Berkeley Method Gets Students Thinking Like Entrepreneurs

It was a stressor of an assignment for some 400 students at the European Innovation Academy (EIA) in Cascais, Portugal: Form diverse teams of five and, in just 15 days, create startups to pitch to a panel of investors, in hopes of launching the next Instagram or Airbnb. A few students, blanching in the face the world’s largest extreme entrepreneurship program, packed for home.

The clock began ticking for the rest, and the trendy Estoril Congress Center grew chaotic. At the Idea Expo, college students from 70 nations had three hours to shop, speed dating-style, for teammates and real-world problems to solve.

“Fifteen days is enough time to build a startup from scratch,” said Anni Sinijarv, the non-profit EIA’s Estonian CEO and co-founder, confidently observing the drama. “The top 10 teams wind up on the big stage and pitch to venture capitalists who sometimes want to invest right away. Americans compare it to ‘Shark Tank,’ only focused on students.”

During the arduous, July 14 to Aug. 2 event, many of the 80 teams — each with a chief executive, business, marketing, technology and design officer — split up and rearranged several times in pursuit of the right team chemistry. Students’ startup ideas also changed like the wind.

To help, 50 experts in marketing, intellectual property, hardware, software, pitching and design — half of them from Silicon Valley — were flown in as mentors. So were 34 lecturers, including corporate leaders from Fiat Chrysler, Google and Amazon. EIA online tools — an Extreme Acceleration Playbookand even a chatbot dog named Growby — kept students organized.

But UC Berkeley’s 56 participants arrived with an edge — their own method for the madness. It would help them wind up on five of the top 10 teams in the EIA Pitching Carousel and on three more teams awarded provisional patents and trademarks.

At a Berkeley-only leadership camp held 200 miles away in Porto just beforehand, they’d learned the Berkeley Method of Entrepreneurship. A game-based, inductive learning approach developed and launched at Berkeley in 2012 — and taught worldwide today — it helps individuals develop the mindset and behaviors of a successful entrepreneurial leader.

According to new findings by a Canadian research team that studied the Berkeley boot campers in Porto, they made substantial gains in skills vital to entrepreneurial success — creativity, leadership and teamwork — in just one week.

Such gain required pain. More like a boot camp, the leadership week “is designed to feel really uncomfortable,” admits Ken Singer, managing director of the UC Berkeley College of Engineering’s Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology (SCET) and co-inventor of the Berkeley Method. “But it forces students to look for the information and tools they need to build a company and a team.”

“I’m OK with being uncomfortable, because of what I’m learning,” said Berkeley participant Britney Cooper in Porto. “I’m struggling, and it’s the best thing ever.”

Method for a mindset

The Berkeley Method has radical roots dating back to 2005, when Ikhlaq Sidhu was recruited to Berkeley’s faculty to launch what’s known today as SCET. At the time, Berkeley Engineering was known for training hard-core engineers, not entrepreneurs, and had no formal entrepreneurship courses.

Then-Dean Richard Newton, both an engineer and entrepreneur, “believed engineers shouldn’t be so narrow; they shouldn’t be reduced to a calculator,” says Sidhu, an industry veteran who’d previously founded the Technology Entrepreneur Center at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. “They need to learn more skills to change the world — like how to communicate well, work well in teams, show initiative, be adaptable.”

To give students a business perspective, he invited Silicon Valley CEOs who’d founded companies including Netscape, Google, Yahoo!, Cloudera and Wired to be guest lecturers. But it was the CEOs themselves, not the lectures, that intrigued Sidhu and his students.

“They had behaviors, a mindset, ways of seeing the world,” explains Sidhu, SCET’s chief scientist and Industrial Engineering and Operations Research (IEOR) Emerging Area Professor. “I started to believe these were the most important things, more important than logic and skill. They were dynamic and clever, and you could see why their companies grew.”

Meanwhile, Singer, a serial entrepreneur hired in 2012 to manage and grow SCET, was creating popular entrepreneurship and technology classes, like the competition-based Challenge Labs that pair interdisciplinary student teams with industry clients. The Berkeley alumnus also was sharing the soft skills he’d mastered — leading, listening, collaborating, hiring the right people and rebounding from failure.

“We weren’t just teaching STEM (science, engineering, technology and math) at SCET, but introducing psychology and culture to entrepreneurship — and it was unique to Berkeley,” says SInger. “We were building something different, as a public university, that was working for our population.”

