Saturday, December 15, 2012

eClub awarded the winners

eClub awarded the top mobile applications in the Samsung and eClub competition this Monday. If you own a Samsung Android phone or tablet, test them, they are great!

The panel of judges have selected the top applications in two categories Samsung Galaxy Note and Tablet.

Note category:

  1. LearnToWrite   
  2. Puzzloid    
  3. Easy Coloring  

Tablet category:

  1. Prettymeter      
  2. Abalone    
  3. Activity

The awards were given away by the Samsung president Mr. JinHwan Kim and Prof. Vladimir Marik, the chair of the Department of Cybernetics of CTU FEL. The winners in both categories got not only the scholarship provided by MediaLab Foundation and supported by Samsung, but also the great Samsung devices. I hope this will be an inspiration for all participants to create more awesome applications.

The winning apps are currently for Samsung customers only, they will be available on the Android Play market in the second half of 2013. If you own a Samsung phone or tablet download them and give them a try. If you do not own a Samsung device, get one. I had a chance to get my hands on the latest Galaxy S III mini for a few days and I must admit it is a great and inspiring device with a lot of nifty additions to basic Android.

All of us in eClub are happy to see new finished and working applications available for users, that is the best achievement  Currently, we are trying to put together plans for the next semester and the lesson I have learned: we have to put more emphasis on finishing stuff, to not wait, try to make things happening. I am also hoping we will even extend our cooperation with Samsung and other industrial partners. I am looking forward to meet all of you for the next eClub starting middle of February.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Awesome Demo Day in eClub

Eight teams have presented great mobile applications for Samsung Galaxy tablets and the Note devices. Currently, the jury is deliberating. eClub will announce the winners and give away the prices next Monday.

This year eClub has organized a different competition than in the last rounds. We have worked with Samsung and prepared interesting prices for new mobile devices applications. Mainly student’s teams participated. We were very lucky to see programmers and designers from CVUT and the Tomas Bata University in Zlin forming teams. The top three will be announced next Monday (Dec 10) and will receive 20, 15 and 10k Czech crowns. The winning team members will also be awarded with the mobile devices. There are two sets of winners in two categories tablet and note.

We have met for the apps Demo Day this Monday (Dec 3) it was simply an awesome event. The presentations of All teams were very well prepared and gave excellent presentations in a great style. The Demo Day also attracted a big crowd of friends who created nice atmosphere with a lot of jokes. Check it out on our web. We saw eight presentations in two categories for tablets and the s-pen. Here is the list applications:

Abalone designed by Tomáš Veselý, Kateřina Ondrušová.  This is a simple strategy game for one or two players. It runs on tablets as well as on phones. The goal of the game is to push six opponent's marbles out of the board. The game has a very nice and clean graphics.

Memory Animals Ondřej Hrabal, Marek Polčák, Martin Chloupek  This is a simple memory training game authored by a group of CTU students. The game is known under the name pexeso. It is a guessing game, the goal is to match cards faces. Very nicely done.

One of the most technologically advance applications is the Prettymeter by Pavel Šimurda, Tomáš Vahalík, Jan Plešek. It answers the ever lasting question: mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the most beautiful one of all? Yes, this is the technology for estimating the beauty. Very useful.

The Social Puzzle by Michal Knizek, Jiri Balcarek, Martin Curda explores the Facebook photos in a new exciting way. The users are challenged with putting together pictures broken to puzzle pieces. Play puzzle with your friends photos!

Fall Detection designed by Jan Pechan aims at seniors or people with handicap  It is very useful in case they fall down and need help to stand up.

LearnToWrite by Vladimir Blazek, Vaclav Podlipny, Lubomir Helcl is a simple game for kids teaching them how to properly write characters. This application takes advantage of the unique features of the Samsung Galaxy note. Their presentation was great, the team has done a small usability study and filmed kids using the application, which was part of the presentation. Worth to see it, very entertaining.

Easy Coloring by Ondřej Hrabal, Marek Polčák, Martin Chloupek is another game for kids. As you would guess it offers kids tools for coloring set of pictures. This is a very advanced application with a nice set of brushes and pens.

Activity by Tomáš Sixta, Christian Jánský created a remake of the well known game Activity. The main goal in this game is to get to the end as fast as possible.

The applications are available on the Samsung market and we plan to put them on the Play market in the second half of the 2013. Some of the apps are already so successful that they have hundreds of downloads. Let me conclude with inviting you for the award ceremony to meet and talk to the winning teams.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Samsung and eClub competition demo day

We are approaching the Samsung and eClub competition demo day. It is scheduled for Monday December 3rd. eClubbers will present new applications for the Samsung mobile devices, join us for a great show.

In this season we have organized slightly different competition than before. In cooperation with Samsung we have asked eClubbers to create applications for the latest Samsung mobile devices Galaxy Tablet and Galaxy Note with the S-Pen. As of today, we have eight entrants. I have been working with most of them and I must confess they worked hard. eClub also provided to some of them testing devices. We have also been answering and helping solving questions concerning the certification process. Most of the applications are already approved by Samsung.

Currently we work with our friends in Samsung on selecting the panel of judges. The judges will focus on the graphical quality. They will evaluate how the applications take advantage of the unique features of the Samsung devices. Also it will be very important for the evaluation how inventive and entertaining the apps are. The stability and technical quality of apps should be already validated, since all applications need to comply with the certification.

3rd of December is the demo day. All teams will have the opportunity to introduce  their applications. The organization will be simple. Each team will have a ten minutes time slot to explain their application. We expect the teams to use the web apps pages, which are part of the competition rules. Certainly, a presentation in power point or a YouTube movie are welcomed too. We are all looking for a great show. Do not forget that a stunning presentation is at least 50% of success. Do you homework and prepare something interesting. The application also needs to be technically good. The judges will download the apps to the tablets and notes and test them before the demo day. We will leave one week to judges to deliver their decision. The winners will be announced 10th of December. All presentations will be video recorded and we will put them on the eClub pages.

Do not forget and make a note to your calendar the demo day is on Monday the 3rd of December, plan to join us, it will be a great show.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

How are the eClub winning teams doing?

All three winning teams from the last run of the eClub were very busy during summer. They were happily developing their ideas and they have made significant progress.

The third team in the competition is smart2go. They want to develop a portal finding the nearest taxi and mange the interaction between taci driver and customer. The idea is simple: take your cell and with few clics order a taxi. The portal will inform the most suitable taxi driver and notify the customer once the driver commits the drive. Smart2go started with a simple mobile application Taxi guide for customers. It recognizes the customer location or alternatively you can enter the departure point and the destination can be typed in or selected clicking on a map. Pressing search returns a list of taxi provides starting with the cheapest one. One more click and you can call the taxi company. The application is very simple but provides the essential guidance. The real price is only estimated, but I still consider it very useful. Download it on the play market. The team has gotten over all the hurdles of putting an app on play. This is the basic exercise for continuing in the development of the full working application.

The second team Babywebik is focusing on a neat application for young parents. The server offers infrastructure for saving babies pictures, share them with family or friends and see the kids growing. Nice idea. The team was also very busy working from the Node 5 incubator. They are probably the most advanced team close to making the product running. They were already several times threatening with launching it and I am sure it is only few weeks away now. The team has also shown a strong business lead. They are busily discussing with the leading babies product manufacturers and resellers. The site is also offering an Internet store with babies’ products. All this is potentially securing reasonable income. Nice job!

