Category Archives: Current in Entrepreneurship

Florida Small Business Leadership Conference, Orlando June 26-28th.

Your editor just returned from the captioned event in Orlando at the J. W. Marriott Hotel.  It was first class and informative as well as inspirational.  The first session featured the panel of Florida leaders four photos down.  These movers and shakers -Michelle Dennard, CEO of Career Source Florida, Ken Lawson, Director of Florida Dept. of Economic Opportunity, Mike Myhre, CEO of Florida SBDC, and Jamal Sowell, CEO of Enterprise Florida- followed the Chief Economist of  the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Jerry Parrish.  In Florida, there are 335,000 people looking for jobs and 273,700 jobs looking for people. Finding a qualified workforce is a top concern for job creators. Employers need talent that is prepared to enter the workforce, and Florida wins when we close the talent gap.

The conference was co-hosted by the Jim Moran Institute of Florida State University and the Florida SBDC.  Members of both organizations presented great classes such as business model canvas, grant making, leadership, sales presentations, data integration, financing a venture, social media, accounting strategies, negotiations, and overcoming obstacles.  Keynoters knocked the ball out of the park with Using Data to Drive Growth, Big Impacts by a Small Business, and a terrific inside look at the culture of by Ryo Zsun.  Their “WOW” customer service is so good it is the definition of Zappos.  One example, an employee cannot end a customer phone call, the customer must end it first!

Revealing was the fact there is a full network of SBDCs across America with an annual conference (this year Sept. 3-6 in Long Beach CA).  There are nearly 1,000 local centers available to provide no-cost business consulting and low-cost training to new and existing businesses.  SBDCs are hosted by leading universities, colleges, state economic development agencies and private sector partners, and funded in part by the United States Congress through a partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Even more incredible is the JMI, Jim Moran Institute of FSU.  Moran was a mega auto dealer with original ties to Toyota imports into  the U. S.  Now deceased, he and his widow Jan (shown below), have generously donated millions to the goals of the institute -cultivate, train, and inspire entrepreneurial leaders through world-class executive education, applied training, public recognition and leading-edge research.  Words cannot describe the impact their legacy is having on small business, and there are plans to expand their largess from Florida to other regions of the U. S.   Story of a great man –

This was a wonderful event and conference, and there will be another in 2020 which this entrepreneur teacher cannot recommend enough.  Small businesses of all types and fields cannot help but benefit by attending –

10 success stories, social entrepreneurship can be profitable

The combination of business with social issues has gained momentum in the last decade, and we are witnessing more and more startups that are recognizing social problems and finding ways to tackle them. Although social entrepreneurship is mainly driven by societal needs, here are 10 success stories which prove that you can do good and make money at the same time.

Agricool – Urban vertical farming is incredibly on-trend. Guillaume Fourdinier and Gonzague Gru certainly know that as their startup is doing incredibly well. Founded in 2015, the Paris-based startup offers ‘Cooltainers’, recycled shipping containers transformed into urban farms, where you can grow fruits and vegetables. Agricool began with strawberries, which contain on average 20% more sugar and 30% more vitamin C than regular supermarket strawberries. From Paris to Dubai, Agricool is paving the way for a sustainable and urban agtech future.

Arborea – Scientist turned entrepreneur Julian Melchiorri believes he can tackle pollution and climate change with microalgae. His innovation, a ‘Bio Solar Leaf’, is a solar panel-like structure filled with bio-organisms that can remove carbon dioxide and produce breathable oxygen at a rate equivalent to 100 trees, while facilitating the growth of microscopic plants to produce healthy food ingredients. Imperial College London has already teamed up with biochemical tech startup to pilot this technology on its roof and improve the surrounding air quality. If everything goes well, the Bio Solar Leaf might be coming soon to a rooftop near you.

ChargedUp – People have become so addicted to smartphones that when they run out of battery, it’s like the end of the world. But this London-based startup can now help you avoid this problem with their mobile charging network, run on green energy. Founded in 2017, ChargedUp lets you rent a mobile charging pack from one destination and return it at a different location. Inspired by the bike-sharing business model, ChargedUp has partnered with Marks & Spencer to trial its service and is hoping to put chargers in more than 1500 locations by mid-2019.

Feelif – The winner of the Best European Social Innovation 2017 in Europe was the Slovenian startup Feelif, which develops multimedia devices for the blind and visually impaired and accompanying multisensory digital games and educational content. With the help of this social innovation, users can feel shapes, explore geometric diagrams, draw, play games, and more. Feelif was also named the global champion and the best digital solution in the world by the World Summit Awards 2019.

Koovee – A ban on plastic cutlery is set to come into force in 2020 across the EU and Koovee can help with that transition. The French startup was founded in 2017 to offer an ecological alternative to plastic cutlery in the form of biodegradable, economic and tasty edible cutlery. Their spoons, knives and forks are based on wheat flour, rapeseed oil and salt, without additives or chemicals and taste like crackers. Next time you have your dessert, you will be contributing to reducing waste plastics.

Orange Fiber – Each year Sicily’s orange juice industry produced 700,000 tonnes of waste and two Italian designers decided to put it to good use, by patenting and manufacturing the first sustainable fabric from citrus juice by-products. The newly created lightweight materials were already featured in Salvatore Ferragamo Summer/Spring 2017 collection and H&M’s annual Conscious Exclusive collection 2019. In 2015 the company won the Global Change Award by H&M Foundation responding to the need for sustainability and innovation of fashion brands.

Solar Foods – The future of food is being slowly cooked in Finland. A Finnish startup, Solar Foods is producing edible protein out of water, electricity and air. They currently produce one kilogram of protein-rich edible powder (“Solein”) per day, which could be used to enrich widely consumed human foods such as bread or pasta. Just recently they teamed up with the European Space Agency to develop a system for producing proteins for space flights to Mars, while commercial production is scheduled for 2021.