More at    From Berkeley News, Campus News, Research, Technology & Engineering.


Entrepreneur Went From $100,000 In Debt To Hundreds Of Millions In Exits

With over 400 startup investments and 150 plus exits Fabrice Grinda is unquestionably one of the most experienced entrepreneurs and investors on the planet today. If anyone knows what it takes to build a scrappy and scalable startup, and how to cash in on one, it’s got to be Fabrice. In a new episode of the DealMakers podcast he pulled back the curtain on his biggest mistakes and how to hit home runs, again and again as an entrepreneur and also as an investor.

Super angel, and startup entrepreneur Fabrice Grinda has built and sold multiple companies, as well as investing in some of the most successful ventures you wish you had been in earlier. Those include Palantir, Airbnb and Alibaba Group. Joining the world’s top M&A experts, startup fundraisers, and angels, Fabrice gave an exclusive interview with the DealMakers podcast detailing how he got started, what he’d do differently now, and how he picks the entrepreneurs that receive his investment.

Scrappy Startups, $300M Exits & Impactful Marketplaces

After finding his passion for tech with his first PC at ten years old, Grinda got his feet wet in entrepreneurship with an import/export business to pay his way through college. That company moved high end computers from the US to Europe. After finishing Princeton he went to McKinsey to hone his skill and business acumen.

That first venture put $50k in Fabrice’s pocket. $25k went to a down payment on a one bedroom apartment. He sold it for $70k more than he bought it for 18 months later. The other half he invested into 4 stocks: Microsoft, Intel, Amazon and Yahoo. Those investments soon grew to $300k. He put all of it into his own startup.

That company went on to raise $60 million in capital, before getting a $300M cash buyout offer from eBay. Unfortunately, his lead investor at the time didn’t want to sell. He let his partner buy him out at a much lower price after the bubble burst.

Then there was Zingy. Launched in 2001, there wasn’t much in the way of capital in the market for a mobile game and ringtone startup. Fabrice told DealMakers listeners “I ended up living in New York essentially at $2 a day, slept at the office in the couch. I showered in the office. I couldn’t even afford coffee. I was living off ramen noodles. We missed payroll 27 times in the course of two and a half years. I was raising money but I would raise it in 5k or 10k increments.” There was a point where money ran dry and the company missed payroll four and a half months in a row. Staff shrank from 27 to just 7. Over several years he still managed to raise $1.4M, but in $5k to $10k increments.

Despite the challenges Zingy became a huge success. Owning over 53% of the company, Grinda sold it in 2004, for $80M in cash. The investors pocketed a 20x return.

Out of that windfall of money he bought himself a TV, Xbox and two tennis rackets. He stayed living in a studio apartment, too busy building a larger company to really get sidetracked by the money.

Despite hiring an investment banker who turned an initial $40M unsolicited offer for that company into an auction which yielded double that, and completing the sale, he stayed on as CEO for 18 months. Of course, as most entrepreneurs realize at this stage, things just don’t work like they used to after a sale. He decided “if you’re not going to let me conquer the world, this is not interesting to me,” and left to start a new venture.

After offering to fix Craigslist for free, and finding the founders were uninterested in improving the platform, Grinda cofounded OLX with Alec Oxenford. They received $10M in startup capital from Jeremy Levine (Bessemer Venture Partners), the Founders Fund, and General Catalyst.

OLX launched in 100 countries, testing each market with $50k to see where they could gain traction. Of course, when you build something with 350M users that consumers love, you get a lot of competition and people who want to buy you. That led to another large exit.

The Most Meaningful Moment in the Life of an Entrepreneur

You’d think some of these big exits, notable investments or the millions and millions of dollars would be the big life changers someone like this would point to as their big successes. Yet, Fabrice says “What’s interesting though, was most meaningful moment in my life at that point was actually not the day of the exit or the day that we got the $80M. It’s the day we became profitable. The day we became profitable and I paid back my credit card debt of $100,000. We made payroll and we paid the rent, etc. We were saved, and I knew we had become the masters of our own destiny. We no longer depended on third parties.“

The 4 Biggest Lessons Learned from 400 plus Startups

On the mistakes and things Grinda says he would tell his younger self, he points out: 

Picking a VC who understood him better, and had aligned interests 

Understanding the benefits of having ‘drag’ rights in shareholder agreements 

Consider taking more liquidity earlier 

The importance of your direct relationship with the partner at a VC firm 

Hitting Home Runs

Together with Jose Marin, Fabrice now operates FJ Labs. A VC firm that invests in around 75 companies a year, as well as launching one or two new startups of their own.

