Meetups for Utah entrepreneurs

If you are a founder or co-founder of a startup company in Utah, check out the Entrepreneur Brainstorm Lunches that are being held a couple of times per month. The next one is tomorrow at Mimi’s Cafe in Orem, starting at 11:30 am.

The format is simple. Everyone buys their own lunch. Every founder gets to introduce himself or herself to the group, talk for a minute about their company, and then describe a specific problem or challenge they are facing right now. The rest of the group spends 5-7 minutes brainstorming solutions. I’ve attended a dozen or so of these events, and every time I’ve seen nearly every entrepreneur walk away with really good advice about tools, or software, or websites, or books, or articles, or experts that they didn’t know about before, that may help them deal with their immediate challenge.

The concept was inspired by the book “Never Eat Alone” but the format was inspired by Corporate Alliance. Corporate Alliance is an awesome company founded by Jared Stewart that helps business owners gain great value from networking and peer advice. Their events are more rewarding from a social standpoint than any events I’ve ever attended — and I’ve gone to scores of conferences and trade shows and other events around the country for the past 17 years.

There are just 3 spots left for tomorrow’s lunch. So RSVP now if you are a founder of an actual startup company. Most of our lunch events are open to entrepreneurs at any stage, but tomorrow is restricted to founders of actual startup companies.

 

Political meetup in Provo

I updated my Financial Crisis Reading List today with two must read books:

Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress and a Plan to Stop It by Lawrence Lessig. (http://amzn.to/IbaKyL)

Throw Them All Out by Peter Schweitzer. (http://amzn.to/HLOVu8)

A week or so ago, I had lunch with someone who has read almost everything on my reading list. My first question was, “are you depressed?” We quickly turned the discussion to, “what can be done about the corruption of our representative democracy and our financial system.” We both think the outrage people are feeling towards government has been manifest by the Tea Party and the Occupy Wall Street movements, but neither effort seems to have any real power to challenge the status quo of the two major political parties and the massive fund-raising machine that continues to elect the same people to Congress, despite the overall 10-12% approval rating.

We’ve started a small political discussion group in Provo, to see if we can agree on things that can be done to channel our disillusionment in productive ways.

Let me know if you are interested in learning more.

Never Eat Alone – Brainstorm Lunches for Utah Entrepreneurs

Never Eat Alone – Brainstorm Lunches for Utah Entrepreneurs

A few years ago, inspired by the book Never Eat Alone, I started holding casual, pay-for-your-own-lunch lunches with other entrepreneurs in Utah. We called these “entrepreneur brainstorm lunches.” We usually held them at Magelby’s restaurant, where at the end of the meal for some reason they would always bring out a twinkie for everyone. So Provo’s economic development director started calling the lunches “Twinkie Talks.”

Recently, I met with a local entrepreneur who attended a couple of these brainstorm lunches, and he said we should start them up again. So we are. The Twinkie Talks are back, sans the twinkies.

His current team set up an event on EventBrite so we can take RSVPs.

The first one is tomorrow at Malawi’s in Provo.

Hurry, there are only a few slots left.

But don’t worry. We’re planning to hold brainstorm lunches every week or two.

Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/IsCNuA

 

Source:

https://plus.google.com/117388252776312694644/posts/YQFDjJ4uYjs

Rural entrepreneurship

On Saturday, I’ll be speaking in Kanab about technology enabling rural entrepreneurship.

I have spoken at a few rural business conferences in Utah in the past. Usually I talk about how internet marketing (Google AdWords, affiliate marketing) and social media (blogging, Twitter, Facebook) can help rural businesses grow. But this time I’m hoping to address the opportunities rural entrepreneurs have to use technology to build companies and create jobs.

Rural Success Stories

I’ve been scouring my personal knowledgebase and a database 4,500 company histories for examples of rural startup companies that made it big. I’m finding a few, such as Backcountry.com (Heber City, Utah) and MyYearbook (New Hope, PA). But I’m not finding very many.

I remember when John Bresee, co-founder of Backcountry.com told me that his company had grown to about 65 employees and had become one of the largest private employers in Heber City. Later they moved to Park City. Now they have 625 employees and revenues of more than $250 million.

Can you imagine how a single company like this could transform a rural community’s economy?

Wal-Mart may be the best historic example of a rural startup that changed a community. But it may not be all that relevant to today’s modern technology entrepreneur. Still, it’s interesting. Bentonville, AK grew from 19,000 population to 35,000 in the past 10 years. I have heard that many product companies who want to sell through Wal-Mart have opened offices in Bentonville or located employees there. Makes a lot of sense. Facetime with Wal-Mart buyers could make all the difference. (I just found that I’m connected on LinkedIn to 151 Wal-Mart buyers, so maybe we don’t all have to move to Bentonville.)

But I need help finding more examples of rural entrepreneurs building high-tech companies.

Do you know of any? Think about software, app development, manufacturing, alternative energy, or any web-based business. Please let me know if you can think of any good examples.

I’ll be looking through the Internet Retailer Top 500 Directory of e-commerce companies, and I expect to find some rural examples there. But I could use help from anyone out there.

Thanks to a suggestion from Gregg Blanchard, Les Prall from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development just gave me a half dozen rural Utah technology companies to look into, and I was excited to learn about them. (Thanks, Les!)

What rural high-tech startups have you heard of?

Four Steps to the Epiphany author speaking in Utah

Just spreading the word….

ENTREPRENEURSHIP NETWORKING LUNCHEON

featuring Steve Blank (rising celebrity in the entrepreneurship world)

“Why Accountants Don’t Run Startups”

Thought leader in entrepreneurship, Steve Blank, author of “The Four Steps to the Epiphany,” will share his current thinking about startups, how and why they’re different than large companies, and a few thoughts about entrepreneurial education.

This event will combine networking, community information, and a lecture by Steve Blank, renowned entrepreneur and game-changing educator.

Monday January 24, 2011
11:30am-1:30pm
Location: Noah’s
322 West 11000 South
South Jordan, UT 84095

Tickets: http://steveblanklunch.eventbrite.com
Admission includes box lunch

AGENDA
11:30am – Welcome and Networking
11:45am – Special Announcements
12:00noon – Nathan Furr
12:15pm – Keynote: Steve Blank
1:00pm – Door Prize and Networking

STEVE BLANK

Over the last 25 years, Steve has been part of, or co-founded eight Silicon Valley startups. These have run the gamut from semiconductors, video games, personal computers, and supercomputers. (MIPS, Zilog, Rocket Science, SuperMac, Convergent Technologies, Ardent, ESL) Steve’s last company was E.piphany, an enterprise software company. Steve is on the board of Macrovision (NASDAQ: MVSN), as well as two private companies; CafePress.com an on-line marketplace, and IMVU a 3D IM social network. Steve also serves on the California Coastal Commission and is on the board of Audubon National & is Chairman of Aubudon California. Steve currently teaches entrepreneurship at U.C. Berkeley Haas Business School, the joint Berkeley/Columbia MBA program, and at the Stanford University Graduate School of Engineering. Steve teaches a methodology of starting and managing marketing, sales and business development in high technology startups. (See the course text atwww.cafepress.com/kandsranch) Steve Blank’s Specialties: Marketing, sales and business dev strategies for emerging startups.

Utah Angel Investor of the Year

On Tuesday, June 23rd at the Hilton Hotel in Salt Lake City, FundingUniverse will be announcing the first ever Utah Angel Investor of the Year award winner.

The top 15 finalists for this award are Alan Hall, Craig Earnshaw, David Carter, Gary Williams, Hal Widlansky, JD Gardner, John Richards, Kent Thomas, Kyle Love, Mark Madsen, Martin Frey, Nobu Mutaguchi, Robert Kunz, Scott Frazier and Warren Osborn.

Having been a big fan of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards for many years, I think it is exciting that FundingUniverse is going upstream a little bit to recognize some of the many angel investors who help those entrepreneurs get businesses off the ground.

I personally appreciate several of these 15 angels because some of them were our early investors at Ancestry.com (back in 1998) and more recently in FamilyLink.com (2007-2009 funding rounds.)

I hope this becomes an annual event, and I hope it spreads nationwide too, because angel investors are the unsung heroes of our free market economy. VCs get a lot of attention because they back high-profile companies. But from what I’ve read, angels generally fund 30-50 times more startup companies per year than VCs, and they fund a ton of small businesses that never become high profile but do create jobs and add value to our economy.

Kudos to Brock Blake and his FundingUniverse team for launching this idea.

Hint to entrepreneurs: if you want some inexpensive networking time with Utah’s very best angel investors, I suggest you buy a ticket (it’s only $25 per seat) and show up Tuesday (with plenty of business cards for all!) :)

First Utah iPhone Developers Meetup

Last year I started a Facebook group for Utah iPhone developers. The group now has 146 members. Recently, Cary Snowden (of CrunchLunch fame) and Brad Hintze jumped in to help run the group, and they have actually started organizing real world (hopefully monthly) meetings for this group.

The first meetup will be at Novell (building A) on Wednesday, May 13th, from 6-8 pm. To RSVP, or for more details, click here.

With 12 teams of BYU students recently launching iPhone applications at the Omniture-sponsored competition there, and with recent BYU and UVU conferences on mobile development, there is a ton of local interest in iPhone development. iPhone 3.0 will absolutely change all the rules of the game, and give Apple an even greater leadership position in mobile computing than they already have.

This is the mobile computing platform that will transform industries. It’s a great opportunity for entrepreneurs. Whoever jumps on board early, will have a chance to shape/disrupt whatever industry they are in. You have an opportunity to catch this massive wave, and it’s not too late because iPhone 3.0 is still coming, and it provides more business model opportunities than ever before.

I won’t be able to attend, but I’m hoping that Ryan Hatch and others from FamilyLink.com who are working on our mobile applications will be there to network.

Utah entrepreneurs: don’t miss this free lecture series

Josh Coates is one of the most talented and energetic entrepreneurs/engineers I have ever met. I had the pleasure of serving on his advisory board at Mozy.com for a brief period as he was first launching his company. He outgrew my very part time services very quickly and I watched him build a very exciting company and sell it for a very large sum in a very short period of time. Very, very cool.

I blogged about Josh and Mozy back in April 2006 when they were still in beta mode but had already received 4 stars from PC Magazine. 

Now, Josh Coates is provide 6 weeks of free public lectures for entrepreneurs, but you have to register to attend.

Highly recommended!

Here’s the full scoop from Shauna Theobald:

 

Please register here for the Josh Coates weekly lecture series so we can accommodate all those who will be attending.  Thanks and see you there.  Can’t wait…it’s gonna be great!

Topics and dates are:

– Technology and Fundamental Business Concepts (Feb. 24)
— Raising Capital: The Simple, Well Understood Path (Mar. 3)
— Pro-active Product Development for the Enterprise Market (Mar. 10)
— Hiring the A-Team: Rocks and Clowns (Mar. 17)
— Practical Internet Marketing (Mar. 24)
— Personal Liquidity and Financial Exits (Mar. 31)

This free lecture series is open to the public every Tuesday from 12-1:30 p.m., starting Tuesday, February 24th.  Sponsors include the Utah Valley Entrepreneurial Forum, the Provo Technology Xelerator, the Technology Center at Novell, and SiliconSlopes/Omniture.

About Josh Coates:  Josh began his career doing research in parallel computing at UC Berkeley and went on to found two venture backed startups related to large scale data storage technology.  His extensive experience ranges from high performance computing and data center operations to venture funding, financial modeling, marketing and mergers and acquisitions.   Coates has been honored for his innovation by MIT and Ernst and Young and featured in Forbes and the Wall Street Journal.  He currently volunteers as an adjunct instructor in the Computer Science department at BYU.

See you there,

Shauna

Shauna L. Theobald

Novell Technology Center

Big Event for Utah Investors and Entrepreneurs, Nov. 20th

Mark Cuban pointed out on his blog last week that President Elect Obama has made his first mistake: he failed to appoint a single entrepreneur to his economic advisory team, when it is clear that "entrepreneurs that start and run small businesses will be the propellant in this economy." He suggested that the new President should "ask the people who are actually starting new businesses what they need," so that the government doesn’t adopt policies that will backfire by hurting entrepreneurs.

This morning I watched a 1 hour documentary on the Biography Channel about Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart, who by 1985 was the richest man in the United States. It was especially interesting to see how he grew up during the Great Depression, and how many of his values and goals were shaped by watching his father eek out a living during the depression.

After WWII, Sam bought a five-and-dime store that was losing money and turned it around by experimenting with a new retail trend called self-service, where the customers actually browsed for their own merchandise rather than asking a clerk to get it for him. His store sales tripled. Within three years he had repaid the $20,000 startup capital he had borrowed from his father-in-law, and he was ready to expand. However, the building owner decided not to renew his lease, so Sam lost his store location.

The documentary explained the obstacles and hardships Sam Walton faced on his way to becoming the most successful retailer in the history of the world. One decision he made in 1961 that I found particularly interesting (it made me smile) was when he bought controlling interest in an Arkansas bank so he could lend himself more money to open more retail stores. Now that is creative, out of the box thinking, for an entrepreneur!

You can read about the history of Wal-Mart at FundingUniverse, along with thousands of other company histories. Many of them contain amazing stories of entrepreneurs overcoming hard times along their path to success. 

Next week, Utah Entrepreneurs have a chance to learn about steps they can take along their road to entrepreneurial success. On Thursday, November 20th, an important event for entrepreneurs and Utah angel investors will take place:

Starting Nov. 17th, Utah joins more than 100 countries and organizations representing millions of entrepreneurs to celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week. A highlight of Utah’s celebration is a day-long entrepreneur and angel investing event on Thursday, Nov. 20th.

The one-day event – “Unleashing Ideas: Igniting High-Growth Entrepreneurship in Utah” – takes place Thursday, Nov. 20, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. at Sandy’s South Towne Exposition Center. Entrepreneurs, angel investors, venture capitalists, and experts in numerous core service industries will attend.

The Nov. 20th conference features the third annual Angel Summit, attracting angel investors throughout the state. Angel investors are high net-worth individuals who fund early-stage, high-potential business opportunities. Registration and additional information are available via www.GewUtah.com. (Source: UtahPulse.com)

I have agreed to participate all-day in this conference by chairing one of the tracks that will address the needs of entrepreneurs and inventors who need help raising capital or doing online marketing.

There is a quality program planned with multiple tracks, and I encourage all Utah entrepeneurs to spread the word and turn this into a well-attended event.

Against the backdrop of national economic crisis, let’s take a day to brainstorm with each other what entrepreneurs can do to create value and generate positive economic activity that will help us, as previous generations have done, claw our way back to prosperity through hard work and innovation.

I’ll see you there.