Posts Tagged Entrepreneurship

Two Analogies on a Tuesday

I read 2 interesting analogies in my RSS feeds today and I thought I’d share them in the form of a small post (I love small posts). They encompass 2 very active topics in my mind lately: the iPad and Entrepreneurship. Here they are:

  1. When people say the iPad is only a over sized iPhone or iPod touch, here’s a rebuttal: Is a sword an over sized knife? No, right? It looks probably similar but it serves different purposes and was conceived to fulfill different purposes. Thanks to Eduardo Arcos for constantly pointing it out.
  2. This weekend I was again confronted with the different perspectives of entrepreneurship in Mexico and in the US and was impressed at how differently it is understood and practiced in both countries. Don Dodge in an excellent post about the natural evolution of startups shares a bit of advice he gave once to an entrepreneur about not losing focus on a core product to be able to innovate and change the game: “When you are on an elephant hunt, don’t shoot at the squirrels. It wastes ammunition and scares away the elephants”. This is definitely something I would suggest to my fellow countrymen when they’re starting up a company. This and oh, yeah, get an MBA at Babson.

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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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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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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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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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Creating the entrepreneurial marketing mindset

To arrange a meeting with Mr. Bob Caspe, you have to go to his website and fill out a form (he’ll be teaching Marketing for Entrepreneurs this semester). During the first session he shared with us the books he read over the break, recommending specially one that changed his life. These are the kind of things you expect from a professor. Another of these things changed my marketing mind forever:

Marketing is the art of buying your customers.

This is how I’ll tackle my entrepreneurial marketing tasks this semester: Selling air to the first customer, buying him into acquiring my product.

I’m in for a thrilling ride.

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Drive vs Passion

I’m starting this 2009 spending quiet quality time with the family this side of the Atlantic in beautiful Wiesbaden, Germany. I’m using this time to think about the challenges that this year will pose and the dilemmas that will come once I’m done with the MBA and my first child is born (both events will almost happen simultaneously). An interesting reading has accompanied my thoughts: The Monk and the Riddle by Randy Komisar. The book was recommended by a good friend as I expressed him the trouble I was having figuring out whether to go back to the corporate world or embark on an entrepreneurial adventure after graduation. 

The book really addresses this dilemma and answers the important questions somebody may have when facing a startup opportunity. He makes the case for a “whole life plan” in which you have to do that thing you would do for the rest of your life versus the “deferred life plan” in which you do other insignificant things to gather the resources that will finally, after all, let you do that thing you really love and which you really feel passionate about. Particularly, I loved the distinction he makes between drive and passion, when thinking about life and professional choices:

Passion and drive are not the same at all […] Passion pulls you toward something you cannot resist. Drive pushes you toward something you feel compelled or obligated to do.

I highly recommend this book to anyone feeling this kind of dilemmas or struggling to decide which is the best path to follow facing an important professional crossroads. Personally, I’ll do everything to find that passion in whatever I should end up doing in June of 2009.

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Connecting talent

Last Friday a couple of Fridays ago I was invited to attend Scott Kirsner‘s Entrepreneurs’ Breakfast at ZINK’s Bedford headquarters. To put it in Scott’s own words, “the sole focus was connecting entrepreneurs who have something of a consumer bent” and provide a “schmoozing opportunity for student entrepreneurs”, which personally was what got me into the privileged group. 

It was great to meet and hear the stories of proven entrepreneurs that today guide companies like Pixily, GamersDNA, Tourfilter, Chestnut Hill Sound, to name a few. It was also amazing to meet there other Babsonian friends like Matt Lauzon and Rush Hambleton (whose company, I must say, I really admire and look up to). I think that the sole activity of connecting these entrepreneurs with students (entrepreneurs-to-be) is not only necessary, but extremely beneficial to the startup ecosystem in New England. A week later, Scott would revisit this issue in his Sunday column in the Globe by answering the question: How can we hold on to student talent?. He also wrote a long and thorough post about the role every trade association in New England is playing in engaging student entrepreneurs in local business activities with the purpose of retaining their talent in the region. Some of them scored low and others are doing well and contributing to this important endeavor. From my experience, I know that MITX is aware of the “brain export problem” and is taking concrete actions to further investigate and contribute to solving it.

From this humble blog I just want to thank Scott for being not only a Maven but a true Connector (sorry for all the Gladwell references but I’m just in the middle of reading The Tipping Point). If you ask me today, my first choice would be to graduate and stay in Boston to either start my company or work for a startup.

Now back to the job hunt.

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Martin Varsavsky on Eship, the Crisis and everything else

For more than a year I’ve been following the digital footprint of Argentinean entrepreneur Martin Varsavsky (his blog and on Twitter), a spirited and successful businessman/salesman/thinker that (at least for me) represents all the right decisions and philosophies that somebody can implement in order to live life at its fullest.

Here’s the video of the conversation he had with Tim O’Reilly at the Web 2.0 Expo Europe, held in Berlin last week. I hear him mention, yet again, what I’ve been hearing for quite some time about the single most important success factor in any entrepreneurial venture: a good team of people.

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Interviewing Matt Lauzon

On Monday I had the chance to interview Matt Lauzon, Co-founder and CEO of Paragon Lake, as part of an assignment for my Entrepreneurship class with Prof. Zacharakis. Matt is an overly nice person and an accomplished entrepreneur at just 23 years of age. Amazing story.

His company, Paragon Lake (a startup that is using the latest and greatest web based technology to change the way people buy and sell fine jewelry) just got $5.8 million in VC funding and expanded its executive team. 

Being the busy individual he is, he sat down with me for half an hour and patiently answered to my questions. Think of it as giving back to Babson and, as he pointed out in the interview, “always agreeing to take people out to lunch”. This strategy of constantly reaching out to people and offer them a fraction of your time certainly tops Matt’s list of key success factors. That and having a team of “world-class ass-kickers in what they do”, individuals with “high levels of integrity” that helped him build a culture in his company of which he is extremely proud.

Apart from being an entrepreneurial story worth telling, Matt’s is the classic example of an opportunity in an established industry where not much has changed and is very fragmented (jewelry). Paragon Lake’s ability to put the right technology in the hands of the right people is what took them to where they are now: changing the way an industry does business.

A big thank you to Matt for his time and for giving me this experience. It definitely tops my list of “key entrepreneurial days” in my MBA at Babson.

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