FJ Labs invests around the globe in all stages of startups. In terms of picking founding entrepreneurs to bet on, Fabrice says “over everything else, if you have a great storyteller, you have someone who is going to be able to raise money, attract talent and sell the company to partners and potential buyers.”

Find out why these entrepreneurs have an edge, how much he has given them over a simple Skype call, and all of the other secrets revealed in the full podcast episode (listen to the full episode here-

From Forbers Online by  Alejandro Cremades, Oct 30, 2018

BlackRock to Open Atlanta Innovation Hub with 1,000 Jobs

New York-based BlackRock, a global asset management firm and a tech solutions provider, has chosen Atlanta for the company’s new Innovation Hub.

BlackRock will establish a presence in Fulton County, partner with the local business and university community, in addition to creating 1,000 jobs within the next few years, Gov. Nathan Deal announced in a news release Thursday morning.

“When firms like BlackRock choose to expand here in the No. 1 state for business, it’s a powerful statement of what Georgia has to offer to industry leaders,” Deal said. “Georgia provides a workforce that is among the nation’s best and brightest, and their talents and skills, paired with our willingness to embrace cutting-edge innovation, will provide BlackRock with valuable resources as the company continues to grow across our nation. The establishment of this new Innovation Hub also reaffirms the value of the low-tax, pro-business environment we have established, an environment that will provide BlackRock with a strong foundation for success in Fulton County.”

With the Atlanta expansion, BlackRock hopes to extend its technology capabilities close to universities like Georgia Tech, where BlackRock currently sponsors the BlackRock Hallac Scholarship for socioeconomically disadvantaged students pursuing degrees in STEM fields.

“The Atlanta innovation hub is an example of BlackRock’s strategy to serve clients globally and locally and we are excited to build our presence in the area over the next several years,” BlackRock COO Rob Goldstein said. “Atlanta was chosen for its skilled and diverse talent pool, thriving business community and high quality of life as we look to attract top talent and constantly innovate how we operate.”

BlackRock helps investors build financial futures by providing investment and technology solutions. As of Sept. 30, 2018, the firm managed approximately $6.44 trillion in assets on behalf of investors worldwide.

“Metro Atlanta is a top market for innovation, tech talent and big thinkers who disrupt the status quo, and Blackrock is a welcome addition to our ecosystem,” said Hala Moddelmog, president and CEO of the Metro Atlanta Chamber. “The company will benefit from the unique collaborative spirit within our civic, business, academic and tech communities that drive success in our region.”

The announcement of BlackRock’s new innovation center follows the opening of Accenture’s Innovation Hub in Tech Square earlier this year.

Jack Britt: Entrepreneurship Is a Way of Life

Kentucky native and distinguished professor Dr. Jack Britt spoke to students at Western Kentucky University about what it means to be an entrepreneur and how students can be entrepreneurial in their daily lives. With all of his accomplishments, leadership positions, and founded businesses, he is the epitome of an entrepreneur.

Dr. Britt is an alumni of WKU and was part of the first graduating class when the University transitioned from Western Kentucky State College to Western Kentucky University. He was also the president of his senior class at WKU.

He knew he wanted to be an entrepreneur fairly early in life. When he was only 14 years old, Dr. Britt and his twin brother started Britt’s Brother’s Holsteins. They ended up selling their herd at the end of college to attend graduate school. Additionally, Dr. Britt has been on the founding team of seven different businesses.

“Entrepreneurship is a way of life, it is not JUST starting a business,” Britt said. “It takes a long time to make the first dollar. A lot of people think you start a business and you make money immediately. But it takes a while before you actually start making money.” If someone is looking to become an entrepreneur, they have to be willing to take on these risks because that is what being an entrepreneur is all about. Dr. Britt explained that there are many successful companies in the world but at some point they had to live below their means — entrepreneurship is a process.

Building relationships is also important.

“Networking needs to start now. People you meet and engage with in college are people that will provide assistance for you in the future,” Britt said. , “One of the most important things in entrepreneurship is mentorship and mentoring. Mentorship is really entrepreneurship turned into a personal relationship between people.”

