In Eric Ries’ new book, he tells companies to turn every unit into a cash-strapped ‘startup’

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All companies are startups until they aren’t. Many struggle to find their way back, too. It’s not the days of constrained resources or terrible pay or the heart-stopping uncertainty that they’re missing, of course. Instead, the problem is that it’s a lot harder to implement change at an “established” organization, particularly one that’s making money. Yet the smartest companies know change is crucial. As journalist Alan Deutschman wrote a dozen years ago, including in a book of the same title: “Change or die.”

Because that’s easier said than done, CEOs are always seeking out new ideas. Enter the brand-new book of engineer and entrepreneur Eric Ries, whose last tome, The Lean Startup, became an instant best-seller when it was first published in 2011.

In his latest effort, The Startup Way, Ries says the way to stay on top can be traced to two things: treating employees like customers, and treating business units like startups — replete with their own constrained budgets, and even their own boards. Ries offers fairly concrete suggestions regarding how to implement both, too. “A lot of people write manifestos and basically say, ‘Do what I say,’” says Ries. “I try to get away from that. The details matter a lot.”

We caught up with Ries earlier today to learn more about the book, which will be available to buy beginning Tuesday.

TC: You established a name for yourself with The Lean Startup, which basically told founders to get a minimally viable product into the market, then fix it. Can founders still do that in an age where big companies are getting bigger and moving faster to either copy products, or else acquire their teams?

ER:  People said that years ago about Microsoft, too, that it was going to dominate the internet with its monopoly power. Disruption still brings new power players to the fore. But today, because Facebook and Amazon and Google are so good at what they do, startups do need to up their game. There was a time when you had one innovation that you could ride for decades. That’s over. Continuous reinvention is crucial now. Otherwise, you’re toast.

TC: What about the giant financing rounds of today, even at the seed stage — do they signal the death of the so-called lean startup? 

ER: “Lean” never referred to the size of a round. It’s about lean manufacturing and using resources more effectively. Also, huge rounds are really for the privileged few. I’m in Columbus right now, and [local startups] aren’t experiencing the jumbo seed round.

I will say that one commonality that Silicon Valley has with corporate innovation is that we often overfund things, which can be just as lethal as underfunding them.

TC: How did you move from advocating for lean startups to writing this new book? 

ER: When a lot of small early founders heard about the lean startup, they were excited about minimal viable products and about pivoting and learning, but they didn’t pay close attention to more boring parts like management and the need to do continuous innovation. In some cases, as these companies passed 100 employees, or even 1,000, they’d ask me to come help teach lean startups to people who work for them. You go from the person who is making innovation decisions, to supporting entrepreneurs who work for you, and they might not be as good as you or you’d be working for them.

These were my friends and I was happy to help them. At the same time, big companies were asking how they could recapture their innovative DNA and I realized how similar these issues are and thought it was worth exploring.

TC: Obviously, the need to innovate continuously isn’t a new concept. How is your advice to companies different? Is this about pulling in opinions and ideas from a more diverse group of people, either internally or externally?

ER: I’m a big believer in that thesis — diversity. But in this book, I tend to focus on structural changes: who gets promoted, how we make product decisions, the general accountability layer of a company. [In other words] how do you figure out who is doing a good job and who isn’t? Because there’s a lot of B.S. at the higher levels otherwise that distorts the decisions that are made and consequently makes it hard to attract top talent.

TC: Give us some concrete examples. Who in Silicon Valley was doing this wrong and figured it out?

ER: I talk in the book about Twilio and Dropbox and Airbnb; they all had to go through a metamorphosis to empower their internal innovators.

Dropbox, for example, had some failures and was willing to admit that some products didn’t work. Some of its product development was happening internally and some externally, but it doesn’t matter if you plant in the wrong soil. But it has since developed a much better process that looks closer to entrepreneurship.

TC: By doing what differently?

ER: You first have to look at whether you’re treating the people who work for you like entrepreneurs or something different; if you’re expecting your product managers to achieve instantaneous success, that’s not [the standard] to which you were held in the early stages of your company.

Along the same lines, if you aren’t [giving teams] clear, metered funding, how are they going to have that scarcity? It’s that mindset, that hunger, that let’s you say “no,” [to delaying product launches]. [Companies have to fight] that entitlement funding because the more money you have, the less you want to expose yourself to risk.

