Monthly Archives: September 2014

Want to be part of the Startup Scene in Austin? Here’s how

There is lots happening in Austin for October so if you haven’t been keeping up then get ready for a blast of information that will keep you busy for awhile with events. Before I begin, you will need the following, your digital planner (put that paper stuff away and get with the times!), a twitter acct (should already have one by now), and a go-getter attitude. Just remember even though all the events are free, you have to register ahead of time.

First, clear your schedule for the following days (if you can)

Oct 6 – 10th, Austin Startup Week. just figure on a 7 am to 8 or 9 pm schedule for those days.
Oct 8 –  Epic Office Hours (1 – 4 pm) – Come get free advice from Entrepreneurs, Angel Investors, and Venture Capitalists, and professionals who are willing to sit down with you and go over your business idea for FREE! You will need to register for this free activity so make sure to schedule a time slot.

If you would like to view the full schedule for the whole week, click here

Now if you think that is all there is there is still more. For those who are startups and interested in relocating to Austin or interested in attending the event, they might be able to pay for your flight to Austin if you contact them. Look for what they did for this person when they tweeted.

Austin Startup Week explains all that in their Visit page. You can contact them to find out how they can help you come visit Austin. They have a page setup online on how they can help you relocate. Even if they can’t help pay, they can at least find someone who is willing to let you sleep on their couch.

Are you looking for a job? You can come by and drop off a resume in the Capital Factory Office or you can submit one online with this link. See they want to help people find jobs! They have startup companies working in their offices and they are always looking for new hires.

So if you have nothing going on or you know you need to be there. look at the schedule and plan for what days you are most interested in. Sign up for Epic office hours and talk with someone about your business idea who’s been through the whole experience before. There is no excuse to say that you want to start your own business but don’t know where to start. Here is the place that makes it all happen, Capital Factory! If you have never been they have tours every week (Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays) at 4 pm so call them up and find out. They have tons of programs every week, so look at what events they offer every month. They will even have more tours during Startup week.

Here is where your Twitter account comes in handy.

Follow the these accounts to stay up-to-date on all the events that are happening. Remember, random events pop up all over when events like this are in Austin and you can only find out about them with Twitter.


No excuse now if you live in Austin and want to be part of the Startup community and network. There will be lots of networking parties every evening so get out there and connect!

Online Companies are challenging the status quo

Remember when you had to go out to the store and buy things you needed, like a mattress or car or TV and the only options you had were the ones the store had in stock. Yes you had the option of looking at their mail-order catalog but the idea of having to wait for something instead of having it right then-and-there was considered too big of an inconvenience. Yes, we Americans’ are lazy when it comes to buying. Amazon has changed all that – people don’t mind waiting a few days if it means saving enough money on what we wanted.

Companies that have been in the business for a long time are starting to see that their market share is slowly crumbling by small online companies that can offer half their rates. Why do you think stores like JCPennys and Sears are slowly going out of business. I used to be in those stores all the time as a kid and now I haven’t been in one in years.

One of the industries to be affected by disruptors is the shaving industry. Online stores like Dollar shave club and Bevel and Harry’s offer subscription services at rates lower than what someone would pay in-store. These services cater to men who are concerned more with their looks but want the ease of having to replace their blades all the time.

Here is how the system works. You can sign up for how frequent you need a new razor and they will ship you a package that include shaving gel, oil, and more depending on the level of subscription you get. For one dollar you can have a new razor sent to your house (don’t forget S&H of course) and for more fancy blades the cost goes up to $9 dollars a month. If you think about that compared to the average cost of 4 blades for Gillette’s fancy blades at $17 dollars for four blades you could easily spend $400 dollars a year if you have to buy two packs a month. If you don’t need so many than you are still spending $200 a year on shaving products. No wonder this a $6.1 billion dollar industry on men’s grooming products. For just $9 dollars a month you spend $108 bucks and when shipping is included, on average, $150.

The challenge behind a lot of this is that companies like Procter and Gamble and Unilever can not sell directly to customers since they have contract arrangements in place with retailers. Their business model is set up to work only with their retailers in order to gain market share. This is why small online companies that come in and sell directly to customers are able to cut their costs down and sell cheap. I will say that Procter and Gamble is trying an online service to compete with smaller companies but it is a gamble on their part.

