31 results for month: 11/2012


The 10 Emotional Stages of “No Response” E-Mail Rejection

Have you sent an important e-mail to someone recently and are still waiting for that person to e-mail you back? Has it been over 3 days since you sent the e-mail? It was probably a question about a business relationship, job application, coffee meeting, or a request to get press for your company. But, still no reply. Weird, right? You probably made up excuses about why that person hasn't emailed you back: "She's a busy person. She's probably running across town as we speak going from meeting to meeting." "He probably has it starred in his e-mail and is waiting to get 20 minutes of relaxation so he can sit down and respond back to me." "He ...

Startup Studs: Here Are the 5 Keys to Dating in Tech

Having spent the better part of my adult life as a philandering heartthrob, I often imagine myself as Julio Iglesias (the 30 years ago version), George Hamilton (20 years ago), and David Hasselhoff (the current version) – revered by the masses, yet also looked upon as an aging sleazebucket. For the last five years, I’ve been known by the moniker “Silicon Valley Bachelor” - or “SVB” for short – all thanks to my blog. I’ve navigated the tech scene, liberally thrown around three-letter acronyms, pinched my chin and squinted my eyes at strangers in an attempt to seem interested in their startups, and, finally, I’ve dated. If you’re ...

Treat Your Employees Like They Own You, Because They Do

Mark Cuban once said, "Treat your customers like they own you, because they do." The same can be said for your employees. Let's face it: everyone on your team impacts your bottom line. They can make or break the organization. However, you can dodge the breaking point by having employees who are loyal, engaged, empowered, and committed to building a strong and flourishing company. How? It's done by fostering an incredible company culture. Here are 6 company culture factors that make just about everyone want to work at an organization: 1. Vision and Values Every employee should clearly understand the vision and values that represent the ...

What’s It Like to Do Technori Pitch?

Startups want to launch with a bang, and what better way than to launch in front of 500+ entrepreneurs, students, and startup community members? Attendees may not realize what goes into each Technori Pitch, and startups who are thinking about doing it have reached out to me asking: What exactly goes into a Pitch? Is it worth doing? My startup, matchist, launched last month at the October Technori Pitch. Since our target market is entrepreneurs and developers, we could not imagine a more qualified audience for the launch. You can see the matchist pitch here. Now I’m here to answer your burning questions: How long did it take to write your pitch? ...

Thinking of Outsourcing Product Development? Read This First.

You have a great technology business idea that addresses an urgent need in your marketplace. You need to get a product out there quickly before someone else beats you to it. However, you don’t have access to technical talent – in quantity and capability – to help you get a workable prototype off the ground so you can start pitching to investors. Someone tells you that India has a ton of talent and they can be procured cheaply, so you start looking seriously into it. Stop. Answer this question first: What is the time difference between the city you're in and Bangalore? If your gut reaction is to google the answer, chances are you'll benefit ...

Responsive Web Design: The Next Mobile Mega-Trend

We’ve all seen, heard and felt the huge shift toward mobile. In case you need a reminder, these stats tell the story: April 2012: Mobile devices are the most common place to check email. September 2012: As mobile searches jump, searches from desktop computers actually decline. December 2012: One third of all internet traffic projected to be on phones and tablets. What’s responsive web design? Responsive sites are mobile-friendly. But not all mobile websites are responsive. A mobile website is a separate site. Visitors on phones are redirected to a separate site, usually at an address such as mobile.website.com or m.website.com. But ...

Every Great Startup Needs a Simple Mantra

Last week, I committed to starting a company. Now I find myself trying to decide what my company will be committed to. After doing a little homework, I found an interesting chapter in Guy Kawasaki's The Art of the Start. In this chapter, he describes the value of a company's mantra, saying that "the key to entrepreneurial success is not making money, but making meaning." A company's mantra, he claims, is the way to maintain that focus on your business' meaning rather than it's market share, on the purpose of your troops rather than the paychecks of your stakeholders. This is week two, and this week is all about the mantra. It's a harder task than ...

Make CSR a Sales Driver, Not Just a Tax Write-Off

Classical marketing has long-touted the concept of the 4Ps: Price, product, place, and promotion. But a 5th “P” is often overlooked in my opinion: philanthropy. Not the “we donate 3% of our profits to X” kind of philanthropy, but rather, the companies that contribute a significant portion of potential profits or goods to charity. (Warby Parker, Green Mountain Coffee, Altruette, ShopKick, and Patagonia are all great examples) While companies like Wal-Mart technically give more money to charity than most others, many will argue that buyers are far more appreciative of giving based on percentage of profits, not on sheer volume. Why? ...

