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My earliest memories of campus food trucks date to UW Madison in the 90s (a great weekend road trip from Chicago) and consumption of late night snacks from a variety of tasty trucks. This blog has posted on food trucks as many student entrepreneurs start with food trucks as a low cost option.
Moreover, campus as market, a theme explored frequently in my research and on this blog, is congruent with the rise of the food truck industrial complex (see previous blog entry).
The Wall Street Journal has offered great coverage of the growth of food trucks and some of the backlash against this burgeoning food service segment (incumbents=restaurants don’t like them!).
Sanette Tanaka of WSJ.com has a great piece on the growth of food trucks on campuses across the US. Tanaka on the newest rivalry on campus:
College officials say running their own food trucks brings in more revenue for the universities. They also can tailor menus to fit the student body. The University of Texas at Dallas plans to debut its first food truck this fall, featuring a fusion menu of Asian, Indian and Mediterranean cuisines to reflect the school’s large number of international students, who make up 19% of the student body.
Aramark Corp. and Bon Appétit Management Co., two companies that manage food services for universities, say they have seen an increase in demand for college-run food trucks, especially as a way to offer late-night dining options and serve remote areas of campus. Aramark says it will add nine more university-run food trucks this fall, and Bon Appétit says it will add five.
In total, nearly 100 colleges have their own university-run food trucks, compared with only about a dozen five years ago, according to the National Association of College and University Food Services, which represents about 550 higher education institutions in the U.S. and Canada.
Many universities don’t allow outside food trucks to come onto campus. But some, like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, grant limited access to select independent vendors. MIT, in Cambridge, Mass., doesn’t take a cut of the vendors’ revenue or profit, but charges a flat rate for the trucks to park.
GMU Arlington has a middle eastern food truck in front of Founders Hall on a regular basis while the main campus in Fairfax seem to offer just an old school hotdog cart — no problem with that — but its a far cry from today’s innovative food trucks.
Last night our Entrepreneurship and Globalization course hosted Marc Nager and Franck Nouyrigat, co-founders of Startup Weekend — a high impact social venture in the field of entrepreneurship education. You can listen to the show here (my apologies for my enthusiastic interpretation of our ‘talk radio’ platform).
Also, see the really interesting slideshare they shared. I love slide 5 and slide 9. They were also great sports in that they interacted with our students on twitter. If you can get yourself out to a Startup Weekend event please do: Here is the Startup Weekend events map.
In my 6 years at GMU I have been fortunate to participate in many discussions regarding disruptions in higher education and even Mason’s specific opportunities.
I’ve been bewildered by the bureaucracy and slow pace of modern universities a few times in regard to online education.
Steve Blank has an interesting post, Why Innovation Dies, highlighting the dangerous, bureaucratic, but professional approach that many universities are taking to online opportunities and challenges. Moreover, Blank offers an online education infographic (see below). Thank you Steve Blank, I hope this makes it to many .edu in boxes.
The problem is that the path to implementing online education is not known. In fact, it’s not a solvable problem by committee, regardless of how many smart people in the room. It is a “NP complete” problem – it is so complex that figuring out the one possible path to a correct solution is computationally incalculable.
Online education is not an existing market. There just isn’t enough data to pick what is the correct “overarching strategy”.
Making a single bet on a single strategy, plan or company in a new market is a sure way to fail. After 50-years even the smartest VC firms haven’t figured out how to pick one company as the winner. That’s why they invest in a portfolio.
via Steve Blank.
More interesting background on Instagram. Includes pivots, university ecosystems, and the idea of focus in the early days of a startup. Wow does location matter! From Eric Markowitz at Inc.:
Systrom’s first hire and eventual co-founder was Mike Krieger, a Brazilian-born 25-year-old engineer who worked at Meebo at the time. The pair had met at Stanford’s Mayfield Fellows program, a nine-month work-study program at Stanford designed to educate eager young students in running technology companies. Kim-Mai Cutler, writing for TechCrunch, describes Krieger as one of the “sweetest, most self-effacing engineers and user-experience designers.”
“Once he joined, we took a step back and looked at the product as it stood,” Systrom reflected on Quora. “We decided that if we were going to build a company, we wanted to focus on being really good at one thing.”
But Systrom and Krieger were unhappy with Burbn.
It was “cluttered” and “overrun with features,” Systrom noted on Quora, adding that the photo feature was by far the most popular. So in August, the founders made an incredibly risky, but perhaps prophetic, decision: They’d scrap Burbn almost entirely in order to build an entirely new app from the ground up.
