Clash of Clans Reminds Me of Business
Oct 28 2014

Clash of Clans icon.jpgMy 12 year old son made an interesting statement while we were driving to soccer practice today.  He said that Clash of Clans, a game he plays often on my iPhone and the mini-iPad that he and his sister share, is like business.  He said it out of the blue.  He hears me and his dad talk about businesses and companies often.

I asked him why he thought that and he said because you can join clans, you have to find clans, and then sometimes people are nice or not nice in those clans.  You can leave clans, some you can just join, some you have to be invited to join, and others you have to ask to join.  You can leave a clan if they are not nice or they don’t give you good materials.  You can get kicked out of a clan if the clan doesn’t like you.

He asked me if there were wars in business, and I told him that there are competitors that companies “war” against, but they don’t typically try to literally kill each other like they do in the game. :-)

I was impressed that he came up with the analogy. I guess he’s been paying more attention than I thought to our conversations about our experiences in business.

Author: | Filed under: competition, random stuff | Tags: | 2 Comments »

Win a Jackson 5ive Cartoon DVD!
Mar 17 2013

jackson5dvdI’m hosting a giveaway for the first time in a long time.  I think Michael Jackson (link to the post I wrote after he died) and his family are really talented so when someone reached out to me to see if I’d write a post about the newly released DVD and host a giveaway if they sent me a free review copy, I said “Yes, thank you!”

The Jackson 5ive Cartoon DVD retails for $32.99 for a DVD and it’s $39.99 on Blu-Ray.

The kids watched all of the 23 episodes and really enjoyed them!  I wasn’t able to watch all of them due to regularly scheduled “mom duties” and work related stuff, but I did see many of them.  Despite hearing the “ABC-123″ song way more times than I have in my entire life before now, I really enjoyed them too.  It was neat (a.k.a. groovy) how they took classic fairy tales and turned them into shows that had a “hairy godfather,” “The Wizard of Soul,” “Michael In Wonderland,” “Jackson and the Beanstalk,” etc.  Michael loses his glass sneaker when he sneaks out to the ball and the pretty girl finds him in typical “Cinderjackson” style.  In another one, Michael eats a poisoned apple and needs to be awakened by a princess’ kiss. Their pet mice (Ray & Charles) & snake (Rosey) join in on the antics and the episodes even teach nice lessons about topics like taking care of nature.  The episodes were a fun flashback to the 1970’s and the songs that made the Jackson 5 (Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Michael) famous.

Here’s the blurb from the folks giving away the free copy: “For the first time ever, the famous Jackson 5ive Cartoon DVD is on video … available to the public since January 15, 2013! Introduced in 1971, the cartoon takes the Jackson brothers on a colorful journey, teaching them a life lesson along the way of all 23 episodes. Making this DVD extra special is that each episode features two digitally re-mastered tracks from the Jackson 5ive! We think this is something that all Jackson fans, music fans and the 1970’s in general will love, as the cartoon brings back the glory years and celebrates the immense talents that each Jackson possessed. Not only do I think you will enjoy this DVD, but believe your kids will be captivated by the incredible music and colorful animation of the Jackson 5ive!”

How can you win? Just leave a comment on why you (or someone you know) like Michael, The Jackson 5, or any of the other talented Jackson family members, and the kids and I will sort of randomly select a name on Friday, March 29, 2013.  The lucky winner will be put in touch with the promoters of the video and will receive a free DVD directly from them.  It’s as easy as A, B, C, and 1, 2, 3!

Author: | Filed under: competition, Just For Fun, music, product review, singing, TV | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

The Telephone Game
Aug 28 2011

Do you remember playing the telephone game (according to Wikipedia it’s called Chinese Whispers – the Chinese are taking over everything…or maybe they started everything) as a kid?  It’s surprising how that game continues to be played, even if unintentionally, in business and groups when we are adults.  We do it without even thinking.  He said, she said, I heard it through the grapevine, and the next thing you know the person who supposedly said something in the first place gets completely surprised at how something they said is interpreted or that no one tells them anything about what’s going on because they are too busy talking behind their back.  People seem to be afraid to go ask the implied source if it’s true for fear they might be misunderstood, be faced with retribution, questioned, laughed at or maybe they don’t want to lose the fun (the high) of saying things behind someone’s back.  Gossip is addictive!  I know I love good gossip.  It’s a great way to bond with like minded people.

