Category Archives: Entrepreneurship Programs

@PositivDeviancy Featured on @GeorgeMasonU Homepage

Awesome to see coverage of young Mason entrepreneur Jade Garrett, founder of Positive Patriot Demo DayDeviancy, a firm building assistive technology out of stuffed animals for children on the #Autism spectrum. I’ve been lucky enough to work with Jade and she is a dynamic student, leader, and a fine example of today’s super innovative, productive and entrepreneurial students that take advantage of their campus. From George Mason University:

Garrett, who is pursuing an applied information technology degree from the Volgenau School of Engineering, spent the summer working on a toy bear that is also a computer game controller. Designed for children with autism, the plush bear answers several needs across the autism spectrum. For instance, a plush animal is easier for some to hold for longer periods of time than a controller, and those with motor-control issues find the buttons easier to use than a track ball or keyboard.

The bear is named Computer Assisted Device Input Bear, CADI for short, and pronounced “Caddy.” It’s still in the prototype stage, but with the help of the School of Business’ Mason Innovation Lab and the Lab for IT Entrepreneurship, the bear is coming out of hibernation and making the rounds as Garrett meets those in the business of creating businesses for those with special needs.

Are Universities Teaching the Wrong Entrepreneurship Process?

I’ve long wondered why so many schools support a business plan/VC model through contests and course work when most of their students will never be in the running for venture capital. Over the past few years through Startup Mason and other activities, we’ve moved to a more experiential model/process for entrepreneurship education. We’ve supported action, iteration and experimentation in lieu of planning. (Though many contests demand plans and/or executive summaries).

Dileep Rao at Forbes.com has an interesting piece arguing against teaching business plans and competitions and for a more hands on approach to learning entrepreneurship. There is much good in this piece for those who care about entrepreneurship education.  From Rao,

 As I am constantly repeating, the capital intensive VC model has worked in Silicon Valley, but seldom outside. While 88 percent of Silicon Valley’s billion-dollar entrepreneurs used venture capital, 91 percent outside Silicon Valley did not.

This means that universities may want to consider the following:

  • Teach students how to build businesses using capital efficiency, not just capital intensity. Most areas do not have successful VC funds. Even if they did, most VC funds do not build home runs. The top four percent of VC funds earn about 65% of industry IPO profits. Getting money from the other 96 percent may not do much to build a great company or to make you wealthy. With capital efficiency, students learn to grow without wasting both time and their opportunity in order to seek VC, only to be rejected by VCs. VCs reject about 98-99 percent of entrepreneurs who seek funds from them

  • Encourage students to build their business with smarts, not money. Less than five percent of VC funding goes to startups. This means that students need to learn how to build their business, and actually get some traction, before anyone will take them seriously. Universities should teach them how to do this.

  • Teach sales. Selling is the oxygen of a new business. To sell is to succeed. Unfortunately, many business schools believe that teaching sales has no academic value. Without sales, there is no business.

  • Encourage business startups rather than business plans. Universities organize business plan competitions with the hope that wise judges can pick winners. VCs, who are the foremost ‘wise judges’ in the business, fail to reach their target 80 percent of the time. If the VCs, who are full-time professionals, fail 80 percent of the time, why do universities think that their own ‘wise’ judges can do better?

  • Teach all students, rather than just entrepreneurship students or business-school students, how to build a business. I have found that many business-school students do not have a new-business opportunity to pursue. I would suggest casting a wider net in the hope that students in other schools have ideas for a new business that they want to develop and grow.

If you are involved in entrepreneurship education or considering studying entrepreneurship, read this entire article by Rao as it will give you many things to consider as your approach university entrepreneurship offerings.

DC Regional Universities Use Lean Startup in Healthcare | NSF I-CORPS

I have been following the NSF I-Corps experiment since its inception and have Screen Shot 2013-10-10 at 3.39.46 PMbeen pleasantly surprised by its growth and expanding reach. GWU, University of Maryland and Virginia Tech have taken the lead in our region (the DC I-Corps) and have some great people working on the program. I came across a piece from Stephanie Baum at Med City News highlighting some of the innovative teams and projects taking part. From Baum,

Here’s a sample of the healthcare and device technologies involved in the program, which runs through November 19.

University of Maryland, College Park

Myotherapeutics is developing a clinical assay for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Eva Chin, an assistant professor, leads the group.

George Washington University

Key Orthopedics has a 3D-printed polymer device for growing stem cells in bone and cartilage tissue and is led by Benjamin Holmes, a Ph.D student.

NanoChon is producing joint injury therapeutic technologies for extended and sustained biologic delivery. It’s led by Nathan Castro, a Ph.D. student.

Its exciting to see our local universities, their leaders, faculty, and graduate students learning to employ lean in the development of their ideas and technologies. Exciting time.

@GeorgeMasonU Alumni @GloboxRentals Launch International Film Kiosk Startup

{DISCLOSURE: I have worked closely with this startup and am mentioned in the article below and am pictured} Great piece on Mason born and Mason Alumni run startup Globox Rentals, a kiosk DVD rental service making top international films available to various consumer markets. The team recently placed its first 10 kiosks, including one in the Johnson Center — the student union @GeorgeMasonU. From Rashad Mulla of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences:

This “Globox” movie rental kiosk, which stands over 8 feet tall, is the pride and joy of Asad R. Ali and Sammy Kassim, the entrepreneurs at the heart of the brand new international film rental company, “Globox Rentals.”

