I recently sat down to interview Keith McGreggor, Director of VentureLab, for a quick interview.
We started talking about Keith’s first startup product, a grammar and spell checker for Apple II. He named it Milton (after his cat), but no one bought it. His first full startup was an artificial intelligence company in 1983. AI Atlanta, as it was called, had a contract with Lockheed – who ultimately hired Keith away.
When I asked him about his startup score, he reported two big hits. Any craters or flat-liners, I asked. “Oh, yeah, four or five,” he responded.
If you follow Keith on Twitter, you know he spends time building and making things and puzzling over the universe. “I’ve never not made things,” he confided. He’s spent a good amount of time mentoring, too. His sense of “pay it forward” is enhanced by his natural curiosity: “You never know who that person is. Could be an average person or the next Steve Jobs.”
Career highlights for Keith include: writing obituaries for the Macon Telegraph; angel investing; working for Apple and Yahoo; touring the southeast as a banjo player in a band; nineteen seasons as a Little League baseball coach; and currently pursuing his PhD in artificial intelligence and cognitive science.
And, he adds, “I did the Internet before it was cool.”
Keith’s office hours are Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Email Keith to schedule an appointment, email@example.com
And follow Keith on Twitter, @keithmcgreggor.
Started in 2011, the Georgia Tech Research Corporation (GTRC) has developed the GT:IPS license to help encourage entrepreneurship among Georgia Tech faculty, staff and students.
From the outset, GTRC was committed to developing a license that would be accepted by the Georgia Tech community, be used without reservation by attorneys representing Georgia Tech startups, and be accepted by a large spectrum of investors and future business partners of our licensees.
The GT:IPS license is exclusively available to Georgia Tech faculty, staff and students and is completely optional. For those participating in the GT:IPS program, founders must complete GT:IPS Facilitation – a collaborative effort among (IC)3, the Enterprise Innovation Institute, the Conflict of Interest Management Office, and others on campus.
During GT:IPS facilitation, Georgia Tech entrepreneurs will participate in classes normally offered by the Advanced Technology Development Center, and will have an opportunity to work one-on-one with experts on matters specific to entrepreneurs within an academic environment.
For those companies completing GT:IPS Facilitation, they will benefit from a GT:IPS license that represent the best commercially reasonable terms GTRC can provide.
The emphasis of this program is on creating impactful companies in the state of Georgia and to help position Georgia Tech as the “innovation institute.”
Class topics include:
- Proposal Preparation
- Export Control
- Conflict of Interest
The class work will include examinations to verify proficiency. All classes are held in the Research Administration Building (RAB) at 505 Tenth Street, NW.
All of our workshops are free of charge and are available to all Georgia Tech faculty, administration and students. Class sizes are limited, therefore registration is required.
To learn more, visit http://industry.gatech.edu/2011/06/the-georgia-tech-integrated-program-for-startups/
I met up with Harold Solomon, the newest Principal at VentureLab, and asked him a few questions.
What was the first startup (or entrepreneurial venture) you were involved with?
Mercury Cellular – the first mobile provider for central Washington state. Our team built and staffed that early rural mobile phone company. Then, with my first business partner and mentor, Sanford Levings, we sold our interest to our partners by invoking the buy-sell provision in our operating agreement. If anyone reads this and you don’t know what a buy-sell is, ask to hear this story.
What’s your startup score?
On the for-profit side, 3 exits, 1 crater, 1 still in process.
Why are you an entrepreneur?
I like challenges and insights gained from iterating through selling-building-implementing-trashing-rebuilding-selling, repeat.
Why do you like mentoring?
I like to meet people who have solved a problem and want to get it out into the world. They have an energy that is contagious.
Harold holds open office hours on Wednesday and Thursday mornings at the Startup Exchange in the Georgia Tech library. Drop by to meet him or drop him an e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
40 Entrepreneurs + 3 Days = 3 Day Startup at Georgia Tech
When: March 1, 2013 at 6pm until Sunday March 3, 2013 at 10pm
3 Day Startup is only open to accepted participants and a small number of selected mentors.
Attend the 3 Day Startup Final Pitches (Open to Public)
When: March 3, 2013, 7pm-ish
Where: Hypepotamus (No need to RSVP, just drop right in!)
