NEWS

Learning from kids & teenagers, by trainee Claudia

I finally understood what “box” people had in mind when they talked about  “thinking outside the box”.

It is obvious that they meant that in order to have a good idea one must go beyond the limits of logic and let their imagination: fly. But what I didn’t understand was what the box had to do in this story.

 

This is what I discovered during our Skype video-call with the kids from Thinkids and the girls from La Vall School. We shared our projects with them and received their feedback. One of the things I realized during this activity was that adults often underestimate kids abilities. It was amazing to hear them give their opinions about the different projects and how the ideas that seemed absurd at first were actually great ones.

 

When seeing them I understood that when we are born we are like an unshaped material that life transforms into the shape of a box. This box represents the knowledge we achieve, the people we meet, the experiences we live and the fears we have. These four elements are the ones that usually limit our creativity.

 

This way, through time, the more we develop these elements the further the limits of our creativity get. This is why we should always try to free our mind from our knowledge, experiences and fears when we want to be creative, to the point of becoming as open-minded as kids are.

 

I strongly believe that we should try to learn from kids and encourage them to make the most of their creativity potential. So don’t ever grow up, keep thinking like a kid!

 

Thank you Thinkids and La Vall School!

Trainee Claudia Solà

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A day with Angelika Blendstrup, by dreamer Jorge

A day with Angelika Blendstrup is more than a normal day, and you should better be ready for it. Angelika can really change the way you think, and in Imagine we love that!

 

What I like the most about Angelika is her ability to detect errors in everything you say or do. You can feel that after every session with her, you highly improve your communication skills and the strength of your speech. This, in Silicon Valley, is the key to success.

 

This time, we started the session developing a ‘twitter-friendly’ message as a summary of our projects, showing us how pitches have changed with the sucess of Twitter. At the same time, she encouraged us to ‘make the best of our accent’, which means speaking calmed and emphasizing the keywords of our speech.

 

She also advised us to take as much advantage as possible of the use of silences and breathing, which allow us to introduce the key ideas in a catchy way.

 

Afterwards, Angelika started talking about some of the cultural differences between Spain and the United States, specially referred to the communicational aspects. For instance, she talked about how both cultures differently criticize each others work. In Spain people usually point out an error directly to the person responsible, in the United States that should be done on a gentler and nicer way.

 

She finished forcing us to focus on what really makes our projects unique and different, by establishing a personal brand. After working with our personal pitches the session finished with a short but inspiring exercise in which we tried to explain the core of our projects in a 2-3-2 words sentence, which forced us to summarize our pitches and, at the same time, try to connect with the audience.

 

Overall, it was a fantastic and enriching experience as always is with Angelika!

 

Be ready.

Build a brand.

Go for it!

 

 

Dreamer Jorge Rodríguez

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Visit to Rocket Space with Santiago Corredoira, by dreamer Juan

Silicon Valley is the epicenter of innovation and creativity. This would not have reached the dimension it has today without entrepreneurs who founded companies as HP and Google. Most of the time people focus on this side of the story, but there is also another key part which wiithout these companies could have never achieved the success they have nowadays. This is, the financing from Venture Capital industry.

 

This industry invests money from rich people and companies in startups that are in an early stage of the business. The risk of these investments is very high, with an average rate of success  around 10%. It is also true that when one of these start-ups succeeds, the return on the investment is tremendous, compensating the failure of other investments.

 

On the 5th of July we had the opportunity to meet Santiago Corredoira, CEO of Stepone. Stepone helps IT Spanish startups establishing in San Francisco. They collaborate with the Spain Tech Center, an incubator sponsored by Icex and Banesto that offers complete advisement for Spanish companies that look for coming to San Francisco and doing business here: from legal and marketing to accounting advise.  He explained us how the Venture capital industry works and the importance it has in Silicon Valley. A good example to illustrate this is the fact that 50% of the money invested in American start-ups takes place in San Francisco. This industry has enormously changed during these last decades, adapting itself to the changing environment. Studying trends, it is clear that this industry is quickly increasing the number of deals and the money invested in start-ups, overtaking the numbers of 2007. It is also clear that VCs are redirecting themselves  to the earliest stage of the company, the seed capital, where the risk is the highest but if things go well the potential gains are extremely appealing.

 

Start-ups are a key industry in San Francisco. They account for the biggest portion of employees working in San Francisco. There are some false myths about this industry. Some people believe that most entrepreneurs are young and that they are only engineers. Data shows that this is not correct, 50% of start-ups are run out by people between 35 and 45 years and engineers only represent 11% of all entrepreneurs.

