How people make network in Bratislava and around the world

After five months in Bratislava I had the possibility to enter inside the Bratislava international network where I saw how people help each other sharing information to look for a flat, to learn another language or to look for another job.

I didn’t need so much time to enter in this network, I was already part of it the evening after my first work day.

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CouchSurfing is a website where everybody can ask or give hospitality to foreign people and here in Bratislava this community is very active. Every week the CouchSurfers choice a different pub to meet each other to drink a beer, sometimes they organize a barbecue other time a trip around Europe. During my first meeting I was already sharing my experiences, why I was there, what is Erasmus Young Entrepreneurs and I was explain them how they could apply for this European program. I met people that were working in different companies, I listened to their job experiences and after some time I received also some referral for a couple of job position.

Another good association is called Toastmaster, where people learn how to speak in front of the public and how they can do an Elevator pitch.

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Here somebody prepares a presentation for a specific topic and the other members help the speaker to improve his performance, suggesting how to improve body language, voice tone and slides. There is also a game where somebody choices a topic at the moment and somebody else has to improvise a presentation.

In this last months a took part also in InterNations, in three different cities: Dublin, Bratislava and Vienna.

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InterNations is a big international community where people can share interests with others and meet in the real life. In Dublin and Bratislava I took part to some dinner and some party where, like in Couchsurfing, I had the possibility to present myself and share information. I like so much this association because in every big city there are different business group where Recruiters or Employers write about new job positions or some business opportunity. In this way it is possible speak directly with somebody inside the company instead that receive an impersonal answer by email.

In Vienna I took part at one of this business meeting where people changed their business cards trying to understand how they can collaborate together. The organizer had not just one but three different business card!!! In this occasion I had the possibility to speak one hour about a business idea that I had in my mind and listen different opinions and different points of view.  This group, called “Vienna Entrepreneurs Group“, now is organizing a very interesting and educational event where people can share one business case and discuss together about it.

The event is the following:

Dear group members, I’ve had this idea for a while, but because of the summer period and after-vacation zeitgeist – never had time for this. So I am arranging a series of meetings where we will work as teams on specific business cases. If you have a business issue, case and challenging situation for your business, you sen send me the problem statement and I might choose it for our team work. The Problem statement should include all the relevant data: market/competitive landscape, pricing, costs, consumer insights, legal and other factors, and of course your problem and goal. The idea is for the team to work on the case and thus sharpen analytical skills, team work, generate more ideas. If you want to participate as a team member, also please write to me. I will facilitate the process and discussion. It’s completely free. Please write to me by the 10th of October and the meeting will take place in the second part of October in my office in the 1st district but during the day, most probably on Friday. If there are too many people we will arrange more meetings. The purpose is purely educational and developmental, not commercial. I will also try to ensure that the team is diverse and functional .

The idea of this article is just to invite people to make network and make new experiences, I really hope that could be useful to somebody.

Simone Mastrogiacomo

What up when a crowdfunding campaign fails?

Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people, typically via the internet.

Today everybody is speaking about crowdfunding and how is simple for people that have a good idea being funding and creating a project. Kickstarter is today the most famous global crowdfunding platform focused on creativity. Here the 44% of the projects reach their funding goal and less of 50% of funding projects are really successful so there is a good probability than the money you give to a project will not give you back nothing.

Funds collected by Kickstarter are not “investments”, they are DONATIONS, with no promise of anything in return. In many projects people ask you money to create a movie, a game, an music album declaring to send you a DVD to whatch, to play or to listen it. But they are not forced to do it.

Kickstarter’s stated policy is not to get involved in failed projects. That is, kickstarter positions itself as a third party hosting platform and leaves it up to the project creators and the project backers to determine what to do with the donated funds in the case of a failed project. Even if the project backers will decide to give back the money they will give back just a part because they will not receive all money. A 5% fee will go to Kickstarter and a fees between 3% and 5% will be hold for payment processing. If funding isn’t successful, there are no fees.

