Ahead of the Entrepreneurship Curve

I had this post in my drafts for a long time. Today I retrieved it to write about something different but very exciting for all members of the thriving Babson Community. Yesterday, Babsons PR blasted the news all over the (social) media: Entrepreneur Magazine and Princeton Review named Babson #1 in Entrepreneurship for both Undergraduate and Graduate Schools. This is the first time that this survey of 2,300 schools ranks both of our schools as number 1. It’s definitely something that makes us all proud and that will bring growth, reputation and importance to Babson’s programs. It will also yield increased responsibilities for everybody graduating from Babson and that will hopefully increase the number of Babson-grad-run startups all over the world.

Originally, this post was a sort of review of a book I had just finished reading: Ahead of the Curve by Philip Delves Broughton, the 2-year-long story of a journalist-turned-MBA-student during his time in the “world’s best business school”, HBS. I’m glad that the exciting news gave me the opportunity to talk about Babson instead of HBS in this post, using only the title of the book to illustrate how Babson thrives as the top-of-mind entrepreneurship school in the world. I could have written about the excellency, particularity or exclusivity that, according to the author, HBS represents in the business school world. Instead, I can say that Babson not only shares a common space with HBS as top business schools, but also stands out as a community that values an entrepreneurial and open mindset and welcomes hands-on innovation. Exactly as HBS plays a role in the elite of the business and corporate worlds, I think of Babson as a contributing force in the entrepreneurial elite in the entire world.

To conclude this celebratory text, I want to recognize the achievements of some of the Babson entrepreneurs that keep our school ahead of the entrepreneurship curve and that I had the great opportunity to sit next to in class. Kudos to Canditto, Lazybones, Incentive Targeting, PeopleAhead, Finroo, RetireLife and VergheseVentures, whose CEO is one of the most inspiring individuals I’ve had the opportunity to meet in my life.

Oh, the places we’ll go as Babson alumni!

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Dear Quentin

I decided to write you a “letter” (or its fictional equivalent) after watching Inglourious Basterds. Fact is, it became automatically my favorite film of all times. I recently read a convoluted article (like all film critics like to write them) in which you stated that your only goal as a filmmaker was to inspire that feeling in members of your audience; make them feel that the film they just saw is the best one they will ever see. Well, I felt that and that’s why I’m writing this: to leave a written proof of it, at least in cyberspace.

But enough justification, let’s move on to the details. I’ve been trying to explain to myself why IB had such an impact in me and I’ve come to the conclusion that it mixes everything I love about movies, films and everything that floats around. WWII and German history are two of my favorite subjects in films, the music is spectacular, the script feels like an opera, the characters have that deep and long-time relationship with the audience and well, you’re one hell of a director (disclosure: I’m a long-time fan of yours since that ’94 work of art left a mark in me for ever).

I want to praise the exhausting due diligence you performed to be in a position to make IB. Not only the decision to be true to the spoken languages in the film, but the fact that the historical susceptibilities of the plot are treated with respect and cultural conscience. The process itself of scouting and recruiting the cast and the overall talent feel like a masterpiece. Although the film doesn’t intend to be historically accurate, all your cinematic obsessions were taken to the time of the plot with care and thoughtful deliberation.

I must admit that the entire film feels a little chopped. It’s no secret that it was intended to be way longer but the commercial connotations we all know made you edit fast and take out complete scenes. At this point I can only hope you’ll let us see them sometime in a special edition blue ray or, better yet, at the movies, like it should be.

Kudos to that visionary individual who put Christoph Waltz in front of your eyes and obviously all my respect and admiration to him because his multilingual, delicate and mind-blowing performance has given birth to one of the most transcendental villains in the history of filmmaking.

Finally, congratulations to you because, at least in me you have always (and most definitely with IB) left that feeling when watching the credits roll: “this is the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen inside a movie theater”

Inglouriously yours,

A long-time fan

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Monetization thoughts on-the-go

I just downloaded the WordPress iPhone app as part of a strategy to blog more. I realized that very often I want to write about something (like an article I was just reading about New Media and its impact on Old Media) and 140 characters would only let me post a simple thought completely out of context. That is, admit it or not, both the best and worst of Twitter. It is also one of the opportunities the company has to monetize the service. Why not charge for triple characters or unlimited characters on an affordable monthly basis (I would probably pay $5 for triple characters a month). I’m sure that companies using Twitter as their emerging customer service channel would pay even more to have unlimited charcters. In a board meeting full of New Media executives not so long ago, I heard something vey interesting about the future of Twitter: It would become a new standard, pretty much like what email is today. I’m not sure how value-added features like unlimited characters would contribute to making Twitter the “new email”, but I’m sure it’s one possible path towards monatization.
Going back to that New Media article, monetization is what both old and new media folks are trying to figure out.