Need a new mattress or frames for your glasses? There are now online companies that offer the same service and quality that you would pay for in stores but for half the price. Casper offers great prices where you can custom build your design and then have it shipped to your house. For many people they can easily save $500 bucks. Mattresses no longer cost $100 dollars anymore in case you haven’t been looking.

Another leading disruptor is frames for eyewear. Why pay those huge prices in the eye doctor’s store when you can just have an online company do them for half the cost. Warby Parker is one such company that is shaking things up for companies that have been using the same business model for years.

The next time you think about starting a company, think about what existing models are already out there and see how you can cut your costs. Remember if you decide you want to be on the shelves of Walmart and Target, they will want their cut of the pie as well so if you want to do everything yourself then you will need to find a creative way to get people’s attention. In order for Dollar Shave Club to do that they created a very entertaining video to watch that attracted over a million views to date and continues to be their way of marketing today.

News Articles

Where Profit Margins are Hefty

Is Dollar Shave Club Canada Worth the price?

Stanford Entrepreneur Course Starts Tomorrow, have you found your site location?

Stanford’s “How to Start a Startup”, will start tomorrow. Be sure to find where in your city a location will be to view all the material. You can even contact the leader of your city, if a location is not provided, so you can find out where you can go to view everything. If your city does not have a location or site then sign up to become a leader to host the program in your area. You can find that information on the course website at the bottom.

Just a few things to point out though, joining this class does not count as Stanford credit nor will you be able to obtain credit for it. The president of Y Combinator will be teaching the program along with many famous business leaders who will be guest speakers throughout the semester.

Course Links
Course Syllabus
Course Website
Viewing Locations

Even though you will be able to view all the material online from the course website it would be to your benefit to join a viewing session because it will also act as a discussion group. This will give people a chance to ask questions, bounce business ideas off one another, and network.

Be sure to sign-up on the mailing list for the program and join the Facebook Group.

If you live in Austin, TX then our location will be at Laura’s Library (9411 Bee Caves) every Monday and Wednesday from 2 – 4 pm and will end on Dec 8th. We will host a discussion group after the lectures. Make sure to check the syllabus as there are project due dates for the course. Please remember to treat this as if you were paying for the course in order to get the most out of it.

Learn something today and see if you can use it somehow

There is so much information out there today that if someone wanted to try and learn all that is happening in the world in one day it would take them the rest of the lives to know everything that happened in just one day. Here is an interesting fact, a New York Times paper, for just one day, contains more information than the average person in London would have read or learned about in the 18th century. So don’t pass up what we take for granted today.

In order to try and keep up I have decided to add in some videos that will teach you some pretty cool stuff. If you learn something, try and use it somehow, no sense in keeping it all to yourself, right?

The Truth about Education Today and how we have changed because of it
Did you know that people today are infact smarter than they were a hundred years ago. We would all be considered geniuses today by the standard that was in place a hundred years ago. Evolution shows that our brains are actually getting bigger in size and that is probably due to the fact that we take in more information a day than anyone else in history ever did. What’s sad, as I stated before, is that the 80/20 rule still applies, even though people are smarter only 20% still make use of what they have learned while 80% just go about their life taking it for granted. Here is a video from Vsauce2 that explains how education in America has changed and how it is changing around the world.

Watch if you like learning

Times Are Changing
It’s no surprise that many of the jobs that people used to depend on for making a living are being phased out. This is simply due to the fact that technology and robots are learning how to take over those roles. This helps companies save money and increase productivity for tasks that need higher intellectual power. In this video you will see what jobs used to be something people went to in order to make a living.

If you enjoyed watching those videos I encourage you to watch more from these channels

Mental Floss
Smarter Everyday
Applied Science
Crash Course
YouTube Education Channels

Now, quick, go Change The World!

The iPhone Case that Encourages Inequality

It must be nice to be Super Rich because then you can treat the world like your own small neighborhood – eating in Paris for breakfast, hopping over to Dubai for some shopping, and then catching a nice theater show in London. If you think what I just said is make-believe and no one actually lives their life like that then you really don’t understand how the super-rich treat this world of ours. They treat it like a playground with no rules to follow because they have enough money to get themselves out of any trouble they run into.