Last example of unsuccessful campaign came from “Midora” a kickstarter campaign to realize a 2D game that was funding with 73,000 $ by more than 3,000 people.

Midora’s director declared:

“I will admit that the amount needed to create this game was largely underestimated for the campaign. I knew that the game would need more than $60,000 to be made. However, like many others, I didn’t think for one second we could reach a goal higher than $60,000, especially after two failed campaigns and no prior advertising.”

“If you want to know exactly how much money we need to finish this game, I will tell you: between $120,000 and $150,000”.

The problem behind these kind of situation is that very very often the people that start a campaign do not have idea how much can cost realizing their project and the process to realize it, also in this case where the project was not a new technology but a “simple” 2D game.

There are also other cases where people disappear with money, this is the case of “Mansion lord” that raised 30,000 $ in 2013. They stop sending out updates. Their website expires. And nearly two years later, it’s become clear that they have disappeared with your money.

What is the real job that products do for clients?

There are many companies that declare to be “client oriented”. They go to clients asking them “What do you want?” and they develop their services or products considering the feedback received. The problem is that many many times the clients don’t know what they want but it became necessary observing them to understand which are their needs.

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”

Henry Ford

It is possible find a good example of this concept with McDonald that wanted to increase its milkshake sales . McDonald researchers invited potential clients inside a conference room giving to them different kind of milkshakes to introduce in the market. They asked them “how can we improve these products to sell more?”. All suggestions that they collected didn’t take any impact on sales and profit.

McDonalds-Milkshake-McFlurry

McDonald researchers understood that to increase sales they had to understand what is the real job that milkshakes do for the client. They spent time documenting when each milkshake was bought, what other products the customers purchased, whether they were alone or with a group and whether they consumed it on the premises or drove off with it. They discovered that half of them were sold in the very early morning, the client was alone and it was the only thing that he bought and drove off with it.

Why clients came at 6:30 in the morning to buy it? They faced a long, boring commute and needed some- thing to keep that extra hand busy and to make the commute more interesting and they wanted to consume something now that would stave off hunger until noon. People could buy Banana but it is gone in three minutes and you need to eat something else after an hour because you don’t fill full. Bagels are dry, with cream cheese or jam, they resulte in sticky fingers and gooey steering wheels.

The best job is made by milkshake! It is so viscous that people need 23 minutes to suck it up and it will stay inside the stomachs until 10 o’clock and don’t make fingers dirty. Furthermore in U.S. cars have a glass older so people can make their hand free and answer to phone.

“The customer rarely buys what the business thinks it sells him. One reason for this is, of course, that nobody pays for a ‘product.’ What is paid for is satisfaction. But nobody can make or supply satisfaction as such—at best, only the means to attaining them can be sold and delivered.”

Peter Drucker

Once it was clear the milkshake job it becomes possible improve the product.  Make the shake even thicker, so it would last longer, and swirl in tiny chunks of fruit — not to make it healthy, because customers didn’t hire the milkshake to become healthy. But adding the fruit could make the commute more interesting — drivers would occasionally suck chunks into their mouths, adding a dimension of unpredictability and anticipation to their monotonous morning routine. Just as important, they could move the dispensing ma-chine in front of the counter and sell customers a prepaid swipe card so that they could dash in, gas up, and go without getting stuck in the drive-through lane.

The Market of milkshake is very big because it includes some portions of Bananas, Donuts, Bagels and sinkers bar and so on… Once we understand which job the product does we can see that the markets are generally much larger than product category–defined markets and the sales increase at least four times.

Simone Mastrogiacomo

Who are Patent Trolls?

A Patent Trolls is a company that acquires a lot of patents without the desire to actually develop the products or supply services based upon the patents in question. Instead of making money from the product or service, the company launches a large amount of patent infringement lawsuits. The sole purpose of a patent troll is to identify infringers and sue them. These patents are not always write well but are confuse, unclear and generic to cover more possible applications. The preferred victims are Start up. They are the most vulnerable subjects because of limited financial resources  to start a long legal battle. So the subjects involved in a legal dispute don’t start a process but they prefer a financial agreement.