TC: Interesting idea. How else do you recommend that companies treat their teams like startups?

ER: We also talk about creating a growth board.

Right now, most corporate employees exist in a matrix management structure, reporting to different people and having lots of different managers who have veto power over what they do. But each time a middle manager checks in, he or she exerts a gravitation influence, and most product mangers who I meet with say they spend 50 percent of their time defending their existing budget against middle manager inquiries. That’s a massive tax on most product teams.

So we treat [these units] like a startup and create a board of [say] five execs who they report to infrequently. That way, if any middle manager has a concern, [the head of that unit] can say, “Talk to the board.”  It’s like at [ venture firm] Andreessen Horowitz. It has something like 150 employees [yet] not every person who works there gets to call a portfolio company founder. Not every limited partner who has invested in Andreessen Horowitz gets to call its founders. There are well-defined processes in place so that founders [aren’t fielding calls all day.]

TC: Of course, the downside to that is that VCs often don’t know when things go off the rails at startups. How do you convince executives that they aren’t running that risk by giving these teams so much autonomy?

ER: It only works if you do limited liability experiments. Often asking, “What’s the worst that could happen?” is like a death sentence, but you have to think through the possible downsides to mitigate them. So you only let 100 people buy the product [at the outset] and add in extra provisions and securities to ensure they have a great experience and you’re smart about the liabilities.

TC: Say that works. What happens to the already oft-maligned middle managers of the world? 

ER: There haven’t been any layoffs at the companies I’ve worked with. Companies still have to run their core business; there’s plenty for [middle managers to do] Most are horrifically overworked. Others become reborn as entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial coaches. Intuit and GE have a whole program for coaching and mentoring, and that becomes part of [managers’] job description.

This all culminates in preparing a new org chart, one that treats entrepreneurship like a corporate function that’s owned and managed. Right now, if you ask [many executives], “Who is in charge of the next big innovation,” they’ll sometimes say that everyone is in charge of it. Can you imagine if they said that everyone is in charge of marketing or finance or HR? Entrepreneurship is no different. Someone should have operational responsibility for it.

TC: Do you run into much resistance when you talk with CEOs about empowering employees in this way? It’s easy to imagine that some feel threatened, even as they know their companies need to keep innovating.

ER: What distinguishes really good CEOs is that they care about their legacy, and they’re committed to the long-term health of their organization.

But you’re right. Most CEO are not serious about change because it requires senior managers to change their behavior. You know how corporate bosses can be. This is not always a very welcome method. I’ve been kicked out of plenty of boardrooms.

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Watch every panel and session from Startup Battlefield Africa 2017

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On October 11, TechCrunch and Facebook hosted Startup Battlefield Africa in Nairobi, Kenya. The Startup Battlefield pitch-off competition featured startups from all over Africa in three categories: Productivity and Utility, Social Good, and Gaming and Entertainment. Top notch investors and founders served as judges to pick the winners in each category as well as an overall winner.

We also had a great line-up speakers that discussed everything from investing in startups to improving connectivity across the entire continent of Africa.

From speaker sessions to Startup Battlefield pitches, here are all the videos from the event.

1) Africa Unicorn: How Do We Produce the Next African Unicorn?

Panelists: Eghosa Omoigui (EchoVC Partners), Tayo Oviosu (Paga), Sacha Poignonnec (Jumia)

Moderator: Jon Shieber (TechCrunch)

2) Startup Battlefield: Productivity and Utility

Judges: Wale Ayeni (International Finance Corporation, Aaron Fu (Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology), Andreata Muforo (TLcom Capital), Lexi Novitske (Singularity Investments), Eghosa Omoigui (EchoVC Partners)

Moderator: Matt Burns (TechCrunch)

Pitch #1: WeCashUp

Pitch #2: Form+

Pitch #3:  Delivery Science

Pitch #4: Abacus Invest

Pitch #5: Sellio

Pitch #6: Lori Systems

3) Connectivity: Solving Africa’s Connectivity Equation

Panelists: Kamal Bhattacharya (Safaricom), Erik Hersman (BRCK), Bitange Ndemo (University of Nairobi), Uche Ofodile (internet.org)

Moderator: Romain Dillet (TechCrunch)