 

What is not a myth are the high salaries employees earn in Silicon Valley. The average wage is 92.000$, and if you work for companies like Google, Linkedin or Facebook, your salary could be around 160.000$ a year. Not bad ;) . However , life cost goes hand in hand with what people earn: the average monthly cost of renting a house is of 2241$, 75% higher than the national average. One trend observed is the exponential increase in the number of foreign entrepreneurs, although for the moment they only represent the 16%.

 

Santiago stressed on the fact, that despite the importance of having a solid business plan, the key for obtaining financing in the Valley is  networking. He told us a sentence that he especially liked in the presentation video of Dreamer Cesar Mariel: “To bake you need your hands”. He said that it is essential to build good relationships and highlighted business is all about knowing people. Since we arrived we have heard that neither Baseball nor American football are the national sports in USA. It is Networking.

After 2 weeks here, we can affirm this is true.

 

One last thing Santiago talked about was the direction Silicon alley is heading to, using the term SOLOMO. This is an abreviature of Social-Local-Mobile. He is convinced that mobile penetration and its usage will continue expanding at the fast rate we have seen in these late years and that this will offer tremendous opportunities in technological world. Numbers are out there: there is one mobile phone per person in the earth, Smartphone users spend 2/3 of their time playing with apps, Americans have an average of 35 apps on their mobile phone, 28% of the users use mobile devices for searching information about their localization and what can they do…So remember, SOLOMO is the future.

 

At the end of our visit we met three Spanish entrepreneurs that were part of Spain tech Center. Their names were Victor Mendiluce from Unsusual Studios, Guillermo Ruiz from Toolea and Alfredo Rivela from Local Heroes. They all have brought their businesses to San Francisco in order to develop them to the next stage. They all believe that if you are an entrepreneur, Silicon Valley is your place. They told us that once you are here you cannot be afraid. Here people think big, and failure is well seen.

American companies consider that you can learn more from failure than from success.  They also said that it is positive to go out of Spain and see how things are done in the rest of the world, specially in places like Silicon Valley. There is an incorrect concept in Spain that recommends retaining the talent. That is not convenient, the talent has to move, innovate and educate. Then the talent will decide what to do and where. Another great difference of these two places is when you have a good idea back at home you keep it for yourself, afraid of someone stealing your idea. In Silicon Valley it is completely the other way around. You have to tell everyone your idea. The more people you talk with, the more useful feedback you will have for your business and more new ideas you will get.

 

 

Finally, there is a fact that made me feel proud of Spanish entrepreneurs. Most of their businesses and its development is in Spain, they just come to Silicon Valley to obtain new ideas, see how big players work and promote what they do. They believe that in Spain there are exceptional professionals with great potential that are just waiting for an opportunity.  They feel they have an internal obligation of promoting the place they come from and make it a better place for living. It is hard to find more noble motivations than this one.

And you? What are you going to do?

 

Juan Barbed

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Neil Harbisson. Life in Black & White & millions of colors

There are extraordinary people in this world. Extraordinary for their ability of storytelling, for how they connect with their audience because they have this gift making others hang on their lips. They make you want them to go on and on because their words are special. This is the case of Neil Harbisson. Extraordinary also because he is achromatopsic. And a cyborg.

 

An achromatopsich is someone who can only see in black and white, and a Cyborg is someone who has adapted his body to technology. Or, said in a different manner, someone who has introduced ectronic devises into his/her body to become able to interpret the world without limitations. Or even exceeding the ability of interpretation of reality of a regular person.

 

Neil sees colors through sound thanks to sensors attached to his crane and a small camera between his eyes (that even appears on his passport!). There is a funny anecdote of how the British government had to make an exception to the law about electronic devises in photographs in official documents.

 

Neil tells his story so naturally  that he makes his extraordinary ability seem something completely normal. However, we shouldn’t forget that in his eagerness to see the world in colors, just as the majority of people, he has become a person with an extraordinary intelligence.

He is even able to recognise colors like infrared and ultraviolet which aren’t visible to the human eye. He can even listen to colors in a completely dark room. He can even hear a remote control.

 

Can you imagine entering the drugstore section in a supermarket with a camera that recognises color? Or admiring an exposition about Frida Kahlo’s paintings? Why didn’t we think of the importance of colors in our lives earlier?

