May 15, 2013: This morning I had the pleasure of speaking at the UT Club to the Metropolitan Breakfast Club, a diverse weekly networking group with maybe 80+ people on hand on this particular day. Everyone in attendance introduced herself or himself with a very brief elevator pitch, and they were all crisp and upbeat. The members had even memorized some of their colleagues’ pitches and occasionally provided the punch lines in unison. I was impressed. There were several tech entrepreneurs in the crowd, but only one from the usual tech startup regulars here in Austin.
Those of you who read my post on President Obama’s visit to Austin last week know that I focused on the importance of that trip in terms of creating in the broader community a better awareness of the tech sector and its impetus toward educating and training a workforce that matches the long-term needs of that sector. One of the responses to that post was the following email from Michael Clifford (photo above), for twelve years the CIO of Whole Foods until last September. I thought it well worth passing along.
May 10, 2013: Congratulations to Josh Baer and the partners, mentors, and numerous co-workers at Austin’s Capital Factory for graciously hosting President Obama yesterday on the first of his economic issues day trips. The President and the United States CTO Todd Park saw presentations by some of our finest local ventures, were introduced to a group of angel investors, and interacted with personnel from the many startups who operate from the Capital Factory. He was even invited to apply to Capital Factory when he needs a job in 2017.
May 7, 2013: Today I’m claiming editorial privilege and inviting myself to give my first annual commencement talk to anyone who cares to read it.
A recent Tweet by Bob Metcalfe about the sheer joy of graduation ceremonies echoes my own sentiments. This is the season when my Facebook updates are filled with photos of graduations at all levels of education, with all the proud parents and their progeny. Nothing to me is quite as special as a college graduation, when students are truly reaching the milestone of going out on their own (we hope).
We live in a time when there is a growing bifurcation of tech entrepreneurial endeavors, which I will label Platoons vs. Regiments for the purpose of this discussion.
My MacBook Pro became possessed over the weekend; the cursor began roaming around the screen and opening and closing things at random, and I lost all control of it from the track pad. (Reminds me of that old joke: “What happens when you don’t pay you exorcist? You get re-possessed.”) That gave me the opportunity to use a new Windows 8 all-in-one Sony with touch screen and keyboard to keep the presses humming at TechDrawl.
Thursday, April 25: Tonight is the Demo Day for the Longhorn Startup Lab. If you’re planning to attend, you’ll see nine companies in these eight areas: grocery delivery (now cool again), the interactive self (wearable social media), gaming (Flash and html5), classroom augmentation for primary and secondary schools, data analytics to improve stroke treatment decision making, stock trading algorithms, student organization management with a corporate recruiting benefit, and data-driven restaurant management tools. This is quite a diverse selection, and you’ll enjoy hearing the details and me
Once again the topic of the day arises from student questions in the Longhorn Startup Lab. Those of us who have accelerated down the startup runway many times have our own experiences and a cadre of trusted advisors to guide us in setting up the important details of a new enterprise. I’m reminded daily that this is not something taught in business and engineering curricula and that it’s generally brand new for even the brightest young scholars. I’m even seeing newbie angel investors in need of similar training.
Here’s a great question that came from a student in our class last week. How do you end a business that isn’t working? I normally write about happy and helpful topics aimed at growing your startup into one of the 20 $Billion companies that are created in the US each year (on average), but obviously there are quite a few that don’t have such good fortune. What happens to them? And, what happens to you as an officer or director in such a situation?
The Longhorn Startup Lab/Seminar class Thursday featured Bob Metcalfe’s lecture on the fundamentals of selling. As he made clear, good selling is as much about good listening as anything else. I’ve often found that customers will actually sell themselves if you’ll just be quiet and let them do so.