4) Startup Battlefield: Gaming and Entertainment

Judges: Kamal Bhattacharya (Safaricom), Monique Idlett-Mosley (Reign Venture Capital), Leo Stiegeler (Ringier Africa AG), Chris Savides (ShowMax)

Moderator: Matt Burns (TechCrunch)

Pitch #1: Big5 Games

Pitch #2: Tango TV

Pitch #3: Lomay

Pitch #4: SynCommerce

5) Will Startups Solve Africa’s Biggest Development Problems

Panelists:  Dr. Solomon Assefa (IBM Research – Africa), Rebecca Enonchong (AppsTech), Wambui Kinya (Andela), Juliana Rotich (Africa Tech Ventures, BRCK)

Moderator: Megan Rose Dickey (TechCrunch)

6) Startup Battlefield: Social Good

Judges:  Shuonan Chen (Agile Venture Capital), Yariv Cohen (Ignite Power, Kaenaat), Tomi Davies (Lagos Angels Network, African Business Angel Network), Isis Nyong’o Madison (Asphalt & Ink), Alexia Tsotsis (investor and former co-Editor, TechCrunch)

Moderator: Matt Burns (TechCrunch)

Pitch #1: ConnectedMed

Pitch #2: M-Shule

Pitch #3: Dot Learn

Pitch #4: Talent2Africa

Pitch #5: AgroCentra

7)  Creative Industries: Digitizing Creative Industries

Panelists: Obi Asika (Dragon Africa), Bill Sellanga (Just a Band), Graeme Cumming (MultiChoice), Monique Idlett-Mosley (Reign Venture Capital), Samuel Mensah (Kisua)

Moderator: Ingrid Lunden (TechCrunch)

8) Keynote and fireside chat with with Ime Archibong (VP Platform Partnerships, Facebook)

Moderator: Ingrid Lunden (TechCrunch)

9) Facebook Session: The Startup Journey to Success

Panelists: Chijioke Dozie (Co-founder and CEO, OneFi), Mark Essien (Founder and CEO, Hotels.ng), Eric Thimba (Co-founder and CEO, MOOKH)

Moderator: Emeka Afigbo (Head of Middle East and Africa, Platform Partnerships)

10) Announcing the winners of Startup Battlefield Africa

Read more about Startup Battlefield Africa and the winners.

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Watch Startup Battlefield Africa live right here

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Here we are in Nairobi, Kenya. For the first time, TechCrunch is hosting a conference in Africa. We have an amazing lineup of speakers who all share a ton of knowledge and expertise about technology in Kenya and Africa in general. But the real star of the show is going to be the Startup Battlefield.

15 startups are going to compete to win the Startup Battlefield competition and earn best of show. There will three different sessions on Productivity and Utility, Gaming and Entertainment, and Social Good. This is going to be a great opportunity to discover the best and brightest early-stage entrepreneurs in Africa.

Here’s how you can watch the show:

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Alibaba is leading a $27M investment in open source database startup MariaDB

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Alibaba has spent 2017 pushing its cloud computing business and now it is preparing to make its first major investment in a Western startup in the space.

The Chinese e-commerce giant has agreed to lead a €22.9 million ($27 million) investment in MariaDB, the European company behind one of the web’s most popular open source database servers, according to a source with knowledge of negotiations. The deal has not closed yet, but it is imminent after MariaDB’s shareholders gave their approval this week.

Neither Alibaba nor MariaDB responded to requests for comment.

TechCrunch understands that Alibaba is contributing around €20 million with the remaining capital coming from existing backers. The deal values MariaDB at around the €300 million ($354 million) mark and it will see Alibaba’s Feng Yu, a principal engineer within its cloud business, join the startup’s board.

That represents a significant appreciation on the $200 million-$250 million valuation that it got back in May when it raised €25 million (then worth $27 million) from the European Investment Bank. Our source indicated that Alibaba’s willingness to do business essentially enabled MariaDB to pick a valuation of its choosing.

MariaDB is best known for operating the most popular alternative to MySQL, a database management system. Both are open source products but there is caution from some around MySQL from some because it is owned by Oracle — a huge corporation — courtesy of its acquisition of Sun Microsystems.

Alibaba’s cloud computing business is one of its fastest growing units, consistently charting triple-digit revenue growth over the past year.

