BILLIONAIRE SUCCESS

I thought most of his points were excellently and wisely made.

20 Habits for Success I Learned Working for Two Billionaires

Posted: 02/06/2014 2:57 pm EST Updated: 12/31/2014 1:59 am EST

2014-02-06-OprahEnver1024x512.jpg

I have spent decades “being educated” — in college, graduate school, numerous professional certifications, and now a Ph.D. program. All of that schooling and training helped shape the person I am today, but at no point in my life has there been a more profound education than my time working for Enver Yucel and Oprah Winfrey.

Enver and Oprah are two extraordinary people. And on top of that, they’re both billionaires. On the surface, they appear to be totally different people. They are in different industries, have different family structures, practice different religions, and speak different languages. However, once you get past their written biographies and dig deeper, you will notice they possess many of the same successful habits.

I had the opportunity to work with both Oprah and Enver for six years collectively and those were, hands down, the best professional experiences of my life. I worked my ass off for them and in doing so absorbed everything I could.

It’s my honor to share with you what I learned from them. Here is Part 1 of the 20 successful habits I learned working for two billionaires:

1) Invest in Yourself

This is a very simple concept, but something you would think someone who has “made it” would stop doing. Not at all for these two. I saw them both spend a significant amount of time dedicating their resources to self-development (whether it be a new language, exercise, social media classes, etc.). The moment you stop investing in yourself is the moment you have written off future dividends in life.

2) Be Curious… About Everything

What the average person sees as mundane or overly complicated is not viewed the same way with a billionaire mindset. I once had a 30 minute conversation with Enver about the height of the curbs in Washington DC versus Istanbul, Turkey. Billionaires are incredibly curious; what the rest of the world thinks is a problem and complains about — that’s what these people go and work on.

3) Surround Yourself With “Better” People

I hope this is why they kept me around. Seriously, I never knew my bosses to keep anyone less-than-stellar in their inner circle. There were many times I thought to myself, “Damn, they have dream-teams built around them.” Jim Rohn had it right, “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.”

4) Never Eat Alone

The last time I had dinner with Enver, as well as the last time I ate dinner with Oprah, there were easily 15 people at our tables, respectively. Coincidence? While most of us derive our key information from blogs or the newspaper, power players get their information from the source (other power players), directly. However, just because you can’t call up the Obamas and break bread with them doesn’t mean eating with others in your circle doesn’t carry value. In one of my favorite reads of the last few years called Never Eat Alone, author Keith Ferrazzi breaks down how you can identify “information brokers” to dine with you. I’ve seen first hand how enormous the benefits are of this strategy.

5) Take Responsibility for Your Losses

I was working for Oprah during the time she was taking heat from the media about poor network ratings. I was also working for Enver during the closing of one of his prized divisions. What I witnessed them both do in response was powerful. Opposed to covering the losses up with fancy PR tactics, both stepped to the stage and said in essence “I own it and I’m going to fix it” and dropped the mic. Guess what? They sure did fix things (It’s widely noted Oprah’s network is realizing ratings gold and Enver’s assets have probably doubled since the division closing).

6) Understand The Power Of “Leverage”

This is something that was quite a shock to me. From afar, a billionaire appears to be someone who is a master at everything. But, in truth, they’re specialists in one or a few areas and average or subpar at everything else. So, how do they get so much done? Leverage! They do what they do best and get others to do the rest. Here’s a great article on leverage. Keep in mind I see this done with wealthy people and their money all of the time — they use OPM (other people’s money) for most or all of their projects.

7) Take No Days Off (Completely)

I recall going on vacation with Enver several times, yachting up and down the southwestern coast of Turkey (also known as the blue voyage). Sounds ballerific, right? No doubt we had a great time, but mixed in with all that swimming and backgammon was discussion of business, discussion of strategy, planning and plotting. The best way I can describe this habit is thinking about your business or your idea like your literal baby. No matter your distance, you don’t stop thinking of him/her (and after just having a second son, I can attest to this).

8) Focus On Experiences vs. Material Possessions

When you have money, your toys are big. However, the vast majority of money I saw spent on their “leisure” was on actual experiences versus the typical car, jewelry, and clothes we’re familiar with seeing in music videos and gossip blogs. I recall one time at dinner with Oprah, I spotted a table of about 20 girls off to the side. I later found out Ms. Winfrey was treating some of her graduating girls from her school in South Africa to dinner in NYC. Experiences create memories, and memories are priceless.

9) Take Enormous Risks

This is another one of those successful habits every entrepreneur can attest to. A matter of fact, Entreprenuer.com created a great infographic outlining commonalities of the world’s billionaires and one of the most prominent was this characteristic: billionaires are not adverse to risk. What intrigues me even more about Enver and Oprah was that even at their high financial status and success level, they still possessed a willingness to risk their most precious asset (their name and legacy) on new and bolder projects. If you’re not taking risks, you’re not making moves!

