Some of our hard-working people at itnig.

If you’re running a startup, or working in one, you probably know how much work it takes to build a brand new product from scratch. It’s not unlikely that you’re reading this post by your desk at 10pm, just because you needed a break from your sweaty keyboard.

But no matter how much and how hard you work, it’s not enough. At least that’s what some experts claim.

Most humans are social creatures, and even though the tech world is built by developers (not famous for being super keen on networking), the startup industry arranges more networking events than most other industries.

In Barcelona you can go to several events every night if you have time.

Is hard work enough?

As I’ve worked as a journalist, meeting founders and entrepreneurs every week the last year, I’ve been asking several of them why I haven’t seen them at tech events before?

The answer is usually:

“We’re busy working, I don’t have time to attend events and drink beers several times every week.”

It’s a valid point. Nine out of ten startups fail, so working day and night makes perfect sense.

I went to cover a startup competition for a major European tech blog earlier this year. After tough competition between some of Spain’s best performing startups, one of them were crowned the winner. Me and my college were surprised that we hadn’t heard of the company before, and asked them how they went beneath our radar. The founders told us:

“We usually never go to events. We actually signed up for this competition almost by accident.”

This made me wonder how many other great startups go under the radar, missing out on important exposure because they’re too busy working (too hard?).

Another example is the founder of Tradesy’s, Tracy DiNunzio, who says she thinks too many founders are wasting time going to tech events:

When I was bootstrapping through Tradesy’s first two years, I never attended events. Instead, I stayed focused (obsessed, really) on improving our product and technology. I was glued to the computer for 17 hours a day.

Building a network

It’s clear that networking is important, but it’s probably also true that many entrepreneurs would benefit more from working, than from sipping beer at tech events every other night.

To some people networking is the most natural thing to do, the ones that have the gift of speaking to anyone, anywhere about anything (or nothing). To them it’s like breathing.

For others it’s more about building a network, doing a job, rather than talking to a massive amount of people. And to some people, a small group, it’s torture.

But no matter what group you belong to, as long as your startup is being built, you’re the product. Before you have users, customers, a physical product, or any metrics at all, you and your team are the only thing representing your startup.

Connections are key, and good advice are extremely valuable, especially from people with experience from your own industry. But tech connections are not necessarily found through going to events.

It’s about being present, and especially talking to the right people. It does not have to be at tech events, but any place you can meet people caring about the product your startup is building.

Connecting to people via mail (or social media etc.) can be just as good as going to an event. Mark Suster made a good Snapstorm on how to send email intros, because there are mistakes to be made.

To sum it up:

Growing a solid network of people in your startup ecosystem can never go wrong, not to think about the vital support you can provide to other entrepreneurs building their respective upstarts.

But hard work is still as crucial as it always has been. Just because there is an event every night with great headliners and interesting topics, does not mean you have to attend.

Tech events are often a blast, and networking is good, but not for the sake of networking itself. Going to events will rarely create more value than a well-functioning team can accomplish in the same amount of time.

However building a network and providing value for your ecosystem is guaranteed to benefit both you and your startup. Just don’t do it on the expense of your startup.

…….

This post is written by Sindre Hopland, Media Manager at itnig.

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T.

The new time and attendance law will kill innovation in Spain and Europe

Simple solutions or “one fits all” policies are easy to market by populist governments but they are sometimes at the expense of certain sectors and their people. This time the affected party is innovation and value added services, to a point that puts in jeopardy our (already weak) spot in the global competitiveness landscape.

I’ve always told my teams that I do not hire their time, but rather their talent and potential: their brains, their energy and passion and their willing to make a difference and impact our clients and the world through them. Innovative companies try to get in existing markets and solve things in complete different ways, some go as far as creating new markets from scratch. They all have in common that their mission is extremely hard, sometimes impossible (thus most fail along the way). The key for their success is how they manage to convince their teams that everything they do is not a job, but a religion. They are changing the world and that is something worth spending time and making history.

I can tell if somebody is motivated by their job by looking at their eyes while they talk about their challenges and ideas. Best people don’t work, they play. They make their challenges their hobbies. I’ve had many conversations at 1 am in the office, after some beers and sushi, before even realizing what time it is. Only when a job makes this kind of conditions happen, the wheel of significant value creation really stirs and great things come from it.

It is very hard to create a culture in which people feel so empowered that they are capable of anything. In my experience, it helps granting absolute flexibility. I don’t remember the last time I approved vacations to my team, or I paid attention to their schedules, or the days in which they worked from home or the office. This is not the kind of conversations I want to have with them. My relationship with my team is based on trust, and it is based on one single (often repetitive) conversation: how can we do more and better, how can we grow faster, how can we raise the bar. Little it matters to me whether they contribute to this questions from the beach in Canary Islands or spending many hours in the office.

However, the government today decided that it is a great idea in the 21th century that all companies like ours should make everybody clock in and clock out by law. I’m now obliged to add people’s time and attendance into our conversation. We now have to treat all jobs like production lines in factories (amidst the era of hyper automation and robotization). They go as far as having us registering accurate pauses for lunch. Unfortunately they don’t include how should we manage the time spent in the chill-out area, or when having long coffees in the outside terrace, or spending the afternoon in ping pong championships. Should we clock-in and clock-out every time we do that too?

When I travel I always get asked how is the Spanish ecosystem for entrepreneurship and innovation developing, I always defend our potential to become a leading actor in science and technology,  besides our current reputation for tapas, toros and siesta. We previously analysed the many initiatives taking place in the city of Barcelona. But my question is: is there anybody in the government actually helping us to make this happen?

The new law will come to place the next 12th of May. At Factorial we developed a free feature, so companies can instantly become compliant with the law. Interestingly enough, almost immediately after launching this feature people started developing tools using our API to automate clocking or connecting it with Slack and other interfaces. It looks like after all there will always be people willing to work on relevant things and not waste their energy in bureaucratic traps.

PD: You can find more information about the law in this article.