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Last week, we hosted Ice House Facilitator Training here at the Foundation. We had people come from across the country and the international community to be trained in how to facilitate an entrepreneurial mindset to members of their community. I had the chance to sit down with one of the facilitators, Rob Elwood, and learn about his reason for coming to this training, and how he sees it benefiting his community in Annapolis, Md.
You don't need to spend countless hours in a classroom, or have an MBA to become a successful entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs often don't have the time or patience to sit through a semester long class or six-week course in order to retrieve the answer to a question they have now--today. They need help quickly and efficiently. And this is where our idea for Founders School started.
Our founder, Ewing Marion Kauffman, once said: "It's your right to be uncommon if you can. You seek opportunity to compete. You desire to take calculated risk, to dream, to build, yes, even to fail, and to succeed". He was talking to entrepreneurs: those people who create new ventures, building visions into reality. Indeed, entrepreneurs are uncommon in many ways. They create something from nothing. They see problems (and solutions) that others might not. They take personal and financial risks.
"CODE2040 is a unique and dynamic program that creates access, awareness and opportunities for top minority engineering students to ensure their participation and leadership in the innovation economy." CODE2040 places students in internships with top tech companies and provides them with mentorship, leadership training, and network development.
Strategic words are out. Personal search is in. This week, the Kauffman Foundation held a seminar on "Online Branding for Startups" with help from Mark Traphagen of Virante, a SEO marketing firm out of Durham, N.C. I learned a number of things in the hours we discussed branding with entrepreneurs and Kauffman associates, but here are my top four takeaways.
As Kauffman Labs helps grow and educate the entrepreneurial community through programs, events and workshops, we came across an aspiring gentleman with an idea. Nodir Abdullayev (Bek) has just recently found out about the entrepreneurial community in Kansas City and has made strides to become engaged since finding his first event through Kauffman Labs. Learn how Bek's first experience made him go from an aspiring entrepreneur to lean entrepreneur.
One of the questions I get asked the most is some version of "what do you think of crowdfunding?" I usually answer with some noncommittal answer about how it is going to be important, but no really knows how it will impact the trajectory and success of startup companies. After all, the notion of banding together through social media to fund the development of a prototype, documentary film or art project has been going on for many years now.
Adam Berk had a vision of creating an online library where neighbors could borrow tools and electronics from one another. Why buy a fancy camera you only needed to use once for a big trip? Why invest the money in physical tools for a home remodeling project if you are never going to need them again? Adam and his best friend Dave spent 5 years creating this utopian community, neighborrow, powered by a new form of currency. Their business model was to eventually white label the product and sell it to large apartment buildings and others who wanted to facilitate a borrowing community. But they never achieved their vision.
When considering the optimal number of founders for any new entrepreneurial adventure, the calculus extends well beyond simple formulas seemingly supported by observations of startup cohorts within specific industries. Famous technology twosomes that come to mind include David Packard and William Hewlett of Hewlett-Packard, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak of Apple, Paul Allen and Bill Gates of Microsoft, Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google. In these examples, it is widely observed that these buddy teams complemented each other well in the early formative years of their companies.
Academia is getting ever more aggressive about helping entrepreneurs get a running start. An emerging crown jewel could well be Stanford University's brand new StartX.
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