Author Archives: C. DAY

60 Reasons Why Entrepreneurship Is Amazing

What is Current in Entrepreneurship?
Entrepreneurship Rocks!

Every entrepreneur has a different story about why he or she decided to start a business. Some have known from day one that they wanted to work for themselves and others come up with ideas while working for someone else and decide to take the entrepreneurial leap.  Most business owners will agree on one thing — being an entrepreneur is great. There are endless reasons for this, and every entrepreneur will have his or her own personal reasons as well. Here are 60 reasons, in no particular order, why I think entrepreneurship is amazing.

1. You have full control over your destiny. You call the shots and make the decisions that ultimately determine the success or failure of your business. Nobody will get in the way of your vision.

2. Entrepreneurs are innovators. Think of all the new technology and ideas that have come to life over the past few years. Those were all once just an idea — but amazing entrepreneurs brought those ideas to life.

3. You become part of a family. The entrepreneurial culture is almost like a big family — and you won’t find a better group of people willing to offer advice and help than fellow entrepreneurs.

4. You control who represents your brand. The team you surround yourself with plays a major role in your success — you can assemble a team of like-minded individuals that share your same drive and passion.

5. No dress code. CEO and Founder of Vivint, Todd Pedersen, was recently on the TV show Undercover Boss and stated that he wears a company-branded baseball hat daily. He is the boss — he can wear whatever he wants.

6. You have the opportunity to change lives. Have an idea for a product or service that has the potential to make a huge impact? Go for it — nothing is stopping you!

7. You have full control over your workspace. Do you excel in a creative environment? Want an office with dry-erase paint so you can draw on the walls and a full espresso bar to keep you full of caffeine? Make it happen!

8. It provides a rush that is hard to duplicate. There is no greater shot of adrenaline than the one you receive after reaching a goal and knowing you worked extremely hard to get to that point.

9. You serve as a role model. As an entrepreneur, people will look up to you. You have the ability to be a role model for family, friends, employees and community members. Your success serves as motivation and inspiration.

10. You will never be bored. There is always something to do and you will more than likely always have a mile long to-do list. Every day presents new challenges and new opportunities to keep you on your toes.

11. Freedom to travel. Modern technology, remote employees and the Internet allow you the freedom to travel while still running your business. Being able to see the world while creating an amazing company is a realistic possibility.

12. There is no age barrier. Entrepreneurs are starting at very young ages — some straight out of college, some while still in high school and even children as young as 9 years old that want to create healthy treats.

13. Your mind will always be utilized. Every single decision that involves your business is your responsibility, from the initial concept and branding to the growth and goal setting.

14. The satisfaction of saying you’re a business owner. It is a great feeling to be able step back and say, “this is my company,” while proudly holding your head up. Being an entrepreneur takes an incredible amount of work — those few words feel so good coming out of your mouth.

15. Go cubicle free. Entrepreneurs have total freedom to roam, create, delegate and work. There are no cubicles or desks to be tied to all day.

16. No blame game. As an entrepreneur, there is no finger-pointing when something goes wrong. Knowing every decision that I make daily directly impacts my business is the best kind of motivation.

17. You never feel undervalued. If you have ideas to make the business better you can implement them right away — you don’t have to hope that someone in a higher position will give you the time of day and listen to your suggestions.

18. Creating something from nothing. Every business starts as an idea. You get to create it from the ground up.

19. Opportunity to make a better mousetrap. Have an idea to make something better or more efficient? Make it happen!

20. Spend more time with family. Entrepreneurs with children have the ability to adjust their schedules to attend school functions and activities.

21. You get out what you put in. If you are willing to work harder than anyone else, you will be rewarded accordingly. Want to experience more growth and opportunities? Simply work harder.

22. Provide opportunities for family members. Many will say that mixing family and business partnerships is a bad idea (and I agree) — but this is less of an issue when talking about an employer/employee relationship.

23. Opportunity to give back. Owning a business gives you the opportunity to support local charity events, local schools and nonprofit organization. Being able to make a difference in your community is a great feeling.

24. Become healthier. A flexible schedule allows you to create a fitness routine and stick to it. Hit the gym early in the morning, at lunch or in the evening — whatever works for you.

25. Enjoy your hobbies. As long as you “do the work” and give 100 percent when in work mode, your free time can be spent doing the things you love. Attend more sporting events, play more rounds of golf or fish more. Being an entrepreneur provides you with the ability to enjoy your hobbies more.


