Sunday, November 23, 2014

"Most of you will fail, disrespected, impoverished ..."

Nassim Taleb's vision from his book Antifragile for an address to the nation on National Entrepreneur Day:

"Most of you will fail, disrespected, impoverished, but we are grateful for the risks you are taking and the sacrifices you are making for the sake of the economic growth of the planet and pulling others our of poverty. You are the source of our antifragility. Our nation thanks you."

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Value Propositions

Our VentureWell value proposition video. I scripted this in late 2013 and we produced the final in early 2014. I just reviewed it again and realized, hey, it's pretty darn good!

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

changing roles

I'm changing my roles at my two positions this summer. I have been working primarily as Director of Venture Development at VentureWell (née NCIIA) and on the side as consulting CFO of Long River Ventures.

With the launch of Long River Ventures III, I'm going to be switching to Long River as my primary role and taking on a Senior Advisor role at VentureWell. I'll be supporting the venture development team at VentureWell and working to ensure a transition as a new program officer for the E-Team program is identified and brought on board. I'll be focused on our collaborative relationship with Village Capital, and the accelerator program Village Capital VentureWell that we have developed.

I'm excited to continue to straddle these two complementary but different areas of my career. With Long River Ventures, I'm looking forward to leaning in and being able to better support the three partners in implementing their third venture capital fund. Entrepreneurs don't realize that in a sense each new venture capital fund is itself somewhat of an entrepreneurial startup, al beit with an experienced team and in the case of Long River, investors who have invested in previous funds. Long River as an organization has been around now for well over a decade, with a consistent inventor base and the same partners delivering great returns. They know how to run this business and deliver results. I'm honored to be on their team and engaged in the third fund.

I'm also pleased that leadership at VentureWell wants me to continue my engagement with the organization. I've been involved on and off with the organization almost since inception two decades ago and am a strong advocate of its mission. The organization is now almost 35 people and well beyond its startup phase. I'm looking forward to advising the team on how to best implement its venture development efforts and believe that my more active role with Long River will in fact serve to strengthen the quality of the support that I'm able to provide VentureWell.

Monday, March 31, 2014

They call me @VentureWell

They call me VentureWell ... yes, NCIIA is changing its name and the VentureWell program that I run is now the name of the whole organization.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

A flow-chart to make the 506 investment rules easier to understand

There's a been a lot of confusion in the startup community about the changes in securities laws commonly referred to as "Rule 506". Basically, on September 23, 2013, the United States SEC issued new rules governing the public disclosure rules under which private companies can raise money from investors. There's been a lot written about those rules but I haven't found any simple guidelines that are comprehensible at a glance. Therefore, I developed the following flow-chart. Note that of course I'm not an attorney and you should definitely consult one if you plan on raising equity funds for your startup. A large majority of high growth potential startups will be raising funds under 506 and the following should give you some working knowledge as to the issues to consider. Comments and corrections welcome!

Picture is linked to a full screen PDF

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Village Capital VentureWell Health Boston

Excited that we're launching Village Capital VentureWell on May 18, 2014 in Cambridge and Boston ... but we've got to find 15 great health ventures interested in collaborating as a cohort to move their ventures forward!

This will be the third time I've worked with Village Capital to deliver a program for entrepreneurs based on their peer selection model. Very simply, at the end of the program entrepreneurs in the cohort choose which of the companies best merits investment. Two companies will get $50k each in equity investment, half from Village Capital and the other half from VentureWell. The program takes place of three intensive four-day sessions, in May, July and September.

Often the first question I get is, "Isn't that like Survivor?" It's not. Although there certainly some tension around the voting process, otherwise we produce a collaborative environment for all the companies participating. No start-up is covering every base and most have something to offer the other teams. For example, one team may be highly knowledgeable about medical reimbursement but need engineering help. Another team may be in the opposite situation.