The other nice perk about being super rich is that you can buy really stupid things, like this new iPhone case that is 24K gold with a pink diamond in the middle (don’t worry you can change the color of the diamond, thank goodness right, who would be caught dead wearing the wrong color?). If you are thinking, “who in the world would buy such a thing?” Those who are stupid rich, that’s who. Whats the price tag of this pointless thing? $48.5 million dollars, yes you read that right. Just think about that price for a minute, now think about all the spoiled rich kids in the world who have already pre-ordered theirs. Don’t forget you will need to make a 50% deposit beforehand but that’s no problem, right? Included with that price tag you will get FedEx’s highest service level with their White Glove Service. Makes you sick to your stomach, huh? And you wonder why there is so much inequality in this world when you have companies like this producing high-end stuff that will only be tossed aside when the next latest thing comes out, just adding more to the electronic waste most rich people create.

Now who would be stupid rich without accessorizing right? Well, Falcon has you covered. You can buy some lovely ear buds (they come in silver, gold, and rose colored) for a drop-in-the-bucket of only $300K. If your unsure of which color, buy two! They make lovely birthday presents and rather than deal with 1st-world problems of forgetting where you last left them, buy a couple and place one in your car, in your personal gym, and somewhere in one of your kitchens (but to be safe, one in each of your kitchens, just not in the dirty kitchen, that’s where the staff works).

Yes, the world of being stupid rich is very different. You can buy things that have no real purpose other than to show the world that you don’t know how to spend your money wisely. It signals to people, “Hey, I’m Rich and your not!”

So what can this iPhone case and ear buds buy you if you were smart about money. Let’s find out.

What can $50 Million Buy You
Money is money but it’s value is different all over the world, In some places the value is higher and in others the value is lower but what doesn’t change is people calling you a millionaire. That probably never gets old hearing that unless your Warren Buffet or Bill Gates who haven’t been called that in over 20 years by now.

– Buy a Beautiful Mansion
– Buy a Bugatti Veyron for $2.3 million
– Create a Film Production Company
– Provide After-School Educational Support for Low-Income Students with meals included
– Build Affordable Homes for Families Mortgage Free
– Build Playgrounds that cater to all kinds of kids and adults
– Build a Move Theater for children and adults to learn about film without any charge for admission (there are ways to pay for its continued operations so don’t think I forgot about that)
– Pay for a child’s much needed operation
– Help fund over a 500 different campaigns on GofundMe
– Pay for a child to get Ocular Implants, their reactions are worth it
– Pay for another family to have a much needed family reunion
– Pay off someone’s mortgage or student debt
– Create a evening program that provides free meals with free education learning opportunities to anyone
– Help someone start their own business
– Pay off student lunch debt in schools
– Buy support material (new computers, education resources, labs, supplies, improve teacher salaries) for schools
– Build your own school and provide free education to anyone
– Give People Full Time Jobs (just $2 million at $45k a year would employ 44 people, imagine how many could support their families with $50 million, 1111 people could improve their lives with full time jobs)

These are just a few ideas that come to my mind. The lasting effects of what $50 million could have on this world are immense so when you consider someone walking around with such an iPhone case, you really have to side on the fact of conceit and being Stupid Rich. You will be amazed at what $5 dollars can mean to someone hungry, so imagine the number of people you could change with just $100, and you begin to see the impact as the number gets larger.

I have to include this because for those who are stupid rich then there is the other side that I have heard time and time again. “But I always donate $100 million every year to charities, why can’t I splurge on myself now and then? I’ve earned that right.” Yes you have, and that is why inequality exists. You have that freedom to do what ever you like with your money and you have definitely earned that right if you have worked hard your whole life to earn every single penny honestly. But for those that have no idea what it means to work hard to earn something that is a totally different story. They are the ones who are totally disconnected from reality because money has shielded them from what it means to earn a living.

To learn more about who these super rich are and what their lifestyles are like, read the book, Plutocrats, it’s a book that will wake you up to how the rich live in this world and how they treat everyday goods. If this book doesn’t open your eyes to inequality then nothing will. Oh and you might want to take a tums or pepto bismol because once you start reading it will make your stomach turn on how some of these families live and spend money.

Side Note
[If anyone would like to donate the value of one of these iPhone cases to me, I would be happy to put into action all those I recommended. If anyone would like to buy me one of those iPhone cases (green please) I would be happy to accept and then trade in the value of that phone case and put into action all those I recommended.]

