Random Thoughts And Printers
Apr 5 2012

For some reason today was a weird day.  It started out with me dragging myself onto the treadmill at 6:00 a.m.  Then I sorted through a bunch of email and set up some meetings.  I had a good meeting with one of my clients.  I even had a good lunch with a potential client.  Then it got mixed up in a few ways that illustrate the complexity of us humans and machines as follows:

  • I called my insurance agent to discuss car and homeowners premiums. Given I’ve had my car almost 11 years and it has over 135K miles on it, I felt like I was paying way too much.  I was right and I ended up saving hundreds of dollars per year.  I got irritated knowing that if I had called a year ago, I could have saved more money.  I hate wasting money.  So it was a bittersweet sensation.  I hope they are glad that I didn’t call Geico (darn gecko) first!
  • As I was on the phone with the agent, my Epson printer freaked out and stopped printing.   I had the printer 3 1/2 years and it decided to crash today…just as I needed to print and scan back docs to the agent.  It was cheaper to buy a new printer than figure out how to get it to San Antonio to fix it.  Needless to say, I spent a significant portion of what I was about to save on reduced insurance premiums on a new printer.
  • I called the cable company a few months ago and discovered I could spend 1/2 of what I was spending on cable & internet and still get basically the same service.
  • I wonder how much revenue these companies collect because people like me are too busy to call and figure out what the less expensive, still viable options are.  What if it was 20 or 30% of their revenue?!  That means they are relying on our laziness, busy-ness, and stupidity for a significant portion of their revenue.
  • I wonder if someone can invent an app that scans all your bills periodically and lets you know if you made this change or took advantage of this new package, you could save hundreds of dollars.
  • I stopped at Office Depot before and after a happy hour for the Austin Technology Incubator and received $50 credit for my old printer for a trade in on an HP printer that supposedly has more capacity and features.  I’ve already set it up and like the scan-to-email feature.  Thank goodness for auto setup on devices these days!
  • Grey’s Anatomy is a very good TV show.  Mad Men displays sexism and the male dominated advertising firm life in the 60’s very well, but sometimes I can’t follow their conversations easily.
  • Matters of the heart, head, and machine are not so easily resolved no matter how hard we try.  They all seem to result in the sensation of wanting to punch something or someone or cry when you can’t get them to work like they should.
  • How do 9 year old boys play 4 games of soccer in one day without falling over.  We will soon find out.
  • I’m thankful I live in the United States where I can create opportunity where none would usually exist as well as buy a new printer on short notice.  I’m also thankful that I saved for “rainy days” and live in a place that usually has less rain than other places.
  • I’m thankful for good health.

I have so many more thoughts, but most are not very useful to the general public just like half of the above aren’t either, but I hope it results in a few of you saving some money.

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Why Every Small Business Should Have Inventory Management Software
Mar 8 2012

Following is a guest post by a writer for Ordoro, a company I used to work with while I was at the Austin Technology Incubator.  When she reached out to me to see if I would accept a guest post, I chuckled and thought what a small world it was.  I like the team at Ordoro.  They are doing great things and making a difference for small businesses.

Carolyn is a guest post writer on the subjects of small business management, small business tools, and inventory control. She believes that the right software is an essential part of what it takes for startups to succeed.

Why Every Small Business Should Have Inventory Management Software

Inventory will hog all of your company’s cash if you allow it to do so. Think about it. You pay your suppliers, and you wait for them to ship goods to you. Then you wait for your employees to turn those goods into finished products you can sell. Once the products are ready to sell, you have to wait for customers to buy them. As you may have noticed, turning inventory into cash involves a lot of waiting. That’s why it’s essential that you do everything you can to increase your inventory turnover rate as much as possible. When it comes to inventory control, one of the most effective tools a small business owner can take advantage of is inventory management software. Here’s what inventory management software can do for your small business:

  • Inventory control software helps you identify what you need to order from suppliers at any given time. This kind of software gives you a clear picture of your inventory levels. If your bestselling product is almost sold out, it’s probably crucial that you order more of it as soon as possible. If you aren’t using software that allows you to monitor your inventory levels easily, it’s much more difficult to order what you need when you need it.
  • Small business inventory software helps you identify slow-moving products. If you analyze the data provided by inventory management software, it will be more simple and efficient for you to identify products that are slow-moving. Once you know what isn’t selling, you can order less of it from your suppliers and ultimately have more cash freed up to purchase other inventory that is selling well.
  • Tracking inventory shipments from multiple suppliers can be difficult, and inventory management software can help. It’s crucial that you know when inventory is going to arrive, so you can plan your sales efforts accordingly. Inventory management software is probably the best tool to use if you want to track your orders and shipments from different suppliers.
  • If you’re an e-commerce merchant, inventory management software like the software offered by Ordoro will help you keep track of your inventory across multiple webstores. It’s no small feat to keep track of what’s being sold where and what’s in stock overall as a result. That’s why it’s generally a good idea for e-commerce merchants to enlist the help of some quality software, especially if they’re trying to run a small business without much help from anyone else.

Inventory management software is hardly ever expensive, especially when you consider the ROI. With this type of software, you’ll be able to increase your inventory turnover rate by ordering what you need, halting orders of what you don’t need, getting the most out of your relationships with suppliers, and staying organized no matter how many stores or webstores you own. So, why make things harder on yourself without this integral software tool?

 

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Timing Is Everything…
Jan 31 2012

Most of us know that timing has a lot to do with things turning out as desired or not.  If you try to bring a product to market before it’s time (e.g., anything similar to the iPad that came out before the iPad), you often fail.  If you take too long, you can miss the proverbial boat.  This is true for a) your career, b) relationships/love, c) start-ups, or d) teaching your kids to ride a bike.

My daughter just started riding a bike this weekend.   Her brother learned when he was 5 1/2 and she’s almost 7 (2nd child with parents who are crazy busy).  I knew she had good balance given she rode her scooter around the house and on the street & sidewalks with ease.   So this weekend her dad put her on the bike we got her last Christmas and on the first try she was riding easily.  She was ready and the timing was right!  I think it was partly because we didn’t make a big deal of it or try to make it happen before she was ready.

If you had given me chocolate mixed with salt 5 to 10 years ago, I would have probably spit it out or not even tried it, but Dark chocolate with a touch of sea salt is remarkably yummy.  Timing.  I’m still not fond of chocolate mixed with peanuts, but maybe in 5 more years…

I haven’t blogged too much about my career recently because the company I went to work for after I left the Austin Technology Incubator back in August 2011 prohibited employees from mentioning on their blogs that we worked there.  Needless to say, I did not know that before I joined and I’m no longer there.  So the timing seemed right to hang up my consulting shingle for a while.  My current, not very creative name, is ASG Consulting (LinkedIn).  I just completed a  project for a company in the clean energy/smart grid space and may do some more work for them in the future.

So here I go again attempting to create something that didn’t exist before, but now instead of a hardware or software product, I’m selling my time & expertise.  I feel fortunate to live in a time, town, and space where I’m well connected and opportunities are like hidden Easter eggs waiting to be found.  Who knows…one of these consulting jobs might end up in a full time job if the fit (skill match, culture, location, etc.) is right.

If I can help your company or someone elses you know with operations, strategy, and/or business development (particularly partner/client management), please ping me and let’s talk.  Next up, I have to get some business cards…

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Time Keeps On Slipping…
Jul 26 2011

Where does it go? Time Keeps On Slipping Into the Future… (you tube).  So much going on but so little time to write about it.  My daughter lost her first tooth when she was almost a year older than when my son lost his and the tooth fairy came to visit.  I know this because I did a blog post about it and if I hadn’t, I’m not sure I would have remembered when he lost it.  Thank goodness for blogging!  She was in Mexico when it happened visiting her cousins and apparently instead of a tooth fairy, the tooth mouse visits and she got pesos instead.

