Are You Ready to Go Global?

"Don't think of offshoring as just reducing expenses -it's a great way to generate new revenue. This Harvard Business Review excerpt helps you determine if your company is ready for a global reach."

Release Early and Often

From a post by Ed Sim reporting on a panel discussion in which he participated that was focused on helping entrepreneurs build a winning technology company:

"1. Release early and often - It is better to release an imperfect product, get feedback, and continue evolving than trying to release the perfect product because you may never get there and run out of cash before doing so.

2. Filling the product management/marketing role early is key. Having a person who can shape the product and prioritize features by gathering the data in terms of what customers need near-term and what the market may need longer term is imperative. More often than not I find early stage companies that are engineer-driven that spend too much time on features that the market may not need. Avoid this problem early on and focus your limited resources on the right priorities.

3. Sales ramp - Do more with less and be careful of ramping up sales until you have a repeatable selling model. In other words do not hire too many sales people and send them on a wild goose chase until you have built the right product, honed the value proposition, identified a few target markets with pain, and can easily replicate the sales process and model from some of your customer wins."

Space Entrepreneurs

The International Association of Space Entrepreneurs mission is to promote '"lobal entrepreneurship in the space industry through concerted efforts in business, public policy, and education."

From a Common Knowledge post.


IP Strategy Can be Key to Attracting Venture Capital

In an excellent and comprehensive article, Steven C. Furlong of Altera Law Group, explains that clearly connecting a company's intellectual property strategy with its business plan can secure a vital link to venture capital funding. The article focuses on Newco, a hypothetical medical device company, but has broader application. Among the many useful nuggets of information and takeaways are the following:

“Most medtech companies seeking funding know that a solid strategic plan is vital, but many do not appreciate the important, and sometimes pivotal, role that the development of a comprehensive and defensible IP position plays in that plan. Most realize that they need protections for their IP, but many don't understand that all protections are not equally important or necessary. In fact, appropriate choices regarding how and what to protect can be a valuable asset that enables a company's market strategy to play out successfully. Conversely, a poor strategy can be fatal to the chances of attracting capital, thus dashing hopes of building a successful business...

Companies often view the formulation and deployment of an IP strategy as a necessary evil, giving this function only minimal attention and resources. This ignores the reality that companies get to reap their rewards only if they have managed IP right. Investors know this, so they pay particular attention to it…

Venture investors will always look for the strategy behind the IP portfolio and the choices that are implied in the strategic plan. They'll want to see what IP protections are being deployed (trademarks, utility patents, business method patents, copyrights, and so on) and what they cover. They'll also need to know whether the inventions covered are the right ones to protect. Perhaps some aren't worth protecting. Patents may properly be used offensively, defensively, or both ways. The company should determine up front if they are constructed to accomplish the right mission. When the correct approach is established, the patents should be deployed accordingly...

Newco should make deliberate choices regarding the use of IP to implement the business strategy, including what to patent, trademark, or copyright, and how to craft each type of protection. Broad patents are valuable and often necessary, but narrowly framed patents might also be required. Neither is better than the other; they just serve different ends. All patents create obstacles for competitors to overcome. The main thing is that each patent in a portfolio should be an essential element in a comprehensive plan to enter and defend a market space…

Attracting a venture capitalist is mainly a matter of instilling confidence that the start-up will fulfill its promise in four key areas. First, the investor must be confident that Newco's management team competently plans its business, assesses realities, and makes choices... Second, the investor has to have confidence that Newco has a great invention that will succeed in an attractive market...

Third, of prime importance to the investor is confidence that Newco will get its invention to market effectively and efficiently. IP protections should be sufficient to ensure that the invention enters the market without undue and costly dispute over who owns the space it claims….Fourth, and as critical as any of these concerns, the investor has to be confident that what is now Newco's will stay Newco's; that is, that Newco's invention, which makes the whole enterprise possible, is adequately protected, and that the nature of the protection serves the company's business strategies.”

It's a Great Time to Sell a Business

“It’s A Great Time to Sell a Business” and “We invest in people” were the two themes that emerged from the recently held 11th Annual Conference of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth. As explained by Michael E. Gibbons, Senior Managing Director of Brown Gibbons Lang & Co., buyout funds are flush with cash and aggressively seeking to invest it and pricing multiples are “going through the roof.”

Glen B. Kaufman, Managing Director of American Securities Capital Partners, LLC confirmed the positive sentiment by stating that the M&A market was the strongest he had seen in years, highlighted by aggressive buying activity from private investment funds. He stated that EBITDA pricing multiples from recent transactions were more than double the level of two years ago.

In percentage terms, more equity is being invested in acquisition deals. Senior debt, from bank and non-bank sources is more readily available. Consequently, as explained by Albert M. Ricchio, Managing Director of Dymas Capital Management, LLC, subordinated debt providers are being squeezed. In fact, some deals are being structured very simply with a layer of equity, a layer of senior debt and options for management.

As to early stage investing, the message was more mixed. Panelists indicated that deal flow was steady and that capital is plentiful with regard to larger transactions and more mature startups. Joel Adams, Managing Partner of Adams Capital Management wondered, however, whether there is too much capital chasing too few quality transactions. He also noted that valuations for early stage investments were not uniformly increasing, that valuations were being more influenced by industry and geographical location than a general trend upward.

One particularly positive trend was noted by Jeanne Cunicelli, Principal of Bay City Capital when she stated that substantial capital was being reserved by venture capital funds for follow on investments in the companies they were backing. Ms. Cunicelli indicated that this trend and others she observed led her to conclude that the “quality of capital” is high at the present time.

With regard to very early stage investing, Patrick Stewart, Managing Director & President of IdeaFoundry, indicated that angel investors, many having been burned in the dot.com burst, are more cautious than in earlier boom times. In general he stated, angel investors are most comfortable investing in companies that have customers and revenues. It appears that the days when a software hotshot could raise millions with a “big idea” are indeed over.

One interesting theme was repeated over and over at the conference by both venture capital and buyout fund investors -- “We invest in people.” They seem to be saying, yes, you need a good idea, a good product, a good plan and numbers that add up. But that is not enough. We need to believe in you as a person. Can you accomplish what you are promising? For those seeking funding, the importance of a good management team, an enthusiastic project champion, and people who can get things done, cannot be stressed too strongly.


12 Months to Startup

"What are you going to be doing a year from now? If your answer is 'Same old job, same old life,' then it might be time to shake things up and start that business you've been dreaming of."

To help you out, this post from Entrepreneur.com outlines 12 monthly tasks that'll put you on the path to entrepreneurial success.

"By this time next year, you don't have to be in the 'same old job' -you can be in business."

Push vs Pull Software Products

"The book (Purple Cow) argues that advertising as a way of growing a business is dead, and that a product has to be able stand out own like a 'purple cow' and sell itself through word of mouth.

This has been my philosophy as well in my software development. Products that are remarkable and 'pull' in customers are superior to 'push' products, that require convincing and advertising to sustain sales. Remarkable products spur people and the press to talk about the products, resulting in free advertising; this creates a positive feedback loop, where greater awareness leads to greater discussion, which, in turn, results in ever more awareness until saturation occurs.

There’s a tendency for companies to build 'me too' products, because there is an established market for the product and someone else has already thought about the interface design for that category. There probably is some truth to this as some marketers warn entrepreneurs to beware of markets with no competitors, because there may be no demand; the counterargument is that there is always a first product in any given category. The problem with 'me too' products is increased competition."

From .NET Undocumented: Purple Cows.

The Two Stage Software Rocket Startup

"Let's call this pattern the two-stage software startup. Unlike a two-staged rocket, the first stage is light and runs on little fuel, it's the second stage that has the big burn, if it ignites.

The first stage of the new model software venture builds a useful product as cheaply as possible. Actual engineering is focused ruthlessly on the unique value and differentiating features. In most cases, open standards are exploited to address as large a market as possible using off-the-shelf APIs and libraries. In many cases, the software is written on top of open source platforms, such as LAMP, to keep down development and initial customer costs.

Code is usually written to published interfaces, rather than integrated into the open source itself, to avoid 'contamination' by GPL and other OS licenses. Often, a portion of the development will be sent offshore, particularly if the founders have prior experience or cultural connections with a reliable venue.

