June 14, 2015: As part of my customary summer Georgia Tech board meeting tour, I had the chance to visit three of the corporate innovation centers that have been established in and around the campus, many of them in the Advanced Technology Development Center. Consider this list of the occupants: ThyssenKrupp, AT&T Mobility, Home Depot, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Southern Company, Worldpay, NCR, Panasonic, Sage, Stanley Black & Decker, plus three more major names on the verge of being announced.
June 7, 2015: This dispatch is filed from the road but deals with an act of the Texas State Legislature during its last weekend of this year’s session. This New York Times article explains how Texas is set to become the eighth state in the US to allow the carrying of concealed guns on public college campuses. This privilege commences with the fall semester of 2016.
May 31, 2015: I currently have the privilege of working on a project in the cancer treatment branch of the biotech arena. I’ve learned enough terminology to sound like I know what I’m talking about, but, fortunately for patients, the founder of this business is a practicing surgical oncologist who is indeed an expert. He is one of those rare individuals from the inside of a profession who can envision a nontraditional pathway toward achieving a higher standard of care.
May 24, 2015: It’s commencement season for those graduating into the ever more sharing economy, and a few thoughts on that are timely. I must have read a dozen articles on that subject this week, the most striking being a prediction that the auto industry would be displaced by a smartphone-dependent transport system. We’d keep most vehicles in use most of the time and reduce the fleet requirement by an order of magnitude. In one such article the analogy was made to IBM’s transition from its PC glory days to what is now primarily a services business.
May 17, 2015: Tech entrepreneurs employing knowledge workers today have the luxury of thinking of office space as a service that can be dialed up or down to match the stage of the venture. Evolutions in the way we work along with new business models in commercial real estate like co-working spaces have relieved startups from the traditional risky bets on 5-year leases for fixed numbers of square feet and parking spaces.
May 10, 2015: As mentioned last week, Bob Metcalfe and I are focusing our energies on the Innovation Center at UT Austin’s Cockrell School of Engineering and no longer have responsibilities as instructors in the Longhorn Startup program. Now comes the task of identifying the next wellsprings of great ideas that deserve our attention and nurturing.
May 3, 2015: Longhorn Startup Demo Day this past Thursday at the Lady Bird Auditorium in the LBJ Library enjoyed a nearly overflowing turnout in our 967-seat venue. The crowd got to see Bob Metcalfe interview Michael Dell, followed by pitches by our 13 student teams, who all performed well and lived up to our high expectations. As always, our classes raise the bar a bit higher than their predecessors with each new edition of this event.
April 26, 2015: One of today’s most popular terms in public institutions and large companies is “innovation.” I am part of the Innovation Center at the Cockrell School of Engineering at UT Austin, where Bob Metcalfe is Professor of Innovation. The City of Austin has a Chief Innovation Officer. Many companies have located innovation centers in or near research universities, e.g Coca-Cola Enterprises, Home Depot, and the numerous other household names clustered at the ATDC at Georgia Tech.
April 19, 2015: One phenomenon we’re seeing with our Longhorn Startup student teams is that the more they rise to prominence, the sooner they have to change their company names. The term “cease and desist letter” is now part of our curriculum. Our fine group creating a virtual typing experience for mobile devices called AirType ran afoul of that trademark held by a North Carolina advertising firm. They got their C&D letter and changed their name to Noki (as in “no key”). I’m waiting now for Nokia to send them their next letter.
April 12, 2015: First, allow me to thank all of you who Tweeted, posted on Facebook, emailed me, called me, talked to me in person, or otherwise commented on or shared my Memoriam to John Imlay last week. Those all added to our collective memory of this beloved person. I do not look forward to writing more such essays, but I suppose they are inevitable as some of us age. For this week I’m back to the normal advice and observations on startups.