This is a point that resounded with Dr. Whitney Peake, Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

“Dr. Britt touched on so many important points for our students,” she said. “He really brought home the message that it is possible to be an entrepreneur in any context, and wherever you choose to be entrepreneurial, students should be seeking out mentors and mentoring others. Those are important messages for all of us to hear.”

Another important aspect of entrepreneurship is vision.

“If you have a vision of what you want your company to be like in 20 years, you will more than likely be able reach it,” Britt said. “You have to have a direct focus.” He went on to say, that having a visionary team is also helpful in the entrepreneurship realm. If you have a group of fellow visionaries you can bounce ideas off of on another and ultimately turn dreams for the company into a reality.”

Babson College Establishes The Babson ACADEMY

Babson College, the pioneer and global leader in entrepreneurship education, today announced the launch of the Babson Academy

Created to advance global entrepreneurial learning at universities around the world, the academy is rooted in Babson’s mission for its second century—to take entrepreneurial education shaped by its acclaimed and dedicated faculty to more people and places worldwide.

The Babson Academy provides faculty, administrators, and students of other educational institutions access to Babson’s thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem, and hopes to inspire change in the way universities and colleges think about, teach, and learn entrepreneurship.

The Babson Academy will launch with a new, inaugural program this November—Babson Fellows for Entrepreneurship Educators.

This program brings 20 acclaimed faculty from universities around the world into a weeklong, immersive Babson residency. Here, they are paired with a Babson faculty mentor and will strengthen their approach to teaching by experiencing classroom time, as well as entrepreneurial extracurricular activities on and off Babson’s campus. Once they return to their home campus, the Fellows launch an individual project to enhance their university’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Babson’s existing educator and student programs, including the Global Symposia for Entrepreneurship Educators (SEE), Babson Build, and the Babson Collaborative, have moved from Babson Executive Education to the Babson Academy to be expanded upon and enhanced.

Also forthcoming is the Babson Academy’s first SEE program at Babson Dubai, the College’s newest location. In February 2019, Global Symposia for Entrepreneurship Educators—Dubai will give local participants the skills needed to pass on an entrepreneurial mindset to their students to shape the next generation of entrepreneurial leaders.

Longstanding Babson community members Amir Reza and Heidi Neck (Neck below) are leading this effort.

As dean of the Babson Academy, Reza will apply his deep-seated experience in international education to his role in supporting global university participants. As academic director, renowned entrepreneurship educator Neck will oversee the development and delivery of Babson programming worldwide. “Academic institutions, as changemakers, recognize the power of entrepreneurship education,” said Neck. “But entrepreneurship isn’t just another discipline. It’s a way of thinking and acting that transcends traditional perspectives on teaching and learning. At Babson, we don’t teach entrepreneurship. We teach students to entrepreneur. And it’s our north star to bring our version of entrepreneurship education to the world.”

Babson College has long been a connector and convener of entrepreneurially minded people. Through its external, global entrepreneurship programs, Babson has impacted more than 8,700 educators and students from 1,300+ educational institutions in more than 80 countries.

The Babson Academy, which offers an extensive portfolio of programming to help universities build and grow their own entrepreneurship programs, will extend the College’s reach.

“Through the Babson Academy, participating institutions benefit from all Babson has to offer—from mentorship to unique teaching methodologies, events, networking, and more. Through a hands-on approach, they learn to take immediate action, and accelerate the development of current and future entrepreneurial generations,” Reza said.

From Babson Thought & Action Online by  |


TiE Hosts Panel on Startups at Atlanta Tech

The Atlanta Startup Scene, Economy & Future.

TiE Atlanta hosted a high-profile panel at their monthly Business for Breakfast 10/19/2018  titled Atlanta’s Economy, Startup Scene, and the Amazon Effect at Tech Atlanta, Alpharetta GA,   To set the tone for the panel Metro Atlanta’s Chamber of  Commerce economist Tom Cunningham provided some outlook for the greater Atlanta economy.

TiE  is a non-profit, global entrepreneurship organization founded in 1992 in Silicon Valley to support startups through networking and the raising of capital for entrepreneurs.  As Atlanta has evolved in FinTech, as a University center, and serves as a major corporate headquarters (Delta, Coca-Cola, Home Depot), its economy is now larger than that of Ireland.  While the U. S. as a whole grows labor at ½ of 1%, Atlanta’s rate runs 2-3% per year. Cunningham emphasized its diversity, comparable lower cost of living, and vibrant collaboration as success factors.