 

Neil is the president of the Cyborg Foundation, an organisation that promotes the use of technology in our bodies to achieve superior knowledge and cognitive states. Or, in Neil’s words, “our knowledge is driven by our senses, if we enhance our senses, we can enhance our knowledge“.

 

This means that we can obtain the ability that other species have long interiorized. In Neil’s case, he can hear, just like sharks, through his crane (thanks to the attached microchip).

 

After only 5 months of being a cyborg, he could actually feel how his brain had merged with the software and everything made perfect sense. He has 2 pictures on opposite sides at his office: each consists of hundreds of concentric coloured squares. One represents a speech Hitler gave and the other, much more vivid and beautiful one, a speech of Martin Luther King.

 

But these are just a few examples. When you listen to Neil you realise that the human ability to learn and exceed all known is unlimited. You realise that the world needed a color blind person to imagine it in color and make it the soundtrack of his life.

 

Due to the ability to innovate, create and succeed with the impossible is beyond black and white. Like dreaming.

Victor Fortunado

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Craigslist.org. La ilusión comunitaria posthippie de San Francisco

 

El pasado 18 de julio nos visitó a las oficinas de Imagine.CC de Market Street (ver foto superior) un colega español a quien apreciamos y respetamos. Se trata del ingeniero gaditano Juan Pablo Puerta, un referente en el ecosistema de Internet de San Francisco y Silicon Valley. Se autodefine como Craigslist’s International Man of Mystery, se lo puede seguir en Twitter como @ews y forma parte del núcleo duro histórico de Craigslist y uno de los 29 miembros del staff. Aquí la conferencia que nos dió en 2011. Conozco a Juan Pablo desde 2007 y hemos llegado a realizar juntos un trabajo juntos sobre Mobile Communication: “Mobile Web 2.0. Theoretical-technical framework and developing trends“, publicado en 2008 en International Journal of Interactive Mobile Technologies.

Jordanka Dimitrova ya ha escrito algunas palabras sobre su visita, pero quisiera complementar su texto con algunas ideas. Admiro el permanente liderazgo de Craigslist en más de sus casi 20 años de historia (ver su particular evolución en Wikipedia). Es una de las empresas Top Ten de Internet en EEUU. Cuando pocos se imaginaban que el social networking sería lo que hoy es y mientras Mark Zuckerberg aprendía Basic a los 11 años en su casa de New York, Craig Newmark creaba Craisglist (literalmente, la Lista de Craig). Su principal virtud: no ser un money-centered emprendedor.

De todo esto hablo precisamente Juan Pablo en la conversación informal con dreamers y staff de Imagine Silicon Valley 2012. Con una filosofía ácrata, ausencia de product managers, un perseverante pragmatismo y una ilusión comunitaria posthippie que es su marca registrada (para no crecer más de lo que ellos consideran adecuado), Craigslist es el Forrest Gump de la Internet en EEUU. Diferente a todos, poco conocido en España, pero enormemente influyente en la consumo popular americano de la última década. Si me tuviera que quedar con una sola plataforma para interactuar en EEUU, la elegiría sin lugar a dudas. Y para mantener su liderazgo no ha seguido ninguna de las pautas que siguen las otras empresas. Sin embargo, sus convicciones de estrategia comercial no le han quitado poder. Craigslist.org es uno de los principales culpables de la crisis del centenario modelo empresarial de anuncios en la prensa de EEUU.

Ya he escrito varias veces sobre Craigslist. En 2009 escribí un artículo en Digitalismo.com. “El éxito de Craigslist.org o cómo burlar todas las normas de desarrollo web y ser el líder.” El texto hacía referencia a su portada en la revista Wired. Allí se decía que Craigslist.org es un fenómeno social sin precedentes. Comenzó teniendo una pequeña audiencia regional en San Francisco en 1995 y pronto se convirtió en un tesoro nacional, operando con escaso control y muy pocos trabajadores. Para Kevin Kelly, es un ejemplo del nuevo socialismo en la red.

Con su amor al Burning Man y sus ideas, Juan Pablo representa a Craigslist en su forma de hacer, pensar y compartir y por eso lo apreciamos tanto. Gracias por visitarnos y por estar siempre pendientes de nuestros pasos! Nosotros siempre atentos a los tuyos.

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Aitzol Garcia and personal overviews by dreamer Juan

On June 28th we had the opportunity to visit for the first time Silicon Valley and Stanford University, the Mecca of entrepreneurship. We all were very excited to walk through the streets of Palo Alto, feeling the atmosphere of Stanford and learning how things work here. I can say that the experience overpassed our expectations.

