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In his fascinating book ‘Faster, Higher, Stronger’ Mark McClusky (editor of Wired.com) references research suggesting that childhood trauma plays a big part in shaping the extraordinary ability of some of the greatest athletes. The conclusion of the research done by Alan St. Clair Gibson is that Lebron James would not be King James without the experience of being born to a 16 year old mother who moved him from home to home and was on welfare at some point. That Lance Armstrong, even with the doping, would not have achieved the infamy of multiple Tour de France wins if he had known his father (and yes, you and I would still not have won if we’d doped as much as Lance did).

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It’s probably untrue but we’ve always ascribed genius to madness in the purely creative arts of music and the arts. If not mad we call the genius musicians eccentric. It’s what we call Prince. It’s how we think about Brian Wilson. It’s how we justify Kanye West.

So why don’t we make more of this trauma/madness/genius association in entrepreneurship? Especially technology entrepreneurship? How do we explain the eccentricities of Elon Musk? Or the tone deafness of Peter Thiel? More importantly though, even though we mostly aspire to the success of these folk what are we willing to go through to taste that success?

It’s uncomfortable to accept, but it might be true, that it’s not totally normal to do what it takes to get to that level of success. 

Or maybe you just need to redefine success for yourself…

If I asked you if you’d heard of Yeloha the answer would most probably be ’no’. To the general public, nothing happened on May 12th 2016. Well, a lot happened including Brazils Rousseff impeachment trial launch, bombs in Baghdad and 10 climbers reaching the summit of Mt Everest.To most people in the solar/future utility industry it was the day another cleanweb startup went quietly into the night. It was the day the founder of Yeloha shut down his company.
The trajectory of clean web startups has been the same
  • Launch under the lights of press and raise some money by being the ‘Airbnb for solar’.
  • Ride the wave of the big launch and press love to sign up a few hundred customer. Sign some big partnerships, in Yeloha’s case with the shell of a company that is Green Mountain Energy.
  • Face the harsh reality that the new business model – the so-called sharing economy – will struggle to fit into the old paradigm. In this case, the financing model for solar that factors risk like every other real estate asset on the market despite the portability of the asset.
  • Investors run scared when they realize the web 2.0 Venture Capital business model does not apply here even though Yeloha fit the typical marketplace model with supply on one side (the prosumer generating solar panel from their rooftop) and demand on the consumer side.
  • Startup has to shut it’s doors and leaves with a whimper…
Current solar financing models look at the creditworthiness of the consumer, this applies to homes which can be foreclosed but not moved when a customer defaults. In the case of solar, and unlike homes, solar panels can be moved and reused on another customers home recouping the asset and possibly making the money elsewhere from collecting electricity payments from another home. Almost like a secondary asset.
So was Yeloha a failure? I suggest no. Someone will figure out a business model for an assetless utility provider that acts as a facilitator between consumers buying power and prosumers who generate (for e.g. through solar) and sell power back to others on this assetless utility’s platform.
It’s bound to happen, the door has been nudged open by the Yeloha’s of the world…

Mobile as an interface: In the last post I wrote about the three interactions that utilities have with consumers and how the products that will win the heart of consumers is one that takes away the work of management from the consumer using the technology we now have available to us. This post will cover the second element of the interaction, billing and payments.

Billing and payments: The billing and payment experience is the most frustrating for most consumers. It’s the interaction point of 80% of utility consumers. I’ve been in the utility industry for 14+ years with some overlaps with the consumer web space. For the most part it’s been a constant game of keeping up with trends and changes on the consumer web side but less so on the utility side. But it’s ripe for change and there are some simple ways to do it. First some data…

  • What does the data say? Pew Research suggests mobile device usage has skyrocketed amongst all demographics in the US.
  • Some critical data points 64% of American adults own a smartphone (35% in 2011) and
  • these consumers are now starting to use their phones for critical services with the report showing 57% have used their phone for online banking.
  • Flurry (from Yahoo) also released some data last year suggesting that time spent on a mobile device by the average US consumer has risen to 2 hours and 42 minutes per day with ~96% of that time spent in mobile apps. So what does that mean?

First piece of news for utilities and technology companies in this space? You need an app/product but your app will not become the next hot app. More importantly, your app must not be to serve you the utility and must be single use i.e. your app must not combine payment, management, customer service etc. What tends to work is for you to make it single purpose but layered (to learn more about single purpose multi-layered product (™) reach out) because the with apps it’s a lot about the micro-moments and the nature of the needs in the utility industry is not micro-moment friendly. What’s an example of this? The images below show an app we created that speaks to the recognition of single purpose, multi-layered mobile products that win in the utility space. You can also click here to play with the product in your browser.