Sustainer Homes – Founded in response to the housing crisis faced by many young people today, this Dutch startup is offering a modular model home, which is completely self-sufficient, mobile and sustainable. Made from recycled shipping containers, the new houses are equipped with solar panels, a battery for storing electricity, a water pump and smart equipment. The best thing about it: it can be shipped anywhere and set up in minutes. This Startupbootcamp alumni has already built this next-generation housing in the Netherlands.

Too Good To Go – Founded in Copenhagen, Too Good To Go is an app that connects customers to restaurants and stores that have unsold, surplus food and lets the customers buy the excess food at a lower price than normal. It’s a win-win situation for both consumers and the environment. In their effort to tackle food waste so far they have saved over 20 million meals and have reduced around 40 million kg of CO2 . Recently they were recognized as Europe’s hottest company at the Tech5 Awards hosted by TNW and Adyen, and we just interviewed the startup’s CEO Mette Lykke.

Chatterbox – In light of the refugee crisis all over Europe, Mursal Hedayat decided to turn her personal experience into a business idea. Having experienced the difficulties of integration as a refugee, she decided to start a company which would train and employ refugees to lead online and in-person language tutoring in their native languages. Founded in 2016 and headquartered in London, today Chatterbox offers courses in Mandarin, French, Farsi, Turkish, Arabic, Korean, Hindi, Spanish, and more.

By Bojana Trajkovska 


Two Tampa Bay area entrepreneurs named winners at annual Ernst & Young awards

Two Tampa Bay area businesspeople have come out on top at the annual Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards.

Crystal Morris of Gator Cases Inc. and Joe Marinucci of Digital Media Solutions both took home the “Entrepreneur of the Year 2019″ award on Thursday night in Orlando. The awards are meant to highlight entrepreneurs excelling in innovation, financial performance and commitment to the community. The two won out of five other Tampa Bay executives selected as finalists.

“We’ve seen many successful entrepreneurs come through this program, but I’ve been so impressed by our 2019 Florida finalists,” Mike Pattillo, Entrepreneur Of The Year Florida program director, said in a statement. “The people they have impacted, barriers they’ve overcome and industries they’ve disrupted are testaments to their entrepreneurial journey.”

Tampa-based Gator Cases was named a finalist for the 2013 Florida Entrepreneur of the Year as well. In 2015, the Tampa Bay Business Journal listed Gator Cases as a TBBJ 200, a roundup of Tampa Bay’s largest privately held companies, for its specialty cases for storing and transporting specialized equipment.

Clearwater-based Digital Media Solutions is one of the largest marketing firms headquartered in Tampa Bay and it was its first time being nominated.

Other winning entrepreneurs include Tropic Ocean Airways in Fort Lauderdale, SMART Financial in Orlando and IM Healthscience in Boca Raton.

Entrepreneurship Is All About Overcoming Obstacles

Being an entrepreneur has awarded me a number of personal and professional successes. It has been exciting, fulfilling and a lifelong dream worth pursuing. You probably sense a “but” coming, and your instincts are on point. The entrepreneur journey is not a road free of obstacles. In fact, it can be a mountainous backroad with obstacles around every turn.

Knowing how to approach those obstacles along your entrepreneur journey is part of the journey itself. There is not an entrepreneur among us today who hasn’t had his or her fair share of obstacles, and even failures. Paul Allen once said, “In my experience, each failure contains the seeds of your next success — if you are willing to learn from it.”

Luckily, many entrepreneurs have come before you. Instead of relying on your own grit and determination, you can lean on others. It’s like roadside assistance for entrepreneurs, but without the cool pickup truck and flashing lights. The following can serve as your guide to overcoming the obstacles ahead.

Have a strong network in place for valuable insight.

One of the best ways to overcome obstacles impeding your entrepreneur journey is to have a strong network of people who have valuable insight to share. It is like reading this article, only 100 times better, because it is a conversation with a mentor or esteemed peer.

The value of having a network can never be overlooked. And if you have yet to build a strong network, the time to start was yesterday. You can begin leveraging those in your current network, no matter how small. Ask if there is anyone in their network who would be good for you to have as a connection.

You probably read articles, watch videos and listen to podcasts as a budding entrepreneur. Note the authors and presenters of these assets and connect with them. This could be something as simple as sending a LinkedIn messageletting him or her how much you appreciated their work and you would like to connect.

Find more efficient technology to overcome obstacles.

Obstacles are waiting for you to face. This can be an overwhelming thought as an entrepreneur, but it doesn’t have to be. Why? Today’s digital age has ushered in unbelievable technology. When an obstacle presents ahead, find an efficient solution using technology to overcome it.

For instance, let’s say your new business endeavor has hit a snag in the logistics department. What may seem like a six-month problem can become a two- or three-month one using automated shipping technology to streamline fulfillment from the warehouse to your customers. Before throwing in the towel and accepting what is said to be true, leverage technology to produce efficient results.

Develop an entrepreneurial mindset that encompasses success.

There is a big difference between an entrepreneur and a successful entrepreneur. What is said difference? Mindset! You know that there are obstacles lying silently waiting for you on the road toward entrepreneur success. How you overcome those obstacles is key, but having the right mindset will make the entire process easier.

Instead of hoping obstacles don’t pop up, embrace them by changing the way you think about them. For instance, successful entrepreneurs don’t necessarily see obstacles as problems. They are viewed as moments to learn and grow to make their business the best it could possibly be. This type of entrepreneur mindset can move mountains.

Stay humble and always be respectful.