Build as little as possible, as fast and cheaply as possible, while demonstrating some unique value. From the classic VC view, many of these efforts will result in a product, or even a feature, rather than a sustainable company...

The second choice after a successful first stage launch is to light the second stage, which will require venture funding. Second stage activities will consume cash in advance of the sales to fund them, as they must occur before imitators arrive. They may include adding functionality to meet customer requests, rebuilding parts of the product for greater efficiency and defensibility, adding the necessary sales force, scalability, and system integration to be able to sell to a higher end market, such as the CXO enterprise level, or carriers.

At the point of making the second stage decision, the technology risks have been greatly reduced, and a portion of market risk eliminated. The company has already been learning from the market, though it will undoubtedly need to relearn some things as it shifts focus.

Entrepreneurs who choose to enter this stage will receive valuations well above what they would have commanded before achieving a first stage takeoff, though perhaps not as much as they might hope: The VC will understand the business still requires significant investment to become sufficiently defensible for an eventual exit, and that the management team which succeeded in the first stage may need to be supplemented for the second phase."

From Due Diligence: New Model Software Startups: Two Stage Ventures.

Small Business Startup Checklist

From Janet Attard, founder of BusinessKnowHow.com comes this practical startup checklist:

+Choose a business based on your skills and interests
+Research the business idea

- What will you sell
- Is it legal?
- Who will buy it and how often?
- Are you willing to do what it takes to sell the product?
- What will it cost to produce, advertise, sell & deliver?
- With what laws will you have to comply?
- Can you make a profit?
- How long will it take to make a profit?
+Write a business plan and marketing plan
+Choose a business name
+Verify right to use the name
+See if the business name is available as a domain name
+Register the business name and get a business certificate
+Register the domain name even if you aren't ready to use it yet
+Choose a location for the business or make space in the house for it
+Check zoning laws
+File partnership or corporate papers
+Get any required business licenses or permits
+Reserve your corporate name if you will be incorporating
+Register or reserve state or federal trademark
+Register copyrights
+Apply for patent if you will be marketing an invention
+Order any required notices (advertisements you have to place) of your intent to do business in the community
+Have business phone or extra residential phone lines installed
+Check into business insurance needs
+Find out about health insurance if you will not have coverage under a spouse
+Get adequate business insurance or a business rider to a homeowner's policy
+Send out publicity releases
+Apply for sales tax number if needed
+Get tax information such as record keeping requirements, information on withholding taxes if you will have employees, information on hiring independent contractors, facts about estimating taxes, forms of organization, etc. Call Department of Labor to determine labor laws if you have employees.
+Apply for employee identification number if you will have employees
+Find out about workers' compensation if you will have employees
+Open a bank account for the business
+Have business cards and stationery printed
+Purchase equipment or supplies
+Order inventory
+Order signage
+Order fixtures
+Get an email address
+Find a web hosting company
+Get your web site set up
+Have sales literature prepared
+Call for information about Yellow Pages advertising.
+Place advertising in newspapers or other media if yours is the type of business that will benefit from paid advertising
+Call everyone you know and let them know you are in business
+Other _______________________


"Hope is Not a Strategy"

"There is always an element of optimism in every venture deal. But often times the optimism gets in the way of critical thinking.

I remember attending a board meeting...and the CEO presented the sales pipeline. There were a ton of deals on the pipeline that were going to close within the next quarter.

But the company was running out of cash. The CEO was confident the sales would close and everything would be fine. Bliss asked him, “what happens if we don’t close the deals?” The CEO didn’t have an answer. He simply hadn’t considered that possibility.

Out came the cliché. Bliss said, “well hope is not a strategy and I suggest you get one, and quick.” That company developed a plan B which came in handy when the sales didn’t come in and we salvaged the deal and got our money back.

So when developing your business plan, don’t be too optimistic, think about the downside, and develop a strategy for dealing with it."

From the post: A VC: VC Cliche of the Week.

Now May Be the Time to Grow Global

"If you're looking to grow your business, consider selling your goods and services abroad. There's a vast and profitable foreign market for small businesses to tap - if you have the right tools and know how."

So states the January newsletter from the US Small Business Administration, SBA Solutions.

In this edition of SBA Solutions, you may learn more about the SBA's Office of International Trade, which provides one-stop information for businesses looking to go global, including the SBA Guide to Exporting. You may also discover how the Internet can help you begin exporting and find out more about Web broadcasting.


Risk Management Best Practices

"Good risk management not only protects companies from adverse risk but also confers a competitive advantage, enabling them to be more entrepreneurial and, in the end, to make bigger profits. Companies should clearly articulate their risk strategies, understand the risks they are taking, and build an effective risk-management organization that helps foster a responsible risk culture."

From The McKinsey Quarterly: Running with risk.

Who's Who on the Religious Left

For those who may not be aware of it, there is a religious left as noted in Beliefnet's guide to some of the major figures on the liberal side of religion and politics.

Search Engine Links

Originally uploaded by TigerTigerTiger.
If you use different Web search engines, you've probably noticed that some of them return identical or very similar results. Here's an interesting chart from bruceclay.com that shows Search Engine Relationships.

From this J-Walk Blog post.

Questions for Your VC Investor -- Answered (kinda)

Ten Questions to ask your prospective venture capital investor from Dispatches Weblog:

1. How big is your fund?
There is no point trying to raise $1 million from a $1 billion fund.

2. How much is left in the fund after commitments and reserves for follow-ons are accounted for?
Is there enough "dry powder" in the fund to support your company's needs over time?

3. When do you intend to go out fundraising?
In other words, are you going to disappear for six to 12 months immediately after making an investment in my company and joining my board of directors?

4. When you fundraise and tell the story of your three most successful investments, how will you describe how value was created for LPs?
The answer to this question will give you some insight regarding how you might be expected to create value. For example, if the firm's biggest success came as a result of increasing valuation multiples through the consolidation of a fragmented industry, your company's strategy of creating value through innovation and organic growth might not be a great fit.

5. Who is on your firm's investment committee?
Depending on the firm, your primary contact may not be among the small group of founding partners who may be making key investment decisions.

6. What was your firm's advertised IRR when you raised your last fund?
If the firm raised its most recent fund based on an advertised trackrecord of, say, a 60% internal rate of return, you might want to question whether your plan's forecast of, for instance, a 30% IRR is really going to maintain your investor's interest over time.

7. May I get a copy of the "book" you sent around when you raised this fund?
What promises did the general partners make to their limited partners when they raised their last fund? How might those promises impact the fund's relationship with your company?

8. What do you think the exit will be on this investment? Do you think it will be a financial buyer or a strategic buyer?
You are going to be asked this question. It's only appropriate that you find out up front what the expectations of your investors are regarding this critical issue.

9. As you think about how to shape the company so that it is optimally positioned for that exit, what three things do you think need to be done in my company?
The general partners are measured against their ability to deliver value to their investors. By what metrics will you be judged?

10. What was your firm's biggest disaster as an investor? How did the investment go sideways?
There is a difference between a bad result and a bad investment. Does the investor know the difference? How did they behave?

For a general set of somewhat less than satisfying answers to these questions from a VC, please see this post from Jeff Nolan. On a related topic, please see NW Venture Voice: Entrepreneurs are from Mars, VCs are from Venus.


Legal Issues to Consider Before You Say "You're Fired"

From George's Employment Blawg comes this strong recommendation:

"Workforce.com has an absolutely first class article on employee terminations. It reads well and has concrete suggestions.

The carefully considered advice from an insider (experienced employment lawyer) goes deeper than the obvious points we all know (e.g., treat similarly situated employees the same; he explains why this ideal may be difficult to achieve in the real world)."

The article is What "Employment at Will" Really Means to You by A. Jonathan Trafimow.

Three Key Startup Traits Attractive to VC's

"For a company seeking venture capital, a day often doesn’t pass without the question: What does my company need to look like to get a VC interested? Though there is no simple answer, a quick glance at our portfolio companies will certainly provide a few common threads.

The first trait Southern Capitol Ventures looks for is “start-up experience at the top.” Though a track record is no guarantee of future performance, it is often the best indicator that we have...The second trait that we look for in a company is a revenue model that not only makes theoretical sense, but also “common sense.”...The final common trait in our portfolio companies is a deep engrained passion among the founders and employees...

