Entrepreneurial

“Lean Startup” evangelist Eric Ries is just getting started

– Connie Loizos is a contributor for PE Hub, a Thomson Reuters publication. This article originally appeared here. –

“Except in very narrow cases, where there’s breakthrough science that needs patent production, worrying about competitors is a waste of time,” Eric Reis told me. “If you can’t out iterate someone who is trying to copy you, you’re toast anyway.”

Ries speaks with confidence, likely because people seem to listen. In fact, he’s become one of Silicon Valley’s best salesmen, largely by preaching what seems to be common sense: in order to maximize resources, companies need to find out what customers want as quickly as possible and capitalize on those findings.

Just one indicator of Ries’s power: entrepreneurs from 100 countries watched his sold-out, second-annual “Startup Lessons Learned” conference streamed live recently from San Francisco. (Its aim? “To unite those interested in what it takes to succeed in building a lean startup,” said Ries.) Another indicator: Ries’s new book, “The Lean Startup”, doesn’t come out until September, but is already the 11th-most popular book in the business and investing section of Amazon.

Ries, 32, never expected he would make his mark as a tech evangelist. A Yale grad who studied computer science, he began his career as an entrepreneur while still in school. (He now calls his short-lived startup, Catalyst Recruiting, “a footnote to a footnote.”) But even then he found himself “considered not only an expert in programming but in startups” by local incubators and two venture firms who asked him to be an adviser.

Chicago incubator hopes to SPARK startups

Think you can form a technology company from scratch in just a week? That’s the idea behind SPARK, a new incubator program launched by a group of Chicago-area entrepreneurs.

The program is aimed at seeding viable ideas for Web-based and mobile applications during an upcoming startup competition that runs from July 22 to 27 in the Windy City.

“SPARK is about doing, not talking,” said 29-year-old Maliha Mustafa, a former investment banker turned entrepreneur and SPARK co-founder. “What we’d like to do is actually execute.”

Honest Tea founder on being owned by Coke: “It’s a dual identity”

Seth Goldman, co-founder of Bethesda, Maryland-based organic beverage company Honest Tea, said his company maintains a small business culture, even though parent Coca-Cola Co increased its minority stake to full ownership in March.

With 2010 sales of $71 million, the company’s teas can now be found in national retail chains such as Kroger and CVS. Goldman, in Washington recently for an SBA National Small Business week event, spoke to Reuters about the transition.

Q: Were you able to maintain the Honest Tea culture after Coke took full ownership?

Senate kills federal innovation research program

– Robin Enos is a contributor to FindLaw’s Free Enterprise blog. FindLaw is a Thomson Reuters publication. This article originally appeared here. –

The U.S. Senate voted this week to kill a bill to reauthorize the popular SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) program, according to the New York Times.

SBIR, a program to encourage small businesses to explore commercialization of technology, reserves 2.5 percent of federal research and development (R&D) funds for small businesses. Thus, said the SBA, SBIR enables small businesses to compete for federal R&D funds with larger enterprises.

Bebo founder working on a “little social network”

– Connie Loizos is a contributor for PE Hub, a Thomson Reuters publication. This article originally appeared here. –

“I don’t think Facebook has peaked,” said Michael Birch, absently piling his trademark curtain of brown hair atop his head. “The point of saturation is often a lot further out” than many people assume, he added. “But what goes up must come down.”

We are sitting in his San Francisco offices and Birch, best known for selling his three-year-old social networking startup Bebo to America Online for a stunning $850 million in cash, is sharing some thoughts about the current crop of social networking darlings — and whether we’re in a bubble.

from MediaFile:

Tech Summit Q&A, day 3: “Unsexy” tech companies

The third day of the 2011 Reuters Global Technology Summit saw a lot of discussion about the valuation and  potential of "sexy" social networks and lesser known startups.

Saad Khan, Partner at CMEA Capital, talked about investing in LiveOps and Pixazza, two companies the former which he called "unsexy", and how they "stitch together the world's labor force."

One could say that Real Networks Chairman Rob Glaser, who saw his company's Real Player go from being the standard used in streaming media on the Web to a bit-player, is familiar with what is and isn't "sexy". Here he is talking about revamping his company around phenomena:

Al Jazeera boss tops innovators list

When former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak cut off the country’s Internet in an attempt to silence the media, Al Jazeera got creative and began broadcasting via cellphones and reporting through social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

This kind of lateral thinking thrust the “Arab CNN” into the global spotlight and landed its leader – Wadah Khanfar – at the top of Fast Company’s 2011 list of “The 100 Most Creative People in Business”.

“We think a lot about who’s going to be No. 1,” said Fast Company executive editor Rick Tetzeli, noting Khanfar’s selection, ahead of innovative leaders at Apple (Scott Forstall, No. 2) and Google (Sebastian Thrun, No. 5), is a testament to the Al Jazeera editorial director’s unorthodox approach to news.

5 lessons entrepreneurs can learn from Navy SEALs

– 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 has been a surge in interest with the world of the Navy SEALs since the Osama bin Laden action (this piece in the WSJ was a particularly good profile) and I confess to being caught up in it myself.

One of my portfolio company CEOs, Will Tumulty of Ready Financial, is a former Navy SEAL (1990-1995). Will was kind enough to introduce me to a SEAL classmate of his, Brendan Rogers (SEAL 1990-2000), who joined me and 20 NYC CEOs/founders from the tech scene recently to talk about the SEALs – the training, the planning and the operations behind their combat operations – as well as draw out some relevant lessons for entrepreneurs. Brendan went on to HBS and McKinsey after the SEALs and then started his own hedge fund with a partner, so he had an interesting, multi-faceted perspective.

Entrepreneur’s tweet sparks fight with angels

– Connie Loizos is a contributor for PE Hub, a Thomson Reuters publication. This article originally appeared here. –

Last month, entrepreneur Matt Mireles published a tweet, asking: “Why is TechStars NYC run by a non-entrepreneur?”

The “non-entrepreneur” in question is 29-year-old David Tisch, whose grandfather built Loews into a Fortune 100 company that operates hotel chains, and whose family’s largess has helped bankroll numerous institutions, including the Tisch Galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. Since 2007, the young Tisch has been seed-funding startups with his brothers. According to his LinkedIn profile, he has also started two Internet companies, both of which were shuttered in less than a year’s time.

from Reuters Money:

Why older workers are creating their own jobs

Deborah Ramsey went to work straight out of high school in the 1970s, working her way through the now-familiar rounds of layoffs, promotions and job changes at a series of banking, insurance and consulting companies in Philadelphia, her hometown. “I did my bit,” she recalls.

In 2005, she was working as an administrator for a technology consulting firm that was undergoing restructuring. “A lot of people were being laid off or leaving. I had been through two big layoffs before, I knew what they smelled like.” Ramsey decided to leave voluntarily, spurred by the changing work environment and caregiving responsibilities at home, where she looks after a mentally disabled daughter, an aging mother and mother-in-law, and her husband, a disabled veteran.

At age 52, she was ready for a change. Over the years, she had developed a strong interest in herbal remedies and massage therapy to help her daughter, who also suffers from asthma.

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