Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Orthogonal helps ZetroZ Wins $50,000

Yet another Ithaca entrepreneurial team, Zetroz, recently won a bunch of money with a little help from their friends! We've got a good track record of this sort of thing in Ithaca, so some have come to expect it. Even with our little town's track record, I think it's great that Bryant and George did such an awesome job, and probably should have won even more. That said, $50K is good money for any startup, and I think it's great that they are going be be able to use the prize money to accelerate their growth.

The things in this deck? Those things can only get better!

But that's not the whole story here. I think a wonderful untold story is of two people taking the high road, Fox Holt of Orthogonal and Bryant Guffey of Zetroz. In the picture above, you can see my living room, and you can guess that I took the picture. What you don't see is that one of the people in the room was one of Bryant's direct competitors in the finals - Fox Holt from Orthogonal.

It's amazing to think about: Fox and Bryant were 2 of the 5 finalists, yet they were working to help one another win, knowing that 3rd, 4th, and 5th place paid no money: $00.00. On two long nights leading up to the finals, these guys worked together and with other members of the Ithaca entrepreneurial community to refine their presentations, messages, and slide decks. In doing so, they knew that the were probably helping a competitor, but they also understood that what was more important was getting the messaging and strategy right for the marketplace and outside investors, and not just this competition.

So the written part of the story is that Zetroz won $50K, and Orthogonal won $0. The unwritten is that both took the high road, and both should be applauded equally for their character. This sort of help-each-other attitude may not pay off each contest year, but it will certainly pay off over the long term.

Kudos to you both!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Someone just stole my tech transfer guy!

For the past decade, through two companies, and a handful of other stalled starts, I've worked with the same patent and technology transfer guy at Cornell, Scott MacFarlane. Scott and I fought and argued and raised our voices and yelled at each over over deals. We've argued about big things like percent equity ownership, and we've fought about little things like choosing the right phrasing of a patent claim. It never came to blows, and it was always respectful, and I grudgingly admit now that every now and then he was right. Very grudgingly.

Recently Scott was hired on to lead the patent and technology transfer office at Upstate Medical University in Syracuse. We wished him well on his new adventure, and we are sorry to see a guy go who really gets it.

Somehow, they'll get the last laugh here.

While not the teary-eyed set, the local Ithaca entrepreneurs saw this as a bittersweet moment. We poured some beers, and wished him well. We'll keep fighting over the details of the patent language, it just won't be as interesting.

Cheers and Good Luck, Scott!