The Changing Rules of Tech Entrepreneurship


What is Current in Entrepreneurship?
Tech Entrepreneurs

Since 1996, manufacturing jobs in the United States have decreased by a whopping 28%. Britain’s industrial story isn’t too rosy, either. Over the last couple of decades or so, high-growth tech companies have heralded financial growth abroad from the giants of Silicon Valley: Facebook and Google. Now, as we stand on the brink of an artificial intelligence revolution that’s making many jobs obsolete, we are grappling for an alternate socio-economic model that is sustainable.  Since technology will be at the forefront of this new era, let’s talk about good tech entrepreneurship.

What Makes A Good Tech Entrepreneur?

Tech companies make up almost one-quarter of the American stock-market index commonly known as the “S&P 500” in terms of market cap. Whether there is an impending tech bubble or not is still an ongoing debate. However, there is no doubting the fact that the tech sector is the driving force behind stock markets, not just in the United States but globally. Understandably, investors are pouring their dollars into the sector, which puts it at risk for becoming overvalued and eventually leading to a bust. On a related note, while it may be easy for you to attract investor money right now with a tech venture, it is important that you take sustainability into account. That’s the first task for a tech entrepreneur.

1. Impact is important for sustainability.

While competitive advantage may have been enough to sail a tech venture a few years back, the saturated market and the impending rise of AI mean you need a lot more to sustain. Today, that “lot more” is social impact. Now social impact does not necessarily equal a social venture. In fact, the term alludes to solving “real” problems that people will continue to value over a length of time.

2. Use “gamification” the right way.

Gamification first became a buzzword in 2010. Since then, many made failed attempts and successful attempts at it, the former making up a larger chunk. Tinder is arguably the best example of how to leverage gamification to make a valuable tech venture. Health Month is another example of gamification done right. Both give the promise of real, tangible results if people indulge in a fun “game” that doesn’t take much effort to play. Two things are paramount for gamification to be sustainable: The UX should be simple and engaging and there should be tangible rewards in place.

A lot of tech ventures, especially mobile apps, still rely on badges and trophies for gamification. If you are taking a similar approach, you are essentially creating scarcity where there is none, which is a problem. While you may see high engagement rates with such an approach, sustainability is always a question. That’s where the role of good tech entrepreneurship comes in. As a good tech entrepreneur, you must find out a better way to capitalize on gamification. For instance, if you have a music app, you could give away limited tickets to an upcoming concert in return for social shares. Similarly, if you have a food app, you could unlock a superstar chef’s recipe for a certain order value.


Veterans Wanted, Make Great Entrepreneurship Students






Veterans at three college campuses just finished a week-long academic bootcamp. The Warrior Scholar Project prepares veterans to go back to school. Programs in Massachusetts, Michigan and Texas were the last of more than a dozen that took place this summer.

The Warrior Scholar Program (WSP) empowers enlisted military veterans by providing them with a skill bridge that enables a successful transition from the battlefield to the classroom; maximizes their education opportunities by making them informed consumers of education, and increases the confidence they will need to successfully complete a rigorous four-year undergraduate program at a top-tier school.

Enlisted veterans have an immense degree of untapped potential to succeed in higher education institutions and to progress onto successful careers.  To tap that potential, WSP addresses veterans’ misperceptions about college and builds their confidence through an intense academic reorientation.  The Warrior-Scholars learn how to frame and develop their ideas in an academic context, think critically, and formulate an agrument.  Through WSP veterans are not only learning the subject matter material, but they are learning how to learn.

The Warrior-Scholar Project consists of immersive one to two weeklong academic boot camps hosted at America’s top universities during the summer breaks, which are designed to:

~ Facilitate the often difficult transition enlisted veterans face when moving from a military culture to an academic culture inherent on college campuses.

~  Demonstarate and explain the fundamental skills and methods, or “tickes of the trade” that highly successful college students use.

~  Increase veterans graduation rates.

~  Prepare student-veterans to be leaders in the classroom.

Because community colleges are close to veteran homes of record and a natural springboard to four year universities, they can play an important role in the Warrior Scholar mission.  WSP can be reached in Washington, D. C., 1012 14th St., N. W., Suite 1200, zip 20005 and phone (202) 796-8777.  2017 campuses included Amherst College, Cornell, Georgetown, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Syracuse, Texas A & M, University of Michigan, University of Arizon, University of Chicago, Yale, University of Oklahoma,


The Next Silicon Valley

In a recent episode of his excellent podcast, “Masters of Scale,” LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman said something interesting:

“Beyond Silicon Valley itself, I believe that the next Silicon Valley is…undoubtedly China. Shenzhen is just one of several cities in China that blow other contenders for the next Silicon Valley out of the water. I would argue Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, and possibly Chengdu, are all far ahead of any of the cities we’ve discussed so far…The fact is, China’s tech industry is evolving so rapidly, it catches veterans off guard.”