The winning team the Techambition is also very dedicated and committed to develop good educational tools. They are focusing on high schools. During summer they have enhanced their basic web technology for creating interactive framework for easy content development. They have nicely designed goniometric functions class. Student can interactively learn what are the parameters and how they change the functions graphs. The goniometric functions are an ideal example for a graphical demonstration. This example really very well shows the power of interaction. The team has also got in touch with several high schools and received a valuable feedback. They have closed the first deal with a first school. Techambition is also discussing the development strategy with a similar team working from the Varick Incubator. The team still has a lot to do, the most difficult problem will be to develop more content and disseminate it to schools. But the team is on a good path to succeeded.

Join us next Monday Filip Molcan will share with us his experience developing and organizing his company.

Monday, September 17, 2012

eClub starts again next Monday

I am still at the airport in Glasgow returning from a short cycling vacation, but I feel it is time to reveal the next eClub series plans. We are making big changes in eClub and we have a lot of surprises. Do not miss the opening presentation by Steven Kuyen.

This semester we will open in a big style with a presentation by the Steven Kuyan the director of the Varick Street incubator. Steven’s incubator is closely associated with NYU Poly. There is a big similarity between our eClub and Varick street incubator and therefore I hope, it will be very interesting for us to see how they organize educational and motivational presentations, how they help their students and how can we work together. Varick street incubator also provides mentors helping the student’s teams to develop their startups. On top of that they also provide a hosting space for new teams. This is still a dream for us, but believe me, we are working on it and I hope, we will surprise you soon.

Steven’s presentation starts on Monday 24.9. at 18:00 again in Hub Prague. As in the last semester we will be streaming to our usual locations. (Brno, Hradec Kralove, Olomouc, Ostrava, Zlin) This also will be our first overseas session. The students of the NYU-Poly will join us, too. Get ready and invite as many viewers as possible, it will be great. I also hope, we will remove all the technical problems we had encountered last time. We plan to have another two sessions in HUB in this semester, each last Monday in the month. Regularly we will meet as usually at Karlovo nam 13, K9 room.

I will deliver the second presentation (Karlovo nam. K9, 1st Oct). I will present the organizational details for this semester, this time for the whole academic year in the eClub. There will be some changes. I am planning to select the winners of the eClub competition only once in the academic year, in May before the summer vacation. The reason is simple. Based on the last year experience students had to focus most of all on exams in January and beginning of February and they did not have time enough to work on their ideas, to work on their startups. This does not mean there is no competition before Christmas. Instead, we will organize the ideas presentations, which we have been running in the middle of the semester. A panel of reviewers will select the most promising teams. The winning teams will get a working space, and mentors. The reason is simple we want to work with the most promising teams throughout the summer semester and prepare them for the final competition. Before summer the jury will select the teams with the top entrepreneurial potential in the final competition. The best team will get the grand price: two months stay at the Varick street incubator joining  their summer program. Imagine working for two months in the center of the world business, in the middle of Manhattan. Fantastic, do you agree?

The list of speakers for this season is not completed yet. We have some empty spaces. But check the eClub program pages, the first presentations are already confirmed. I will get back to you with more details soon.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Do you want owning company in the US

I was not idling during the summer. I worked with my friends from Varick Street Incubator (NY) and the University of Tomas Bata (Zlin) and we have put together an competition with an amazing award. If you win you will own a US based company.

How it started? Bob from TBU wrote me an email saying: hey, I have a bunch of talented designers interested in multimedia and web design and they do not have the right programming skills to make them live. My reply to his email was immediate: we have a different bunch in eClub Czech Technical University, Prague with complementary skills. Why don’t we try to put them together?

In the same time I was visiting incubators in the US and thanks to Jan (CzechInvest Director for the East Cost) I happened to get to Varick incubator and I met Steven who is the director. The Varick street incubator hosts mainly NYU-Poly students teams. When we met I asked Steven simple question: I have lot of skillful programmers and they want to get access to the US market, what can we do about it? His reply was quick: lets try to create a competition for mixed Czech US teams and let’s see how it would work. Great idea!

The things clicked together immediately. Bob's students have put together a portfolio of great game graphical designs. We have eager programmers at NYU-Poly, Varick street incubator and in eClub CTU. The remaining question was how to get our student together? How to make them cooperate? How to create international teams? This is a difficult task. We have immediately started discussions to find a solution. We have reviewed many different ideas, but the outcome is not surprising: we have chosen the famous BaseCamp. The BaseCamp selection is probably obvious, but it took us quite some time.  Clearly, it is one of the most popular project management web tools used in many startups. I hope, it will work for our students too. Of course, it will very much depend on the student’s activity and imagination too. I am looking forward to see emerging teams of programmers and designers.

How to start? If you want to enter the competition fill in the registration form and we invite you to the BaseCamp. Then you can browse between various projects and virtually meet your future team members. I am sure the teams will find more web communication tools, let us know what works best.

The competition is aiming at games for mobile devices, phones or tablets. You can chose from the list of graphical designs but we made the topic selection open to let other developers use their imagination and come up with something interesting. Submission date is November 5th and we will announce the winners a week later.

The competition rules are quite simple and the award is awesome. The winners will own a US company to start their business career on the most interesting market in the world.

If you have any questions let me know. If you want join register. I wish to all participants good luck and I am looking forward to see the first emerging teams.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Samsung and eClub competition

I am happy to announce Samsung and eClub competition. The main sponsors Samsung and eClub will award students of the Czech universities for the best Galaxy tablets and the Samsung S-Pen devices applications.

I have been promising to the graduates of eClub and my students a great competition for summer 2012. It took us long time. It is middle of the summer, but finally today everything is tuned and perfected and I can invite you to see the rules. The competition is giving great chance all the students to compete for the best Galaxy application. In cooperation we will reward Galaxy applications for Android tablets and recently introduced new S-Pen. We all already know the famous Galaxy tablets, the next version 2 is soon out. Also the S-Pen deserves a special attention, its unique screen size and a stylus are giving developers special opportunities to design new type of attractive applications.

The awards are awesome! The winning teams will be awarded with 20, 15 and 10k CZK scholarships and each member will also get Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 Wi-Fi in the tablet category and Samsung Galaxy S-Pen in the second category. All registered competition participants will have free access to selected Node 5 accelerator events and to the shared working space. eClub will also try to provide the testing devices in both categories. All of you are certainly also invited to next great season of eClub where we also will try to help all of you to achieve the best results. eClub program will be announced soon.

What do you need to do? You need to have a good idea for an application and put together an actionable team. You need to register the team, create great application and submit it before November 1st.  To make sure the applications are well written and satisfy all commercial requirements they need to obtain the SamsungApps certification.  The Samsung experts will give you a valuable and free feedback discovering potential application problems. You also need to describe and advertise your application on your web pages. We will invite you to present your application at special Demo Day in the eClub before a panel of judges from Samsung and eClub. They will select the winning applications.

The awarded apps will be offered to the Samsung customers for the first six month after the jury decision. After the six month period the authors are free to market or sell their application as they wish.

The Samsung and eClub competition extends the fantastic cooperation with MediLab foundation, which received 50 brand new Galaxy tablets last year. Thanks to this donation our students enjoyed great hands-on experience in designing the Android applications. We are happy to continue this effort this semester again.