The game is fun for pre-schoolers and elementary kids, damaging to the hearts of teenagers, yet can be detrimental in business.  Acting on inaccurate information can cause all sorts of trouble.  If a company doesn’t minimize the negative gossip and promote the good gossip, they might not know what hit ‘em when the competition, who has great internal communication, knocks them on their proverbial behind.  Just go watch a few episodes of The Office and read Dilbert (my favorite comic of all time) and you’ll see what I mean.  Below is today’s Dilbert on giving honest feedback to your boss/co-worker:
Dilbert.com

Author: | Filed under: competition, random stuff | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

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 »

The Power Of The Team
Sep 26 2010

As I watch my son play soccer, I think to myself how great it is that he is part of a team.  I watch him and his other 7 to 8 year old buddies communicate with each other on the field and off.  There’s a neat camaraderie and chemistry they have even at this young age.  They can be intensely focused on winning but realize that you win some, you lose some, you get some goals, you totally choke and miss some goals, and you are still a team.  The team skills are something I see him picking up organically because although I know I could try to explain to him the importance of playing certain positions, playing to your strengths, working with others on a team, etc. he would never really get it unless he experienced it.  He doesn’t know that he’s already learning valuable life lessons on the field and when he hangs out with those same buddies off the field.  Right now their team seems to work really well together and they win most of their games, which is good because they enjoy it and it motivates them to continue.  I think those people who played team sports growing up or were in groups like the military have an advantage when starting businesses or working on teams that are creating innovative products because working with other people can be the most enjoyable and yet sometimes the most emotionally draining experience you can have.  Knowing how to ride the waves of your own and others humanity can be the difference between success and failure in an endeavor or a work place.

My daughter seems to prefer swimming which is a more individual sport but if she gets good enough, she might want to join a swim team.  I played team sports at various times during my elementary/junior high school years (track, bowling, basketball) and then later in junior high and college I rode horses competitively as part of a team.  I also participated in some college intramural sports and company sports teams…mostly softball, but I wish I had done more.  I don’t really remember most of the people on those teams, but I do remember a few that made strong impressions on me based on their personalities and talents.

As the saying goes:  “There is no “I” in Team.”  Even investors in the high tech entrepreneurial world will say they would rather invest in an A Team with a B idea than a B Team with an A idea because the A Team has a better chance of navigating changes that inevitably get thrust upon them.

Author: | Filed under: competition, entrepreneur, parenting | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments »

Small Businesses – Unite (and win up to $30K)!
Mar 24 2009

intuit_logo_color

The following is a guest post written by Rachel Euretig, PR Manager at Intuit (makers of Quicken, Quickbooks etc.).  Intuit first approached me to write something about a new campaign they were launching to help small business get a piece of the stimulus pie.  I responded by saying, what a great idea but I’m so strapped for time that I’d welcome a guest post instead and here it is…

Rachel Euretig is a public relations manager at Intuit Inc., a leading provider of business and financial management solutions for small and mid-sized businesses, financial institutions, consumers and accounting professionals. She is responsible for the company’s best-selling QuickBooks small business products and services. Rachel joined Intuit from LEWIS PR, a global technology agency headquartered in London, where she was an account director in the San Francisco office. She holds a B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley.

Eco-friendly tees that inspire positivity with simple words such as: BREATHE DEEPLY and TODAY MATTERS. A chiropractor’s office that instituted an “honor box” system, allowing patients to pay what they can. A former Marine who survived the 9-11 attacks and then went on to fulfill his childhood dream of starting a fishing rod business. These are just three of the amazing stories you’ll find at www.smallbusinessunited.com.