“There’s a common thread running through their successes. First they have an enormous number of users through which local companies can scale their services. And second, they work fast. Scale favors the swift and you can find few startup scenes as fast-moving as China’s.”

Hoffman continues: “But I would argue that the greatest asset of China’s tech scene, is not just the speed by which massive companies have taken over the market, it’s the talent that now resides in those companies: the executives, programmers, designers, and marketers, who know how to scale a team from a few founders to several thousand employees. They form a critical mass that can scale the next generation of promising startups at blistering speeds.”

For anyone that’s working on-the-ground in China today and bearing witness to the extraordinarily hectic pace of innovation and new business-building that’s happening here, Hoffman’s observation comes as no surprise.

For many startup founders outside of China, however, the market remains a black box. The distance, the language, the culture, the politics: all are formidable barriers that make most entrepreneurs pause. But according to Raymond Chang, a serial entrepreneur with more than two decades of experience starting and scaling companies in China, if you want to grow your business fast, you should seriously consider expanding into China.

“China has the scale that no other country has at the moment. It’s not an easy process to build a business in China. You need to be patient, and you need to know the right people to work with. But for companies that have the right strategy in place, building a presence in China can 10X your business—or even more”, says Chang, who leads NXT Ventures Management, a Boston-based venture capital firm.

In addition to managing an investment portfolio of more than 50 companies, Chang often shares his extensive experience starting and running successful businesses in China with MBA students at Yale and Babson College. Chang launched China’s first home shopping network, and he introduced broadband internet to Taiwan through a venture that attracted a stake from Microsoft and listed on Nasdaq.

I spoke to Chang recently about whether startups should factor China into their growth plans, and if so, what advice would he give them before deciding to make such a move.

The following are edited excerpts from our conversation:

1. Focus on your domestic market first.

As a startup, it’s all about focus, focus, focus. China, Asia, and other international markets should not be your primary focus from day one. Unless, of course, China is your primary focus, in which case you should build a Chinese company.

But if you’re a US company and eventually you would like to go global, you shouldn’t try to tackle both markets from day one. You should prove your business model domestically first, and once you have that in the bag, then you should look at the Asian opportunities, say, 2-3 years down the road.

We find a lot of entrepreneurs lack focus. Even though their products or services may have global appeal, they try to do a little too much from the outset.

We usually tell them “Wait, slow down, you haven’t even proved your business model in your domestic market, and now you want to go after what?” A lot of companies try to do too much from day one. We tell our portfolio companies to focus on building the US domestic market first.

2. Find the right strategic partner.

Right now we’re helping a mobile gaming company with two successful games launched in the US and $40 million revenue in the bag. Now they believe they are in the position to tap into the Asian market.

We would agree that now is probably a good time for them to think about international expansion. But what we are also telling them is don’t try to do it alone. When it comes to going into the Chinese market, try to find a local strategic partner.

You have to be very smart about how you enter the market, and what kind of local distribution partners you want to work with. The partnership could be maybe a simple distribution model, or it could be joint venture, or it could be a simple licensing deal. You need to be very flexible and ready to structure whatever types of deal is necessary, because you never know who you may end up working with.

One option is to tie-up with an established player, but frankly, the problem with working with a big name is that you may become just another name in their portfolio and get lost. It might be better for this gaming company just to for example find a smaller online gaming company that perhaps is at the tail end of their own existing IP and looking for the next big hit. That may potentially be a better opportunity.

Another opportunity is skipping online gaming companies completely and working with a distribution platform, like 360 Mobile Assistant, Tencent’s Myapp, or Baidu Mobile Assistant, China’s top three Android app platforms. The company may end up attracting more eyeballs and users by getting their game featured as an “editor’s choice.”

And the economics are better. If you tie-up with a major player, they may end up taking 90% of the revenues and leave you with just 10%. If you go for a platform play, you could take 80% of the revenues, and just pay the platform 20%.

3. Localize your product.

You need to be ready to localize the product, or in this case, the content, to fit local tastes. The Chinese gaming market tends to be more action-packed and sometimes the graphics are more bloody than the games that are popular with US-based gamers, for example. You have to be ready to localize the content to fit local tastes.

Another example of localizing a product to fit Chinese consumer tastes is the air filter company we invested in. Because the pollution problem is so severe, Chinese households often have a few air filtration units.

