Jim Harrer

STARTUPS, TURNAROUNDS, APPDEV, AGILE & LIFE...

Dream Big–Anything is possible!

I came across two videos I wanted to share with you this week.

The first video features three teenage girls, Lauren Hodge, Shree Bose and Naomi Shah, who swept the top prizes at last year’s Google Science Fair.  They were asked to present at the recent TEDx Women's conference and share not just their project, but their journey as  well.  The mentors that took these young women under their wings are my heroes.

Enjoy.

 

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The heart of a startup entrepreneur.

As I discussed in my previous post, we’re finishing up week 3 in our VentureBox Venture Launch class. The course is 12 weeks.  Each week the founders meet every Wednesday from 3-8pm for a formal class and workshop. Dinner is included halfway through. Here is the 20k foot view of what we’ve done with the 7 companies in the program:

  • Week 1: Curriculum review, format discussion, introductions and company pitches. This was the first time all the founders got to meet each other. We have 7 companies, with 2 companies with co-founders, so we have a total of 9 founders in the room. The majority of the night was spent having the founders do their 10 minute investor pitch, followed by 20-30 minutes of Q&A from the rest of the founders.
  • Week 2: Our partner, LUXr,  traveled to Bend from San Francisco and conducted a train-the-mentors on their Lean Startup Customer Development and User Experience curriculum using their Bento Box training materials. Then the Mentors (yep, me included) taught the materials the next day to our VentureBox class with Janice and Kate guiding us all the way. Each of the founders developed their first customer persona for their product. Their homework was to go out and do in-person interviews with people who match the persona's they created.
  • Week 3: Tackled market segments and helped each of the founders understand how to figure out their first, highly focused, target market for their minimal viable product using The Lean Startup framework. I was privileged to co-teach this class with Steven Curley, a local marketing genus and one of VentureBox's Subject Matter Experts.

Alright, with this foundation set. I’m going to change gears and discuss my observations and less on the materials and process, at least for the rest of this post.

The five traits of a startup entrepreneur.the_heart_of_the_startup

It’s hard to not fall in love with each of these founders and their ideas. Each of the 9 founders are amazing in their own right. They inspire me with their ideas, questions and drive to succeed. Since I have the privilege to work with each of the founders, I thought I would share with you some of the commonalities I have observed among the founders in the class.  

Not in any specific order, here we go:

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Copyright

© Copyright 2012 James A. Harrer, all rights reserved, worldwide.

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VentureBox–A business accelerator in Bend, Oregon.

startup-sign

VentureBox is a business accelerator in Bend, Oregon, where I live. Each accelerator is a little different, so let me give you some background.

Business accelerators are different than business incubators (which focus on product ideas) primarily because all of our founders already have a business concept and a basic “pitch” of what their business is and what problem it solves.   Last December (2011) we started with 37 businesses applying to VentureBox and through our vetting process we selected 7.  Most are all in the “Early Concept”, pre-revenue stage.  We have  high-tech web based SaaS products, a mobile app and one physical product in medical devices.  The VentureBox class meets every Wednesday from 3-8pm for a class and workshop.  Each week we teach, then have a workshop on what they just learned and apply it to their business concept.  Then they go home with homework and goals for the week.

The course runs for 12 weeks and concludes with an investor day where Angel Investors get to meet the companies and hear their pitch. The cost for each company to attend the course is $1,500  plus 2% founder equity. The business community in Bend, Oregon, was kind enough to step up and sponsor each of the 7 companies so none of the Founders had any out of pocket expenses to participant in the program.

VentureBox’s executive director is Jim Boeddeker (JimBo) who I met after the Bend Venture Conference last October. He is a servant leader, and coach, over a pool of past founders and local business leaders who make up the Mentor team. Not an easy job managing all of us type A personalities, but he makes it look easy.  The Mentor team is experienced and deep. It’s made up of Founders, Subject Matter Experts, creative and talented individuals who have a passion for startups.

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Apple SWOT

Apple SWOTClick here if you want to read the most recent, Apple SWOT Analysis, June 2015

I was talking to someone about Apple today. Yes, they appear unstoppable and blew the doors off their most recent quarter. I decided to do a SWOT (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) Analysis for my blog. Please comment below and let me know if you agree or disagree with any of my bullet points. I had a tough time coming up with more weaknesses. I would really like to review this post in two years and see what we got right, and what we may have missed. So please, comment today!

Apple Inc. designs, manufactures, and markets personal computers, mobile communication devices, and portable digital music and video players. The company also sells various related software, services, peripherals, and networking solutions.

The company sells its products worldwide through its online stores, retail stores, direct sales force, third-party wholesalers, resellers, and value-added resellers. In addition, it sells various third-party Macintosh, iPhone, and iPod compatible products, including application software, printers, storage devices, speakers, headphones, and various other accessories and peripherals through its online and retail stores, and digital content and applications through the iTunes Store.

The company sells its products to consumer, small and mid-sized business, education, enterprise, government, and creative customers. As of March 1, 2012, it had 361 retail stores, including 246 stores in the United States and 115 stores internationally. The company, formerly known as Apple Computer, Inc., was founded in 1976 and is headquartered in Cupertino, California.

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Welcome - Thanks for stopping by!

Here we go again.

I took my blog down a year ago when I decided to accept the role as President of Alchemy Solutions. I just didn't think I would have time to maintain it. Now that the Alchemy gig is behind me, I decided it was time to fire the blog back up.

The truth is, I miss writing.  Well, that isn't entirely truthful. I actually hate writing because I suck at it. As I get older I find myself fighting more and more brain farts where my thoughts get ahead of my typing and the next thing you know, I don't complete a sentence, or worse, finish my thought.  Writing is work for me, so please bare with me if I ramble a bit.

Since I'm working with the VentureBox Business Accelerator in Bend, Oregon, I plan on writing about startups and the journey from an idea to market. I'm passionate about lean startup principles, customer development over product development and the importance of focus and executing with a sense of urgency.

I also love product development, so expect me to write about products from time to time. I'm an investor, so expect me to write about the businesses that excite me. I'm a certified ScrumMaster and love program development and agile development using the SCRUM framework, so you'll be reading some of my rambings in this area as well.

I hope you enjoy it, please comment often so I know you're out there.

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