We at Intuit recently launched an initiative called Small Business United in order to give entrepreneurs a much-needed boost in this tough economic climate. The campaign features a stimulus package aimed at helping America’s small businesses save money, get more customers and save time, by offering:

  • Free software and services from Intuit valued at nearly $1,000 per small business to help them succeed.
  • $315,000 in small business grants.
  • $50,000 in donations to organizations that help budding entrepreneurs get started and advise existing businesses looking to grow.

How can you get involved? Well, first, check out the free software and services to see if there’s anything that can help your business.

Second, share your stories with us and other entrepreneurs for a chance to win up to $30,000 in business grants. We know that America’s entrepreneurial spirit is stronger – and more united – than ever. According to a recent study we conducted, nine out of 10 small business owners said they rely on peers for support and advice. Fifty-one percent of small business owners said they feel a special bond or connection with other small business owners, while 53 percent believe they can learn from their peers’ mistakes and successes. Do you agree?

How to enter:

Go to www.smallbusinessunited.com to share stories about your successes and challenges. In addition to the monetary grants and free Intuit products and services that Intuit is offering, you will also receive the Intuit Small Business Word of Mouth Marketing Toolkit and a profile page on the Intuit Community Web site to help promote your business.

Finalists will be selected based on a combination of ratings from the community, quality and creativity. The ratings will account for 40 percent of the overall score, so easy-to-use tools are available to help participants share their entries with family, friends and colleagues.

Judges will review entries and select 50 finalists to receive a $5,000 grant and a Pure Digital Flip Video camcorder. These finalists are then eligible to compete for the top grants by supplementing their story with a video that will be posted on the site for public viewing and rating.

The group will be narrowed down to four first prize winners, who will each receive $10,000 plus $2,500 worth of Intuit products in addition to their finalist grants and awards. The grand prize winner will receive an additional $25,000 and $2,500 worth of Intuit products and services.

Entries are due by April 24 and finalists will be notified by April 29. Winners will be announced in June.

The judges include a panel of independent small business experts:

  • Anita Campbell, CEO of Small Business Trends, an award-winning Web site that provides information and intelligence about the small business market and business trends affecting that market. This comprehensive resource includes a blog, radio show and regularly features small business experts from a variety of industries.
  • Donna Ettenson, vice president of operations of the Association of Small Business Development Centers, which represents 63 state and regional small business management and technical assistance programs. She is also a certified Franklin Covey facilitator for the “7 Habits for Managers” and “Focus” workshops.
  • John Jantsch, marketing and digital technology coach, award-winning social media publisher and author of “Duct Tape Marketing: The World’s Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide.” He is the creator of the Duct Tape Marketing small business marketing system and Duct Tape Marketing Authorized Coach Network.
  • Becky McCray, publisher of Small Biz Survival, a Web site about small business and rural issues, based on her own successes and failures as an entrepreneur. She is also the co-owner of a retail store and cattle ranch, and a consultant for small businesses and city governments.

Looking forward to hearing your stories!


Author: | Filed under: competition, entrepreneurship | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments »

A Vote for Brown, Brains, and Change!
Nov 4 2008

I haven’t written about politics on my blog for a variety of reasons but mostly because I think everyone has a right to their own opinion and my blog is primarily about business and parenting…not politics.

However, given that a historic, unprecedented event has just happened in our lifetime, I felt compelled to write this post.  I am SO excited that Barack Obama was elected to be the next president of the United States!  Not just because I agree with much of his political philosophy, but also because he’s brown, has brains, and has the potential to heal wounds created throughout the world.

If you are someone who has not grown up with brown skin, this might not make sense to you but in my opinion this is a huge affirmation of the American dream.  My uncle, a geography professor, was turned away from a restaurant while visiting Virginia New Mexico because of the color of his skin.  When I was 8 or 9 years old, a blonde little boy turned to me in the walkways outside my elementary school and yelled at me calling me the ‘n’ word.  I had never heard that word before, yet I felt the hate emanating from this young boy, and I still remember the fear I felt standing there all alone wondering why this boy hated me so much. 

