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.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

List of Ithaca Startups: 2016 Edition

Here is my 2016 list of startups based in/near Ithaca, NY:

Agave BioSystems
The American Knitting Co.
Avital Apiaries
Backwoods Techgear
Ba-Li Cravings
Bio Nexus
Collegetown Cab
Collegiate Sun / The Hardy North
Comet Action Sports
Copper House Coffee
DataPoint Labs
e2e Materials
Emmy's Organics
Firelight Camps
Geri-Safe Grainful
Gene Network Sciences
Hybrid Silica Technologies
illume Projects
International Climbing Machines
Incandescent Software
Ithaca Builds
Ithaca Hummus
Ithaca Voice
Kingsley Quality Woodworking
Kreyol Essence
Miel Beauty Bar
Motion Intelligence
North Sea Resins
Nova Speech
The Piggery
Redneck Gangsta
Red Tail Hawk
ReMarkable Paint
Seraph Robotics
Ship Index
Shrub Bucket
Sound Reading
South Hill Cider
Spider Holster
Standard Hydrogen
STREAM Collaborative
Super Pulse
Sustainable Viticulture Systems
Synergy Marketing Solutions
Tech S2
The Chaat Co.
The Frame Shop
Think Topography
UR Path
Ursa Space Systems
Weaver Wind Energy
Wicked Device
Worthy Jerky

Notable departures from the list: Congratulations to Advion on their acquisition by Bohui Innovation Technology, and congratulations to BinOptics on their acquisition by M/A-Com Technology Solutions!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Being the CEO of your Own Career

I was recently asked to be the guest speaker for the 2016 induction ceremony for Beta Gamma Sigma at Ithaca College. The talk I gave was entitled "Being the CEO of your Own Career". The key point is that you should view your career as if you are the CEO of a corporation, and these are some traits of entrepreneurial CEO's. Here are the key points from that talk:

  1. Entrepreneurs Focus on Results
  2. Reputation is Tough to build, Easy to ruin
  3. Entrepreneurs don’t do the “bare minimum”
  4. Entrepreneurs Ask for things
  5. It’s not all about the money

We are all Startup CEO's

1. Entrepreneurs Focus on Results

A start CEO's title really stands for "Chief Everything Else Officer" because they are the person who has to get it done if noone else has done it. By focusing on results, not actions, you'll see your work from a customer's standpoint: a job that is 90% done is "not done". Your boss and employer is your customer, so they will view the work you do the same way.

2. Reputation is Tough to build, Easy to ruin

In business, your reputation is key. The best opportunities come from people who know your reputation, and opportunities are missed that you never knew about because of your reputation, so protect it. An entrepreneur friend of mine is fond of saying "Treat every decision as the decision that may define you, because it might".

3. Entrepreneurs don’t do the “bare minimum”

I see this a lot from students who want to figure out what the smallest amount they can possibly do to get a grade. Entrepreneurs don't do that. They want to over deliver and delight their customers. They go places and do things that they think will help their business, even when there is not a direct correlation to a business result.

4. Entrepreneurs Ask for things

Don't wait to be given a promotion, a raise, or more responsibility. Ask for it. Entrepreneurs aren't given a sale, the ask for the sale.

5. It’s not all about the money

Figure out what makes you happy, and rarely is it $. Few entrepreneurs I meet are in it for the money. They're in it for the lifestyle, and it's because it's a lifestyle that they define.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Books for the Basics: Building a Strong Entrepreneurial Foundation

Whether you're a first-time entrepreneur or seasoned innovator, these books will help you build a strong foundation of entrepreneurial principles to move your business forward. 

For folks actively working to start companies, I use this book extensively. Inside it you will find out about the Business Model Canvas, which we now use instead of a formal business plan: 

 Business Model Generation: 

by Osterwalder & Pigneur

Get it here.

This is the book that has sparked a new attitude about startups: 

 The Lean Startup: 

by Eric Ries

Get it here.

This is a book the Kauffman foundation recommends for first-time entrepreneurs:

 Who Owns the Ice House? 

Eight Life Lessons From an Unlikely Entrepreneur

by Schoeniger & Taulbert

Get it here.

My friend would runs the 50+ hamburger restaurant chain, Hero Certified Burgers, advises anyone interested in the service industry to read this book: 

Restaurant Man

by Joe Bastianich

Get it here.

A great read for first-time entrepreneurs starting tech companies: 

Get it here.

If you want to mix quant with startup, your math brain will love this book: 

Get it here.

A fun read about a lot of interesting businesses ideas from England: 

Get it here.