HalloweenPatentTroll

“One example can be Intellectual Ventures, a Npe which stands for “non-practicing entities”. Its business model has a focus on buying patents and aggregating them into a large patent portfolio and licensing these patents to third parties. Publicly, it states that a major goal is to assist small inventors against corporations. In practice, the vast majority of IV’s revenue comes from buying patents, aggregating these patents into a single portfolio spanning many disparate technologies and tying these patents together for license to other companies under the threat of litigation, or filing lawsuits for infringement of patents. Intellectual Ventures launched a prototyping and research laboratory in 2009 called Intellectual Ventures Lab, hiring prominent scientists to imagine inventions which could exist but do not yet exist, and then filing descriptions of these inventions with the US Patent Office.” [1]

This kind of company has few things to lose and much to gain in a legal battle, because can block the production of others, but it doesn’t have nothing that can be attacked and it has low costs because it doesn’t have products to be realized.

Patent Trolls can be also companies that have products and services, in this case the generic and unclear patent is written to create an obstacle to some competitor.  One example can be the long legal battle between Apple and Samsung started from some issue about Smartphone shape.

“In short, the court ruled that Apple’s complaint over Samsung’s infringement of certain design features (such as the “rounded rectangle” shape of smartphones) was valid, and that this infringement entitled Apple up to full profits damages despite the fact that these patents are irrelevant to customers’ purchasing decisions. This is an extremely troubling precedent to set, as it means that basic elements of design, such as shapes, can be patented and used as the basis for extremely costly lawsuits.” [2]

The patent law born in Italy  (Venice) in 1474 to give rights to inventors and promote the innovation to make Venice the first center in the world for the silk production process today with patent trolls is becoming an obstacle to innovation and an instrument for big companies to hold their position in the market. All these problems are more evident in U.S. than in Europe because Europe has a loser pays costs regime instead in U.S. where each party is responsible for paying its own attorney’s fees.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intellectual_Ventures

[2] http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/finance/243594-apple-v-samsung-court-ruling-puts-small-businesses-at-risk

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What are the Timescale and cost of a Patent Application Procedure?

To obtain a patent grant, there are three possible ways:

  • National patent;
  • Regional patent;
  • International Patent;

National Patent

The procedure to grant a patent is sending the application to each national patent office we desire protect our invention.

After sending application the office will start a research about the state of art in that area and the applicant will receive within nine months a result, in this way he will be able to evaluate if proceed or not. According to Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, signed in Paris on 20 March 1883, 12 months from the patent application is the period to extend the procedure to other countries. After this time range it will not be possible apply to other countries. After eighteen months all documents will be made public, in this way anyone will be able to communicate and prove to patent office that the invention is not new but already exist in the state of the art.

The period to obtain a patent granted it is an average between 3 and 6 years.

National Patent

Costs change country by country. In Slovakia, it is necessary pay 57 € at the moment of application and other 117 € , in a period of 46 months, for the official research of state of art.

The national patent is a good choice if the target is protect the invention just in few countries because 12 months, the period of time established by the Paris Convention, is very short. In this time frame all documents should be translate into official language of each nation and the applicant should handle many paperwork.

Regional Patent

The most famous regional patent is the European region with 48 countries inside and outside the European Union. The application will be submitted to EPO (European Patent Organization) in Munich, Germany. In this case patent application may be sent in English, French or German. After eighteen months all documents will be made public and into 3-4 years the patent will be granted. After this the applicant will be able to choose in which between 48 countries of the European region protecting the invention sending all documents to each national office in the right national language.

Regional Patent

The cost for the patent application is 3,000 € plus 10 € for each country where the applicant wants to extend the patent.