 

We had lunch with Aitzol Garcia Echarri, a Basque telecommunication engineer who works as a researcher on campus. His projects are related to the study of light and how it interacts with psychical elements. His passion has always been understanding how things work and make new discoveries. It was very interesting to listen to him and learn how research is done in the US. First, there is a strong link among universities and companies. Here companies support universities with resources, money and facilities in order to take advantage of their technology and disruptive advances. One good example is Stanford University where the most important source of revenue are donations made by companies and professionals. These contributions are so high that the University could afford not to charge students for the classes. Due to this close collaboration there is a steady transfer of people and knowledge from one to the other, which in the long run contributes to the advance of both.

 

On the other hand we have Spain, whose situation is completely opposite. There are many barriers to innovation and research, and the relationship among universities and companies are far from existing. In Spain it is extremely hard to make people understand that money spent on research is the best possible investment for the future.

 

This is mainly because in Spain there is a lack of a risk culture. Spaniards do not understand how venture Capital works. In the US they have investment been investing under risk principles for years, and they assume that only one out of 10 projects succeeds. The key of this business is understanding risk.

 

Another big difference between USA and Spain is attitude. In America people that have ambitions are well seen, but in Spain, in my personal opinion, they are considered a bit strange. Spaniards who spend time researching on something they love are seen like a little bit geeks, but in USA they are considered as motivated people that fight for their passions.

 

In addition, in America there is an extremely opposite interpretation of failure. Companies look for people that have failed before, because they consider that a person learns more from a failure than from 5 successes. Moreover, when something does not work people focus on changing it and improving it. In Spain, it feels as if when this happens we usually look for whose fault it is.

 

From my point of view this culture also has its “not so good” characteristics. Americans are normally more individualists and more focused in their professional goals than latins, mainly because their society considers success as having a successful career or business. In addition, for what I have been able to see, they do not have such a strong concept of friendship as Spanish have. It seems as if people frequently move from one place to another, leaving many things behind. As I said before, it is true that Americans give more money to Universities and their projects than what is given in Spain, but to tell the truth I think it is not completely done without interest.

 

They have the culture of success and they believe that they have to return a part of what they received in the past. Aitzol thinks it is a way of being recognized in your community and leaving your footprint in this world rather than just contributing.

 

Finally, there are several legends about Silicon Valley. One of them is the high level of the people studying and working here. It is true that they are brilliant people, but so are we. There is a problem called the impostor’s syndrome. It happens to foreign people that come to study here and they think that they are not good enough to be here. It is very common, but with time you finally realize that it is not about the knowledge you have, but about your attitude.

 

In Spain we have the opportunity to receive good education and teenagers are growing up with interests and good attitude. Aitzol is sure that all we need is to believe in our capacities and stop listening to people around us that tell us it is not possible. Finally, he says, it is all about fighting for your dreams.

 

“Do what you love, and the rest will come”

 

Juan Barbed

 

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Workshop with Philippe Delespesse by dreamer Marta

The importance of problem identification 

At the start of our projects, we had the pleasure of being mentored by Philippe Delespesse. Philippe is a partner of Inteligencia Creativa, a company specialized in managing creative thinking and developing innovation in organizations. He coordinated the initial phase of Imagine consisting of identifying the problem and reconsidering it from different approaches by using different focuses and techniques.

 

Philippe led our immersion into the creative process with the goal of innovation, which means putting the ideas into practice. This course of action goes from divergence to convergence. The first step is to explore by identifying new approaches for the need. The second step is to begin with the generation of ideas, and finally selecting and developing the chosen ones in the convergence phase.

 

 

During the first week of Imagine we went through the divergence stage and we dealt with the subject of creative culture. Starting from the premise that humans are creative killers: not only because of the negativity, but also because we fear the risk of being different. We tend to judge everything. Philippe made us realize that it is all about attitude and that we should be open-minded and postpone judgment.  We were even given a fluffy crocodile to throw to whoever was killing an idea, which we have successfully been using less and less every time.

 

We need both rational thinking and creative thinking to develop an idea. The first one is always there but, the latest sometimes has to be provoked. How can we do this? The secret is to start from the question. We should question the way we are doing things. Develop new inspiring questions and from those we can progress to new solutions, and in this way innovate. This is exactly what we did with the problems we had identified for each project; we picked different (sometimes even random) questions that represented diverse focus to deal with a new way of solving those problems. As Philippe said, “if you have a hammer, you see all the problems as nails”. Nevertheless, hammering the nails might stop working some day, so innovation is crucial.