In China, touch pad panels are really popular. But the air filter company, which is based in the US, is all about medical grade knobs and buttons. They want the medical device look. But that’s a very different design approach than what we see in China, where consumers prefer to use sleek, digital touch panels

So I told the air filter company in the US that if they really want to create an air filter that will sell in China, it has to fit local tastes. It doesn’t matter if their machine is 10 times better, if it looks ugly in the eyes of Chinese consumers, it won’t sell.

4. Get ready to fend off copycats.

Whatever product or service you decide to bring to China, you’ll need to be 100% ready to fight against local copycats. For example, in the case of the air filter company, they’ve registered their trademark in China and believe they have all the protections they need. But I told them that in China, IP protection only goes so far. They need to make sure their cost structure will be as low as the local players, so in the event they decide to knockoff their products, they can still compete.

Unlike in the US, where they may have a 2-3 year window to grow and build their brand, everything in China happens 10 times faster. So from day one, if they’re going to go into China, they should forget about manufacturing the filters in the US. They need to move it to China from day one, so their cost structure will be just as competitive as any of the local players.

And they shouldn’t think that they’ll have a 12-month window. They literally have a 2-3 month window because if their product sells, 10 copycats will be out in the market within 2 months.

5. Be prepared to play the long game.

If you think it’s hard to make money in the US, it’s probably harder to make money overseas. Don’t expect to make money from day one. You need to be patient, especially in an overseas market like China. It can be very bloody. It may be 5-7 years before you see any dividends.

The good thing is, if you can figure this thing out, the market in certain industries and product categories is several times the size of the US market. For example, in mobile games, if you have $15-20 million in revenue you’re probably one of the top performers in the US. But in China, if you’re not at $200 million, you’re nowhere near the top.

Is China part of your expansion plans? What risks do you see in expanding to this fast-growing market? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Who Is Terry Gou? New Plants in Wisconsin

Foxconn, the Taiwanese manufacturer that makes electronics for Apple and other tech companies, is coming to Wisconsin.

The firm will invest $10 billion in Wisconsin to build a new manufacturing plant that produces LCD panels. The project will create 13,000 new jobs and should be completed by 2020, according to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.  Foxconn’s estimate on jobs was more conservative. In a statement, the company said the project will create 3,000 jobs with the “potential” to generate up to 13,000 new jobs.

Foxconn announced the investment from the White House. CEO Terry Gou was flanked by Walker, Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Paul Ryan. President Trump later joined them. Walker and Ryan thanked Trump for his work on the deal.

“One thing we know about this president is how committed he is to reviving American manufacturing and bringing jobs home. This right here shows actual results,” said Ryan, a Republican who represents Wisconsin. Trump called Gou “one of the great businessmen anywhere in the world.”

Shortly after President Trump’s inauguration, Gou began teasing plans to invest more than $7 billion in a plant for producing displays, with the potential to create as many as 50,000 jobs. However, Gou has been talking about shifting some manufacturing to the United States for several years, with little to show for it so far. In 2013, for example, Foxconn announced plans to build a $30 million plant in Pennsylvania. It has yet to be built.

Foxconn got some generous tax incentives for its Wisconsin venture. The state’s deal for the new plant, which requires legislative approval, includes incentives totaling as much as $3 billion, Walker said. The details of the incentive package would be announced in the coming days, he said. Walker said the investment could transform Wisconsin. “We’ve named it Wiscon Valley,” Walker told reporters at the White House. “It could be very much like Silicon Valley.”

Foxconn had considered building the plant in Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania, among other states. Foxconn currently has facilities in Virginia and Indiana, each of which employ fewer than 1,000 workers, according to its website.

The announcement may give Trump a victory as he looks to bring back jobs. Trump also said Tuesday in a Wall Street Journal interview that Apple CEO Tim Cook “promised” him the company plans to build “three big plants, beautiful plants” in the United States.

Apple has not commented about Trump’s claim. It’s unclear where such plants would be located, how many people they would employ and which products they would produce. During the campaign, Trump said he would “get Apple to to build their damn computers and things in this country instead of other countries.”

Trump echoed the sentiment shortly after winning the election, telling The New York Times it was his goal to “get Apple to build a big plant in the United States, or many big plants.”

Foxconn grew into a powerhouse for electronics manufacturing for Apple, Microsoft, HP and others thanks to its ability to staff its factories with cheap labor in China. At its peak, Foxconn employed more than one million people. Employees live on factory campuses and have been known to work far more hours for far less pay than would be acceptable under U.S. labor laws.