Entrepreneurs have their hands on a lot of projects and come across people from all walks of life. This makes staying humble and having respect a must to overcome obstacles — you never know when you may cross paths with someone you met previously.

Let’s say you meet someone at a networking event that is truly enthusiastic to meet you and simply wants to discuss your journey as an entrepreneur to date. Instead of being humble and indulging this person with a few notable moments, you quickly end the discussion and move on.

Fast forward a year and you run right into an obstacle you need to get sorted to finish a very important project. Guess who is the gatekeeper to your solution? The person you blew off at the networking event. Not good. Moral of the story, treat everyone the way you want to be treated and be humble, no matter your successes.

How will you overcome the entrepreneur obstacles in your way?

Running headfirst into an obstacle is only a matter of time. Being prepared and having the skills to overcome those obstacles faster and more efficiently sets you apart from the pack. From cultivating an entrepreneurial mindset that sees obstacles as opportunities to build a network to help you along the way, it’s worth considering the above ways to overcome awaiting obstacles. Are you ready for the road ahead?

Courtesy of Forbes Magazine, written by Kumar Arora (one of the sharks on CNBC’s “Cleveland Hustles,” produced by Lebron James).

Entrepreneur Transformed His Struggling Startup Into 
A $2 Billion Unicorn

In the spring of 2015, Jason Gardner, the founder of Marqeta, a payments processor, left a grim board meeting and went for a walk with his lead investor, Arnon Dinur of 83North. Facebook had pulled the plug on a joint initiative, and Marqeta had fallen far short of its revenue target.

Walking the streets of Emeryville, California, a small town between Berkeley and Oakland, Gardner told Dinur that Marqeta wouldn’t last long with the cash it had. He needed to buy time. The company moved to a weekly budget, and Gardner volunteered to cut his own salary by 40%. “Ninety out of one hundred entrepreneurs would have asked for more money,” Dinur says.  

“I wanted to show my commitment to not only the board but the company, that I’m willing to do anything to get to the next step through determination,” Gardner says. “It’s almost like inflicting pain on yourself. . . . It gets you to understand what’s at stake here.” Two other executives also volunteered to slash their salaries by 40%, and the startup didn’t lay anyone off.

Four years later investors were meeting again at Marqeta’s office, now a 16-story building in Oakland with the company’s name on it. This time the meeting’s tone was different. Revenue had doubled every year since 2016, reaching close to $150 million in 2018, a source tells us. Marqeta was finalizing plans to raise at least $250 million at a valuation of about $2 billion, nearly quadrupling its value from two years ago.

Despite a rough start, Marqeta has had the right idea since its founding in 2010. It pursued a niche in the payments-processing business that had seen little innovation in over a decade: card issuing and processing, which involves deciding whether a debit card transaction should be approved. It iterated through three business models, staying frugal along the way and ultimately landing on an open-software platform that outside engineers could easily plug into. It identified Square and Instacart as future winners, recruiting them as customers and latching on for the ride.

Gardner, 49, is hardly the type you’d expect to become a successful Silicon Valley entrepreneur. Growing up in a middle-class family in New Jersey, the son of a stockbroker father and a legal mediator mother, he had a motley assortment of jobs in high school, from working at a thrift shop to selling tie-dyed shirts on New Jersey trains on his way to some of the 80 Grateful Dead concerts he attended. Although he wasn’t a coder, he liked hanging around Radio Shack and taking apart radios and TVs. In college at Arizona State, he worked as an assistant to Senator John McCain in his early 20s but decided politics wasn’t for him.

Later he worked in sales at research companies like Gartner, eventually founding a payments startup in 2004 that allowed people to pay rent electronically. Gardner was so short on cash over the next few years that he sometimes put mortgage payments on his credit card. In 2007 he sold the company to MoneyGram for $28 million and stayed on as an executive for two years.

Then he started to think about new uses for debit cards. His first idea was a prepaid loyalty card sold at grocery stores where you could pay $50 for $55 worth of items from retailers like Jamba Juice. Gardner called it Marqeta (after a woman he and a friend had traveled with in Prague), brushing off the fact that a marketing firm was already using the name Marketo. He raised $6 million from investors like the Israeli VC firm 83North 

It took him almost two years to release the product, because he’d built an entirely new payment processor along the way. He opted not to partner with one of the big companies that had been doing issuing and processing for decades, like First Data or FIS, because he thought going solo would give him speed and flexibility. But the loyalty card flopped. Gardner learned that it took too much capital to scale a consumer retail product and that he wasn’t good at consumer-facing design. “I like the complexity of building infrastructure,” he says.

Gardner’s second business product was commissioned by Facebook: a gift card that you could send to friends and was redeemable at places like Target and Olive Garden. Facebook launched it in January 2013 but was disappointed in the sales and shut down the card about a year later.

Around this time, companies like the communications software maker Twilio were starting to let clients access their technology and customize it via application programming interfaces, or APIs. Gardner chose that approach for Marqeta’s third product and announced it in late 2014.

Revenue had doubled every year since 2016, and Marqeta was finalizing plans to raise at least $250 million at a valuation of about $2 billion, nearly quadrupling its value from two years ago. 

With Marqeta’s API, companies that wanted to issue debit cards could authorize transactions themselves and set the criteria for accepting them. “We move the system of record or ledger to our customer,” Gardner says. And companies no longer needed to separately solicit relationships with a card network (like Visa), a bank, a transaction processor and a plastic card manufacturer. Marqeta had built those partnerships and wrapped them up in one package.

Once customers were set up, Marqeta would make money the same way Visa and Mastercard do, by taking a cut of every transaction. How much? Marqeta is mum, but we’re told the average fee is roughly 1% before rebates to clients.

