November 24, 2013: This Thanksgiving edition of TechDrawl is a collection of observations on higher education. I wrote recently on the topic of whether entrepreneurship can be taught, and Bob Metcalfe addressed this same question in a more scholarly paper published last week. He and I reached affirmative conclusions, but we each brought to the question
September 3, 2013: This post by Chandeet Shoudary on how Paypal and Reddit faked their way to traction is one of several I’ve read on that subject in recent weeks. This is an obvious issue in P2P ventures where you need to bring along at approximately equal rates both the providers and consumers, or sellers and buyers, or whatever pairs you need to match for your offering to be valuable.
August 25, 2013: Steve Ballmer has been the story this weekend with the announcement of his pending retirement. The 7% jump in MSFT shares on that news probably won’t be highlighted in his personal memoirs, but he apparently made some investors happy. Personally, I’d give him credit for protecting the core franchises of Windows and Office while trying a few radical changes of late. He wasn’t afraid to start making his own hardware in the Surface line, adding touch to the latest version of Windows, and even emulating Apple’s retail store concept. The Surface Pro isn’t bad for a Microsof
August 3, 2013: Several years ago I met with a young entrepreneur already on his way toward building a glorious business, and he asked me a question I didn’t really expect: “What should I be worried about?” I was immediately thinking that if I were in his shoes, I wouldn’t be too worried about anything, but I decided to reply that just his asking the question demonstrated a healthy respect for the vagaries of business. I recall telling him that he should probably be concerned only if he ever quit worrying. All of us who have matriculated as entrepreneurs from startup to exit know how m
June 27, 2013: Earlier this week my post dealt with how managing your startup is dramatically affected when you actually have paying customers. For most businesses, the commencement of revenues also leads to an increase in headcount. You move beyond the comfort zone of your trusted founding team and must learn to accomplish things through people of varying skill sets and motivations who are mainly interested in a paycheck.
Lean startup methods are all about customer discovery, gathering information to create a product that fulfills the needs you identify in this process, and then actually landing that first customer. That’s when the fun begins, and it’s not all rosy. Here are ten considerations that come into play at that milestone in the life of your startup:
Today’s educational topic results from a mentoring session with an early-stage services oriented business. In California and New York there are successful business models where you charge nothing, get millions of customers, and then exit before anybody has to worry about pricing and its cousin known as revenue. For most of the rest of us, that is not the case.
May 20, 2013: Last week during Austin’s RISE week of entrepreneurial activities I had the privilege of participating in an “office hours” event hosted by Capital Factory. As you can see in the photo above this had a pretty sizable turnout, with a matching of some of the city’s technology leaders, both past and present, with what appeared to be a relatively fresh crop of startups.
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.
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.