Globox makes movies available for rent through vending kiosks, much like the multi-billion dollar rental service Redbox, but with one big difference: Globox specializes in new and popular international cinema, from more than 100 countries worldwide. This summer, Globox launched its first 10 kiosks, located in the Johnson Center, at various international grocers in Virginia Fairfax, Falls Church, Mt. Vernon, Woodbridge, and Arlington and a 7-Eleven convenience store in Bowie, Md.

“There are a lot of good international titles, content, and movies out there,” Kassim explained. “There just wasn’t an easy avenue for most of the customers and consumers to get that content.”

Today, the Globox team consists of co-founders Ali who studied in both the School of Management and the Department of Economics and Kassim BS ’11, Management, and fellow Mason alumni Ricky Singh BS ’11, Information Systems and Operations Management and Brittany Hill BA ’12, Art and Visual Technology. The Alexandria, Va.-based company appears to be riding a wave of momentum heading into the fall. But to get the ball rolling, Ali and Kassim had to put in a lot of work, and make a couple of unconventional decisions that required passion, drive and, simply put, bravery.

via College of Humanities and Social Sciences | News: World Cinema at Your Fingertips: Young Alumni Start “Globox Rentals” Business.

Student Entrepreneur $10M Revenue Run Rate: Extrabux CEO Jeff Nobbs | Sramana Mitra

I love when data for my research arrives in my email inbox. Thank you Sramana Mitra, Jeff Nobbs of Extrabux, and USC!:

Sramana: Jeff, let’s start with the beginning of your story. Where are you from? What are the circumstances that led up to the Extrabux story?

Jeff Nobbs: I am from San Diego. I was born in Northern California and spent two months there before I decided it wasn’t for me! I grew up in San Diego and went to college at USC in Los Angeles. While I was at USC, I started Extrabux with my co-founder, Noah, a guy who lived two doors down from me in the dorms. We started it as a side project while we were at school, and it stayed that way for a few years.

Our junior year we entered Extrabux into our university’s business plan competition. We ended up winning the USC business plan competition and we got $25,000. That was the first stamp of credibility that we received and the first bit of money that we got to start building our team.

via Student Entrepreneur to $10M Revenue Run Rate: Extrabux CEO Jeff Nobbs Part 1 | Sramana Mitra.

G3Box IndieGoGo | Student Entrepreneurs | #socent | ASU

Last year I interviewed 3 of the founders of G3Box when I visited ASU’s Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative at the Skysong campus. It was during the heavy data collection phase of my dissertation research on student entrepreneurs at US Universities and Colleges.

The G3Box team recently launched an IndieGoGo campaign and are about to place their first maternity clinic in the developing world. Their goals is to  cut down on fatalities and complications during child birth.  Their vision is solve global health challenges by connecting multiple organizations. This team of ASU student entrepreneurs is truly inspiring.

G3Box Video Trailer – YouTube.

The Rise of the Hacker Space | Update on 3D Printing Venture Camp @GeorgeMasonU

This evening, I was able to work with Arlington Economic Development and Amplifier Ventures in putting on a 3D Printing Venture Camp event at GMU’s Arlington Campus. Dan Wilson of TechShop and Brian Jacoby of Nova-Labs, both hacker spaces, exhibited and sat on our panel.

Turns out that the NY Times published a piece on maker spaces today. Wonder if I can talk someone at Mason into funding maker spaces on our campus? Can we evolve MCSE coworking space and our Startup Mason curriculum into a maker space. We already have innovators from business, liberal arts, comp sci, electrical engineering, physics and design hanging out in our space.

Venture Camp tonight with multiple displays of printers, scanners, and exhibitors talking of materials sciences, rapid prototyping and the evolution of design and manufacturing. Its time for Mason to get into this emerging space.

From Steven Kurutz of the NY Times in The Rise of the Hacker Space:

Hacker spaces like MakerBar — where people gather to build or take things apart, from rockets to circuit boards to LED displays — are hives of innovation, real-world communities made possible by the emergence of virtual communities.

Businesses like Pinterest and MakerBot have grown out of hacker spaces, which have become networking venues for engineers and inventors. But at their most basic level, the 200 or so hacker spaces across the country function as a modern stand-in for the home workshop, especially in urban areas.

It’s no accident that some of the earliest and most popular hacker spaces, like Noisebridge in San Francisco and NYC Resistor in Brooklyn, are in cities where living spaces tend to be small, real estate is expensive and having a home workshop is a pipe dream for all but the very lucky or very wealthy.

“The 1950s version of tinkering was doing it in your garage,” said Dale Dougherty, who as the founder of Make magazine and its popular get-togethers known as Maker Faires is a patron saint to the hacker community. “A lot of people in urban settings don’t have that.”

“Sometimes these hacker spaces are not much bigger than a garage,” he said. “But people can’t organize their home into a workshop.”

via The Rise of the Hacker Space – NYTimes.com.