Chicks Rule.

Sucette

Rachel Ford, Second Place in the 2014 InVenture Prize Competition

Did you know that women founded about half of all small businesses in the United States? Even in areas such as high tech startups, where this number has been historically much lower, we are seeing a change in the trends. Women have begun pitching a broader range of startup ideas, which has lead to more involvement from venture capital firms. This is great news, not just because diversity is almost always a good thing, but also because women have the potential to make darned good entrepreneurs.

  • Women tend to take smarter risks. Of course, to run a startup you have to be willing to take some risks, but women, for the most part, tend to shy away from risk that is unnecessary.This kind of careful behavior is great when you’re starting a business, because it causes you to ask more questions, run more tests, analyze more data, and basically do whatever it takes to make your business seem like less of a risk.
  • Women don’t mind asking for directions. In general, women aren’t afraid to admit when they don’t know something, which opens them up to a wealth of valuable information as they seek out mentors, ask questions, and look for feedback.

    Elnaz Banan Sadeghian

    Elnaz Banan Sadeghian, Winner of the 2014 GTRIC Edison Prize

  •   Women are relationally minded. To a large degree business is built on relationships. There are relationships between partners, between employer and employees, and between businesses and customers. If you look at your business from this perspective, and view the relationships in your company as long-term, it will be easier to build a team that feels valued, respected, and supported. It also gives customers a feeling of ownership when they have relationships with people at the company. Women also value their lives outside work, which makes them less susceptible to burnout.
  • Elnaz photo  Women multitask well. Most women are adept at juggling multiple roles simultaneously, working toward several priorities and handling a full plate. Multitasking is a vital skill for an entrepreneur, so the fact that most women already multitask effectively makes them valuable to a startup.
  • Elnaz photo Women tend to take things personally. They take it to heart when something doesn’t go as planned, and that leads to better products, better service, and an overall better company. They’re not afraid to change course if they think they’ve made a misstep, and they’re not afraid to put in as much work as it takes to succeed.
  • Women are good listeners. Conversation is a valuable entrepreneurial tool. Networking is essential when you’re building a business, and talking to people opens you up to valuable opportunities. Not only that, but good communicators are able to create deeper bonds, and give other people the opportunity to get involved and help the business thrive.
  • Women offer a higher return on investment. According to recent research published in 2014, Venture Capital firms that invest in woman-owned businesses tend to perform much better than those that are completely man-led. Private technology companies, too, tend to be more capital-efficient when women are in charge, yielding a 35% higher ROI.

In a traditionally male field, isn’t it nice to think that women might actually have an entrepreneurial edge? Whether you’re a woman looking to start your own business or an investor weighing all the factors, it’s time to take a step back and acknowledge all that women have to offer a startup.

Special shout out to Georgia Tech students Elnaz Banan Sadeghian, the winner of the 2014 GTRIC Edison Prize,

and Rachel Ford, who secured second place in the 2014 InVenture Prize Competition!

 

Life Sciences Folks: Accelerate Your Startup!

Are you a Life Sciences student, researcher, or early-stage startup? Then we’ve got an opportunity for you! This September through October, Georgia Tech is hosting the 2014 Southeast Regional Life Sciences Startup Accelerator to help scientists explore commercializing their research.

Our Life Sciences Startup Accelerator offers an opportunity for folks involved in therapeutics, diagnostics, medical devices, and health IT to learn and grow. Here, you’ll learn about FDA approval, prototyping, IP reimbursement, testing, and SBIR. There will also be opportunities to tour GCMI and the T3 Labs.

For Life Sciences students and researchers, this startup accelerator is a chance to learn from customers and take the first steps in launching a business around your research. By participating, you’ll be part of a proven program that has helped researchers dramatically increase their SBIR application success rate, allowing them to launch companies in one-third the expected time.

Have you already launched your Life Sciences startup? The program is open to early-stage companies that are pre-clinical or have done minimal testing. If you’re interested in filing your first SBIR applications, this program could be a great next step for you.

