Thursday, June 02, 2022

Back to Graduations

 It was great to be back for Cornell Graduation this year!

After two years of truncated and zoom graduations, it was great to be back to the real thing.  As a graduate of the Cornell Johnson Cornell MBA program myself, I know how special it is for the graduates.

The speeches were great, as expected, but what students will remember is how it felt to be there.  To celebrate the culmination of a degree well earned, and a warm send-off to what's next for these students/graduates is what matters most.

The highlight for me was singing the Cornell alma mater.  I'm a terrible singer.  My singing is suupper teerrrible.  But this is a friendly venue with lots of voices, led with infectious enthusiasm by Dean Mark Nelson.  So my bad singing wasn't noticed, but hopefully, my spirit was.

When it's all said and done, it's an honor to be on this stage as an educator to these great minds.  These students are bright, motivated, and ready to seize the day.  I feel lucky to have known some of them, and to have helped them on their journey, and I look forward to seeing the great things they will do.

Thursday, August 05, 2021

Incubators working on restarting networking

With three recent events, the regional incubators are working on getting restarted with one of the key functions: Networking.

Networking is especially important to entrepreneurs because they are able to find help, advice, and allies on their journey.  When everything shut down for covid, this is one thing that didn't really find an online replacement.  

Rev:Ithaca Startup Works got things going with an event at South Hill Cider:

IncubatorWorks was next with a well attended event that took advantage of their unique outdoor space: 

Rev:Ithaca Startup Works then invited folks in for the celebration of the success of the Prototyping Hardware Accelerator and ClimateTech Prototyping Hardware Accelerator teams summer programs: 

In-person networking is so meaningful and effective.  There are folks working on figuring out how to take it online, and one day someone will likely figure it out, but for now, there's really no meaningful substitute.

Friday, August 31, 2018

NSF I-Corps Teams Program in Newark, NJ

Over the past 7 weeks I've had the opportunity to be a Mentor on a National Science Foundation I-Corps team.  This is a program that works primarily with university researchers to explore the commercialization potential for innovations and discoveries that result from their research.  I was working with Cornell PhD candidate Sasank Vemulapati on a technology designed to make it so blood samples do not need to be put through a centrifuge at a doctor's office.

We started out listening to the Upstate New York I-Corps teaching team explain the methodology for exploring commercialization viability.  Their approached is based on the Lean LaunchPad curriculum developed by Steve Blank.

At only one point was each team allowed to talk about their own technology.  After that, you were only supposed to talk about your interactions with potential customers, partners, and allies.  Here's Sasank presenting the tech for the one and only one time:

We then went out into the greater New York City area to talk to people in the industry about how they handle blood samples now.  One key thing: We weren't' allowed to tell them about our technology.  The point of the process is to learn about how people in the industry do things now, and just how much of a problem is it to put a blood sample through a centrifuge - without explicitly telling them that we're working on a technology to eliminate the centrifuge.

We found a lot of people who were quite willing and friendly.  The goal of the program is to get 100 customer interviews over a 7 week period.  Ideally, those are in-person interviews.

We had weekly 90 minute video conference sessions with the UNY I-Corpst Teaching Team where Sasank would report out on how the interviews were going, and then we'd participate in a class session on a different topic related to the Business Model Canvas.

When the whole program completed, our team completed 138 interviews!  We learned a lot about the market, and learned what we didn't know.

At the end of the 7 weeks, we returned to Newark to learn how to share our findings with the cohort.  For the closing, each team shared the journey of their Customer Discovery.  All 23 teams did over 100 interviews each.

Here's Sasank presenting his Customer Discovery that started with talking to doctors...

and ended with him finding the greatest interest in veterinarians.  

It was a great learning experience for everyone involved.  

If you have a technology that you think may have commercialization potential, look into the NSF I-Corps program.  They have a wide array of resources to help turn great innovations into great companies.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Unboxing Specdrums

So excited to get my Specdrums the mail! A great company coming out of Cornell University's elab and Rev Ithaca Startup Works.

Cool sticker
The ring! 

Super straightforward instructional booklet
Downloaded the app...
Time to play!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A Valuable Resource for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

In the past few semesters I have utilized many different books on entrepreneurship, and have realized that few books on this topic are suited for course use. The Startup Playbook: Secrets of the Fastest-Growing Startups from Their Founding Entrepreneurs by David Kidder has turned out to be an extremely valuable resource for my Fall 2016 Ideas into Action course.

Kidder is a serial entrepreneur who has assembled a collection of 40 interviews with our era's most influential startup players. From PayPal and LinkedIn, to AOL and TED, Kidder breaks down the secrets to startup success in simple and actionable terms. My students benefited from the book’s practical advice and inspirational takeaways in each interview. Kidder hits on common issues like how to persevere through criticism, and how to define and execute a personal vision, which is often times the hardest part for my students (and young entrepreneurs alike). The book’s clear language and approachable structure can be easily navigated for course use. I highly recommend this book.