Words of Wisdom: Enable the investor to understand your story, feel the enthusiasm and see the pot at the end of the rainbow.

Successful companies over the past few years have blended these threads in an intricate way allowing them to raise capital, but more importantly to substantially grow their businesses in a challenging economic climate."

From Local Tech Wire via Southeast VC.

UNESCO Free Software Portal

"The UNESCO Freesoftware Portal gives access to documents and websites which are references for the Free Software/Open Source Technology movement. It is also a gateway to resources related to Free Software. This site also includes a number of excellent links and resources for free software as well as the open source movement. Also is a link to an excellent directory titled Free Software Foundation (FSF) UNESCO Free Software Directory listing over 3500 reviewed and freely available software. "

From Marcus P. Zillman.


Sun Details Open Solaris Licensing Plans

"Sun Microsystems Inc. will use the CDDL (Common Development and Distribution License) for its Open Solaris project, and also will announce Tuesday that it is making the source code to its DTrace technology, found in the upcoming Solaris 10 operating system, immediately available to developers.

But the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company plans to keep the Solaris trademark and all distribution rights associated with that, so the Sun Solaris software brand will continue to be made available as a supported distribution by the company, with value-added services and support offered at a charge on top of that.

Sun submitted the CDDL to the OSI (Open Source Initiative) for approval in December, but declined to say what it intended to use the license for. As previously reported in eWEEK, it was widely expected that this would be the license used for the Open Solaris Project if approved.

The OSI approved the license earlier this month, and John Loiacono, Sun's executive vice president of software, will officially announce the license's use for Open Solaris on Tuesday"

From eweek.com.

Entrepreneurship Nuts and Bolts

"While a bold idea, unflagging determination and patient financial backers are all crucial to successful start-ups, entrepreneurs must also focus on less dramatic aspects of running a company, according to seasoned entrepreneurs who spoke at the 8th Annual Wharton Entrepreneurship Conference.

This means paying attention to investment relationships, exit strategies and the mechanics of building a business, including hiring, firing, marketing and distribution..."

Read more at CNET News.com:

Deciding What to Outsource

"There is no set trick to choosing functions for outsourcing. Every company that has signed an outsourcing deal has grappled with the question at some point. Denis Chamberland, a lawyer for ABTS Global, and Ajay Arora, senior director of product management and marketing for Centrata, offer some pointers to make sure your decision is a good one.

Get your priorities straight. First know what IT duties are critical to your core business offerings.

Hang on to strategic functions. If a function provides any kind of competitive advantage, keep control to ensure that actions are aligned with business strategy and the job gets done right.

Everything else is fair game. Look particularly at high volume and highly repetitive functions.

Perform TCO and ROI analysis. Just because you really don't want to do a function doesn't mean you should rush into an agreement.

Good Candidates For Outsourcing

Every company has a few functions that are just right for outsourcing, and in many cases they are different from firm to firm. However, there are a few "gimmes" out there. The following are some of the most commonly outsourced functions for small to medium-sized businesses.

Desktop Management

Dealing with desktops can be a real bear when you are managing a network. Many small businesses are giving the reins over to firms that work solely with desktops so that their IT staffers can concentrate on higher-priority projects. This practice is continuing to become more common as desktop management services become more commoditized.

Application Integration

When bringing in a vanilla application is not an option, some SMBs would rather pass off the work of integration to firms with more expertise in the field. This is especially true for internal applications that offer no critical competitive advantage to the business.

Data Center Management

Many smaller companies just don’t have the money or resources to run an effective data center that suits their needs. In these cases, businesses hire an outside company to run the center and sometimes even use these management firms’ equipment to house the data.

Hardware Repairs

More than likely, most of the data gurus out there have a pretty good working knowledge of the hardware they are working with. A craftsman needs to know his tools, after all. But companies are finding it more time- and cost-efficient to let outside experts put together, repair, and maintain their hardware."

From Processor.

Carnival of the Capitalists Up

This week's Carnival of the Capitalists is up at Business Opportunities Weblog.


Self-Funding Most Important Globally

From About.com:

"London Business School and Babson College just released their Global Entrepreneurship Monitor report, which is 'the largest annual measure of entrepreneurial activity worldwide, spanning 34 countries and a total labour force of 784 million people.'

Many of the findings are what you might expect, but some of the findings regarding funding were especially interesting, and contain some lessons for entrepreneurs that may surprise you...

Self-funding by entrepreneurs and funding from informal investors (family, friends, colleagues, neighbours and strangers) are the lifeblood of an entrepreneurial society...

By far the rarest source of capital for nascent entrepreneurs is classic venture capital. So rare is it, that even in the US, which has more than two-thirds of the total venture capital in the entire world (74% VC among G7 nations in 2003), far fewer than one in ten thousand new ventures receive their initial financing from VC firms. US companies received $8.1 million VC funding compared to an average of $1.2 million per company in other G7 nations in 2003."

Cool Tool: RSS Digest

One of the great pleasures of blogging is contributing to a community of fellow bloggers and blog readers. I am also aware how "One thing can lead to another." This is particularly true in home remodeling where, before you know it, the simple "patch the ceiling" project can morph into a complete redo of the sixty year old bathroom. (This happened to me.)

I recently read a post on Research Buzz about a tool that powers the showing and syndication of RSS and news feed on your Web page with no programming, RSS Digest.

One thing has led to another and I have incorporated feeds from my other blogs into this one using the service. Perhaps more of interest to the entrepreneurial, open source and nanotechnology communities, however, I have created three "meta" sites that aggregate news and blogs feeds on those topics.

Please consider visiting EntreMeta.com, OpenSourceMeta.com, and NanoMeta.com. Let me know what you think and particularly about any sources that you think should be added.

Changes to SBA Programs Outlined

This newsletter (PDF) from the Pittsburgh SBA office contains handy charts summarizing criteria for obtaining SBA loans and recently enacted changes to the SBA's 7(a) and 504 loan programs.


The Unwritten Rules of Sports -- Written

From the Seattle Post Intelligencer

1.0. Don't embarrass yourself, your teammates or your opponent.

1.1. Never show up an umpire on balls and strikes.
1.2. Never steal a base when leading by a bunch of runs.
1.3. Never show up an opposing pitcher after hitting a home run off him.
1.4. Always run onto the field in support of your teammates or players after a fight breaks out.
1.45. Don't fraternize with opposing players.
1.45. (a) Players who don't run onto the field in support, or who fraternize with opposing players, shall be fined by a kangaroo court.
1.45. (b) Kangaroo courts shall exist in every major league clubhouse and operate by their own set of unwritten rules.
2.0. Play the game the right way.
2.1. Never lay down a bunt to break up a no-hitter.
2.2. When breaking up a double play, always go in with a clean slide.
2.3. Always throw a fastball on a 3-0 count.
2.35. Never swing at a 3-0 pitch when your team has a comfortable lead.
2.4. Never put the tying or go-ahead run on first base.
2.45. Unless you are playing the Giants and Barry Bonds represents the tying or go-ahead run.
2.5. Never make the first or third out of an inning at third base.
2.6 Always run out ground balls, even routine ones.
2.7. Never interrupt a pitcher's focus by talking to him before a start.
2.75. Applicable to broadcasters and players alike, never mention "no-hitter" when a pitcher has one working.
2.8. Never steal another team's signs -- or at least never get caught doing so.
2.9. Pitchers must work inside to keep opposing batters honest but must never throw at a batter's head.
2.95. Pitchers must retaliate for egregious acts committed by opposing pitchers.
1.0. Don't embarrass yourself, your teammates or your opponent.
1.1. Don't make a display out of padding your stats.
1.15. Don't make a career out of padding your stats.
1.2. Don't dunk -- or attempt any shot -- in the final seconds when the opposing team has conceded defeat, nor hoist a 3-pointer with a 20-point lead in the final minute.
1.3. Don't use a full-court press when your lead is ridiculously large.
2.0. Play the game the right way.
2.1. Hit the open man, move the ball, fill the lanes, hustle back on defense, take a charge.
1.0. Don't embarrass yourself, your teammates or your opponent.
1.1. Never call for an onside kick when leading by a lot of points.
1.15. Never call for a fake punt.
1.2. Always take a knee in the final moments when the game has been decided.
1.3. Always remove your starters when you have a big lead in the fourth quarter.
1.4. When you reach the end zone, pretend like you've been there before.
2.0. Play the game the right way.
2.1. Always establish the run.
2.2. Defense wins football games.
2.25. Football players make football plays.
2.3. Never take points off the scoreboard.
1.0. Don't do anything to embarrass yourself or your opponent.
1.1. Don't make yourself an easy target for the gallery.
2.0. Play the game the right way.
2.1. Never walk across a player's putting line.
2.2. Never putt the ball when your opponent has conceded the putt.
2.25. Don't make your opponent attempt a putt that you would want conceded.
2.3. Don't distract your opponent, at least not overtly.
2.4. Always repair ball marks on the green, even if they were not made by your ball.
1.0. Don't do anything to embarrass yourself, your opponent or the game.
1.1. Don't celebrate an empty-net goal.
2.0. Play the game the right way.
2.1. Fighting is acceptable, but retribution with intent to injure is not.
2.15. Always observe Hammurabi's Code ("an eye for an eye”)
2.2. If you've got it coming to you, take your punishment.
2.3. Don't challenge players to a fight when wearing a visor.
2.35. If you're going to "dangle your gloves," you have to drop them -- don't fake it to draw your opponent into a penalty.
2.4. Always give your goalie's pads a tap with your stick before the game starts.
2.5. Don't shoot the puck on net after the whistle blows.
2.6. Never clear the zone up the middle -- use the boards.
2.7. Keep your head up through the neutral zone.
2.8. Don't give the opposing goalie a "snow job," spraying ice chips in his face with your skates, unless you want to pay.
2.9. If a player on your team has two goals, do all you can to get him a hat trick.

