Original post by Kevin Ready via Forbes
A good friend of mine has long argued that startups can succeed through vision and hard work. Because I only partially agree with his position, we have had more than one heated argument on the subject. It is my belief that hard work and a great idea are required ingredients for success, but that those two elements alone are not enough for a startup to become a success.
Imagine a great Amazonian rainforest. As your mind floats along the banks of a surging river in this rainforest, pause for a moment and take in the strength and beauty of the mightiest of the trees that you can see in front of you. Reaching above all of the other plants and collecting a shower of precious sunlight, this tree is over 100 feet tall, with sinewy roots reaching deep into the rich forest soil. Beautiful isn’t it?
Did this tree get to be the the giant that it is because of hard work? Not hardly.
Rolling the clock back 120 years or so , back when that tree was nothing but a seed, it was identical to millions of other seeds that were formed during that season of that year. The seed that would become this tree grew on the branch of its parent tree and fell to the ground as an anonymous speck. While most of the other seeds of that season fell to the forest floor and were eaten by insects or washed away, that one seed fell into just the right place at just the right time. Luckily, a tree had recently fallen and left a wide reach of canopy open to the sky. In addition to that fortunate fact, the spot where the seed fell was just the right kind of niche to prevent it from being washed into the deep reaches of the river below and out to sea in the massive rains to come. That seed didn’t work hard–it was lucky.
May 13, 2012 | Techmeetups
Original post by Srividya Iyer via Economic Times
MUMBAI: He is all of 19, sits in a corner office, has convinced hard-nosed venture capitalists to invest $1.1 million (Rs 5.8 crore) in his startup, and designed Pinterest, the virtual pinboard that has the world of social networking agog.
“Kids build great things,” reflects Sahil Lavingia about his impressive resume. “You almost need to be inexperienced and ignorant to be successful.”
The son of Singapore-based investment bankers of Indian origin, Lavingia is reminiscent of the stereotypicalSilicon Valley entrepreneur. He dropped out of college, tinkered around with ideas, and wants to change the world.
After living in Singapore, Hong Kong, London and New York, he decided to pack his bags and go to the Mecca of innovation – Silicon Valley. While there, Lavingia made a modest attempt at going to college, enrolling at the University of Southern California to study computer science. But within a semester, he dropped out to join Pinterest as its main designer.
“I’m going from paying USC thousands of dollars to making thousands of dollars. What’s more fun – writing an English essay or an iPhone app? For me, it’s the latter.”
Lavingia designed the virtual pinboard that is also the fastest-growing social network with 12 million users. When it won its last round of funding of $27 million in March, Pinterest was valued at $200 million.
Restless, Lavingia set out on a new adventure because he “wanted to solve more interesting problems”. In August 2011, he founded Gumroad, a platform whose mantra is to “sell anything you can share”.
May 2, 2012 | Techmeetups
Original post by MIKE SHA via TC
To say Wall Street currently suffers from a deficit of trust would be an understatement. In the last few years alone, the government had to bail out Wall Street to the tune of $700 billion, Madoffand Stanford bilked investors of billions, and ex-Goldman executive Greg Smith’s damning op-edin the New York Times gave everyday people a glimpse into Wall Street’s profits over people mentality.
In response to the recent fiascos on Wall Street, the government decided to subject the financial industry to its most widespread reform since the Great Depression: the nearly-850-page Dodd-Frank act. This complex regulation is only part of the solution and is a reactionary approach to solving a problem for which the fundamental root cause is surprisingly simple: people no longer trust Wall Street. Regulation may restore stability, but it won’t restore trust. So what will?
The 2012 Edelman Trust Barometer Survey found that more than 50% of people don’t trust the financial services and banking industries. Those results were poor enough to land both industries in the rock bottom two slots in both 2011 and 2012.
The flip side of this survey is that the technology industry was ranked as the most trusted for the sixth consecutive year. Why are technology companies 75% more trusted than financial services companies? Here are some of the things that have helped technology companies earn trust:
- Put Users First & Trust: Do what’s right for the user. Silicon Valley and the broader startup ecosystem has been raised in a “do what’s right for the user” culture which is desperately needed in industries like financial services, where the desperate search for profits has come at the expense of customers.
- Truth & Trust: The data never lies. Access to data, and computing power to crunch the data, enables the creation of high-quality, low-cost services that are highly accurate and infinitely scalable. Some industries, like search, are fundamentally built around data analysis, but as we enter the era of Big Data, we are already seeing the effects spread to other industries like health, advertising, retail, and more. Industries that have thrived on opaqueness, like finance, will be disrupted the most.