10) Don’t Go At It Alone

Nothing great in life is achieved alone. Especially in business, success isn’t a solo act. This character trait is akin to “surrounding yourself with better people.” It takes teamwork to make the dream work.

Read Part 2, here!

Will Pinterest prove its worth in 2015?

Gigaom

The next year will be the most important one of Pinterest’s life. Until now, the company has focused on its application and its audience, to the detriment of its coffers. It had the luxury to ignore money because it raised a nosebleed $764 million in venture funding to sustain itself. Like most adventurous startups, the money was raised on an unrealized, untested, uncertain premise: That advertising on a visual inspiration application would be highly lucrative.

Come New Year’s Day, that hypothesis will be put to the test for the first time on a large scale. After endless preparation, Pinterest’s year of reckoning has arrived.

In 2015, any brands will be able to do native advertising on Pinterest by paying to promote pins that appear alongside regular Pinterest content. Companies can use Pinterest’s reservation-based system, paying set prices to make sure their ads appear in people’s feeds. The auction-based system, where advertisers bid against each other, is still in beta.

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Beginning the Journey to a Tech Startup

In Search of Innovation

In January 2015, I will lead the Humanoid Engineering & Intelligent Robotics (HEIR) Lab I founded in 2012 at Marquette University to begin our search for a tech startup through the National Science Foundations Innovation Corps for STEM Learning (I-Corps L) program.  In this blog, I will focus more on providing the information we learn and sharing the discovery of the tech startup process rather than the specific details of our discovery.  If our nation wants to create more jobs to meet our economy’s vital need for technology workers and to provide high tech job training for all our citizens including women and minorities, we need to share this vital entrepreneurial information and mindset with those who have yet to discover apply this knowledge to starting up a new technology company.

As a robotics, computer science and engineering professor, I’m excited that I will be learning experientially about what…

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Washing machine = Increased educated citizens

Folakemi

Hans Rosling TED talk is one of those short and powerful talks – washing machine as a metaphor of how time saved from not doing mundane tasks can be used to improve oneself and here – education for women.

I loved this talk. In Nigeria, we are presented with a different challenge. Even if an individual can afford a washing machine, you would need power to operate it and as simple as it sounds, electricity has not been reliable for the most part of three decades.

The only reliable source of electricity is generator,most people have one. Now we have very portable ones as cheap as US$30, maintenance and diesel are variable costs people have to add-on. The cheap type usually would light a couple of lightbulbs, mostly used in the evenings. Attempt to plug anymore household gadget is asking for wahala.

Isn’t that much more expensive, you ask? Yes, it is…

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DOING GOOD from THE BUSINESS, CAREER, AND WORK OF MAN

You should treat your assets, your businesses, your creations, your investments, your money, and your wealth exactly like your children. You should build them up, develop and grow them so that they can function, and function well, without your presence. Eventually you want your every asset to have a completely independent existence, entirely free of the necessity of you.

You want the things you create and the things you have and the things you produce to have their own life, to outgrow you, and to do those good things in the world that you could never do alone because, after all, you are but one man.

Look at your assets as you would your own children and off-spring, the point is never to maintain a life-long control of them, but to develop them in such a way that they no longer need you. That they outgrow and exceed you. Do this and you will prosper, do this and the world will prosper.

In the long run this approach will make you much, much wealthier and much, much wiser, and better still it will make the world much, much wealthier for your uncommon Wisdom. When good things outgrow their creator everyone benefits. Especially the creator.

Do not just do good with the things you create and possess, let the things you create and possess Do Good on their own.

SHOULD YOU INCORPORATE YOUR BUSINESS?

Definitely incorporate

Small Business Tips

incIf your business is a sole proprietorship, you may be asking yourself if you should incorporate your business. Perhaps you’re thinking of doing so before year end so that you can start the new year as a corporation. Before making this decision, here are some benefits to consider in favor of incorporating.

1.Personal Asset Protection. Forming either a corporation or an LLC is similar to a partnership, minus the need for excessive paperwork and fees. It allows the business owner to separate and protect their personal assets in case of a lawsuit or claims against a business entity. In an effectively managed and structured company, owners should have limited liability for outstanding business debts and obligations. This remains as one of the leading benefits to incorporating.

2.Enhanced Credibility. A close second to personal asset protection, a major benefit of incorporating your business is the stamp of approval…

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Pinterest Opening Its Boards to Ads by MIKE ISAAC

Robert Maynard Lifelock

Robert Maynard Presents New York Times Business Section
By MIKE ISAAC

On New Year’s Day, the digital scrapbook Pinterest will start selling ads to any marketer, competing with Google, Twitter and Facebook for ad revenue from the biggest consumer brands.

Published: December 29, 2014 at 12:00AM

from NYT Business Day http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/29/business/media/pinterest-opening-its-boards-to-ads-.html
via Robert Maynard Entrepreneurship Site

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An Internet to love and hate

Fortune

The rise of the Internet promised great upside for billions of people around the world: enhanced global communication, the spread of democracy, and a new wave of innovation. A new book suggests the reality is starkly different.

