Tools for Thought

IDEO Process

October 11, 2015: This week we’ll continue journaling the progress of the biomedical startup in which I’m participating in Georgia. I spent most of the week there working with our software team and an array of Subject Matter Experts. Design Thinking, as pioneered at Stanford and commercialized by its spin-out IDEO, is our method of solution creation, as opposed to scientific problem solving. Relevant terms in this method are solution-focus, ambiguity, iteration, and human engagement.

Startup Friendly

gold mine

October 4, 2015: If you’re a technology service provider to startups, you know that to be a difficult task. I’ve been on both sides of this issue over the years. We had to switch a major vendor in one deal this past week, which is always tough, even if it is just business and is for good reasons for all concerned. There are personal connections that are part of any such relationship, and those continue.

Starting the Start

1916 Packard with starter crank

August 30, 2015: Josh Baer presented his list of tips on starting the start at the Longhorn Startup Seminar this past Thursday. His focus was the student who in general wants to be an entrepreneur and start something, which describes many of the 138 enrolled in the class this semester. That objective requires coming up with an idea, identifying a market, finding a team, building an MVP, and plunging into business while the parents are still footing most of the overhead. It’s good advice for a very lean startup approach while you are in the cozy confines of university life.

If Only I Had an Idea

Fat Canvas by the Author

October 19, 2014: The headline above is a statement that comes up time and again when I meet people who want to become entrepreneurs. They may have the drive, intellect, and requisite instincts, but they’ve not been inspired by a particular mission and often don’t have a team to help them toward that goal. If they force the issue by gathering up some colleagues and entering a class like our Longhorn Startup Lab, they’ll often settle for the next “find me a beer” app that they draw from their current experiences as undergraduates.

Easy to Start, Hard to Finish

Ferrari 250GTO at Le Mans 1962

September 1, 2014:  Bob Metcalfe gave his customary founder’s story about 3Com at our first meeting of the Longhorn Startup class last Thursday. As many times as I have heard that, I always learn something new. Like all entrepreneurial successes of that magnitude, it’s hard to boil down such a complex and interesting story to a one-hour talk aimed at 20ish age undergraduate students.

Fatal Traction

Fair Use for Education, Fatal Attraction Poster

July 6, 2014: Many of you will recall the 1987 hit movie Fatal Attraction starring Michael Douglas, Glenn Close, and Anne Archer. It was a genuine thriller and had the number one world box office ranking that year. Unfortunately, since none of my students were born until some years later, any references I make to that film in the Longhorn Startup classroom draw quizzical looks. It is relevant to my talk on the vagaries of an entrepreneurial career.

Take It Personally

public domain image of rejection note on locker

April 20, 2014: “We really like you guys, but we don’t like your product.” That comment from about 1980 has stuck with me; I got to know very well the two gentlemen running Sears computer stores at that time, and that was their polite way of delivering a rejection. I think Peachtree Software has generated more profits than all of Sears in the intervening decades and is only increasing its lead today, but no one is keeping that score (except me).

Don’t Read this Fast, but Be Fast

Rolex 24 start 2011

January 19, 2014:  After the NFL championship games, the hype machine is focused on the Big One -- that’s right, the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway January 25-26.  Yes there’s some more football after that in New Jersey, but racing provides better analogies for the topic of this post.  The 24 Hours of Daytona brings together multiples classes of prototype and GT cars in an annual endurance race that is the harbinger of the racing s


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