Archive | October, 2012

eTextBooks are an utter failure, for now

28 Oct

In grand hope of reducing the backpack load of an wannabe entrepreneur MBA student, I ordered eTextbooks for my courses this semester. I have used them in the past for mostly reading purposes. How hard it could be to work on them and solve some statistics and accounting problems. Well, that is not how it all works and this is what i actually found:

  1. Doing math or accounting problems on eTextbooks are not that easy
  2. If your questions span multiple pages, flipping back and forth is way too time consuming
  3. Many math symbols don’t show properly on your browser, sometime they appear ok on iPhone and iPad but not on PC, who wants to do math on iPhone…
  4. Staring into the white screen for long hours, well that isn’t that great either, i get eye strain
  5. Storms and out of coverage situations, your books vanishes with it, forget trying to finish up reading on vacation or when you are hunkered down for a storm and the midterms are due next week
  6. The only useful thing i ended up using was the search, which worked wonderfully

Sadly, i had to return the eBooks and resort to the plain old print book, which were easy to work with, but heavy to carry in my backpack. I will have to wait for a better eTextbook in the future.

Installing a Nest, Investing in Nest

28 Oct

My previous startup on clean tech was very interested in this

Secret Formula

tl;dr: Nest Labs performs magic – making energy efficiency awesome, even for the nontechnical and non-green. We’re delighted to invest in the company.

Back in February I acquired a Nest Learning Thermostat, famously designed by Apple’s original iPhone team. Looks cool! Learns your habits! Controlled from your phone! At the time, I felt the product was something of an overhyped fetish object for energy nerds, but I was happy to get one as I sit squarely in that demographic. (Plus, while the Honeywell thermostats in our home were nominally programmable, their interface was so obtuse that we never set them and thus wasted money.) Behold the tweet:

And then it sat in the box for four months.

It’s not that I didn’t want a beautiful piece of industrial design on my…

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Startup Communities – Building Regional Clusters

28 Oct

Steve Blank

How to build regional entrepreneurial communities has just gotten it’s first “here’s how to do it” book. Brad Feld’s new book Startup Communities joins the two other “must reads,” (Regional Advantage and Startup Nation) and one “must view” (The Secret History of Silicon Valley) for anyone trying to understand the components of a regional cluster.

There’s probably no one more qualified to write this book then Brad Feld (startup founder, co founder of two VC firms – Mobius and Foundry, and founder of TechStars.)

Leaders and Feeders
Feld’s thesis is that unlike the common wisdom, it is entrepreneurs that lead a startup community while everyone else feeds the community.

Feld describes the characteristics of those who want to be regional Entrepreneurial Leaders; they need to be committed to their region for the long term (20+ years), the community and its leaders must be inclusive, play a non-zero sum game…

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How to Get a VC Meeting – the flowchart

28 Oct

Steve Blank

I often get asked, “how do I get a meeting with a VC?”  Here is my slightly tongue-in-cheek view.


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