The Internet Is Not the Answer (Atlantic Monthly Press; $25), by web commentator and entrepreneur Andrew Keen, argues that the “economic and cultural win for its billions of users” was a mirage. According to Keen, who founded Audiocafe.com in 1995 and turned that experience into a career on the tech-industry speaking circuit, the Internet’s benefits have accrued mostly to a “tiny group of young white men in black limousines,” leaving everyone else worse off. Sure, software may be eating the world, as investor Marc Andreessen so aptly described it in 2011, but it is also “ravenously consuming our jobs,” Keen writes, leading to a “structural unemployment crisis” that is making most people poorer…

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THE VERY IDEA from THE BUSINESS, CAREER, AND WORK OF MAN

The very idea that a college degree, of any kind, will assure you do anything at all worthwhile in life is every bit as juvenile and ridiculous a notion as the idea that a job will assure you will become wealthy.

This does not mean that you should necessarily eschew either degrees or jobs, what it does mean is that you must understand their very limited influence on your real achievements in life, and upon your true personhood.

Neither you, nor anyone else, can anymore “degree” you a great achievement, than you can “job” your way into being a meaningful person.

Stanford Students Invent Gecko Gloves That Give Humans The Power To Scale Walls

CBS San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/AP) — Stanford University students have created paddles that help humans scale glass walls like a gecko.

The “gecko gloves” use the same scientific principles employed by the sticky feet of nature’s most impressive climber.

“One of the most important attributes of their adhesive is that it’s controllable, like tape that you can turn on when you want it to stick, and turn off when you don’t,” said Elliot Hawkes, a member of the research team.

The Stanford students have patents pending and have already begun negotiations with toy companies.

A Swiss entrepreneur has scheduled a meeting with the team in January to discuss possible rock-climbing applications. There is also a project in the works with NASA and Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena to use a version of the gloves to grab things in space.

Close-up of the underside of a gecko's foot as it walks on a glass wall. Van der Waals force interactions between the finely divided setae (hairs on the toes) and the glass enables the gecko to stay in place and walk on the seemingly smooth glass. (Wikipedia) Close-up of the underside of a gecko’s foot as it walks on a…

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Working From Home In Your Twenties: Less Pajamas, More Discipline

Scout & Feather

I’m 24 and self-employed. It’s pretty surreal, to be honest, and I’m learning a lot about how people view self-employment and some important aspects of it. When I first told people that I was leaving my state job for consulting, a lot of people responded, “So you’ll be working from home?! Lucky!” And honestly, yes. I completely agree. I am blessed to be able to have the freedom to work when I want and where I want. But their reactions made me cringe a little, and I even wanted to defend myself. I wanted people to know I wasn’t lazy! That I would actually be working from home! That I might actually get more done at home than I got done in my cubicle every day, and in less time. I’ve been working from home for a couple months now because of an adjusted schedule I had with the state. I had…

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InvestX Capital, the First Private Equity Crowdfunding Marketplace for Retail Investors, Announces Beta Launch

Initial US$5.2 million Seed Round Secured from Prominent Investors Dallas, TX and Vancouver, BC – December 16, 2014- InvestX Capital today announced the beta launch of its cross-border private equity crowdfunding marketplace for U.S. and Canadian investors, opening up an asset class previously only accessible through larger (US$1 million or higher) investments. For the first time, InvestX will provide accredited retail investors with direct access to highquality private equity opportunities at low minimum investments (starting at US$2,500), sourced and thoroughly vetted by a select group of partnering private equity firms. The initial offering on the InvestX beta site allows accredited investors the opportunity to invest in Cleveland HeartLab’s Series C financing. Cleveland HeartLab (CHL) is a well-established, five-year old health sciences company known as one of the leading providers of comprehensive cardiovascular disease prevention, diagnosis and management services. CHL has
http://bit.ly/1GQvBZi

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THE REVERSE OF THE RARE (FIND) THING

Lately I have been reading George Anders excellent little book, The Rare Find: Spotting Exceptional Talent Before Everyone Else. The premise of the book is that there are certain characteristic traits that talent scouts (business, career, artistic, etc.) can use to spot the Rare Find.

Which I think is a true premise and statement, and for the most part I agree with the list of qualifications and traits Anders employs to distinguish and recognize Rare Talent, but while reading the book another thought occurred to me as well.

Suppose I reversed the premise of the book (for the book is written from the point of view of the talent scout seeking talent) and instead developed my own plan to making my talent more easily recognizable to others (such as agents, editors, publishers, scouts, etc.)?

So I am sketching the book out in reverse with the intent of developing my own 8 to 12 Point Plan for making myself easily recognizable to those who are scouting for new talent.

Once I have this plan developed I will post it here, on Launch Port, along with a lengthier article on how I plan to employ that plan.