If you are a student and you like developing mobile applications help me to spread the word and let your friends know. I am looking forward helping with all eClub members to all participants to achieve the best results. I am also happy to provide contacts while creating teams. Keep up the fingers crossed and let’s look forward for the best applications.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How we organize research in the Cloud Computing Center

I have explained how to find a topic for a research project or dissertation in the last blog. Today, I want to comment on some of the best execution rules, which should help you in achieving the best project results in our Cloud Computing Center (3C). 

Our ambition is to find and research new ideas and use the new results for creating useful applications on Internet and for mobile devices. Check the first batch of projects completed in May this year or the new projects we are starting now.

First things first. I believe that every member of our team needs to understand what is the target of his research, what needs to be researched? The problem formulation needs to be crystal clear. The best way to accomplish this is to ask all new members to write a simple essay. I always conduct an initial interview with candidates applying for a project and I try to introduce possible interesting ideas, but leave space for creativity and innovation. The discussions may take quite some time but the result is an essay describing briefly, without any technical details what is the research good for, why we should pursue it. The essay needs to answer the following questions: what would be the impact of the research, where it can be applied, is it going to improve people’s life, why we need the solution?

Once we understand the problem we start the papers search - how to solve the problem. We again are answering a set of questions: what are the known approaches, what are the possible solutions or directions of new research, which of the described or published approaches may lead to best results, how are we going to improve the current solutions and what are our chances for succes? By the way sometimes it is very difficult objectively measure what is success. Finding the right direction takes a lot of work. The systematic paper search, learning and understanding and collecting them to a document or blog takes quite some time. The blog with notes not only helps in learning the basics but will come very handy later as a list of references. While reading the articles we will soon discover who are the competing researchers or companies and what is the state of art in the field. Very helpful is to network with researchers or groups working on similar problems and I encourage everybody to socialize as much as possible.

There are also some formal requirements in the 3C. Every member of our team has to prepare a short CV and place it on our pages along with the essay describing the problem. I ask all members to point their private Facebook and Linkedin, Google and other profiles to 3C pages, this attracts visitors. We want more traffic to our pages, because we want to advertise our work, we want to attract people with the same interest. Certainly, every person in the team has also a link to a personal blog tracking the project progress on 3C pages. For the everyday progress tracking each member needs to share with me also a document with a list of tasks and their completion. Recently we are also in some more intensive projects using Asana a simple work flow management system.

Our team is growing and we need to have common vision and strategy. The team members need to communicate and help each other to select projects from the same or similar fields to effectively cooperate. The best place for exchanging ideas are the weekly meetings. We summarize the recent work and plan the next steps. I am also envisioning to organize reviews of interesting articles. This will help us to stay on the technological edge.

To make sure we grow, I ask all the PhD students to supervise one or two BSc or MSc students. These students are helping to test or implement some of the research ideas and this way contributing to the work of the whole center. I also expect the undergraduates to help us with writing applications demoing the research results. Demos are the best way to promote the results of our work.

I also pay close attention to promote the research results to the industry. Technology transfer is one of important roles we need to play. Every member of the center is asked to constantly think how to use the research results in the industry. All members should think about creating startups or spin offs. The number of students creating startups is still very low at our university and in our country in general. On the other hand startups are the best form of organization for converting the latest technological results to successful products.

Research institutes and schools are frequently supported by governmental grants. Part of the work therefore must aim at effective grant submissions and search of partners for cooperation.

This is the list of rules and common practices we apply in 3C. If you have different rules or suggestions for improvement, let me know. If you want to join us let me also know. We also look for research and industry partners ...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

How to chose the dissertation topic

All PhD or MSc students are asking the same questions at the beginning of their career: how to select the best thesis project? Indeed, there are many ingredients required to cook a good dissertation. Let me share some of my thought.

How to find the research topic? Where to start the search? The synonym for search is Google today. Yes, Internet is the source of great knowledge but there are also other sources. Our university diploma works are available on line and all dissertations are available in our department library. I would suggest to start here. Go through them and read especially conclusions they include lot of suggestions for further development. Starting with the works from our department has one advantage: they are focusing on what our faculties are interested in. Understanding the research in our department will result in better, more efficient follow-up search on the Internet.

Work systematically. Record all what you have read and try to identify what was each work solving. What was the contribution and conclusion? What are the open problems. I strongly suggest to write a blog.

While selecting a topic consider the added value. Once you solve the dissertation problem what is the benefit. I also will suggest checking the business value of the topic or research. Do you think someone will buy the solution? Is the created intellectual property good for creating a startup?

What other considerations can help you in selecting the topic? During the school years you were good in some of the courses, you liked solving certain problems. These are the areas to search for a good problem. It is very important finding something you are passionate about. Passion is an essential ingredient of a success in any project. Do not forget there is a long way to solve even a simple problem and you need to stay focused and motivated. Motivation drives great performance and leads to the best results.

As soon as you get closer to the problem formulation write an essay. It should not be too long, one up to two pages are enough. Try in simple words explain to someone who is not an expert in the field what you want to do, why are you passionate about the problem and what will be the benefits. Even if you are going to focus on a fundamental theoretical problem you better know what is your contribution and who is interested in the results. The larger is the group of people who will benefit from your solution the better.  Do not do anything just for the sake of research ask and answer real practical questions.

Once the project is at least vaguely formulated go to the Google scholar or other research databases and identify the major journal focusing on your topic. Collect relevant articles and sort them out. Cluster the topics in major groups. This will help you to find out the state of the art in the area of interest. You will also learn who are the major leaders in the field, where they publish and what is popular. Do the same for the major conferences. Do not forget you need to publish to prove your competencies in the field. The journals and conferences are the targets for publishing your results.

What is also important? Your chosen topic needs to align with the interests of your advisor. Choosing the right advisor and aligning your topic with his interest is essential. You are in fact looking not only for the advisor you better search for a group of people researching similar topics. The reason is very simple, you need to regularly discuss with your peers and the advisor too. The discussion is the best way to improve your views, to get further motivation, to have someone who will argue with you, who will ask you to get deeper to the problem. Group of people working on the same topic will also help you to stay focused not to loose the direction. Your peers are the best listeners and advisers to your research interests.

Last but not least. Research work is not very well paid and you need some funding. Therefore I recommend looking for all the grants, funding or granted projects in the area at the very beginning while deciding about your project. Identify the possible sources and constantly search for funding. Proposing a new research or asking for funding for your research is also not simple, you need to learn it. Think about it also as soon as possible. Think about the best way to present your project, research and its results. Find the most persuasive ways how to demonstrate your research results. Understand who can be your customers, who needs the results of the research, these people are the possible candidates for funding.

Good dissertation is a result of a hard, long time effort and requires lot of ingredients. This year we have been very lucky and we got three new doctoral students who decided to take this path. I hope, we will do great job and come with exciting and new ideas. Follow us on the Cloud Computing Center pages and check how successful we are in completing all the above steps.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Music festival Pohoda and startups

My interest in startups and mentoring has unexpectedly prepared me a very interesting week. First, I visited my friends at the University of Tomas Bata in Uherske Hradiste and then I jumped over the Czech and Slovak border to Mini Unicamp at the musical festival Pohoda in Trencin. Great and very interesting week.

A small part of the Tomas Bata University, the Institute of Visual Art is located in Uherske Hradiste Moravia, Czech Republic. Bob, one of the professors at the institute, is leading a group of students interested in media design.  Bob is teaching web design and this brought us together. He is teaching students producing nice designs but they rarely turn their designs to real applications. Here we are stepping in. We have many students highly interested in programming web apps and typically their biggest weakness is graphical design. Yes, it is obvious we need to combine the skills and create new apps. Wait, I will soon let you know where to access the designs and enjoy them throughout the summer.

