Pilot trades 747s for water taxis

SecondAct contributor David Ferrell is a former staff writer for the Los Angeles Times and the author of the comic baseball novel “Screwball”. This article originally appeared on SecondAct.com. Top photo by Veronica DeLuca

Pilot John Voishan devoted a long career to flying travelers across the globe. He loved to gaze down on mountains and rivers as he guided massive 747s to cities in Europe, Australia and throughout the Americas. His final assigned route – from Los Angeles to Sydney – took 14 1/2 hours and spanned 7,500 miles each way, with hundreds of people reading and napping in the cabin behind him.

Though retired now, at age 65, Voishan hasn’t quite given up the passengers. But he’s traded in jumbo jets for a slow, boxy, open-air vessel known as a shoreboat, a water taxi that serves Santa Catalina Island. The rugged fleet of shoreboats – each slightly smaller than a bus – is one of the distinctive features of the picturesque island 22 miles off the Southern California coast.

A Unique Taxi

Not to be confused with the large, powerful express boats that carry tourists to and from the mainland, Catalina’s water taxis only run in and around Avalon Harbor. A shoreboat is crassly functional; it has no driver’s seat and no windows. Voishan stands in the sun and wind, his white hair blowing, and gently works a small metal wheel to maneuver the puttering vessel among the dozens of yachts and sailboats tied up at rows of moorings, or anchored in the deeper waters beyond.

His task is to ferry people from their yachts and other pleasure boats to the Green Pier in Avalon, Catalina’s resort town. On a busy run, 30 or 40 riders may fill the bench seats lining the shoreboat’s interior. The passenger load dwindles at times to just a handful, but there is always someone needing a taxi to get ashore – morning, noon and night.

Will the next Google be started by a woman?

The following is a guest post by Tereza Nemessanyi, founder and CEO of Honestly Now Inc., a web and mobile social media platform which will release its beta product to the market in September. The opinions expressed are her own.

After decades investing in “white male nerds who’ve dropped out of Harvard or Stanford,” venture capitalist John Doerr broke a pattern in July: he invested in a woman.

Not that Kathy Savitt was a risky bet.

The former CEO of American Eagle Outfitters and a senior executive at Amazon, Savitt built Lockerz.com, a social networking and commerce site for ages 13 to 30. She grew it from 50 college and high school students to 15.5 million users in less than twelve months, leveraging natural networks of friends and social influence. In the web technology world, she’s a rock star.

Toura finds niche, now must exploit it: experts

Toura’s Web-based tool that creates virtual museum tours for handy download onto a visitor’s mobile device is exciting, but experts said founder Aaron Radin needs to get some more big-name clients on board and ramp up sales to fully command the space.

Radin, who launched Toura with co-founder Sayoko Knight Teitelbaum 18 months ago, has already created apps for the Art Institute of Chicago, Washington’s the Smithsonian Institute, the Pace Gallery in New York and the London Royal Academy of Arts. In addition Toura’s app publishing platform has been used to produce some shopping and travel guides (read the original story here).

“It was clear to me that any museum has content or has access to content and either through lack of technology or access to technology, they did not necessarily have a way to take that content and distribute it to what is obviously an increasing audience – peoples’ mobile devices,” said Radin, who offers his proprietary Web-based publishing tool – The Toura Mobile App Producer – to clients for free in exchange for a 50-50 split of the revenues from each downloaded app, which ranges from 99 cents to $5.99.

Grocery magnate learns from personal failure

The following is a guest post by Stew Leonard, founder of Stew Leonard’s, the Connecticut-based grocery and wine retailer with upwards of $300 million in annual sales. His recent book, “Stew Leonard: My Story,” details the challenges and triumphs in building a company and legacy that his children would inherit. The views expressed are his own.

My son Stew Jr. delivered a bit of news at his college graduation that almost broke my heart: He had been recruited by Price Waterhouse, the big accounting firm, and decided to work for them instead of joining the family business.

Despite our disappointment, my wife Marianne and I felt he had earned the graduation present we had chosen for him: a round-the-world tour. It was 1977, and at $2,500 just for the airline ticket alone, it was an expensive gift. But it turned out to be a wonderful investment.