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There is one thing I haven’t talked about that those of you in design will recognize is the need for simple but extremely user experiences. It is so critical to success of every mobile app and utilities, who have never had to deal with customer experience design, struggle with this.

3 quick things that need to be added here for the product to be successful:  be clear about what you want customers to do in the app, prove value quickly and keep it simple.

 

 

 

Understanding the need: The consensus is that the utility is on the cusp of change, faster than the industry is prepared for. Elon Musk, the master showman and shaker-of-industry that he is, announced Tesla’s master plan II and utility executives are paying a little more attention since he decided to buy Solarcity. The summary of the plan is that Tesla is competing for the heart of the consumer. It’s an easier part of the industry to play in because most utilities do not currently own the heart of their consumers. They own their wallets but will soon no longer own that. So for a utility or a technology company that is looking to own these consumers heart what should they do? Without providing the answer (that would be telling :)) I will highlight the possibilities in the form of products that the utility can use to ensure that a company like Tesla (squarely focused on winning the heart and consequently the wallet) does not eat their lunch. There are three interactions that the customer has with their utility:

  1. usage within their home,
  2. billing/payments and
  3. complaints when either i) or ii) are not going as necessary.

Over the course of 3 articles (this being the first) I’ll share some products that I’ve worked on for the 3 interactions and share how new technology enables capturing the heart of the consumer.

Usage within the home: The mistake every player has made in this space, including the retail electricity suppliers and Nest, is this assumption that consumers want to engage and actively manage their usage. First thing utilities and technology companies should know now is that consumers don’t care. Data from all my work proves that only between 1–3% of your consumers will actively manage their energy and the rest might care about the cost but only when it’s surprisingly different from a range they expect. So what to do? Where Nest got it right was the use of Artificial intelligence to help you make decisions about consumption and take action based on their understanding of your behavior. It’s exactly what Google has gone about doing by reducing energy usage in their data centers through the application of DeepMind/artificial intelligence. The idea is to run millions of simulations on the usage profile and decide on the optimal one. It is the work we did on interactive bill in 2012 (image below) and we got coverage in FastCompany for the design and data collection element of this. The plan was to use disaggregated data to help develop your profile and then optimize that usage by recommending different actions based on simulations we would then run.

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Sidenote: The CEO of a utility in Texas hailed their version of this as innovation in March 2016 (4 years after we did it).

It’s become even easier to run these simulations. Google open sourced the machine learning software that allows these millions of simulations to generate optimal usage profiles that can then be implemented through hardware like Nest (and other products and services).

And usage within the corporation: So what does this look like? It looks like a product that is designed with open source AI and implements optimal energy usage actions for millions of consumers without the consumers even knowing or having to take any particular action themselves. It’s software that runs millions of instant simulations allowing the future utility to generate electricity or buy electricity from anyone on the grid at the best price to maximize profit. This software can be used by the future utility or by the Walmarts of the world (large corporations with large portfolio of property) to manage their usage (further endangering the business model of the current utility). It’s software that unfortunately will replace the low-skilled power plant worker who is still managing generation schedules in Excel.

So what does the utility need to do to avoid getting their lunch eaten? The utility has to recognize that the current business model is flawed. The flaw is in the design as the customer is currently the regulator or the stockholders. To fix the flaw the utility has to redesign its model and focus squarely on serving the consumer.

I won’t hold my breath on that one…

For some reason I’ve never been a Lebron fan. I might actually have been a hater. I guess he did things I could never imagine myself doing. But tonight, really the last three games, he’s proven even more that he can do things most of can’t even dream of doing. Congrats to him for an epic finals series and I need to just quit being a hater. Dude is one of the greatest that’s ever played the game.

Steph was on the wrong side of history in this 2016 finals series. But don’t cry for Steph. He made a lot of people love basketball. Or at least love watching it. Every Lebron (self crowned king) needs a Steph (to make a king worry about his kingship). Steph was everything Lebron wasn’t and it gave us a great season. Him and his crew also got paid. Well. 

Harrison Barnes, Barbosa and a draft pick for Kevin Durant. Bogut and Iguodola for Jahlil Okafor and Carl Landry and a draft pick. Make these trades and the Golden State Warriors will be back in the finals next year. I promise you.

I’m excited and surprised at the pace of technological change around us. I’m amazed at the possibilities it opens up. This change is even more obvious when my 3 year old toddler says ‘Alexa stop’ as we head out of the house on the way to his daycare. He will surely live in a different world from the one we grew up in.