Check out Beat the Heat Happy Hour – July 20 and Sales & Business Development Lunch & Learn – July 13, 2011 for posts written by the Austin Technology Incubator marketing intern, Kirsten Frazee, on two recent events I coordinated for our member companies.

Check out our highly non-publicized facebook page called Metaphor Mania for info on our songwriting endeavors that are moving at the snail like pace of the silvery, slimy trail in between our busy lives.

The kids are in summer camp with varying degrees of happiness depending on the day and if there is a cool field trip involved.  They are learning social survival skills, and I’m learning skills on how not to worry when I leave my daughter in a room full of unknown kids with teenage camp counselors.

Hopefully in the next few weeks, I can blog about another shift in my life…a very good one

Until then, I’ll be breathing deeply and trying not to drink too much red wine.

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I’m Speaking at IBM’s Smart Camp on May 18, 2011
May 15 2011

I speak on many panels and serve as a judge at many competitions, and I wish I had time to write more about them.  I just got back from a conference put on by one of the Austin Technology Incubators funders, the Economic Development Agency, held in Albuquerque.  I was on a panel and served as a discussion moderator at one of the round tables they held.   I’ll be writing about that one in the next week or so.  I recently wrote on the Austin Technology Incubator blog about an upcoming event I’m speaking on at IBM’s SmartCamp here in Austin, Texas.

I will be serving on a panel sponsored by SharpSkirts with other key executives from IBM and the Dachis Group on May 18, 2o11.  ATI will be offering  part of the University of Texas at Austin prize consisting of a package of strategic consulting services and office space to the winning team.

Scott Case, CEO of Startup America, will speak about Startup America and share his views for the Austin entrepreneurial community.  Scott will be joining from Washington DC via an interactive webcast.

Jim Corgel, IBM General Manager of ISV & Developer Relations, will speak about what IBM SmartCamp is doing for the local and global community and what the new IBM Global Entrepreneur initiative offers start-ups.

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It’s Over – SXSW Interactive Day 5
Mar 15 2011

Today was the last day and apparently this was the highest attended SXSW Interactive ever with 19,364 attendees up from 14,251 last year.  I made it for Reid Hoffman‘s keynote.  Reid is the founder of LinkedIn.  He had a lot to say and I wish he a few slides for us to look at because it was hard to keep up, but here are my notes.  I missed the first two “rules for entrepreneurs,” but here they are:

1. Zoned out, was checking email or twitter. UPDATE from Jeffrey in comments below: Pay attention to your customers.

2. Zoned out, was checking email or twitter. UPDATE from Jeffrey in comments below: Stay focused.

3. Aim big. It’s the same effort to do a small businesses as it is a big business so it’s better to try to change the world.

4. Plan for good luck.

5. Maintain flexible persistence.

6. Launch early enough that you are embarrassed by your 1.0 product release.

7. Always keep your aspirations and aim high but dont drink your own kool-aid.

8. Having great product important but good distribution more important.

9. Pay attention to the culture and how you hire from the beginning.

10. These rules are not laws of nature. You can break them.

Then I headed to the Austin Technology Incubator’s Entrepreneur’s Lounge for some networking and then to the Game Salad (an ATI company that is doing very well) party, which I left a bit early from.  I’m too old for loud music and late nights.  And so concludes another SXSW Interactive, but wait, I still have one more post to do about SWAG that I’ll hopefully have time to write later.