I arrived to the UTB on Tuesday afternoon and Bob took me for a nice walk to admire the local architecture and the nearby vineyards. We have passed several nice cellars and climbed a small hill to enjoy a scenic view.  Going down the hill we started to inspect the cellars from inside, delicious vine. Later we got to the centre of Uherske Hradiste to discover a stylish retro bar with an name attracting all hackers “Portal”. It is furnished with a large collection of last century design chairs. Other UTB friends joined us and we continued tasting the local vines. They serve not only vine, I had an Earl Grey cup of tea for the breakfast the next morning. Running on "portal" was an opportunity to discuss further plans for our cooperation, but at 10PM we have experienced the Portal DoS ( Denial of Service) and we had to move to an other cellar to continue the “discussion”. It was very long and productive. Give us some more time we have cocked some very interesting projects.

The next day I have visited a very nice exhibition of the UTB designers in a local movie theater. In the evening I got back to watch a movie. We had to wait to collect at least 10 viewers, the minimum to start the show. We were lucky we close at 12 people.  Movie theater is a remarkable building from sixties. From outside it has the proportions and style of the famous Ludwig Mies van der Rohe buildings. The main hall is covered with  a dome like roof. On top of the dome is a little garden. The entrance to the main hall has very thick and large doors. Why all that? It was originally build as an atomic attack shelter for the local communist establishment.  Remarkably the building is really great.

I have moved to Trencin on Thursday to join the musical festival Pohoda, a great event attracting a crowd of 30k viewers.  This was my first music festival ever. My expectations were very different. I have not met any drunken people, no drugs, and no orgy. What more there were about sixty people interested in startup discussions. The Mini Unicamp has been sponsored by British Council. The organizers put together architects, designers, university teachers and others to discuss the creation and innovation process. All approached the discussion from their point of view. It was interesting for me and I hope, for the viewer too, to see and the different views and different problems in various professions. I was representing the Internet segment. The main idea I have tried to convey was the democratization, the easiness of accessing programming resources, movie making, music, entrepreneurship and other disciplines. Anyway, you still need to have a good idea to take advantage of all the free tools and create something new. Most of all, I have tried to motivate people and make them understand, it is easy to turn their dreams true. There are so many opportunities, …

This was very unconventional week, but I have learned a lot. I have met many new and interesting people and I am sure, I will meet with them soon again working on new disrupting projects.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Steve Blank reads this blog

we were all exited to spot Steve tweeting about visiting Prague. Steve was very kind to spare his vacation time and meet with a group of around thirty startup enthusiasts. 

Vojta Bednar from with a great help of Lenka Kucerova from StartupYard organized the meeting as a part of the “Ve sklepe” series. It was for the first time in English. Around thirty Prague startup fans watching twitter noticed this opportunity and rushed to meet Steve. The meeting took place in a Romanic style cellar with very quite, centuries old atmosphere in the center of Prague. At the beginning the cellar was very quite not only because the cell phones were organically shut off (no signal in the cellar), but all watched Steve with dignity and respect. Steve immediately noticed that and started asking questions provoking the audience. After a while the atmosphere became very open and friendly. At the end the viewers were firing one question after another. Steve was great, fast talking with the typically American clarity and focus on action. I really liked his formulations and statements. I engaged with him immediately. I know very well all his presentations from YouTube and I was happy to find him very energetic and practical finally in the real life too. I also admire very much Steve's motivation. He feels it is his obligation to give up his experience to the world.

At the beginning he presented a very brief cv. Then Vojta started asking questions. Steve was talking about his companies, how he got on the cover of Wired magazine, what is the role of governments supporting entrepreneurship, how he came up with the idea of teaching the art of startup. He has also mentioned the latest idea to use the methodology of the Internet or technological startup and apply it to the rest (99%) of startups growing everywhere. He also disclosed the topic of his next blogs. He will focus on the corporate innovation. I also liked his description of the democratization of the entrepreneurship: we all have equal access to information, the real problem is how to sort it. Elaborating on what is the best location for startup, he has explained how unique is Silicon Valley and how difficult it is to start global IT company elsewhere. He mentioned Singapore, Finland and Israel as the centers with talent concentration. Overall there were many topics he has touched and made many interesting statements. I am not going to details. I am sure you all will see the video on the pages real soon. Do not miss it.

We spent almost two hours in the cellar and then we have continued in a nearby pub drinking bier. This was the best opportunity for me to get signed his latest book “The Startup Owner's Manual“. For me it was great to meet Steve and get motivated for further work with my students. The biggest highlight was to realize Steve has read my last blog about the Startup Summit. Yes, maybe I am the only one blogging in English about startups in the Czech Republic ... I will end with quoting Steve: Startup is the inverse of the iq test. And I will add: therefore do not be afraid and start something …

Sunday, June 24, 2012

3C mobile applications on web

Cloud Computing Center (3C) is introducing two new mobile applications: job bidding Android application is on the Google Play. The second, czSMS enables sending free SMS and it will be available really soon for Android, iPhone, Bada, and Win. 

This time  time I will share with you two interesting applications resulting from baccalaurean projects. is a startup Internet company. It helps their customers finding craftsmen companies offering household maintenance, small home improvement up to finding a construction company. So far the craftsmen were biding in the evening when they got to their computer. Martin's project was to design new Android app allowing immediate reaction. Martin went through the typical development steps for a mobile application. First he has designed the wireframes, which were extensively discussed with nejremeslinici to come to a final layout. The next step was to create Android wrappers for the portal REST API. The portal developers implemented the C2DM Android protocol allowing to send instant notification of filtered job requests. Finally the whole application was implemented and tested. The audience is limited to the companies associated with the portal. Application is offered to customers gradually to discover bugs. The current google analytics numbers are showing that 10% of the companies are already using it. 98% are returning customers and the number of sessions is climbing. I am very happy that we have managed to get it on the market and make it available for customers.

The next application is czSMS project. Jan has decided to revive his first full-featured Android application providing free texting within the Czech Republic. His czSMS was abandoned more than one year ago. He has decided to improve it and make it available again, this time for a variety of mobile platforms (Android, Windows Phone, Samsung Bada, iOS). After deep comparison of many multi platform frameworks Jan has chosen PhoneGap. The new version of czSMS allows users sending free (connectivity required) text messages enabling access to four SMS gateways provided by the local GSM operators. The gateways are written for non-mobile browsers and the whole interaction needs to be simulated, which was the biggest challenge in this project. Each of the gateways interaction sw is implemented as a separate module to allow simple modification. In addition the application manages message history and displays texting statistics. Currently it is in a pilot testing on all mentioned platforms and we expect to see it on markets in one max. two months. Stay tuned I let you know.

The Cloud Computing Center (3C) has produces two first practical applications. There are many more in preparation. I am sure the new apps will be also much more elaborate. Wait, I will soon describe our new projects.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Startup Summit

I attended the Startup Summit conference yesterday in Prague. This was the first event bringing together almost all startup enthusiasts from the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Everybody was there. Let me share with you some of the highlights.

I go to conferences because I like networking. People are coming relaxed and they are happy to talk to each other. The Startup Summit was no exception. I enjoyed meeting friends and it was not just me, nobody wanted to stop chatting, drinking coffee and return  for presentations.