We wrote earlier this year that it is pushing hard to rival the industry’s biggest players, like AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud. While it still has some way to go, the signs are promising. The cloud business hit $1 billion in annualized revenue this year and it surpassed one million customers during the most recent quarter. The unit is likely to reach break-even in coming quarters, though it still accounts for less than five percent of Alibaba’s overall revenue.

Cloud is just one area Alibaba is focused on developing as it looks to generate new sources of revenue to lessen the dependence on its core China commerce business, even though that continues to be hugely lucrative.

The firm has made big investments in those other areas — backing unicorns Paytm in India, and Lazada and Tokopedia in Southeast Asia — so why not look at the wider cloud/infrastructure industry for deals to advance its strategy?

Having invested in Chinese players like cloud storage provider Qiniu and big data firm Dt Dream, joined Microsoft’s open source community and even worked with MariaDB directly in China, this would be Alibaba’s most notable cloud deal on overseas turf.

Formerly known as SkySQL, MariaDB is attractive to Alibaba due to its presence in the industry. It has offices in Sweden and the U.S. and claims around 12 million global users of its databases, with some of the larger names including Booking.com, HP, Virgin Mobile and Wikipedia. Its solutions as used in private, public and hybrid cloud deployments and it is the default in a number of Linux distributions like Red Hat, Ubuntu and SUSE, which adds a further reach of 60 million users.

SkySQL was originally founded in 2009 and merged with Monty Program Ab in 2013. Monty Program was founded by Michael ‘Monty’ Widenius after he sold his previous company MySQL to Sun Microsystems (now owned by Oracle) in 2008 for $1 billion. MariaDB later forked MySQL due to concerns about the way Oracle might use it.

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TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield Australia joined by leading Aussie names

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As you’ve probably gathered TechCrunch is headed to Australia to find the most disruptive early-stage startups, in partnership with ELEVACAO. As we like to say these days, ‘all roads lead to Disrupt’ and our focus now is to reach out internationally to find the best startups for our Disrupt stages, from all around the world.

TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield Australia is our first ever, and it’s particularly sweet for me to be able to leave London and come ‘down under’. It’s a little-known fact that I have dual nationality, being both born in the UK but also holding an Australian passport. But more of that in a moment.

Australia is increasingly known as a tech startup hub, witnessing Atlassian’s $1.1 billion IPO, a $250 million equity growth round for Australia’s Campaign Monitor and a $150 million round for New Zealand’s Xero. High-growth startups are inspiring a healthy crop of early-stage startups in the region.

TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield Australia will also see a number of great people joining us on stage including the following:


Mike Cannon-Brooks, Co-ceo and co-founder, Atlassian


Catriona Wallace, founder at Flamingo


James Cameron, partner at Airtree Ventures

TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield has been bringing world-class founders into the spotlight since 2007, and in the past decade almost 700 contestants have gone on to raise nearly $7 billion in funding and rack up nearly 100 exits.

Our community of Battlefield Alumni include companies like Mint, Dropbox, Yammer, TripIt, Getaround and Cloudflare. We are excited to showcase a diverse group for Australia’s first ever TC Battlefield.

The winner of TechCrunch Battlefield Australia will be the recipient of a $25,000 equity-free cash prize and an all-expense-paid trip (for two) to exhibit at TechCrunch’s flagship global competition, Disrupt Battlefield SF 2018 and compete in the Startup Battlefield, assuming the company still qualifies for that competition. The entire event will be live-streamed (and later available on demand) and carried on TechCrunch.com, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

To bring Battlefield to Australia, TechCrunch is partnering with the ELEVACAO Foundation, whose mission to empower women tech entrepreneurs globally aligns with TechCrunch’s Include program to encourage more diversity in tech.

As for my history with Australia, the short story is that my family moved over for my father’s job as a malaria scientist, working on programmes which were run in Newcastle and Canberra. In the process, I even ended up going to the ANU. During that time I did two main things (apart from my degree in literature). The first was get the bug for journalism by co-founding a student newspaper. The second was playing drums on the growing thrash/grunge/rock scene (hey, it was the late 80s). This led me to meet and play in the legendary (well, in my mind) ANU student band “The Pleasureheads.” With Tim leading on song-writing, and his scorching Telecaster, backed up by Adrian on bass and me on drums, we supported many headliner acts passing through Canberra.