Application Deadline: February 28, 2013 Apply here.
Interviews: We will contact you to schedule an interview.
Admission Decisions: You will be notified via email whether you have been accepted.
Click here for more info.
The idea of 3 Day Startup is simple: start a technology company over the course of three days. We reserve work space for an entire weekend, recruit students with a wide range of backgrounds, provide some food and drinks, invite entrepreneurs and investors, pick the best idea for a software startup during the Friday brainstorming session, and release a minimal prototype by Sunday night. The goal is to build enough momentum among a network of motivated people to sustain the company beyond the weekend.
Startup Gauntlet started back in 2008 as a way for entrepreneurs to polish their pitch. The original tag line was “Investors won’t tell you why your pitch sucks, but we will!”
Participants were encouraged to design simple, minimal decks to support their pitch. Screen shots of spreadsheets were met with groans and eye rolls. Edward Tufte was invoked. Nancy Duarte was revered. (author of Slideology)
But then something happened, and it didn’t just happen to us. It happened to the entrepreneur community. And it didn’t happen all at once. It happened over the course of three years.
- Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur (Business Model Generation, 2010)
- Eric Ries (The Lean Startup, 2011)
- Steve Blank and Bob Dorf (The Startup Owner’s Manual, 2012)
These three books absolutely changed how we think of startups, and certainly changed how we teach entrepreneurship. No longer did we ask for five-year business plans. Gone were the days of 30 page decks with pie charts and projections.
Enter the era of Customer Discovery and the Business Model Canvas. Thus Startup Gauntlet evolved into Customer Discovery Bootcamp for Entrepreneurs. The teaching team (formerly known as Dungeon Masters) uses the Business Model Canvas, but focuses on the right side of the canvas only.
Here are reviews from past participants:
“Startup Gauntlet is perfect for first time inventors and entrepreneurs.”
“My business model was broken. The Gauntlet helped me to refine and define what business I wanted to be in.”
“It’s a meritocracy… Darwinism at its best.”
“It’s tough. But the actual marketplace is worse. So you get used to it or flame out.”
“Getting yelled at was useful.”
“I learned how to scope a project.”
Now that you’ve read this, now what? Will you sign up to run the Gauntlet? It’s being offered on two campuses, Georgia Tech and University of Georgia, with more campuses being added all the time.
(Historical fact: Pitch Gauntlet, a sibling to Startup Gauntlet, lived a short time in 2012, with the tagline “You can’t get better at pitching unless you practice. And get feedback. Most people won’t tell you why your pitch sucks. But we will.”)
The Flashpoint story
In the fall of 2010, Georgia Tech EVP for Research Dr. Stephen Cross created an innovation task force to support the institution’s strategic plan. This task force was led by Associate VP for Research Dr. Ravi Bellamkonda, and College of Computing Distinguished Professor Dr. Merrick Furst. Flashpoint was one of the task force’s recommendations to foster entrepreneurship and innovation.
Want to learn more? Click here.
And the winner is….
Xiaohang Li with his UVNITY project.
X blew us away with his customer discovery.
In addition to the beautiful award from the Edison Foundation, and the $15,000 commercialization prize, X will attend Startup Madness.
“X had demonstrated the importance of the Business Model Canvas. He had talked with 60 customers and had established beta test sites,” said Harold Solomon, VentureLab principle.
Registration for the 2013 Competition is Now Open. Register here
I2S Bootcamp is on February 22 – RSVP here
I2S is About Creating a Better World
The competition is for current Georgia Tech students and recent alumni who have early stage product/service ideas or venture concepts that are geared towards creating a better world.
Entries might focus on reducing poverty, alleviating hunger, promoting health and wellness, improving air and water quality, reducing of the rate of depletion of natural resources, or developing alternate sources of energy… just to name a few!
I2S is About Ideas
We believe that all great ventures and organizations begin with great ideas. Therefore, I2S is primarily a competition of ideas where creativity, imagination, and technology are applied to solving social and/or environmental problems.
