Archive for May, 2008

Halographic Conferencing? WOW!

Every so often, I see something that just stops me in my tracks. Well today it was a video from Cisco Systems’ John Chambers where he is using halographic technology in a conference setting with two of his team. He is an Bangalore and they are in San Jose. They have partnered with a company called Musion to extend their Telepresence application to the next level.

Imagine having a day where you participate in a conference in one part of the world, two or three meetings in other parts of the world and never leave your office. I also got the impression that the duo in San Jose could see the audience in Bangalore.

Now, I am sure that the cost side of this is currently pretty hefty, but Chambers talks about having this eventually available for the home! I can’t wait to see this develop.

The video is definitely worth the 11.5 minutes of your time.

The other thing that fascinated me is their talk about a new contest at Cisco where, over the next three months, they are having people go to their site and post ideas for new products on their Wiki system. They can put together virtual teams and create a prototype or product definition. Cisco will look at all the entrants and select those they think have potential and, this is the payoff, hire the team, give them a $250K signing bonus and develop the products! I find this is a interesting use of Web 2.0 technologies. Sure, the idea people who are chosen might be better off in the long run turning their ideas into products for their own business, but there is a benefit to having deep pockets during the early stages of product realization.

I want to thank Guy Kawasaki for posting about this and bringing it to my attention.


Getting from 8 Words to Funding!

If you follow my posts over time, you know I harp on entrepreneurs to open their presentation or Executive Summaries with a well defined Elevator Pitch. Well a recent article in Business Week, shows how, at least, one company was successful with their 8 words; that’s how many the Google team used with Sequioa Capital back when they originally raised their int ital funding.

In the new Twitter generation, article talks about all things being faster and shorter. So, the Elevator Pitch becomes the Escalator Pitch and about 20 words long. You are probably saying, “How can I get the essence of my business opportunity across in 20 words?” If you started by describing your basic concept in 8 words, you can increase it 2.5 times for additional clarity  and be at 20 words.

The bottom line is that you really need to understand your opportunity so well that you can reduce to 8 words and still have people understand what you are trying to accomplish. It really makes you focus. Save all the flowery language for when you have investors attention and can afford to use more words.

At Lava – Capital Zone, Interesting Idea, Bad Execution

I attended the LAVA conference in my role as a Venture Partner at California Capital Partners. There were some interesting sessions including one on new media moderated by Tony Perkins, and a great luncheon speaker Gerry of Ben & Gerry fame.

However, our primary reason for attending was to participate in the Capital Zone session. Conceptually, lots of investors in one place and entrepreneurs on the other side doing quick pitches on their companies. I guess one could think of it as three hours of Speed Dating for investors and entrepreneurs.

The problem was in the execution. First, there was music blaring most of the time. When the music stopped, we had to listen and watch the LAVA version of “Deal or No Deal” with all the noise and distraction of a game show. Consequently, while the show was on for 5 minutes or so every 10-15 minutes, most conversation stopped.

The first hour was supposed to be devoted to CEO or other C-Levels. It might have been but our problem was that they couldn’t tell us where our table was and finally had to realize that they screwed up and had to jury rig a sign and find us a place.  Granted we applied late, but they did manage to get us into the program and did know who we were. In any event, we actually lost about a half an hour. The last hour seemed to be mostly service providers looking to sell something.

We did talk with some interesting and promising companies. Now the big test comes, how many will follow through and send the information we requested. I have gotten one so far, but that is far short of the number who said they would.

In a retrospective over dinner, we talked about whether this was worthwhile and decided that we just weren’t sure. A little lower music and nix the game show would have substantially enhanced our experience. After all, the idea was to meet and talk, which was very difficult.

PerSage – Have a Post Office Box? Read On

For those of you who have a post office box, how many times have you taken the time to drive over, only to find that you either have nothing or just junk mail? Given today’s fuel prices, this can be costly along with annoying. Well PerSage may just have the solution.

