Tag Archives: startups

Presenting @ Mason Entrepreneurship Research Conference 3/27

This Friday, March 27, 2009, is the Mason Entrepreneurship Research Conference. I presented a few years back on Social Capital and Business Plan Contests and will be presenting this week on The Frontier in US History, The Modern Campus, and Entrepreneurship. Last year I posted from the event a few times. Our friend Tim Berry is the key note speaker.

Here is some background on the conference and its mission. Interestingly, it is a joint venture between the School of Public Policy and the School of Management.

Yale Campus Entrepreneurs Want U to Get Paid to Recycle

Check out this new venture from Yale campus entrepreneur Bob Casey. YouRenew.com provides an opportunity for people to sellyourenew their old personal electronics (recycle) and get paid. With so many old cell phones, mp3 players, digital cameras, and smart phones around, this is a huge market opportunity. With such an appetite for electronics in and around the campus, it is not suprise that YouRenew came from students at Yale.

I look forward to learning more from Bob about his firm and about how Yale University has granted him sabbatical to go after this opportunity as part of the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute’s Incubator.

New MIT Case Study Highlights Power of Campus Entrepreneurs

A case study of the entrepreneurial economy spawned by MIT was released last week. The report, Entrepreneurial Impact: The Role of MIT by Edward B. Roberts and Charles Eesley (both of MIT) looks pretty interesting and some of the numbers and statements in the press release are pretty amazing. Here is a snippet from the Kauffman Foundation’s website — you can download the report there. (I will post more on the report after I have read it)

According to the study Entrepreneurial Impact: The Role of MIT analyzes the economic effect of MIT alumni-founded companies and its entrepreneurial ecosystem, if the active companies founded by MIT graduates formed an independent nation, their revenues would make that nation at least the seventeenth-largest economy in the world. Within the U.S., these companies currently generate hundreds of billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of jobs to regional economies, particularly those in Massachusetts and California. Globally, a less conservative estimate of their annual world sales would equal $2 trillion, producing the equivalent of the eleventh-largest economy in the world.

Fudgemaker Wins Brooklyn BPlan Comp

Just saw a fudgemaker won 15k in a Brooklyn Bplan competition put on by the local library. This is the fourth year of the PowerUp! competition sponsored by the Brooklyn Business Library and supported by the Citi Foundation (don’t know if that will continue). From the article by Joyce Shelby;

The basic recipe for Brooklyn Fudge has been in the family for generations, said Jones, who majored in acting at New York University. Her business is an outgrowth of her decision to alter the recipe, making it suitable for kosher and vegan diets. Check out the Web site (www.brooklynfudge.com).

The PowerUp! competition is sponsored by the Citi Foundation.

There were two second-place winners in this year’s contest: Nzinga Knight of Nzinga Knight International, who designs modest evening wear suitable for Muslim women, and Elissa Olin of Green Home Green Living. She plans to open a one-stop shop for environmentally friendly goods in Fort Greene. Each winner received $5,000.

More on the Myths of Angel Investing

We recently highlighted Scott Shane’s new paper on Angel Investing, this morning the WSJ featured part of their discussion on the topic in the paper under “Best of Independent Street.” The article online by Kelly Spors is tight and there are some insightful comments from their readers, plus a big, obvious piece of ‘British spam’ (see picture).

The main critique is likely around the term Angel Investor and what that means to the academic — Shane — versus the practitioner — the entrepreneur.

How do you use/define the term Angel Investor? And do you think one’s conception of the term varies by location (as a commenter on the WSJ site points out); people in and around Silicon Valley, DC, Boston, etc. have different expectations of an Angel versus someone in Omaha, Saint Petersburg, or Midland, TX?

Which Universities Have No Chance at Entrepreneurship?

I chose to go the George Mason’s School of Public Policy to pursue my PhD for three main reasons 1) it offered a flexible part-time program with many interesting fields of study 2) it was a newer, aggressive school that had attracted many top faculty in recent years (Richard Florida, Francis Fukuyama, Zoltan Acs) and 3) and it was in DC, my wife’s hometown, and a vibrant region of power, technology, and culture that allowed the school and its students and instructors to engage in the policy debates of the day.

In entering a school of public policy I was quickly introduced to the field of economic development and the terms Taylorism and Fordism — terms were meant to convey the scientific management of the industrial process and increased efficiency and economic output. (FORD being an early example with its assembly lines) Many also use the terms to describe a system that capitalizes on mass labor in a negative way.

The Collegiate Way blog has an interesting posting about an article in the Atlantic Monthly by a Professor X titled The Basement of the Ivory Tower. Apparently the article basically explains that many colleges just take in students and keep them in, in order to achieve revenues.

