Sydney Harbour New Years Eve

December 21, 2014: There are mixed feelings at this moment of the year for any of us in entrepreneurial endeavors. We’ve wrapped up the presents and the Holiday parties, we’ve planned our travels, and, for many of us, family matters have taken their rightful precedence over business. One can’t help but reflect on the year past and what will be different about the next.

Venus Receiving Gifts

December 14, 2014:  Your writer is reporting from Atlanta this week. It’s a board meeting cycle for the GA Tech Research Corporation (GTRC) and the GA Tech Foundation.

Reverse Engineering diagram

December 7, 2014: Many sessions of “Office Hours” in recent days with students, faculty, and other aspiring entrepreneurs motivate me to emphasize one particular theme that is applicable in almost all of these instances. It’s the notion of making startup decisions in the context of at least a 3-year view of the concept. It’s what I label “reverse engineering” in this essay, not in the usual sense of that term but in the sense of peering some distance into the future and working backward.

Delacroix painting

November 23, 2014: This essay perhaps should have been posted for Halloween, but, regardless of the timing, it’s a fair recap of the experiences of the week past. Just when you think you’re sailing on a steady course, events unexpected and beyond your control can blow you in a very different direction. Here are some examples:

Ronald Reagan pardons turkey 1983

November 16, 2014: TechDrawl is distributed every Monday to my core list and republished on Friday by Texas Entrepreneur Networks; so, this week’s edition serves as my Thanksgiving essay. I hope you and yours enjoy your Turkey Day and that Texas beats the stuffing out of TCU that evening. It will also be darn nice if GA Tech can grab one of its all too rare victories over UGA the following Saturday.

Atcheson Topeka Santa Fe passenger train circa 1895

November 9, 2014: Patience is one of the seven heavenly virtues in Prudentias’ 5th century epic poem “Psychomachia.” You recall that, right? However, this past week’s election showed that voters are running short on patience, especially on matters that raise taxes.

NASA TV coverage of Antares launch failure

November 2, 2014: The Antares rocket launch at Wallops Island, VA this past week drew considerable interest in Austin. The vehicle payload included a CubeSat named RACE, a ten-pound satellite constructed by a team of graduate and undergraduate Aerospace Engineering students at UT Austin. That satellite was itself carrying a new JPL-designed instrument to measure atmospheric water vapor.

Beluga whale in GA Aquarium

October 26, 2014: In this essay Jesse Dyer reports from Venture Atlanta, held Oct 21-22 in the Georgia Aquarium (not inside the tank, but in the adjacent ballroom).

Fat Canvas by the Author

October 19, 2014: The headline above is a statement that comes up time and again when I meet people who want to become entrepreneurs. They may have the drive, intellect, and requisite instincts, but they’ve not been inspired by a particular mission and often don’t have a team to help them toward that goal. If they force the issue by gathering up some colleagues and entering a class like our Longhorn Startup Lab, they’ll often settle for the next “find me a beer” app that they draw from their current experiences as undergraduates.

Air Force Academy football

October 12, 2014: The lean canvas methodology is all about de-risking each component of a startup idea. You talk to customers, build an MVP, try to get trial users to prove that somebody will adopt the product, and analyze carefully all your assumptions as you work your way through the process. The lean canvas is ideal for web and app concepts but may not apply, for example, to heavily science-based and capital-intensive ventures that rely on university IP. The US didn’t put men on the moon without taking considerable human, technology, and financial risk.

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