I’m not even Black (I’m South Asian), but I (and other members of my family) were lumped into the non-White category.  When I lived in West Texas, the difference was even more pronounced.  I grew up self conscious of my skin color and even now I have moments where I wonder if I truly fit in…despite being married to a White man!   Women and Black men have had to consistently work twice as hard and be twice as good to be recognized at the same level as White men in this country. 

Time will tell if Obama was the right pick, but the fact that he was picked in this country in 2008 means to me that we’ve reached a turning point in our history.  People who are not White and not even men (thanks to Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin) now have a living breathing example of how it can be done.

Obama, to me, epitomizes working hard (no riding daddy’s coattails), focusing on education, prioritizing family values, and taking a thoughtful analytic (that man is smart!) approach before acting.  As an added bonus, he appears to know how to speak proper English! :-)

Not only has he broken color barriers, he has broken social media barriers.  He has run the biggest, first, and most effective political campaign that has ever been run (oh what money can buy)!  By his campaign’s avid use of twitter, YouTube, blogs, MySpace, email campaigns, etc., he has single handedly affirmed an entire new industry and demonstrated how using the Internet and social media can have a huge impact on the success of campaigns, businesses, and causes.  If there was any doubt by individuals and big companies as to the efficacy of social media, it has now been shattered!   

I was 3 when I came to the United States with my parents, and we landed in Pennsylvania.  I was 21 when I became a naturalized citizen in New Mexico.  I am now many years older, live in Texas, and tonight I saw the window of opportunity open wider for my light brown kids…

God Bless America!

Author: | Filed under: competition, diversity, parenting, social media, success, success story, twitter | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 32 Comments »

Entrepreneurship vs. 2008 Summer Olympics
Aug 29 2008

The Summer 2008 Olympics are now over.  The national conventions for the Democrats and Republicans are happening.  Democrats just wrapped up theirs and Barack Obama is the official candidate.  The Republicans are up soon and John McCain just announced his VP, Sarah Palin.  School has started for all kids across the country.  Summer vacations are over.  And life goes on. 

Like many I watched the Olympics when I found the time in the evening and was fortunate enough to see some of the men and women’s gymnastics, swimming, track and field, and volleyball.  I saw the US women’s beach volleyball team win.  I saw the women’s gymnastics team win and saw Nastia Lukin win gold.  I saw Michael Phelps win several of his gold medals for swimming.  One weekend I even caught the Chinese synchronized swimming team.  Wow, that was impressive!  My husband stayed up later and saw the women’s and men’s volleyball teams as well as the men’s basketball team. 

I actually think I was able to watch more of the events during this Olympics than any other Olympics in my life.  I’m not sure why that is given that my life is so much busier than it used to be.  It’s probably because my husband was watching it and it was a nice (often nerve wracking) way to end the day and see several of the events “live.” 

What struck me was how hard all of these athletes have been preparing for the vast majority of their lives for this one shot at gold, fame, and potential sponsorship opportunities from big name brands/companies.  All their preparation comes down to a single point in time to succeed or fail.  The pressure and mental stress must be extreme, and yet they get up every day to prepare for that one moment in time. 

Every individual who competes tries hard, practices hard, prepares hard and only 1 receives the gold medal.  The same is true for entrepreneurs but fortunately there aren’t hundreds of little kids competing to win in one particular business (e.g., selling widget X).  There may be several competitors in a space but it’s doubtful that the leaders of your competitors started practicing to compete to sell “widget X” when they were 10 or even 5 years old!  

However, there seem to be many more factors way out of the control of the entrepreneur that determine their company’s success or failure (e.g., the economy, people issues, product issues, market timing, etc.).  An athlete has much more control on whether they get up and practice every day with the major big unknown being a devastating injury.  They are rarely blindsided by a last minute entry who ends up being a well-funded Superman/Superwoman athlete! 