Based on the Lean Launchpad Life Sciences program developed by Steve Blank, the Life Sciences Startup Accelerator was first launched at UCSF in 2013, and is being adopted by the NIH for their I-Corps curriculum. The six-week I-Corps curriculum is designed for 3-person teams who want to commercialize research. After a 3-day kickoff, there are 5 weekly meetings and a 2-day conclusion. In-class lectures and keynotes are combined with out-of-class learning—getting out of the building and interviewing people to learn about your business model. It is necessary to commit one day per week on top of class time in order to be successful in this program.

This program is not open to individuals; you must participate as a team with 3 or 4 members. These members should consist of:

  • One or two entrepreneur leads to provide leadership and organization of customer discovery activity, as well as acting as spokesperson for the project
  • One principal investigator (optional) for technical leadership
  • One mentor to provide business expertise and guidance for the team—this person should be an entrepreneur or executive with deep industry experience

The 2014 Southeast Regional Life Sciences Startup Accelerator is open to researchers in the Southeast, and all Life Sciences research projects are eligible. Unlike the national I-Corps program, there is no requirement for a lineage to NSF research funding. The last day to apply is August 29so if you’re interested in learning more, visit http://www.icorpssouth.com today.

What’s Hot and What’s Not: Tinder for Technology

Back when computers took up a whole room, the things we take for granted now were the stuff of science fiction. Today, technology changes at such a rapid pace that it can be hard to keep up. Staying on top of the trends can be dizzying, but here are some areas to watch this year:

  • Data Privacy is a big issue. In the wake of some pretty disastrous security breaches, consumers are understandably paranoid. As people begin to pay more attention to their digital footprints, successful companies will be the ones who jump on the privacy bandwagon. New measures are being taken to protect privacy—especially for children, digital privacy services let users control how much of their information is accessible, and IT systems are beginning to be created with privacy embedded into the design.
  • No-Touch Interfaces use existing pattern recognition technology to create something fundamentally unique. We’ve gone from keyboards and mouses to touchscreens and texting, with each new generation of technology requiring us to develop new skills. With no-touch interfaces like Microsoft Kinect, Apple’s Siri, or Google Glass, the technology is beginning to adapt to us instead of us having to adapt to our computers. It’s not unreasonable, in fact, to expect computer interfaces to become more and more “human” over the next decade or two.
  • 3-D Printing might just change the world as we know it. This technology has been in existence since the 1980s, but it’s just starting to come into its own. Today’s 3D printers make a variety of objects through the use of a laser of extruder that can build an object, layer by layer, into three dimensions. Imagine the ramifications! Mechanics and entrepreneurs can print their own parts, components, and prototypes, customized to their specifications. Want to know something that seems even more like futuristic science fiction? One day, medical companies may be able to use 3D printing to create organic organs for transplant recipients.
  • Wearable Technology puts your data where you need it. Do you have a Fitbit? Do you crave Google Glass? We’re used to having data at our fingertips whenever we want to access it, but what if your fingertips aren’t close enough for you? Wearable technology offers information as close as your goggles, wristwatch, hoodie, or ring. In fact, there are even snow skiing goggles meant to show the skier speed, altitude, and vertical descent, while plotting the position on a resort map, playing music, communication with others, and even taking photos.
  • Online Video Streaming’s impact is a big topic of conversation. Will it kill cable? What’s its impact on movie theaters? Even more intriguing, what’s its impact on the environment? The answers to those questions are, in order: maybe, probably, and about the same as or a little bit less than renting a DVD. Why is online streaming so popular? People enjoy the convenience of being able to watch movies and television wherever they are, whether on their television screen at home, or on a computer or mobile device, anywhere they choose. And while there has been speculation that streaming entertainment will be less energy intensive than manufacturing and transporting DVDs, a recent study indicates that, while the value is slightly better with streaming over driving to a video store, the comparison with mailed DVDs is basically equivalent.

All of this new technology is interesting for a consumer, of course, but it’s a particularly exciting time to be an entrepreneur. Whether it’s building a more secure data system, coming up with the next big app, figuring out how to reduce the energy output needed for all these gadgets, or finding some other, never-before-imagined niche, the sky is the limit for those with an active imagination and the power to bring their ideas to fruition. The next big technological leap may be in one of the areas we’ve discussed here, or it may be something no one’s dreamed of…yet.

