EMC - driving the future

1) Please introduce yourself.
We are Christian Henriquez, Javier Rincón and Leonardo Valente, from Chile, Mexico and Argentina respectively, we are students at Singularity University's Graduated Studies Program (GSP) 2014, doing our final team project, giving hybrid cars not only to developed countries, but to the whole world.
 2) What brought three young men, coming from three different countries to share the same vision?
Basically we are three gearheads (did you realize that you cannot use "petrolhead" anymore?), we are equally passionate about cars and amazed by the new technologies in transportation that we can join everyday at Silicon Valley, and cannot find in our countries.

3) What inspired the name of your team project?
Exponential is the key idea below our technologies, both the massive production and adoption of high tech electric motors, electronic controllers and computer interfaces are radically lowering the cost of our solution. Motor Company is for big businesses about cars, and we are thinking big!

4) Why do you think your team project will make a real difference?
There's a huge potential for green transportation in today's cars, why do we have to wait for all them be replaced with hybrid or electric ones? 100 millon cars worldwide are waiting for an affordable, easy and powerful solution to became more efficient and less polluting.

5) What are the next steps on your implementation plan till August 24th, and beyond?
We are waiting for the electric motors that are already coming from china, while buying some important stuff: A car!, batteries, wiring, small computers, diagnostics interfase, wood (you need wood, ever) to get the prototype running by final presentation. After that, if the people that can help us show interest, we are going to work hard on make this dream commercially possible. Is not that difficult.

6) What is your target client group, and why?
We are focusing on medium to high usage drivers, commercial vehicles and taxis first, because they can get payback for savings in less (in some cases much less) than a year. But we know there are many families that like this kind of solutions too.

7) Which has been the biggest challenge you have managed till now and how have you solved it?
While being foreigners in this country, we had to solve several issues about payment for things in china, car registration, etc. Would be much easier and less time consumpting if we had a social security number!!!

8) Since the start of GSP14 we are running a crowdfunded project together with Eventifier to make all tweets tagged #GSP14 available for one year http://bit.ly/SingularityUniversityGSP14. Which role do you see social media, and especially Twitter, can play for the success of your project?
Social media was key raising awareness in our countries! This lead to lots of support in our indiegogo campaign https://t.co/8hrEMyyByo but we are waiting for the real help from Singularity Community here in the USA! That's why every tweet helps!


Whisp - The power of Opinions

1) Please introduce yourself

Hi. My name is Wadim and I’m the initiator and one of the founders of whisp.

2) Where does the name of your startup come from?

Whisp is a platform for opinions. When we look at online opinions today, we see that most opinions are being shared on Social Networks. But unfortunately in todays social networks your opinions have no impact at all! Actually posting your opinions on SN is like whispering on a loud rock concert. Starting with this metaphor we ended up with whisp – a platform that shall give impact to your opinions.

3) What is the idea behind your startup and your vision for the future?

Whisp is a microblogging platform and is about an engaging way of expressing your opinions by using the aspect of blue and red colors. Whisp intelligently summarizes all shared opinions and creates a true user driven social search engine for real opinions on any imaginable topic.
The vision is to make whisp the best place for sharing and searching opinions.

4) Which steps have brought you to build this startup?
This is a very complex question, not easy to answer in a few words. I can say that I have always been looking for working on opinions, I don't know the reason why. I suggest you have a look at our blog, there you can get an idea about the role online opinions play.

5) What is your target-group?

At the moment we are testing different groups and checking their reaction on sharing opinions openly. We look for opinionated, passionate persons who like to share their opinions with us in a sustainable way.

6) Could you please briefly explain how your application works?

Users can share their opinions with colors. We think that colors are more then just a hue. They express a feeling and that is always important for an authentic opinion. After sharing an opinion on whisp, it is pushed into the follower or world streams. We then summarize those opinions topic wise and make them accessible via a simple search. You can even filter positive or negative opinions and see what the community thinks. Additionally whisp gives you the newest opinion trends. You should just download it and try it out!

7) Which has been the biggest challenge you have managed till now and how have you solved it?

The process of finding a kickass team was very hard. But we still managed to team up for developing of whisp. Mostly friends and family helped us out with contacts.
Another big challenge was to get the Seed financing.

8) Where do you see the role of social media in promoting your product and your startup globally?