Because of networking I have missed the opening keynotes, but I came on time for the two Ondrej's Bartos (Credo Ventures) and Raska (Miton) conversation moderated by Zdenek Cedra. The discussion or dispute was about creating global or local startups. Both made strong statements, such as “if you did not sell anythig in the age of 15 do not create startup, work for McKinsey”. Raska is successfully running local companies, but I am more on the Bartos’s side. He defines a startup as a global company, scalable and capable of growing. On the other hand there are many businesses, which are by nature local and there is nothing wrong about them. Both agreed that the local market is in many ways different then global market. During the discussion they have asked the audience an interesting question: How long will the Czech market exist? The major global labels are penetrating, creating local versions of the global products. Good question but we still like portals such as

Rastislav Turek,  ( and Jakub Mach ( were the next discussing about the local versus global. Jakub was the most controversial speaker of the day with a very unique insight. He was criticizing developers for shooting for trendy apps and surfing on waves of currently cool trends. His advice: ask the countryman to discover real problems. He also questioned the number of unique users as the only criteria of success. He also criticized the local mentors for seeking too much social credit. He also criticized them for trying to advice but having nothing new to contribute, their last Internet victory is ten years old. Yes, he was negative and controversial, but in some sense he raised good points.

Game developers have shown a strong presence. Milos Enderle was representing a very successful company Geewa. His thoughts were interesting for me, since I have no idea about games. His company creates so called casual games, easy to enter, hard to master and difficult to stay on top. Games last between 5 to 20 min. The company has 28 people and subsidiary in Berlin. Geewa is very player focused. The most interesting statement: we have shortened the update cycle to one day. It takes MS one year, Google one month, but we update or improve our products everyday.

Jakub Dvorsky is another star on the gaming sky. He is an artist developing aesthetic creations of new worlds. His games are graphically very unique.  He enjoyes his job, he has no special market strategy, he is just developing what he and his friends like. So far it works for his company Amanita Design very well. They are very successful and have lot of fans, Check them up!

In the afternoon before the end of the conference we have seen some of the best startups followed by presentations of incubators and events helping to the startup folks. I must not forget, I have pitched the eClub and I have also been on the stage for the startup and university block discussion, but I’ll try to report about this other time. Check the Startup Summit pages for more info.

The startup movement is getting stronger and more and more new companies are emerging in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and the Central Europe. We need more of these events to create new connections and help each other. Great event, I'll join next year again.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Theses 2012 - part 2

‪‬This is the second part describing the next batch of theses in the 3C. Many interesting and practical projects emerged. All are bringing up new applications or research opportunities. I also have to proudly report: all my master students defended the theses successfully. 

"Mobile sales support applications" proposed by Vratislav Zima is designing a nice application for Android cell phones. The idea is simple. Teenage girls, based on Vrata’s market research, rely very much on others opinion when shopping for new fashion. The application allows them to take a picture of a new shirt or skirt and place it on Facebook. Real experiments show that the outfits collect the “likes” very fast and help girls to make the purchase decision. In return for placing their snaps on the net they get discount QR codes. The app also takes advantage of the location services. The theses is describing all the implementation detail. Are you interested? Let me know.

"Interfacing an Android native app t"o PHP web server" (in Czech) is another theses with the Internet focus.  Martin Falta, designed Android application for young parents. The Babywebik app is offering a simple system for collecting and placing kids pictures on the Internet and share them with friends or family. The app is interfacing to an existing portal and it shows how to connect mobile client to an existing PHP based portal. Since the REST architecture is popular in our lab I have insisted on creating  a server wrapper, which is converting a PHP based server to REST architecture. Native Android client communicates with the server and implements simple functionality: photo collection, creating comments etc. Testing and UI optimization are explained in the theses too. I am looking forward to see the application running and I wish the babywebik team lot of users.

Ludvík Haltuf is one of the shining students, he achieved a top ranking - triple A in the state exam, congratulations! His thesis "REST API testing" analyses the REST architectural style and designs a testing and compliance tool. The idea for the project has been originally suggested by Filip who is the author a very successful Dev HTTP client app. There is a lot of controversies these days about REST API compliance. Many APIs claim to be RESTful but  missing some of the essential details. Here comes the Ludviks’s application, use it to analyze your API and learn how to fix the problems. I hope, these two apps will merge and bring to the market the best HTTP analyzing tool.

Tomáš Lucovič works in a small startup offering Internet apps development and services. They use lot of students and contractors. What is the typical problem? How to track the cost, how to predict the project duration? The company uses Pivotal Tracker but the duration and cost tracking functionality is missing. In his “Time tickets” (in Czech) theses he has designed an add-on application for Pivotal Tracker. It implements user-friendly and easy to use UI for time tracking with minimum users requirements. In the development process a programmer is picking new and reporting finished tasks through the Pivotal Tracker. Once a task is completed the add-on generates an email or IM and the programmer replies by clicking on predefined task duration. It typically costs two clicks only. The add-on generates reports for the developer and the project manager. The cost is simply derived as a product of worked hours and the cost of an hour. The application is designed and implemented in RoR and hosted on Heroku.

Some more baccalaurean theses next time, stay tuned.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Theses 2012 - first part

the academic year is slowly ending. It was very busy, I have been supervising twelve MSc. and BSc. theses. My students are preparing to defend their work and take the state exams. This was the main reason, we got together and rehearsed the presentations. Let me give you an idea about the first four projects in this blog. 

As in all my work at the university I try to split my attention between education, research and business. This is reflected in the diploma problems formulation. Every project has to solve some real problem. Some of the theses turned out more research oriented and some led to pilots of real products.

In total I was leading twelve theses and it is a lot of work. I tried to spend at least a hour with each of the students every week. To be effective I have followed a simple development process. The work on the diploma problem has been always started with an essay. Half of A4 page with high-level description of the problem. Students were not allowed to describe the technology the key is the added value. They had to conclude with an explanation of what is being developed and what will be the benefit for users. I think, the full understanding of the project benefits is the key for motivating students.

Next, they had to set a blog for weekly progress reports. Some inclined more to a shared Google Docs document, some used github, but each of them was keeping track about the development. I used the blog during the weekly meetings. The first step was to review what has been done since the last meeting. Second I tried to understand what needs to be done next and set the follow up tasks.

CTU is offering a dissertation Latex template, with a standard theses structure. All of the students were using it and we have shared the pdf version in Dropbox. Blog, Google Docs, Dropbox and other tools enabled me to be constantly in touch and help when required. What are the result? Let me describe the first batch of theses.

Martin Prokš has designed a helpdesk application. The dissertation title is RESTful Helpdesk Application (in Czech). It sounds simple there are many implementations of helpdesk in shareware, but he has taken a very difficult path. The app is implemented in Java and Spring. As part of the solution he has developed simple templates for implementing REST API. The server part is hosted on Google App Engine. For client he has chosen Google Web Toolkit. The development was not exactly smooth. Martin had to solve many little problems because of documentation details etc., but he is a real programmer spending major part of the day next to his machine. Since we have been sharing the source, when I touched some of mine computers I have been observing new files being updated to my Dropbox. The application is almost ready.

Petr Michalička was also dealing with the web. His dissertation “Automatic Deployment to PaaS Cloud” helps users install and configure popular open source PHP packages to PaaS environment. Currently his application supports Cloud Foundry, AWS, and Eucalyptus. The UpCf SaaS application enables simple deployment of several popular shareware applications to cloud. It is designed for users with no programming skills. The thesis also summarizes in general the main steps in migrating PHP apps to PaaS cloud. It suggests solutions for future integration of more packages.

