Thursday, August 28, 2014

Take you mother to class day

Usually you don't want your mother to come to class, but in my case it was a little different. My mother was in town from Los Angeles and wanted to attend the first day of my class at Ithaca College called "Entrepreneurial Innovation". The class is about how to generate, validate, and communicate a strong business concept. As part of the first day's activities, I asked everyone to go around the room and introduce themselves, and share one interesting thing about themselves. I had my mother go last, and having her talk at all was a potentially risky situation because of the possibility of her telling a tale from my childhood.

Oh, the stories I could tell
Fortunately, she just said "I'm from Michigan, I raised 4 wonderful kids in Charlotte, and now I live in Los Angeles".


It was fun in the following days of her visit to talk about new business ideas she had come up with. From just the first class, she was already on a roll.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Early Entrepreneurship Education

This little guy was recently selling lemonade on my street:

My wife Kristin asked him if he made it himself. He said yes. I was tempted to point out the fact that there as a bottle of store bought lemonade sitting on the cooler, but I figured if a little marketing white lie was good enough P&G, it's good enough for 7-year-old street corner lemonade vendors.

I'm not sure if it's the business lesson I'd want him to learn, but perhaps it will make him a more wary consumer in the future. Enjoy the $1 kid.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Accidental Donation

I recently received an email that really touched me. It was from someone who I have not spoken to in a few years, but had been checking in on my blog from time to time. She recently read my post from February about how Lily came into our lives. This person is not a resident of Ithaca - or even New York - but she was so moved by the story that she made a donation to a local dog shelter in Lily's honor.

Thanks friend!

This friend was not the only one who was curious about Lily. I have received a large handful of inquiries about the little wagger from folks requesting an update. I am happy to report that Lily is happy and healthy. Maybe a little too healthy because we just put her on skinny girl dog food so she could lose a few lb's. Lily and Colby are best of friends, and despite their 50 pound weight difference, they still like to play and rough house all day, and then cuddle at night. The accidental dog is now accidentally part of our family.

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Honest Guest Speaker

Recently Steve Gal was the guest speaker in my MBA Capstone course at Ithaca College.

Honestly Engaged

Right after I took this next picture, Steve asked that no one record, film, or photograph his talk. That's because it was about to get really personal.

I am an entrepreneur

Steve's talk was exceptional in it's honesty. I've sat through numerous talks by successful people where they pontificate about all the great things they did, and usually leave out the mistakes they made, and how they felt about the choices they made. Steve didn't leave anything out, and as a result we all learned more.

It's a model that I've tried to follow, and have encouraged others to do so too.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Ways to fund a new venture

I was recently a guest lecturer at Cornell in a class for engineers and scientists with entrepreneurial aspirations. One of the topics that I covered was all the ways I've funded my businesses. Funding is consistently the #1 thing aspiring entrepreneurs ask me about. In business school, we learned a lot about venture capital and angel investors, but that's just one of many options.

Fund this idea

Here's the list:
  • Founder Investment
  • Business Plan Competitions
  • New York State Grants for Growth
  • Vendor Equity Compensation
  • Employee Equity Compensation
  • Employee Investment
  • Angel Investors
  • Venture Capital
  • Community Development Evergreen Funds
  • Federal Government SBIR
  • SBIR Matching
  • Employment Tax Credits
  • Empire Zone Tax Credits
  • Community Development Loans
  • Student Intern Programs
  • Credit Cards
  • Revenues

For awhile our investors referred to us as the magically self-funding company. By being creative with both our sources of funds and how we spent it, we were able to do a lot with a little.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Accidental Dog

We now have an accidental dog. Lily came into our lives through fate. And she was terrified of me. Spoiler: She likes me now. But to tell the whole tale, I wanted to share the story from my wife's message to a friend after her shift at the Emergency Room:


As a fellow animal lover, I thought you would enjoy this story. I was finishing up a long triage shift in the ER a few weeks ago. The temp was -13 by the time I was finishing up around 7. My last patient that presented to the desk was a single pregnant mother with a young girl. While I was waiting for the OB doctor to answer my page so I could determine if I was sending the patient to that floor or keeping her, I hear a little bark coming from the waiting room. I saw through the security monitor that they were out there trying to hide a little white dog in their coats. It turns out, they had recently moved here from the south and were unable to find housing that would allow them to have the dog. The dog was staying with an aunt in town but they had just rescued her from the house because they found out she was abusing the dog, and prior to their arrival, she threw the her out into a snowbank!

Security wouldn't let the dog stay in the waiting area. We had to put her out in the freezing car with the promise that we would try to take warm blankets out every few hours. As I escorted them to OB, we began talking, and I couldn't help but bond with the adorable little girl who wanted to tell me endless stories of her best friend Lily (the dog) all the way up the elevator. To make a long story short, I quickly recognized that not only was there a dog in need, but a family that was in crisis, a stressed pregnant single mom with nothing and a 6 year old girl worried about her dog freezing to death. It started with an offer to foster the dog for the weekend so she was safe and warm and they could figure something out, and ended with us being the proud new guardians of Lily, the 3 year old puggle who we never would have chosen but somehow seems to have chosen us.

I gave my husband about 10 minutes notice that I was on my way home and was convinced I was going to be met with divorce papers. But he fell in love after about 5 minutes. He still thinks we are "fostering," but I am pretty sure he is on to me by now and knows she isn't going anywhere.
What's a good thing to do before starting a 12 credit semester and working part time?...... Get a new dog!!
Hope all is well

Talk to you soon