Category Archives: entrepreneurial spirit

The Best Work Space For Creativity

I’m not one to complain about my surroundings when it comes to using the creative side of my mind. I have designed the perfect work space. My job allows me the freedom to develop my work space to accommodate the kind of person that I am.
A recent article in Mashable highlights the kind of work spaces we need to see in San Antonio.
A workplace for developing camaraderie. The best work is done by a team that gets along, and the work space enhances or detracts from building a collegial environment, not to mention fun!
Or a work space that inspires creativity. Sometimes it is hard enough to be creative on demand, but when we have to sit behind a desk in a cubicle, forget it.

The article is full of wonderful examples of workspace, being used by people who love to work with each other, and who are creative in everything they do, even the mundane!

ahh! The best employee of all.

What’s wrong with this picture, I mean Patent?

A recent Tech Crunch article, The Terrible Costs of Patents, created some conflict for me. The jest of the article references the high cost of patenting technology products. Companies like Google and Apple, and start-ups alike, spend exorbitant amount of money to use as or to protect from the weapon “against the rising tide of patent litigation”. But when you realize that technology products, or anything you can think of, comes from the ideas of others. (Read Where Good Ideas Come From, by Stephen Johnson, to help you see the picture.)

From the TechCrunch article:

Patents were originally conceived to protect inventors—people and companies who contribute to the advancement of society by creating new products. But in the past decade, something went horribly wrong. Patents have increasingly became nothing more than financial and legal weapons, to be amassed in portfolios by “non-practicing entities” (i.e. patent trolls) and used to extort protection money from economically productive companies.

And of course, patent trolls have a 55.6 percent success rate in cases in the Eastern District of Texas. Is this the way Texas has become an entrepreneurial state?

What do you think?

San Antonio, an entrepreneurial hub

The Wall Street Journal published a recent article on entrepreneurial hubs across the United States entitled Where the Action Is. Just as one born into a certain family has more opportunities than someone less fortunate, in the world of business, there are certain benefits to starting a business in a certain area of the country. Though we can’t change who we were born to, we can change where we start and grow a business. And this article is keen on identifying the various hubs around the country. San Antonio made that list as a hub for cyber security.

The benefit of a hub as the author indicated: Entrepreneurs are moving there and flourishing in the teeth of a bleak economy. The cities, in turn, are nurturing the entrepreneurs by giving them access to funding, mentors and facilities.
One particular entrepreneur identified in this article, who moved his company from Phoenix to San Antonio said:

“I’d attribute a lot of our success to the location,” he says. “I think the availability of cybersecurity talent and the low-cost of doing business here has helped us. And because there are so many different cybersecurity companies, we have improved each other’s business through partnerships.”

The more small businesses develop and flourish, the more they attract more entrepreneurs and more available financial support. What we are still missing is what is available in places like Boston or the Silicon Valley: people tripping over each other to mentor, advise, and otherwise support new start-ups.

66 million productive uses of Twitter?

So I have students who will be required this semester to learn about Twitter. Why you ask? (Actually, those who ask need the same assignment as my students.)

Just yesterday, I saw a great infographic from Mashable (check out the story) which will support me as I explain to those students who ask, “But why do I need to know this?”

The author of the Mashable article not only claims he’s addicted to Twitter, but is searching for a 12-step program to help him break his addiction. Lab42 (https://lab42.com/), an online research firm, conducted the survey on the use of Twitter. The truth is, we use Twitter because someone else we know uses Twitter. Google the question How to use Twitter productively, and you’ll get 66,300,000 opinions.

Whether you are the young grad tweeting about the happenings in city council and around the city government, or the guy who just let us know “just got up, showered and off to work” (whatever!), Twitter offers immediate information. The headline across my desktop this morning reads “Libya: Latest Tweets Say Rebels Are Moving Into Tripoli“. And I tweet to promote a university program and corresponding blog.

So for whatever reasons, Twitter offers 66 million reasons to understand how it works and how it can work for you. Just look at the Resume below and you can see how it brands that user!

If you could work for any start-up, which one would you choose?

If you could work for any start-up in the country, which one would you choose? That was the question posed to readers of TechCrunch recently, and you may be surprised to learn the results of over 5,000 votes.

Yes, Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and Foursquare each had roughly the same number of votes. And some of the up and coming start-ups that made the list of votes: Dropbox, Instagram, and Techmeme.

But the all time, number one start-up that received the most votes on the question which start-up would you most like to work for?

Your own start-up.

UTSA Business Students partner with Canary Island Engineers

A few business students from UTSA spent 3 weeks in Spain’s Canary Islands playing on the beach, sleeping late, and basically doing nothing.
NOT!

Daniel, David, Randy, Tony, Kim, Rochelle, Tyler, Taylor, Ivan, Matt, Liliana, and Rebecca went to the Canary Islands (which is located 70 miles north of Morocco), and for one long week of writing and working with engineering students from the Islands, competed in a Business Plan Competition. 6 teams, each comprising 2 business students and 1 engineer, met for the first time 6 days before the competition. They wrote the business plans, in both English and Spanish, presented in both English and Spanish to a committee of international judges. If that wasn’t one big fright, ask any one of them.