Building a successful business is extremely hard, costs money, and is time consuming, but after watching the Olympics, my guess is that preparing and then winning a gold medal is harder, requires more discipline, and is more time consuming but with more defined parameters.  Even more so if you happen to be a Chinese Olympic team member who are often taken from their parents at a very young age. 

People expect athletes to take years or even a decade to train to even make it to the Olympic games, but many expect entrepreneurs to make it big in just a few years and in the process they often burn themselves and others out.  I’m guessing that fewer entrepreneurs earn ‘gold medals’ than individuals and teams do every four years in the summer Olympics.

Author: | Filed under: competition, entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, success | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Contest for Innovative Moms
Jul 13 2008

I recently received the following email from one of Whirlpool’s PR reps.  Although I don’t recall being upset (maybe disappointed) about not knowing about the program (which I can’t recall at the moment) she was referring to, I figured I’d share her email about this contest because it seems like a cool idea.  I do have a vague recollection of commenting on a Washington Post article and if I didn’t, she’s a pretty good PR rep to tell me about this contest, because I like to post about programs that support entrepreneurs! 

The cool thing is that if you win you not only win cash but also appliances!  Also, upon reading their site you cannot submit a company/idea for a new appliance.  Your business idea has to be totally unrelated to Whirlpool’s primary business of appliance creation and manufacturing.  

I also noticed that one of the guest judges is Julie Aigner-Clarke, founder of Baby Einstein

I haven’t figured out yet if I can apply for Babble Soft (no issue about us being an appliance :-) ) but I haven’t read all of the fine print yet.  The application looks pretty simple and straight forward so chances are I will apply.  I encourage you all to check it out too and tell other mom-inventors out there about the competition. 

Hi Aruni,

I saw that you commented on a Washington Post blog entry about a grant program and that you were upset you didn’t know the program was going on.  Just wanted to share with you another grant program that I thought might be of interest to you and your readers.

Whirlpool brand has recently kicked-off the fourth annual Mother of Invention Grant Program. In the past three years, Whirlpool brand has recognized and helped more than 15 moms turn their innovative ideas into reality.

The Whirlpool brand Mother of Invention Grant Program provides seed money and expert guidance to moms to turn their invention, business or service ideas into full-fledged businesses.  Contest winners receive:

  • A $20,000 grant for the grand prize winner
  • $24,000 in grant money for the four runners-up
  • Appliance prizes
  • Invitation to business boot camp where winners will receive guidance from Whirlpool and industry experts

This year, we are greening the program by adding a new category focused on moms who create an environmentally friendly product/service or use natural/recycled materials to create their invention. 

More information and entry forms can be found at www.whirlpool.com/moms. Entries are accepted through July 31, 2008.

Please let me know if you have any questions or would like additional information about the program.  I’d also be happy to share information about our past winners, should you be interested. 

Best,

Laura

Author: | Filed under: competition, entrepreneurship, FYI, mom, mother, working mom, working mother | Tags: , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Women 2.0 Conference – The Rest Of The Story
May 16 2008

So here’s the rest of my Women 2.0 Conference story.  If you want to see tons of pictures (which sadly I and my deep pink Banana Republic shirt don’t appear) please check out the official Women 2.0 Conference Wrap Up post.  You can also see Sophia Perl’s (another semi-finalist) post on it here.

Friday – May 9, 2008
I took my rented yellow car and drove around the Palo Alto/Menlo Park area to meet some people.  I met Jeff Nolan, who was one of the venture investors in my first company, for lunch at a place called Buck’s.  We only just got to know each other while at my last company before I left, but he seemed to be one of the good guys.  I mentioned him in a post I did about angels and venture capitalists a while back.  We might get to work together again and this time in hopefully a more creative and collaborative way.

I tried to meet up with Guy Kawasaki later that afternoon but he had something mildly important to do like make some sort of silly book submission deadline, so we traded tweets and emails instead.  Then I went to the Stanford mall.  I’m not a big shopper, but since I had a few hours to kill, and my husband wanted me to get him a Stanford t-shirt (It’s one of his alma-maters) I wandered around a bit and read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, but was not feeling in the “now” at the time so didn’t make much progress.  So I got some hot chocolate, my rings cleaned, and happened to find a couple of light-weight jackets at really good sale prices to protect me from the Bay Area cool evenings!