Jim Carrigan presented the company and its product. The solution is to have a small transmitter associated with your mailbox and then have someone in the store press a button that sends you an alert that there is something worth driving to get. You probably concluded that “have someone in the store press a button” eliminates the possibility of having these in US Post Offices, but lots of others have mailboxes from private stores. Now there is no technical reason that this won’t work in the US Postal system other than Mr. Carrigan will have to expend significant resources in an attempt to enter into a contract with them. No small challenge. The good news is that he is not betting on having his happen and is focused on the private mailbox industry.

Jim has the product developed, has some installations and is looking for an angel investment to begin executing on his plan.

The Clic – One You Might Want Your Kids to be Part of

In lots of families, helping your children work through the college selection process is a nerve racking and stressful time. Currently, your kids try to figure out which colleges they may want to attend (probably based on which of their friends might be attending), doing an Internet search and then requesting a catalog, which is added to the pile when they arrive. However, there now seems to be an alternative that not only helps with the initial identification but is a long term social networking/media solution called “The Clic“.

Donna Michelle Anderson, who prefers being called DMA, is an energetic CEO who does a great job of explaining the problems and how she is using the new web technologies to solve them. Clic helps not only the students and their families but also takes into consideration the student advisers and colleges.

Clic has a rich set of features for students to help them with the identification, selection and application process including a calendar of events to help them track a specific college’s process. There is an area where students can share the experiences with friends and another where they can seek out and communicate with students at perspective colleges. And a big addition is that you get all this at “No Charge”, DMA has created a business model that uses various advertising models to generate revenue and is not relying on the Eye Ball/Click Through programs that most new web based say will bring them fortunes.

So, this is a site to check out and see how the new web 2.0 and 3.0 technologies can be used. Also, if you get a chance to talk with DMA, you’ll experience the energy and intelligence she brings to the table. Great idea, lots of passion, energy and intelligence makes for a very interesting startup. Check Clic out!

Enduro Medical – Might Have Been a Solution for Eight Bells

Sometimes timing is everything. Many of us watched last week’s Kentucky Derby and were saddened by the unfortunate circumstances at the race’s end where the second place horse, Eight Bells, was euthanized in light of breaking both front ankles. Two days later, we get to talk with Enduro Medical’s president, Ken Messier, who talked aobut their NEST product that they believe would have resulted in a different outcome had it been available at Churchill Downs.

Ken traveled from Connecticut to San Diego to introduce K4 members to a revolutionary new device that enhances a horse’s potential to recover from broken legs, ankles or other surgeries. When I asked him about the chances for horses like Eight Bells with two broken legs, he responded that his technology works if there are three broken legs.

We’ll have to wait and see whether he enticedany local investors to help him fund the company, but with major horses losing their lives in two Triple Crown events in the last few years, I would be surprised if horse owners, with millions tied up in thoroughbreds,  wouldn’t demand that the Endure NEST be readily available.

Interesting Week, K4 SoCal Spring Summit and LAVA Conference

Well It has been a pretty busy week. Monday evening and all day Tuesday, was devoted to attending SoCal Keiretsu Forum Summit events and Wednesday attending the Los Angeles Venture Association’s Investment Capital Conference.

The K4 event took place in San Diego with 10 new companies pitching their businesses and three, who previously pitched, giving short updates on progress. There was also a social Monday evening where members got to talk and, in some cases, re-connect, while also getting a change to meet and talk with the companies who presented on Tuesday. Great food, nice atmosphere at the Jade Theatre and good conversation made for an enjoyable evening.

The LAVA event was to the Biltmore Hotel in downtown LA. It’s a great venue filled with photographs of past Hollywood events with lots of notable celebrities from the past. There was also a great luncheon speaker, Jerry Greenfield of Ben and Jerry fame who entertained the crowd of investors and entrepreneurs explaining how two guys who did almost everything wrong when they started their business, still ended up being wildly successful.

Since there is entirely too much to cover in a single post, I’m going to create some individual posts where I can do justice to some of the specifics.

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May 2008
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