Good bye tens of thousands of out of town visitors.  We love having you here each year, but we don’t want you to all move here and clog up our roads anymore than they are! :-)

Author: | Filed under: austin technology incubator, conferences, entrepreneurship, twitter | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

My Calves Hurt But My Toes Are Fine – SXSW Interactive Days 1 and 2
Mar 12 2011

The second day of SXSW Interactive is still going on in downtown Austin.  I called it a night early since I’m too old for this stuff it’s become too mainstream and there are too many people.  I’m not a big crowd person, which is one of the reasons I have no real interest in going to Mardi Gras in New Orleans…I like a little bit of personal space.  As I mentioned in my first post about the conference, I was approaching this one in a zen-like, floating manner and so far I’m succeeding and my stress level and need to stay late at events has been very much reduced.

Yesterday, I made it to the keynote by Marissa Mayer, vice president of consumer products at Google.  As some of the panels/keynotes at SXSW Interactive are, her talk was pretty much a big commercial for Google.  They are focusing on location based services and maps.  I love Google Maps.  I don’t know how I lived without it since I’m directionally challenged and having a map on my iPhone telling me where to go, despite it being wrong about 10% of the time, has saved me much angst.  I have since transferred that angst to other things in my life, but still.

I then went to the Entrepreneur’s Lounge, co-hosted by the Austin Technology Incubator, where I work, (awesome new website alert!! - designed by Clutch Creative) and connected with people I hadn’t seen in a while and met some new people.  After that I went to Ignite Austin, but didn’t stay long because it was very loud so my friend Karen Banteverus who founded VolunteerSpot and I went next door to a restaurant to have hot tea and tortilla soup and catch up.  I did see Michael Dell and his brother Adam who were sitting a couple rows ahead of me at Ignite Austin.  I had met Adam for lunch with a couple of my co-workers before, but had never seen Michael that up close and personal before.  Then I went home.

I checked out the Blogger’s Lounge (sponsored by Samsung) yesterday and today and was surprised at how few people I knew there.  In just a few short years, the people I know/knew either aren’t here or aren’t at the Blogger’s Lounge.  Things and people move on fast in Internet time.

Today, I saw the keynote by Seth Priebatsch, chief Ninja at SCVNGR.  He’s something like 21 years old and dropped out of Princeton after his first year.  I was really impressed with his talk and how he delivered it especially given his age.  I think he’s someone to watch who will be doing some game changing things in the future.  It made me wish I was 21 again and knew what I knew now…how differently I would approach life and business.  He basically spoke about ways to apply a gaming layer to the world.  In other words, applying game theory to solving some of our biggest problems.  It’s not the first time to hear someone talk about this, but he presented it in a unique way.  The room was completely full and there were several overfill rooms where his talk was being simulcast.

Then I headed to the Entrepreneur’s Lounge again this evening and then to the uShip party at their new offices on 3rd and Brazos (sweet!).  I know the uShip founders from activities around the UT Austin business school and the CEO/Founder and I used to be in a Business to Consumer (B2C) group when I was running Babble Soft.  After that party, I realized my calves were killing me from all the walking around downtown in my Skechers, but my toes/feet were fine because I wasn’t wearing heels!  So I headed home to write this blog post and to see if there was a new episode of Grey’s Anatomy this past week that I could watch.

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SXSW Interactive – 2011
Mar 11 2011

It’s that time of year again.  The time in Austin, Texas where South by Southwest and Spring Break combine.  Thousands of people descend on Austin for SXSW Interactive, Film, & Music.  I think the attendees for Interactive surpassed that for music last year.

I’m approaching the experience in a more zen like fashion this year and seeing where the tides pull me.  I know I’ll be at the Entrepreneur’s Lounge, co-hosted by The Austin Technology Incubator (where I work) a few times this week and a few other events including Ignite Austin this evening thanks to the Entrepreneur’s Foundation of Central Texas.  I plan to attend some panels and meet up with people I haven’t seen since last year.

Some of you may remember that I coordinated a panel a couple of years ago called Building A Web Business After Hours.  My advice is don’t do it unless you have a clear path to get out of your day job, don’t have young kids, and aren’t going through personal turmoil.  So this year I’m going to float and see what happens.  I haven’t even uploaded my picture online for my badge so I’ll get an on site picture if I can find parking this afternoon.