We're looking for companies with innovative medical devices (Class I, II), diagnostic technologies and health IT platforms. We are especially interested in enterprises that have B2B business models and address a problem, disease or medical condition that disproportionately affects rural or low-income Americans or others currently underserved by the U.S. healthcare system.

Applications close April 7. Take a look at and click the link over to the application on the Village Capital website.

Monday, March 03, 2014

@Lupita_Nyongo made me cry

I haven't posted in a while but this one is worth it. Lupita made me cry. Can I be allowed a little pride by association, having gone to the same college as her?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

station wagon #UnabashedGearheadGnarlyness

A very special, joyful car video: Icon Derelict vs. MB E63 AMG-S. There's something so wonderful seeing such careful attention to over-the-top engineering precision and design that playfully evokes history and fantasy.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Quick thoughts from Lean Launchpad Educators on hypothesis testing

I'm in a room at Stanford with 91 university faculty on day 1 of a 2 1/2 day program with Steve Blank and Jerry Engel. It's the Lean Launchpad Educators program led by Steve and Jerry and managed by the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance.

If you don't know about these new methods for startups to engage in a business model development and customer discovery process, you should. Fundamental is an iterative approach to the development of a business with continual hypothesis testing of all aspects of the business model.

What strikes me listening to Steve teach teachers is how much Steve embodies this spirit of hypothesis testing. Not only is he teaching this process but he's constantly testing the processes and techniques that make up his classes.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

we are living the future, as evidenced by William Gibson, 2003

William Gibson, New York Times, 2003
Elsewhere, driven by the acceleration of computing power and connectivity and the simultaneous development of surveillance systems and tracking technologies, we are approaching a theoretical state of absolute informational transparency, one in which ''Orwellian'' scrutiny is no longer a strictly hierarchical, top-down activity, but to some extent a democratized one. As individuals steadily lose degrees of privacy, so, too, do corporations and states. Loss of traditional privacies may seem in the short term to be driven by issues of national security, but this may prove in time to have been intrinsic to the nature of ubiquitous information.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

A few thoughts on business model development and the path of the innovator

I've been focused for a lot of my career on the question of how to get science and engineering innovation out of the lab and into the commercial sphere where these innovations can begin to make a difference in people's lives. The greatest advances in research on green chemistry or health information technology, to use two disparate examples, won't have the benefit to people that its inventors envision unless there can be market validation and the resulting innovations can be shepherded, through some form of startup, into the hands of people. What these innovations need is some way of validating and their value to the world (market and customer validation) and a model through which that value can be translated into the world (a business model).

One of the recent and widely talked about business model tools, to help entrepreneurs test their business models--their mechanisms for producing value in the world--has been the business model canvas. A number of approaches have become popular for testing this business model in practice, broadly grouped under the the "lean startup" movement.

But if an innovation is coming from a broad research base, what is often missed is the necessary pre-work, the translation process between a broad base of research and the innovations that can result and become applications applied to particular markets.This stage is where I've been focused recently, and learning a lot through a collaboration with Dr. Judy Giordan at ecosVC. Our team has been honing our approach at the Center for Sustainable Materials Chemistry, primarily based in Oregon. But it's an approach that Judy has developed over a long career leading R&D for major companies. It's the role of a corporate CTO, translating between research and the market. I'm looking forward to reporting more as this work progresses.

The above graphic articulates what we call the Research to Innovation to Venture process. You can learn more about it at ecosVC. What I want to point out is that this innovation process is in parallel with the process that the innovator goes through. We often assume that entrepreneurship is binary. That you either are or you aren't. But in fact, people need to come to terms with their path, with their engagement with the process of innovation, and that coming to terms occurs in stages. And further, one needs to define one's role as well. Entrepreneurship is really a sport for teams, not solo practitioners. There are many roles that a scientist, an engineer (or really anyone) can take in advancing research through the innovation process and getting its value out there in the world, many ways of participating in the production of accomplishments. I'll report more specifics on our approach to this in the months ahead.