I’m excited because hardware, while becoming better (in terms of design) and lighter (materials used), is also becoming free. Hardware, which had always been a conduit for the true value, will soon cost zero. This might not seem obvious as we pay more and more for things like big screen televisions and Teslas but hardware truly is becoming cheaper. The Amazon kindle was $399 in 2007. My wife got me one as a gift for $259 just a year later. I bought her one last year for $50. It’s now arguably 5x better and 12.5% of the original price in just under 10 years! What has increased or has not changed is the price of the underlying service Amazon provides (Prime etc) and the cost of books. That’s where the true value has always been and will continue to be in a world where hardware goes to free.

I’m surprised that more companies aren’t adjusting their business models in recognition of this change…

I’m amazed at the possibility of handing every kid in the (developing) world a free Kindle packed with the millions of free books in the Amazon cloud. Imagine the knowledge that’ll be gained and shared…

Today marks exactly a year since we drove into Austin. The only things we know for sure were

  1. Where Elias was going to be starting daycare and
  2. Where we would live

Nothing else. 

In the 365 days since we got to this weird city we’ve been

  1. Visited by the people we care about the most, friends and family who’ve made the journey to be with us in our new home.
  2. Able to see grandma and auntie C more times than we’d seen them in the 8 years since I’ve come to know them as such.
  3. Blessed to see Elias grow so quickly and add millions of words to his vocabulary 😀
  4. Reminded over and over again that you are never far away from the people who truly love you and call you friends and family.

And we’ve been able to discover that all we really need is faith in God and a willing and open heart for things to happen. And happen they will. Best move we’ve made as a family in a long time.

Happy 1-year-in-Austin birthday to us! Here’s to more of this great big adventure  we call being in our new Home.

We only really control one thing in our lives. One thing.

It’s how we think, as manifested by our attitude. The choice we make about how we perceive, react and respond to the circumstances we face as we go about this journey called life. It’s the only thing that isn’t left to the randomness that is life. Whether we accept it or not we control very little beyond our attitudes.

This post could be done at this point and my point would be made. But I’ll share an anecdote about the randomness of everything and how I should have realized this truth a long time ago;

One fine day on the streets of Lagos, during a period when 1 Naira (Nigerian currency) got you 1.24 Pounds (English currency) and you didn’t need a visa to board a plane to London, I was crossing the road to see a friend of mine. He was that friend who did not have any parental constraints and for that reason he was pretty popular. I was sure his parents would not be at home (I don’t remember ever seeing his parents at home). I was excited to go watch whatever movie he’d managed to rent from the video store (they had VHS, my dad had backed the wrong horse and bought a Betamax). As I said, I was crossing the road from my house to his. He lived across the road but his house faced the street perpendicular to ours so there was a road to cross and a corner to turn. I was being careful since the neighbors knew this kid was ‘that’ kid and I didn’t want to be seen going to his house. I had a rep to protect. But I still needed to live my crazy teenage life vicariously through this untamed friend of mine. So I walked casually but carefully on our side of the sidewalk to avoid suspicion.

And then I get hit by a bicycle. Hard. I think I passed out for a few minutes but I wasn’t hurt save a few bruises.

I was doing everything right. Carefully. But I still spent the rest of that afternoon in a hospital getting checked out by a jovial doctor who found it as hilarious as everyone else I’ve shared this story with that I got hit by a bicycle on a road that was not busy.

The point of that story? That you do not control anything beyond . That despite your best laid plans some cyclist might hit you. Or you might wake up not feeling some parts of your body. Or you might learn a friend of yours died and you have to travel across the world for a funeral even though that big presentation is due. Or traffic is so bad you miss your interview for THE job. Or you get the time wrong and you miss your citizenship swearing-in ceremony. Or someone calls you because you helped him out sometime ago and he needs your account number because he’d like to give you a New Year gift.*

It’s all random. All you control is your attitude.

*All true.

It’s amazing how all it takes to make something palatable, even desirable, is framing.

If you were to be told that you should sit in uncomfortable chairs by the expressway and watch cars drive at crazy speeds for about 5 hours you would look at the person asking as if they were crazy.

But that’s what people pay thousands of dollars to do by watching Formula 1.

Don’t get me wrong. I get that it’s exciting and fun to watch people drive at breakneck speed. I know it takes skill to keep metal and gas from exploding in a collision at these crazy speeds. I have a lot of friends who have been interested in formula 1 for a long time. I get that it’s engineering at it’s highest level to make those machines do what they do. Heck, one of my favorite documentaries is ‘Senna‘; the music was fantastic and the story, while tragic and known, was compelling.

But it is still just a bunch of men driving around tracks over and over again. It’s what my two year old gets tired of pretty quickly while playing with his toy cars.

