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INSEAD Entrepreneurship Forum 2015


The 2015 INSEAD Entrepreneurship Forum on Entrepreneurial Networks brought together speakers, live cases, and panels to present the latest knowledge on how networks have now become a necessary part of entrepreneurial success. The Forum was well attended by INSEAD alumni, students, and friends of INSEAD now engaged in entrepreneurial ventures.

The keynote speaker was Geoff Ralston, known from Imagine K12 and Y Combinator and an active investor and mentor of more than a hundred ventures. Geoff explained how new tools for building businesses has made venture startup so much easier that time and funding requirements are dramatically reduced. Networks are a key factor to this development, and it also means that the success factors have shifted from the traditional entry barriers toward a strong idea, good mentoring, and a well-connected entrepreneurial network.

Please, click here to access the Opening and Key note video (Geoff Ralston)

Please find here Geoff Ralston's Presentation

The next talk was by Henrich Greve, Professor of Entrepreneurship and a coauthor of the book Network Advantage. Henrich explained that the economy is moving away from traditional industry boundaries in competition, with many firms either engaged in extraordinary specialization or in multi-industry products. In both cases, they rely on networks to establish connections between products or functionality of products that cover more competency than a single firm can handle. He discussed how different form of networks can be used for different firm strategies.

Please, click here to access Network advantage session video (Henrich Greve)

A panel on entrepreneurial finance was led by Professor Vikas Aggarwal, with the panelists Tak Lo of Techstars, Simon Hill of Wazoku, Carl Magnus Norden of Crowdcube, and Raomal Perera of INSEAD. The panel discussed the rapid development of financing options that have happened in recent years including incubators, crowd funding, and deep capital pools in multiple locations. That and the lowered capital needs of many ventures has eased the funding process. While “smart money” is still most attractive, entrepreneurs can now compare availability and terms across many alternative funding sources.

Please, click here to access The evolving network ecosystem of venture finance video (Panel)

Next, a talk on diaspora networks was given by Kingsley Aikins of the Ireland Funds. He emphasized the role of networks in economic development for any nation but especially for developing nations, and pointed out that good strategies for addressing the connections between diasporas and the home country had made important differences for multiple nations. Other nations are currently building the capability of making such connections work for them.

A panel on outsiders breaking into networks was led by professorMichelle Rogan, with the panelistsElizabeth Cammileri of Sales Gossip, Maria Dramalioti-Taylor of Angel Lab, Charlotte Mason, Angel Investor, and Anat Bar-Gera of YouMee Africa. All four had experience starting ventures by establishing contacts with preexisting networks, and discussed how important factors for success were ability to ignore or defy the norms against speaking to the highest placed network members and strong commitment to their own venture idea.

Please, click here to access Diaspora Networks (Kingsley Aikins) and “From the outside in – Breaking into networks” videos (Panel)

Please, find here Kingsley Aikins Presentation

The breaks included a Network Caféthat gave Forum participants the opportunity to meet MBA teamsplanning ventures, and share ideas with them about the venture plans. This helped the teams get feedback on their plans and let the Forum participants see the some of the active INSEAD venture founding community.

Catherine Nielsen of Handpresso was the first live case on networks, and with Michelle Rogan as an interviewer she explained how Handpresso had overcome initial lack of interest from potential partners by maintaining their contacts and improving their product and market position, until they reached a position that made the partners interested in reaching out for collaborative business and introductions to their partners in turn. This has now put Handpresso in a position of working with car makers Fiat and Volkswagen, with potentially more to come.

Anders Køhler of Floating Power Plant was the second live case on networks, and he explained how they had developed a floating power station using both wind and air power with very low development funds, by reaching out to partners directly and through introductions, and making use of the partner need for data to support their own product development to gain significant support. They had for a long time worked with more partners than employees, and are now close to testing a full-scale version of their power station.

The final talk was by Michelle Rogan, who explained that the sources of creativity are not as individual as people believe – instead, they come from who one works with, which in turn means that the right kind of network can be a source of creativity. Not all networks help, however, so the network design is very important. Using both research and examples from practice, she explained what type of networks and network partners are best for increasing creativity.

Please, click here to access Handpresso (Catherine Nielsen) / Floating Power Plant (Anders Kohler) / Networks, creativity & innovation (Michelle Rogan) videos.

Please, find here Anders Kohler Presentation



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