Ideas on paper

Thoughts by José Luis Agell

Passion for building cool products

I’m not sure why I actually studied Mechanical Engineering but I’m convinced it had something to do with my eagerness to build new things. And I’m also convinced that this is one of the reasons why I’m passionate about tech startups. Image

Many successful entrepreneurs have been asked about the reason why they decided to leave the comfort zone and started their own project; and there’s no common answer to that. I guess some entrepreneurs do it for money, with the intention to have a good pay-out in the exit. But I know a lot of people who take the leap just for the satisfaction of seeing that they were able to build a great product or service.

Mechanical Engineers were crucial during the Industrial Revolution. They were able to build the train that transformed our society. They also had an important role during the twentieth century. They built cars, planes and worked with Electrical engineers to build most of the devices and machinery that surround us.

I must admit that I’m a bit jealous of Computer Science Engineers, because, nowadays, they are the pillar of the tech startups. Every successful innovation has software or can be enhanced by it. This is why I’m determined to improve my programming skills. And I can’t think of a better opportunity to do it than the Mobile Gaming Hackathon that Chartboost is hosting this weekend. We’re expecting over 100 hackers and designers who will team up and build their dream game app in less than 2 days! I can’t wait to see what participants can come up with!

I’m proud of my colleagues and friends Sean, Zach and Ed -engineers from Chartboost- who won the AT&T Hackathon last weekend. Guys: next time, I’ll be part of your team! 🙂

Youth in the search of value

More news about the weak Spanish economic status: in its last report, Reuters revealed that the Spanish youth (below 25) unemployment rate climbed up to 51.1% in March.

This is obviously discouraging for the young people who are currently getting their degree, dreaming of their first working opportunities. However, I’d like to claim, once more, that the youth can conquer the world.

In these times of lack of jobs -at least standard jobs-, the search of value becomes crucial. How can I make an impact on society? What is it that I am passionate about and can improve the current economy? The possibilities are unlimited- each problem to be solved can be a great opportunity!

It’s been proved that the old ways of doing business are not valid anymore. Internet has changed our lives, our corporate structures and dynamics. Mobile internet gets to every pocket, opening up new distribution channels and new business models. Young people are the piece of society that will make corporations not only transform and adapt but take most advantage of these new trends. I can understand that, given the current legislation, it is much cheaper to fire the youngest in the company than a veteran employee. However, employers also need to think in terms of value; younger members of the team can be an expediting spark.

Moreover, young people are also the ones that are most prepared to resolve our current problems and give an answer to our challenges. They are open-minded, they speak several languages, they are cost-effective, they still don’t have familiar obligations. There’s no better moment to start up a company than in our twenties.

So, let’s not take the fact of having a job for granted. Let’s focus on generating value and  look for the answers we can provide the world with; I’m convinced jobs will come later.

I don’t believe in Spanish companies…

but I believe in Spanish talent!

Many Spaniards visiting or moving to Silicon Valley ask about the keys for Spanish companies to be successful here. This is obviously a very tricky question because no one knows the secret recipe to create a company that attracts talent, clients and investors. However, there’s only one piece of advice that I can give to any company from Spain who’s trying to come to the Valley: forget where you come from and focus on where you want to get.

Expanding a business overseas is not easy and Silicon Valley is not a paradise. The way of living and doing business is completely different, plus it requires tons of resources and you need to make sure that it pays off. It can be a necessary step to tackle new markets, acquire new talent and raise money but it can also be a dramatic cash burn.

We, immigrants, tend to protect ourselves from the unknown by creating our comfortable ghettos. There’s a natural tendency to gather with our compatriots. I’ve done that many times and it can be relieving. However, I strongly believe that to multiply the odds of success in Silicon Valley and other parts of the world, entrepreneurs need to leave the comfort zone (and this also includes leaving the Spanish Harlem).

Nowadays, companies and entrepreneurs need to be and think global from the very beginning. I’m not talking only about having an English website; I mean a complete change of mindset. As individuals, we can-and should- take advantage of our original talents and values, but the companies that succeed abroad are those that are able to adapt to foreign dynamics. Looking for an American co-founder, hiring local people, getting international advisors, avoiding being surrounded by expats, attending networking events, applying for acceleration programs… are factors that can definitely help acquire this new internal dynamics.

This is why I don’t believe in Spanish companies anymore.

La jerga de Silicon Valley

Cada vez que voy a Barcelona me doy cuenta de lo mucho que me está cambiando Silicon Valley. Mi forma de pensar, mi forma de entender el mundo y la forma en la que hago uso de la tecnología han evolucionado debido a la influencia de este entorno único. Incluso ha cambiado mi forma de hablar.

Los habitantes de esta zona de Estados Unidos respiran tecnología por los poros y eso hace que, sin darnos cuenta, incorporemos una jerga muy particular a nuestro vocabulario.

Me ha llegado este vídeo divertido que refleja esta realidad y he pensado en compartirlo con vosotros.