To get the feel of what it might be like to be stupid-rich, you can visit the website and browse their many high-end luxury items and wonder, “humm…should I buy the blue diamond or the orange diamond?….ugh…so many choices.” Now you understand the term 1st World Problems. If your really smart, you would get a iPhone case that can actually do something, like this one or that one.

Falcon Luxury iPhone Cases

Diamond Encrusted iPhone Case

Preorder iPhone 6 case with Pink Encrusted Diamond

Now you Understand why Apple got an upsurge of pre-orders for the new iPhone 6

What is it about Chinese Businesses that puts them ahead of others

If I gave you a box that, anytime you put in set of instructions, out pops what you wanted. You know that as long as the instructions are clear you will get what you want from the box. You have no idea how the box works or how it is able to work so fast but you like the box because it makes your life easy. You start to wonder how the box works and what it is doing inside. You think that the box is just a machine with gears moving around inside. But what if I told you that inside the box there are hundreds of little beings inside working hard at creating what you want so they can get it back to you right away. How do they do that so quickly, regardless of how hard the request is?

Easy, they break the task up into a million pieces so that everyone has a little project to complete. One person might do a small thing like connect this part, the next person might be responsible for adding the right color, the next might be in charge of testing it, and so on until everyone has done their little part. Many people would call this box magical in a way but it really isn’t. They are simply following the directions given to them.

Structure of American Companies
Walk into any company in america and you will see the same corporate structure, from startups to long running mature companies. They all have a CEO of some sort, they have an executive team, administrative board, senior managers, middle-level managers, IT employees, R&D, and then entry level employees. The style is very much the same across the board.

The idea behind this is that those who have a business idea, they are the ones who should be in charge because it is their company and their idea. Everyone should report to them and call them CEO because of our ideals in power and business behavior. This is not the case with Chinese companies.

Structure of Chinese Companies
In many of these companies seniority and group-think keeps everyone on the same path, where things differ is below that group. Many firms are able to create new supply-chain of labor right away in order to produce a new product and get it to market right away. Many of these departments are created and then resources are shifted again in order to meet their needs. This is just like the magical box. If you bring together large pools of labor and tell them “build this” and break all the parts down they are able to put it all together right away and get it on the market faster. Whereas, American companies can take months just researching consumer interest.

It’s not about Innovation, It’s about Consumer Interest
When you contrast how American companies focus on making sure their product is just right before hitting the market vs a Chinese company getting as many products out on the market as possible you start to wonder if that is a wise financial decision. What if the product flops? Then you spent all that money with no return. So how can Chinese firms get away with that?

They bet, not on the innovation of their product, but on the following their many products will create. This, in America, is called brand loyalty, where companies hope to create a group following of people who only buy their products because it worked right the first time. Chinese firms put out so many products at a time that people will consume them faster and hopefuly find a few that they will stick with in the long run. Those devoted followers make up for all the other products that didn’t make it and because their labor pools are so large, the cost of creating these services or products is not as high when compared to American supply-chains.

When each Chinese firm floods the market with their many products it makes it harder for other firms from around the world to compete. They crowd out the competition, and if this was Europe, their courts would have shut down that process a long time ago, but because their culture is about quantity over quality, firms hire more talent to create more stuff. That is why they are able to reduce costs because why would you hire just a few highly educated, but very expensive, individuals to create one or two products, when you can increase the labor pool to 30 or 40 less skilled workers that can crank out the product in a week or two. Chance tells you with this process that the more you put out the higher the chance of striking it rich with one or three products at that time.

In this case, management can simply draw up a new product and give the instructions to their labor pool in which it will be divided up among them and in just a short time out pops their product, just like a magical little box.

Learning how Chinese firms structure themselves is important in understanding why they are dominating so many industries now. The rise of their automotives in the 80’s astounded the world in how fast they built them but now they are coming around again in other industries. Learning their structure strategy might help you decide how you might be able to benefit from their ability to innovate faster and who knows, might save you a lot of money in the long run.

Side note, I wanted to include the full article from the MIT Sloan Business school but couldn’t. Instead all I can provide is the link and if you are interested please visit your local library and see if they have a subscription that allows you full access to the article.

News Articles

The Chinese Wave

Accelerated Innovation: The New Challenge from China

A Chinese Approach to Management