Ondřej Šťastný has submitted the “Rapid Application Development of RESTful Servers” theses. His main idea was to help developers rapidly create server part of web applications. His approach allows designers to use only declarative client-side code. Ondrej has formalized the process introducing a novelty approach Schema-Permissions-Data (SPD) schema for defining data model and server interface. His approach is also minimizing number of protocols used in order to simplify the design and development. There are two reference applications in his theses.

Tomáš Tunys wrote the “Gestures detection for Android” theses. He has put together a complete system for collecting mobile devices gestures including a management system. The gesture is defined as a device movement, hand-drawn shape on a touch screen, or a movement captured by a camera. They all generate time series characterizing the movement. The main part was design and implementation of all basic algorithms for training and recognition. The gesture recognition deploys vector quantization and Hidden Markov Models. To collect the data and test the reco he had to design and implement an Android application. Nice job. Tomas applied for a PhD program. Even better!

This is the short description of the first four theses. I'll describe all theses and I will try to put the pdfs on web, wait for the part two of this blog. Keep the fingers crossed for my students, while defending the theses next week.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

eClub winners

the eClub winners of the summer 2012 competition were announced yesterday. The winning teams are Techambition, BabyWebik, and CitySmartGo. Congratulation to all winners. Great job!

We have met last time in this season yesterday and we have announced the winners. The winner is the Techambition team (Jakub Stránský, David Pokorník, Jan Stránský) students of the Faculty of Civil Engineering of CTU. This time again the top team is not majoring in programming or application design. This is proving the trend that the understanding of the application, the expertise in the field is more important for designing the application than the top programming skills. Jury had in this case awarded more the vision than the business potencial. The application focus is very ambitious and I am looking forward to see the first version.

The second winner is the Babywebik team (Martin Falta, Jakub Kucera, Zuzana Lehmanova, Ondrej Fabian) designing an application for young parents. Users can upload kids pictures in various modes to the portal annotate them, share them etc. Great idea, I think this service will be very successful. I hope the team will also prepare an English version for global market, unfortunately they also need to change the name. Rumors has it they are close to start the pilot version.

The third winner is the CitySmartGo team (SmartGoJan Zikeš, Martin Matyášek, Anna Pecková) with a very interesting idea to bid for the nearest available taxi. The assumption is commuters and the taxi drivers will bid for the best price based on location and time. The idea still needs to be tested, but the initial business analysis shows both the commuters as well as the drivers are interested.

Congratulations to all winners and I wish them a productive summer. They will receive the seed money as well as a mentor and I am looking forward to see the best pilots as soon as possible. We are also ready to work with the teams who had not made it to the top places.

I also would like to say thank you to all jury members. Thank you goes also to all our current and the future mentors, their help is really important for us. I would like to say thank you to all of you who were joining us in this semester and helped to make eClub successful.

This round is finished and we need to prepare for the Winter part of eClub, it will start end of September. We will continue in what the members liked and we are looking for new attractive speakers and events. We need to work on improving the streaming and come up with new ideas how to better engage the out of Prague teams. I hope, I'll bring some more surprises for the next season.

If you have any wish or idea to suggest get in touch with me. We are looking for all active people! If you liked the eClub meetings or competition bring your friends for the Winter version. Have a productive summer.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The final day and new summer competition

We will announce the winners of the Summer 2012 eClub competition tomorrow at 18:00 at CVUT, Karlovo nam. 13. Teams have presented their projects two weeks ago and the competition was awesome. 

This time we were very lucky and put together a great jury. As witnessed by several jury members they had a hard time to decide the winners of this round of eClub. We have seen several very good teams. You can check by yourself, all presentations are on line now. Every member of jury was assigning 3 points to the best, 2 points to the second and one point to the third team. I have then summed the points to find out that the jury really liked the top three teams. They are only one point of each other only. The votes were quite decisive, since the top teams are pretty much ahead from the main pack. Only two out of the nine teams did not score at all. I can't disclose the winners, you need to wait till tomorrow. Great competition!

I will also kick-off a new eClub Summer 2012 competition, which is designed for the summer weeks. The winners will be selected in September. The competition is organized jointly with Samsung and Node5. It focuses on application development for the new Samsung tablets and the Galaxy Note. Wait for the detail till tomorrow.

Come and join us this Wednesday at 18:00 for the eClub winners announcement and find out what you need to do to win nice sum of money and Samsung mobile devices.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Cambridge Innovation Center

I am again enjoying the smooth ride going down from Boston to NYC. I have visited the Cambridge Innovation Center. It is located next to the MIT campus. It occupies seven floors and the owners are describing it as a startup hotel. Indeed, it is hosting five hundred companies.

The proximity to MIT is attracting large number of technological startups. They share huge high-rise building. CIC provides the full infrastructure, furniture, electricity, connectivity, printers, free coffee, and snacks. The working open space offices are surrounded by meeting rooms of different sizes starting with one man calling booths. All are equipped with tables, phones and connectivity. Next to the door of each of the meeting rooms is an iPad for scheduling. Very useful, it allows you to find who is coming for the meeting, how long it is scheduled for etc. The cheapest space in the co-shared office costs $300 a person a month. The CIC managers do not need to advertise the demand is high. They are looking for extra space to accommodate even more companies. When the dot-com bubble burst the MIT owned building was almost deserted. This was the best time to rent the space at a great price and it is how the CIC started, twelve years ago. This was also the time when the new startups were emerging.

The attraction to build startpus is not only the Boston genius loci and the closeness to MIT. It can also be attributed to the technological advances. It has never been so easy to shoot a movie in HD professional quality. A band can put high quality recordings on the web and avoid the big labels to become popular. Everybody owns a PC and all the rest what you need to create an application is almost for free on the Internet. The easy access to technology is giving chance to everybody, it is democratizing, it is enabling and motivating to create something new. Of course everybody has the chance but not everybody will win, you need more than just the technology. The trick is to find the right idea to find the best strategy, be inventive, innovative. CIC is a good place to meet many people pursuing this path and start to socialize with them. This not only motivates but also helps to find new angles and views. Discussion and inspirational spirit this is the generic essence for making progress.

Jan a representative of Czechinvest for the east coast has arranged for me a meeting in CIC. The contact person was Christa, who takes care about the Czech starups coming to CIC. I was expecting a girl in oversized t-shirt, jeans and sneakers. To my surprise walked in through a glass door a real lady with an aristocratic touch. And I was right, I have discovered later during our long discussion that Christa is of an Austrian origin a descendant of the Czech kings. She gave me a very insightful introduction to the MIT business, what is behind the enormous success. First of all it is the concentration of the best professors. They can choose from the best students. The alumni are the best paid in the field and they are getting the top positions in the best companies. Also the MIT research results are attracting industry. Many worldwide companies are looking for the MIT researchers. MIT became an icon of the high technology design and many companies advertise their presence in MIT. The moguls buildings are nicely surrounding the campus. The top know-how and the concentration of the best researchers is attracting lot of funding. The large investments are visible everywhere in the campus. May be, the most amazing is the Gehry deconstructivistic building, very colorful and flashy? The building is also hosting the department of artificial intelligence with large spaces for experimenting. After that I had a lunch in a cafeteria. Inside is the building offering great space it is very fragmented with a lot of detail but very comfortable.