Later I had the pleasure of meeting up with Maryam Scoble for wine and fabulous brie with a flakey crust. Yum! Maryam and I met through our blogs.  I initially heard about her and her husband Robert Scoble from our very own Austin based Connie Reece.  Robert even did a Qik video of me at SXSW but I don’t think that many pregnant moms or parents with newborn babies, preemies or twins are watching those videos.  Go figure!

Saturday – May 10, 2008 (conference day)

You can see the agenda for the conference here.  It was an interesting day in a tent near the Stanford golf course.  Walking in grass was a challenge for many of us who were wearing heels.  Those wearing pointed heels especially suffered by sinking into the grass/dirt, but since I would trip and fall on my face in pointed heels, I wear more flat ones.

The most interesting sound bites, in my opinion, came from the Power Panel: “Igniting the spark through strategies taught and lessons learned”

Terri Ghio, Unique Solutions and TBS Connect said: Make sure you have an audience, a secret sauce, strategic alliances, and ability to build the blocks and barriers for success.

Amy Love, Protégé Performance Group said: Build an inner circle, share your dream, think big, and have the confidence & energy to move forward.

Dr. Jwala Karnik, JwalaCo said: Be open to inspiration, tell people what you want to do, and just take the first step!

Dr. Maggie Haertsch, VOICEMAP said: Have passion and be totally committed, focused, and fearless!

Pat McEntee, AuxoGlobal said: Women entrepreneurs are different and that’s OK.  Women look at things they want to spend their time on differently.  Women build different companies. The fact that many retail companies are currently dominated by men is not going to last long, but women should build companies that men feel comfortable in.  By the way, Pat is a guy!

I mentioned the winners of the napkin business plan challenge in my yellow car post, so I won’t mention it here again, but I did want to mention one company and founder who was on one of the panels: Erica Estrada of d.light design.  She is impressive and her company is very cool!  They make affordable, small, solar power lighting units for people in third world countries who have no access to electricity.  So the kids in who live in shacks can study/read after dark and parents can cook or work after dark without having to use a kerosene lamp that not only stinks and has to be bad for your lungs, but also doesn’t last very long.  I really do wish her and her company great luck, good partners, fabulous investors and perfect timing!

I ended the day by eating sushi with the friends I was staying with.  They even took a picture of me (see below) drinking this huge cup of sake! The waitress finished the bottle on me, so the sake overflowed into its holding bowl.  I was glad I wasn’t the one driving us home in my rented yellow car. :-D

Coming soon I’ll post an update on my SEO experiences, so you might want to subscribe to read more about the birth pains of a web business.  It’s not pretty.

 

Author: | Filed under: competition, conferences, diversity, entrepreneurship, venture capital | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Going to Cali for Women 2.0
May 7 2008

You might have heard, I was a semi-finalist for the Women 2.0 napkin business plan competition.  Well, they informed me on May 3, I didn’t make the finals.  Sigh.  But trying to look on the bright side, I’m actually kind of relieved because now I can focus on networking and learning instead of being stressed out about giving my pitch!  I’m starting to think I’ll have to get a job to support my entrepreneurial addiction.  Too bad I didn’t get rich off of my first entrepreneurial endeavor…

I’d like to profusely thank Sylvester Becker (a.k.a. German Cowboy) of Dana Lynn Media for helping me pull together a very cool 2 minute pitch video which I can’t share with the world yet, but maybe soon.  Sylvester was awesome to work with and so creative!  We used crayons.  We used Little People to illustrate our future customers as well as small figures of Dora the Explorer and her friends Boots and Benny.  Although I think Boots got cut out in editing.  My daughter loves Dora and in fact some people say she looks like her especially now with her new haircut.