The Pleasureheads: Adrian, Tim, and Mike

But rock bands are rarely forever, and eventually, Tim moved back to Sydney and formed another band, while I moved back to London to became a journalist. Tim’s band became You Am I, one of the most successful bands ever to come out of Australia. I’ve since had the pleasure of seeing the now-famous Tim Rogers and his band tour the UK, and I’m relishing the idea of catching some always-fantastic Aussie music while I’m there.

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Corporate venture in Brazil gains steam as giants amp up startup investments

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What a difference one year makes. Since showing noteworthy signs of a maturing tech ecosystem last summer, corporate venture in Latin America has begun to crescendo in just 12 months, led by Brazil.

According to LAVCA’s 2017 Latin American Startup Directory, of the 144 early-stage tech companies that received $1 million-plus in funding over at least two rounds and are still operating in Brazil, approximately one-sixth of them secured corporate venture capital (CVC) funding. While this might seem shy compared to half of the rounds in Silicon Valley, it is a significant step for the region and a clear sign that corporations are evolving fast from curiosity to actual action, with skin in the game.

Global giants that have also begun infusing more venture capital into Brazil and Latin America include CVC funds from global innovation brands like Cisco, Microsoft and Qualcomm. At the end of June, Naspers and Innova Capital invested a total of $53 million to fuel the growth of Movile, a leader in mobile marketplaces that in turn also acts as a corporate venture player in the region, with current investments like iFood. Naspers, a long-time investor in Movile, led the round that injected another $30 million into the company to accelerate its business across LatAm.

In May, SoftBank invested $100 million in Brazil-based 99, an on-demand ride-ordering platform. That new investment adds to the $100 million Series D round that 99 closed in the beginning of the year led by China-based Didi Chuxing. Founders Intelligence, a specialist digital agency based in the U.K. that advises large corporate and institutional investors on strategy and transformation, recently opened a Brazil office. The group is part of the Founders Forum, a global community of the most successful entrepreneurs, VCs, academics and select, inspiring CEOs.

Corporate venture capital in Brazil is bridging the gap between local and global giants and the smaller, scrappier startups in the region.”

— Flavio Pripas, managing director at Cubo

 

Local corporate investment in the region is also on the rise. For example, in May, Itaú, Brazil’s largest bank by market value, agreed to acquire a 49.9 percent stake in XP, Brazil’s third-largest brokerage firm, for $2 billion, and gradually increase its stake over time with an option to buy full control. According to Bloomberg, XP is being compared with Charles Schwab Corp. for bringing online investing platforms to the growing middle class in Brazil. XP accounted for 10.8 percent of the equity-trading volume in Brazil for the first three quarters of 2016, a notch up from 9.9 percent in the same period of 2015.

“Corporate venture capital in Brazil is bridging the gap between local and global giants and the smaller, scrappier startups in the region,” says Flavio Pripas, managing director at Cubo, a São Paulo-based tech hub and transformational project to foster entrepreneurship in Brazil. “During the last two years, we’ve seen an uptick in synergy between big companies and startups working together and corporate venture investments ballooning. Moving into 2019-2020, we expect even more investment activity and we’ll likely see more large corporations buying into entrepreneurial startups for learning, talent and R&D.”

An entrepreneurial hub in São Paulo expands

Since its launch in September 2015, Cubo has helped fast-track São Paulo’s startup scene and provide Brazil’s largest city and the economic capital of Latin America with an entrepreneurial hub that offers the same setup that American startup founders enjoy.

On August 23, Cubo announced that it is expanding from its current 50,000-square-foot space that holds 250 people, or up to 50 tech startups, to a facility that’s four times larger. During the first half of 2018, Cubo will move to its new headquarters in a 12-floor building in Vila Olímpia, the entrepreneurial heart of São Paulo, which will allow it to house more and larger startups, with more than 2,000 daily visitors, 210 resident companies and more than 1,250 people working there daily. Cubo will become the largest entrepreneurial center in Latin America and a lead example for other innovative hubs around the world.

The original Cubo, which connects its resident entrepreneurs with large corporations, academics and government officials and a slew of events designed to boost dialogue and Silicon Valley-like synchronicity, simply became too popular and outgrew itself in less than two years. Since its founding in September 2015, the startups that operate from Cubo have generated more than 650 new jobs, and more than 700 startups have applied to be part of Cubo. The co-working space has become a center of gravity for Brazilian entrepreneurism and mentorship, with more than 780 events held at Cubo in two years.