From the article by Professor X:

I work at colleges of last resort. For many of my students, college was not a goal they spent years preparing for, but a place they landed in. Those I teach don’t come up in the debates about adolescent overachievers and cutthroat college admissions. Mine are the students whose applications show indifferent grades and have blank spaces where the extracurricular activities would go. They chose their college based not on the U.S. News & World Report rankings but on MapQuest; in their ideal academic geometry, college is located at a convenient spot between work and home. I can relate, for it was exactly this line of thinking that dictated where I sent my teaching résumé. Continue reading

Great Entrepreneurial Book List from NDE

Just received an email from the NDE (National Dialogue on Entrepreneurship) and they have a great 2008 reading list on entrepreneurship. They did include Richard Florida’s Who’s Your City; a book whose entire life-cycle I witnessed up close while I worked with Richard. It was an amazing process. Here are some (4) reviews from NDE’s list — which is well worth checking out:

Vermeer’s Hat: The Seventeenth Century and the Dawn of the Global World

Timothy Brook (Bloomsbury Press, 2007)

You may be wondering how a book about Vermeer makes it on a listing of books about innovation and entrepreneurship. In this fascinating book, Brook uses the subjects and objects of Vermeer’s paintings to provide history of the development of global capitalism. Vermeer’s rise paralleled the Netherlands’ rise as a major economic force, and Brook tells these stories by tracing the emergence of trade in new products like tobacco, porcelain, and furs.

Creative Capital: Georges Doriot and the Birth of Venture Capital

Spencer E. Ante (Harvard Business School Press, 2008)

It often seems like the venture capital industry has been around forever, but, in reality, someone had to invent it. That someone was French business professor and investor Georges Doriot, and his achievement occurred not too long ago. Beginning in 1946, Doriot and his firm, American Research and Development Corporation, virtually created the modern model of the venture capital firm. This well-written biography examines Doriot’s life and his impact on the world of business finance. Continue reading

WSJ On Facebook App Ventures

Pretty interesting piece in today’s WSJ by Riva Richmond about successful and unsuccessful Facebook applications. At this point, Zuckerberg and Facebook are the kingpins of the campus entrepreneur space. While Gates, Brin, Dell, Smith, and others have far more money and reach, Zuck/Fbook are as hot as a pistol.

Its amazing how many other businesses have formed and are forming around Facebook. A ‘new’ industry or cluster in the way that the iPod opened incredible opportunity to other firms and to customers. Clusters are huge in economic growth theory (see Porter), but they are usually geographically (and industry) centered.

The facebook and ipod clusters center around a specific product/lifestyle. I will have to think about this a bit and whether and how these types of clusters — distributed clusters if you will — differ from more traditional clusters.

From the piece (which is worth reading and is full of great cases and stats) by Richmond:

In May 2007, Facebook Inc. invited software developers to create free software programs that members of the social-networking site could use to entertain and inform each other.

A year later, it’s time to ask: What has worked and what hasn’t?

There’s plenty to pick from. So far, more than 250,000 developers have requested the Palo Alto, Calif., company’s tools for building such applications. And more than 24,000 programs have been created, allowing Facebook users to send each other virtual hugs, share movie picks and play games, among other things. Continue reading

20 Semifinalists for Startup Smackdown Get Ready to Rumble

Next Saturday (April 26th) I will be attending the finals of the Mid-Atlantic Business Plan Competition. The event is put on by the MIT Enterprise Forum of Washington-Baltimore and Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business. This competition is open to students at any university or college in DC, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Delaware. (Pretty interesting that the Boston based MIT plays a prominent role).

The 20 semi-finalists represent an incredible cross-section of universities and students and is worth checking out. I am really excited to see some of them present this coming weekend. BTW, the finals are open to the public.

Recession! Abandon Your Startup/Plan?

I received a nice email from Brian H. recently with a link to an article in the Coloradoan concerning startups and the recession. The article is generally positive and full of ‘experts’ saying startups can thrive in lean times.

From the piece by Cari Merrill,

“Economic conditions are the important part of entrepreneurial endeavors. As an entrepreneur, you need to be thinking about all sources of capital. I believe human capital is way more important to a startup endeavor than financial capital,” said Paul Hudnut, co-director of CSU’s Global Innovation Center for Energy, Health and Environment and course instructor. Much of the success in a startup company is with people who are motivated to see the project through.

I really agree with the point above. Over the past 3 months I have talked to many people about working on my startup and I find very few with the motivational level necessary –regardless of money/funding etc. Continue reading