Dear readers, expect relatively shorter but undeniably more frequent posts in this blog. I still owe an extensive post on my new job, my new life in Miami and other interesting developments. I hope you’re enjoying so far.

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Fotos of Phoenix

Anybody who knows me (not even that well) knows that I’m extremely passionate about music. Today I woke up and realized that this personal space had to depict that passion also and decided to blog more about music.

And I’ll start with two of my favorite bands, which, not coincidentally, have very similar styles and come from the same musical places (and yeah, both come from Europe). Phoenix is the french foursome, whose fourth studio album “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix” just came out last May. It is, in my eyes, their most powerful and exciting album yet. I highly recommend it. Phoenix has come to define that sub-genre of alternative rock that more excites me and that I mostly enjoy. I still feel a rush and energy (although I know it’ll start to fade slowly) whenever I listen to “Lizstomania” and can’t wait to see them live again (the first time I saw them was at a very intimate session in Mexico City, which I can recall as one of the most amazing musical nights I’ve lived).

And then along came Fotos, the Hamburg-based German band. Their sound can be classified along the same lines as Phoenix, they seem to have the same harmony creation process and their style is almost identical. However, their music and lyrics show the place they come from. Their last album “Nach dem Goldrausch” came out exactly one year ago and in it, they sound more and more like Phoenix than in their previous albums. The progression here is clear. Phoenix came first and Fotos, not trying to imitate but finding an inspiration, has come to sound just like them. It’s like a photo, it’s the same thing but in a different way.

Anyway, I liked the wordplay here that would allow me to write a little about my musical emotions lately and if you get a chance (and are into German rock-pop) listen to Fotos. If you haven’t listened to Phoenix, you’re really missing out some good stuff.

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Tweeting the Chasm

I’ve found myself in plenty of conversations about Twitter lately (like probably everybody). These conversations are for the most part about “getting it”, people asking (me) what Twitter actually is and the pungent question they always ask: Why is it important what I’m doing? Who cares? Well, nobody cares, that’s exactly the point. Twitter shouldn’t be used to showcase trivial, out of context and irrelevant musings. Its greatness comes with everything else that it does, like opening innovation to build upon its platform or like providing this super-freshness to the web we interact with everyday.

Then I opened my (physical) mailbox one Saturday and there it was, Twitter on the cover of Time magazine. A printed proof that Twitter has crossed the chasm. I’m sure the editors regretted not waiting one more week to print that story when they saw the role Twitter played in the overwhelming coverage of the #IranElection. But, then again, that situation continued to cement Twitter’s entrance to the mass media category and find its way into more and more conversations of un-geeks and “normal people”.

The part I liked the most about the Time story was the argument they made about Twitter’s legacy as a technology and an online communication standard:

(…) the key elements of the Twitter platform — the follower structure, link-sharing, real-time searching — will persevere regardless of Twitter’s fortunes, just as Web conventions like links, posts and feeds have endured over the past decade. In fact, every major channel of information will be Twitterfied in one way or another in the coming years

As a new media geek, I’m not only convinced of this but I’m enjoying the network effects and the way this new technology has tweeted its way to the other end of the chasm. Jeremiah Owyang’s tweet (@jowyang) came very much in handy the other day:

New to twitter? Here’s a tip; answer “what’s important to me” instead of “what am i doing”

Im @bernardososa on Twitter

I'm @bernardososa on Twitter

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Figuring Out June

Today I woke up (well, Mateo woke us up), opened my browser and incorporated my first company. I have to say that it’s a great feeling but also one of contradictory emotions. I’ll do everything in my power to keep the entrepreneurial strength and try to balance this imbalance towards the positive. After all, that’s Babson’s number one take-away.

GroupGuess, LLC is the company that today I lead and will start to get off the ground. At GroupGuess, we strive to be the easiest way to aggregate collective knowledge and provide better context for your decision on the web. I’ve spent the last few days studying the code by which our prototype works, learning how powerful Python is for web development and redesigning the GUI to achieve the best usability. I’ve set two important milestones that have to be achieved in terms of development within the month to be able to start showing the service to the world. What “the world” thinks of it will be pretty much what will define the next steps.