Extremely important. By using various social media channels (for example Facebook and Twitter) we will be able to directly interact with our future users. We also noticed that mostly twitter users like whisp. So it will be important for us share the content that’s being created on whisp also on twitter.

Update summer 2015: Whisp has been discontinued in spring 2015, its founders are active in other local ventures and we are looking forward to hearing from their work once again soon


English Made Fun in Dresden

1) Hi Dana, you aren’t from Dresden but have been living here for a few years.  What brought you here?

I came to Dresden in 2007 as a student.  I was studying German at the Goethe Institut.  I finished my degree in the States in December of 2008 and wanted the experience of living and working outside the U.S. I moved back to Dresden in February of 2009 to teach English and practice my German.

2) Dresden is a European hot spot for innovation. Microelectronic, nano-material science, biotech, life science are at home here. What contribution does your business make to the area?

It creates job opportunities for the people of Dresden through better communication skills. I give them the language skills and confidence they need to perform effectively in an international business environment. 

3) What inspired you to start a business in Dresden?

I’ve worked for other language schools for many years.  I have the experience and know-how to teach effectively.  The one thing that made an impression on me was the schools’ inability to be flexible and the way they treated their language trainers.  I want to improve the experience for both the student and the teacher.

4) The name of your business “ English Made Fun in Dresden” gives the impression that learning English can also be enjoyable? Is that really true?

Yes, learning English really can be fun.  It doesn’t have to be all grammar drills.  I’m able to work with individuals, find out what they need and use real-life situations to teach the language they need to be able to succeed in an international setting.

5) What kind of challenges have you faced?  What challenges are you still facing?

The main challenge I’m facing and have faced since the beginning is getting the word out about what I do.

6)  What are your target groups?

My target groups are individuals and businesses who want or need to learn English. 

7) What is your vision for your business and Dresden in the next 5-10 years?

My vision for the next 5 to 10 years is to grow my business from employing just me, to employing at least 5 other teachers mainly from the United States and Canada.  I want to make a positive impact on Dresden because I love living here and have made it my home.  For this reason, I want to see the people in Dresden succeed, not only professionally but privately as well. 

8) Where do you see the role of social media in promoting your product and your business?

I use social media every day as do billions of people around the world, so I think it plays a huge roll in spreading the word about my business.  I have a website a Facebook page a Google+ page and a blog about teaching English I work hard at keeping them all up to date and full  of fun ways both to teach and learn English.


The new face of Greece

     1) Please introduce yourself.

My name is Efstathios Kassios currently living and working in Athens. I returned back in Greece in 2010 after my graduate studies at Jonkoping International Business School in Sweden, with fresh ideas to start my own companies and projects. I have also been a music industry professional for 10+ years and a blogger since 2009. 

2) Where does the name of your Startups come from? 
Soundmap is metaphoric  for aggregating and showcasing the professionals and the companies from the Music Industry in Greece and Cyprus. So we are #soundmaping !
Hellene + Zorba The Entrepreneur are collaborating to promote the New Greece to a global audience. Zorba The Entrepreneur is also metaphoric for the evolution and the rise of the New Greece as compared to the Old (Greek crisis).
    Sailing Entrepreneurs is a brand new project to attract entrepreneurs from all around the world to sail in Greek Waters for a good cause. A pretty straightforward name.

      3) Which is the idea behind your Startups and your vision for the future? 

In Soundmap, we thought it would be important since there is a significant gap in the online market for the music industry to showcase professionals and companies offering products and services to musicians. Musicians have been the center of the universe online so we wanted to do something different and unique.

Zorba The Entrepreneur + Hellene.gr will be branding the best of Greece’s new entrepreneurs, artists, creatives, visionaries, to a global audience to offer global networking, promotion and even job creation in the long run.

Sailing Entrepreneurs is not a common sailing experience because the companies participating will become inspiration leaders for troubled Greek entrepreneurs. Sailing entrepreneurs will give birth to a knowledge sharing community, so this project is not just about experiencing the best holidays in Greece. 

4)    Which steps have brought you to build these startups? 
There are  so many free and cheap tools available nowadays online to build your company. You can test your ideas with a small cost  to balance the risk of scaling up through time. Also, choose your team carefully, maybe the most important factor in failing or succeeding…

5) At the moment your Startups’ target seems to be Greece and Cyprus. Do you have plans also for the rest of the world?
We are partnering with Dreamscape Global to bring our start-ups in US and expand globally.