One of its first clients was DoorDash, the San Francisco food delivery company whose thousands of “Dashers” retrieve takeout meals from restaurants on behalf of customers. With Marqeta, DoorDash has issued debit cards that don’t work unless a Dasher is at the correct restaurant, and it won’t authorize transactions for values that exceed the customer’s order amount. Over the past two years, Marqeta’s technology has helped delivery companies cut fraud in half, to 5% or less.

Marqeta’s Money Moves 

In 2016, Marqeta’s trajectory tilted upward. Instacart let Marqeta power the debit cards its freelance delivery people used to buy groceries. When Square decided to issue a virtual debit card paired with its fast-growing money-transfer app, Square Cash, Marqeta helped it build the product within six weeks, rather than the months a traditional issuer-processor would have taken. Square also used Marqeta to create the plastic debit card it released the following year.

Kabbage, a small-business lender, signed on, issuing a Marqeta-powered debit card that let customers spend some of their loaned funds at retail merchants. It took Kabbage “months versus quarters” to release the cards, says Kathryn Petralia, Kabbage’s president. “All traditional providers remain cumbersome.”

Two insights drove Marqeta’s success. First, instead of focusing on banks as customers—as Fiserv, Tsys and FIS have done profitably for ­decades—it looked sideways, directly targeting tech-enabled service providers in the new economy. Second, by taking an API approach, Marqeta sped up the setup process and catered to companies that want to control how digital payments are ­authorized.

In 2017 Alipay, the Chinese payment app that has more than 900 million global users, signed on to enable Chinese nationals to use the app at U.S. retailers while traveling. Brex, the credit card startup, became a customer. Marqeta raised $25 million that year from investors like Visa, Granite Ventures and 83North, while bringing in $70 million of revenue, we estimate. It doubled its staff to 160 employees.

“Payments is deceptively complex,” says Omri Dahan, Marqeta’s chief revenue officer. “There are a range of varied interests in the ecosystem who need to be balanced just to produce one card swipe that’s successful. . . . You have to get used to getting punched in the face every day.”

It helps to have healthy clients. Square went from a $4 billion market value in 2016 to $32 billion today, becoming Marqeta’s largest customer and processing more than $5 billion in volume through Marqeta last year, estimates Brett Winton at Ark Investment Management, a large Square investor. In three years, DoorDash’s valuation has gone up tenfold to $7 billion and Instacart’s fourfold to $8 billion.

Marqeta identified Square and Instacart as future winners, recruiting them as customers and latching on for the ride.  

Dahan says Marqeta hunts for clients in large markets that are being disrupted. And it thinks like a venture capitalist. “What do we think of the company? Is it well funded? Well led? How are their engineers?”

Marqeta expects to double revenue again this year. Dahan says its clients are evenly spread across a handful of industries, which include lending, delivery, e-commerce, travel and one he thinks is the most promising: digital banking. In addition to Square, which has 15 million monthly users for its Cash app and is looking more and more like a bank, Marqeta is working with (as yet unnamed) digital-first “challenger banks” in Europe.

What could go wrong? FIS has APIs with features that are similar to what Marqeta offers and could make them better if its bank customers want more. Stripe, the payments giant that’s worth $22.5 billion, released a card-issuing service last year at what is rumored to be half Marqeta’s price.

“You can put 50 engineers on something and maybe move five times faster,” Dahan says. “But being in-market, scaling programs, learning from those programs? That is not something that can be fast-forwarded.”

For now, Marqeta has something else in its favor: its clients’ trust, which is rather important in a money-handling business. But there’s nothing permanent about even this advantage, so Jason Gardner is going to be looking over his shoulder. He’s had some practice with that.

In the spring of 2015, Jason Gardner, the founder of Marqeta, a payments processor, left a grim board meeting and went for a walk with his lead investor, Arnon Dinur of 83North. Facebook had pulled the plug on a joint initiative, and Marqeta had fallen far short of its revenue target.

Walking the streets of Emeryville, California, a small town between Berkeley and Oakland, Gardner told Dinur that Marqeta wouldn’t last long with the cash it had. He needed to buy time. The company moved to a weekly budget, and Gardner volunteered to cut his own salary by 40%. “Ninety out of one hundred entrepreneurs would have asked for more money,” Dinur says.  

“I wanted to show my commitment to not only the board but the company, that I’m willing to do anything to get to the next step through determination,” Gardner says. “It’s almost like inflicting pain on yourself. . . . It gets you to understand what’s at stake here.” Two other executives also volunteered to slash their salaries by 40%, and the startup didn’t lay anyone off.

Courtesy of Forbes Magazine



10 Habits Successful People Have on Repeat

A Short Guide on Being a Success In life

First of all success is what you define it as. But success at its core is consistency, and agency in any pursuit.

Most often we think of success as career based or monetary. This is misleading because you can be a success at anything you attempt. Please hear that. Go beyond the confines of your definitions of success and define it for yourself.

Furthermore, the fact that you attempt anything new is a success because you are expanding yourself. In the totality of life, you want to be a success and every skill or pursuit you attempt makes you successful at life.

Life is about expanding oneself and learning. Gaining experiences. In the end, if you do that? You were a success at life and I can’t think of a better thing to be successful at.

But there are keys to being a “successful” person that we often don’t realize. There are steps and actions that successful people have and I want to share those with you.

I firmly believe that if you use the 10 principles of successful people listed below that you will be a success! No matter what your endeavors in life, follow these and you will achieve results.

They Are Decisive and Don’t Second Guess it

There is one quality successful people have that separates them from the rest.           They act.

Successful people don’t get in their own way and second guess themselves. They just pursue what they’re after and dive headlong into the pursuit. I have to ask you; have you ever achieved anything in life without action?