Besides Tech Atlanta in Alpharetta, Atlanta sports Tech Village, ATDC, Switchyards, and a publication called the Hyprpotamus which covers the tech scene. Additionally, Atlanta remains a finalist in the competition to become the second headquarters city to Amazon.  Cunningham estimates if awarded it could bring 50,000 jobs to Atlanta over several years.

The panel consisted of David Lightburn from Atlanta Tech, Karen Ried from Client Command (a lead generation firm), and John Yates, manager of the tech practice at Morris, Manning, and Martin law.  As Lightburn says everything happens at a faster pace when entrepreneurs are in one place.   He should know because Atlanta Tech has produced 330 startups in six years.

Yates has practiced tech law for 37 years, has experience in Silicon Valley, and just hired an Entrepreneur-In-Residence engineer to assist clients.  His mission is to “give entrepreneurs their best chance for success”.  Karen pointed out their lead generation has recently added AI to their process, and all agreed venture capitalists are totally focused on ROI (return on investment) looking always for a growth path.

The key to  a strong Atlanta ecosystem is an innovation engine, and Yates made the point the process will always depend on personal relationships regardless of the reach of automation.


Enterprise is dead, long live Agile.

In corporations, the term “enterprise” often instills a sense of importance, complexity, cost and scale. Likewise high-budget, high-profile projects often result in tech departments responding with enterprise-ready software solutions and infrastructure.

What this means is extensive planning, evaluation, procurement, and timeframes often of several years to “get it right”. The cost of building an enterprise-level solution in this manner is usually in the millions. The risk from failure is extreme.

Of course, enterprise-level solutions shouldn’t mean high-cost, high-risk and long timeframes. Often this is the result of a traditional mindset and organisational structure. It’s sometimes also an inability or unwillingness for businesses to transform and embrace change.

This article considers what is needed for traditional corporations to transform from that mindset and become agile.

What is Enterprise?

In the context of this article, enterprise means large-scale complex solutions delivered at scale. It often results in enterprise-ready software solutions, which consists of specialised applications that solve a particular business-need across an organisation.

As the term “enterprise” infers scale, cost and complexity it often drives a traditional approach to roll-out and planning for these reasons. It leads to on-premise solutions or management of third-party applications.

A traditional enterprise project might consist of the following:

  • Dedicated crack team
  • Feasibility studies
  • Risk assessment and mitigation strategies
  • Identify all functional and non-functional requirements upfront
  • Documentation and project planning
  • Integration strategy with other systems and teams
  • Migration strategy
  • Estimations of costs
  • Evaluation and procurement process
  • Implementation
  • Operational guides and checkpoints
  • Disaster recovery planning
  • Deployment and release planning
  • Big-bang release
  • An investigation into what went wrong

Why Enterprise?

Ironically traditional enterprise approaches are aimed at reducing risk, ensuring longevity, maintainability and to provide maximum value across the business.

Decades ago this made sense. Deploying software and maintaining servers was a complex process that required specialised teams and specialised applications. It required dedicated teams to guarantee uptime, availability and to provide 24/7 support. Deploying, monitoring, securing and managing these enterprise systems was a fulltime and complex challenge and required high lead times to realise new features. Corporations grew around these dependencies and their organisational structure formed to support it.

With the advancement of technology and modern practices, many of these challenges no longer exist and far more superior, scalable and performant solutions can simply be bought with ease through relatively low-cost subscription-based Cloud providers. This allows startups and companies embracing Lean principles the ability to quickly gain a competitive advantage. Although they face the same challenges in terms of product development, they are able to deliver faster, cheaper and at greater scale.

Challenger banks such as Monzo are a good example of this in practice, now competing with the giants at scale. This is no doubt an enterprise-level product offering, but the product is built on Agile principles and leverages modern architecture. It has the ability to roll-out features fast and adapt to the needs of its customers at pace.

In reality, corporations taking a traditional approach to enterprise are less able to compete in the market. Their aversion to risk and change increases actual risk and cost. Many projects fail and legacy systems get built on top of or integrated with the systems they are meant to replace.

