Category Archives: Entrepreneur Profiles

Entrepreneurial Nuggets | Adirondack Jack | Wave Extinguisher at Ripley’s | Cheap Lego Drones | Warby Parker Makes Public School Hip

Alibaba founder Jack Ma bought 28,000 acres of forestland in the Adirondacks for conservation purposes… While billionaire founders and CEOs conserving land in NY is not new, the fact that a Chinese innovators is there too is interesting. Read the story about Jack and his $23 million dollar buy.

Warby Parker, the hip, social impact oriented eye glass firm founded by Wharton

Ripley's Believe It or Not! Cartoon of the day 6/26/15.

Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Cartoon of the day 6/26/15.

students has partnered with New York City Public Schools and will provide up to 20,000 pairs of glasses to kids in need.

GMU’s Seth Robertson and Viet Tran were feature in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Cartoon of the Day for their Wave Extinguisher — it puts out fire with sound waves!

We love Parrot drones at Mason — they are fun for students to learn on. The company announced 13 new drones this week for less than $189! One with a Lego attachment!

Commonbond, an innovative student loan company started at Wharton in 2012, sold its first bonds to Wall Street investors. By targeting specific students and graduates (originally Wharton grads), the firm offers lower rates to lender and loan products with specific attributes to investors.

Competition Myth @PeterThiel @ISI | #Conformity Kills | #students #highered

Was fortunate to have one of our GMU School of Business supporters send us a really strong piece by Peter Thiel at The Intercollegiate Review on being true to oneself and your own vision of truth/value rather than that of those around you.

The article is a strong indictment of conformity and mediocrity across a whole host of areas — both micro and societal — and the dangers it presents. Good read for students and others trying recharge and find a truer, self-defined path. (Hint of Earl Nightingale in the article — wonder if Thiel is familiar with The Strangest Secret)

A few strong excerpts,

This is, I think, the big problem with competition: it focuses us on the people around us, and while we get better at the things we’re competing on, we lose sight of anything that’s important, or transcendent, or truly meaningful in our world.


The problem is not one of brainpower: we are talking about fiercely intelligent people with degrees from the nation’s most prestigious institutions. No, the real problem is conformity, a fear of stepping outside the bounds. This is the issue I had to confront in myself when, after years of competing, I achieved my goal of working at a major law firm—and realized it was the last thing I wanted.

This problem of conformity runs deep. Already in the time of Shakespeare the word ape meant both a primate and to imitate. The Aristotelian concept of biology held that man differed from the other animals in his greater aptitude for imitation. This is how we learn language as children: we imitate. This is how culture gets transmitted. But imitation can also go badly wrong. It leads to crazed peer pressure; it leads to the various insane bubbles our society has experienced. If there’s going to be progress, if there’s going to be new thinking in any direction, it requires something very different.

Thiel’s 7 Keys to Market Creating Innovation (Blue Ocean Anyone?)

Peter Thiel, one of the ‘great’ wizards of Silicon Valley has some mortal elements

Peter Thiel back in the days of PayPal

Peter Thiel back in the days of PayPal

as he too has written a book and gone on a speaking and interview tour. Zero to One, by Thiel (with Blake Masters), has many interesting insights and thoughts and Steve Denning of Forbes does a nice job covering the book. From Denning:

In his book, Zero to One, serial entrepreneur Peter Thiel offers seven—sometimes surprising– tools for doing just that. They are what he calls, “the seven questions that every market-creating business must answer.”

The Engineering Question: Do you have a breakthrough technology?
The Timing Question: Is your timing right?
The Monopoly Question: Do you have something no-one else has?
The People Question: Do you have the right people?
The Distribution Question: Can you sell and market your stuff?
The Durability Question: Will you be still around in 10 years?
The Secret Question: Do you know something nobody else does?

Continue reading

Shark Tank Campus Entrepreneurs, Ball Players Create Coffee Pouches

Just catching up on last nights Shark Tank and glad to see another campus entrepreneur doing well. College baseball players Pat and Matt hit hard with their coffee based chewing tobacco replacement. From the blog Shark Tank Success.

The two invented the Get Grinds Coffee Pouches while in college and playing baseball out in San Francisco, California as an alternative to regular chewing tobacco. By making their pouches using flavored coffee grounds and then adding the same ingredients found in energy drinks like Red Bull or the 5 Hour energy, they have essentially married two unrelated product’s in a rather unique form. The Get Grinds Coffee pouches is a perfect alternative to chewing tobacco and gives you an added boost at the same time.

Another unique advantage to the get Grinds Coffee Pouches especially if you already chew tobacco, is you do not need to continually spit. In Fact, it is encouraged not to spit because you gain more of the energy boosting ingredients by swallowing your saliva. No Kidding! You are essentially brewing the flavored coffee in your mouth. The only thing you need to spit out is the pouch when your done.

Love the flavors that these guys are offering. Also wondering if this could become a product that coffee consumers go for whether they trying to stop chewing tobacco or have never tried it. Here is a story on the ball players from Entrepreneur.

In 2008, after wrapping up their amateur season to return to California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, to finish their degrees, the two men took the saying a step further.

One too-hot night while working on an economics project, they decided to skip out on brewing a pot of coffee in favor of doing what comes naturally to baseball players: They stuffed wads of grinds in their mouths.