My Amazon search for ‘Wearable Tech’ turned up ~7000 distinct pieces of wearable device from brands as varied as the use cases they all try to serve. There are wearables to measure your well being, mental state and every single thing you do or can imagine doing. There are wearables to measure your pet’s activities and well being. For a phrase that did not show up until a few years ago (see google trend graph below) it has definitely become a huge market.

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Are we heading for a time when we’ll have 15 devices on us to measure everything? Hopefully not. I, like you, want some of the functionality and benefits that these devices provide but how about I get them all in one wearable?

So here’s a business opportunity for an interested entrepreneur. I present ‘The One Wearable To Rule Them All’; the iFitBone.

  • You wake up from a fantastic night of sleep because your iFitBone, which understands your circadian rhythm and is in tune with your body clock, also controls your home thermostat. This ensured that as your body temperature dropped with the your stage of sleep your home adjusted to keep you as warm or as cool as required.
  • Your iFitBone wakes you up from said fantastic sleep in time to enable you get ready for the meetings you have on the day. You get dressed (or are assisted) and head out of the house which automatically enables the map functionality in your (self driving) car.
  • You stop off at the gym on your way and iFitBone, already synced to your gym system and exercise history, suggests the perfect routine. You do just the right amount of reps and laps based on the health records that (no surprises) have already been provided to iFitBone.
  • You drove by your Starbucks your pumpkin spice latte is already at the counter. It’s a short drive from there to your office building and it already knows where your meetings are directing you to the nearest available parking spot as your car pulls up.
  • As the day winds down your iFitBone confirms your ticket for the immersive museum experience you’d signed up for a few months prior and you’d forgotten. Your car drives up as you settle in for a great night…

You get the point. All this technology is here and continues to improve. Some folk even want it embedded under their skin. Not me though, I’m too squeamish for that.

I do want one and only one wearable. Someone should get working on that…

 

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‘What customers want is security of supply/reliability, comfort and simplicity. So the future utility is a super service provider that owns no hard assets but helps customers purchase the products, eases transactions and balances the customers demands with the generators ability to deliver. The hard assets, where the power actually comes from, will be…

In the last year I’ve had a lot of conversations with companies on the verge of/eventually sold their companies and I realized that the best way to help is to tell people what not to do. Instead of pretending that I knew what I was doing when we sold Power2switch (just over a year…

I’ve been in Denver for the last few days at the NREl Industry Growth forum and, being my first time I would suggest it was a good experience overall. Nothing inspires me more than seeing entrepreneurs passionately sharing the work they are doing. Even more so when it is technology…

1

Nov

My trip to Denver for the NREL Industry Growth Forum was my first trip to Denver. Technically it was my second but the first time was a stopover for about an hour on a trip Michel and I took to Irvine… Jonathan had skewed my perspective of Denver before we…

As indicated in this post and this post I’ve been in Denver for a conference. Considering I live and work in Chicago it meant I was working ‘remotely’ for the last few days. And it works. I’m not a proponent of the Quantified Self but I made some observations (below)….

Today (Friday) I realized I’m getting old. I was expecting some work from a young chap, 20ish, and was disappointed that he didn’t deliver the work. Said work was already delayed a few days after said young man emailed that he couldn’t complete it. So we extended to today. He…

..when you focus on creating value for your customers you are bound to make money. Customers will only pay for the value you deliver as defined by them. Notice I said ‘value you deliver as defined by them‘. Seldom is it obvious what that value is. We buy water from Starbucks. Really…

If you’ve lost a loved one then you know death is not funny. Nor is it entertaining. Not in the least bit. Nor should it be made ‘better’ or ‘funnier’ or ‘more entertaining’ using technical enhancements. So why do we accept when people are killed gratuitously in movies or TV…

 From the Illinois Innovation blog We a currently witnessing an exciting trend of ‘unbundling’ in the energy industry – a phenomena that is helping to propel innovation in the field.Most industries go through a cycle of bundling and unbundling. The bundling period can be identified by the dominance of a few…

In the last two days I’ve had several people send me or mention to me that the Mailbox app is now available for Mac. (image below)   In the same last few days I have had conversations with people on getting to inbox zero. So I’m either talking too much…

One of the things I decided after how poorly I had managed my board in the Power2Switch days was to help out on some boards so I could learn how to do it better. The assumption being that having the perspective of the Board member will help me be a better founder/board…

To write a simple post about simplicity is hard. I’ve spent the last 10 minutes thinking about the opening sentence for this blog post. So I ended up typing the line above. I’ll try to make this post as simple as possible in a few lines. We hear everywhere that…

…is in Chicago. But I’ve only met 3 people who’ve said ‘ I know where that is‘ in conversation. And they are all from Chicago. It’s not a diverse part of the city and that worries me. I’m fine and can deal with this, I’ve lived and worked in less…

