Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Some Links to Helpful Organizations

All of the websites below are well known resources in SV and host conferences and networking events for entrepreneurs. It's always advised to keep an active network going. Some of these conferences can get pretty expensive, I tend to pick and choose which are worth the time and money based on the possible value of learning and connections it can provide. I'll try and update this list as I come across more worthwhile organizations.

Women's entrepreneur group.
Designed for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs who understand the value of extraordinary relationships and believe in the give-back, Astia connects entrepreneurs to investors, industry leaders, advisors, and service providers encircling the entrepreneur with a comprehensive value-ad network. Our role is to facilitate access to the proven pathways to success and deliver results.
The AlwaysOn Network is transforming the media business by providing its readers with an open and participatory editorial environment. Borrowing from the underground blogging and social networking traditions, AO was launched in 2003 and has emerged as a leader in the “open media” revolution. The network’s content focuses on the sweet spots in the technology markets where innovation is disrupting behavior and creating new business opportunities.
TiEcon is TiE's premier annual event and is the largest convention in the world dedicated to entrepreneurs. TiE is a global, not-for-profit, non-political, and non-religious organization dedicated to fostering entrepreneurs across its international network. Since its founding in 1992, TiE has grown to become the world's largest organization for entrepreneurs and professionals, with membership spread across 48 chapters in 11 countries.

Friday, April 24, 2009


So, if you'd like inspiration that you can take basically any idea and take it to company form, here is the proof. 2 guys at a restaurant one day and decided that the taste of bacon was filled with awesomeness. So what did they do? They first developed bacon flavored salt, and now are producing bacon flavored lip balm and mayonnaise. http://www.jdfoods.net/ourstory.php

And based on the post below, you may just remember the above paragraph because it is Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, and a Story. I saw the story today one Oprah. You heard me, two guys who formed a company based on the concept that everything should taste like bacon, had a 10 minute spot on Oprah. Not only that, but now Oprah is tweeting on her show. Wow things have changed. Social Media has now taken control of TV, with the internet and iphone applications being top stories on the news.

Two days ago one of the top stories on the news station was the 'shaking baby' application on the iphone. Why the news would even waste their time talking about a stupid application that someone wrote? I have no idea. You would think that their time would have been better spent on a special interest story, or picking a wedgie. My thought is that there is so much information out there now, that even credible news reporters are having difficulty combing through all the information to come out with a hearty news report.

People are coming across youtube videos, iphone applications, and all the other randomness on their own. To replay all of this as 'news' is ridiculous. Then you end up getting bombarded with the same information over and over again, I guess that is what they mean by recycling.

What happened to the time when people would turn on the news to hear about was happening in the community? Now I turn on the news and they are talking about the latest YouTube video or Britain's Got Talent's, Susan Boyle.

I think TV needs to redefine its purpose. A statistic today said that only 52% think the TV is necessary. Its the lowest percentage since the 70's. No wonder, the TV just tells you everything the internet does...but 8 hours later. Baconnaise, anyone?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Lately I've been taking a small break from my major projects and have been concentrating more on the photography and videography business. The way I work I can't be on over drive on one project for months at a time, I like to throw in some other projects, take my mind completely off of what I've been working on, and then return to it once my mind has been cleared. That way I can look at it with a fresh set of eyes. I suppose that's the way many artists work. If you spend your time completely immersed in a painting, and never take a step back to look at it, its easy to get lost along the way.

I've been reading a book called "Made to Stick". It talks about creating concepts that are catchy so they grab the attention of users/consumers/target audience. The thought behind the book is that about 80% of the successful advertisements follow the same rules. While the advertisements that fail, fail in too many ways to mention. They talk about the acronym, "SUCESs".

Simple–the core message that is compact and profound. It functions more like a proverb than a sound bite.
Unexpected–get your audience’s attention and hold it by using surprise and mystery.
Concrete–make your idea understandable and memorable by breaking it down into terms that can be imagined by the senses.
Credible–help your audience believe and agree with your idea by using appropriate testimonies, statistics, and examples.
Emotional–get your audience to care about your idea by using specific examples of someone in need or by appealing the audience’s self-interest or sense of identity.
Stories–get people to take action by telling the right stories.

Apparently, if you follow these rules, you will be well on your way to success!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Andy Spade Presentation- Husband of "Kate Spade" Bags

Last night I went to a speaker presentation hosted by Stanford's d.school. The speaker was Andy Spade, who helped found "Kate Spade" and "JACK Spade" with his wife Katie. You may have heard of Kate Spade bags before... The following is a small blurb about him.