It was very valuable to see how many people try to create their own companies, what the spirit is and how it works around MIT. We are lucky Czechinvest has found Christa, the best person. The only thing remains, to get as many Czech companies to CIC as we can.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

NYU-Poly Varick Street Incubator

I am sitting in a smoothly moving Amtrak between NY and Boston and it is a great time to share what I saw during my visit in the Varick Street incubator, NY. Beside offering space for startups, they do very similar things as we do in eClub. What is the difference: they are much more experienced, they have accumulated lot of know-how, they have developed the startup ecosystem with lawyers, mentors etc. Great place to learn how to proceed with eClub.

I have met with Steven who is running the NYU-Poly Varick Street Incubator. The incubator shortens the time from innovation to impact, and provides the guidance, expertise, and resources that start-ups need to grow into scalable ventures that bring economic growth to the greater New York area. Steven is running the incubator for eight years. They have two locations and all together they provide space and services for about 30 companies. I have visited the Varick Street part. The space is large and cheap and this is the main differentiators between the university and other pro profit incubators. One workstation place costs $400 a months. They allocate astonishing 100 square feet (10 square meters)  per person. The incubator was launched by the NYU-Poly and the City of New York. The initial grant was only $100K. The university does not take any equity in the companies, but still financially supports the whole operation. I have asked Steven why the university is not taking share. The situation is surprisingly very similar to our university. It seems to be too complicated to deal with university, we just operate as non-profit organization and it works well. Varick Street has many more companies requesting to joint than they can accommodate and this is their success metric. They also have to search for the industrial partners in the future to secure the future funding ads Steven. Very similar to eClub, we are also dependent on the industrial support.

As well as eClub they organize competitions. One of the very interesting forms is a short competition lasting for one week only. It is organized for students with one condition, there have to be students with technical as well as with business background in each of the teams. They face the same problem as us. Technical students love the technology but are weak in the business development. Business people are not that much emotionally attached to technology but have strong business drive. We need to learn how to combine these two worlds.

It is great to be located in NYC, says Steven. Compared to Silicon Valley NYC offers massive market opportunities, it is the main center of various businesses. What more once you get out of the building you are only few minutes away from Soho one of the most lively parts of NY.

It was a great meeting, I have seen the rooms filled with many geeks and I had a long talk with Steven. He had promised to serve in our jury in the next run of eClub. We have also discussed a possibility to Skype some of the presentations they give in NY to eClub in spring. We definitely will connect and discuss further possibilities. This visit was very interesting and motivational. Let's stay in touch with one of the busiest cities in the world.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

eClub Demo Day

nine new teams have presented their business projects in eClub last Wednesday. The jury is selecting the top three projects. The winning teams will receive a scholarship and a mentor to jump start their business during this summer.

I have reported about the teams in one of the previous blogs. In addition we have welcomed also Babywebik team. This team has entered the competition in the last minute. They are together already for quite some time and based on the presentation they are getting close to start real business. I will not go to details about the projects and presentations in this blog, because jury is still working ...

Generally speaking the presentations got better. All the teams were much more focused. They had better explained the business ideas. The organization improved, we became also more efficient, everybody sticked to the time limit. The jury was giving great questions and comments. Overall the atmosphere was cheerful and productive. Lot of people interested in presentations joined us and they were discussing long after the end of the Demo Day.

We have started in 2011, it is only a short time. But I'd like to review how are we doing in the eClub? All together we have seen thirty teams and projects. We have prepared around forty presentations delivered by the top entrepreneurs in the country. We have started to stream to nine universities in the Czech Republic this summer. We have almost eighty recorded sessions in the video archive. We have attracted numerous students to the startup movement. Around 250 people were watching Karel Janecek, the most visited presentation. We have healthy number of visitors on our eClub portal and it si constantly growing. In cooperation with the Czech MediaLab Foundation we have provided financial support to wining teams in a total of almost one million Czech crowns. We work with several donors and I hope, the number will grow. I believe this is only the beginning. Tell your friends to join us too and enjoy the great spirit!

And how about the alumni? The first winner EasyWall did not survive too long but the members of the team created a new company MetaTV. After returning from Silicon Valley they have stepped on gas pedal and they really do good job not only recording the eClub meetings but helping other groups too. They are step by step building their startup. The next round winner Avocado is still pivoting the original idea in slightly different direction. The team is really dedicated to make things happened and I am sure, we still will see some good outcomes. City adventures is another team still hard working on their idea for taking tourists through cities and entertain them with short movies about the points of interest. I have heard a rumors: investors are interested in acquiring the them. Another interesting startup twist: the MallMania team. They have developed the original MallMania application but still trying to make it simpler before they get to the market. Alas, in the mean time they have derived from the MallMania a new mobile service for the portal. This app is in pilot testing getting nice attention. I must not forget the InstantStorm duo, they have launched new free version of their product and they work hard with their mentors to offer payed version. They are great team counting the number of downloads in millions. Yes, we still have not generated a prosperous company, but we have set a trend and given the short track record I am sure we will soon see some of our alumni to perform well, creating new companies and new jobs.

The interest in startups movement is grooving in the Czech Republic and there are other signs about eClub securing its place in the newly forming startups landscape. First of all the media are interested to talk about us. Yes, startups are getting in and we have to take advantage of it. Try to search on google for CVUT eClub.

We have managed to attract an interesting bunch of experts to our jury and this is another proof of doing well. It became already a tradition Ondrej Bartos (Credo Ventures) is the chairman of the jury again. I am glad we were able to get to the jury some of the most startup influential people. Actually we were lucky Hubert Palan (Gooddata) and Jakub Nesetril ( were in Prague and generous enough to help us. We also attracted the banking startup gurus Ladislav Dvorak (Sporitelna) and Petr Jaros (CSOB) who are both visionaries focusing on future solutions including startups. Pavel Zima (GM and Stepan Burda (CTO were representing the major Czech portals. We were also very happy to bring to the jury Radek Sazama (GM Fujitsu GM) and Zdenek Paskevic ( representing the large global companies. Karel Obluk and Petr Ocasek ( represented the startup enthusiasts and business developers helping generously to all teams. Dusan Senkypl ( represented the Internet business segment. Nice team! Some of the jury members are helping us with funding and I am hoping other will chip in with their contributions too.

We are all waiting for the results. If you are interested join us on Wednesday May 23, we will announce the winners. Soon we will put the final presentation videos on the eClub pages, give it a try.

Monday, May 7, 2012

eClub Demo Day

We will run the eClub Summer Demo Day this Wednesday (May 9th). Teams will present their business projects and will compete for awards: scholarships and mentors. We managed to get together stellar jury and we are looking forward for this top event.

The presentations will take place as usual at the Czech Technical University at Karlovo nam. 13. See below the General rules and the Jury  rules for evaluating the projects. Currently, we have thirteen teams registered. Let's hope they all will show up and present great ideas.

How are we going to organize the event? First we will welcome jury and introduce all members. Then we will draw for the teams presentations order. Each presentation will be max 10 min and we will insist on being punctual. Few jury questions will be allowed but we will be strict in pushing all fast ahead. I am requesting all teams to show up well ahead and install the presentations on the local computer to save time while switching the teams. We need to keep jury busy! This time I am also hoping to have the results fast. We have larger number of jury members. Therefore the system will be simpler. Each member will select top three teams. The first team will get three, second two and third one point. The team with the largest number of points will be the winner. In case of a draw Ondrej the jury chairman will decide.