This stems largely from the traditional organisational structures which result in an IT-first approach and detachment from the business. Once a business need is identified, IT build vast enterprise solutions before any value can be realised to the business. In that time the market or business needs may have changed, or the assumptions about what the customer needs could be wrong.

In traditional corporations, projects are sliced horizontally into siloed teams. The IT/operations team provide the enterprise software solutions to service the business. The result is large communication overheads and hand-off points throughout a project lifecycle.

Siloed teams drive a need for monolithic systems that support many requirements across the organisation. This creates complexity for deployments, upgrades and project management. It also prohibits change due to the large level of investment required in rolling out these systems.

Traditional enterprise

What is Agile?

Agile is a methodology formed on a simple manifesto.

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

It’s based on twelve principles which put the needs of the end user above all else, and this is an important and powerful strategy. It’s also about releasing often and driving architecture decisions from within self-organising teams, whilst collaborating closely with the business.

Agile methodologies are really frameworks and rituals to facilitate collaboration and communication within a team as well as self-improvement and learning. It aids rapid experimentation and iterative development.

Lean principles coupled with Test & Learn complement the Agile way of working and further drive the ability to validate user value and assumptions throughout the project at low cost. This focuses teams on doing the least work necessary to reach the business objective in satisfying the customer. This is the opposite to traditional enterprise which instead works to plan for and predict future requirements of the business.

Organising for Agile

In order for a company to transform and embrace Agile, it requires reorganisation away from siloed teams. To do this successfully the horizontal slices across an organisation need to be broken down and reorganised into small vertically sliced Product Teams.

Agile Product Teams

An Agile Product Team should be:

  • Self-organising
  • Delivering user value and validating that user value
  • Composed of all skills needed to realise the product
  • Autonomous in all decision making
  • Responsible for product datasets and product infrastructure
  • Able to deploy independently, rapidly and frequently
  • Loosely coupled with other Product Teams through product services

For a traditional company transforming to Agile principles, these are often hard to achieve due to the high-coupling of legacy systems across products. Over time these cross-dependencies should be removed and new systems migrated to the control of the single team that owns them.

Other challenges are of course with keeping the lights on throughout the transition, knowledge transfer and resistance to change.

Choosing the right dissection of Product Teams is important to ensure the right level of granularity of the products, and to minimise cross-dependencies and constraints. These teams should be focussed around specific business capabilities.

Architecting for Agile

What we really mean here is architect for Continuous Delivery in order to become more agile. This supports the Product Team in achieving its business goals. To deliver continuously is one of the 12 principles of Agile. Continuous Delivery is its own set of practices and principles to achieving this with minimal risk, cost and overhead.

A Product Team with full autonomy are free to adapt and improve the architecture of its products over time to meet its business objectives, and without the constraint and complexity of a siloed operations team. This in itself removes the need for enterprise software that touches multiple parts of the business. It allows each team to re-architect and simplify the path-to-production to meet the business needs.

Strangling the Enterprise

During transformation, the need to rearchitect and evolve is hampered by legacy systems and high-coupling between products. The Strangler Pattern is one solution to this problem and allows the business to continue functioning throughout the transition process.

With the Strangler Pattern small slices of an existing system can be replaced in small incremental changes, and one piece at a time. It requires minimal upfront investment and risk. Each slice is re-built on a new architecture and allows the legacy counterpart to be slowly eaten away until it’s completely replaced. The new slice may contain new features and continue delivering value during the transition.

A reverse proxy is often used to make this process transparent to end users and keeps the user experience seamless.

Strangler Pattern

This approach avoids the alternative which is a large-scale refactor, potential code freeze and large-scale migration of an existing system. Such a project would conflict with the Agile principles as it would not be providing direct value to users during the rewrite.

TSB bank in the UK very publicly failed with a large-scale big-bang migration project that back-fired and crippled its product range. This left customers without access to their accounts or money.


To stay competitive in an evolving market, traditional companies must embrace change across the organisation and break the enterprise traditions. It requires large-scale business transformation which starts with the organisation structure. This involves setting up dedicated cross-disciplined Product Teams and removing silos.

Product Teams must be given the autonomy and trust to fully manage the products they own, without external governance or architectural constraints.

To achieve the necessary transformation across an established product range the Strangler Pattern can help teams evolve products whilst continuing to deliver value to customers. This is achieved through modern Cloud re-architecture and iteration within the newly formed Product Teams. It may require simplification and/or replacement of large-scale enterprise systems to refocus on business objectives.