IF CHRIST PREVAILED – MERRY CHRISTMAS

The Missal

IF CHRIST PREVAILED

If Christ prevailed men would not cower
If Christ prevailed God’s Holy Tower would
Stand a rampart in this world that none could
Raze nor hope to break, nor should
His Kingdom ever quake for fear of being over-run

If Christ prevailed men would fear not Death
If Christ prevailed men would not fear to truly Live
If Christ prevailed there would be no tribes
At endless war, no pointless hate consuming every shore
With riot, hatred, fire, and fury circumscribed

If Christ prevailed “Repent!” on every tongue and wrong
Would be avoided, not relived eternal in profitless cycles
Of sorrowful sin, evils would be un-grown and long buried
Not watered with grasping human grievance, a song of
Festering harm sung to our children like Grimmaged fairy tales

If Christ prevailed all men would as brothers walk long
Beside another, traveling from place to place…

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Why people love a good story — and how to tell yours

Very True, and if you are wise this concept (and skill) applies equally to both building your Business and developing your Career.

Financial Post

It’s been called a strategic tool with “irresistible power” by Harvard Business Review. And “the major business lesson of 2014” by Entrepreneur magazine.

[np_storybar title=”Nine steps to better stories” link=”http://business.financialpost.com/2011/04/15/nine-steps-to-better-stories/”]

Whether you are marketing your business through ads, public relations, social media or one-on-one sales, there’s one skill you have to master: story telling.

No one buys from you because you say your product is better than the competition. You have to be able to tell stories that demonstrate your customers’ problems and the superior solutions you provide.

So how do you tell a story? The structure is very simple. Like all stories (what you are thinking of Little Red Riding Hood or Star Wars), it should have a beginning, a middle and an ending; a serious problem, conflict or challenge; a hero; a solution to that problem; and a lesson. The hero, of course, should normally be you, your…

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the difficult issue of pricing

Interesting considerations, and I too like to consider variant pricing options in offering my services to others.

entreprenology

“People tend to be clueless about prices. Contrary to economic theory, we don’t really decide between A and B by consulting our invisible price tags and purchasing the one that yields the higher utility, he says. We make do with guesstimates and a vague recollection of what things are supposed to cost.” William Poundstone

We all struggle with pricing our products/services to an extent. There are various things that go into it and messages that are being sent by a chosen level of price.

For example, if your service/product is cheap compared to the average price, everyone will think that you are merely offering a budget option and none of the high payers, looking for top quality will even consider you because in their minds lower price means lower quality. To be completely frank, this is usually the case.

Some shop in Aldi whilst the others prefer to go up-market and do…

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Rosetta at AGU

Robert McGrath's Blog

The Rosetta project presented at the AGU meeting last week, giving a status report for the recent activities and Philae landing.

There was more confirmation of the rough landing of Philae, including a graphic image snapped at initial touchdown.

Philae’s blurred view during its first bounce on 12 November 2014. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA

The Philae team think there is a good possibility that the lander will be able to recharge and wake up as 67P nears the sun, perhaps in a few weeks.  Fingers crossed!


I note that there has been disappointment and complaints because almost no data has been released, no results reported, and no dramatic movies.

Grrr.

Look people, this is real science, not Hollywood.  Unlike TV, you don’t just push a button and receive the results.  Data analysis is hard, obsessive, work; and it takes time.  And the results are mostly not going to be splashy Hollywood…

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Changing Landscape of Career Success

ideaworth

The Changing Landscape of Career Success

Over last 35 years since I graduated from college, views of career success have changed dramatically.

In 1979, I graduated from college with an engineering degree and had two job offers. Many of my friends had 3 or more job offers. My college debt that was paid off within 3 years. My expectation was to earn a comfortable living in my chosen career and to readily find a new employer in the case of a job loss through layoffs. For a while, this was true.

Like many of my colleagues, I felt a degree of job stability and, accordingly, I thought it unfair not to stay with an employer for at least 3 years before considering a career move to another employer. I had a sense of loyalty towards my employer and a perception that they had some commitment and loyalty towards me.

Flash forward 35 years and the landscape is dramatically…

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6 ESSENTIAL THINGS

6 Things That Aspiring Entrepreneurs Must Consider and Do

Peter S. Cohan
December 17, 2014

This week I gave a final exam to 29 undergraduates in my “Foundations of Entrepreneurial Management” class at Babson College.

But a final exam is not the true test of what they need to know. They need to learn how to think and act to find and capture opportunities to make the world a better place.

This may sound overly rosy, but in my experience startups must make the world better in order to survive. To succeed at that, entrepreneurs must consider and do the following six things:

1. Find customers and feel their pain.

A passionate founder is often so determined to realize a vision that he or she can lose sight of other perspectives. Before going too far with plans, an entrepreneur should think about how the outside world would view the new product.

What are the different groups of people it could help or hurt? Which group of potential customers might it make better off?

Which talented people could the vision inspire? Which partners would want to work with the venture? Which investors would want to bet on it?