It is our hope that eventually these ideas will lead to sustainable organizations that are able to generate sufficient income flows to sustain their missions. If the organizations are for-profit companies, the ideas should eventually be capable of providing returns for investors as well.
To participate in I2S, teams must develop:
- A brief executive summary
- A one-minute video pitch to be submitted on YouTube
- A poster
- A presentation (Note: only finalists complete this portion)
To Enter the Competition:
1. Fill out the online Intent to Compete form.
2. Submit the Executive Summary and video link by March 26, 2013.
3. We also ask that teams submit a video/photography consent form so that we can use pictures and video from the competition in future marketing efforts.
Judging Criteria: Ideas will be judged on their potential to deliver large-scale impact in the future.
Eligibility: Any current Georgia Tech student or recent Georgia Tech alumnus (graduated in either Spring 2012, Summer 2012 or Fall 2012) is eligible to compete. Interdisciplinary teams are encouraged but not required.
Simply put, I2S seeks to foster the development of organizations that are focused on the “triple bottom line,” showing concern for social and environmental outcomes as well as for economic return on investment.
|February 22, 2013||“Getting Ready for the Competition Bootcamp”
Location: Scheller College of Business, Room 223
RSVP for the Bootcamp
|March 5||Priority Submission Deadline: Submit “Intent to Compete” form with project summary by this deadline to be eligible for mentor matching.|
|March 26||Final Deadline: All “Intent to Compete” forms, executive summaries and video pitches are due.|
|April 5||Preliminary Round of Competition – The Poster Showcase
Finalists will be announced immediately following the showcase
Location: Scheller College of Business Atrium
|April 10||Competition Finals and Awards Ceremony – Students Who IMPACT
Location: LeCraw Auditorium, Scheller College of Business
Thanks to our generous sponsors, in 2013, I2S teams will compete for up to $20,000 in cash prizes in addition to the service packages provided by our in-kind sponsors.
1st Place: Smith Foundation Prize $7,500
Best Domestic Solution Prize sponsored by the Smith Foundation: $2,500 awarded to the team with the best solution to a domestic (US) problem
Best Developing Markets Solution Prize: $2,500 awarded to the team with the best solution to an issue in the developing world
AARP Foundation Prize: up to $5,000 (minimum $1,000) awarded to the best solution that addresses the needs of low income senior citizens.
And the finalists are…
(in no particular order)
- Prediction of Fracture Toughness – Yan Li
- Self-Charging Power Cell – Sihong Wang
- Integrating photographs obtained at point-of-care – Senthil Ramamurthy & Srini Tridandapani
- RD MEMS Field Programmable Filter Array – R. Tabrizian & F. Ayazi
- UVNITY – Xiaohang Li
- Beta Thrive – Stephanie Duncanson
- Triboelectric Generator – Guang Zho
- CardioBuzz – Farshid Ghasemi
- Pulsed Laser Surgery
- Carbon Nanotube Cold Cathodes – Lake Singh
The first rule of Startup Madness is that everyone talks about Startup Madness.
Here’s the way it works…
- Each school selects 2 student entrepreneurial teams. Schools are encouraged to send their best teams since this will be a representation of the school and bragging rights will be involved.
- Each team is responsible for their travel to Raleigh, NC. They should arrive by 5:00PM on Tuesday, March 26, 2013.
- Each team should have a working product (not just a business plan). It does NOT have to be market ready, but must be a working prototype that can be demoed.
- Each team will be led by students. While non-students may be on the team, the idea had to originate from students.
- Each school will have a table to display their product. For example, teams could bring a laptop or flat screen panel to demo their product. The business community will be in attendance in the late afternoon to engage the student teams. While they can demo their product for specific people at their table, they will also have stage time to present during the competition.
- Participants should bring a flag or some type of school symbol to display on their table.
- School attire is highly encouraged so that attendees know which students belong to which schools. While painting chests is not recommended, the feeling of Startup Madness will be similar to a NCCA basketball game.
- Teams that have received substantial early stage investments are not eligible.