Full Immersion

deep diving in Virginia

February 5, 2017: My regular readers may have noticed longer intervals between TechDrawl posts. Your editor has transitioned from considerable “drive-by” mentoring through my affiliations with UT and the Austin tech community toward deep immersion in four promising ventures. All these are at inflection points where things are getting real. Their common thread is data science, even though they serve very different markets.

A Month of Living Dangerously

more traditional burglars

December 17, 2016: With the constant drumbeat of headlines about the Russians attempting to influence the US Election via electronic espionage, or just plain hacking, we’re all more attuned to the risks associated with our convenient communication methods. Yahoo added this past week a few more beats to that message. Closer to home, in the past month I’ve had two email intrusions in the biomedical company I’m working with.

Dispatch from Atlanta

Venture Atlanta 2016

November 17, 2016: Last week was the semiannual Georgia Tech Research Corporation board meeting, and I took advantage of that occasion to spend a couple of extra days in Atlanta catching up a bit with the startup scene there. All the news from GT was good; research is on a great trajectory. And, the complement of 17 or so corporate innovation centers surrounding the ATDC is a unique advantage for startups.

Lessons for Startups from the Election

1972 Nixon campaign tie

November 13, 2016: For those of you who went to church on the Sunday I’m writing this after the Election, you probably heard this morning a sermon of comfort aimed at congregants who voted their conscience for either of the two major candidates. It was a week for the history books, and it is full of lessons that transcend politics. My “Re-elect Nixon” tie from 1972 (photo above) that I wear to the polls every 4 years has now been consigned to ancient history.

Perils of the Pivot

USS Pivot

October 30, 2016: It’s commonly expected that startups will pivot as their original concepts meet the tests of the market. Even the most carefully crafted plans may not correctly anticipate customer behavior, may overlook competitors, may run into unexpected technical obstacles, may be blindsided by external forces, and may ultimately not translate the founder’s vision into a workable business model. It’s generally better, however, to pivot than perish, and startup teams that can accept reality and adapt are the ones that are most likely to succeed again and again.

Startups Are Not for the Lazy

lazy way to fish

October 23, 1016: There’s been a lot of talk about stamina in the Presidential campaign, and coincidentally I’m reading two books about historical figures whose success was propelled by an abundance of that trait. Startups are never easy, and, if you are the founder, you need to have a continuous reserve of energy to meet the challenges ahead. You must be able to light up the room with your enthusiasm when you are with your team, or with customers.

Don’t Be High Maintenance

a very low maintenance dog

October 16, 2016: As the founder of a startup, you have three constitu- encies: your customers, your team, and your investors. Being a low maintenance leader is a great way to get the maximum support from all three. This is not such a common term; it’s much easier to find references on low maintenance pets, for example. For this week’s essay let’s define some of the traits of “going low when others go high” (sorry but I couldn’t help that rephrasing from the politics of the day).


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