Notes from London Web Summit: Disruption and the ability to execute

I’ve spend the beginning of this week in London attending London Web Summit. I came with an expectation of meeting some interesting people and hearing about whats next in the business of Internet.

I did meet some great, bright, ambitious and entrepreneurial people, had many interesting and surprising conversations about the what it takes to build and launch great ideas and heard some brilliant speakers. I didn’t hear that much about the how the business of Internet will evolve. At least I hope not – that was simple to little focus on what really matters, the actual products, and maybe to little ambition, but let me come back to that.

One thing that was really refreshing was the fact that nobody was really talking about social media. There was a lot of talk about the Internet and about tools, products, utilities and services – which in some cases enable people to interact, to share, communicate and be social – but there where almost no mentioning of social media as such. It was refreshing and while it may seem as a detail, it set the scene and the context for discussing how value is created, businesses are developed and money is made on the internet, in a completely different and infinitely more constructive way.

However, I think that conversation should have been even more about how new start-ups and the capital needed to back them up, were disrupting the market. When we study and work with disruption in the market it comes in handy with a definition. There are plenty and these evolve as well but one definition which I find useful is Asymco’s idea that disruption is the “transfer of wealth in an industry from dominant incumbents to disadvantaged entrants“. But I was amazed at how few of the start-ups that presented their businesses that were original in idea or came close to even wanting to rock the boat. There were a lot of aggregation of data from other established platforms, there where the promise about being able to actually make sense out of that data or cultivating it in ways which makes it more valuable, but there seemed to be less original ideas with a real ambition to disrupt the market.

From a business perspective that might not be a bad thing. Quick copying where mentioned more than once and it was said that being able to scale up a proven idea to a larger market was more valuable than the actual idea in it self. Its a hen and egg discussion to some point but it puts a focus on one of the most important things of bringing new stuff to the market: execution. The ones copying might not have a unique idea or IP in their technology but they have a team that can perform and that can ship the products. In the end that what makes the business go forward. I don’t think that directly copying other market’s ideas is the right approach but I do agree that execution is important. As it seems like a very difficult exercise to both start-ups and established companies, that want to challenge their market with new products and services, I will blog more in the future about how we work with the execution and launch activities in Socialsquare.

Back to LWS. Obviously some of the start-ups where interesting. One of them where Seedrs, who won a price for best start-up, and although the competition was pretty weird, the idea is cool. They are building a kickstarter-like platform that help early investors meet and fund start-ups. Impressively enough they have received FSA approval and it will be interesting to follow their development and how the execute on their idea. Another interesting one was Busyflow that promise to help us all synch data from the different productivity tools we use on a daily basis.

On another note; this is blogged from the air between London and Copenhagen. Maybe it’s just me but I think it’s pretty cool that Norwegian is offering free wifi on board.

See you on the ground,

Magnus