6) Why do you think that building a music community is so important?  
Music communities are being leveraged by various companies around the world to communicate their products/services easier and engage with their customers. Music communicates your message in a very powerful way and attracts the right audience for your marketing goals. There’s always abundant creative energy, a plethora of fresh ideas and open mindedness in various music communities.

7) Last November you visited #FoundersAccelerating in Dresden. What have you taken back to Athens?
The international experience of course. Sharing knowledge, ideas with entrepreneurs and researchers from all around the world, speaking about their experiences with crowd-funding and exchanging ideas on how to fund our ventures. 

Many thanks Stathis for your time and for sharing your vision on the new Greece.
Angela Incampo


Sòphia High Tech s.r.l. : an innovative Start-up from Naples (Italy)

A few questions to know more about this fresh Start-up with co-founder Antonio Caraviello.

1) Antonio, please tell us when the idea to create this Start-up was born and where the name Sòphia comes from.

Sòphia high tech arises from the observation that in research and development field are frequently required equipments/fixtures to perform tests. This kind of accessories doesn't belong to the standard kit of testing machines. By this awareness came the business idea to design and manufacture standard fixtures to perform mechanical tests in order to characterize materials and structures behaviour. The design, according to the standard references (UNI, EN, ISO, ASTM, DIN, BS, AF, etc.), is performed with modern virtual technologies, which guarantee safety and reliability of the products and facilitate the manufacturing chain. Sòphia high tech invests a lot of funds and resources in the industrial research improving the existing fixtures in terms of configuration, geometry, shape and material used. There are also several mechanical tests not supported by international rule, then we design special fixtures in order to perform unconventional tests, according to the customer specifications. The idea allow us to validate research result obtained by our Ph.Ds.
About the name Sòphia, it is strongly related to the meaning the place we first met has: the University. Here the love for knowledge is cultivated and spread throught the years. This is exactly the idea at the base of Sòphia, the love for an endless learning which drives us to face problems with innovative solutions.

2) Which is the company philosophy?

The new business idea relies on the motivational boost of young mechanical engineers: Antonio Caraviello (Myself), Pierluigi Cirillo and Raffaele Sansone.
The company is an innovative start-up and it is waiting to be accredited as academic spin-off by the University of Naples Federico II.
Sòphia's TEAM is highly motivated and sees the professional challenges as necessary path for a continuous growth. We aim to become a LEADER company in the field of Engineering. Working with Sòphia involves a process rather than a product, as we want to ensure the customers differentiation, high standards and multidisciplinary approach in the test and process simulation. The company aims to be very competitive due to the low cost and to the high quality of the products we offer. The innovative approach, adopted for the fixtures design, is based on the use of CAD and CAE  techniques which allows to reduce the product development time guaranteeing a strong reduction of costs related to manufacturing. Collaborating with Sòphia, You establish a direct and constant relationship with passionate people who work in active co-operation with the customer. On the basis of these considerations was born our the slogan "into the project."  

3) What is your target-group?

Public and private scientific laboratories need fixtures for carrying out the tests on innovative materials for different fields of application. For each category of material are provided specific international standards which have different specimens shaped to be tested with different types of fixtures. Knowing that the construction of a fixture has been guided by a team that enjoys a close partnership with a prestigious University, with a strong experience in the field, provides a strong element to meet the need of Customer. We turn our target also to private companies in order to provide high-tech engineering services capable to reduce the product's development time/cost, the waste of materials and guaranteeing the full customer satisfaction:
  • CAD services and virtual prototypes development in DMU environment (Digital Mock-Up)
  • RE service (Reverse Engineering)
  • Technical data management, bill of materials
  • Installation and construction drawings
  • Simulations of virtual products using numerical techniques based on finite element method (FEM)
  • Development of a physical prototype (Physical Mock-Up) and relative testing analysis on it
  • Analysis of technological processes
  • Editing of technical documentation
4) Which is your vision for the next 5-10 years?