Back in London a long time ago now – single, good job, awesome friends and family around – I attended a lot of concerts. A lot. I’ll have to add pictures I took back then. Music was my best friend. I bought one new CD everyday on my way home…

I write when I’ve got a lot on my mind and my wife (my soul, my heart and the perfect counterbalance to my crazier tendencies :)) knows this better than anyone else. So when she bought me the wood bound notebook in the picture below it was because she knew…

An observation on faith and reason after listening to an agnostic speak about faith and atheism. Faith: suspending the need to understand. Belief in a higher power to do. Reason: the desire for understanding of the things around us and how things came to be. Understanding the ‘how’. These are…

The image of the black man in US society is not great. It has not been for a while and it is not getting better. It is a deeply complex problem and I’m not trying to trivialize it here. I’ll say it again; it is a ‘Wicked Problem‘. But there…

3

Jul

…Seyi, written in September 2013 You’re still yet to come to terms with all the things that have happened in your life over the last few months. It’s been the most fascinating few months and you are struggling to deal with that. For good and for bad. You’ve stopped dwelling…

I know a ton of talented people who are in jobs they cannot stand. But they won’t leave. Many reasons abound for this. A few of the top ones are – I have a mortgage to pay – It’s secure, why would I leave a sure thing – I’ve got…

– Tim Howard is a fantastic goalkeeper – In the World Cup match against Belgium that Howard made 16 saves is a testament to the total dominance of the Belgian team over the US team. – Let’s not forget the point above because being critical enough to accept it will…

I’m not a quantified selfer (selfie?). I got the Jawbone Up for my wife and I a few months ago. After a few weeks of religious use by me and sparse use by her I returned them both. It wasn’t that I didn’t like knowing how many steps I’d taken…

There was a time when binding agreements could be made by a handshake. They were called gentlemen’s agreements. The first official reference to a gentleman’s agreement was in the Parliament document of Great Britain in 1812 and the first US mention was in public documents in the state of Massachusetts in 1835.  The…

‘I have learned that it is far easier to write a speech about good advertising than it is to write a good ad.’ Leo Burnett: Wise words from a great ad and business man. Despite his working with brands like Marlboro I believe it was not solely from a place of…

I stopped liking Will Smith after he stopped being ‘Fresh Prince of Bel Air’. I always felt he had a god complex. My sister-in-law finds this hilarious and emails/calls etc to ask me whether the god-complex is evident whenever a movie comes out with Will Smith as the star. And almost…

Another topic that has totally gone out of the public discourse is gun control. Unfortunately all it will take is for something tragic to happen again. It’s sad to think this but I know something tragic will happen again soon. And then we’ll all share how saddened we are by…

I’m not a Marxist but coming from a nation where religion has been used to confuse and subdue people I’ve come to strongly believe the Marxist dictum that suggests that “religion is the opiate of the masses’. We all desire to follow or worship something bigger than us. We all…

Driving on the streets of Lagos when I was growing up was intense. ‘Daily prayers from your mother’ intense. You had to have a certain edge to survive the craziness of other drivers, exhaust fumes from barely functional cars, erratic traffic lights, drivers choosing to go against the regulated flow of…

If there is one industry where there has been very little change in consumer behavior change it is in the residential energy usage space. Yes we have companies like Opower and Enernoc making some great strides and I believe they are heading down the right path. But my average-but-smart-about-her-energy-needs-consumer-Mother-in-law in…

We all know about Erin Andrews’ interview with Richard Sherman after Seattle’s win over San Francisco in the championship game last night. If you don’t know anything about it just google it. What happened after the interview is what has been even more surprising (or maybe not): people laughing, insulting,…

This post is a work in progress I continue to grow in my ‘cultural learnings of America’ and have great conversations with my resident American tutor. The most recent conversation we had on the difference between American and African (in my case Yoruba) families focused on this concept of ‘independence’….

The holidays provided an opportunity to connect and engage with a lot of friends/family and friends of friends and friends of family etc across the globe. Being the start of a new year, most people were also quite reflective and most made/were making plans for 2014. Interestingly the casual conversations…

In the last few weeks I’ve been to airports a few times. To see my Dad off, to pick family up and traveling myself. I had disappointing encounters with airport/airline employees that left me with some questions that are still unanswered. Both encounters with African Americans. Incident #1: Dropping off…

 This is the third in the series of startup business models. Check out the first two with CommissionCrowd and Freshplum and then #3 which dives a little below the surface of Luna. Description: If you are like me you got a lot of things delivered over the holiday period. I got some canvases delivered and I…

