Category: Business


BDQ’s: Best of the Intertubes

Dom took the initiative to start this post that we have been talking about, let’s get the community to sound off and crack a collective egg of knowledge by sharing our favorite resources (feeds, blogs, books, people, movies, bathroom graffiti). To start things off I’ve got 10 of my favs listed below.

Opensource.com – Awesome feed, lot’s of great contributors and a surprising amount of great infographics
Continuations – Like a lot of my feeds I got into this one through a venture capital recommendation. Very techy, but very well written and informative. Tech Tuesdays are killer.
A Smart Bear – Fantastic posts, especially the marketing advice. I’m pretty sure I’m going to write some lengthier posts on James’ internet pricing posts.
Chris Dixon – Startup guy turned VC, Chris is a wealth of knowledge and a great mentor over at TechStars NY.
Instigator Blog – One of the very first VC blogs I started reading is written by one of the founders of an awesome Montreal-based accelerator. Candid, genuine, informative.
Startup Lessons Learned – Probably now on every startups radar, Eric Reis, author of The Lean Startup, has become a religious guru of sorts for startups.
Steve Blank – In the same vein as Eric Reis, Professor Blank has some serious cred in the startup world. Keeping an ear peeled for his posts is definitely worth your while.
Both Sides of the Table – I’m throwing in only two VC feeds although I usually read quite a few. The first coveted spot goes to Mark Suster. No BS. Great advice. Love this guy
Ask the VC – The other goes to Ask the VC. Run by the Foundry Group guys in Boulder, they distill the great info into their feed. I’ve several of my favs through them.
Concurring Opinions – Had to put just one legal blog in here. CO’s is a great place to get the scoop on current legal issues (and my main man, super-prof Dave Hoffman is a regular contributor).
Check it and share your own favorites.
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ANOTHER EVENT! 

Looking to exercise your creative chops and create impact in the business world? Looking for a designer to help you create compelling products and experiences that customers adore? Look no further.

This first-of-its-kind event will bring together businesses serious about hiring designers, and creatives serious about finding a foothold in the world of tech startups and emerging growth companies. Attendees from selected companies will have the opportunity to spend 3 minutes with each of 25 selected designers including a view of their portfolios and a high-level view of where their skills can be applied.

Applications will be open to any interested designers and companies. Attendees will be selected based on their commitment to hiring/joining and making the most of the capacity-limited event.

Businesses Apply Here

Designers Apply Here

SAVE THE DATE:

Where: Venturef0rth, 417 North 8th Street, 2nd Floor, Philadelphia PA 19123

When: Wednesday, 4/18, 6-8pm

TIMELINE:

3/28 Applications open

4/11 Applications close

4/13 Notifications to selected designers and businesses

4/18 The Event

Brought to you by Philly Tech Meetup,  Venturef0rth and us!

 

the poster:

Scientists Do It Better

Startup success is often glamorized, but so should the struggle (via @cdixon). The power of iteration has definitely caught on with the Lean Startup craze, but we as entrepreneurs need to remember that for every Pinterest or Zynga, there are 10,000 garage teams burning the midnight oil because they are passionate about something. As a society (and subsequently as professionals), we treat failure as something to be feared or mourned. Why should it have to be like that? I’m not saying that everyone should get a a participation medal, but if failure were less demonized, perhaps the concept of turning failure into a learning experience wouldn’t be such a revelation. And so I echo my co-contributor’s co-sentiments, put yourself out there and don’t be afraid to kill your children.

Two relevant pieces of startup advice that have stuck with me:

1) Do a startup because you love the idea. That way, you can fail and still have a great time. (I think this might be from @cdixon too, or perhaps @sgblank)

2) Scientist are a group of professionals that exalt failure. We should all try to be a little more like scientists. (via @marcecko)

That is the real beauty of startups, people trying to change the world just because they can. Not because they want to be the next TechCrunch headline.