Shred This: Identity Theft Law Affects Small Business

"The Fair and Accurate Transactions Act (FACTA) was passed to help protect all of us against identity theft. But, a single provision in this new law opens up small employers, even those with a single employee, to lawsuits if they do not properly destroy (i.e., shred) any documents or papers containing personal information about their employees before throwing it away.

USA Today reports that small and medium employers may face significant risk due to this new law."

Read more at The Entrepreneurial Mind.

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Trademarks

For a comprehensive resource containing links and information, consider All About Trademarks.

B-Schools Turning Real Money Over to Students

"In an effort to elevate their teaching beyond the usual case studies and guest speakers, a handful of schools are raising significant amounts of money to turn over to students who invest in real startups. The hope is to better train both aspiring venture capitalists and aspiring entrepreneurs, who will need to know what it takes to catch an investor's eye."

From Chalk Talk | csmonitor.com.


Primer on Trade Secret Protection

"The January issue of the Journal of the State Bar of Michigan includes an article on trade secret misappropriation. Written by Carey DeWitt of Butzel Long, Trade Secret Law for the Employment Lawyer provides a concise overview of issues that arise in the misappropriation context. Its a good practical resource too, listing several pointers that employers should incorporate into their policies and practices."

From Promote the Progress.


"I Have a Dream Today"

Martin Luther King, Jr.
Originally uploaded by TigerTigerTiger.
"Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends. And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right down in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I will go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transformthe jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.

With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day. And this will be the day, this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning, "My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!" And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true."

---Martin Luther King, Jr.

From American Rhetoric.

Hear an audio recording of the speech here.

How to Make a VC Presentation

Seth Levine shares his thought on how to put together a good venture presentation. Good things to remember, such as

* remember to tell them what you/your company/your product actual do
* plan the presentation for the amount of time you have, and leave extra
* dont' assume your audience understands the problem you solve or the basic outline of your industry
* don't claim that your plan is conservative and yet promise to return zillions in a few years...

See also Brad Feld thoughts on the subject for a good outline of the topics a VC pitch should cover.

And this blog's previous entry on the subject focused on 5 rules of thumb for a good presentation.

From NW Venture Voice.

VC's are from Mars, Entrepreneurs are from Venus

"Good rant from Joel Spolsky on why you think you need money from a VC but you really don't. Hmmm... Actually, does have some good thoughts about how you should think of your start up and what you should watch for from investors."

From NW Venture Voice.

Open Source Myths

"Once seen as flaky, cheap and the work of amateur developers, open source has emerged blinking into the daylight. With unrestricted access to the source code to run or modify at will, and support coming from an ad hoc collection of software developers and fellow users, the open-source model is very different from proprietary software.

But it is nevertheless proving attractive enough for a host of CIOs to make the switch. So who's using open source? Why are they using it? And are the benefits worth the risks? The answers are surprising - and dispel some of the myths surrounding open source. "

So states this article from CIO Magazine. The article goes on to cite the following as myths:

Myth 1: The Attraction is the Price Tag
Myth 2: The Savings Aren’t Real
Myth 3: There’s No Support
Myth 4: It’s a Legal Minefield
Myth 5: Open Source isn’t for Mission-Critical Applications
Myth 6: Open Source isn’t Ready for the Desktop

Via OSI News Weblog.


Seven Steps to Adress Open Source Software Development

"Open source software (OSS) is here to stay - many companies have extensive OSS deployments - and many web presences of Fortune 500 companies rely heavily on OSS. Many IT managers find OSS to be cheaper, more flexible and more secure than proprietary software offered by the software behemoths (e.g., Oracle, SAP, etc.). OSS is having a major impact on how companies deal with IT projects, mergers and acquisitions and the development of key intellectual property assets.

In an article published by our friends at the Practising Law Institute, Stephen Mutkoski of Microsoft Corporation (yes, that Microsoft - they know the OSS score) lays out some of the issues involved with using OSS in development projects."

He advises:

1. Create an open source policy for your company.
2. Educate, educate, educate
3. Create a process for responding to developer requests
4. Carefully document the use of OSS
5. Use experts
6. Examine and modify your due diligence practices.
7. Audit your products before you release them.

From InhouseBlog.

Future of IP Licensing

"Electronic News sat down to discuss the future of licensing intellectual property with various experts, and have published excerpts of the conversation. Among the questions answered were:

What's different about licensing IP versus other types of licensing?

Where are the hot spots in the intellectual property world?

What happens with a system on a chip, where the intellectual property is coming from a variety of vendors and being built by subcontractors of subcontractors?


Is there a way to write contracts to minimize problems surrounding an extended supply chain?"

From Two-Seventy-One Patent Blog.

Where Do Patents Go When Inventors Die?

From I/P Updates:

"This pamphlet from Dunlap, Codding, & Rogers, PC gives four timeless answers concerning where patents go when inventors die:

1. May an Inventor Devise Their Patent Rights? (Yes)
2. Do Patent Rights Pass to the Inventor's Estate if They Die Intestate? (Yes.)
3. What If the Legal Representative of the Estate Is Also the Heir Entitled to the Patent Rights? (Document the chain of title.)
4. Does the Right to Obtain a Patent Pass to the Estate in the Event That the Inventor Dies Before the Patent Is Granted? (Yes.)"

Review Advised Regarding Open Source Indemnification

"According to The Yankee Group, companies should be viewing indemnification like consumers view their automobile or homeowner's insurance policies.

With open source and Linux gaining more ground in the market, indemnification has become crucial to businesses, and The Yankee Group is advising organizations to review the terms and conditions of their licensing contracts with legal counsel to determine if they have adequate coverage for indemnification.

Businesses without indemnification coverage could be the target of intellectual property lawsuits, and they would have to defend themselves with their money, resources and time."

From [ eChannelLine USA ].

Top 100 Speeches: I Have a Dream Today

This site, American Rhetoric provides text and audio to its list of the top 100 speeches. Number one on the list is the Martin Luther King Jr. "I Have a Dream" speech, excerpts from which I have reprinted below:

"Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood...

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!...

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!


When will software companies grow up?

"Another day, another story that a newly installed software program doesn't work. Except this time, it's not just a glitch in some company's supply chain software but a critical new program to help FBI agents share information that could prevent future terrorist attacks. It would be unfair to place sole blame on the supplier in this case, Science Applications International Corp. of San Diego, because this latest fiasco just points up a longstanding problem for the whole software industry: The reason the FBI may scrap the $170 million Virtual Case File installation because it's already out of date.