 

 

Marta

 

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Springkite workshop, by dreamer Jorge

On the 30th of June, we had a workshop with Javier Ideami, who defines himself as an award winning multidisciplinary artist, engineer and entrepreneur. If I had to write a definition of him, I would surely include the word ‘genius’ on it. Javier has received numerous awards over the years for his work in areas as diverse as filmmaking, music, writing, computing programming, poetry, photography and others. Using all of those skills, Javier has founded Springkite, a workshop which aims to refresh the mind and empower the creativity of its audience.

 

He really did achieve these goals. Springkite turned out to be a mind-changing time on our lives, where its intensity and variety of activities really motivated us and we experienced a boost in our creativity methods which were not only richful, but will also be useful on our creativity processes at Imagine projects.

 

 

Javier Ideami talked about the different type of intelligences that exist in our brain and guided us through all of them in order to boost our creativity to its maximum potential. Generating tons of new ideas. Springkite works with eight different languages: ideas, line, improvisation, logic, light, emotions, words and sound.

 

This intense 9 hour workshop really enhanced our creativity, generating crazy ideas from scratch in a very easy and natural way. It was an unexpected experience, which really helped us to believe we can be as creative as we want us to be, as long as we work with it  and train it to its maximum potential.

 

Thank you for this life changing experience Javi!

Springkite Business Creativity Event by Ideami Studios from Javier Ideami on Vimeo.

SpringKite, The Adventure Begins by Ideami from Javier Ideami on Vimeo.

 

Jorge Rodríguez

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Juan Pablo Puerta from Craigslist, by dreamer Yordanka

 “Temporary over the permanent”

There are no words to describe what I felt when Juan Pablo finished his presentation about Craigslist today. Such an excellent pitch about his company, San Francisco’s growth and new tech trend deserves more than an admiration!

He used an unusual way to transmit us his knowledge about Internet invasion and his peculiar business model.  Juan Pablo works at a strong company, the 6th webpage most powerful nowadays, “Craigslist”. With more users than eBay, LinkedIn, Microsoft and Time Warner. He began saying what Craigslist is not: no mobile application, no investors, no advisors…

There are 29 projects and 29 employees. Each employee has his/her own project. Nobody cooperates, that means no help from each other regarding the development of their own project. No meetings, no wasting time. Juan Pablo manages millions of customers; each of them contribute to improve the platform via feedback and new comments.  Craigslist’s principle is “embrace the user, and tell him you love him, one more time”. This has been a reason of a great success all over San Francisco and the U.S.

The team of Craigslist also has a slogan, something really awesome: KISS “Keep It Simple, Stupid”.

So, what I’ve learned today is about our way of thinking, maybe extremely complex trying to solve complex problems. He showed us that other alternatives exist…

He also taught us one more thing:

There are things that can’t be learn on the Internet: GO AND LEARN THEM. Find your problem and optimize your company for it.”

 

Thank you, Juan Pablo, for impregnating us with your energy and vitality.

 

 

Yordanka Dimitrova

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Meditation with Albert, by dreamer Cesar

Albert is father of 3 children and he was one of the 2011’s Dreamers. He gave us a meditation and yoga session on the beach in Cadaqués. The first thing that he told us was his experience he lived when he had to attend the birth of his daughter. He and his wife decided that they want a natural childbirth in their house.

 

He was in his company when he received the call from his wife telling him that his daughter was on her way. He arrived to their house and the midwife that has to help them had wasn’t able to make it on time. Albert helped his wife during her contractions and his daughter’s head was in his hand. He had to to act as fast as he knew and he helped his wife give birth. His story touched us all, we were very surprised by his strength and his lack of fear. Thank you Albert, for sharing this story with all of us.

 

After this talk on the beach of Sa Conca he gave us a meditation session. We did some yoga poses within our abilities. Then he helped us relax by leaving of minds free.  We were all still and silent for a few minutes. It was very interesting to see how the sound of the see gradually became clearer, and I could hear many noises that I hadn’t realized until I was in a complete state of relaxation.

 

It was our first activity on Saturday and it charge our batteries for a long day ahead.

 

With Albert we learned the importance of taking sometime for oneself to be able to appreciate our surrounding and our situation. Thank you!

 

 

César Mariel

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