“The buzz kicked in and we said, ‘Shoot, we might be on to something,'” Canepa says.

That something was Grinds, tiny chewable pouches of flavored coffee grinds. Each pouch contains about as much caffeine as a quarter cup of coffee, as well as a smattering of taurine and B vitamins.

Soon after their discovery, the duo dashed off a business plan that snagged $3,000 in a competition at their school’s business department. Later that year, they won $15,000 in a similar schoolwide contest, and a handful of judges signed on as investors. In June 2009, less than a year after the idea was born, Canepa and Pezet officially launched their company, also named Grinds.


via Shark Tank Success Stories : Get Grinds Coffee Pouch.

Elon Musk Plans to Colonize Mars at 500K per Pioneer | How Big is Your Vision?

Amazing article about Elon Musk’s plans for colonizing Mars! This guys think HUGE! Are you viewing the world like Musk? I hope so. From Rob Coppinger of via Yahoo News:

“At Mars, you can start a self-sustaining civilization and grow it into something really big,” Musk told an audience at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London on Friday (Nov. 16). Musk was there to talk about his business plans, and to receive the Society’s gold medal for his contribution to the commercialization of space.

Mars pioneers

Accompanying the founders of the new Mars colony would be large amounts of equipment, including machines to produce fertilizer, methane and oxygen from Mars’ atmospheric nitrogen and carbon dioxide and the planet’s subsurface water ice.

The Red Planet pioneers would also take construction materials to build transparent domes, which when pressurized with Mars’ atmospheric CO2 could grow Earth crops in Martian soil. As the Mars colony became more self sufficient, the big rocket would start to transport more people and fewer supplies and equipment. [Future Visions of Human Spaceflight]

Musk’s architecture for this human Mars exploration effort does not employ cyclers, reusable spacecraft that would travel back and forth constantly between the Red Planet and Earth — at least not at first

“Probably not a Mars cycler; the thing with the cyclers is, you need a lot of them,” Musk told “You have to have propellant to keep things aligned as [Mars and Earth’s] orbits aren’t [always] in the same plane. In the beginning you won’t have cyclers.”

Musk also ruled out SpaceX’s Dragon capsule, which the company is developing to ferry astronauts to and from low-Earth orbit, as the spacecraft that would land colonists on the Red Planet. When asked by what vehicle would be used, he said, “I think you just land the entire thing.”

Asked if the “entire thing” is the huge new reusable rocket — which is rumored to bear the acronymic name MCT, short for Mass Cargo Transport or Mars Colony Transport — Musk said, “Maybe.”

Musk has been thinking about what his colonist-carrying spacecraft would need, whatever it ends up being. He reckons the oxygen concentration inside should be 30 to 40 percent, and he envisions using the spacecraft’s liquid water store as a barrier between the Mars pioneers and the sun.

A $500,000 ticket

Musk’s $500,000 ticket price for a Mars trip was derived from what he thinks is affordable.

“The ticket price needs to be low enough that most people in advanced countries, in their mid-forties or something like that, could put together enough money to make the trip,” he said, comparing the purchase to buying a house in California. [Photos: The First Space Tourists]

He also estimated that of the eight billion humans that will be living on Earth by the time the colony is possible, perhaps one in 100,000 would be prepared to go. That equates to potentially 80,000 migrants.

WOW!! Please start thinking big….

Will This Change Life for Millions | $9 Cardboard Bike Supports 485lbs | #SOCENT

Pretty amazing example of the power of creativity in the world economy versus labor and capital.

An industrial designer, Izhar Gafni, has created a $9 bike made out of cardboard that can carry riders up to 485 pounds. This has the ability to affordable make transportation available to millions around the world.  Hopefully they can set up local production, sales, and service globally to support employment and provide opportunity globally. Very cool social innovation.

The Alfa weighs 20lbs, yet supports riders up to 24 times its weight. It’s mostly cardboard and 100% recycled materials, yet uses a belt-driven pedal system that makes it maintenance free. And, maybe best of all, it’s project designed to be manufactured at about $9 to $12 per unit (and just $5 for a kids version), making it not only one of the most sustainable bikes you could imagine, but amongst the cheapest, depending on the markup.


via This $9 Cardboard Bike Can Support Riders Up To 485lbs | Co.Design: business + innovation + design.

Izhar cardboard bike project from Giora Kariv on Vimeo.

UMD Student Entrepreneur Mike & Cookies on Kickstarter #crowdfunding

Last year I was fortunate to meet and interview David Botwick-Ries, a University of MD student that launched a cookie business while on campus in College Park. David continues to grow his business, Mike and Cookies and has turned to Kickstarter to raise money for his firm. David is going to use the funds to buy a delivery truck to improve the operational efficiency of his firm. From Mike and Cookies Kickstarter update #3 page.

For us at Mike & Cookies, we want to be the cookie to remind the world to stop – slow down – and enjoy themselves. We want to be the cookie to enable the rediscovery of your childlike joy and the ability to share that amazing joy with others. We want to be the cookie to put a smile on your face, and more importantly, share that smile with everyone: friends, family, strangers alike.

We want to be the cookie to celebrate the everyday. And by this focus on today and only today, we see a world where people are filled with joy, love, compassion, and friendliness.

That is our mission. Join us.

Delivery Van for Mike & Cookies! by David Botwick-Ries — Kickstarter.