No wonder traditional software vendors aren't doing so well. And no wonder faster-moving upstarts like Salesforce.com and JBoss are stealing a march on them. The new world of software--provided as a Web service, constantly updated to accommodate changing needs of each customers--is long overdue."

From Tech Beat: Technology Blog on BusinessWeek Online

Ship, then Test

"Anita Campbell at Small Business Trends reviews Guy Kawasaki's book 'Art of the Start'. Here's some advice on bootstrapping a business:

Understaff and Outsource...
Ship, Then Test...
Build a Bottom-up Forecast. This is some of the best advice you could give an entrepreneur in a startup, but it is advice few people want to hear."

From Escape Velocity.


How to Sell in One Easy Step

"How to Sell Anything To Anyone
...in just one easy step.
Make something people want to buy."

From Seth Godin.

SBA: Small Companies Must Recertify After Being Acquired

"The SBA's Office of Advocacy announced recently that roughly $2 billion in federal contracting money that was believed to have gone to small businesses actually went to large companies in fiscal year 2002. The reason: Larger companies like Titan, Raytheon, General Dynamics and Hewlett-Packard bought the small businesses that originally received the contracts.

Since the government strives to award 23% of all prime-contract dollars to small businesses, the SBA has implemented a new monitoring system that will force companies to recertify their small business status if they take part in an acquisition."


Patenting as Easy as One, Two, Three

According to J. Douglas Miller the inventor's decision as to whether and how to patent an invention involves three steps:

The first step:
Make a record of the invention.

The second step:
Determine whether the invention is patentable.

The third step:
If the invention is patentable, determine what type of application will be filed to adequately protect the invention.

Read more here.

Home Office Deduction Basics

If you need to know the rules for deducting a home office on your income-tax statement, the scoop on what's allowed is in this article --StartupJournal | Working from Home.


Think Like an Entrepreneur

"Without a doubt, every entrepreneur worth his or her salt is a 'systems thinker.' They could not do what they do without it.
What is a systems thinker? A systems thinker is one who intuits and sees the whole of a thing, the entirety of it, the one-ness of it, the integrated unity of it, as opposed to merely the sum of its parts. A systems thinker:

Transcends the world in order to transform it.
Is an inventor as opposed to an engineer.
Sees purpose in everything, and sees the system as the realization of the purpose.
Sees meaning in everything and, if not, pursues everything until the meaning becomes clear, until the system reveals itself in all its glory.
Is possessed by the meaning of things"

From Entrepreneur.com.

PA & Sovereign Bank in small-biz loans deal

"Pennsylvania officials said Wednesday that the state is teaming with Sovereign Bank to offer up to $250 million in loans to businesses with less than $10 million in annual revenues.

Through the Pennsylvania Small Business Growth Lending Program, Sovereign Bank will provide loans ranging from $250,000 to $2.5 million, at below market rates, according to a news release from the Rendell administration.

Sovereign Bank is a $60 billion financial institution with more than 650 bank branches in Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

From Pittsburgh Business Times.

Join Forces to Better Serve Customers

"Organizations serving the same kind of consumers can create new opportunities for each other. But they didn't just forge a partnership, they crafted a 'smart partnership.' Together they accomplished more than they could have in 'solo' outreach efforts. They attracted and pleased their mutual market of people while spending less.

Any kind of or size organization can join forces with another to generate more value and visibility. That may be why partnering is among the fastest growing and most controversial marketing approaches.

Be forewarned that with the wrong partners or methods, your efforts can backfire. You may irritate or even alienate prospective customers and supporters. "

From StartupJournal.

CREATE Act Joint Research and Practice Strategies

"The Cooperative Research and Technology Enhancement (CREATE) Act of 2004 (108 S 2192, Pub. L. 108-453)[.pdf] was incorporated into US patent law under the signature of President Bush on December 10, 2004. The Act extends the safe harbor provision of 35 U.S.C. 103(c) that shields patent claims from certain types of secret prior art. Under the new law, the safe harbor provision can be invoked to eliminate prior art if the claimed invention and the prior art at issue arose under a joint research agreement."

According to J. Matthew Buchanan, the Act is deceptively simple and can have very far-reaching effects. This post from his blog, Promote the Progress, presents a brief strategy for putting the new law into practice.

Inventors (and Entrepreneurs) Need to be Flexible

"Inventors are always looking for ways to make their invention a success. A big factor is figuring out who the intended market is going to be, what they will use it for, and what the demand will be...

When IBM came out with the first practical personal computer, the IBM PC, their marketing plan projected that they could sell 1000 units, in the entire country! They figured that there would be a few large companies in every town that would have a use for a computer...

I have seen several of my clients who made a product for group A, only to find out that the ones that were buying their product were members of group B, who the inventor had not even thought of. So when a product is on the market, you have to see who is buying it, and start adapting it to them, and forget your notions about who you thought was going to buy it."

The same can be said regarding entrepreneurs. Keep your antennae up and be prepared to switch your focus if your experience becomes different from your expectations.

From Patent Pending.

Set Challenging, Realistic Goals

"Goals are a critical power tool of successful people. Goals let you know where you are going and how you are doing in achieving whatever you desire. Poorly defined goals don't work. You have to clearly see exactly what you want before you can expect to obtain anything you desire. Here are a few golden rules to achieve all the amazing things you deserve.

Challenging, yet realistic. Your goals should raise the bar of your performance. When you set high, yet realistic goals and visualize yourself meeting those standards, this alone will greatly improve the chances of hitting your targets.

Written down and visible. When you write your goals down, you take a more meaningful ownership. For example, if a major goal of yours is to become the top salesperson in your company, then write it down. I know this seems silly, but it works. If you don't write your goals down, you're only wishing or dreaming. "

From bBizjournals.comviaSmall Business Brief.


Open source reshaping services market

"The open-source movement has already rewritten the rules for how software is licensed and used. Now the computer services market is changing to keep up.

With the number of open-source products on the rise, there has been a surge in services offerings--such as consulting and support--designed specifically for open-source software like Linux, the Apache Web server and MySQL database.

Big companies looking for help in assembling new systems based on unfamiliar open-source programs are fueling a race among providers--some new, some holdovers from the dot-com boom and long before--to become the trusted name in open-source services."

From CNET News.com.

China's IP Policy Threatens Global Trade

From a New York Times Magazine article:

"Foreign companies lose control of their goods in two related ways: to counterfeiters who copy products and then sell them under different or altered brand names, and to pirates who make look-alikes and try to pass them off as the real thing. Using a lost-sales calculus, which measures the losses to foreign companies by determining the value of the dubious goods sold, the U.S. Department of Commerce estimates that American companies, as a result of counterfeiting and piracy, lose between $20 billion and $24 billion annually. The Japanese sacrifice even more: $34 billion. Throw in the sales lost by the European Union, and the cumulative losses for the three economic blocs approach $80 billion.

While losses to American and other advanced economies are high, China's appropriation and dissemination of the world's most valuable products and technologies, if they continue unabated, will ultimately mean a lot more than dollars lost. China's pirating and counterfeiting could radically change the way entertainment, fashion, medicine and services are created and sold. The companies, big and small, that Americans work for could be weakened. Chinese practices might reduce the prices of what we buy, by undermining the powerful companies that now control essential but expensive goods like drugs and computer software -- or these practices might, should China's unwillingness to accede to American copyright demands ignite trade wars, drive prices up.

A U.S. consular official in China who requested anonymity -- few American officials are willing to speak openly about sensitive issues relating to China -- told me: ''Nothing has a higher priority in our trade policy than the fight to protect American intellectual property. It is every bit as important as the war against weapons of mass destruction."

Via I/P Updates.

Where was God in the Tsunami?

In an excellent column in Sunday’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Rabbi Danny Schiff, offers comforting suggestions on how to understand the role of God in the face of the immense human suffering wrought by the recent earthquake and tsunami.