Are you a Georgia Tech student with an idea for a startup? Or are you interested in commercializing your research? Connect with VentureLab Principal Colin Ake: https://calendly.com/colinake

Mentor a VentureLab Team: You’ll Be Glad You Did

VentureLab offers amazing opportunities for entrepreneurs, both new and established. The appeal of the program for new businesses is obvious; as the #2 incubator in the United States, VentureLab has a proven program to launch successful startups. But what is the draw for an already established business, already flourishing in the private sector? The opportunity to mentor emerging startups.   Mentor [Read more...]

Meet Narvaro, one of Georgia Tech’s Summer Startup teams

Team Members:
“The Narvaro team is made up of 4 mechanical engineers: Chris Taylor, Kevin Green, Devin Andrews and Tyler Sullins. All of us graduated from Georgia Tech in the spring of 2014. Chris is the mad scientist who came up with this crazy idea [to create 3D presence], and he pulled us together for senior design.”

Business Thesis:
“Our system allows a user to be somewhere else by giving them a 3D vision of a remote area. Our technology uses a head-mounted display to show the video from two cameras, and the user can control the cameras with the simple head turns.

We were a bit different from most teams in that we started with a core technology and have been searching for different applications. This has led to a number of amazing experiences for us. We have been to the Atlanta Motor Speedway for a drag race, we got to see a live robotic surgery where we saw inside the chest cavity of a patient in HD 3D, and we even got to crawl around inside a Bradley Fighting Vehicle at Fort Benning.”

What do you think of Startup Summer?

“Startup Summer is crazy; it’s inspired us to push ourselves to see what we are capable of. The level of talent and commitment among all the teams is infectious and really pushes us to strive to be better everyday. We’ve learned so much in the past six weeks about how the world actually works.”

Share with us an “ah ha!” moment you’ve had.

“Through our experiences, we’ve found that things in the real world don’t work as smoothly as you’d think they would. For instance, when interviewing officers at Fort Benning about armored vehicle operation, we found that oftentimes the viewports on the vehicle become obscured with dust or mud. When this happens, a soldier has to physically get out of the vehicle to act as its eyes. Our take-away from an experience like that was that there are lots of problems with dangerous consequences that people put up with. It’s opened our eyes to the world by showing us there are numerous ways we could improve people’s situations by solving their problems.”

What questions do you still have about startups?

“Most of our questions deal with the step after finding legitimate customer demand, particularly with growing and scaling a company. Scaling a hardware company is a complex task because it requires design for manufacturing, suppliers, shipping and quality control.”

If you weren’t doing Startup Summer right now, what would you be doing?

Tyler: “I would be taking an internship for the summer and then moving on to graduate school back home in Florida.”

Chris: “I would be working for a startup or on the next idea.”

Kevin: “I would be working at a local product development company.”

Devin: “I would try to find an internship while I try to get into graduate school for an MBA.”

 

Mentoring an NSF I-Corps Team

Recently, we sat down with NSF I-Corps mentors to uncover their thoughts on the mentor/team relationship. The conversations were varied, but there were common threads throughout each discussion:

  •  There doesn’t appear to be a “right model” for mentoring an I-Corps team, and mentors’ involvement varies from team to team.
  •  Many of the mentors we talked with stressed the importance of finding a good fit for both sides. The Entrepreneurial Lead (EL) and the Principal Investigator (PI) need to interview the potential mentor; likewise, the mentor should interview them. Even if the team doesn’t end up starting a business together, the mentor, EL, and PI spend a lot of time together, and an effective chemistry—a shared interest—is a must.
  •  The more all parties involved have thought through what they want to accomplish, the better.
  •  Mentoring an I-Corps team is a 15hr/week commitment…minimum. There are mentors who spend considerably more and some who spend significantly less; relationships vary, and it’s important to discern upfront the expectations.
  •  Though many mentors expressed an altruistic benefit to mentoring, they almost all agreed that there has to be more than just the “give-back” aspect….
    •  …Mentors have to love building businesses…
    •  …And the technology/product the team’s focused on…
    •  …And the idea of transitioning technology from an educational environment to a commercial one.