I had already decided that even if I didn’t make the finals, I was going to the Women 2.0 conference (check out the site for the fabulous list of panel speakers – entrepreneurs and venture capitalists) this weekend in the Bay Area where the skies are blue, the weather is usually predictable, the money made in tech is gigantic, and everything is way too expensive.  Except for, oddly, the reasonably priced rental car I got from Hertz.  Thankfully, some friends are letting me crash at their place so I can save money by not getting a hotel.

Anyway, in case you are interested in the names of the finalists, here you go:

 Women 2.0 Napkin 2008 Pitch Finalists

I’ll do a post about it after I get back, so Subscribe Now so you don’t miss a thing about my sure-to-be idyllic, fantastic, jaw dropping trip to Cali!  I wonder if I can find a way to eat some sushi while I’m there…

Author: | Filed under: competition, conferences, diversity, entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, venture capital | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

I’m a Semi-Finalist for the Women 2.0 Napkin Business Challenge!
Apr 17 2008

Go to www.women2.org to learn more

I made it to the semi-finals for the Women 2.0 business plan competition in California for my company Babble Soft! It’s so exciting because it’s a great opportunity to meet people who ‘get’ what I’m trying to do.  People in Silicon Valley live & breathe social media and social networks which is very different than here in Texas.  The grand prize includes some money ($1500) but more importantly access to a network of people with great experience!  Here’s the email I got this morning:

Congratulations! You’ve made it to the semi-finals of Pitch 2008. This is the next step you should take.

Please log into your application via Angelsoft and upload a 2 min video pitch. Any pitches that are more than 2 mins will be disqualified.

Upload your video by Apr 20 2008, 11.59PM (PST). If we do not receive your video pitch by Apr 20 2008, you will be eliminated from the competition.

If you have already submitted a video, please ignore this message. You are only required to upload a 2 min video pitch. Do not upload any other files or presentations.

Please RSVP to this message so that we know you have received this email. Thanks.

All the Best,
Women2.0 Team

I guess my napkin handwriting skills were better than I thought! My husband, who has much better handwriting than I do, didn’t have time to help me, so I ended up doing it myself.

Now I have to submit a 2 minute video for a chance to make the finals.  I haven’t done a video pitch for Babble Soft before so I’m not exactly sure what to do.  Actually, I have never done a video pitch.  Should I be formal about it? Should I have my kids in it? Should I walk through a slide deck? Should I beg, borrow, or steal a professional to help me with it? Should I just use our digital camera and record something in our house or should I do it outside, etc., etc., etc.?!?

Help!

Author: | Filed under: babble soft, competition, entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, fundraising | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments »

I’m Applying for the Women 2.0 Napkin Business Plan Competition
Apr 7 2008

Go to www.women2.org to learn more

I’m applying for the Women 2.0 business plan competition in California for my company Babble Soft.  Thanks to Angie Chang for leaving a comment on my recent Economy and Entrepreneurs post letting me know about it.  At the time the deadline was April 1, but they’ve since extended it to April 15.  They encourage companies located outside of California (and the Bay Area) to apply so we’ll see if they will actually select a company from l’il ‘ole Austin, Texas.

It’s a pretty short application form that challenges even the most frequent twitter user (i.e., type your thoughts in less than 140 characters) with maximum character requirements between 210 to 410 characters to describe things like your target market, business summary, or competitive advantage!  It sure made me focus on picking what I believe are the right words.  The online application form is run by Angelsoft, which I mentioned in one of my SXSW posts.

I will be submitting my application later today and then mailing in my paper napkin with my best paper napkin handwriting ability (UGH!) soon thereafter.  I might have to ask my husband to write it for me because his napkin handwriting talent is much better than mine. :-)

Wish me luck!!

Author: | Filed under: babble soft, competition, entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, fundraising | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

BlogHer’s Annual Reader Survey and Parents of Teens Contest
Mar 14 2008

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BlogHer’s Annual Survey

BlogHer is doing their annual survey and would love your opinions.  This helps them attract advertisers to be a part of their network.  In return, they get great ads (which I and other bloggers give valuable space to on our blogs) and they share a little of the money with us.  So please click on the image above or right here to take a brief survey.