Thankfully, the weather is gorgeous with high’s in the upper 70’s predicted for most of the week.  I hope to see some of you (my readers) during my floating around…

Author: | Filed under: austin, austin technology incubator, conferences, entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, networking | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Austin, Texas Rocks!!
Jan 8 2011

Check out the CBS evening news last night, January 7, 2011 on how Austin is growing jobs.  The video is embedded below.  They interviewed people from BazaarVoice, a really hot start-up in town.  I know the CEO and he’s really great and focused on building a company with a strong culture with big value.  They also interviewed my boss, Isaac Barchas, at the Austin Technology Incubator and featured how we help companies grow and create jobs.  Check it out here: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7224282n or below in the embedded video.

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Interesting Links and Fortunes
Nov 21 2010

These two links are interesting because I wrote the posts…well not just that, they also have some great entrepreneurial content related to my job at the Austin Technology Incubator.

IBM and ATI Announce Partnership On Novel Summer Internship Program
It took us a while to be able to talk about the above partnership that I helped coordinate, but just last week we were finally able to talk about the unique intern program we set up.  It’s pretty exciting news since we helped create three internships that wouldn’t have existed otherwise.  Click the link to read the full story including quotes from our executive director, Isaac Barchas, and a vice president at IBM, Manoj Saxena.

Human Resources Best Practices – Lunch & Learn
One of the many things I do at ATI is organize periodic Lunch & Learn’s with relevant topics/speakers for our companies.  The last one we did was on HR and we had some fantastic speakers (see below).  Check out the post for key questions asked and key takeaways from their talk as well as their full bios.

Fortune Cookies

It’s been almost six months since I’ve done a post on fortune cookies but I got one recently that seemed appropriate.  I was having lunch with Laura Benold, a former ATI marketing associate extraordinaire, last week and got the following fortune: “Impatience may be appropriate at this time.”  We both laughed and thought it was relevant given our conversation at the time.  Although I like to get things done and get them done quickly, I have been more than patient about some things (contrary to some people’s beliefs about me) in the last few years mostly because I was dealing with a personal tsunami of my own, but my patience on certain things has about run out.  So maybe I should be more visible with my impatience for a while. :-)

Another fortune (i.e., a statement, which seem to be the trend in fortune cookies these days) I got in the last couple of months is something like “Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence.”  That is so true about people, products, markets, etc.  I have a blog post brewing in my head about that one.  I think entrepreneurs have an even greater imagination than most.  I can’t imagine living life without an active imagination.  Entrepreneurs (business people, scientists, writers, etc.) are sometimes crazy enough to attempt to try and make what they imagine real!

Author: | Filed under: austin technology incubator, entrepreneur, entrepreneurship | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Entrepreneur’s Foundation and I2P
Nov 7 2010

Time to write is scarce these days.  My days are full with work, kids, homework supervision, music, house stuff, friends, and movies.  The kids and I saw Megamind in 3D today. :-)   So that means less time for me to write on the blog, but not to worry I am still getting my creative outlet through song writing.  My new music writing partner and I now have 5 prototype songs done.  They are still works in progress but for the few people I have played acoustic/rough cut recordings to, they seemed to like them or they did a good job at acting they liked them!  My favorite one so far is based on lyrics inspired by my daughter.

This past week, I had the chance to participate in two really neat entrepreneurial related events in Austin.  One was the Entrepreneur’s Foundation of Central Texas (EF) annual fundraising Texas Hold ‘Em poker night event.  The Austin Technology Incubator, where I work, partners with the EF to handle our company’s equity donations to The University of Texas at Austin.  The organization was co-founded by one of my friends, Randi Shade, who is currently an Austin city council member.  This was my third year to go and I always have a blast.  Each time, I’ve made it past the initial table to the 2nd table.  One year I think I made it past the 2nd table, but this year I was out at the 2nd.  It’s a fabulous networking event with the who’s who of Austin entrepreneurs and investors in attendance.   Last year, they had celebrity guests, one of whom was Heather Graham.  I got a picture with her and yes she is as beautiful in person as she is in the movies!  She even gave me a stick of chewing gum.  The EF provides a great service to our community by helping facilitate donations when companies have a liquidating event to charities of their choice.