Elance and Odesk announced they’d be merging today. In an email to clients of both sites the announcement was spun like a great coming together and a benefit to all involved. As expected, Pando has written it’s requisite puff piece to ‘spin‘ the story as the stakeholders desire. The real story…

It was great to see Aloe Blacc on ‘The Voice’ tonight. It was interesting to hear, I believe Carson Daly, refer to him as being new. Being Carson Daly I expected him to know better as Aloe Blacc has been around for a few years now. His success these last…

Continuing the Startup Business Model series started a few days ago. Our 2nd startup is Freshplum. Description: Freshplum brings the power of data science to online promotions. News came out a few days ago that amazon changes prices on it’s site 2.5million times a day, in essence you and I are probably…

Originally Published 8/03/2013 Being in Chicago places you close to a large number of customers. You can sell to Fortune 500 companies (with Chicago having the most of any major city) or the thousands of businesses supporting these Fortune 500 companies. Or you can sell to the employees of these…

Working with Kevin Lillie (smart young chap that you should hire now if you need someone who gets business, is well rounded and just gets it done), over the next few weeks I’ll be writing several posts analyzing the business models, opportunity, risks and remedies of some new products/businesses. A…

In doing some work with a few businesses I’ve found that the simple concept of the ‘customer journey’ of your product or service is not given enough consideration. A better understanding of this concept will improve marketing and sales for any business. I developed this simple presentation below to help…

Originally published on 12/12/12 You’ve probably heard the joke: What happens when you keep pivoting? You end up at the same place you started. OK, maybe it’s not that funny but it’s definitely very true. It applies as much to basketball players as it does to technology companies that follow…

Originally published on 12/27/12 I wrote a blog post a few days ago about the how dangerous the ‘pivot’ is for startups and small businesses. In it I mentioned the importance of the promise a startup makes to it’s early customers and not screwing up that relationship by breaking that…

Originally published 1/4/13 Over the holiday I decided to do what everyone aims to do over holidays: eat lots of food/get some exercise, catch up with family and friends, read some books and watch a movie or two.  The documentary I watched was ‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi‘ and the book…

Originally published 12/20/2012 I had a fascinating conversation with a mentor and friend a few days ago and as always he left me with a nugget of advice that I wish he’d shared with me just over a year ago when I first met him. He’s shared a ton of…

Originally published on 4/2/2013   A Cautionary Note…   It’s still a great time to be working on a startup in Chicago.  Companies are getting funded and new ideas are being presented at events like BIC Launch and Technori pitch. But for how long? Thoughts on the ‘future’ of the…

Originally posted on Medium. On Saturday nights, growing up in Lagos Nigeria in the 80’s/early 90’s, we were allowed to stay up late and watch TV. We could watch whatever we wanted (within reason) and my brothers and I almost always picked Boxing (or maybe they watched what I picked…

Originally Posted on Huffington Post One cool Chicago evening in the fall of 2010 I was grabbing drinks with four friends. The El was right above us and would intermittently interrupt our conversation. One of the chaps, slightly drunk, suggested we pool resources to buy servers and ‘mine’ some Bitcoins. In…

I’m probably late to this party but I might see why folk are pouring millions and valuing Pinterest at however many billions of Dollars. But I did not come to this realization through Pinterest itself, I’m not in their target demographic (but might be in the target psychographic). I came…

I’ve had a few conversations over the last few weeks with entrepreneurs looking to raise funds. A running theme has been that so much work has gone into how pretty the decks look but less work has gone into making the content speak for itself. There is a need for…

31

Oct

Pretty good stuff. Just like the last time

Square announced one of the most disruptive services I’ve seen in a while and all they did was combine the mobile phone with email to enable you send money to a friend. It’s so brilliant in it’s simplicity a friend of mine, on seeing the service, responded to my email…

Originally posted on Svtble Contrary to popular belief startups aren’t a roller-coaster ride. Startups are a bull-ride. With a roller-coaster you see what’s coming (if you keep your eyes open). The goal of the bull-ride is to throw you off and you’re just working to stay on the ride. That’s…

A presentation on Angel Investing from the entrepreneurs perspective at the Ecofactor event a few nights ago. Key point I tried to share is that fundraising is a means to an end and not the end itself. The main goal is to build a great business   Fundraising_EcoFactor Presentation from…

Here’s a cautionary tale of two Chicago tech companies. Company A, a seeming ‘sure thing’, was started by a technologist – one of the best I’ve met in Chicago – and his ‘business savvy’ co-founder. They got some early traction and raised a seed round. They hit some milestones, and…

Currently reading ‘The Master Switch’ by Tim Wu and I’m even less surprised than I was when the Edward Snowden leaks came out a few weeks ago. The book provides some context for why we should expect either a private entity (or entities) to start to play god with our…