April 25, 2012 | Techmeetups
Original post by Mongezi Mtati via memeburn
The last post I wrote featured seven, which later became nine, South African events worth attending to grow your startup. If you have started building a product or platform that you deem worthy of international exposure, which I’m sure it is, then you may want to attract the attention of investors, mentors and innovators worldwide.
Here is a list of 14 events and a startup exchange programme you may want to consider:
1. South by Southwest (SXSW)
One of the most talked about conferences is SXSW, whose focus is in music, independent films and emerging technologies. It is renowned for being one of the most viable launching pads for content that spreads and presents invaluable learning opportunities for startups.
It was held this year from March 9-18 in Austin, Texas. Register for the next one and stay informed.
READ 2 TO 14 HERE
April 18, 2012 | Techmeetups
Original post by Tim Catts via Bloomberg
A General Electric Co. employee examines a component for a gas turbine at the company's factory in Belfort, France. Photographer: Fabrice Dimier/BloombergZVZS
More than a century after General Electric Co. (GE) built its first research laboratory in an upstate New York barn, it’s wooing Silicon Valley engineers in a bid to connect machines the way Facebook Inc. (FB) links people.
New hires are coming from Oracle Corp. (ORCL), SAP AG (SAP) and Symantec Corp. (SYMC)as well as Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley, as GE persuades developers to forgo potential windfalls from initial public offerings to work for the last original member of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
GE’s vision for the so-called industrial Internet is to build networks that harvest data from heavy equipment, boosting efficiency for commercial users such as railroads and airlines. The center of the effort is a $1 billion facility in San Ramon, California, that will be staffed with as many as 400 people. In the process, GE also aims to disprove the notion that older stalwarts can’t lure tech talent from younger, cooler startups.
“GE already has a brand, but when people take a step back they probably think about it as more related to an older company,” said Shannon Callahan, head of technical talent at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. “But the magic about Silicon Valley is when you come out here and you’re building something new, you get the opportunity to brand it as something new.”
Bill Ruh came from Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO) last year to lead the venture as a GE vice president and has been hiring ever since.
April 15, 2012 | Techmeetups
Original post by David Radin via Post-Gazette
If you’re an entrepreneur, running your business effectively requires access to capital — whether you run a tech company or have hung out your shingle on Main Street. But sometimes finding cash for operations is difficult.
The Indus Entrepreneur (TiE) and Enterprise Forum recently conducted a joint meeting to expose members of both groups to alternative types of financing. Moderated by the head of a local venture capital fund — Ned Renzi of Birchmere Ventures — the panel featured a serial entrepreneur from Pittsburgh (Jake Witherell of Schell Games), the founder of a health care industry company in New Jersey (Paulo Machado of Health Innovation Partners) and a New York inventor/former investment banker (Larry Baker of bolstr.com).
Mr. Witherell started by talking about the campaign that his company did with Kickstarter, an online resource that helps fund new projects. With Kickstarter, you’re not really selling stock; instead you’re often selling a future delivery of the product that you plan to create.
In his case, Schell Games was attempting to raise $10,000 for a new game called “Puzzle Clubhouse.” The company offered backers — those who pledge and provide dollars through Kickstarter — a special game profile status and limited edition desktop backgrounds so they could revel in the fact that they helped bring this game to market. More than 200 backers took them up on the offer, pledging $11,403. The company reached its funding goal on Jan. 8.
April 5, 2012 | Techmeetups
Original post by Vinicius Vacanti via Businessn Isider
I remember reading the first few pages of Steve Blank’s book, Four Steps to Epiphany, and thinking two things:
- This is not exactly a page-turner
- This is a really smart way of thinking about startups
Soon after, I started attending the Lean Startup meetup in New York and reading Eric Reis’s writings. I was believer.
One of the main principles is to release an early prototype of your idea to potential users to get their feedback.
But, despite being all in on the Lean Startup movement, we didn’t do that.
Why Didn’t We Release an Early Prototype?
Our current idea, Yipit, would find all the deals happening in your city (sample sales, happy hours, retail discounts) and would send you an email with the best 7 based on your interests and your locations.
It would have taken us just a week to have launched an early prototype.
We could have measured success based on whether people opened and clicked on the emails. We could have manually created the emails with deals we found and used MailChimp to send them out. There was no need to build any tech infrastructure.