Did you get your degree, the job you wanted, or the love you have without action? I think you can answer that for yourself. But the resounding answer is you did not.

We often don’t achieve success because we simply don’t act. We get caught up in our head, fear creeps in and we freeze. I mean let’s get real, success is scary. What if I told you tomorrow you could be standing in front of an arena delivering the message you feel inside? You’d probably think I was crazy, then you would think, “that’s not possible!” Examine that thought process for a minute. Who’s standing in your way?

They Are Productive Not busy

Successful people are productive, they aren’t just filling the time. They make their time count.  You only have so long on this planet so why aren’t you investing it in pursuits that matter?

How do you know if you are being busy or productive? Think of being busy as a scatter-plot of energy. If you are busy you are not focused, instead, you are being pulled in a million directions. And being busy is a great way to deter you from success since you’re too distracted to focus on what’s important to you.

So what does being productive look like? If you are being productive you’re “in the zone,” you’re the tip of the spear, you function with laser precision. You focus on one task at a time until it’s completed and give all your energy to that task.

You become results oriented instead of output oriented.


State of the Entrepreneurship Union

Steve Blank, the father of Lean Lauch, the modern and better way to plan a startup business was interviewed recently by Philip Bouchard of TrustPeer Entrepreneurship Advisory, and together they created a wonderful State of the  Entrepreneurship Union.

Q. You’ve started teaching at Berkeley since 2002, Columbia in 2003 and at Stanford since 2011. How is the way that universities teach entrepreneurship evolving? What changes have you seen in the last 15 years?

A. Steve Blank: When I first starting teaching, the capstone entrepreneurship class was how to write a business plan. Other classes were on how to prep for VC pitches or develop the five year income statements, balance sheets and cash flows or read case studies. Today, people laugh if somebody says that’s a capstone entrepreneurship class. But years ago, we had no alternative – how to write a business plan was it.

My contribution has been, “Why don’t we design classes more closely modeled to what innovators and entrepreneurs actually do.” Today the capstone class is most often experiential, team-based, hands on, focused around the search for a repeatable and scalable business model. And the Lean LaunchPad class I developed at Stanford was the first such class. It was adopted by the National Science Foundation for commercializing science in the United States. It’s called NSF I-Corps.

The other change is that universities, instead of being passive, have become active in building an entrepreneurial community. In addition to Stanford I also teach at Columbia, and at these research universities – Stanford, Columbia, Berkeley, and others – they all now have an internal incubator, they have maker spaces, they have their own venture funds, they connect to the community, they connect to venture capital. They’ve become outward-facing universities. It’s a big idea.

Years ago, entrepreneurship was taught like everything else, inward-facing, which was a mindset of, “I focus on what I know as an academic and I will teach you that,” which was mostly theory and/or consulting experience with large corporations. And the odds of learning from faculty who actually had experienced the chaos and uncertainty of building a startup was low. It wasn’t really part of the job as an educator. Today, if you’re building an entrepreneurship program, the teaching team most often includes adjuncts with entrepreneurial experience as complements to the tenured faculty, classes are experiential and the community you’re building is a set of additional components that never existed before.

Q. The trend is to add majors, minors and certificates in entrepreneurship. Not just in the business schools. For example, you can minor in entrepreneurship at the University of Colorado College of Music. In terms of teaching basic entrepreneurial appreciation, how saturated should entrepreneurship become? Is it one or two courses? Where do you see this trend going?

SB: Teaching basic entrepreneurial appreciation in the 21st century is literally the equivalent to liberal arts of the 20th. Forward thinking schools will start offering a series of classes that are core curriculum like liberal arts were in schools in the ’50s through the ’80s that said “for a liberal arts education you need to understand literature and you need to understand art.” In the 21st century we’re going to add some additional core skills.

That said, entrepreneurship education needs to be a combination of theory and practice. It’s pretty easy to offer classroom entrepreneurship lectures and forget that it’s the hands-on application that makes the theory relevant. Think if medical schools just taught doctors the textbooks, but never had them touch a patient.

The other direction where teaching is going – and what we’ve been pioneering – is Mission-Driven Entrepreneurship. Instead of students or faculty coming in with their own ideas — we now have them working on societal problems, whether they’re problems for the State Department or the military or non-profits/NGOs, or for the City of Oakland or for energy or the environment, or for anything they’re passionate about. And the trick is we use the same Lean LaunchPad / I-Corps curriculum — and kept the same class structure – experiential, hands-on, driven this time by a mission-model not a business model.

Mission-driven entrepreneurship is the answer to students who say, “I want to give back. I want to make my community, country or world a better place, while solving some of the toughest problems.” These classes include Hacking for Defense, Hacking for Diplomacy, Hacking for Energy, Hacking for Impact, or Hacking for Oceans, etc., but the umbrella term is “mission-driven entrepreneurship.” The class syllabus uses exactly the same pedagogy as the Lean LaunchPad and I-Corps classes.

PB: How has your Lean LaunchPad course, ENGR 245, evolved?

SB: I’ve always believed that great classes continue to thrive after the original teachers have moved on. To be honest, as I watch other instructors now run these classes, I feel a proud “passing of the torch” though touched by moments of King Lear and Kurosawa’s Ran. Way past my ad hoc activities, the Stanford teaching team has thoroughly professionalized the class.

After eight years the class is still taught to students working on their own problems. It’s taught at Stanford, Berkeley, Columbia and probably another hundred universities and colleges because I open-sourced the class and trained educators on how to teach it. 98 universities teach it through the National Science Foundation.