If you want to discover new artists without listening through all the songs on Pandora 😉 I’d suggest you use this nifty tool I’ve been using for the last eight years or so. It’s called Tuneglue(r) and it’s found here at http://audiomap.tuneglue.net/ It starts off with a blank grey page. You…

I use Pandora to find new music and then use Spotify to listen to more music from the new artists I’ve discovered. I don’t pay for either. So I’m subjected to ads. But I don’t have a problem with ads. What I do have a problem with is that the…

There is this whole thing about starting a business by yourself being better/worse than getting a cofounder to help you build out your dream. Some folk swear by the fact that being a solopreneur makes more sense and allows you keep more of your possible upside if you start it…

I’m an immigrant with an MBA. Depending on the circles/group I’m associating with one of these two things seem to generate reactions. These reactions are sometimes the worst in Americans. It depends on whom I’m talking to/listening to. Some of these reactions make me wonder about my place in my…

We talk about how important focus, money, teammates etc are to the success of a business. I’m coming to believe the single most important this is respect. Notice how I did not bury the lead there? It’s because I respect your time reading this. Where there is respect it produces…

In a funded startup there are varying levels of optionality (the value of spending more of your time or money on the startup) and varying levels of how the risk impacts the players in the game. At the bottom end are the investors as they can only lose however much…

Teammates/Board members/Advisors that do not add value are as bad or even worse than people actively trying to sink the ship that is your company. Think of stakeholders that aren’t helpful as members of a rowing team. You’re all on the same boat. Rowing in one direction. But some people…

A wise man told me a few weeks ago ‘In the continuum of possible outcomes to any situation, the outcome of your current question/decision will probably not be the worst possible one (as long as you end up being alive after it)’ and at the point he said it I…

The role of luck: we couldn’t have planned for or created (by ourselves) a circumstance where the regulatory framework of the retail electricity industry changed at the same time as we’d learned enough about customer acquisition through email (a channel we’d used almost exclusively as we had no cash or…

The most accomplished people have the simplest resumes. I find that when you don’t need to scream about your accomplishments you probably have more to scream about than most other people. It feels like a huge generalization but I’ve seen it enough times that I can start to draw some…

Prejudice: for some reason I never considered that the word prejudice is based on the root words ‘pre’ and ‘judge’. I’ve heard it used a lot of times over the last few days. And I’ve come to the realization (you might call me slow for this) that we are all…

Even though I don’t like the product placement for the car..

The whole of Chicago was awash with ‘FLOTUS love’ today as the push by the corporate sector and the Mayor to tackle violence in the city got into high gear with a fundraising push. Well worthy of the attention it got, the event saw the group get to just over…

11

Apr

..is the one show I might need to catch up on. Just saw the 2nd to last episode of this season (finale next Wednesday) and I’m still thinking about the grit and rawness of the show.

I found out about this show after listening to Fatoumata on Spotify and a few days later engaging in one of the most fascinating conversations I’ve ever had with a cab driver on my way home from Evanston. The cab driver was a Sudanese Lost Boy who had lived in…

The things you see when the weather gets better and you can talk a walk (sometimes too long, like the one I took yesterday) and keep your eyes up and away from your phone. Chicago is a very big, crazy, awesome, scary, inspiring city…This looks like Fab Five Freddy in…

Back in a former life (early 2000’s) I reviewed music for a website in the UK. The site (contactmusic.com) would send me a bunch of CDs (yes CDs :)) and I would be tasked with writing around 500 words on each album (or shorter reviews for singles). I’d say that…

I’m finding that I am inspired to write when I’ve had a chat with one of the peer mentors/friends/advisors that I’m getting to better know in this community of ours. I had one of those inspiring chats again this past week and, once again, I was spurred to quickly write…

In the real world we do not repeat and share the praise or adoration that someone shares about us. It would be a bit immodest and self involved to hear a friend say ‘I think you are the smartest person I know‘ and then you walk up to some other…

A few days ago I told friends/colleagues/family etc that I released my book (Amazon or Smashwords). And the most recurring question has been ‘How do you have the time?’ The fascinating thing is that I had never thought about it… And now I’ve given it a lot more thought.. The only thing…

Take two of the most solid young basketball players in the NBA today, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. Include a legend of the game in the form of Bill Russell. Cover the young bucks in geriatric make up. Wrap around their characters a series of hilarious faux reality stories. Get your…

27

Dec

The good tidings and the joy it brings to all (old and young) does not get matched most other times of the year. I wish it was. In any case, hope you had a lovely christmas and here’s to a fab 2013. The picture is from the Candlelight service we…

‎’Only in America can gun ownership be a right and healthcare be a privilege’ @MovieMarker. This is just horrific and action, not just words, needs to be taken. Gun control is required, the glorification of violence in media should be stopped (there was a show on TV last night with…

Short and sweet, very sweet, TED talk that has brightened my day and reminded me that the ugly incident I had with some guy at the train station this morning does not even matter… Watch and enjoy.