But, we came up with all sorts of excuses why we just couldn’t release an early version.
Six painful months later, we finally put out the product. It didn’t work which was okay. What was not okay was realizing that our excuses for not releasing earlier were all wrong.
The Excuses We Came Up With
The bright side is that, 6 months later, when we iterated Yipit into a daily deal aggregator, we learned to ignore the excuses and released a prototype in 3 days that took off right away.
April 3, 2012 | Techmeetups
Original post by wsj
NEW YORK — A technology giant and federal contractor in charge of the city’s scandal-plagued CityTime payroll project agreed Wednesday to pay more than $500 million in restitution and penalties to avoid prosecution.
The agreement, which prosecutors said they believed was the largest of its kind ever made, recoups for the city the bulk of the $652 million it spent on a project that began as a $63 million attempt to automate employee timekeeping but ballooned tenfold into what authorities say was an epic fraud involving kickbacks, systemic overbilling and an international money laundering conspiracy.
“The investigation revealed that SAIC managers responsible for CityTime placed profit ahead of principle, time and time again,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said. “That is why we insisted that the company pay from its own pocket every penny of the massive fraud perpetrated against the city.”
In the deal, entered by an SAIC Inc. attorney before a federal judge in Manhattan, the multibillion-dollar contractor acknowledged it had failed to properly investigate a 2005 whistleblower complaint and had employed managers who disregarded employee concerns and missed or ignored warning signs.
“Some SAIC managers failed to perceive or ignored significant and pervasive irregularities,” the company said in court papers. “SAIC’s failures resulted, in part, from an overemphasis on the financial and operational success of the project.”
The project’s senior manager, Gerard Denault, has pleaded not guilty to criminal charges. SAIC said that Denault’s managers had missed or ignored his creation of an atmosphere of fear in the office that discouraged subordinates from coming forward.
When some employees went to Denault’s supervisors with concerns, they “reacted with inappropriate skepticism, shifted the burden to the employees to prove their assertions, and failed to pass on the concerns to the proper company personnel for investigation,” the company said.
The $500 million payment — restitution to the city of $370 million and a penalty of $130 million — is more than twice the amount that SAIC anticipated in a filing in December. Then, the San Diego-based company made a $232 million provision to cover possible losses associated with the case.
March 19, 2012 | Techmeetups
Original post by Anne Field via crainsnewyork
It’s a typical day for the folks at Let’s Gift It. Three of the Manhattan startup website’s six employees, who include people in Cleveland and Boston, participate in a videoconference held via Google+ Hangouts while working on a proposal over Google Documents. Throughout the day, chief executive and co-founder Ryan O’Donnell communicates with his Gen-Y team through a constant stream of Skype keyboard chatting and texting.
Later on, Mr. O’Donnell sends several nondisclosure agreements to potential partners using an online service. The 30-year-old likes the fact that this reduces the need for printing, making the practice both green and efficient.
“We operate under the philosophy of ‘Do more faster,’ ” said Mr. O’Donnell, whose year-old company, which provides a platform for people to buy gifts as a group, doesn’t yet have revenues.
Welcome to the world of the Gen-Y startup—Web 2.0 companies founded and populated by members of the millennial generation. There’s no hard-and-fast definition for the demographic. It includes people born anytime from 1977 to 2000, according to various experts.
But these young entrepreneurs share some common characteristics and values. Coming of age during a period of great technological change, they live and breathe tech, and take for granted the informal communication the Internet fosters, according to Gary Whitehill, who works closely with the young startup crowd as founder of both the Relentless Foundation in Manhattan, which promotes entrepreneurship, and New York Entrepreneur Week.
March 6, 2012 | Techmeetups
Original post by Mike Fossum via webpronews
New York startup Fancy, an online catalog and high-end Pinterest competitor, today added a social commerce platform that allows brands and merchants to sell products directly on the site. Fancy has roughly 250,000 users, compared to Pinterest’s over 10 million, but maintains some competitive advantages.
Fancy, where users can go an “fancy” things they like, is endorsed by PPR, the French conglomerate that owns fashion brands such as Gucci and Bottega Veneta. Kanye West likes it, and Twitter cofounder Jack Dorsey and original Facebooker Chris Hughes are the board of directors, according to Fast Company. Fancy still exudes an air of exclusivity, with a tight-knit community of curators posting top-notch content, which users can now buy and sell in real time.
February 29, 2012 | Techmeetups