He points to the bible story of the suffering of Job, an innocent who was stripped of all that was precious to him, whose questions to God were answered with more questions, teaching that because we are not God, we cannot fully understand the ways of God. As frustrating as this explanation is, Rabbi Schiff stresses that two elements of the story of Job should not be overlooked:

“First, it is helpful to know that there is a design, that there is structure and coherence behind suffering, even if it is hidden from our finite human comprehension. Such an insight, though, does little to help us now, when great agony is before us and explicit meaning is unattainable.

Far more important, then, is this: God speaks to Job. God is there when Job cries out. It could, of course, have been otherwise: Job could have cried out his tortured questions, only to be met with silence. The fact that God speaks, the fact that God is there, the fact that God cares about the human person is profoundly significant.”

Regarding the tsunami, he states:

“God, then, does not cause tsunamis or earthquakes, or single out individuals for horrific illness, or for loss, or destruction. Could God prevent such suffering? Theoretically, yes -- God is all-powerful. But God's plan seems to presuppose a world governed by laws of ethics and nature with which human beings have to grapple, and in which God will not intervene in order to save us from suffering…

God created a world in which every human being, no matter what his/her behavior, will inevitably suffer; the only question is, how much? Each of us will lose loved ones, will be met with trials and reversals, and will ultimately be subject to sorrow and death.

In Asia, each individual who died, was injured or who lost everything, was no different from those who die, are injured or lose everything to sickness or natural disaster the world over. It was the numbers that numbed the mind -- more loss in an eye blink than we have ever experienced before. This should, and has, multiplied our compassion. But the question of why a good God constructs a world in which humans must suffer indiscriminate horrors is not more troubling when millions are affected, than when it impacts thousands, or hundreds, or even one…

Perhaps we should think about it this way: Those who ever contemplated becoming parents were aware that their child would be born into a world that knows numerous possibilities for suffering, and eventual death. Yet, they still went ahead and had a child. And nobody would argue with the goodness or the benevolence of that decision. Why? Because, despite the vast ocean of tears, there is something in us that urges that life, and the world, and the future are still worthwhile. Within that internal whisper can be found the still, small, reassuring voice of God."

Moss's Antics are Arrogance, not a Celebration

Excitement, suspense, surprise and awe ruled wild card weekend in the NFL. Close games, upsets, overtime and astonishing performances rewarded diehard and casual fans alike. Then a brute named Randy Moss had to go and try to spoil it all. By pretending to moon the Green Bay fans after catching a TD pass, Randy brought reality thundering back to earth, reminding us that we live in an age, not of humility and teamwork, but of arrogance.

Moss tries to justify his actions by calling his antics a "celebration". Indeed, pundits seem to call all such demonstrations "endzone celebrations" as if that is what they are. I disagree. Celebrations are occassions of joy shared with others. Celebrating is a social event, a reaffirmation of connectedness to other people. "I am joyful; come share my joy." An endzone celebration occurs when a player scores then hands a game ball to a child in the stands; jubilantly throws the ball into the stands; jumps up and down like an excited kid; leaps into the stands to touch and share his happiness with the fans; high fives his teammates; jumps into their arms; or ends up beneath a pile of grateful, excited fellow warriors. Those are celebrations -- jubilation we all can share.

What Moss did in the endzone was a dance of arrogance -- an "arro-dance" for lack of a better term. Just look at the dictionary definition of arrogance and see if you do not agree

"The act or habit of arrogating, or making undue claims in an overbearing manner; that species of pride which consists in exorbitant claims of rank, dignity, estimation, or power, or which exalts the worth or importance of the person to an undue degree; proud contempt of others"

If ever there was an action that speaks of exalting the worth of a one's self to an undue degree or proud contempt of others, it was that Moss moon schtick. Grow up Randy. You're not that great.


Top 25 Innovations

"Over the past quarter century, though, scientific innovation has made almost everything portable. That's how the cell phone and the laptop computer landed at Nos. 2 and 7, respectively, on a list of the top 25 innovations of the past 25 years, according to a panel of technology leaders assembled by the Lemelson-MIT Program, which promotes inventiveness in teens says the article Top 25: Innovations.

Below you can see the innovations, but not the number one that will be announced on January 16.

2. Cell phone
3. Personal computers
4. Fiber optics
5. E-mail
6. Commercialized GPS
7. Portable computers
8. Memory storage discs
9. Consumer level digital camera
10. Radio frequency ID tags
11. MEMS
12. DNA fingerprinting
13. Air bags
14. ATM
15. Advanced batteries
16. Hybrid car
17. OLEDs
18. Display panels
19. HDTV
20. Space shuttle
21. Nanotechnology
22. Flash memory
23. Voice mail
24. Modern hearing aids
25. Short Range, High Frequency Radio

From Bibi's box.

Inventors Need Business Plans

"The Patent Pending blog has a great post on the chances of success for independent inventors. The bottom line: 2-3% of the independent inventors that Bob Shaver sees actually winds up making money off of their patents.

This is why the first piece of advice for all independent inventors, especially first timers, is to do a business plan before spending money on a patent.

What I suggest is writing a business plan for a large company in the market that might like to license the invention. This hypothetical company needs to see a definable advantage to the product in their marketplace with their margins."

From Anything Under the Sun Made By Man.


The Baby Boom Generation Myth

Is it time for "Generation Jones" to stand uP?

"If you were born between 1954 and 1965, ask yourself this question: "Do I feel like a member of The Baby Boom Generation, Generation X, or neither?" Ask other people of this age which of the two generations they feel a part of. You will quickly find that the vast majority of people in this age group do not feel like Boomers or Xers.

New generations typically assert their "differentness" when their oldest members hit their late teens and early twenties. Three times in the last 35 years, "new generation" choruses have appeared—in the early-60s(Boomers), the mid-70s (us), and early 90s(Xers). While the Boomer and Xer choruses resulted in media feeding frenzies, our attempts to assert our collective identity were largely ignored.

As early as 1972, for example, The New York Times Magazine ran a cover story written by 18-year old Joyce Maynard in which she proclaimed that she and her peers were the leading edge of a new generation, one qualitatively different than the Woodstock Generation. Her voice, like the others that followed in the mid-70s, weren't heard by a nation that wasn't ready to deal with a new generation. But for many of us in that new generation, it was a joke that we were being lumped in with the Boomers. It was obvious to us that we were a different generation.

The traditional 1946-1964 definition of The Baby Boomers is filled with errors:

It ludicrously defines a generation by birth rates when actually generational personalities arise from shared formative experiences, not head counts.

The first Boomers were born several years before birth rates happened to increase in '46. Time Magazine, for example, chose their 1966 "Man of the Year" as "The Generation under 25" and many of the most famous Boomers (Jim Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Abby Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, etc.) were born well before '46.

Nineteen years is too long. As Gail Sheehy (of Passages fame) has noted: "And given the acceleration of the life cycle, a generation is now encapsulated in ten to fifteen years instead of the traditional twenty."

...Admittedly, determining generations is complicated, an inexact science, with inevitable blur on the edges. Nonetheless, broad accurate generalizations emerge with careful analysis. The three generations differ in many ways. One major difference is that Boomers tend to be idealistic, Xers tend to be cynical, and Jonesers tend to be a balance of idealism and cynicism. Attitudinal research bears this out...

Boomers are mostly the offspring of The World War II Generation, Jonesers are mostly the offspring of The Silent Generation, and Xers are mostly the offspring of the Boomers."

Scientists Go Back to Nature

A recap of articles from CNET News.com describes the year in science:

"In 2004, scientists were literally in the woods.
Researchers in increasing numbers are trying to harness the forces of nature. Chip companies such as IBM, Intel and ZettaCore are trying to develop designer molecules that will assemble themselves into circuits in order to make smaller, cheaper and more powerful semiconductors. One start-up announced plans to try to develop new electronic materials by harnessing proteins secreted by viruses.

Energy, once a fairly dormant field, is now a high priority at the national laboratories, venture capital firms and universities. Both energy and nanotechnology are receiving an increasing portion of government grants.

Nature also emerged as something of a role model. Security experts talked of the danger of monocultures and speculate that the wide proliferation of Windows could create a digital potato famine. Robot researchers, meanwhile, have come up with robots that walk like crabs or collectively accomplish tasks through swarming like bees.