“One of the new trends in terms of synergy that we’ve seen at Cubo is more large corporations using startup’s technologies to improve back-office processes,” says Pripas. “With financial crisis still impacting the region, global companies want to reduce costs and improve efficiencies. Brazil is known for its bureaucracy, and a new crop of SaaS innovations help improve operations across legal, HR and IT departments.”

Rising interest in corporate innovation initiatives

Based on a May CVC Insights research paper (CVC-Insights-Project-Summary-Findings-and-Analysis-5-17-2017) by Bell Mason Group that was sponsored by Global Corporate Venturing (GVC), corporate venture capital has become entrenched as an essential corporate innovation tool that contributes significant strategic value and financial stability. There’s been a broadening of CVC charters and mandates to address larger “market-maker opportunities, and an increase in the size and reach of CVC programs to support between 40-60 investments per year.”

In early October, the GVC organization will host its second-annual Corporate Venture in Brasil conference in São Paulo, designed for international investors (CVCs and VCs) to connect with entrepreneurs in Brazil and encourage more corporate innovation initiatives. “The event is designed to explore opportunities for investors to connect with Brazil’s innovation and VC community with a special focus on agritech, mobile tech and auto-tech,” says James Mawson, editor-in-chief of Global Corporate Venturing.

Brazil’s startups will benefit from the wisdom of global companies and Silicon Valley-like synergy and synchronicity.

 

One relatively new example of corporate venture synergy with Brazilian entrepreneurs is the Algar Ventures Open, an open innovation program created by Algar Ventures that launched last year. It’s a partnership with the venture capital arm of Algar Group and Endeavor, the nonprofit organization headquartered in New York City that pioneers high-impact entrepreneurship in growth markets around the world. For those selected, the initiative connects entrepreneurs with Endeavor network mentors and Algar executives for mentoring, networking and business with Algar during a six-month program. Founded 86 years ago, Algar is a family-controlled corporate group based in Brazil with more than 23,000 employees that specializes in tourism, B2B technology, agribusiness, telecom and security systems.

“Our goal with Algar Ventures is to support businesses and entrepreneurs who aim to be bigger players in the Brazilian market,” says Clau Sganzerla, vice president of corporate strategy and innovation at Algar. “The first objective is to connect the chosen startups with our companies’ challenges, creating business opportunities that meet our clients’ needs. The second is to find the best direct, early-stage investment opportunities for Algar Ventures, preferably in sectors that we know within our value chain. We chose to work with Endeavor to help with our screening process and startup mentoring because it’s an organization that has support for entrepreneurship in its DNA. They can help us to significantly accelerate identification of good opportunities, while improving our own corporate culture via our interactions with entrepreneurs at the most promising startups.”

As Brazil’s entrepreneurial ecosystem continues its significant expansion and more startups in the region attract new funding and create symbioses with large corporations, Latin America’s largest economy will revive, gain steam and create more jobs. Brazil’s startups will benefit from the wisdom of global companies and Silicon Valley-like synergy and synchronicity that has emerged in the region in recent years. It is a good start for CVC in the region, and clearly just the beginning.

Disclosure: Anderson Thees was previously an investor in Movile while serving as LatAm Investment Principal for Naspers. Cisco is an investor in the Redpoint eventures fund and a sponsor of Cubo.

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Disrupt Berlin 2017 Startup Battlefield applications are now open!

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Startup Battlefield applications for Disrupt Berlin are now open. TechCrunch is hunting for innovative startups to launch on the famous Disrupt stage this December.

For those of you who don’t know, Startup Battlefield is TechCrunch’s startup launch competition. Winners compete for the illustrious Disrupt Cup, a check for $50,000 and international attention from press and investors alike. All pitches are live streamed to an expansive international audience of investors, media and tech thought leaders.

Companies will pitch on the Disrupt stage for six minutes, including a live product demo, followed by an intense Q&A session with our incredible judges. Battlefield judges include Eileen Burbidge (Passion Capital), Sonali De Rycker (Accel),Roelof Botha (Sequoia Capital) and Carlos Eduardo Espinal (SeedCamp).