The other event was the Idea to Product Competition (I2P).  I have judged and served as a feedback judge at I2P for several years now.  I remember being part of the early formation discussions of the competition 10+ years ago.  I really enjoy participating in this competition for many reasons.  The student teams seem to get better every year.  I’m always fascinated with the life science companies and this year is no exception.  One company had invented a tiny microscope to help detect diseases in blood samples via enhanced imagery.  I don’t want to go into too much detail because our advice to them was to really get a clear understanding of their intellectual property ownership.  Another had an at home device for testing for certain sexually transmitted diseases.  The topic makes me cringe but apparently there is a large and unfortunately growing market.  The entrepreneur in me gets excited to see these students interested in commercializing technology they have either created or intend to license from a university.  It also reminds me of when I was a student presenting my first company in front of a panel of judges in one business plan competition after another.  I can relate to the nerves/anxiety but the thrill of selling the concept kept me going.

As I think I’ve mentioned before, there are many really neat things happening in Austin in the world of high-tech entrepreneurship, and I only wish I had time to write more about them.

Author: | Filed under: austin technology incubator, competition, entrepreneur, entrepreneurship | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

Happy Halloween, Pirates and 3 Day Startup
Oct 31 2010

And now for a really quick post…Happy Halloween!  My kids dressed up as Super Girl and something called a Metal Skull Rider and went trick or treating with their dad.  I didn’t dress up, but at my son’s soccer game today I asked one of the mom’s to spray gold glitter in my hair so my daughter would try having some in her hair.

This weekend I showed up to help advise companies that are part of a program called 3 Day Startup hosted by the Austin Technology Incubator (where I work) and coordinated by our wireless/IT director, Bart Bohn.  Check out the ATI Blog for an update on the students that were involved and the companies that emerged from the weekend lock-in.  Three teams presented tonight to a panel of judgest so that’s where I spent my Halloween evening…with glittery hair.

Check out this post by Michael Arrington on TechCrunch to find out if you are a Pirate (a.k.a. entrepreneur in search of adventure because finding that pot of gold is rare).  He says, “Entrepreneurs, though, are all screwed up. They don’t need to be rewarded for risk, because they actually get utility out of risk itself. In other words, they like adventure. The payouts for starting a business are just terrible when you account for risk. A tiny minority of entrepreneurs ever get rich. And the majority of entrepreneurs would probably make far more money, and have more stable personal relationships, if they just worked for someone else.”

Author: | Filed under: austin technology incubator, entrepreneurship, holiday | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Idea to Product Competition April 2010
Apr 29 2010

With about 1,000 things to juggle I can’t seem to find the time to write blog posts, let alone read which spurs some of my ideas on what to write about.  After I get home get the kids fed, bathed, homework-ed, piano-ed, put to bed and caught up on emails, it’s almost 10:00 pm and I’m sapped or is that zapped…oh whatever.  So here’s a copy of what I wrote for the Austin Technology Incubator blog on the Idea to Product Competition I judged last weekend:

Idea to Product Competition April 2010

I had the privilege of serving as a judge in the final rounds of the Idea to Product (I2P) competition this past Saturday, April 24, 2010.  I always enjoy judging this competition and seeing how many interesting technology concepts the students either invent or enhance based on an existing technology.  This year marks the 10 year anniversary of I2P and I remember being part of the early discussions when the competition was forming.