At times, Foxconn’s workplace demands have resulted in worker riots and suicides. In fact, Foxconn installed nets outside buildings to catch workers trying to jump to their deaths. It’s also unclear if Wisconsin, or any state for the matter, can supply Foxconn with the thousands of skilled laborers it would need to manufacture electronics at scale.


Daimler Benz Director on the Future


 In a recent interview the MD of Daimler Benz (Mercedes Benz) said their competitors are no longer other car companies but Tesla (obvious), Google, Apple, Amazon ‘et al’ are…… There have always been the 3 constants …  Death, Taxes and CHANGE!  Software will disrupt most traditional industries in the next 5-10 years.

Uber is just a software tool, they don’t own any cars, and are now the biggest taxi company in the world  Airbnb is now the biggest hotel company in the world, although they don’t own any properties.

Artificial Intelligence: Computers become exponentially better in understanding the world. This year, a computer beat the best Go player in the world, 10 years earlier than expected.

In the US, young lawyers already don’t get jobs. Because of IBM Watson, you can get legal advice (so far for more or less basic stuff) within seconds, with 90% accuracy compared with 70% accuracy when done by humans.   So if you study law, stop immediately. There will be 90% less lawyers in the future, only specialists will remain.

Watson already helps nurses diagnosing cancer, 4 times more accurate than human nurses. Facebook now has a pattern recognition software that can recognize faces better than humans. In 2030, computers will become more intelligent than humans.

Autonomous cars: In 2018 the first self driving cars will appear for the public. Around 2020, the complete industry will start to be disrupted. You don’t want to own a car anymore. You will call a car with your phone, it will show up at your location and drive you to your destination. You will not need to park it, you only pay for the driven distance and can be productive while driving. Our kids will never get a driver’s licence and will never own a car.

It will change the cities, because we will need 90-95% less cars for that. We can transform former parking spaces into parks. 1.2 million people die each year in car accidents worldwide. We now have one accident every 60,000 miles (100,000 km), with autonomous driving that will drop to one accident in 6 million miles (10 million km). That will save a million lives each year.

Most car companies will probably become bankrupt. Traditional car companies try the evolutionary approach and just build a better car, while tech companies (Tesla, Apple, Google) will do the revolutionary approach and build a computer on wheels.   Many engineers from Volkswagen and Audi; are completely terrified of Tesla.

Insurance companies will have massive trouble because without accidents, the insurance will become 100x cheaper. Their car insurance business model will disappear.  Real estate will change. Because if you can work while you commute, people will move further away to live in a more beautiful neighborhood.

Electric cars will become mainstream about 2020. Cities will be less noisy because all new cars will run on electricity. Electricity will become incredibly cheap and clean: Solar production has been on an exponential curve for 30 years, but you can now see the burgeoning impact.

Last year, more solar energy was installed worldwide than fossil. Energy companies are desperately trying to limit access to the grid to prevent competition from home solar installations, but that can’t last. Technology will take care of that strategy.

With cheap electricity comes cheap and abundant water. Desalination of salt water now only needs 2kWh per cubic meter (@ 0.25 cents). We don’t have scarce water in most places, we only have scarce drinking water. Imagine what will be possible if anyone can have as much clean water as he wants, for nearly no cost.

Health:  The Tricorder X price will be announced this year. There are companies who will build a medical device (called the “Tricorder” from Star Trek) that works with your phone, which takes your retina scan, your blood sample and you breath into it.

It then analyses 54 biomarkers that will identify nearly any disease. It will be cheap, so in a few years everyone on this planet will have access to world class medical analysis, nearly for free. Goodbye, medical establishment.

3D printing: The price of the cheapest 3D printer came down from $18,000 to $400 within 10 years. In the same time, it became 100 times faster. All major shoe companies have already started 3D printing shoes.

Some spare airplane parts are already 3D printed in remote airports. The space station now has a printer that eliminates the need for the large amount of spare parts they used to have in the past.   At the end of this year, new smart phones will have 3D scanning possibilities.  You can then 3D scan your feet and print your perfect shoe at home.

In China, they already 3D printed and built a complete 6-storey office building.  By 2027, 10% of everything that’s being produced will be 3D printed.

Business opportunities: If you think of a niche you want to go in, ask yourself: “in the future, do you think we will have that?” and if the answer is yes, how can you make that happen sooner?  If it doesn’t work with your phone, forget the idea. And any idea designed for success in the 20th century is doomed to failure in the 21st century.

Work: 70-80% of jobs will disappear in the next 20 years. There will be a lot of new jobs, but it is not clear if there will be enough new jobs in such a small time.

Agriculture: There will be a $100 agricultural robot in the future. Farmers in 3rd world countries can then become managers of their field instead of working all day on their fields.