“It was really difficult to decide to start from scratch, but we went out on a limb, and basically cut everything in the Burbn app except for its photo, comment, and like capabilities,” Systrom continued.
Read the entire article, its interesting and highlights many interesting concepts about new ventures, apps, silicon valley, etc.. (BTW, the photo below, apparently was from when the instagram founders were renting a desk at a coworking space for $500 a month)
Cool post, 10 Lean Startup Machine Tips and Tricks by Tristan Kromer at Grasshoperherder.com. There are actually more than 10 (Tristan admits to not being a great editor).
I was at Lean Startup Machine in New York last weekend. (LSM is a 48 hour excursion into lean startup techniques created by Trevor Owens to push your boundaries and help you learn something about your business model.)
- Problems don’t exist. You can’t go out and talk to a problem. Focus relentlessly on people.
- Cash in hand beats bullshit on slide. A pretty powerpoint isn’t impressive. Go get a real customer to hand you money.
- If your teammates don’t buy in, then test fast and let reality convince them. You’re not going to win by arguing, you’ll just wind up working alone.
- If your MVP can’t prove you wrong, then it can’t prove you right either.
- Ask questions like a child. Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?
There are some good thoughts in this post and I am looking forward to learning more about Lean Startup Machine.
So 7 months and 3 days after they got started, the Acceptly team was heading in a new direction. They were able to make that difficult and painful decision that most startups dread: admitting that futile months of full-time work might have been saved by a weekend of immersion into Lean. “When you talk more before building, you can pivot in 2 hours instead of 2 months.” When I asked Matt what his top three takeaways from LSM were, he sent back an easy-to-remember list:
Talk to customers
Talk to customers
Talk to customers
Two semesters ago I introduced some lean startup ideas/examples in the New Venture Creation class I teach to undergraduates. Many of the students enjoyed the concepts. In mid november 2011 we hosted a Global Entrepreneurship Week event that featured GMU student startup turned INC 500 member ROCS Staffing and also discussed lean startup ideas. The attendance was small, but we learned and measured and found a few folks at the event and through marketing the event that our GMU community had many entrepreneurial minded people.
Moreover, many found the ideas of Ries, Blank, Osterwalder, and others intriguing. In December we launched StartUp Mason on Facebook and held a few ‘open houses’ or discussions about engaging in a peer to peer learning session with each participant actively attempting to validate an idea and find a sustainable business model. Through the efforts of the great people at Mason, in the emerging DC startup community, and great support from the innovators at the The Foundry we are moving forward.
Things have come together nicely over the past 6 weeks and have our first meeting on Friday February 3, 2012. (If you’d like to follow this lean experiment in entrepreneurship education and action sign up for our newsletter)
I will post updates as this experiment moves forward and our members get out of the building.
My research and many of the schools, entrepreneurs, and issues covered on this blog have pointed to the evolution of entrepreneurship away from business planning. Schools such as Stanford, Babson, University of Maryland, and others have pushed well beyond that for years and now we see how business plan contests are giving way to action oriented contests. From Melissa Korn in the Wall Street Journal:
Less planning, more legwork. That’s the formula some business schools are using to overhaul the competitions they conduct each year to test their students’ mettle as entrepreneurs.
The contests, which have been an academic rite of passage for decades, typically involve teams of students submitting written business plans, then following up with a short presentation to a panel of judges. The winner might receive a cash prize of tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars and even the chance to mingle with potential investors.
But most of the business plans emerging from these competitions never become full-fledged businesses. Critics say that’s because the competitions don’t encourage budding entrepreneurs, they just reward a well-written plan.
“You can write a beautiful 50-page business plan without ever talking to a potential customer,” says Janet Strimaitis, managing director of Babson College’s Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship. So, the Wellesley, Mass., school is launching a new competition this spring that emphasizes action over ideas.
Among the requirements: teams must introduce their ideas with a PowerPoint presentation and show the concrete steps they have taken to develop their proposed business.
Those steps might include identifying a market opportunity or interviewing potential customers to demonstrate their proposal’s viability. At no point would competitors submit a written business plan.
At George Mason University we are moving towards action oriented entrepreneurship education steps through the StartUp Mason group. It is a peer to peer learning group comprised of entrepreneurs actively pursuing ventures. We use learning modules based on the work of Steve Blank, Eric Ries, Alexander Osterwalder, Guy Kawasaki and others to validate our ideas/hypothesis/business models. #leanstartup #bmgen
What is your university doing to move beyond Entrepreneurship Education 1.0 (business plans, guest speakers, etc.)?