Startup 101: The PR Basics You Need to Know

Ahhh, Public Relations (PR): that mysterious, wondrous creature that seems to evade even the smartest of the smarts. You’ve heard her name whispered in dark corners during pitch fests, you know the President has one (a good one!), and you’ve even looked her up online – innocently thinking you’d be able to understand her purpose, tricks, and wily ways. All sorts of people say all sorts of things about PR – they talk trash and say she isn’t needed. They say she’s a waste of time and energy; and if you’re good, you just don’t need her. But the questions still remain: what is PR, why do I need her, and where do I find her? Let’s ...

Thiel Foundation Summit: What Do All Young, Successful Entrepreneurs Have in Common?

When you look at a group of great basketball players, you can very well see that they share similar traits, such as: height, speed, agility, power, and court-sense - all of the traits that make them great. Of course, not all traits are prerequisites for becoming a great basketball player - there are some fantastic players that are not as tall, fast or powerful. Regardless, there seems to be an intangible common thread between many of the greatest players. I was determined to find a different kind of common thread when I decided to book a flight to New York City to attend the Thiel Foundation Summit, an event for the world’s most impressive young ...

The Six Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs: Be Prepared to Play in The Grey (#1)

Since co-founding Technori in November 2010, I've had the distinct pleasure of interviewing 77 very successful entrepreneurs, from both inside and outside the tech world. These transcripts encompass over 800,000 words and hundreds of "sound-bite" worthy moments. Keep in mind, my interviews for Technori are not typical in many ways: These interviews were normally two to three hours in length. Much of these conversations were completely off-the-record, unless explicitly stated otherwise. Each entrepreneur knew going into it that I had zero agenda to try to embarrass them. There is no aspect of their lives that was off limits, including: ...

How Extreme Users Propel Innovation in Unlikely Places

There is a lot of tried and true technology that surrounds us every day that we don’t think twice about. Looking around my office, I’ve got a file cabinet, a desk, a chair, lights, a window, a printer, my computer and its many accessories, headphones, and a notebook. Most of these things haven’t changed substantially for years. Don’t get me wrong – there are plenty of engineers and designers that think every day about how to make a file cabinet cheaper (thanks, IKEA), how to make a chair more comfortable (thanks, Herman Miller), and how to make notebooks cooler (thanks, Moleskine). But most of these changes are incremental rather than ...

Effortless Energy: The New Startup Making Home Energy Efficiency a No-Brainer

Home energy efficiency is a no-brainer. Simple, affordable things like insulation and air sealing can help American homeowners stop wasting hundreds of dollars per month on their gas and electricity bills and increase the value of their homes by thousands of dollars. These cost-effective efficiency measures also make homes more comfortable (by fixing drafty, uneven conditions and decreasing street noise) and their inhabitants healthier (by preventing terrible allergens from attics and crawl spaces from circulating through the entire home). Plus, they represent the cheapest way for us to reduce emissions of carbon and other dirty pollutants, secure ...

Azadi: How to Improve the Lives of 300 Million Women in India

There’s a very good reason why two guys in their early 20’s are out to change the landscape of rural India as it pertains to availability, accessibility, and affordability of female hygiene products: we witnessed a huge problem firsthand, and the opportunity to do something about it was something neither of us could ignore. While my Azadi co-founder and I were working at Vidya Foundation earlier in our careers, we were providing merit-based scholarships for middle school students in Hyderabad. During that experience, we discovered that there were reasons beyond financial constraints that kept girls from staying in school. When we dug deeper to ...

Starting a Company: It’s All About Commitment

I am starting a company. This is week one. From now on, in my new weekly column on Technori called "Mission Control," I will be sharing my thoughts, fears, desires, problems, solutions, and lessons from the front line of this illustrious, notorious, and quintessentially American entrepreneurial frontier. My hope is that those of you who are attempting the same feat - whether you're on week one or week one hundred - will get some value out of following along with me, learning from my mistakes, and offering advice where you see something I've overlooked. Like I said, this is week one, and I don't think this week is about the structure of my ...

Collaborative Group: The Startup Going Beyond Microfinance Loans to End Poverty

As someone who has worked in developing countries for more the six years, I believe the solution to poverty and changing the life of an individual is not solved through access to microfinance loans or education, but instead, by providing access to sustainable employment opportunities. It is through consistent employment that people have the means to look forward into their lives and are able to see something more for themselves and the lives of their children. My company, Collaborative Group, advocates for artisans and their families by creating such opportunities for them. At Collaborative Group, we aspire to bring sustainable employment to artisans ...

Why Startup Ideas Are Often Worthless

One of the most controversial things that I like to say around a group of entrepreneurs is my assertion that ideas are worthless. This notion has started many disagreements, but I don’t say it to ruffle feathers. I say it to help people put ideas in perspective. Ideas, by themselves, are not worth anything. Entrepreneur must act on their ideas before they can make any money. I could qualify the statement to make it more palpable by saying: “ideas without action are worthless." This would undoubtedly stir up less controversy, but would wrongfully imply that one could combine his or her idea with someone else’s action and magically create ...

