funeral carriage from museum in Illinois

March 13, 2014: An interesting event this week was a mock company formation exercise for a group of Venture Fellows from UT’s McCombs MBA program. That terminology may not evoke high anticipation like “Sunday at the Masters,” but the organizers at Andrews Kurth put together very thoughtful teaching cases and provided their deal attorneys and a supporting cast of mentors and advisors for a half-dozen teams or so. I was one of the mentors for a case with three students playing their assigned roles.

DJI Quadcopter consumer drone

April 6, 2014: An annual event that I always find interesting at the University of Texas at Austin is ISOJ, the International Symposium on Online Journalism. This week’s 2014 edition was no exception.

13th Century BC mirror in Louvre collection

March 30, 2014: Thursday was practice pitch night for the Longhorn Startup teams, with four weeks to go before our semester ending Demo Day. Much has been written on the basics of pitching, but in this post I’m going to talk about four of the nuances that I observed both in the class and at SXSW a couple of weeks ago.  Here we go, in no particular order:

1. The “Science Project” Trap

Gilbert Stuart painting of George Washington

March 23, 2014: We have many distinguished speakers in our Longhorn Startup program with considerable business successes on their resumes. We hope our students begin to recognize patterns and to learn behaviors that may lead to their own success stories a few years down the road. When one has been a founder of a really big win, he or she always has great justifications for that win, but, in truth, it’s hard to realize and explain the full array of forces that must have converged to make that possible.

Marcus Weller, Ph.D., Skully Helmets

March 12, 2014:  Another year of SXSW Interactive has concluded, and I’ve reclaimed my couch from my valued guest (and son). I spent the majority of my formal event time at the SXSW Accelerator, as a coach, judge, and spectator. I look forward to this every year as the culmination of my Qualifying Committee’s work in reviewing and vetting all the 500 or so entrants when they submit their applications in November. It’s great ultimately to see the finalists and alternates in person where they can really bring their ideas to life.

Willie Nelson at Farm Aid 2009

March 9, 2014:  Last week we discussed how the online world is affecting spectator sports in terms of their financial results and fan behavior.  There’s another huge sector of the economy that is starting to feel the heat, and that is nonprofit organizations (NPO’s). Commonly cited statistics are that NPO’s employ 9.2% of the US workforce in about 1.5M entities that collectively raise about $300B per year. And, there are a small army of consultants and a few hundred software companies servicing those organizations as well.

Dale Earnhardt Jr in Austin after winning Daytona 500

March 2, 2014: I had already written the bulk of this post when last night I saw my title in a Tweet from God, or more specifically @TheTweetofGod. Whoever writes that is generally on point in a rather sardonic way. Then this morning I heard the Rt. Rev. Andrew Doyle, the Episcopal Bishop for Texas, refer to the thought experiment of Schrodinger’s Cat.

WWI biplanes over the Battle of the Somme

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. 

Jalousier Blinds

February 16, 2014:  An article in TechCrunch about crowd funding for a venetian blind controller from Jalousier caught my attention this week. I’m on the board of a company that provides an enterprise SaaS solution for large-scale property managers in the vacation home rental market.

volunteer work at food bank

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.


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