Putting data and peer-review research behind the process of starting companies from university research and technology: 

Get it here.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A Change in Plans

 In Report #5 I encounter a change in plans and live like a true Spanish winemaker for a day. In writing this post I also encountered Google Image, provider of all images below.
Howdy Amigos.  This is unofficial report number five.  Unbelievable how time sometimes takes on a different measure.  Not to long ago, I wrote number one on a whim.  Anyway, Let storytime begin.  
I was able get the bead on the local whitewater establishment.  After a long hiatus I was beginning to suffer from withdrawal.  As things would have it, I didn't get the instructions right to the location.  I was about an hour and a half out of Vigo, but took over 3 hours to find the place.  Damn Spanish roads.  About the time I was close enough to smell victory, I stopped to talk to a old shepherd of a small herd of sheep.  He gave my car a funny look but provided directions on how to get to the river.  Upon descending the "road" I reminded myself that this was a rental and accelerated as to use the underbody to slide over the craters.  I finally found the tiny little shed that housed the gear for this day's whitewater adventure, but had missed the people who were going to hook me up.  They left me a note and by the time I got there I had 2 hours to kill before they would return.  What at first was frustrating quickly became very interesting.  
I struck up a conversation with a farmer on this back dirt road I was waiting on. His name is Louis. He was tending to his family's vineyard and seemed not to mind this interruption to his work very much. Turns out he lives in Vigo, but his parents lived on this remote riverside farm where he grew up.  About this time each year the family gets together to bottle the wine that has been aging in casks. Today was that annual day and Louis invited me to join. Seemed like a good plan.  We headed to the rustic, red clay roofed house where Louis loudly introduced me to the family.  There were at least 4 generations represented.  As I shook hands I tried to gather the names: Traci, Chino, Carlos, Pedro.. there were about 15 people all told. The older looked at me with curiosity while the children cowered behind legs at the sight of the tall American.  We then moved to an old stone barn with a dirt floor, wooden casks lining the walls and piles of assorted empty wine bottles stored in every unoccupied place. Seasoned ham aged inside a insect proof net box and a large manual press stood in the corner. I asked Louis if they danced on the grapes to extract their nectar.  He gave a good belly laugh, repeated to him family and the room filled with laughter and people slapping me on the back. 

The men proceeded to set up to do some bottling as the first cask was tapped. A small trough filled with wine and bottles were quickly placed under the tubes that flowed out of it. Louis dipped a short glass into the trough and handed it to me.  Incredible. Then he looked around quickly and shot out of the barn. He returned quickly with a huge round of cheese and a loaf of fresh bread. And then he refilled my glass.  They all watched as I took some cheese and bread, and more wine.  Smiling from ear to ear I honestly told them it was wonderful. Pleased by this, they joined me for a glass.  All paused and looked my way. Loud and bold I said ¡Salud! This was repeated with much enthusiastic approval, glasses clinked and we all drank. Health!

 After insisting on refilling my glass once again, Louis and family quickly set up an impromptu assembly line. There was one man preparing bottles to be filled, another at the filling trough, one at a unique embottling press and others to pack and move finished bottles. The elder members supervised and the younger ran the line. I watched and enjoyed my delicious wine and good fortune. I asked if I could help and was politely cut another slice of cheese and served more wine.  After a few more inquiries I was allowed to have a go at the embottler machine. A curious piece of equipment that has a lever, some springs and a strange gripper system that act in unison to forcibly join the cork and bottle.

I quickly became the cell bottleneck as I was slow in operating the device. I thought I had the hang of it until my fifth bottle exploded into a shower of glass and wine.  I tried to resign from my post, but they encouraged me to continue.  After I managed to clumsily break another bottle, I rotated out to the cheese gourd, bread and freshly refilled glass. Louis then took over the bottler machine, and quickly preceded to burst a bottle. I said that the Spanish were as strong was Americans and they laughed again.  Maybe at my Spanish or my wine-plied wit, either way my back was slapped some more and I felt like these were people I had known for a lifetime. 
 After savoring the moment and trying to capture and hold the details, the people from the kayaking place returned and I said goodbye to my new friends. I hurried back with my camera for photos and apologies. Louis and I exchanged addresses and I fully intend to send him a letter and thank you for such a wonderful display of Spanish hospitality.  After stepping back a century or two and living 2 hours in the life of a rustic Spanish farmer, the river was anticlimactic at best.  Of all my unique experiences, I think this one will stay with me as the most pronounced and most special. 

8 julio 1997

Note: All images displayed are courtesy of Google Image.