Having read an interesting, yet seemingly obvious article written in The New Yorker, I wanted to do a quick post. The article deals generally with HR practices and I especially wanted to talk about it in light of some of the interview stories I’ve heard from my fellow, soon to be post-graduate school, colleagues. In business school (and surprisingly in one of my law school classes even) I’ve heard HR advocates talk again and again about how the Immelt’s of the world say they wish they had paid attention during their Human Resources classes as they now believe it to be the most important part of running their businesses. Continue reading

Effective Communication

If you were able to make it to the Startups for Creatives event last night at VentureF0rth, I’m sure you would agree with me saying that it was an awesome opportunity and a chance to engage some great members of the community. For those who couldn’t make it, or have no idea what I’m talking about, the event (co-hosted by VentureF0rth, Philly Tech Meetup, and the BDQ) was the first in a series designed to better integrate the philadelphia design community with the philadelphia entrepreneurial community. Specifically, this first event was run with the goal of educating designers about the value that they bring to startups and with the help of some kick-ass, designer/entrepreneur panelists (special thanks to @chuise, @OperationNICE, @wells_jake, and @ptribal) about what the startup experience is like of designers.

So without further ado, my take-aways (by profession). Continue reading

First, I want to thank Dom and Jake for putting the time in to work with VentureF0rth on these upcoming events that were mentioned in the previous post. The motivations behind these events are obviously close to the collective BDQ heart and I hope that we can capitalize on this great opportunity. I look forward to seeing ya’ll there.

I was reading an article today from Steve Blank about his lean startup class at Stanford. Looking over the presentations that were posted, its awesome to see this kind of entrepreneurial teaching getting traction in curriculums. If you read through to the bottom of the article, you’ll notice that Steve talks about the volume of interest in the class and how going forward, getting into the class will essentially be an application process. Day to day we are well accustomed to the logic of meritocracy. To steal from a TED talker (who at this point I can’t remember), there is a strong argument to be made that the most talented should be given the best stuff. Society as a whole arguably benefits more from the best violinist getting the best violin, rather than a random or an equal distribution scheme. Meritocracy in theory is great, but it is also subject to abuse.

A few posts ago Dom posted about a fascinating article concerning the higher education bubble which I wanted to play off of. The so-called higher education bubble, to me, is a perfect example of the perils of bastardizing meritocracy. Too many students go to school believing that the education system is transparent: if you crush that entrance exam, you go to the highest ranked school you can, and you are justly rewarded upon graduation. I believe that is at issue here, is a question of incentives. We as students are led to believe that educational programs are incentivized to maximize our future societal potential. You work hard, you get your due. Period. Educational programs, however, also have interests in accepting the largest applicant pools that they can. Problems always surface when a certain class of actors is either unaware or misled about the incentives of another actor class. Ex. Student debtors believe that those issuing the loans would not issue them if the loaner knew that the student couldn’t pay them back.

The business lesson of my diatribe is this: incentive analysis is crucial. Given the bottom line focused business world that Dom mentioned, not understanding the motivations of those we do business with is a potential disaster for both parties. You never have the benefit of costlessly gathering data, but making efforts to understand the incentives of parties is important whether you’re making an HR plan, doing a VC deal, or making an app. So go out, be a skeptic and don’t let the man get you down.

This is the title of a Fast Company article that is secretly advocating for design at the beginning phases of projects, rather than the end. Experience and interaction design already focus their considerations on how people interact with a product, organization or process and how that can be optimized and streamlined. Service designers are looking, specifically, at how to create new services that fulfill a potential client base’s latent needs. Including these people and their processes early on, only makes sense, because it enables the business to be built around customer.

Designers live and breathe qualitative data. On the obvious level, aesthetics are not defined by math. Yes math has a role, most good visual materials is based on a grid, but more important context, precedent and expectations also play a role. Will this be on a magazine or a billboard, is this for a restaurant or a tech start-up, what work has come before? These questions are more important when considering how to make unique, engaging graphics. In the broader context of Design, designers study people, their environments, their perspectives, their culture as well as their responses to make an informed decisions. It is this qualitative data that, that paints a richer more textured picture about a potential client base to enable more tailored and appropriate offering to be developed. So listen to Fast Co. and don’t feel bound to quantitative data.

 

Higher Education Bubble

Not really design-y or business-y but certainly still germane. This article from Fast Company, or Co. Design as this is from their spin-off, is about the potential of a bubble in the economy of student loans.