If you have a team, which satisfies the below conditions and you want to compete you still have a chance to register and join us. All of you who are interested in watching the competing teams come and join and bring your friends with you. Everybody is welcomed!

General rules

eClub is planning to award the first three teams with a three months scholarship for the academic summer semester 2012.

  • Student members of the winning teams will receive a monthly scholarship of between 5-15 thousands Kc. 
  • There has to at least one student of a Czech University or high school in the team.
  • Maximum two students in the team will be awarded. 
  • We will not allow winners of other startup competitions (1-3 place).
  • eClub will try to get a mentor for each of the winning teams. 
  • The scholarship is awarded to support work on the proposed project during summer. The mentor and the eClub will monitor the progress. 
  • Teams receiving the scholarship must document the progress (github,, blog, ...)
  • eClub reserves the right to suspend the scholarship if the awarded team will stop or suspend the work on the project.
  • The scholarship suspension will be a joined mentor and eClub representative decision.

Jury rules

The jury will evaluate the proposed projects based on the 5 P of an investment rules:

  • Quality of a problem: how big is the market need of the proposed idea
  • Potential: how big is the potential target market size
  • People & Passion: who are the founders, what are their abilities and how big is their commitment
  • Payment: how well is defined the monetization of the proposal
  • Prove it: how well is defined the basic idea, what are the essential steps to turn the idea to a business, presentation quality.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Startup Weekend Prague

I have spent this weekend with around fifty enthusiast at the Startup Weekend in the new Node 5 incubator in Prague. I have enjoyed company of many interesting people and learned about their interesting startup projects.

Startup Weekend is a continuation of the very successful IPO 48. This time under the command of Petr Ocasek and his gang. Thanks gays for this event. It brought together many different people with different interests and background, from different locations or countries they have gathered together to work on new interesting ideas. I have served as a mentor. This role has one advantage, I get in touch with all the participants and I can learn what they are enthusiastic about. Let me give you a short description of the teams and projects:

KiddieQ App  is an iPad game for pre-school kids. The game tries to estimate the kids school maturity. The interactive game makes the kids decide what is right, what is left, what are the colors etc. Main point is, kids are not aware of being tested. The app generates a report at the end assessing their maturity. The team seems to have the right expertise, Orin is a psychologist and Martin takes care of the graphical design. On top of that they have two programmers. The trick will be to create a game interesting enough for kids, which will in the same time provide good data for reliable tests.

Drawing pog attracted seven people to work on a web based drawing package. Michael from Bochum is the inventor, who has programmed almost the whole app in JavaScript. At Startup Weekend he has put together a team helping him with purifying details, testing the market, inventing differentiating features, monetization schema etc. At this point the unique factor is the way the lines are put on canvas. No straight lines. The app imitates hand drawing giving the lines a touch of uncertainty, looking very naturally on the screen. 

Blame it on the fish is an app and a team of four. They have a very interesting idea resulting in a nifty application. You would have notice them in the room immediately. They had an aquarium with a fish on the their table. Users can ask in the web app about their future and the fish will decide for them. A camera connected to the server is following the swimming fish and depending on its movement an answer is generated. Forget the oracle, ask the fish. Nice app. @biotf

SunsetHill team has attracted eight members, the largest crowd of the Startup Week. Even if the idea is not very optimistic in its nature. Vaclav has suggested creating an on-line pet cemetery. The app lets the users create a memento for a loved pet. The grief can be shared with friends also by Facebook.

Four people make the BarkBuddy team. They say: your dog deserves friends too. It will be an HTML 5 application taking advantage of geo location finding where to walk the dog out. Practically you turn on the app, you'll find all the dogs around and you can get in touch with them, discuss the location, dog food etc.  They have done an extensive customer search, they questioned 35 people. 15 questioned had smart phone, connectivity and have express their interest to connect with other dog owners. What more they were also OK to pay for the service.

Three people stared with the idea of collecting the medical information over cell phones. Soon they have pivoted to a business card exchange app. The business model is simple. Users will create a business cards and the team will collect money for each exchanged card. Business card customization, fancy design will be also available for a small charge. They want to achieve the variability by paying for passing collected card to third person.  The initial feedback is very good. It is very similar to eClub CloudCardz.

An article a day is a one-man show project. Luka is designing an app to learn foreign languages. The idea is to link interesting articles to a web. The app will rank them by difficulty and serve one a day for reading. The application is for people who already have basic language skills. The supports translation too.

SingSomething is a four members team. They got inspired by smashing success of DrawSomething. Great idea. I am sure, there are other teams in the world already working on the same idea. Lets see who will be the first on the market. 

CssHat has four members on the team. They have demonstrated a wonderful performance. Over night they have developed a Photoshop plug-in generating a css from a Photoshop drawing. Nice job. The app aims at Macs an will be offered through App store. Watch out. 

CrowdStudies met at startup week first time. They have a project trying to solve old problem, break the barrier between students and teachers. They are designing an app for publishing and commenting courses presentations and study materials. The audience is clear, the idea is clear, but the solution is difficult. I keep my fingers crossed and wish them success, this app is really needed. 

If you read this and are part of the team send me a URI to update this blog.

Monday, April 16, 2012

3c Projects

we had a great meeting on Friday discussing several projects in the CTU Cloud Computing Center. The projects are ranging from Android to Internet SaaS application. Some of the projects are just before starting pilot testing other are still in a research phase.

Martin has presented his application developed with a portal This portal helps their customers find mainly small craftsmen companies offering household fixes, but sometimes even a construction company for building full houses. Currently the craftsmen are job biding in the evening when they get to their computer. The new app will allow immediate reaction, sending an offer as soon as the customer requests a service. The application runs on Android and interacts with the portal using REST API. The messaging is based on C2DM Android protocol.

Tomas has explained his location verification application. He is developing a GSM finger prints technology to verify a GSM user’s location. In other words the user claims a location and the algorithm verifies it. Verification works without GPS, finger prints require only the GSM cell towers, therefore all works indoor as well as in cities within little streets and between tall buildings.

Vratislav originally started to develop a helpdesk application, but soon has found much more interesting app called MallMania. He is addressing teen aged girl fashion freaks and provides a simple platform letting them exchange pictures showing what they wear today. Currently, he has a working version using the Facebook to spread the information. The application is still very simple and will be used to verify the customer interest before he proceeds.

Martin worked during his studies in several professional companies as a freelance Java developer. He is using his experience designing a professional programming framework. As a sample application to test the technology he has again chosen a helpdesk. The whole application uses the server, fat client architecture. The server part is in Java running on GAE. It is designed around Spring framework with REST templates for API. The fat client leverages GWT. He has spent a long hours orchestrating all these technologies together. He had to go over many undocumented and always changing details and I am really interested to find out what are the advantages compared to old-fashioned but much simpler solutions based for example on Wordpress or other simple frameworks.

Tomas #2 and Tonda are for almost one year developing a simple application for mobile devices allowing users exchanging business cards. CloudCardz will allow fast exchange of the basic data residing on the Internet. The acquired contacts are listed and ordered alphabetically or in time. Important contacts can be moved to the Android contact list. Currently, graphics needs some improvements before starting to find the customers and their needs.

The purpose of our meeting was to put all the developers together and exchange the experience and help each other. We are accumulating lot of experience, we need to documented it and spread it to make the development of our future applications simpler and faster. I will soon announce next meeting. Come and join us in our effort.