February 23, 2014: The run-up to SXSW is in full force here in Austin. I’m already looking at my calendar for the next two weeks and seeing overlapping events at nearly every waking hour, and some that are well past my bedtime. My couch is rented (family), and we have a parking spot (secret). There will be tens of thousands of pitches made in around SXSW, and it’s not easy to stand out in the cacophony. However, something good can always happen if you throw yourself into the action and allow serendipity to reward you.
February 9, 2014: Yours truly was on deck for the class lecture this past week, and one of the points I covered was building a personal network. There’s going to be more on that in a later class about selling, but it was relevant to my primary topic of how to structure, finance, and accomplish the important deals in growing your startup.
February 2, 2014: Like the movie “Groundhog Day” where Bill Murray keeps repeating the day over and over until he discovers some karmic insight, we bring Ash Maurya, author of Running Lean, to our class early each semester to introduce our students to the practice of the lean canvas. Unlike the movie, Maurya has such a rich body of work on this topic that there is never a rerun, and last week was no exception.
January 26, 2014: One of the pillars of our UT undergraduate class is writing. The students get credit toward their degrees for what is called a “writing flag” because we meet certain standards for our writing assignments. Bob Metcalfe is a strong proponent of the value of this skill in any startup endeavor, no matter how technical your personal role may be. And, I share that view.
January 19, 2014: After the NFL championship games, the hype machine is focused on the Big One -- that’s right, the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway January 25-26. Yes there’s some more football after that in New Jersey, but racing provides better analogies for the topic of this post. The 24 Hours of Daytona brings together multiples classes of prototype and GT cars in an annual endurance race that is the harbinger of the racing s
January 12, 2014: The topic of our monthly Operators Studio this past week was selling to and employing Gen Y, those born in the years 1977-1995. Much of the youthful tech workforce in Austin falls into that category, and the undergraduates in our Longhorn Startup class are concluding that generation and are paving the way for the incoming Z’s this fall. As in most tech hotbed cities, talent acquisition and retention is becoming a major battleground, and the discussion on this Gen Y topic was pretty enlightening.
January 5, 2014: On Friday Josh Baer hosted a meeting to look ahead at Capital Factory for 2014. It’s hard to top a year when the President came knocking, the tenant roll reached 200 companies, significant new funding sources were made available, and the Factory solidified its position as the crossroads for startup Austin. Perhaps this year Josh can get Vladimir Putin to drop in for a primer on capitalism, but, short of that, he’s already got his agenda well loaded for the months ahead. That’s not to diminish the roles of the ATI, Tech Ranch, TEN, Incubation Station,
December 15, 2013: Time named Pope Francis its Person of the Year, People anointed Adam Levine as the Sexiest Man, and Esquire selected Scarlett Johansson as the Sexiest Woman, but from my perspective 2013 could fairly be described as the Year of the Entrepreneur. Jeff Bezos graced that Time cover in 1999, but he ended this year with perhaps an even bigger publicity coup by getting 60 Minutes to promote his shipping drones. The folks making things happen in technology are on a tear,
December 8, 2013: One thing Mark Cuban emphasized more than once in his remarks during our Longhorn Startup Demo Day is the concept of researching the history of your great new idea before you get too deeply enamored of it. He cautioned that just using Google to do your market research might not reveal the now defunct failures with the same concept and certainly might not uncover others currently percolating the same brew.