Not only were they phenomenally successful, 4 of the Spanish engineers who participated in the competition are coming to San Antonio in early September to seek out more advice and assistance with their business ideas. (Check out the San Antonio Business Journal article.)

If you don’t know Seth, it’s time!

If you don’t know Seth Godin, now is the time to learn who he is. A marketing guru, a dare-to-dream dreamer, a dare-to-act activist, and entrepreneur, and a great blogger. He has now become by saving grace today, because he has just given me permission, in fact, encouraged me, to waste time.

Now, grant it, he only recently posted the blog post below, while I have been indulging in “wasting time” long before his post. Actually, I feel like I’ve been wasting time since July 15, so that’s about a month (as of today in fact.)

While I’ve been spending my time in wasteland, I’ve been clearing my head of all the garbage I’ve collected over the past 6 months. I’ve been sorting and keeping that stuff, which will be useful to me later; like renewing my exercise schedule, my improved eating habits, and sleeping habits, and oh yes my reading and playing computer games (I;m real good at solitaire, not an Angry Birds fan since they die in front on my on MY screen!)

Each day I would wake and say, “I’m going to be productive today! Yes!” But I end up wasting yet another day.

But after reading Godin’s post last night, I now know I’m ready for all of the excitement, frustration and newness of up and coming entrepreneurs. I’m actually pretty excited to see who is going to move forward on their entrepreneurial plans, who’s going to look at me this semester with that “Oh, I get it now” look in their eyes. And whose going to feel energized by my energized ways, since I spent a month wasting my time getting energized.

But I was just wasting time. Thank you Seth Godin.

(And here’s his post.)

Wasting time is not a waste

In fact, wasting time is a key part of our lives.

Wasting time poorly is a sin, because not only are you forgoing the productivity, generosity and art that comes from work, but you’re also giving up the downtime, experimentation and joy that comes from wasting time.

If you’re going to waste time (and I hope you will) the least you can do is do it well.

Canary Island Business Plan Competition

A group of UTSA students will be heading to the Canary Islands (Spain) this summer for a unique business plan competition. Much like the $100K New Technology Venture Start-Up Competition that we hold each semester, the business students will be competing in the Islands. Twelve students will meet up with technology entrepreneurs with new innovations and a desire to start a business. These business students will spend 80 hours in teams of 2 preparing 5-6 business plans, and then pitch to Spanish and American entrepreneurs currently in business who have the desire to support these business ideas.

An international business project for the Center for Innovation and Technology Entrepreneurship and the Entrepreneurship program at UTSA.

Stay tuned for more as the program unfolds.

Guts, talent and luck!

Has someone ever recommended a good book to you and you know you have to read it?

I hate when that happens.

This time, the someone was a writer with Tech Crunch, and he suggested a book “Brilliant, Crazy, Cocky: How the Top 1% of Entrepreneurs Profit from Global Chaos”. Now I haven’t read Sarah Lacy’s first book, so I’m not sure of her writing style. But the article in Tech Crunch convinced me to at least go to Amazon, and check out what others have said about it.

BIG MISTAKE! Go to Amazon and just ‘shop’? Right; no way. It was available for the kindle and so in 2 seconds I downloaded it, and couldn’t put it down for the first hour of reading. Lacy spent forty weeks traveling through Asia, South America and Africa, from Rwanda to Brazil, from Israel to India, “looking for the most impressive up-and-comers the developed world has never heard of….yet. ” She tells stories of opportunity in the midst of chaos.

A student came to me yesterday and said he didn’t realize how many business opportunities he ‘didn’t see before’. He told me that when he tells his friends he is an entrepreneurship major, they jump and tell him their ideas. He remarked but they don’t know what to do with them. I told him to tell them that you do. But, I told him, “You have to do it!”

The difference between the entrepreneurs in Lacy’s book and the ones walking around campus in San Antonio Texas is only culture and language. “There are many paths to entrepreneurial success, but none of them are easy. Each requires a compelling and intoxicating combination of guts, hard work, talent, timing, and luck.”

A must read!!

Are we business friendly?

Is Texas a business friendly state?

And how do we compare to the rest of the nation? The Small Business Entrepreneurship Council provides a report that ranks all of the states on their small business survival rate. The “Small Business Survival Index” ties together 38 major government-imposed or government-related costs impacting small businesses and entrepreneurs across industries and types of businesses. These costs are items such as personal income tax, corporate tax, property taxes, health care regulations, and even crime. Since these are the items that impact the success, or failure, of small business, it makes sense to rank each state accordingly. The “Small Business Survival Index” manages to capture much of the governmental burdens affecting entrepreneurship—state by state.

Texas ranks number 3. In other words, compared to other states Texas provides greater incentives to invest and take risks than 47 other states plus the District of Columbia.

But where we fail is in educating the entrepreneur. As Dr. Larry Plummer, an assistant professor of management and entrepreneurship at the University of Oklahoma, recently said:

The commercialization of an innovation can be more difficult than the technological breakthrough in the first place. Focusing on entrepreneurship in our policies is a recognition of the other half of the story.

We need to do a better job encouraging and educating entrepreneurs across the spectrum. Plummer says that this starts in high school, continues through college, and even includes educational efforts in the business world. Entrepreneurship is a life-long learning process, often accompanied by productive failure along the way.

Check out the entire index at sbecouncil.org.