The KPIs on which these teams should be measured include speed-to-market and customer satisfaction. A good team should be able to deploy multiple times a day. They should be continuously improving through rapid experimentation and user testing. This allows teams to quickly innovate, truly understand their customers and pivot where necessary.

From Hackernoon by Mike Carlisle, Cloud architect.

13th Annual National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge


Early yesterday morning 46 NFTE entrepreneurs from across the country began pitching to judging panels at our 13th annual National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge. The three national finalists who emerged from the all-day competition went head to head last night, pitching in front of a cheering crowd at the Edison Ballroom in New York City.

18-year-old Kelsey Johnson of Los Angeles, founder of Kinky Kaps, took first place in the 2018 National Challenge and was awarded the top prize of $15,000. Way to go, Kelsey!

For the first time this year, an additional competition track was held for students from NFTE’s new advanced Entrepreneurship 2 (E2) classes. Top E2 students came to New York to compete for a total prize pool of $15,000. Judges awarded $10,000 to E2 winner Simone Hufana, founder of Color HerStory. Elizabeth Berenguer, founder of Pawfect Pets’ Festival, was named a runner up and awarded $2,500. The five founders of DesignAhhJeans – Yetunde Arongudade, Antonio Finley, TyVon Jones, Diate Jackson, and Hasan Lipscomb – were named runners up and received an award of $2,500 to share.

Bravo to all who qualified for the national finals this year. You’re an extraordinarily talented group of competitors. Every one of you models the entrepreneurial mindset and we wish you continued success!

We’d also like to express our deep gratitude to Citi Foundation and EY, presenting sponsors of the 2018 National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge. Without dedicated supporters like these we would not be able to produce events like the national finals.

NFTE activates the entrepreneurial mindset and builds startup skills in youth from under-resourced communities to ensure their success and to create a more vibrant society.  See

The State of Inclusive Entrepreneurship: By the Numbers



At the Case Foundation we are committed to expanding the field of entrepreneurship and ensuring all have a chace at the American Dream, regardless of their race, place or gender. The wide range of stories featured on #FacesofFounders show that entrepreneurs are essential members of their communities, building businesses that will bring new innovations, jobs and economic growth. That is why we are committed to support women entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs of color who are constantly overlooked and to raise up their stories.Yet the data clearly shows that women and people of color have a disproportionate lack of access to the capital, support and networking that young companies need to scale and grow. By failing to supply all aspiring entrepreneurs with the same social and financial capital, we aren’t tapping our nation’s full potential for innovation. This despite a growing field of evidence that shows many of these groups outperform their peers.

To bring the issues to life, we have curated key entrepreneurship date on gender, race/ethnicity, and geography below. We will update this resource when new data comes to light. There are a lot of data out there, so we aimed to highlight statistics surrounding major disparities that take the form of three different kinds of data: the number of entrepreneurs and businesses; investments in entrepreneurship, mainly in the form of venture capital; and revenue these businesses are producing. All three are interdependent and show a different side of the same coin — the pervasiveness of biases around race, place and gender.

Women Entrepreneurs

Women have made large strides over the course of nearly half a century. Since 1972, women have gone from owning 4.6 percent to 40 percent of all businesses, totally 12.3 millionwomen-owned businesses in the U.S. Although there is a positive increase, these businesses have not experienced the scale of growth that male-owned businesses experience.The 12.3 million women-owned businesses generate $1.8 trillion, which is only 4.3 percent of total business revenues. The gap between the number of businesses and the low revenues stems from the disparities in venture capital investment in women entrepreneurs. All-women teams received just 2.2 percent of all venture capital dollarsin 2017. Co-ed teams with at least one female founder fared a little better, receiving 12 percent of the funds. That means over 85% of the venture capital investments made in 2017 went to all male teams or individual male entrepreneurs. The blocked funding pipeline may be caused by male dominance in venture capital firms. Ninety-three percentof investing partners at the top 100 venture firms are men.Women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in America and they should have access to all the funding and resources that men have access to so their businesses can produce revenue on a similar scale.