The growth in consumer electronics also prompted increased activity toward creating the digital home. Giants like Samsung and Sony, along with several national governments in Asia, sunk money and energy into broadband technologies for homes, cars and portable devices. Similarly, improving Internet search has become an obsession at several start-ups as well as stalwarts like IBM.

Several projects also proved that the future won't be devoid of amusement. A group in Canada said it would fly an ornithopter, a plane with flapping wings, next year, while a start-up in Pennsylvania has harnessed the power of nanotechnology to make stink-free socks."


Small Business IP Protection and Management

"A small to medium sized company is often faced with a dilemma when it comes time to protect intellectual property. Whether to file a patent application, what attorney to use for preparation of the application, when to file, and the list goes on. For a company that does not make these decisions on a regular basis, the process can seem quite overwhelming."

A new blawg by J. Douglas Miller, Small Business IP Protection and Management, has been started to help small business owners sort out the issues.

Via The Invent Blog.


What Surviving the Tsunami was Really Like

"Evelyn Rodriguez offers us an amazing post about her experiences surviving the tsunami on a Thai island. Particularly important are her reminders to those thinking about communications in the wake of the tragedy:

'No, the Internet is not everywhere. No, television is not everywhere. In fact, electricity is not everywhere - many of the islands we were on prior to the tsunami were generator-dependent after sundown (and that's mainly for the foreigner's benefit). ... When you live in a simple bamboo hut and fish for a living, you are not living in the always-on broadband world folks in the industrialized West take for granted. ... The Thai man whose beach hut is destroyed walks by me. I'm laying flat on my back on the hiking trail with my leg on a log trying to stay calm and collected for my own sake and the kids on our tour (they are more terrified when the adults around them are). He tells me he is walking to Long Beach (or Hat Yao) to find out more and check up on his friends. It is a 20-minute hike away. This is how information was relayed in the first hours, and for some stranded, days.'

(I'm glad you're safe, Evelyn.)"

From WorldChanging


Are Your Employees Engaged?

"This 12 statements encapsulizes what I would think is the ideal environment for an ideal employee.

1. I know what is expected of me at work
2. I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right
3. At work I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day
4. In the last seven days I have received recognition or praise for doing good work
5. My supervisor or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person
6. There is someone at work who encourages my development
7. At work my opinions seem to count
8. The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel that my job is important
9. My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work
10. I have a best friend at work
11. In the last six months someone at work has talked to me about my progress
12. This last year I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.

The above 12 statements measure how engaged an employee is at work. 'Engaged' is a combination of how motivated, excited, interested, dedicated, committed, and satisfied people are in their day-to-day activities."

From Reflections of a Business-Driven Life.

Tsunami Hits Sewickley Pennsylvania

Reg Henry
Originally uploaded by TigerTigerTiger.
Reg Henry is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and a friend of mine. His children and my daughter are friends and former classmates. In fact, I am relatively certain that his son, Jim, who was caught up in the tsunami, was present at a traditional day after Thanksgiving party that I attended in November.

You just never know when a tidal wave of emotion is waiting for you. When your life can be swept away or changed forever. Fortunately for the Henrys, their story has a happy ending.

This is Reg's column as it appeared in today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

"Phone call from Thailand lifts heavy burden

This is how you know you are overweight: You go to Vietnam for Christmas and revelers in the street think you look like a beardless Santa Claus and one or two touch your stomach for luck in the manner of the lucky Buddha.

(Memo to self: Must lose weight in the New Year.)

Vietnam is not, I grant you, an obvious destination in the festive season, but the Henry family -- father, mother, son -- went there to see daughter Allison, 23, who has spent the past few months in Ho Chi Minh City teaching English and volunteering in an orphanage.

I blame myself for this odd turn of events. I first went to Vietnam 35 years ago as a soldier in the Australian army, and I fell in love with the country despite the tragedy of war. Four years ago I went back and found that peace had swept away the fear but not the beauty and the charm.

As a result of Allison picking up on my enthusiasm, the nightmare of every Pittsburgh parent became personal reality: Our baby moved away, and to old Saigon no less, a spot more outlandish than Cleveland.

At least in Cleveland you are safe from traffic on the sidewalks. That is not necessarily the case in Ho Chi Minh City. The traffic, 85 percent of it motorbikes, is truly crazy.

The most important piece of equipment of any Vietnamese vehicle is the horn, without which driving is impossible. Although everybody is honking at everybody else, and people are often driving on the wrong side of the road, running red lights and attempting insane maneuvers, no one blinks an eyelid and road rage is rare. Many thousands are killed on the roads every year in Vietnam, but the wonder is that every intersection isn't routinely the scene of mass carnage.

On Christmas Eve in Ho Chi Minh City, the normally nutty traffic was multiplied many times over as whole families piled on motorbikes to come downtown. The authorities had strung the main thoroughfares with lights, and a concert was staged in front of the Opera House.

Logically, Christmas shouldn't be a big deal in communist-ruled old Saigon, even with its small but significant Catholic presence. In fact, it was a huge deal. The people, with their cell phones and growing prosperity, were in the mood to be merry.

Perhaps much of it was simply Sparkle Season-Vietnamese style, and perhaps Santa says the only logical thing in the circumstances: "Ho, ho, Ho Chi Minh," but peace on Earth and good will among men were much in evidence.

It seemed like half the kids were dressed in Santa suits. When a grown-up Santa arrived in the lobby of our hotel, he was besieged by kids dressed as angels. And when one set of parents found that their child couldn't have a picture taken with Santa because of the crush, they did the next best thing: They found a pretty blonde American girl -- that would be our Allison -- sitting in the lobby and happily plopped the kid down on her lap for a photo.

When the public concert out in the street finished on the stroke of midnight with a sweet rendition of Silent Night, it seemed the best of Christmases and a Happy New Year seemed assured. What could possibly spoil it?

Yet unimagined by us and millions more, a great cataclysm was building in the bowels of the Earth under the Indian Ocean. By this time, our son Jim, 21, had left to make a side trip to Thailand to see his girlfriend from New York. He was to rejoin us in Hanoi in a few days.

He was in the pool at a resort on the island of Phuket when the first great wave struck. The water swept over the pool, but the two of them got out and managed to have the presence of mind to get to higher ground before two bigger waves arrived with deadlier force. If they had been in their room, they would have died.

As it was, the resort was destroyed and they lost everything except their lives and their bathing suits -- no passports, no money, no proper clothes. I had our first inkling of trouble when I saw a brief bulletin on a TV set at the airport as we prepared to board our flight to Hanoi.

When Jimmy did not arrive on his flight, and the hours wore on and we heard nothing from him, fears that seemed surreal began to seem more and more plausible. A couple of times that terrible night I walked the streets of Hanoi alone and in despair just to get away from the TV and the pictures of carnage from Phuket and elsewhere. The grim absurdity of it was striking: We had always worried about Allison in Saigon and here was Jimmy perhaps lost to a tsunami in Thailand.

Then he called -- on a borrowed cell phone -- and we all cried in our joy and relief to hear that they were safe and unharmed. They would soon return home, their only lasting scars the contemplation of those few minutes when paradise turned into hell.

Now that the dread has lifted from me, although not the sorrow for others, I feel I should rub my own stomach. Surely no Buddha was ever so lucky."


Venture Investment Term Sheets: Price

"In general, there are only two things that venture funds really care about when doing investments: economics and control. The term 'economics' refers to the end of the day return the investor will get and the terms that have direct impact on such return. The term 'control' refers to mechanisms which allow the investors to either affirmatively exercise control over the business or allow the investor to veto certain decisions the company can make.

If you are negotiating a deal and an investor is digging his or her feet in on a provision that doesn't affect the economics or control, they are probably blowing smoke, rather than elucidating substance.

Obviously the first term any entrepreneur is going to look at is the price. The pre-money and post-money terms are pretty easy to understand. The pre-money valuation is what the investor is valuing the company today, before investment, while the post-money valuation is simply the pre-money valuation plus the contemplated aggregate investment amount. There are two items to note within the valuation context: stock option pools and warrants..."

For more, read the rest of the first of a series of posts on VC term sheets from Brad Feld here.

