This is What Disruption Sounds Like

What do CDs, laptop computers and 4-year universities have in common?  They all are being disrupted. Disruptive innovation is a term coined by Clayton Christensen, which describes the process in which a simple application that appears (and are initially dismissed) at the bottom of a market consistently moves up market until they eventually displaces the…

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Leaving Safe Harbor

The wind was a steady 25 knots gusting to 30 at 10am Saturday morning. Outside the harbor break wall the waves were 8-10 feet rolling South towards our next port of call and I had a decision to make: Stay put or leave our safe harbor to engage the open water towards our next adventure.…

Can startups do battle with giants?

I’m often asked by people if a startup really can compete with a behemoth software company like Microsoft?  After all, couldn’t Microsoft just turn their attention on any startup and squash it like a bug? In theory, possibly… but in reality, not likely!  Big companies are usually so full of bureaucracy they can’t even do…

How do you know when to jump off the cliff?

One of my favorite entrepreneurial quotes is by Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn.  Reid wrote:  “The entrepreneurial journey starts with jumping off a cliff and assembling an airplane on the way down.” This perfectly captures the essence of the fear, leap of faith, commitment and urgency that surrounds the entrepreneurial journey!  But it doesn’t answer the big question…

How would an entrepreneur apply for a job?

First of all, the title of this blog doesn’t make sense.  Entrepreneurs don’t typically apply for jobs – they create them!   That said, I wanted to use this subject to illustrate something we talk about a lot at the University of Michigan – the entrepreneurial mindset. Too often I hear from people who are frustrated…

An Entrepreneurial Tsunami in A2 is Coming

Its not often scientists get to witness seismic events in our Earth’s crust that produce tidal waves.  Although our science is getting better they are still hard to measure and even harder to see up close and personal. I, however, had the distinct pleasure of personally witnessing a seismic event in the entrepreneurial ecosystem of…

Observe Trends When Scaling Up Good Ideas

When I co-founded Mobile Automation in 1997 we had developed an idea (and some technology) to allow IT Administrators to send large files to mobile employees with laptops when they were away from the corporate office. Back then, high speed Internet access outside of your office ethernet connection was very rare and the few employees…

Why we need to unplug for 30 minutes

Last week, the homework assignment for one of my entrepreneurship classes was for each student to think about and write down what the value of the Internet is to them. The purpose of this assignment was to teach the students the difference between describing how they use something and its true value.  As entrepreneurs, we often…

Chance Favors the Connected Mind

Great progress has been made in developing processes and tools to help entrepreneurs take an idea and search for the right business model and turn it into a new venture. Not a lot, however, has been done to develop processes around taking an interesting idea and evolving it into something truly amazing and disruptive. Imposible?…

Testing Ideas with Customers

I’ve sat through approximately 50 pitches in the last 2-3 weeks and many times I hear a common example of how the teams have tested their ideas with customers… “We went out and showed our prototype to a bunch of people and everyone we showed it to said yes, they would buy it!”. The problem…