Alignment between entrepreneurs and VCs

–- Jeff Bussgang is a general partner at Flybridge Capital Partners, an early-stage venture capital firm in Boston, and author of the book “Mastering the VC Game”. This post originally appeared on Bussgang’s blog www.seeingbothsides.com. The views expressed are his own. –-


You hear this word thrown out frequently in business conversations. It’s a wonderful thing to aspire to, but very hard to achieve. Perhaps even harder to achieve in entrepreneurial settings between the venture capitalist and the entrepreneur, where the stakes are so high and the ever-present risk of dysfunctional behavior leading to a “Start-Up Soap Opera”.

Ever since I began the research for my book, I have been spending time thinking about why VC-entrepreneur alignment is so elusive. And so when the Kauffman Foundation asked me to give a presentation to their recent class of young VCs, I decided to take the opportunity to develop a few thoughts that teed up the key issues.

A chaotic kind of love: starting a successful non-profit

LindawithStudentThis is part of an ongoing series of interviews I am doing with women entrepreneurs, and part of the kickoff to a series on social entrepreneurship.

Recently, I spoke with Linda Mornell, (pictured at left with a Summer Search student) the founder and former CEO of Summer Search, an educational and character building program that gives low-income students the opportunities and support to transform their lives. Linda, A former psychiatric nurse, spoke about the challenges of starting a non-profit organization, which now has seven offices. She also addresses the potential hazards of being too invested in your company.

What is Summer Search?
Summer Search essentially became a leadership and character development program. We look for kids who shows signs of altruism. The alumni are incredibly self-aware and empowered individuals who are very committed to their own personal growth and helping others.

Gen X vs. Gen Y entrepreneurs

making moves

Matt Wilson, co-founder of Under30CEO.com, is a digital marketing strategist at Shadow Concepts LLC. Follow him on Twitter as he urges people to start businesses they are passionate about. This is part of the kickoff to a series on social entrepreneurship. The views expressed are his own.

When it comes to starting a business there are advantages and disadvantages to taking the leap at various points during your lifetime and there are distinct differences between entrepreneurs from different generations.

Gen Y entrepreneurs, also referred to as “millennials,” are famous for their .com start-ups like Facebook and College Humor, but equally as infamous for their entitled attitudes and over-exuberance. These young entrepreneurs are fresh out of school (some because they’ve dropped out all together) and have decided to take the world by storm, with or without their parents support. For millennials there is little to lose: no mortgages, no families, and not a whole lot of obligations. Besides, if you find yourself unemployed, ski towns out west are always hiring. Try doing that when you’re 36.

Starting a new career at 60


The following is a guest post by Marci Alboher, vice president at Civic Ventures, a think tank making it easier for millions to find encore careers with personal meaning and social impact. This is part of the kickoff to a series on social entrepreneurship. The views expressed are the author’s own.

Mark Goldsmith created Getting Out and Staying Out, a program that reduces the recidivism rate of young men released from prisons and jails. Elaine Santore founded Umbrella of the Capital District, a service that pairs retired handy people with aging homeowners who need help with small home repairs. And Adele Douglass (see above photo) created Humane Farm Animal Care, the nation’s first program to certify that farming practices are humane from birth to slaughter.

They are all social entrepreneurs — creative, inventive, enterprising individuals who bring their talent and passion to solving the problems of our day — and they are all over the age of 55.

Social entrepreneurship series

This package kicks off a series centered around social entrepreneurship, leadership and innovation. With less of everything –- jobs, money –- we are confronted with what to prioritize and, therefore, are forced to think about how we want to spend our time. Is it with family? Is it changing careers? Is it contributing to a greater good?

This series capture what social leaders and innovators are doing now in order to improve the quality of life –– not just their own, but other people’s as well. It also provides expert advice on these matters.

We have three pieces for each topic and a video to go along with one of them: the difference between GenX and GenY entrepreneurs, how to launch a socially conscious second career that has personal meaning and impact, and how to start a successful non-profit that is complimented by a video of a Summer Search grad, Jabali Sawicki, who is now a leader in his own field.

Hot Prospects: Ken Howery, Founders Fund

– The following profile is an abbreviated version of Venture Capital Journal contributor Deborah Gage’s piece for the the VCJ’s series on “Hot Prospects” within the venture capital industry. –

Ken Howery’s first office after college was in a broom closet at 3000 Sand Hill Road – and no, he wasn’t the janitor. He and his new boss, Peter Thiel, who was running hedge fund Thiel Capital International, wanted a Sand Hill Road address. Even though the broom closet was the only space available, it was still on Sand Hill, and the more prestigious part at that.

“The broom closet was maybe 10 feet wide,” Howery said. “We had a desk, and any time somebody had to go to a meeting, they had to suck in to get out the door.”