As I mentioned, the Mission-Driven Entrepreneurship classes are a new variant that’s taught in ~30 universities. The nice part is that we have educators who are already trained on teaching Lean LaunchPad or I-Corps, so for the educators there’s nothing particularly new. The only hard part about it, is to get well-defined problems from sponsors in the local city or government agency that you offer to students.

PB: Everyone looks for a turnkey solution. “I want a low overhead, self-guided solution.” Can someone go through your Lean LaunchPad step-by-step course without a trainer? Can it be self-directed? How long does it take to train a trainer?

SB: All my class lectures are online at for free. Can you become a founder by watching videos? Perhaps, but founders are closer to artists than any other profession. So can you become an artist by reading about art? Can you learn entrepreneurship without taking an experiential hands-on class or better, actually be part of a startup? Well, you can read a lot about entrepreneurship and learn the theory, but it’s like reading about painting or sculpture or music. You need theory and practice – lots of practice.

PB: Is ethics in entrepreneurship going to be part of the broader entrepreneurship curriculum like a general liberal arts education? Is ethics something that you bring into your Lean LaunchPad course or your ENGR 245 course?

SB: I think ethics are a critical missing component of most business curriculums. At Stanford, Tom Byers, who runs the innovation and entrepreneurship program inside the engineering school, has made that a big deal and it’s now part of the curriculum. Tom has added a class on entrepreneurial ethics.

However, the problem with teaching entrepreneurial ethics is the same as with teaching corporate ethics: Everything is great in theory until the sxxt hits the fan. When you don’t have any checks and balances, that is, when the government isn’t really paying attention or there are no consequences, you tend to get people who game the system, whether they’re corporations or they’re entrepreneurs and innovators.

It’s exactly like if you’ve ever been driving on a highway and reach a merge and people are cutting into the line and you go, “What the heck am I’m doing waiting for the merge while people are cutting in?” Then everybody else starts doing it and you think “Why am I the only person who’s patiently waiting?” There’s a social component about what’s the norm for behavior.

It’s not like we need a nanny-state, but if there’s no enforcement at all, we can teach ethics all we want, but people tend to devolve to the least common denominator.

PB: How has innovation in large corporations evolved over the last 10 years? You talk about “innovation theater” in large corporations. What’s the trend in terms of corporations developing cultures of innovation and programs for intrapreneurs?

SB: If you’re a large corporation, the world has turned upside down. In hindsight the 20th century was the golden age for corporations. Today, companies face five challenges they never had to deal with:

Challenge one – As companies are discovering every day, the web has changed everything. Distribution channels, brand loyalty, etc.

Challenge two – Large companies are dealing with startups that are funded with unimaginable capital. In the past, the idea of a startup having more capital than an existing corporation was a fantasy. But today if I’m a startup and I’m raising a hundred million dollars or billions of dollars, like Uber, Airbnb or Tesla, I can take on an entire industry.

Challenge three – Today, investors willingly fund startups to do anything on day one. Anything. Including break the law. Tesla, Airbnb, Uber, all were predicated on, “Well, what if we said, ‘screw the law’. How big would that opportunity be?”

In the 20th century no venture capitalist would have funded that. In the 21st century they got out their little eyeshades and calculators and said, “Ha! If we actually succeed, there’s a $10 billion company here.”

In contrast, as much as a corporation wants to do that, the first thing that will happen is your general counsel’s in your office saying, “I want to see what you look like in a prison suit.” Because a company can’t do the things that a startup can.

Challenge four – In a startup, 100% of the company is focused on innovation and entrepreneurship. In a large corporation, 99% of the company is focused on executionof the current business model by building repeatable processes and procedures. And a very small percentage are focused on innovation. I could keep going on down the list.

Challenge five – In a startup, if you win, it’s a payout of billions of dollars. In a large company, for the individual, there is no such payout.

PB: However, there are some companies that do evolve, that do pivot and make the right changes. What you’re talking about, “A large corporation is not a startup,” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to go the way of the dodo. What are companies doing beyond innovation theater?

SB: I just wanted to give you the setup of why it’s harder for corporations. Not why they can’t do it. In spite of all the things that I just mentioned, there are large companies that have figured out how to build innovation ecosystems. My favorite is a private company called W.L.Gore. At their core they make products out of expanded PTFE like Gore-Tex. But they’ve taken that basic technology past fabrics into multiple markets – medical, filtration, fibers, cables, etc. They have a process of continual innovation – an innovation pipeline. But this type of innovation requires leadership who understands that is their goal. If you’re a large company’s CEO today, the problem is that you’re dealing with, well, lots of issues, not just innovation.

  • One – “How do I deal with activist investors who want to take my company apart and sell it for pieces?”
  • Two – “I’ve been hearing about this innovation stuff, but if I’m running a 10,000-person company, my skill-set is about execution, not innovation. I might give you some head nods about innovation, but I really don’t have that in my DNA.”
  • Three – Companies are driven by processes and procedure, those same processes and procedures strangle innovation in its crib. For innovation to succeed inside of a large company, you need a parallel set of processes, not to replace the existing ones, but to operate on a fast track.

Some companies have figured out how to do this, not just internally, but by just acquiring those that do. So, if you think about how a large company can innovate, they could build, they could buy, they could partner, they could license. All parts of their toolset where startups don’t have those opportunities. Basically, startups are just building.

PB: Large corporations have a number of tools they use for innovation. One area is innovation challenges and idea challenges to come up with a thousand new ideas. A second option is for corporations to provide accelerators where they invite startups to apply to be part of their accelerator program. A third is incubators and makers’ spaces. Do you see those as innovation programs that can work? They’re spending a lot of money on it.