International Patent

It is possible to obtain an international patent through  Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), signed in Washington on 19 June 1970. The procedure is administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), in Geneva, to provide a unified procedure for filing patent applications to protect inventions in each of its contracting states.

15-16 months after filing patent application it will be possible to receive the result of research of state of the art and a written opinion about application and chance of success.  After eighteen months all documents will be made public with the written opinion and the possible response of applicant.

After 30 to 31 months the applicant will not have a granted patent, but a preliminary examination of patent ability by international authorities specifically designated. To obtain a granted patent it is necessary continue the patenting procedure through the various national patent offices, or regional patent offices (such as EPO).

International Patent

The costs of international patent application is  3,000 € plus costs for each patent office after the next 30-31 months.


It is also possible to combine these three possibilities…

Starting from a national patent and before twelve months applying for an European patent. Once the European patent is granted the applicant will require extension between the 48 countries of EPO.

Usually the large companies present a PCT application and then extend the application to a Regional  patent as EPO and / or national offices.

An other possibility is to start with a national patent and before twelve months applying for a PCT patent. When the applicant will receive the preliminary result he will apply for a Regional patent and / or national level.

Quali sono le tempistiche ed i costi per ottenere un brevetto?

Per ottenere un brevetto vi sono tre possibili strade da seguire:

  • Brevetto Nazionale;
  • Brevetto Regionale;
  • Brevetto Internazionale;

Brevetto Nazionale

La procedura da seguire in questo caso è  rivolgendosi ad ogni ufficio brevettuale nazionale in cui si desideri depositare il brevetto.

Una volta presentata la domanda viene effettuata una ricerca sullo stato dell’arte che il soggetto applicante riceverà entro 9 mesi in modo che possa valutare se valga la pena andare avanti con la procedura o meno. In base alla Convenzione di Parigi per la Protezione della Proprietà Industriale, firmata a Parigi, il 20 Marzo 1883, si è stabilito che si hanno 12 mesi a partire dalla domanda di brevetto per inviarla ad altri uffici brevettuali nazionali, oltre tale periodo non sarà più possibile estendere la richiesta di brevetto in altri paesi. Il diciottesimo mese verrà resa pubblica la documentazione inviata in modo che chiunque possa comunicare e provare all’ufficio brevettuale la presenza di tale invenzione nello stato dell’arte.

In media i tempi per ottenere il brevetto vanno da un periodo fra i 3 e i 6 anni.

Brevetto Nazionale

I costi variano da nazione a nazione. In Slovacchia il costo è di 57 € da pagare al memento della presentazione della domanda e altri 117 € per la ricerca ufficiale sullo stato dell’arte da pagare entro i successivi 46 mesi.

Il brevetto nazionale risulta conveniente nel caso in cui si voglia proteggere la propria invenzione in pochi paesi in quanto l’intervallo di tempo di 12 mesi stabilito dalla Convenzione di Parigi è molto breve. In questo lasso di tempo bisognerebbe tradurre tutta la documentazione nella lingua ufficiale di ogni nazione e gestire contemporaneamente molte pratiche burocratiche.

Brevetto Regionale

Il brevetto regionale più famoso  riguarda la regione Europea che si estende oltre i confini dell’Unione Europea raggiungendo un totale di 48 paesi. La domanda deve essere presentata all’EPO (European Patent Organization) che ha sede a Monaco di Baviera, in Germania.

In questo caso la domanda di brevetto può essere inviata a Monaco in Inglese, Francese o Tedesco. Dopo 18 mesi la domanda verrà resa pubblica e dopo 3-4 anni si ottiene la concessione del brevetto. Una volta concesso il brevetto si sceglie in quali dei 48 paesi della regione europea si desidera proteggere la propria invenzione. Si farà domanda ad ogni ufficio brevettuale traducendo i documenti nella lingua ufficiale della nazione prescelta.