They claim that apparently because student loan debt isn’t erased in bankruptcy court the debt effectively just follows the student around their entire life, graduate or not. Connecting that fact with the high-unemployment, and thus higher rate of college applicants etc. etc. that this is and will have significant impacts on the American/Global economy.

It’s certainly an interesting take, they don’t really propose any better solution other than developing some means to show how much one can do and learn outside of college if they really want to make something for themselves. Building on the argument that college is doing nothing more than buying that ticket to a higher paying job, and the lack of skills it is providing are actually quite detrimental in terms of debt, but also in getting a job (which of course ties back to debt).

To me this highlights yet another fault in the premises the economy is built on. That pure bottom line mentality is eating us from the inside out. Politicians and corporations want to know how it will make them money and get them deals. In turn they exploit any option they can, and now they’ve really whittled down their options. They are literally preying on the futures of individuals, hopefully, striving to make a difference in the world, individuals that believe a higher education will help them do that more acutely, quickly and significantly. Now though, this is disappearing before our very eyes. How will the economy, and America, run when we have a bunch of “higher educated” individuals discussing the classics in shanty’s under bridges because they can’t get a loan to start a business or even a credit approval to rent an apartment…

Yeah, I took this pretty far, but my point is still the same, the definition of progress will have to change to continue making progress.

P.S. I didn’t look at the infographic/video

It’s Been Emotional

Holy smokes, I’m back bitches! My first BDQ post in forever, although admittedly in part due to the $30 bucks Georgia bullied me into putting up as a monetary incentive.

For my reunion tour I wanted to briefly mention my experience at StartupCorps‘ mid-semester business plan competition that they hosted for their students. First, it was great to see a real show of force from the Temple MBA’s. I’m hard pressed to think of a mutually beneficial relationship with more potential and can’t wait to see how things develop. The event, for those that weren’t there, was made up of 50 or so high school students (mostly from the Student Leadership Academy) pitching their business ideas to a panel of judges. The finalists from each of the separate judging panels then went on to present in front of everyone in a final round.

Having done a couple pitches and listened to more, I was quite impressed with the skills exhibited. True, there wasn’t much in the way of financials or competitive strategy, but it did not matter. Listening to these pitches, you couldn’t help but edge forward. The listeners visibly wanted to be a part of what these students so clearly believed in. It was, in a word, contagious. Can a business pitch be anything better?

Of the 8 or so pitches that I heard, there was a diversity of ideas, but they all shared a common thread: emotion. Clothing lines were battle cries of identity, acceptance, and individuality. After school communities were bastions of understanding and support. Given the emotional turmoil of everyone’s teenage years, its no surprise the emotional growth and expression played such central roles in these business ideas. Nonetheless, it was still amazing to see such clear examples of how entrepreneurship can serve as a mechanism for engaging the world around us.

Listening in on these pitches reminds me that emotions are powerful forces to tap into. The next time that I think about my game-plan, you can be sure that I will consider whether I need to build something to spark the change I’m interested in. Perhaps all I need is an emotion and a message.


Here’s a fun article that outlines some interesting points about making stuff happen. In 20 min the creator of the makerbot and a collaborator hammered out what they call the Done Manifesto. Though a bit grandiose sounding for 20min worth of work, it really reflects their perspectives on how to work.

There’s also an illustration that accompanies it. It doesn’t constitute and info-graphic in my mind because it doesn’t really convey information, it is a lovely supplemental image to the text beneath it though, the actual manifesto.

  1. There are three states of being. Not knowing, action and completion.
  2. Accept that everything is a draft. It helps to get it done.
  3. There is no editing stage.
  4. Pretending you know what you’re doing is almost the same as knowing what you are doing, so just accept that you know what you’re doing even if you don’t and do it.
  5. Banish procrastination. If you wait more than a week to get an idea done, abandon it.
  6. The point of being done is not to finish but to get other things done.
  7. Once you’re done you can throw it away.
  8. Laugh at perfection. It’s boring and keeps you from being done.
  9. People without dirty hands are wrong. Doing something makes you right.
  10. Failure counts as done. So do mistakes.
  11. Destruction is a variant of done.
  12. If you have an idea and publish it on the internet, that counts as a ghost of done.
  13. Done is the engine of more.