Aeroponics will need much less water. The first Petri dish produced veal, is now available and will be cheaper than cow produced veal in 2018. Right now, 30% of all agricultural surfaces is used for cows. Imagine if we don’t need that space anymore. There are several startups who will bring insect protein to the market shortly. It contains more protein than meat. It will be labelled as “alternative protein source” (because most people still reject the idea of eating insects).

There is an app called “moodies” which can already tell in which mood you’re in. By 2020 there will be apps that can tell by your facial expressions, if you are lying. Imagine a political debate where it’s being displayed when they’re telling the truth and when they’re not.

Bitcoin may even become the default reserve currency … Of the world!

Longevity: Right now, the average life span increases by 3 months per year. Four years ago, the life span used to be 79 years, now it’s 80 years. The increase itself is increasing and by 2036, there will be more than one year increase per year. So we all might live for a long long time, probably way more than 100.

Education: The cheapest smart phones are already at $10 in Africa and Asia. By 2020, 70% of all humans will own a smart phone. That means, everyone has the same access to world class education.

Every child can use Khan academy for everything a child needs to learn at school in First World countries. There have already been releases of software in Indonesia and soon there will be releases in Arabic, Suaheli and Chinese this summer. I can see enormous potential if we give the English app for free, so that children in Africa and everywhere else can become fluent in English and that could happen within half a year.

LinkedIn Article by Najit Khan, Tiganimas Communications, 5/10/2017


Digital Disruptors Teach Traditional Retailers

The big retail shakeout of 2017 is battering traditional chains of all stripes: Payless has filed for bankruptcy and is closing about 400 stores; Michael Kors, Ann Taylor, Abercrombie & Fitch, Guess, The Limited and Staples are all shutting locations; and department stores ranging from Sears to Macy’s and J.C. Penney are pulling the plug on many of their establishments as well.

Critics are quick to blame the shift to digital technology for this bloodbath, and that is part of it. But executives from three digital disruptors point to a much more fundamental problem: Legacy retailers have lost their focus on the customer. And as the consumer’s expectations have changed, they did not adapt quickly to meet them — opening the door to their digital rivals.

Take eyeglass e-tailer Warby Parker. The founders started the business in 2010 after realizing that two European conglomerates controlled the spectacles market worldwide, driving prices way up. “We thought it didn’t make sense for a pair of glasses to cost as much as an iPhone,” said co-CEO Neil Blumenthal, at the Consumer Response to the Evolving Retailing Landscape conference hosted by Wharton’s Baker Retailing Center.

Warby Parker decided to manufacture its own eyeglasses and sell directly to consumers online and through bricks-and-mortar stores. By cutting out the middleman, it could price prescription glasses for as little as $95 a pair. To make life easier for online customers, it offered free shipping and free returns and let folks try on five pairs of glasses at home for five days. If people need prescriptions, the company uses telemedicine to deliver it — folks download an app and pair it with a second screen like a laptop for a vision test. An eye doctor reviews the results and if all is well, signs the prescription. Customers can also get their eyes checked at Warby Parker stores, where optometrists are on staff.

Inside its stores, Warby Parker displays glasses in the open at eye level and offers full-length mirrors to folks trying on frames. It’s a more customer-friendly approach compared to the typical optical shop, where glasses are sometimes under lock and key and small vanity mirrors are the norm. Making these little changes greatly improves the shopping experience for customers, yet the industry has not made them, Blumenthal noted. “This isn’t rocket science,” Blumenthal said. “But for whatever reason, the industry wasn’t … figuring out simple, better ways to display and sell glasses even in the store.”

“Every experience, whether it is our website or Instagram … or packaging, it’s all about our conversation.”–Jessica White

Jessica White, executive director of customer at beauty products and lifestyle startup Glossier, said the company focuses on encouraging digital conversations among the community of people who use its products, whether on its website, on social media or in its showroom. This approach makes sense since the business grew out of the Into the Gloss blog by former Vogue editor Emily Weiss. She found out that women love to talk about beauty and the blog’s 1.5 million monthly readers are constantly writing and commenting about what they’re doing.

To preserve the zeitgeist of the blog, Glossier avoids making a hard sell of its beauty products, unlike many legacy retailers. For example, “our Instagram looks like our customers’ Instagram. It doesn’t look like a brand talking to a customer. It looks like what a customer’s Instagram would actually look like,” White said at the Wharton retail conference. This subtle shift in marketing strategy makes Glossier stand out. “Every experience, whether it is our website or Instagram … or packaging, it’s all about our conversation,” she added.