Brevetto Regionale

I costi per la domanda di brevetto sono 3000 € più 10 € per ogni ufficio brevettuale della nazione in cui si vuole estendere il brevetto.

Brevetto Internazionale

E’ possibile ottenere un brevetto internazionale grazie al Trattato di cooperazione in materia di brevetti, in inglese Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), firmato a Washington il 19 giugno del 1970, ed oggi gestito dall’Organizzazione mondiale per la proprietà intellettuale (OMPI), con sede a Ginevra, per il deposito unificato di domande di brevetto valide in uno o più degli Stati aderenti al trattato. 

15-16 mesi dopo aver depositato la domanda di brevetto si riceverà il risultato della ricerca sullo stato dell’arte e una opinione scritta in cui si comunica un giudizio sulla propria domanda rispetto al risultato della ricerca ottenuto. Dopo 18 mesi verrà resa pubblica la domanda di brevetto, l’opinione scritta e l’eventuale risposta.

Alle fine dei 30-31 mesi non si avrà un brevetto ma un esame preliminare di brevettabilità da parte di autorità internazionali specificamente designate.  Per ottenere brevetti definitivi occorrerà proseguire le procedure di brevettazione di fronte ai vari uffici brevetti nazionali, o agli uffici brevetti regionali (come EPO).

Brevetto Internazionale

I costi per questa domanda sono pari a 3000 € più i costi successivi dopo i 30-31 mesi per ogni ufficio brevettuale.


Tuttavia è possibile combinare queste tre strade….

Si può partire da un brevetto nazionale ed entro i 12 mesi fare domanda di brevetto Europeo.  Una volta accettato il brevetto Europeo si può richiedere l’estensione fra i 48 paesi dell’EPO.

Un’altra strada usata generalmente dalle grandi compagnie è quella di presentare la domanda PCT e poi estendere la domanda per un brevetto Regionale come EPO e/o nazionale.

Oppure partire da un brevetto nazionale ed entro i 12 mesi presentare domanda per un brevetto internazione PCT e successivamente estendere la domanda per un brevetto Regionale e/o nazionale.

Tutte le opportunità offerte dall’Enterprise Europe Network (EEN)

Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) è la più grande rete europea di sostegno e assistenza alle piccole e medie imprese su politiche, programmi e finanziamenti dell’UE costituita da 600 sportelli sparsi nel mondo in 50 diverse nazioni, principalmente in Europa.

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La lista dei servizi offerti dall’EEN sono:

  • Ricerca di Mercato Europea, ossia vengono fornite informazioni sulla nazione in cui si desidera creare o ampliare il proprio business, statistiche sugli scambi commerciali, segmentazione del mercato, lista delle associazioni di categoria e lista delle aziende operanti sul territorio nazionale comprese le informazioni riguardo ciascuna di esse;
  • Sportello Informativo Europeo su specifiche domande riguardanti la legislazione, la situazione politica, l’IVA, la tassazione e le tasse doganali;
  • Supporto per la partecipazione a fiere identificando gli eventi europei e creando matchmaking;
  • Supporto per l’identificazione dei partners su progetti di Ricerca & Sviluppo;
  • Informazioni sui fondi Europei, fornendo supporto al fine di identificare il fondo più adatto al proprio business.

La ricerca di nuovi partner è uno dei servizi più famosi della rete, l’imprenditore si può dirigere presso lo sportello e compilando un apposito modulo su cui esporre il progetto di Ricerca & Sviluppo. In generale la ricerca del partner è mirata ad un bando specifico, che è da specificare in fase di scrittura. I profili attraversano una fase di validazione tecnica sulla bontà del contenuto, che può richiedere un po’ di tempo. Tali moduli da compilare non sono standard ma variano a seconda dell’antenna interrogata. Modulo Sardegna Ricerche (Italia). Modulo Business & Innovation Centre (Slovacchia).

Una volta valutato il progetto la sede EEN si impegna ad individuare il partner richiesto interrogando le altre sedi EEN.