Women of Color Entrepreneurs

The disparaging statistics for women entrepreneurs gets even more bleak when looking at women of color entrepreneurs because of the compounding factors of gender and race. On the bright side, women of color are starting businesses at an outstanding rate. Between 2007 and 2018, the number of Latina-owned firms increased by 172 percent, a larger increase than any other minority group.The number of Black-women owned firms rose almost as high, at 164 percent.While the growth rate is high for women of color, Latina-owned firms tend to be smaller than Latino-owned firms. Latina business owners may perceive themselves as “not qualified”to receive funding from financial institutions or venture capital firms.

While women of color are starting businesses at unprecedented rates, the funding just isn’t reaching them. In 2017, there were 6,791 newly funded startups led by at least one female founder, but less than 4 percent of those businesses were led by a Black woman. From 2009 through 2017, Black women-led startups have raised $289 million. That is 0.0006 percent of $424.7 billion in total tech venture funding. The average amount of funding raised by Black women is $42,000, yet the average seed round for all startups is $1.14 million.The funding gap is enormously restrictive on how successful these businesses can be.

The gap in investment contributes to the widening gap in revenue between businesses owned by women of color and those owned by white women. In 2007, the average revenue for a woman of color business owner was $84,100; by 2018 it dropped to $66,400. Comparatively, the average revenue for a white woman business owner was $181,000 in 2007; by 2018 it jumped to $212,300.There is a stark difference in revenue and progress is not just stalling for women of color but getting worse. Entrepreneurs have the ability to lift up their communities but women of color aren’t being allowed the same opportunities to be successful. The combination of gender and race bias creates difficult barriers to entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurs of Color

Looking more generally at entrepreneurs of color, without the gender lens, gives a different perspective of the problem. Again, the number of businesses is growing at a rapid pace. Latinx entrepreneurs have more than tripled in recent years to over 2 million. According to the two most recent Surveys of Business Owners by the US Census Bureau, privately held minority businesses contributed 1.3 million jobs to the American economy in the years following the Great Recession. Clearly, entrepreneurs of color are crucial to the nation’s economy and to their individual communities. However, they aren’t able to scale and produce revenue on an equal playing field to white entrepreneurs because of their limited access to venture capital investment. Less than 1 percent of venture capital-backed founders are Latinx. The same is truefor Black founders. This accounts for the low streams of revenue. In 2015, Black and Latinx entrepreneurs made up 14 percent and 8 percent of all entrepreneurs in the U.S. respectively, but their reported combined revenue was less than 2 percent of $33.5 trillion. Entrepreneurs of color deserve equal access to venture capital and a fair shot at success.

Geographic Distribution of Entrepreneurs

While we strive for diversity across race and gender, we also find that for decades three states receive a disproportionate share of the venture capital dollars: California, New York and Massachusetts. In 2017, 75 percent of all venture capital went to these three statesleaving only 25% to ideas germinated in the other 47 states. And when countingthe total number of deals — no matter their size — 52 percent went to the same three states.There is no shortage of ideas or talent in the rest of the 47 states, yet the Venture Capital that is needed to scale, and tap key networking and mentoring opportunities is in short supply.

Even though three states received most of the venture capital money in 2017, there are two states worth highlighting that have the greatest number of minority-owned businesses. Hawaii and California led all states in the percentage of all employer businesses that were minority-owned, at 56 percent and 33 percent.Other cities like Houston, New Orleans and Miami are on their way to become some of the best places for entrepreneurs of color to launch and grow their businesses.

But there is some good news

While the data highlighted above is stark, the wide range of studies that show positive performance results is heartening. women-led companies perform three times better than the S&P 500.Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likelyto have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. In terms of geography, the 47 states that received only 25% of the venture capital last year perform well.In 2017, 76 percentof the Fortune 500 companies were not based in California, New York or Massachusetts.

Data and transparency are critical to understanding the opportunities and challenges in movement building and we are committed to updating this compendium of data to ensure the challenges and opportunities are clear to all. These collective statistics point to a powerful opportunity to energize our economy and our communities to ensure that anyone from anywhere with a great idea for a business has a shot at the American Dream. We have created #Faces of Founders to highlight these stories and we work alongside and with a wide range of partners and ecosystem builders committed to supporting all entrepreneurs, no matter their race, gender, zip code or background. We are committed to bringing a new face to entrepreneurship and demonstrate to aspiring entrepreneurs, funders and media that diverse entrepreneurs are key to driving innovation and growth in this country.

From #FaceofFounders (FOF) and the Case Foundation, “We invest in people and ideas that change the world.” Founded by Steve and Jean Case in 1997.