Shaherose Charania, CEO & Co-Founder Women 2.0, on Open Innovation European Solutions

Video interview with Shaherose Chairania, CEO & Co-Founder Women 2.0. Shaherose is currently at Opinno, a global network of incubator spaces, entrepreneurs and investors. 

At heart she is a mobile and telephony junkie. She’s led new consumer products at Ribbit (BT). Previously, she was Director of Product Management at JAJAH (sold to Telefonica/O2). Prior to that, she was at TiE overseeing governance and operations of 40+ entrepreneurship centers. She aspires to pour her entrepreneurial spirit into launching mobile solutions for emerging economies. Shaherose holds a B.A. in Business Admin from The University of Western Ontario’s Richard Ivey School of Business. You can find Shaherose on Twitter@shaherose & Women 2.0 & Opinno.

Pemo: Could you possibly talk a little bit about Opinno? I’m very interested in this startup.

Shaherose: Opinno is an open innovation incubator essentially. Our focus is identifying startups that are based outside the US, that are unique, that are solving an interesting problem maybe in mobile, web, cleantech or biotech. And they really need to be in the US to expand & grow & really reach their business goals.We do a number of things with these companies. It’s not a cookie cutter approach. We use open innovation in the sense that we create open space. We bring people together from different walks of life to work on a particular project or startup, to really grow the startup in a very different way. Sometimes the companies that are coming from Europe, for example, are spinning out of research centers. They probably don’t have the business experience to actually do something with that research & that’s where we come in & say ‘Hey ok, come join us here in the valley, bring your IP with you to work on how to actually make this into a business”.

So there’s different ways that we work, that’s one way. Sometimes we work on a larger approach where we’ll work with an incubator directly in a country. For example, we work often with an incubator in Barcelona & they have a large number of web & mobile companies. Rather than going one to one to each company, we do overall entrepreneurial training, teach them things about lean startup or mobile trends around the world or whatever it is. It’s unique in every case but we find nuggets where there’s strong ideas, strong people & do what we can to help them.

Pemo: So you’re adding value?

Shaherose: That’s the idea.

Pemo: You’re finding what’s missing & adding that value? Fantastic, it must be so rewarding, so fulfilling for you.

Shaherose: So far, so good. Every day is a new day!

Pemo: What sort of success rate have you got, have you had a period of time to see what sort of a difference you’re making?

Shaherose: Sure it’s early, we’ve been around only for about a year and a half, 2 years. There’s a few stories on our website that you’ll see. There’s a biomass company that just had an IP in biomass & didn’t know what to do. we were able to spin it out and now its a company that’s working through market expansion. We’re actually getting customers. There’s a few others that have come to us, that we can’t actually talk about, they’re still very early. But there are stories that are happening & we’re excited about it because it’s not a conventional approach. You can’t just pick up a startup & say you have to do A, B & C to succeed. It has to be on a customized level. It has to be one to one with a company. It has to be in an open innovation environment so that things are flowing because every startup is different. We’re excited about what’s going to happen in the next 2 years with Opinno.

Pemo: How do you reach European entrepreneurs?

Shaherose: We have offices in Europe right now, but we also just travel. We anchor our travel around conferences because that’s where entrepreneurs congregate & investors congregate. We often go from one conference to another to another in a circuit. In any one given period of time in 2010, I travelled 2 or 3 times to Europe & went to 3 or 4 different cities & countries & had the chance to meet with so many startups.

Pemo: How exciting!

Shaherose: Yeah its great because it’s again kind of like Women2.0 with a different set of innovation that’s being tackled. Europeans & Latin Americans that we work with have a different side of market circumstances so they come up with different ideas. It’s really interesting to see what those ideas are & how they tackle them. Here everyone wants to do everything on the web & it’s different in Europe they want to do everything in mobile.

Thanks to Alexander Blu for music ‘Cosmo’

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