In a different order of ideas, I hope that June allows me to return to this complicated activity (blogging) in an orderly fashion. I have tons of post drafts with very good stuff (music, last lectures at Babson). Tomorrow will also mark Mateo’s second month in this world. Suffice it to say that it has been the most amazing time in my life and the great amount by which it has changed my life only compares to the amount by which it has brought happiness, fulfillment and satisfaction to our small family. Looking forward to every single second that follows.

neinno.comI’m also happy to see that my incorporation happens at the right time. June is Innovation Month in New England. Scott Kirsner, et al, proposes to spark innovation this month as a way to get the gears of the economy turning again (here’s his column yesterday in the Globe). There are plenty of events this month for entrepreneurs and wanna-be entrepreneurs, innovators and new-venture enthusiasts.

New start-ups, new product ideas from established companies, new approaches to old problems” is what we expect to see in all the innovation-related events this month. I hope the weather contributes to make it the perfect month in Boston.

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Closure

I can still remember the smell of things that morning of August 13th, 2007 when I first entered Olin Hall at Babson. Things were so strange and new, so simple but inexplicably complicated. I had absolutely no idea what I was about to experience, the level I was about to perform at and the people I was destined to meet and engage with in meaningful relationships. I had absolutely no idea where lessons would take me, what take-aways would stick in my mind and what skills I was about to develop. Looking back, having no expectations was a clever thing to do. Babson has literally blown my mind.
Today I wrapped up my MBA. I had my last class, did my last presentation in front of the class, submitted my last self-evaluation. Two years of this deserves a larger report but I reckon that this is a blog post and I use it just to leave a statement, a short testimonial.
On a more personal note, I started the MBA being freshly wed and I finish it being a dad, a husband and an entrepreneur.

Looking forward to what the next months have in store for me.

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Hoping April is not fool

I’m probably the worst blogger ever. I don’t even want to mention the date of my last post or the fact that one of my New Year’s resolutions was to “blog more”. But today is a brand new month and as we wrap up the first 3 months of the year (or, as financiers like to call it: “the worst Q1 in modern history”) I’m thoughtfully retaking my blogging responsibilities.

Fact to the matter is that I’ve been quite busy. The Dad-to-be role is a capital intensive and time consuming job that I’ve been enjoying every single second of. The excitement and eagerness grow exponentially as time passes and feelings tend to separate from everything we’ve felt in our lives so far and beyond any description possible. Mateo will breathe in this world any of these coming days. (He’ll also read this post someday, so, Mateo, this is your father before you were even born).

I’ve also been spending a lot of time creating a story and a presence for an ambitious project at Babson. Almost 2 years ago the individuals that today lead the Babson Latin America Business Club set out to plan and organize the first region-focused entrepreneurship event at Babson. Today, the Latin America Entrepreneurship Forum is a reality. It will be held on April 24 and will host more than 15 speakers and panelists with an expected attendance of over 300 MBA students and professionals interested in Latin America. If you’re feeling any sort of interest, you should check out the website or, even better, register online for the evemt.

I’m also thrilled to report that GroupGuess, the venture that has taken us to an amazing journey through Babson’s entrepreneurship elites, is a finalist in the 22nd Annual Douglass Foundation Graduate Business Plan Competition. We’ll be presenting the day of the Student Venturing event for a chance to win $20,000 in money prizes.

April will literally change my life. I hope that the news I get during this month are good ones for the most part and that I’m able to receive May (graduation month) with a better understanding of where my life will take me in the near future.

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Google’s Design Mantra

Writing a paper on Google and Innovation (I know, what a strange combination, right?) I find myself continuously amazed by how the company lives by the following 2 rules when it comes to product design and development and how positive it turns out every time:

  1. “Ubiquity first, revenues later”
  2. “Usefulness first, usability later”

Love it.

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The GroupGuess Oscar Exercise

groupguesslogo

A couple of minutes ago, my colleague and I finally finished coding the alpha site of GroupGuess, the early-stage venture we have created while at Babson.
We came up with a simple site that will let people guess Oscar 2009 winners in 5 categories: Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor.
This exercise will let us gather our first set of collective data and analyze how effective “groupguessing” is and how it can be applied to real business problems. In this first open guess we introduced the incentive to answer guesses outlined in our business plan as a revenue source: there’s a $100 USD prize for the best guesser(s). So, if you’re reading this, what are you waiting for? Go to GroupGuess.com and participate! (you’ll need a Google Account to log in the system).
I must also say that it has been a great experience learning to deploy to Google App Engine. It’s fast, functional and, best of all, free.

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