Entrepreneurial

from Paul Smalera:

Startups are big in Boulder, but where are the tech billionaires?

"I'm not interested in working on this unless it's going to be a multi-billion dollar idea. If I thought this would be a hundred million dollar company -- what's the point?" - Anonymous entreprerneur discussing his startup. Overheard in front of Ozo Coffee, Boulder, CO.

I'm in Boulder, Colorado for a few days this week to attend Big Boulder, a conference devoted to the social side of "big data." Gnip, the company hosting the conference, is one I've written about before. They're doing the plumber's work of connecting all the firehoses of raw, public user data from social media companies like Twitter and Tumblr up to clients that want to derive insights from the wisdom of these online crowds.

A quick note on the definition of "big data." Generally speaking, it's the sort of data set that's so huge, even running a simple report on it won't tell you anything interesting. For example, if you could ask the IRS for a list of all the 25-30 year olds in the U.S. that paid taxes last year, you'd get back a list, alright. But what would be useful about it? On the other hand, if you could filter that list by several other factors: did they pay capital gains, did they owe over six figures in taxes, what is their self-reported job title, and so on, you might end up with a list highly correlated to young, dot-com millionaires and billionaires, like Mark Zuckerberg. And you might cross reference that list against all the other data sets you can find on them: where they live, where they shop, where they travel, what they watch, eat and listen to. It's all out there.

Social media companies have woken up to the idea that their user bases are throwing billions of data points that have huge potential value, in aggregate. But to get to the point where big data is useful, the tooling around asking and getting the answers to those sorts of questions has to be very, very good.

That -- getting to the point where insights are derived from huge firehoses of content -- is where data science comes in, and where Big Boulder attendees get wildly excited about the potential for big data to change the way the world works. (There are plenty of skeptics on the other side of the coin too, that wonder if the phrase "big data" has simply become the latest marketing jargon in the tech industry, even as it has yielded insights in unsexy fields, like milk production, for decades now.)

Small business defense against cybercrime

Small businesses can innocently expose themselves to cybercrime when an employee opens an email that appears to be from the CEO, not updating the anti-virus program or having a laptop lost or stolen.

Eduard Goodman, Chief Privacy Officer for Identity Theft 911 has seen an increase in small businesses being targeted for cybercrime within the last five to seven years. Highly desirable data include customer information lists and personally identifiable information such as social security numbers, dates of birth and account numbers.

A recent survey by Symantec and the National Cyber Security Alliance shows 85 percent of small business owners believe their company is safe from hackers, viruses, malware or a cyber-security breach. Sixty-nine percent rely on Internet security for their business’s success.

Startup BitGym aims to inspire geeks to work out with iPads, iPhones

– Alastair Goldfisher is a contributor for PE Hub and acting Editor-in-Charge at Venture Capital Journal, both Thomson Reuters publications. This article originally appeared here. Any views expressed are his own. –

With more and more VC-backed personal health and fitness companies targeting the hardcore exercise fanatic, it was only a matter of time before a startup emerged to go after the less enthusiastic cardio burner.

Witness BitGym, a startup being launched out of the Rock Health accelerator in San Francisco that says it has raised “some” seed funding.

from MediaFile:

Confused about media and ad technologies? There’s a Lab for that.

Between the bazillion ad technology companies all claiming to revolutionize online advertising and an explosion of devices and services that promise to deliver  movies straight from the Internet to the TV, it's  a full time job keeping tabs on what can do what.

That's why Interpublic Group's Mediabrands launched Media Lab last Thursday, a 5,000 square foot space dedicated to learning and figuring out which end is up with various technologies available to marketers.

IPG vets technology before it can even make it to the front door of the Lab -- meaning just because it's out there doesn't mean it makes the cut for testing. More than 500 companies are in its database and the Lab keeps in radio contact with venture capital firms and emerging media and tech related companies both large and small to stay on top of trends.

from MediaFile:

Online education site raises $3 mil in a round led by Groupon founders

Groupon co-founders Eric Lefkofsky and Brad Keywell have invested in online educational site (with one complicate name) Udemy through their venture capital fund Lightbank. Udemy just announced a $3 million Series A round of financing led by Lightbank that also includes funding from MHS Capital and 500 Startups.

Udemy plans to use the money for hiring and marketing and biz development.

Udemy "the academy of you" offers 6,000 courses covering all sorts of hobby-related subjects like social marketing, how to build a iPhone app, and Art 100 in addition to more traditional topics like intro to psychology. About 90 percent of Udemy's courses are free.

Online education is a pretty hot sector now -- just go ask the Washington Post and its Kaplan division which for the most part has been the driver of growth behind the company synoumous with Watergate and newspapers . Even News Corp is getting in on the act and set up an education unit focused on technology last year.

from Environment Forum:

Steve Jurvetson on clean tech innovation that will change the world

(This article by Felicity Carus first appeared on Clean Energy Connection and has been edited for length. Any opinions expressed are her own.)

What venture capitalists really think and what they say aren’t always the same thing.

Steve Jurvetson, from Draper Fisher Jurvetson, last week gave his overview of disruptive innovation in clean tech at the Always On Going Green conference in San Francisco.

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.

Silicon Valley recruiter on tech hiring frenzy: “Everyone’s desperate”

Robert Greene, the founder and CEO of Silicon Valley-based GreeneSearch Inc, specializes in recruiting hands-on talent for technology-focused companies, primarily startups. He provided his perspective on the current boom in technology hiring.

Q: How would you characterize the tech hiring market now?
A: It’s very competitive right now. It’s been like that for a while; it’s probably heated up even more of late. You have the bigger companies – Groupon, Zynga, Google, LinkedIn, companies that have been proven and successful – and then you have all these startups.
The supply doesn’t meet the demand.

Q: Is there an advantage to being a small company?
A: The advantage they have over those (big) companies is that they can move really quickly. They’ll do everything in a day and make an offer and hope that person will accept right away before they get into the bigger companies. Those are their selling points. They have to move quickly, they have to be agile, have to have the compelling story, have to give equity, along with competitive salaries.

“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.

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.”

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