Spade had over a decade of experience with top advertising agencies Saatchi & Saatchi, Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, and TBWA/Chiat/Day managing accounts with companies such as Coca Cola, Evian, Reebok, Lexus, and Coach. He's the branding and marketing man behind Kate Spade and Jack Spade (the companies that he and his wife created.) He has also been tapped to design the experiences of a number of companies including Delta's Song Airlines and J. Crew retail experiment The Liquor Store. Spade's latest project is Partners & Spade. It includes a highly conceptual retail experience in downtown Manhattan. Beyond all these business ventures, Spade is heavily involved in the art world. He is a patron to emerging artists, co-owner of a gallery, and curator of several exhibitions. Spade's projects merge emotional branding, experience design, brilliant collaboration, and always a touch of surrealism.
Pretty much a lot of what I'd like to get into. So, for the benefit of reinforcing his lecture in my head, and to give you some insight on what Andy had to share, I will share my notes from the lecture.

Keep it interesting.

1. Make the advertising personal. Identify with clients.
-You want to tell the stories behind the products that you are advertising
2. Love your product like your children (When they're well behaved)
-And don't be afraid to add a little wit
3. Have a collection of Boutiques, not a chain of stores
-The Spade stores are each at least 30% different
-And if you are going to hang something, make it mean something, its all about the USER EXPERIENCE
-People want to buy products with an interesting story
4. Don't be afraid to collaborate
5. Continually surprise your customer (they bore easily)
-(Notice how Britney Spears is still interesting??)<-my add in 6. A brand should be like a friend and act accordingly 7. Beware of overbranding (i.e. tommy hilfiger) 8. Everytime you hire an accountant, hire a creative

Now for some of the interesting advertising strategies he helped out with. I LOVE untraditional advertising, it's genius. I've always had room in my heart for creative everything, I'm not a fan of vodka, but I love Absolut's advertising campaign. If I hadn't done Mechanical Engineering, I would have done either industrial design, advertising, art, psychology... I think they are all related, although our society likes to pull them apart. Apart each are OK. Combined, they are amazing.

So, back to examples. J Crew wanted to step up the perceived value and coolness of their men's clothes. So, instead of paying over $10,000 for a page in a magazine, they rented space in an old liquor store. They didn't put their sign outside, just a cool clothes display with vintage feel, and reconnecting the old neon liquor store sign. They received much publicity on this store, and J Crew men's earned a 'cool' factor.

For wit, they made Kate Spade bags for Valentine's Day. On the front it had stitching, "Be mine, forever". Inside, a hidden GPS tracker.
They published a book, "what a man should know", instead of coming out with an ad, because books tend to be more credible than ads.
They sell back dated confidence trophies, for those competitions that you are still bitter about losing, 20 years later.

They had teenagers vandalize one of their stores, by having eggs thrown at the window, and called the news. Free publicity!
Kate Spade brand made: chocolates, bags, books, music, all to make up the user experience, and build the brand.
They made two movies, one about a paper boy, and put their messenger bag in the movie. Then they created a full feature film, "The pleasure of being robbed", with Kate Spade bags. That bag has won much critic acclaim, and most don't even realize it a bag commercial.
At one of the big fashion shows, JACK made hot dog and hamburger shaped cookies, with a note "JACK Cares", and handed them out to the anorexic models.

So, it sounds like Andy Spade is off to some pretty interesting things now. He basically started with a core product of the traditional "Kate Spade" bag, and now that venture is supporting all his other ventures. That's my goal right now. Build one.. and then I'll be able to branch out. Seems that the one core product give you the credibility and money to proceed to the larger picture.

I talked to him after the presentation, and asked if he was familiar with David Kelley, because what he is pursuing now seems very IDEOish. He said he just spent the day with Kelley, and would like to work with IDEO for a year. I'm not jealous or anything... :-)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Blogger becomes casualty of Iran cyber-wars

I saw this headline today: "Blogger becomes casualty of Iran cyber-wars", and felt it was worth some words. Apparently a Jewish blogger in Iran was arrested for criticizing the Iranian government. He died today in his jail cell. His blog started out talking about freedom, and the desire for it. I find it amazing to think that even today in our modern society, people are still ruled by fear. The story echos what happened in Berlin, Germany during the second world war. First, they make sure people are scared to speak out. By muzzling people, it makes it harder to unify. It's easier to pick off individual 'annoyances' than a powerful unified opponent.