My market vision is closely linked to the vision of our team. What pulls together the people working in Sòphia is the strong liability for professional challenges. Now we are facing significant challenges with very important customers in the field of engineering and we are getting optimal results. Thanks to this attitude, the growth in the market will be very fast. Over the next five years, we plan to cover at least half of the requirements of test fixtures in Europe. Moreover we expect to grow more and more on the composites industry and to create an accredited training center to transfer engineering knowledge. By these ideas arise new work and therefore economic development for the country. We plan to increase our employees, our internal resources and to forge strong partnerships across Europe. In this period we also seek strong partners to develop new ideas that could apply to the European program 'Horizon 2020'. About the R&D field we count to patent a new fixture (already in development) to carry out special tests on composite materials.

5) Are there connections between Sòphia and Dresden? (you spent some time in Dresden)

I spent a lot of time working in the city on the Elbe and I got beautiful memories about my experience in Dresden. I remember how people were kind and how the Germany welcomed me. In the specific I worked for EADS-EFW (aerospace field) and I hope to collaborate again with Elbe FlugzeugWerke company because I learnt a lot from my colleagues there. Moreover I hope to get in touch with other companies from Dresden or in general from Germany. The German market is growing strongly because the companies are highly innovative and open to forge new partnerships. For Sòphia it would be a honour to establish partnerships with companies requiring test fixtures or engineering services in Germany. In this sense I think that, because I have already worked for German companies, I would be happy to strengthen business relationships with the German market. I would be honoured also to create a partnership with the Technical University of Dresden (Technische Universität Dresden) which I admire very much. I'm very impressed by the results of the materials science research that the University of Dresden gains year after year.

6) Which has been the biggest challenge you have managed till now and how have you solved it?

As for personal challenge, I can say that my life is marked by strong choices. I obtained degree in mechanical engineering with the highest honours when I was only 24 years old. Later, after working a short period in Italy, I chose to work in Germany for a professional growth.  At age 26 I have already covered the position of Design Checker in the aerospace industry. Although I was at ease in Germany I felt I was missing something, I felt that the challenge was not strong enough and that I could do more for the engineering sector. Finally, I chose to give up a flourishing career in Germany to chase a dream: Sòphia. I resigned from the German company to return to Italy and feed the ambition I share with my friends/partners. We have created an innovative structure for the types of products/services, which are corroborated by the research results that we are achieving thanks to the Ph.D. In my career I have had the opportunity to meet two University Professors who have championed the cause from the outset. Thanks to them we face the professional challenges with the technical approach of people who have 25 years’ experience in the industry. As company challenge, I remember that in the initial phase we needed a strong industrial partner who could construct the test fixtures at a competitive cost. After a boost research we were able to enter into a commercial agreement with M.P. srl, a company specialized in precision engineering. At that time everything seemed hard to get, now it is a reality. The biggest challenge now is to spread the name of Sòphia in the field of engineering, and we are chasing the target with appropriate communication structures. We carried out advertisements in common social networks, we were guests at sector exhibitions, we created a company website, brochures, gadgets and we involve continuously people in the development project.

7) Which role plays Social Media in your company?

We truly believe in the communication skills of Social Media, in the ability to spread the message globally with a click and to get feedback from those who displayed the message. Because the Market is an interactive phenomenon there is really need of Social Media. In Sòphia I cover the role of Sales, Market and Communication Manager, and in my opinion, the communication has to be made in the right way. As Company we are present on the main Social Media: Facebook , Twitter and Linkedin. We're also thinking to sign up on the Social Media for business as TamTamy, Qontext, Yammer, Beezy, Yoo +.
We know that the Social Media’s way to communicate is very different from the one offered by the Traditional Media and we are also aware of the power the conventional communication has. For this reason in our company we aim to integrate both communication’s tools.

8) Do you see Social Media as the Marketing channel of the future?

Social Media can be considered as the future marketing channel because it is accessible to everyone and therefore anyone with an innovative idea can spread it on the web. Just to mention that different products, services and even political movements were born and raised on the web, receiving acclaim from many people. To get a free platform that allows you to advertise your product/service does not mean however that those products/services will be sold more easily, but it can help to raise more interest. Social Media Channels offer the chance to reach a different and in some way wider audience than the industrial media.

Thanks a lot Antonio for sharing openly your projects.
Angela Incampo

Innovation in Focus

Dear Reader,

Welcome to our new blog. Here we will share in more detail information about innovative startups and ideas from all over the world that are in one or the other way connected with Dresden.

Innovation grows at an accelerating speed, and often it gets not a proper relevance in the media.

Besides the information we share on our social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, Google+) this blog will offer more detail about what happens around us.