Warby Parker also focuses obsessively on pleasing the customer. “We measure our net promoter score religiously,” Blumenthal said. This score measures a customer’s willingness to recommend a company’s products or services to others. It ranges from 100 all the way down to below zero. He said Warby Parker has scored in the 80s since inception while rivals are in the 20s and 30s or even single digits. A big advantage of being vertically integrated — controlling everything from the manufacturing to retail sales — is that “we are able to get data and insight directly from the customer and immediately act on it,” he said.

For example, Warby Parker had offered ‘virtual try-ons,’ where glasses are superimposed on customers’ faces online. But the company discovered that it actually decreased sales because the technology wasn’t up to snuff. Then it noticed that people were walking into stores with a paper list of frames they wanted to try on — so that led to the creation of customer ‘favorites’ and digital lists on its website. And if customers tried on frames in a store but left without buying, they are emailed photos of themselves wearing different glasses to send to friends and family for feedback. That’s because buying glasses is a social activity.

Warby Parker also strives to make the buying experience fun. “How do we create as big of a branded experience as possible?” said Blumenthal. For store décor, the retailer pays homage to its literary heritage — sporting terrazzo floors, library lamps and shelves that look like book stacks. The company’s name comes from two Jack Kerouac characters: Warby Pepper and Zagg Parker. Its first fashion event was at the New York Public Library.



The United States of Startups

Using CB Insights database, we identified the most-well funded VC-backed technology startups by state based on disclosed equity funding. We excluded funding from debt as well as lines of credit and only considered companies that have raised at least $1M of equity funding to date. Companies that haven’t raised a round of equity financing since 2015 are excluded.

With these criteria for selection, companies in 46 US states make the cut as well as Washington, D.C. Four states did not have any companies that met all our criteria for inclusion in the map: Mississippi, Alaska, and North and South Dakota. Companies featured in those four states are the most well-funded private tech companies in these states since 2015. They do not have disclosed VC backing. Puerto Rico is excluded from this mapping.

The tech boom has diffused beyond the traditional hotbeds of California, New York, and Massachusetts, across the the entire United States. Other states are home to well-funded and well-known startups, including Magic Leap (Florida), Draft Kings (Massachusetts), and the satellite company OneWeb (Virginia), among others. The less well-known include Idaho-based 4G LTE network solutions company CradlePoint, which has raised $106M in equity funding to date.

Using CB Insights database, we identified the most-well funded VC-backed technology startups by state based on disclosed equity funding. We excluded funding from debt as well as lines of credit and only considered companies that have raised at least $1M of equity funding to date. Companies that haven’t raised a round of equity financing since 2015 are excluded.

With these criteria for selection, companies in 46 US states make the cut as well as Washington, D.C. Four states did not have any companies that met all our criteria for inclusion in the map: Mississippi, Alaska, and North and South Dakota. Companies featured in those four states are the most well-funded private tech companies in these states since 2015. They do not have disclosed VC backing. Puerto Rico is excluded from this mapping.

The most well-funded company featured in our map is Uber in California, with $12.5B of funding to date.  Unicorn companies valued at $1B+ are well represented in our map. The nine unicorns that are also among the most well-funded startups in unique states are: Uber (CA), Datto (CT), Magic Leap (FL), GreenSky (GA), Avant (IL), Draft Kings (MA), Infor (NY), Domo (UT), and Vox Media (Washington, D.C.). For a rundown of US based unicorns, check out CB Insights’ The United States of Unicorns.


Six Phrases to Change Your Life.

“Tell me more”

Dr. Mark Holder believes that his time as a happiness researcher has given him insight into how we nurture our human relationships. In his TEDx talk, Dr. Holder cited interviews with hospital patients where researchers found three simple words that would trigger stronger relationships with patients: tell me more.

“When you’re in a personal relationship talking to somebody and you lean forward and you look them in the eye and you say, ‘tell me more,’ it means not I’m not going on to my own story. I’m not interrupting you, Your story is valid and it means something to me,” Dr. Holder said.

Dr. Holder believes these three words along with “What happens next?” work because they show that we’re listening. We’re not just extracting information out of the interaction, we’re validating our conversation partner’s feelings and emotions. It’s a lesson we can use even if we’re not a science researcher.

“Thank you”

Dr. Laura Trice believes that we don’t ask for what we need. The life coach and consultant said that asking for our value to be recognized is stigmatized and it shouldn’t be. “Be honest about the praise that you need to hear,” Dr. Trice advised. Asking for praise makes us vulnerable but it also deepens our connections in our personal and professional lives.