In a recent interview, Nutanix CEO Dheeraj Pandey tells me that empathy is the one word he invokes in almost all interactions with customers, employees and partners of his San Jose, Calif.-based company that combines the functions of servers, storage and networking.

“By empathizing with our employees, customers and partners we believe we can build a company that will create value for our investors because we solve their problems instead of dictating to them what we think they ought to have the way our competitors do,” he says.

2. Imagine and build a prototype.

Find an inexpensive way to build a model of a product.

Let’s say an entrepreneur has the idea to build an app that will make it easier for college friends to arrange an evening out on the town. A prototype might be as simple as a series of drawings of the app’s screens. If the drawings are clear, save the time and money of hiring someone to write code until after the next step in the process.

An example of this can be found in Ben Kaplan’s development of the Who is Going Out (or WiGo) app. As the former student at Holy Cross College in Worcester, Mass., tells me, “I was on campus my freshman year and trying to make social plans — figure out who else was going out at night, where and what time.”

But there were no easy way to do it, he says. “You could text other people or put a post on Facebook but you often wouldn’t get an answer.”

So he came up with the idea for WiGo and mocked up some screen shots on paper for how the mobile app would work. He found a systems developer who built the app in the fall of 2013 for his new company.

3. Receive feedback to adapt the product.

Next imagine the characteristics of the individuals who might eventually buy the startup’s product. Based on that, find individuals who fit that description. Show them the prototype and inquire whether they would buy it. If so, how much would they pay? If not, ask them to say what’s wrong with it or missing and what they would they change.

Repeat this process until a majority of potential customers say they are eager to use the product and want to know how long it will be until it’s delivered.

WiGo is an example of a product that launched in January got good feedback almost from the start, founder Ben Kaplan asserts, saying, “It became very popular within three weeks. Many of the people using it were friends on sports teams at Holy Cross.” Adds Kapan, “I started getting emails and Facebook messages from people at other schools like University of Florida and University of Southern California where I had friends who wanted to use it.”

If consumers say the product looks interesting but it’s not good enough or solves the wrong problem, change the vision or find customers who need the product now — or give up.

4. Build a team of people.

After receiving a positive reaction from from potential customers, think about the skills required to turn a prototype into a product with the benefits expected by customers. What type of sales, engineering, operations and service people are needed to operate the business well?

Figure out values to unite the team and use them to screen candidates and create an interview process and compensation package to hire the best people for these key jobs.

Kaplan, a visionary and salesperson, lacks programming skills. But he was able to use his skills to secure the ones he lacked. For example, he met with Jim Giza, executive in residence at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Giza introduced Kaplan to Kayak co-founder Paul English, who was opening the Blade startup incubator in Boston. “I gave him a demo of WiGo and he immediately got it,” Kaplan says, adding that he now has three or four employees and three to four Blade employees dedicated to WiGo.

English also led to Kaplan’s enlisting programmer and MIT grad Giuliano Giacaglia to be a WiGo co-founder.

5. Raise capital to achieve goals.

To accomplish all the preceding steps, a startup needs money. Give thought to the ways the startup capital could be used and how potential investors will receive a return on the investment. Then find people who will understand the venture and have the capital to invest in it.

The process of raising funds becomes more time-consuming and difficult as capital requirements increase. Bring in investors who will help the company achieve its vision rather than fighting to take control.

WiGo raised capital by bringing in investors who understood its market and could help attract others. The company brought in “about $700,000 from the founders of Kayak, Rue La La, and Tinder, and from professional athletes, including Vince Wilfork of the New England Patriots,” The Boston Globe reported.

6. Perceive and adapt to change.

Monitor all the changes to the startup’s environment. The entrepreneur must distinguish between signal and noise when it comes to considering new technologies, customer needs and upstart competitors.

The founder must decide how to respond — whether to alter the existing product line, add new items, change the organization’s structure, bring in managers or create more formal systems to manage people and finances.

Adobe Systems is an example of a company that has adapted to change. Since 2011, its CEO has led its transition from selling packaged software (to its 12.8 million users of Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign) to providing software as a service, whereby customers pay a monthly fee and get the latest version from the cloud.

Adobe decided to sell Creative Cloud, a monthly, cloud-based subscription service. On Dec. 11, Adobe reported far more subscribers to its Creative Cloud than Wall Street expected and its shares gained nearly 10 percent on a day when the Dow plummeted.

Thinking and acting in these six ways can make the difference between startup success and failure.

THE NOVEL START UP

He’s absolutely right. You shouldn’t just market and “get on people’s radar” after you fund and start operations, you should do that to get funded and to start operations. As a matter of fact you should market continuously and at all times.

Richard Branson on How to Raise Money When You’re Just Starting Out

December 15, 2014

Editor’s Note: Entrepreneur Richard Branson regularly shares his business experience and advice with readers. Ask him a question and your query might be the inspiration for a future column.

