Two Degrees co-founders draw on 35-year age gap

With nearly 30 million small businesses in the United States, it can be tricky to find a business model to set you apart from competitors.

The co-founders and entrepreneurs behind Two Degrees Food, a company that produces nutritional bars and feeds children across the world, have used one of their best assets to maximize their reach: a 35-year age difference.

Lauren Walters, 60, and Will Hauser, 25, teamed up to found Two Degrees in 2010, a move that Walters said strengthens their ability to tackle everything from solving business problems to embracing social media.

“It’s interesting to think of it as a ‘model’; I think it’s just sort of evolved,” said Walters, a seasoned entrepreneur and chairman of The Concord Consortium, a nonprofit research and development organization based in Concord, Massachusetts. “I think as we’ve been building this business for the past year and a half, these complementary perspectives make us more effective in delivering on the promise of connecting a range of people.”

Their vegan, gluten-free nutritional bars are sold at Whole Foods chains across the U.S. as well as in coffee shops, gyms, museums, hospitals, a number of large corporations (including HP, Cisco, Microsoft, GE and AOL) and will be available at college Barnes & Noble stores in October. The company uses the “one-for-one” model – meaning for every bar purchased, a nutrition pack is sent to a needy child in a developing country.

Startups run the gamut from the sublime to the mundane

– Mark Boslet is a contributor to PE Hub, a Thomson Reuters publication. This article originally appeared here. –

Investors navigated the halls. Luminaries such as LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman and SoftTech’s Jeff Clavier took the stage.

Demo Fall 2011 was in full swing yesterday. What stood out at the tech conference was an eclectic assortment of startups that varied from the sublime to the silly. Several of the most appealing enterprise-focused companies seemed poised to attract considerable interest. Several developing consumer technologies did not.

Why venture capitalists invest in pigs, not chickens

– Jeff Bussgang is a former entrepreneur and partner at Flybridge Capital Partners. This article originally appeared on his blog Seeing Both Sides. The views expressed are his own. –

There is an old parable about the concept of commitment when it comes to breakfast. The story goes that when looking at a plate of the traditional fare of ham and eggs, it’s obvious that the chicken is an interested party, but the pig is truly committed.

When I tell this story to entrepreneurs, my point is usually to contrast the approach venture capitalists have to startups as compared to entrepreneurs. The VC is an interested party, but at the end of the day, if their startups live or die, they typically still have their job, their office and their portfolio of other investments. The entrepreneur, on the other hand, is the pig – truly committed to the outcome, with no fallback.

Vodafone opens Silicon Valley startup accelerator

– Mark Boslet is a contributor to PE Hub, a Thomson Reuters publication. This article originally appeared here. –

Everyone these days seems to be getting into the startup accelerator business. Why not an international mobile phone giant?

Why not, indeed. Vodafone is the latest institution to open a Silicon Valley accelerator with the aim of sparking innovation, and, according to a press release, providing “potential financial assistance.”

Why the debt ceiling debate won’t stop America’s small businesses

– John Krubski is an entrepreneur and the architect of The Guardian Life Index: What Matters Most to America’s Small Business Owners. He is currently working on his next book, “Cracking the America Code: How to Get US Back on Track”. –

As recently as April of this year, the Amex Open Survey announced that “For the first time since 2006, growth has surpassed survival as the number one priority for entrepreneurs… Perhaps further evidence that economic recovery is reaching Main Street, more than one-third (35 percent) plan to hire, the highest level since the fall 2008 survey.”

Just a few short months later, the headlines were filled with gloom and doom about the impending, “unprecedented” default of U. S. debt, followed quickly by predictions of a “double-dip” recession.

Startup adds Hollywood flare to small business videos

Small businesses have been fast to tap social media platforms like Facebook, but their efforts to provide compelling video about their products and services have fallen short.

That’s the view of L.A.-based entrepreneur and media attorney Sam Rogoway, who is launching Near Networks, a national video service to improve those efforts, while keeping production within the budgets of many local companies.

“We saw this growth in local content and video had not caught up,” said Rogoway, 32. “Given how production costs have dropped, we thought there would be an opportunity to develop not commercials for local business, but real programming.”

from MediaFile:

Inkling launches digital textbooks 2.0 for iPads

Apple dominates the tablet market -- its iOS tablet software accounted for more than 60 percent of the tablet market in the second quarter, while Google's Android made up about 30 percent, according to Strategy Analytics. So it's no surprise that more than 40 educational institutions  in the United States either require or recommend in-coming freshman or first-years come equipped with an iPad.

For example, that list includes  the medical schools at Brown, UC Irvine, Cornell and UCF; undergrads at Boston University, Abilene Christian University and Georgia Perimeter College; business students at Hult Business School, Lamar Business School and Seton Hill. Even prep schools are in on the act including South Kent, Princeton Day School and Madison Academy.

Certainly it's appealing to slip an iPad into a backpack rather than massive tomes that students need to lug around campus.

Why governments don’t get startups

– Steve Blank is a serial entrepreneur. He teaches at Stanford University, U.C. Berkeley’s Haas Business School and at Columbia. He is the author of “The Four Steps to the Epiphany” and “Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost”. This article originally appeared here. The views expressed are his own. –

Not understanding and agreeing what “Entrepreneur” and “Startup” mean can sink an entire country’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

I’m getting ready to go overseas to teach, and I’ve spent the last week reviewing several countries’ ambitious attempts to kick-start entrepreneurship. After poring through stacks of reports, white papers and position papers, I’ve come to a couple of conclusions.

The No. 1 predictor of startup failure: Premature scaling

— Joanna Glasner is a contributor to PE Hub, a Thomson Reuters publication. This article originally appeared here. –

In the wake of Solyndra’s revelation of an impending bankruptcy filing, the latest report from The Startup Genome Project makes for a timely read.

The report, published this week, crunches data from a set of more than 3,200 companies, seeking to identify the qualities that make startups most likely to either succeed or fail.

Do you want to sell sugar water or do you want to change the world?

– Chris Dixon is the co-founder of Hunch and of seed fund Founder Collective. This blog originally appeared here. The views expressed are his own. –

“Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life or come with me and change the world?” – Steve Jobs

I sometimes wish that instead of working on Internet and software projects, I worked on cleantech or biotech projects. That way, when I came home at night, I’d know that I had literally spent my day trying to cure cancer or prevent global warming. But information technology is what I know, and it’s probably too late for me to learn a new field from scratch.