Time for an Updated Steelers Fight Song

Originally uploaded by TigerTigerTiger.
Taking my cue from Cynthia Closkey:

" 'With nothing to play for, Steelers show they have everything'

'This game says a lot about our team,' said Ward. 'We really didn't have that much to play for, and they had everything to play for. We started with our starters, and our backups came in, and there was no dropoff. And that's been the case all year.'

That depth is only another reason to embrace this club going into the playoffs. They're a league-best 15-1, the best record in franchise history; they have the home-field advantage through the playoffs; and they beat the No. 2 seed in the AFC, New England, and the NFC's top dog, Philadelphia, in successive weeks. Plus, they're rolling, not having lost since the second weekend of the year.

'This is probably the best team I've been on,' said Ward. 'We don't really care who gets the accolades or success. We just believe in one another.'

OK, I think we're ready for someone to write new lyrics to the fight song now

Here is my shot at the new Steelers Fight Song (for the unitiated, to the tune of the Pennsylvania Polka.)

Da-Da-Da-Da-Ta-Da - Charge!

We're from the town with that great football team,
We cheer the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Coach Bill and all his friends are all on the field.
Go out and get them Steelers.

Big Ben, and Burress, the Duce, Bus and Hines,
We love you Pittsburgh Steelers.
It's been many years in coming,
just keep that Steelers machinery humming

Defense, Defense, make them scramble, intercept that ball.
Defense, Defense, keeps the Steelers always best of all!
Po-La-Ma-Lu, do your thing against the other team,
You start from year to year, we're so glad you play here,
Now join with me, and sing the Steelers cheer-er-ER!

We're from the town with that great football team,
We cheer the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Winning's a habit, not only a dream,
Go out and get them Steelers!

Porter and Farrior are here for the show,
and so is Big Ben's Army,
It's been many years in coming,
just keep that Steelers machinery humming.

Offense, Offense, take that football whole way up the field!
Offense, Offense, let's score and score and never ever yield!
Bus, Duce, Bus, Duce, can you believe we have a running game?

The Steelers are so great, and so hard to overrate,
Good things, will come, to those who work and wait.


For more on the song, please see this post from Cindy.

Online Resources for Business Research

From ReachCustomersOnline.com:

"Marlow McClasky’s print newsletter for Fall 2004 has a terrific set of links for people doing US business research online. Her list includes Biz Journals, Statistical Abstract of the United States, Economy.com, FindArticles.com, Forbes Magazine Lists, Hoovers, InsightExpress’ Marketing Research Terms, NewsVoyager Links to US Newspapers, US State and County Demographics (Census Bureau), Marketing Research Statistical Tools, US Bureau of Labor Statistics, The Inflation Caculator (from 1800-2003), Zip Find Central (look up adjacent US zip codes)."

How Much Should I Charge for My Software?

From Joel on Software:

"'How much should I charge for my software?' When you ask the experts they don't seem to know. Pricing is a deep, dark mystery, they tell you. The biggest mistake software companies make is charging too little, so they don't get enough income, and they have to go out of business. An even bigger mistake, yes, even bigger than the biggest mistake, is charging too much, so they don't get enough customers, and they have to go out of business. Going out of business is not good because everybody loses their job, and you have to go work at Wal*Mart as a greeter, earning minimum wage and being forced to wear a polyester uniform all day long.

So if you like cotton uniforms you better get this right.
The answer is really complicated. I'm going to start with a little economic theory, then I'm going to tear the theory to bits, and when I'm finished, you'll know a lot more about pricing and you still won't know how much to charge for your software, but that's just the nature of pricing. "


Breaking Up is Hard to Do on Seinfeld

From the Seinfeld: Dictionary:

Bad Breaker-Upper - someone who ends a relationship by saying mean things that people don't generally mean - but means them

Break-up By Association - what happens when a man and woman break up, and the man's friends no longer associate with the woman

Pre-Emptive Break-up - when a man anticipates that his girlfriend is going to break up with him, so he breaks up with her first

Stab Worthy - a man that routinely gets involved in bad relationship break-ups, and gets physically injured in the process, due to his below-the-belt insults

Financial Calculators

Check out this site containing dozens of freeFinancial Calculators.

Patent Portfolios More Important than Individual Patents

"According to an August 2004 paper by R. Polk Wagner and Gideon Parchomovsky, the benefits of patent portfolios are so significant that firms' patenting decisions are essentially unrelated to the expected value of individual patents. Because patent portfolios simultaneously increase both the scale and the diversity of available marketplace protections for innovations, firms will typically seek to obtain a large quantity of related patents, rather than evaluating their actual worth.

The result - which they see as widely-recognized in commercial circles - is that the modern patenting environment exhibits (and requires) a high-volume, portfolio-based approach that is at odds with scholars' traditional assumptions."

From I/P Updates.

The Art of Being On a Panel

This article by Guy Kawasaki offers the following tips for serving on a panel:

1. Control your introduction.
2. Entertain, don’t just inform.
3. Tell the truth—especially when the truth is obvious.
4. Err on the side of being plain and simple.
5. Never look bored.
6. Don’t look at the moderator.
7. Make casual conversation. You’re on stage, but act like you’re not.
8. Answer the question posed, but never limit yourself to the question posed.
9. Never say, “I agree with what the other panelists have said.”
10. Provide a way to get in touch with you.

Intellectual Property Primer

In today’s business environment, trade-marks, copyright, patents, and other forms of intellectual property are important to every business. Business people must therefore understand the laws that govern the acquisition, use and protection of intellectual property. This Intellectual Property Primer provides an overview of the fundamental principles of intellectual property law. It also discusses the important areas of Web site domain names, licensing and the protection of personal information. Lastly, this Primer provides information about intellectual property audits and how you can improve the management of your intellectual property and reduce intellectual property-related risks.


What to Do About Competitors' I/P

"According to a November 22, 2004 article by Keith Zullow and Erica Kuo, here are the 'Top Ten Things to Do About Your Competitors’ Intellectual Property':

1. Monitor Your Competitors’ Patent Applications Before They Issue
2, Monitor the Progress of Your Competitors’ Patent Applications
3. Block Your Competitors’ Patents
4. Challenge Your Competitors’ Patents Before Your Competitor Can Take You to Court
5. Think About Approaching Your Competition for a License
6. Monitor Your Competitors’ Trademark Filings
7. Learn About Your Competitors’ Global Marketing Strategy
8. Challenge Marks That Hit Too Close Before Your Competitors Gain the Advantage
9. Monitor Your Competitors’ IP Licensing Activity in Foreign Countries
10. Know That Your Competition is Checking Up on You"

From I/P Updates.

Patent Searching Tips for Inventors

"Nearly any patent professional will recommend a formal patent search before filing a patent application. While a search is costly, it can actually save money. A search can reveal that someone else already invented your invention. This knowledge saves the time and expense of filing a patent application that would later be rejected.
If you're interested in saving the money involved in a formal search, you may consider doing an informal search yourself. If you find that your invention already exists, you will save the cost of the formal search."

There are several methods for searching for patents as explained in this PHOSITA post.

Useful E-business Tools

From TJ's Weblog:

"Paul Allen has this fantastic list of tools to stay competitive as a 'I have outsourced everything'-entrepreneur:

'PayPal. Many small companies exist on revenues that come through their PayPal account. It is quick and easy to setup a PayPal account and collect payments from PayPal users and from credit card owners.
eBay. Imagine the power of being able to reach tens of millions of buyers by listing items for sale on eBay. If you haven't tried this for your business, you've got to. Hundreds of thousands of people make a living on eBay.

OSCommerce. Good open source developers can develop a powerful ecommerce web site on top of this open source package. Worldhistory.com will soon launch it's ecommerce site built on this platform for less than $1,000. Besides OSCommerce, SourceForge.net lists hundreds of additional open source software projects that are available for download.
eLance. To find developers for your next project, you can post a project description on eLance.com and get several (sometimes dozens) of bids for your project. You can quickly see the portfolio of projects the developers have already completed, and choose your developer.

Alibaba. Alibaba is trying to become the leading business-to-business e-commerce portal in the world. The company raised $82 million in venture capital earlier this year. If you need to find a manufacturer in Asia or anywhere in the world, for that matter, to produce your products; or if you want to import and sell anything, chances are Alibaba will put you in touch with the right companies.'

Save it and try all of them."