More than 665 companies have launched at Battlefield, raising more than $7 billion and about 100 companies have either IPO’ed or been acquired. Companies that have launched on our stage include Dropbox, Mint.com, Yammer and more. International teams have done exceptionally well at Battlefield — check out previous years’ winners like Seenit and Jukedeck.

Disrupt Berlin will be held December 4-5. Chosen Battlefield companies will get extensive pitch training by the TechCrunch team, participation in CrunchMatch (TechCrunch Disrupt’s Investors Startup Matching Program), special invitations to VIP events, demo space in Startup Alley and TechCrunch swag.

Startups from all industries may apply, including but not limited to: biotech, blockchain, artificial intelligence, enterprise, consumer goods and hardware or software. Companies that launch on the Disrupt Stage will be given priority. Eligibility rules can be found here.

Applications are open until September 25th at 5 p.m. PT. Apply right here on the Startup Battlefield Application page.

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VR training startup Strivr Labs brings on new CTO, CFO

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Strivr Labs, a virtual reality training startup with some big partners, including Walmart and the NFL, has added some new talent to the team.

The company has hired a new CFO and CTO to help the company expand as it adds more customers excited about the prospect of training employees and specialists using immersive virtual reality video. Nathaniel Jewell will be joining as the company’s first CFO. Jewell previously worked in strategy and finance at Apple. Brian Meek is joining as Strivr’s new CTO after 13 years at Microsoft.

The startup’s expansion comes as it looks to capitalize on its recent partnerships with Walmart and United Rentals to bring top companies onto its platform. The company is now working with more than 40 organizations with many more currently in talks.

Compared to some slowdown in adoption on the consumer side, with enterprise most companies are at least looking to give VR a try, CEO Derek Belch tells us. Something that has obviously helped Strivr get profitable and stay profitable as they grow.

“There aren’t many VR companies that are expanding right now, a lot are contracting,” he says.

The company now has 46 employees spread across three offices in Menlo Park, Los Angeles and Nashville. The company raised $5 million in funding late last year from Signia Venture Partners, BMW i Ventures, Advancit Capital and Presence Capital.

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5 Tips To Find Funding For Your Startup

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Today, business owners have a lot of ideas. They know how to implement those ideas to get their business going. However, the problem is that starting a fresh business requires a good deal of money. And finding investors and getting loans is no easy job. Given below are a couple of tips to help you get funding for your startup.

Consider Your Niche

If your idea has something special, you may find it easier to get funding. As a matter of fact, there are grants that are given to specific business ideas only. So, if you have a solid idea, you may find it easier to apply for a grant.

You can also gain another benefit if you define your niche. As you apply for funding, make sure you summarize your niche in a few words. This will help you set your business apart from your competition.

Look For a Grant

As far as looking for funding goes, the best thing is a grant. You can get money free of charge and this money can lift your business. The fact of the matter is that locating and getting the grant is a hard nut to crack. But if you don’t try, you won’t be able to get the required money.

Actually, grants are based on the demographics and the business theme. For instance, grants are given for women, minority business owners and so on. So, if you want to apply, all you have to do is clean your keyboard and begin typing.

Go For a Contest

Entering a contest is another way of getting funds for your business. For instance, the Amazon Web Services Start-up Challenges offers rewards on an annual basis. In the same way, MIT also offers a considerable amount of rewards.

If you want to increase your chances of getting success in these contests, we suggest that you look for ways to make yourself more prominent.

Crowdfund Your Idea

If you want to get funds for your startup, we suggest that you check out sites, such as Indiegogo and Kickstarter. Over the past few years, Crowdfunding has increased in popularity and has got immense attention from businesses as well as investors. And this popularity has resulted in an increase in competition. So, if you can make your business stand out from the crowd, you can achieve success and beat the competition.

Take a Loan

If you have a small business to run, you can apply for a loan. You can choose from different specialized options, such as loans and microloans. If you don’t want to get a bank loan, this option is an ideal one.

But if you have made your mind to get a bank loan, you may want to have the maximum amount of details about your business. In other words, you have to let the provider know how you will pay the loan back. Ideally, it’s a good idea to try a community-based bank first.

It does not take a rocket scientist to get a grant for your business. All you have to do is come up with a solid plan and hone your pitch. This will increase your odds of getting success.

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Source by Shalini Madhav