SB: No. What you just described is innovation theater. These are innovation activities, not deliverables. The hard part in a company is not getting a demo or setting up an internal accelerator, it’s getting something delivered all the way through your existing sales channel. What does it take to get from that demo into your engineering group, to be delivered as a product into your existing sales channel? And that’s where the difficulties are. You run into, “Well, wait a minute, this isn’t on our budget or schedule.” “Wait a minute, this conflicts with our existing product line.” “This will put our most profitable product out of business,” or “We don’t even have a sales force that knows how to sell this thing.”

A good number of companies focus on the easy part, which is, “Let’s have an incubator/accelerator.” The hard part is, “How do we deliver something with speed and urgency?” For example, when I teach this for the government, our focus is on innovation that gets deployed and fielded, not demos. (Yes, you might need a demo to convince someone to fund your program, but the demo is not the goal – delivery is.) Companies have more demos than they’ll ever need. But really the goal of a successful innovation program is figuring out how do you deploy something by getting through the hard political wiring diagram of who owns what, and how does this differ from what we already have, and which budget is it going to come from, and “this is unscheduled” and “wait a minute, it doesn’t meet our quality standards” and “we’re going to screw up our brand”?

How do we solve those problems? And that doesn’t mean it’s not solvable. It just means the “Let’s throw a party” approach reminds me of the old Andy Hardy movies of “Let’s put on a show.” Ok, we’ve got a show, now what?

The “now what” is that we lack a corporate innovation doctrine.


Steve Case’s Latest “Rise of the Rest” Tour

AireHealth is revolutionizing care management and drug delivery for respiratory illness via a connected-portable nebulizer.  -

Atomos is building the railroad of space using high-powered electric propulsion space tugs to move satellites to any orbit beyond low Earth orbit. -

Immertec’s VR software helps medical companies train physicians faster and easier than ever before. -

Xendoo is a cloud-based, flat-rate, monthly subscription providing bookkeeping and accounting to small and medium-sized businesses with less than 20 employees. -

Abartys Health streamlines communication between insurers, doctors, and patients. -

Earlier this month, Steve Case and the Revolution team hit the road for the eighth Rise of the Rest Road Trip, bringing the bus to Orlando, Florida’s Space Coast, Tampa Bay, Miami, and San Juan, Puerto Rico. At the end of each tour day, we hosted a pitch competition where a local startup received a $100,000 investment from Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund.

For the pitch competitions in Orlando, Tampa Bay, Miami, and Puerto Rico, innovative startups based within a 100-mile radius of a tour stop were invited to apply. Our pitch competition in the Space Coast featured startups from the Space Coast region and other rising cities from across the country whose core focus relates to space, drone, aviation technologies, or adjacent focus areas.

We asked the winners in each city to tell us about their companies, provide advice to fellow entrepreneurs, and share a little more about themselves.


Jobs lost, jobs gained: What the future of work will mean for jobs, skills, and wages

From McKinsey & Company      

 In an era marked by rapid advances in automation and artificial intelligence, new research assesses the jobs lost and jobs gained under different scenarios through 2030.                                   

The technology-driven world in which we live is a world filled with promise but also challenges. Cars that drive themselves, machines that read X-rays, and algorithms that respond to customer-service inquiries are all manifestations of powerful new forms of automation. Yet even as these technologies increase productivity and improve our lives, their use will substitute for some work activitieshumans currently perform—a development that has sparked much public concern.

Building on our January 2017 report on automation, McKinsey Global Institute’s latest report, Jobs lost, jobs gained: Workforce transitions in a time of automation (PDF–5MB), assesses the number and types of jobs that might be created under different scenarios through 2030 and compares that to the jobs that could be lost to automation.

The results reveal a rich mosaic of potential shifts in occupations in the years ahead, with important implications for workforce skills and wages. Our key finding is that while there may be enough work to maintain full employment to 2030 under most scenarios, the transitions will be very challenging—matching or even exceeding the scale of shifts out of agriculture and manufacturing we have seen in the past.

  1. What impact will automation have on work?
  2. What are possible scenarios for employment growth?
  3. Will there be enough work in the future?
  4. What will automation mean for skills and wages?
  5. How do we manage the upcoming workforce transitions?

1. What impact will automation have on work?

We previously found that about half the activities people are paid to do globally could theoretically be automated using currently demonstrated technologies. Very few occupations—less than 5 percent—consist of activities that can be fully automated.

However, in about 60 percent of occupations, at least one-third of the constituent activities could be automated, implying substantial workplace transformations and changes for all workers.

While technical feasibility of automation is important, it is not the only factor that will influence the pace and extent of automation adoption. Other factors include the cost of developing and deploying automation solutions for specific uses in the workplace, the labor-market dynamics (including quality and quantity of labor and associated wages), the benefits of automation beyond labor substitution, and regulatory and social acceptance.


Taking these factors into account, our new research estimates that between almost zero and 30 percent of the hours worked globally could be automated by 2030, depending on the speed of adoption. We mainly use the midpoint of our scenario range, which is automation of 15 percent of current activities. Results differ significantly by country, reflecting the mix of activities currently performed by workers and prevailing wage rates.

The potential impact of automation on employment varies by occupation and sector (see interactive above). Activities most susceptible to automation include physical ones in predictable environments, such as operating machinery and preparing fast food. Collecting and processing data are two other categories of activities that increasingly can be done better and faster with machines. This could displace large amounts of labor—for instance, in mortgage origination, paralegal work, accounting, and back-office transaction processing.

It is important to note, however, that even when some tasks are automated, employment in those occupations may not decline but rather workers may perform new tasks.

Automation will have a lesser effect on jobs that involve managing people, applying expertise, and social interactions, where machines are unable to match human performance for now.

Jobs in unpredictable environments—occupations such as gardeners, plumbers, or providers of child- and eldercare—will also generally see less automation by 2030, because they are technically difficult to automate and often command relatively lower wages, which makes automation a less attractive business proposition.