“I’m not finished yet”

“I’m not finished yet” is not a phrase that vocal expert Laura Sicola actually recommends saying out loud, but it’s one that she recommends conveying in your tone.

Sicola says that we blunder introducing ourselves when we rush through saying our names, making it harder for our listeners to understand what we’re saying. Instead of blurting out our names, Sicola wants us to practice strategic tonality, so that the weight of our words have intention: “I want to start by letting my voice go up, up like this, on your first name as if to say, ‘I’m not finished yet,’” Sicola said. “And then at the top, we’ll have a little break, that little pause that will allow for a sound break to indicate word boundary, and then at our last name, we want to go down, let the pitch fall, as if to say, ‘And now I’m done.’”

“Be interested in other people”

Radio host Celeste Headlee wants us to approach all of our conversations with this mantra in mind: be interested in other people. For Headlee, that means going with the flow, using open-ended questions, not repeating ourselves, and not equating our experiences with our conversation partner’s. Above all, Headlee recommended keeping our mouth shut with our assumptions and listening to what the other person has to say.

“I kind of grew up assuming everyone has some hidden, amazing thing about them. And honestly, I think it’s what makes me a better host,” she said in her TED talk.I keep my mouth shut as often as I possibly can, I keep my mind open, and I’m always prepared to be amazed,and I’m never disappointed.”

“I’m enough”

Through years of trial and error, researcher Brené Brown has found that showing vulnerability, the “courage to be imperfect,” is the key to being a resilient person who can weather anything life throws their way—from layoffs to new responsibilities. In her hundreds of interviews, Brown found that the variable that separated people who constantly struggled to ones who were surer of their place in the world was whether or not they showed vulnerability.

“They didn’t talk about vulnerability being comfortable, nor did they really talk about it being excruciating—as I had heard it earlier in the shame interviewing. They just talked about it being necessary. They talked about the willingness to say, ‘I love you’ first, the willingness to do something where there are no guarantees…They thought this was fundamental,” Brown said. When we numb ourselves to being vulnerable, we may be doing it to protect ourselves, but we also are numbing ourselves to good emotions like gratitude and happiness. Successful people approach their lives as whole-hearted humans who are comfortable with who they are, flaws and all.

“What do you think?”

It’s not in a TED talk, but it will change your life. The simple question “what do you think?” is radically transformative because it forces us to stop and actually find out what other people aren’t telling us. It’s crucial for real conversations that form connections, because it acknowledges the difference and strengths of the person we’re talking to. And it makes us smarter and more likable. Try it and see the effect.


TiE Chapter Hosts Intra Turned Entre-Preneur.


At their July 2017 meeting the Atlanta chapter of TiE hosted David Rudolph, founder and CEO of PlayOn Sports.   They broadcast prep high-school games and other events by streaming them live on computers and other devices. Here’s the math. There are 19,000 high schools in the U.S. Forty-two percent of Americans are fans of high school sports. About 55 percent of high school students participate in sports. And untold numbers of people would pay to watch high school events on TVs, computers or mobile devices.  Charge a license fee to schools to use PlayOn! Sports’ software and its expertise, and a nominal charge to some viewers, and it’s a formula that spells money.

What makes Rudolph’s story so unique is he was a research assistance at Turner Broadcasting at the time of the Time Warner merger.  In an effort to create job for himself, Dave volunteered to put a few miscellaneous sports assets (including 35 excess Atlanta Braves games) together into a new cable channel later titled Turner Sports.  That experience was pure corporate innovation and agile development as he single-handedly iterated the small channel into cable systems.  As an independent decision-maker inside a large conglomerate, Rudolph played the role of Intrapreneur.  When Fox bought the channel in 2008, he then jumped into individual entrepreneurship by creating a brand new market and for the first time offering high-school sports through the internet.

At his TiE talk July 12th, Dave compared becoming an entrepreneur vs. an intrapreneur to having a first baby.  You read the books, prepare for the arrival, but when it comes, your life is completely turned upside down despite best laid plans.  Money was always a concern and still is to this day.  Over time PlayOn Sports has acquired rights to aggregate and produce high school sporting events distributed over TV, the internet, and mobile devices.  Today, the company has 38 employees and earned $10 million in revenue last year.  They train high school students to operate their equipment and website.  There are two million varsity events a year.  Media rights are controlled by the individual high schools, and PlayOn Sports licenses their technical platform to the schools.

Dave’s experience was as pure a transfer from Intra to Entre-preneurship as we’ve come across.  It proves there are always opportunities for new value creation and niche marketing.  And, what a target market, three times as many people attend high school sport events every year as college and pro combined.