Impact Engine’s Inaugural Class: Pangea

Despite the size of the market, the money transfer space has not witnessed much of an evolution over the past two decades. Western Union brick and mortar storefronts remain the mainstay, while other companies attempting innovation, such as M-Pesa in Kenya, have struggled to scale beyond their test markets. In an effort to revolutionize the money transfer market, we created our company Pangea. Pangea aims to empower 2.5 billion underbanked consumers around the world by providing them with more convenient, low-cost, and reliable access to basic financial services such as peer-to-peer money transfer. More specifically, over 215 million migrant workers ...

5 Ways to Have the Best Client Meetings Ever

You’re the CEO of a startup. Think of all the time you spend in client meetings and the outcome of those meetings over time. Now consider this: what is the ROI of your investment of time and resources dedicated to client meetings? Every client meeting needs to be looked at as an opportunity to increase the value of your business. As with most investments, there are near-term and long-term benefits that arise from client meetings. Near-term: Direct returns, by way of sales revenue Long-term: Product feedback, competitive information, and client relationships Large companies use various substitutes to compute the value of meetings – ...

Impact Engine’s Inaugural Class: Raise5

Online fundraising has been popular for years, but we felt that there was a lot of untapped creative potential that traditional platforms were missing. Most online fundraising platforms are a digital adaptation of the traditional methods, where charities and individuals create fundraising events and enlist others to donate. While this is a tried-and-true model, we wanted to build a company that added more flexibility to the model by providing people with a way to do the work or hobbies they love while supporting the causes they care about, on their own terms. After all, philanthropy isn't just for billionaires. So, what do we do? So, we created ...

Funding, Management, and VC Strategy: Lightbank Partner Paul Lee Shares His Thoughts

On Thursday, November 1st we got to hear from Paul Lee at Crain’s Tech Talk Live event, held at Fulton's on the River in Chicago. Paul is a Partner at Lightbank, a Chicago-based VC Firm. The event was sponsored by Robert Half Technology and KPMG, and was moderated by the founder of Babbaco, Jessica Kim. Babbaco is a subscription-based offering that supplies products to engage with children ages 3-6 in monthly activities. Babbaco received seed funding from Lightbank, and is a member of Excelerate Labs. Before we get into the highlights from the night, here's some key background information from our keynote guest, Paul Lee: Graduated from ...

Impact Engine’s Inaugural Class: Portapure

I founded Portapure in 2010 in response to the earthquake in Haiti. At the time, I was a chemical engineer managing the water purification process for the Chicago Department of Water Management. Watching live coverage, I was astounded to see actress Ashley Judd demonstrate what quake survivors had to do to get their water to be safe enough to drink: add purification tablets to boiling water, boil for twenty minutes, then further strain through a T-shirt into a second pot. I knew there was a better way. Portapure's Mission Portapure’s mission is to provide affordable and effective point-of-use water solutions to individuals worldwide. We developed ...

How Can We Cultivate Youth Entrepreneurship in America?

This much repeated adage is true of every age and generation: “What are we doing to prepare the youth of this generation to be the leaders of the next?” As a father, a coach of a middle school football team, and the founder of a student entrepreneurial training program, I have seen over and over again that today’s youth are being shaped by the challenges they face. Often, I see youth who are overcoming their obstacles with incredible ingenuity, but they can also be crushed by the pressures of our demanding age. Struggle is the birthplace of innovation, but one must be prepared with the right tools to overcome adversity. Through my experiences ...

Impact Engine’s Inaugural Class: Light Up Africa

“Light Poverty,” which refers to lack of access to electricity and modern lighting, directly impacts people's quality of life, and the impact is more skewed for the marginalized and weaker sections of society in developing and emerging economies.  The problem worsens when it comes to global issues such as climate change and sustainability. The Zoom Box In an effort to change this problem, we started Light Up Africa (LUA), a social enterprise in the renewable energy sector. LUA is working to improve access to energy for marginalized and weaker sections. We have developed the Zoom Box, a portable electricity-generating device, which generates ...

Impact Engine’s Inaugural Class: ThinkCERCA

In the information age, whether we’re talking about choosing a lab partner or an awesome product team, people who are well qualified to discuss and debate with us are often essential to our academic and economic success. These are the people who can stop us from doing stupid things and help us figure out how to do smarter things. That’s why we started Thinkcerca.com, a new Chicago education company designing an online platform to help more students develop these problem-solving and critical thinking skills, and we are thrilled to be part of Impact Engine's inaugural cohort. Consensus on the value of argumentation is at the core of the new ...