2. What are possible scenarios for employment growth?

Workers displaced by automation are easily identified, while new jobs that are created indirectly from technology are less visible and spread across different sectors and geographies. We model some potential sources of new labor demand that may spur job creation to 2030, even net of automation.

For the first three trends, we model only a trendline scenario based on current spending and investment trends observed across countries.

Rising incomes and consumption, especially in emerging economies

We have previously estimated that global consumption could grow by $23 trillion between 2015 and 2030, and most of this will come from the consuming classes in emerging economies. The effects of these new consumers will be felt not just in the countries where the income is generated but also in economies that export to these countries. Globally, we estimate that 250 million to 280 million new jobs could be created from the impact of rising incomes on consumer goods alone, with up to an additional 50 million to 85 million jobs generated from higher health and education spending.

Aging populations

By 2030, there will be at least 300 million more people aged 65 years and olderthan there were in 2014. As people age, their spending patterns shift, with a pronounced increase in spending on healthcare and other personal services. This will create significant new demand for a range of occupations, including doctors, nurses, and health technicians but also home-health aides, personal-care aides, and nursing assistants in many countries. Globally, we estimate that healthcare and related jobs from aging could grow by 50 million to 85 million by 2030.

Development and deployment of technology

Jobs related to developing and deploying new technologies may also grow. Overall spending on technology could increase by more than 50 percent between 2015 and 2030. About half would be on information-technology services. The number of people employed in these occupations is small compared to those in healthcare or construction, but they are high-wage occupations. By 2030, we estimate that this trend could create 20 million to 50 million jobs globally.

For the next three trends, we model both a trendline scenario and a step-up scenario that assumes additional investments in some areas, based on explicit choices by governments, business leaders, and individuals to create additional jobs.

Investments in infrastructure and buildings

Infrastructure and buildings are two areas of historic underspending that may create significant additional labor demand if action is taken to bridge infrastructure gaps and overcome housing shortages. New demand could be created for up to 80 million jobs in the trendline scenario and, in the event of accelerated investment, up to 200 million more in the step-up scenario. These jobs include architects, engineers, electricians, carpenters, and other skilled tradespeople, as well as construction workers.

Investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and climate adaptation

Investments in renewable energy, such as wind and solar; energy-efficiency technologies; and adaptation and mitigation of climate change may create new demand for workers in a range of occupations, including manufacturing, construction, and installation. These investments could create up to ten million new jobs in the trendline scenario and up to ten million additional jobs globally in the step-up scenario.

‘Marketization’ of previously unpaid domestic work

The last trend we consider is the potential to pay for services that substitute for currently unpaid and primarily domestic work. This so-called marketization of previously unpaid work is already prevalent in advanced economies, and rising female workforce participation worldwide could accelerate the trend. We estimate that this could create 50 million to 90 million jobs globally, mainly in occupations such as childcare, early-childhood education, cleaning, cooking, and gardening.

When we look at the net changes in job growth across all countries, the categories with the highest percentage job growth net of automation include the following:

  • healthcare providers
  • professionals such as engineers, scientists, accountants, and analysts
  • IT professionals and other technology specialists
  • managers and executives, whose work cannot easily be replaced by machines
  • educators, especially in emerging economies with young populations
  • “creatives,” a small but growing category of artists, performers, and entertainers who will be in demand as rising incomes create more demand for leisure and recreation
  • builders and related professions, particularly in the scenario that involves higher investments in infrastructure and buildings
  • manual and service jobs in unpredictable environments, such as home-health aides and gardeners


Entrepreneurs Make the Gig Economy Work

Page 4B, USA Today Thurs.,      May16, 2019

By Steve Straus, USA Today Columnist, Attorney, Author

Danny Brewer knew that the entrepreneurial life was for him when he saw that the address of one of his bosses after college was , literally, “No. 1, Easy Street.  This was about a decade ago and soon thereafter Danny starts his first business: he became a mobile D.J.  While that was a good gig (and still is, see below), everything changed when Brewer went to a trade show and saw an opportunity in the photo-booth business.  You know hat photo booths are -you see them ad weddings and other events, where guests can dress up and get their pictures taken.  Before long, Danny Brewer had five photo booths running, giving us the first insight into how to rock the gig economy:

Rule No. 1: Replicate yourself.  One common mistake I see poplin the “gig economy” make is that they think too small.  they create on gig and stick with it, driving for Uber or water.  What Danny did right is that he didn’t fall into that trap.  By  hiring other gig workers, or even hiring a staff, you ensure that you will not just be creating a job for yourself, but also a business that can scale.  One of the problems with the photo booth business is that people at the event have to come to the booth and the fun of the booth is limited to that space in the back.  So Danny had an idea for a light-weight, mobile photo system that could move around the party and the Ring roamer was born.

Rule No. 2: Diversify or die.  This Danny’s motto.  These days he has four businesses, four ways of bringing in money -mobile DJ business, photo booths, Ring Roamer, Corporate team-building events.  Creating multiple profit centers key.  Danny’s story also illustrates another lesson…

Rule No. 3:  Don’t compete on price.  Many bad things happen when you try to be cheaper than everyone else.  First, you shrink your margins.  It becomes increasingly difficult to make a profit when you make your product or service cheaper and cheaper.  Second, you have to work harder.  Because you make less on each sale when you reduce your prices, you need toward that much harder to make what you used to make.  By competing on price, you are -wittingly or unwittingly- creating a brand on price and not quality or service or creativity or smarts or whatever.

There is lots of good that can be said about the gig economy, but lots bad too.  The trick is to not for the the gig economy but make it work for you.