Finally, many of the mentors we spoke with suggested that they are risk-takers, and that there is a rush when mentoring a team. The element of risk involved with potentially starting a business is the edge that motivates the team to push through the program.

Ready to experience I-Corps from the frontline? Contact Harold Solomon today about mentoring a team.

 

 

Good news: GT VentureLab is the exception to the rule

According to Dhruv Bhatli, Co-founder and director of Research at UBI Index, the world’s top universities do not generate the best business incubators. With the exception of Georgia Tech’s VentureLab and University of Melbourne-based Melbourne Accelerator Program.Badge_UBI_Global Top 25_250x150_2014

 

[Read more...]

Christine Hang & Arnab Chakraborty of Flow MedTech

Christine Hang and Arnab Chakraborty are graduates of Georgia Tech (GT), where they both earned a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering. They are co-founders of Flow MedTech, a startup focused on stroke therapy management. Specifically, their company provides a therapy for atrial fibrillation patients by targeting the left atrial appendage.
Flow MedTech 2014

[Read more...]

Startup Gauntlet is Hitting the Road

At Startup Gauntlet, it’s understood that the best learning doesn’t take place inside our building. Practicing what we preach, we’re taking our show on the road this summer to locations across the southeast, where aspiring entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to take in all that Startup Gauntlet has to offer without making the trek to Georgia Tech. Sponsored by universities, we’ll bring Steve Blank’s Customer Discovery process, along with the Business Model Canvas, to help future moguls discover scalable and profitable business models.Paul Freet [Read more...]

Five Essential Components of Entrepreneurial Success

So, you want to be an entrepreneur, but do you have what it takes? You might have a great idea, but plenty of people have those, and most don’t end up launching successful careers. What’s the secret of success in business? It might not be easy to quantify, here are five things that every entrepreneur needs to have.

[Read more...]

Here’s What Happened on my First Week of Work at VentureLab

Here’s What Happened on my First Week of Work at VentureLab

by Melissa Heffner

I started on a Thursday…melissa heffner 2014

All geared up for an inspiring day of working and learning (does that even happen on day one?), I was waylaid by a building-wide fire drill. Friday, with renewed determination, I walked into the building and was greeted by the sound of Lynyrd Skynyrd blaring through the office, encouraging us to give the lead singer “Three steps toward the door.” If I held any doubts about joining the VentureLab crew, they were quickly erased. I knew this was the right place for me. [Read more...]

Meet SonoFAST, one of Georgia Tech’s Summer Startup teams

Meet SonoFAST, one of Georgia Tech’s Summer Startup teams

Team Members:
Stephanie Camstra: Graduated – BS in Mechanical Engineering
Gabriela Lamas: Graduated – BS in Biomedical Engineering
Jorge Mena: Graduated – BS in Biomedical Engineering
Keller Tomassi: Graduated – BS in Mechanical EngineeringStartup Summer 2014

[Read more...]

StarMobile and Siva

Raghupathy Sivakumar, known as Siva, is a Professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and currently serves as the Co-Founder, Chairman, and CTO for StarMobile, Inc., a next generation enterprise mobility company.

StarMobile is a disruptive, cloud-based solution that delivers enterprise mobility at a fraction of the cost and time of any other approach. “Our solution delivers within hours to days, at a cost of $5 per user for unlimited mobile apps,” explains Siva. “The technology we’ve created can dynamically transform any enterprise application into a mobile application.”

sivakumar

[Read more...]

Startup Discovery in the Real World: Bruno Francois

One of Startup Discovery’s notable stories is that of Bruno Francois, inventor of the popular Cycloramic app. Bruno has garnered some notice from his appearance on Shark Tank, which netted him a $500k investment and the participation of Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner as investors and mentors. Before Shark Tank, however, Bruno reaped the benefits of Startup Discovery.Bruno Francois 2014

[Read more...]

Steve Blank, on what it takes to create a Successful Startup

Steve Blank is renowned in the entrepreneurial world for his successful businesses, but also for his wisdom. Since his arrival in Silicon Valley in 1978, Blank has founded eight different companies, four of which have gone public. He has authored several books, whose insight has given many small business owners the inspiration they needed to succeed. steve-blank [Read more...]