Contest for Parents of Teens at NeenMachine.com

If you are a parent of a college bound high school junior or senior, here is a contest that you won’t want to miss!  NeenMachine.com has teamed up with ApplyWise (a leader in college admission counseling) to offer one lucky winner the ApplyWise College Admission Counseling package for free – (a $299 value). To enter just leave a comment on this contest post at Parenting Tips at NeenMachine.com and give your child an edge over the competion.

But hurry – contest ends March 28, 2008.

Author: | Filed under: advertising, blogging, competition, FYI | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Venture Capital Investment Competition at USC in Los Angeles
Mar 8 2008

For the past few years I have served as an Advisor to The University of Texas at Austin MBA team that competes in the Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC).  

It all started when I was an adjunct lecturer of entrepreneurship at UT Austin and since then I’ve continued to advise as they need me and my schedule permits.  This competition did not exist when I got my MBA, and even if I had the opportunity to participate I was too busy trying to start my first venture.  What a plus it would have been for any entrepreneur to have seen a term sheet presented by experienced investors in an academic environment rather than in real life when you feel like you have to learn another language just to understand parts of the investment terms!

This year the regional competition was held at USC in LA on March 7, 2008.  The UT team this year was comprised of:

Ben Jones – MBA 2008
Kyle Reese – MBA 2008
Rajiv Bala – MBA 2009
Ryan Sanders – MBA 2009
Scott Chiou – MBA 2009

I connect them with local venture capitalists and entrepreneurs to help them prepare but we had a late start with only about 5 weeks to get ready and midterms in between this year.  Other teams have semester long classes to prepare for this competition!

At the competition, 6 teams were given business plans for 3 real companies including NiLA, makers of environmentally friendly lighting, on Wednesday, March 5 at 5:00 pm.  They use the Internet and other relevant sources to research the companies and come up with questions for the entrepreneurs.  On Friday, they heard the entrepreneurs pitch their business concepts in front of 11 real live venture capitalists, including Aditya Mathur of Revolution Ventures, Nathan Joyner of Pacific Ridge Capital, Neal Hansch of Rustic Canyon Ventures, representatives from Tech Coast Angel Group and many more. 

They then go into little rooms and subject the entrepreneurs to answering several of the same questions over and over again from the 6 different teams.  Why would any entrepreneur do this you might wonder? Because the VCs are in the room while they are being asked the questions so they are getting exposure that they might not have had otherwise to them.

After the questioning sessions are over, the teams again regroup and come up with a PowerPoint presentation which outlines which company they would chose to invest in and why.   For the company they choose to invest in, they create a term sheet.  They present their choice in 3 minutes in front of the VCs.  The VCs then grill them for about 15 minutes on their company choice and investment terms.

At the end of the day, the judges decide who wins and who takes 2nd place.  The 1st and 2nd place winners get money and the opportunity to compete in the national competition at University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School in April.  I have personally seen one student get a job on a team I advised in venture capital because of participating in this competition.

As an advisor I get to be a fly on the wall and watch the VCs deliberate and observe the decision making process.  Plus I build my network in areas outside of Austin.  Personally, I believe this experience has helped me gain better perspective on what venture capitalists are looking for which is why I’m currently seeking money from angel investors or smaller boutique/seed stage venture firms. 

So I’m sure the suspense is killing you as to whether or not our team placed and unfortunately they did not. They picked the company with the biggest market potential but with the highest risk and the VC judges picked NiLa, which has a great opportunity but less risk and less upside.  Goes to show you that most VCs are not early stage investors!

There are so many variables that go into winning from judges backgrounds, to student’s experience, to understanding of the market of the presenting companies, etc. that you can’t always prepare for everything.  But what an experience! 

Flying back to Austin today for SXSW Interactive and will post about my experience as a newbie SXSW attendee.  I’m looking forward to meeting many of the people I’ve met through blogging and twitter!

Author: | Filed under: competition, entrepreneurship, fundraising, venture capital | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »