Monday, April 19, 2010

The Story of a Start-up

Yesterday, I read the amazing story of a start-up called EndoStim. Amazing because the start-up was completely international. The home base and the investors are in St. Louis, MO. But the entrepreneurs/inventors are immigrants from Cuba and India. The CEO is in South Africa. And the medical device, which fixes acid reflux, is being tested in clinical trials in India and Chile.

The article was written by Thomas Friedman, one of my favorite opinion columnists for the New York Times. Friedman was showing by way of this article how much the internet and other instant forms of communication can help people come together to create innovative businesses. In the midst of the financial doom and gloom of the Great Recession, you still have intelligent, perceptive people recognizing a need and figuring out innovative ways to meet that need. In this case the need for relief from acid reflux is great and is worldwide. Venture investors are constantly on the lookout for breakthrough ideas. It's start-ups like this that will help bring us into a new, better and growing economy. That is how our nation has had so much growth.

But Friedman also wants readers to know that our world, as he puts it, is "flat". Country boundaries are falling to clever entrepreneurs and investors who don't see those boundaries. They just see opportunity.

Friday, April 16, 2010

War Story 2: Scavenger Hunts, Scamps, and Guerrilla Marketing | August Turak

I heard August Turak speak last month. He was incredible.

Now, I'm reading his articles on Guerrilla Marketing. Fabulous.

War Story 2: Scavenger Hunts, Scamps, and Guerrilla Marketing | August Turak

CVG Conference on How to Market Your Business to Investors

The Connecticut Venture Group (CVG) has a great conference lined up for next week - 

Raising Growth Capital: Marketing Your Business to Investors and Lenders
A full-day conference with over a dozen leading experts in venture financing.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010
9:00 am - 5:00 pm
The Hartford Club, Hartford, CT (Note: New Venue)

I know Doug Campbell who is giving a talk on elevator pitches. Doug really knows what he is talking about.
Here is a rundown of the presentations:

 - How successful investors identify winning concepts
 - Alternative (and little known) sources of capital
 - The capital markets today (which windows are open)
 - How much is your business or concept worth?
 - Playing poker with investors: negotiating terms
 - How to hook investors with a bullet-proof Executive Summary
 - Questions an investor or lender will ask
 - Successful presenting (the sizzle and the steak)
 - How to find the right investor for your industry and stage

Tuesday, April 20, 2010
9:00 am - 5:00 pm
The Hartford Club, Hartford, CT (Note: New Venue)

Cost to Attend: $125
To Register, visit

To compete in the marketplace for growth capital and licensing, it is no longer enough to just have a great idea.  That earth-shaking product needs to be professionally packaged and marketed to potential investors or buyers. The workshop will share insights on how investors analyze business opportunities, and how to make your business opportunity stand out from the crowd.

All seminar participants will receive a manual on how to prepare a bullet-proof business plan.

For Workshop Speaker Bios, please visit:

9:00 am
Screening Concepts (How Successful Investors Validate Business Concepts)
Dan Wagner, Connecticut Innovations

9:30 am
Alternative Sources of Capital
Frank Milone, Fiondella Milone & LaSaracina

10:00 am
Current State of the Capital Markets
David Jenkins, PricewaterhouseCoopersl

10:30 am

10:45 am
Valuing Your Company
Nathaniel Brinn, Vital Financial LLC

11:15 am
Term Sheet Clauses: The Investment Agreement
Gregg Lallier, Updike Kelly & Spellacy

12 pm

1:00 pm
Negotiating with Investors; NDA's
Paul Hughes, Wiggin and Dana

1:30 pm
Suggested Content for Executive Summary;
Questions to expect from investors or lenders
Donna Brooks, Shipman & Goodwin

2:15 pm
Successful Presentation Style and Use of Visuals;  The Elevator Pitch
Doug Campbell, The Success

2:35 pm

2:45 pm
Capital Connections: Finding the Right Investor
Venture Capital - Mike Roer, Connecticut Venture Group
Angels -  Joe DeMartino,  Angel Investor Forum
Lenders - Peter Hicks, Webster Bank

3:10 pm
Sample 3-minute pitch
Donna Brooks, Shipman & Goodwin

3:15 pm
Practice Pitching with Feedback

For Workshop Speaker Bios, please visit:

© 2010 Connecticut Venture Group · 203.256.5955

Connecticut Venture Group

1895 Post Road

Fairfield, CT 06824

Thursday, April 15, 2010

KFC - Breast Cancer Promotion Blunder

A coupon book arrived in the mail yesterday shouting - "Save at KFC - help fight breast cancer".

Eat fast food and fight breast cancer? My mind was boggled. Pink buckets of friend chicken? Were they color blind or just tone deaf?

But then I opened the booklet. Staring me in the face: "BREAST DEAL - $2.59."

I still cannot believe that this promotion is real. How could the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization even begin to think it is doing the right thing with this promotion? How could KFC?

This has to be the biggest blunder of a promotion I have ever seen. I think the whiz-kids who thought this one up didn't think far or fast enough. Promoting eating breasts to raise money for breast cancer? It is just plain wrong on so many levels.

Obviously, the people involved with this promotion haven't read the research that fast food is making the nation obese. Obesity promotes cancer. Health and cancer experts tell people to eat less fried food, less processed food, less fast food. Even the Susan G. Komen Foundation itself says that weight gain can contribute to breast cancer:
Looking at this promotion to me is like hearing nails on a chalk board.

KFC Buckets Go Pink To Help Fight Breast Cancer: "PRESS RELEASE: --(BUSINESS WIRE)--KFC: WHAT: Starting today, KFC ..."

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Microsoft decision puts public libraries at risk

I think Microsoft's decision to not include SteadyState with Win7 is a huge mistake. I believe that it will prove to be a public relations blunder of a magnitude they cannot foresee. Sometimes, companies don't realize that when they think they are protecting their bottom line, they are actually hurting it in the long run because of the fallout of externalities, like a blow to their reputation (think of Exxon, Toyota, Massey Energy, etc.)

Read the full article about this via the link to Windows Secrets (below). Public libraries need safe access to the Internet. They provide a great public service. When 60% of my town was without power for four days following a major Northeast storm, the townspeople crowded into the Darien Public Library to use the Internet (and to stay warm). It's wrong for Microsoft to put library systems at risk. Just plain daft, especially since the idea and original funding for SteadyState came from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to promote educational and public access to the Internet.

Microsoft decision puts public libraries at risk

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Health Care Reform: Not Ready to Be Discharged Yet - Knowledge@Wharton

Entrepreneurs take note: The key point in this Wharton article not the huge problems from the new health care reform bill. It is that there will be all sorts of business opportunities which will come out of the new legislation. Yes, the bill as passed will cost us all a lot more in many ways. But it will open up tremendous opportunities for new businesses to those of us who are creative. People who can figure out how to hold down costs or deliver better health care to more people will be rewarded.

Health Care Reform: Not Ready to Be Discharged Yet - Knowledge@Wharton