Buy1give1 & the african child from Seyi Fabode

..was the start of ‘Pass The Dutchie’  by the Musical Youth’ (video below) it’s cool to see what Murs and Fashawn have done with the hook for their own song ‘This Generation’ Happy Thanksgiving! Rec by my brother who’s a serious music head 🙂

I always laugh when I hear about ‘ the African child’ in the western media. Originally posted 10/5/2012 You all know the story: the African child needs help because his/her life is a terrible tragedy. I know there is poverty in Africa but there is poverty every where in the…

Paraphrasing Muhammad Yunus: ‘MBA students should not focus on making money but on solving problems. There are many problems to solve…’

Originally posted 5/13/2012 The NBA (and frankly most professional sports in the US) needs to adopt the system that Premiership football uses to maintain quality in the league: RELEGATION. I just watched the most dramatic finish to the Premiership ever. Manchester City won the title on the back of two…

Originally posted 10/5/2012 I dare you not to DANCE!!! http://youtu.be/V1xgRgI7lsc Plej have been on constant rotation for the last 8 months! Live, Dance, Love!

Originally posted 6/1/2012 I found out this weekend that I am afraid of hilly, windy roads with cliffs. Those windy and curvy roads that have  you dropping off a cliff if you don’t quite turn the steering well enough. I am petrified of them. I have no issue with heights…

Originally posted October 24 Over the last year or so I’ve watched a few of Ericsson’s Networked Society project videos and shared with friends and family. This ‘Future of Learning’ video is another one I definitely have to share being that a few of my friends are having babies. The…

I don’t understand a word of this but I know it makes me want to dance. I’ve listened to this song for the last hour 🙂 Zahara (artist featured) reminds me of Brenda Fassie, another South African pop artist we listened to and loved when we were growing up. Brenda…

Originally posted on 11/12/2012 It is now pretty easy to start a business; all you need is an idea, a laptop and an Internet connection. But it is still very tough to run and build a business. Early this year we wrote a blog post entitled ‘The Big Things A Little Startup…

Originally posted on 8/30/2012 We live in a world where we are constantly expected to be on 110% of the time. Customers (rightly?) expect their demands to be met  NOW. We get messages, tweets and texts INSTANTLY. We get our news REALTIME. And it’s starting to make  us/or maybe just…

For those watching the ‘Tech Wars,” it’s becoming pretty obvious that the battle is heating up. Apple, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft are all developing products that directly contend with those of their illustrious competitors. The Kindle Fire, Apple’s Map product, Google+, and the rumored Facebook Phone all point to a…

 Originally posted on 5/22/2012 CULTURE can be considered the fabric that holds the team, vision and processes in organizations . Most of the literature out there on organizational culture is focused on big business. Thankfully a lot more people are starting to pay attention to how one builds culture in…

Originally posted on 4/12/2012 Zynga acquires OMGPOP for $200M” “Facebook buys Instagram for $1B” “Amazon Acquires KIVA Systems for $775M” “Vocus acquires IContact for $169M” “AirBnB raises $112M” It’s feeling really good to be involved in the tech scene right now. Or so folks on the outside think. Not since…

Originally posted 2/17/2012 Power2Switch is a marketing and sales company supported by technology. We just play in an industry that most other people don’t, the electricity industry. Along with simplifying the complex world of supplier rates, we have to educate consumers about the nuances of deregulation. And we also have to…

Originally posted on 1/19/2012 Yesterday, I read two pretty awesome posts on fundraising and finding partners for startups. One was by entrepreneur turned VC/knowledge evangelist Mark Suster (How to Develop Your Fund Raising Strategy), and the other by the CEC’s very own Kevin Willer (Selling Your Idea). These posts would have been…

Originally posted on 12/28/2010 When a friend sent me this Startup School video of AirBnB’s Brian Chesky talking about the first 1000 days of his company and how they kept ‘failing’ and starting again I decided to do some more digging for some good write ups on failed startups. I found a wealth of links to some…

Originally posted on 4/24/2011 Google launched it’s ‘Offers’ deal a day service in a few cities on Thursday. It’s basically another daily coupon service. ‘Offers’ is better funded than the 200 odd deal a day platforms out there so money won’t be a problem. But how will Offers compete in this…

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