Q.: G’day Richard. I am a young engineering student with little to no practical experience as an entrepreneur. I think I’ve got a great idea, a ready and capable team, but have little money to pursue commercializing my novel product. I fear that potential investors will not take me seriously because of my age (21) and inexperience. How can I convince seasoned investors to believe in my team and invest in my idea? — Jordan Gruber, Australia

My friends and I came up with the name “Virgin” one day when we were 15 years old, sitting around in a basement. I was keen on the name “Slipped Disc” for our new music venture, but then one of my friends pointed out that when it came to business, “we’re all virgins; why don’t we call it that?” In our case, inexperience proved to be a huge asset — if we’d gone with the safer option, I’m not sure that many people would be working out at Slipped Disc Health Clubs or banking at Slipped Disc Money!

Innovation and entrepreneurship thrive on the energy of people who are dipping their toes into the water for the first time. Budding entrepreneurs with fresh outlooks have the freedom to think quite differently, which is tremendously exciting to potential collaborators. However, as you’re finding out, Jordan, translating a new concept into a product can be very daunting.

While you might not yet have the right connections or an “in” with major investors, other people out there do — experienced businesspeople, in your sector or in others, who were once in your shoes and went on to be successful. These people are potential mentors who can help you on your way.

Mentoring is a subject that is very close to our hearts at Virgin; I myself have benefited from many mentors throughout my life. However, don’t consider mentoring as a quick way to gain useful contacts. A good mentoring relationship is based on more than that — it’s a way to learn valuable lessons from the mistakes someone else has made.

Additionally, I noticed in your message an emphasis on convincing “seasoned investors” to back your idea. While securing huge sums of money from major business figures might seem like the ideal way to propel a business forward, the reality is that very few ventures win this kind of funding. A better alternative might be an online crowdfunding platform. Websites such as Indiegogo not only have the potential to fund the creation of a prototype to get your business up and running, but they also can result in significant publicity.

Another option is taking out a small business loan. In the U.K. we launched Virgin StartUp, a program that provides loans of up to 25,000 pounds to companies trying to get their ideas off the ground. It is well worth your time to look into similar initiatives in your area, and decide whether a loan is the right step for you. As an added benefit, both crowdfunding and small business loans will mean that you can retain full ownership of your business — you won’t have to give any equity away to investors.

Here are three steps that can help you discover which approach is best for you:

1. EVALUATE AND RESEARCH.

Always be honest with yourself about your abilities, the work you’ll have to put in to get your company up and running, and the amount of money you’re hoping to raise. Research all the options that are available, and evaluate how they would affect your end goal.

Ask yourself: Is your crowdfunding target realistic? How much of a stake in your business are you willing to give to potential investors?

And if you want to find a mentor who can help give you direction and guidance, make sure you find a suitable one. Find out what they do, whether they’ve mentored others before and which sectors they are interested in.

2. GET ON PEOPLE’S RADAR.

Attend industry events such as seminars and conferences. Talk to as many people as possible, and do not immediately launch into a pitch of your product. Be sure to listen and learn from what people have to say.

Networking doesn’t stop at face-to-face contact, either; interact on social media, join LinkedIn groups and keep the relationships going online. When you do approach potential mentors or investors, or if you launch a crowdfunding campaign, you’ll have a degree of visibility.

In fact, the more proactive you are in building your profile, the more likely it is that potential investors will feel confident enough to put their faith in you — and their money in your company. Remember that the more relationships you build, the better the chances that your network will put you in touch with the people who can help your business.

3. KEEP AN OPEN MIND.

Remember to be flexible. While winning investment might look like the best option now, don’t discount any other opportunities that come your way. For example, crowdfunding might not have the prestige of an investment from a big-time entrepreneur, but it will connect you directly with future customers, and you will have more control over the process.

Keeping an open mind is especially important when it comes to mentoring. Don’t see mentorship as a quick fix for problems, and do not brush off advice. Consider your connection with a mentor as a long-lasting business relationship that can teach you lessons and reduce the potential for failure. But also remember that, as with anything else, you’ll get out of mentoring what you put in.

Making sure that your potential business is a success is not contingent upon gaining a large investment. Many successful companies — including Virgin — started with modest funds. Right now, investors might seem like they are the gatekeepers between you and your dream, but the one person who can make your business succeed is not an investor, or even a mentor. It is you.