The Idea to Product® UT Competition is an early-stage technology commercialization plan competition, hosted by the Murchison Chair of Free Enterprise, which was started at UT in 2001.  In the Idea to Product® Competition students create links between emerging technologies and market needs required to support later stages of commercialization. The I2P® Program educates students about creating viable products and services from technology, and has served as a stepping stone for entrepreneurship. Previous teams have produced work that has increased research funding, licensing of technology, and creation of new ventures. The competition has also served as a commercialization forum for faculty and members of the community.  Faculty have been able to consider societal needs of technology and members of the community have been given an early preview of cutting-edge technology. The competition is sponsored by the Cockrell School of Engineering, the College of Natural Sciences, several engineering departments, along with several student organizations.  Supporters of the event include the National Science Foundation, NCIIA, MOOT CORP, the Austin Technology Incubator, the Office of Technology Commercialization, Fish & Richardson, P.C., and the Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship.

The winners of this year’s University of Texas competition (the global competition happens later in the year) were:

  1. Digital Proctor
  2. CoolCore Technologies
  3. SpectraPhase

It was a really tough decision choosing the top 3 because in all the years I’ve been judging the competition, these were some of the best presentations I had seen.  It was obvious the students worked very hard and were probably up many a late night!  Check out the http://www.ideatoproduct.org/ut/ site to see videos of the presentations.

Digital Proctor helps online universities assess whether someone might be cheating using unique keystroke identification technology.  They even have paying customers!  CoolCore Technologies has access to technology that rapidly reduces therapeutic hypothermia after a heart attack, stroke, or traumatic brain injury.  Most brain damage is done within 90 minutes of an incident and cooling down the body can significantly reduce death and long term brain damage.  SpectraPhase has technology that is a real-time glucose monitoring catheter for inpatient care usage.  It gives continuous, ultra-high accuracy readout of changes in patient blood glucose levels.

We at ATI wish them great luck in pursuing commercialization of their technologies (if they choose to do so)!  I2P is a great way for students to get feedback on the commercial viability of their technology and product ideas, and I look forward to serving as a judge again.

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3 Day Startup in Austin – April 2010
Apr 11 2010

This weekend the Austin Technology Incubator is hosting 3 Day Startup (3DS).  Bart Bohn, Wireless/IT Director, is the guy at ATI who facilitates and oversees this really cool event.  3DS is where 40+ University of Texas at Austin students from all different colleges get locked in to ATI and have to come up with a business.  They work hard to flesh out ideas, build pitches, create prototypes, and sell their ideas.  I dropped by yesterday (Saturday) late afternoon and stayed through evening to see what companies were forming and to ask questions and give them some advice.  It’s great to feel the energy in the building as these budding and wannabe entrepreneurs use their creative juices to come up with what could be viable business opportunities.  Some were interesting and others were well let’s just say a bit off the mark.

Tonight (Sunday) they presented their ideas in front of a panel of investors and entrepreneurs to get additional feedback.  I was really impressed with the progress some of these teams made in their presentations from last night to tonight.  Some of them were awake for close to 60 hours!  I was never one for all nighters.  In fact, I only pulled an all nighter once in my entire undergrad and grad years and it wasn’t even for a class.  It was for some dumb consulting challenge in graduate school where about 1/3 of the night I was laying on the sofa exhausted and annoyed that we were working on something that seemed futile.  I always figured that if by 2 or 3 a.m., I didn’t know the material, I wasn’t going to know it, and I just hoped that the answers would come to me when test time rolled around.  Fortunately, enough them usually did because I wasn’t a crammer and usually paced my studying.

For a more official post on 3DS, check out the ATI blog post at ATI Hosts Spring 3 Day Startup 2010 for Student Entrepreneurs.

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Recent Entrepreneurial Events in Austin
Mar 6 2010

What I want to do with this blog is evolving, but I’m pretty sure my posts will generally still fit my tag line of “babbling about business and parenthood.”  Pretty much everything falls into those categories except for maybe marriage and love.  But you can feel married to your business, in love with it, and close to unconditionally in love with your children so yes, even marriage and love are fair game for this blog known as entrepreMusings.

