniel’s most important learnings:

  • Execution is everything. No offense to innovation, but 95% of success lies in execution.
  • People are everything. Period.
  • Focus. Learn how not to do everything.
  • Please watch the entire interview with more great insights from Daniel.

Sean Parker, Founders Fund, and Shervin Pishevar, Menlo Ventures

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  • One of the biggest failures: Hiring wrong people. As young and naive entrepreneur it’s easy to get impressed by and end up hiring crazy people.
  • Which naturally leads to: People are great asset class. I also urge you to read Naval Ravikant touching the same concern both Sean and Shervin share: The downside of all smart kids starting their own startups instead of working together and building kick ass teams.
  • Success and failure amnesia: Despite the successes and failures, keep going, keep building and creating value to people. As Sean put it, with every new venture some things get easier, but one has to be paranoid. Building company is hard.
  • Timing: Don’t build product 10 years ahead of your time (Bill Gross learnings: Survive until the market is ready)
  • If you don’t fail, you haven’t tried hard enough.
  • Watch the interview

Dennis Crowley, CEO and Co-founder of Foursquare

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Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote

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  • Give your users time to fall in love.
  • Mobile services have to be REALLY simple and direct.
  • Focus on making a better product.
  • Work with something you love. You’re more likely to succeed if you work with something you’re passionate about, and if you don’t succeed, at least you spend time on something you love.
  • Watch the interview

Dave Morin, CEO and Co-founder of Path

  • Simplicity takes time.
  • Shipping for mobile is different than shipping for web, especially regarding design and process.
  • Recruit right people.
  • Enable users to do what they try to do with your service.
  • Have courage to take your time and solve important problems instead of launching too early. There’s a downside to shipping too early and getting three star App Store reviews.
  • Watch the interview

Kevin Systrom, CEO of Instagram

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  • Great products come from great teams.
  • Lack of a dark moment makes startups fail.
  • Find best people in the world, building team is not about filling headcount.
  • Watch the interview and read the recap by Mike Butcher

Kevin Rose, CEO and Co-founder of Milk

Learnings from Digg:

  • Stay true to who you are, pay attention to real hard core users instead of what other smart people tell you.
  • In order to succeed with community based services and business models, gamification might be great way to hook up to a service, but it gets old really fast, there has to be real utility in the service.

Learnings from Oink:

  • Releasing as invite only app in order to let in passionate people first wasn’t such a great idea after all. You don’t actually want hatred to be your customers first impression. Oink dropped invite only after few weeks.
  • ps. If you make it the application of the week in App Store, expect huge shot on the arm. It creates more sustainable sign up growth, not just a temporary launch peak due media coverage.
  • Watch the interview

Bill Gross, CEO of Idealab

“Great idea is crazy idea right until it becomes self-evident”

  • Market power rules
  • Master your demo
  • Pursue you passion, you’ll face numbers of challenges as did Steve Jobs and Walt Disney along their huge successes.
  • Focus. Don’t worry picking the wrong focus, even that is better than picking no focus.
  • Recognize your strengths.
  • Don’t overbuild. better to grow slowly.
  • Timing. Survive until the market is ready.
  • Test. Find the way to test the real customer value proposition.
  • Stick with it. Ignore critics when you KNOW you have great idea.
  • Find essential partners. Critical for global growth with world changing product.
  • Harness your users’ passion.
  • Watch the presentation

The Ben Parr


Ben Parr didn’t just share his views on upcoming trends, but friendly advice to entrepreneurs from his time as editor in large at Mashable.

  • Build something that last, build a sequoia.
  • Be adaptable, both regarding ideas and people.
  • Don’t build a company, build a cause.
  • If you truly believe it, keep building.

Fair to say, I can’t wait to see what kind of sequoia Ben is about to plant, and Loic promised to invest in 🙂 Hint: It won’t be a photo sharing, nor a daily deal app. Watch Ben in action.

Ps. Check out all live sketches from LeWeb’11 by Livesketching

Startup Competition With Advice On The Importance of Focus

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One could receive great advice from Startup Competition judges, urging to focus and not try to solve multiple huge problems simultaneously. ClearKarma got the judges excited in the beginning by offering consumers safer food choices, but in the end left them worried by facing a classic chicken and egg problem: Trying to solve two huge problems at the same time. As young startup it’s important to have bold vision, but more importantly, to have the ability to focus. Watch the entire pitch and Q&A.

Judges: Zachary S. Bogue, Angel Investor & Advisor, Fred Destin, Partner, Atlas Venture, Lyle Fong, Chief Strategist & Co-Founder, Lithium, Patrick Hoffstetter, Chief Digital Officer, Renault, Michael Parekh, Investor & Advisor.

The Karl Lagerfeld

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Karl Lagerfeld doesn’t think he’s the right person to give general advice to entrepreneurs, but here’re few of his learnings that fit right in:

  • You can only be yourself.
  • You have to adopt to the world, it won’t adjust to us.
  • You have to be curious.
  • Your work has to be 100% you, not what you want to be.
  • Invent your own rules.
  • One should learn and be informed, it’s easier than ever before to be informed today.
  • 95% of his work goes to trash. My interpretation: Be patient, be excellent, keep iterating.
  • Bonus: Great Tumblr with Karl Lagefeld quotes

Thank You Geraldine And Loic For Paying It Forward!

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My dear startups: Keep paying it forward and come back to share your story next year at LeWeb, December 4-6 2012!

Paula is Digital Product Advisor and Top 100 Women in Tech in Europe, focusing on Product, Go-to-market, and Internationalization strategies. She has to date mentored over 150 digital technology companies on product, marketing and growth, and rated as one of the very best startup mentors in Europe. Contact Paula to to build engaging digital products and cooperate on #Startups #WomenInTech #GenderEquality #ClimateChange and #OpenWeb. Read more about her work and connect @Twitter, @LinkedIn. “You never learn anything when you speak, only when you listen”Roelof Botha / Douglas Leone, Sequoia Capital