Good luck!
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Isuama Kennedy
Isuama Kennedy from Facebook8 hours ago

the one person who will make your business to succeed is not an investor or your mentor but YOU
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Meg Columbia Walsh
Meg Columbia Walsh from Facebook9 hours ago

Great Mr. Branson, then tell me a time to pitch my business that is doing well!!! Woman and gay owned…
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Silvia Khouzame
Silvia Khouzame from Facebook12 hours ago

Natalie Khouzame
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Samantha Binetter
Samantha Binetter from Facebook17 hours ago

Robbie Binetter
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Chandé Dusina
Chandé Dusina from Facebook20 hours ago

Nick Timmer
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Maria Petromanolakis
Maria Petromanolakis21 hours ago

Thank you very much Sir Branson!
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Alexandra Ferrer
Alexandra Ferrer from Facebook2 days ago

Thomas Caldwell
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Ryan Poh
Ryan Poh from Facebook2 days ago

Nitin Ahuja
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Duc Hoang
Duc Hoang from Facebook2 days ago

one story for strategy 😀
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Peachy Keen
Peachy Keen from Facebook2 days ago

Wont work in the south. These old geezers aren’t giving up their money unless its for an oil well!
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Kiều Công Bình
Kiều Công Bình from Facebook2 days ago

Duc Hoang Nguyễn Trung Kiên 😀
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Jason Lobo Sedillo
Jason Lobo Sedillo from Facebook2 days ago

Great insight
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stephen hardacre
stephen hardacre 2 days ago

O.K. THE RICHSTER DID YOU EVER WATCH JERRY MCGUIRE WELL RUMOUR HAS IT THAT IT WAS FICTIONAL CERTAIN GUYS ARE SAYING THAT IT IS ABOUT THEM BUT WHAT I AM ABOUT TO ACHIEVE IS REAL TIME AND WHILE I AM AT IT THE PLAN IS TO BRING THE CRIME RATE DOWN IN MY ALREADY ROUGH AS TOAST AREA YOU SEE IT IS NOT BRAINS I NEED IT IS BRAWN AND A FIGHTING HEART BASICALLY I WONT THE KIDS WHO THE TEACHERS SAY HAVE NO HOPE AND I WAS AND LIVE IN THE COMMUNITY ALL MY LIFE I KNOW THE KIDS THAT ARE DESTINED FOR A LIFE OF CRIME AS I WAS BROUGHT UP WITH THEIR PARENTS THE ONLY REASON THEY GO TO CRIME IS BECAUSE THEY ARE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BARREL JUST BECAUSE THEIR PARENTS ARE A WEE TAD ROTTEN BUT THAT COMES HAND IN HAND WITH BEING POOR IT DOES NOT MEAN WE HAVE TO STEER CLEAR OF THESE FUTURE CRIMINALS AND THATS THE WAY IT IS I HAVE NOT “THROWN A BEVVY ON IT ” THAT IS HOW IT IS THE PLAN IS TO PAY THEM WHAT I CALL A ” WOW WAGE ” BEYOND THEIR WILDEST DREAMS AND HOPEFULLY THEY CAN LOOK AFTER THERE WAYWARD PARENTS AND HOPEFULLY THEY CAN CHANNEL THEIR KNOWLEDGE FOR ME THIS IS WHERE THE DIAMONDS ARE IN THE DIRT PEOPLE SAY I AM CRAZY BUT AS IT SO HAPPENS IT WOULD BE A SIN NOT TO PUSH FOR IT WITH THE FORWARD MOMENTUM I FEEL AROUND ME last but not least i must say it when i was a kid”I USED TO WANT TO BE YOU BUT I DON’T NO MORE I WANNA BE ME “IF YOU GET TO THIS WEE MESSAGE THINK OF US AND YOU WILL GET INTO HEAVEN THANKS

THE GAMECHANGER
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JDGO
JDGO 2 days ago

Great advise sir,
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RadoslavVujaklija
RadoslavVujaklija 2 days ago

Yeah kick it sir Branson!!!
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ELON’S LOSS

​Elon Musk Lost About $1 Billion In Two Weeks

​Elon Musk Lost About $1 Billion In Two Weeks123456

Low oil prices and cheap gas are cutting into the demand for electric cars and solar power, if analysts are to be believed. That’s no good if you’re the largest shareholder of Tesla and SolarCity, and some back of the napkin math says Musk’s pocket is about $1 billion lighter.
7

Musk owns over 28 million shares in Tesla, which peaked at around $284 in September and is now floating around $200 today. He also owns almost 21 million shares of Solar City, which topped out in February at $86 and is trading today at just over $50.89

According to Marketwatch:

On Nov. 26, the day before a decision by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to stand pat on production suggested the group preferred to defend its market share than try to support prices by cutting output, Musk’s combined Tesla and SolarCity holdings were valued at around $8.2 billion. They are now more like $7 billion.

Since that OPEC meeting, Tesla shares declined 16 percent and Solar City dropped by 11 percent, and it’s even lower now. But really, what’s a few hundred million between billionaires?10

THE MARRIAGE OF OUR BETTER INTERESTS

Why Choosing A VC Is Like Choosing A Spouse

What to consider before you put a ring on it

Committing to a relationship with a VC is committing to the long-term. In romantic terms, it’s a marriage, not a casual drink or weekend getaway. In fact, venture capital/startup relationships last just as long as most marriages — around 7 or 8 years — and can be just as emotionally taxing.