On this post, I’m going to mention a few events that I’ve been involved with or attended recently here in Austin, TX that had to do with entrepreneurship.

Back on February 17, 2010 I had the honor of being a table moderator at a local event hosted by the Austin chapter of Texchange, a group that brings entrepreneurs together to network and discuss things that are of concern to entrepreneurs.  This event had a panel of 3 CEOs that recently had successful exits of their companies.  The panelists were Joel Trammel of NetQoS, Rod Favaron of Lombardi Software (an Austin Technology Incubator alum through it’s now defunct parent called OpenPlus), and Craig Malloy of Lifesize Communications.  For their full bios, check out the post on AustinStartup called Meet CEO’s With Major Recent Exits.  It was great to have in the same room, 3 CEOs who have had positive exists from their company.  I believe 2 of them even had all cash deals!

On March 4, 2010 I participated in 3 events and took away something from all of them.

The first was an Semantic Web Austin event hosting Mark Greaves from Vulcan Inc. (Paul Allen’s asset management group – www.vulcan.com) to discuss the opportunities in the semantic web space.   This event was hosted by the Austin Technology Incubator (ATI) and Bart Bohn, our Director of IT/Wireless division coordinated it.  I have to say that most of it was over my head since I’m not a tech head – my degrees were not in technology.  The key takeaways for me were that there are languages called OWL and RDF that are used in creating Semantic Web apps,  and we are very early in understanding the semantic web and how it can be used as a basis of a profitable company.  It seemed to me like the next level in search querying.  In google you now would type something like ‘white elephant’ and get some links to sites that discuss white elephants but it’s based on how many people link to that site.  With the Semantic Web, you can ask things like “How many white elephants are there in China who belong to people making over $10K?” and get back more descriptive results.  To me it sounded a little bit like what Ask Jeeves was/is trying to do in a more sophisticated way.  Mr. Greaves mentioned companies in this space, including Zemanta, which I have wanted to try on this blog for a while now but have been wary about the learning curve.  An interesting applications he discussed was one aimed at pharmaceutical/medical companies that need to search tons of research data to get at specific points of data to continue research for other drugs.  I couldn’t quite get my mind around it, but like people didn’t really understand the social web 5+ years ago, we are probably at that stage right now for the semantic web.

The second was a RISE panel I sat on that was held at at TechRanch and the topic was “resilient start-ups” Suaad Sait was on the panel with me and he’s done several companies the most recent being Reach Force.  It was a fun panel in an intimate living room type of setting where the audience seemed to really get engaged.  I learned a few new things from the other panelists, but I think my biggest takeaway was that although my most visible entrepreneurial experience (venture backed) was just about 10 years ago, the lessons I were able to share still seemed relevant today.  Even though, I ended up transferring ownership of Babble Soft to my partner and didn’t end up raising money, I learned things about social media and a consumer business from it.  I sometimes forget that there are not that many people who have the experience I and the other panelists have or are living through right now.  I realized how easy it is to forget the unique value any of us brings to a situation based on our life learnings even if some it happened a decade or so ago which seems like an eon in Internet time.

The third event I attended was a CleanTX Foundation event on called Other People’s Money – The New Funding Landscape for your clean energy startup.  These events are run by Melissa Rabeaux, ATI’s Marketing/Communications Manager.  There were probably close to 150 people registered for the event!  The topic was interesting with very experienced speakers on the panel.  I learned how Xtreme Power, an ATI alumni member, got funded as well as about other sources of funding for clean tech companies.  I also learned that some people actually think you can bootstrap a clean energy company which is very hard to do given the research, tools, equipment one needs to have to build something in solar, wind, or alternative fuels.  Unlike some web companies that can be built by the sweat of your brow to prove viability, clean energy companies generally don’t operate that way.

So there are many things going on in Austin.  Check out the ATI blog for updates on what is going on in and around Austin and the ATI community.

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