Maybe if we use their thinking, and reverse it on them, we can make sure that we can regain the security of people's freedom. Maybe everyone can unify in the quest for freedom of all people. Its an idealist thought, but with a positive spin on it. Ironic, with even those good intentions, it would have the same outcome, people being persecuted for their beliefs.

But, what if we all held the belief that being good natured was the ultimate right, and that we should allow our moral compasses direct us? I wonder how so many people's moral compasses got so screwed up. I think we should all be raised watching Disney movies, so we can know the difference between Cinderella, and the Evil step mother.

And, to part, I will leave with a quote from blogger, Omidreza Mirsayafi's first blog post.

"I asked: When will we understand the meaning of freedom?

"I answered: When our wisdom can be delivered from ignorance, selfishness and foolishness."

In memory of all who have never had the pleasure of experiencing freedom.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The ABC's Inventing

If you are thinking of inventing something new for the world, and would like some inspiration, I offer it here.

An invention is any thing, process, or idea that isn't generally and currently known, that can be made tangible in some way.

It is a misconception that the day of the successful solo inventor is over. In fact, billions of dollars in royalties and other compensation are paid each year to individual inventors for their creations. You may be also energized to know that 73% of all inventions that have sparked new industries have come from independent inventors. Now, that's just awesome.

Recognizing a problem is usually about 90% of the act of conceiving the invention. "To be an inventor is to perceive a need". If you can define a problem with a large enough involved market, or a critical enough need for a small market, you could have an idea with great market potential.

The largest piece that leads to a successful outcome for most inventions is defining the real problem. This might seem simple and transparent, but it is often not. For example, when Chrysler came out with the mini van, the customer's biggest complaint was they were always at the gas station, filling up their tanks. Chrysler then spent a lot of money trying to figure out how to achieve a higher mpg rating. The real problem? The gas tank was too small, and all they needed to do was increase the size of the tank to make their customers happy.

Once you get an idea, in order to make a difference you must follow through. Many people have ideas, but few actually follow through. Keep in mind that you may think to yourself, "Man, how can I be the only world to think of this? It must already exist, game over." You won't be getting anywhere. First of all, you may not be the first one in the world to think of it, but you may be the first in the world to follow through with it. Start out by doing a patent search, and see where it takes you from there. As Edison said, inventing is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration.

If at first your idea doesn't take, take another approach. Before the inventor of the grocery cart came along, shoppers in grocery stores used their own small hand carried wicker baskets. When he first introduced the shopping cart, shoppers wouldn't use them, and stores wouldn't buy them. So why is it that today we see the shopping cart everywhere? Because in order to get his carts accepted by the public... he hired crews of shoppers to wheel the carts about and fill them in his store. In addition, he also hired a woman to offer the carts to entering shoppers. Now, how is that for being resourceful and great marketing strategy?

Maybe you don't have enough time to sit down and think of an invention? Not a problem. History records a large number of important scientific and conceptual breakthroughs occurring during sleep or borderline-sleep states.

Elias Howe solved the basic problem of his sewing machine invention in a dream. Tribal warrior ordered him to come up with a solution or they would kill him. He couldn't come up with an answer, so the warriors threw their spears at him. When the spears were inches away from his face, he noticed that each spear had a hole near its tip. His nightmare awoke him in terror, but with a solution to his most daunting problem!

If none of the above have entertained or inspired you, I have 2 more tricks up my sleeve. One is this quote:

"Everything that can be invented has been invented"-- U.S. Patent Office Director, urging President McKinley to abolish the Patent Office (1899)

And if that didn't do it for you, here is my last kicker. An awesome commercial from the USPTO.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Expanding Entrepreneurness.com

It's my hope that this site will be able to expand into not just a blog for myself, but a community for entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial thinkers. It would be ideal for this place to serve as a site for inspiration and guidance through the complicated journey of creating a start up business.

I know people have different talents, and unfortunately I don't have one in web design. If anyone is interested in helping to grow this website from a technical perspective, I'd be interested in hearing from you. I'd like to have different bloggers on this site, and an easy way to people to post and respond to one another. Are you interested in adding to this site, whether it be technically related, or with information and insight? Just contact me, and we'll figure something out.