Entrepreneurs often struggle to feel confident when they are presenting to VCs. Pitching your startup can be as nerve-wracking as waiting at the bar for a blind date, and what VCs want can seem as mysterious as members of the opposite sex. Entrepreneurs are reluctant to ask important questions because they are afraid of scaring the potential partner away, but the answers to those questions could seriously impact the happiness and fruitfulness of your “life” together. Startup life means there are a lot of ups and downs, but the downs don’t mean you should settle for a ‘safe’ VC choice. Everybody deserves somebody. As with significant others, you want someone who sees the unique positives in you, not the generic negatives.

What VCs care most about is how much their investment will be worth, or equity value. This leads to the question facing all entrepreneurs — how do you build equity value? Revenue is a metric (and an important one), but not the metric. Other factors include market leadership, unique IP/capabilities, disruption in a big market, and an A+ technology team. The right “fit” isn’t the same for everyone. What works for one person or startup may not work for another. Here are 5 things to consider before entering the bonds of venture capital funding.

1. Know your value as a partner

As the philosopher Beyonce says, “If you like it, then you should have put a ring on it.” A great start to a marriage or partnership of any kind is when both sides feel they lucked out and are excited about the commitment. Find someone who appreciates the potential of your business and what you have to offer. As a founder, you are giving away your most prized asset — your equity. The VCs are buying a piece of a company that they believe has value. It is important to remember your self-worth and your company’s value before you embark upon a relationship . This is a much more compelling approach than “I hope someone gives me money,” because desperation doesn’t look good on anybody.

It is also important not to have baggage walking into the partnership. Plenty of entrepreneurs play hard to get in the beginning, but as soon as you commit, the games should be over. You don’t want to spend years explaining or justifying yourself. A strong relationship means being honest and appreciative of each other. This also means it is important to be on the same page about terms, so everyone feels they got a fair deal. For example, Carbonite really loved working with us at Menlo Ventures because the investment was fair on both sides and we said ‘I do’ with a clean slate. In a strong VC-startup relationship, both parties want the other to succeed. Mutual respect and excitement should come before a ring.

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GOING VIRAL

10 Brilliant Strategies For Writing Viral Content

This is part of a series. Check out the companion piece: BuzzFeed’s Guide To Viral Content (Cats Optional, But Encouraged)

There are certain websites, writers, marketers and content creators who seem to rule the internet. Everything they put out there seems contagious, capturing an audience of millions and sparking conversations on social media.

These days, unpacking the secrets to viral success has been the mission of researchers, media organizations and businesses alike. After all, infectious content leads to major rewards in the form of readers, subscribers, advertisers, raising awareness for an important issue, brand recognition and financial success.
If you’re looking for ways get people talking, check out these 10 strategies from the experts themselves.
“Grumpy Guide To Life: Observations From Grumpy Cat” Book Event At Indigo

Grumpy cat. (George Pimentel/WireImage)

1. Write good content

Bottom line: Tell a good story and tell it well. Readers quickly abandon stories with weak content and bad writing.

Begin by making sure your story clearly communicates the five W’s: Who? What? Where? When? Why? This grounds your reader in the story’s basic premise and why it matters.

Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick, co-authors of The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users, explain in a recent Harvard Business Review article that stories should accomplish one of a number of tasks: explain what happened, explain what something means, explain how to do something or surprise the reader.

2. Elicit strong emotions – positive is better than negative

Stories that evoke intense emotions tend to drive popularity, according to a 2011 study by University of Pennsylvania professors.

Content that triggers “high-arousal” emotions performs better online, whether those emotions are positive (like awe) or negative (like anger or anxiety). Whereas content that sparks “low-arousal” emotions (like sadness) is less viral, write Professors Jonah Berger and Katherine L. Milkman, who studied the viral nature of New York Times articles over a three-month period. And though there’s much complexity at play, in general, “positive content is more viral than negative content.”

When Jack Shepherd, editorial director at BuzzFeed, wrote 21 Pictures That Will Restore Your Faith In Humanity, it generated millions of hits. The list evoked the emotion felt when “you’re in the presence of the triumph of the human spirit,” says Shepherd. Today it has 15.4 million views. (Full disclosure: Shepherd has been a friend for years.)

“When people share something like that, they’re not just sharing the story, they’re sharing the strong, positive emotional experience they had. You can’t really fake that,” says Shepherd. For more tips from Shepherd, check out the companion piece, BuzzFeed’s Guide To Viral Content (Cats Optional, But Encouraged).

3. Be brief

Get to the point quickly and keep the reader interested.

“Our experience is that the sweet spot for posts of curated content is two or three sentences on Google GOOGL +0.89%+ and Facebook and 100 characters on Twitter TWTR +1.62%,” say Kawasaki and Fitzpatrick.

“The sweet spot for created content is 500 to 1,000 words.”

4. Write irresistible headlines

Headlines are the gateway to a story – your one chance to pique your reader’s curiosity and convince them to stay with you. Headlines can make a story a smashing success or a total flop, even if the content is fantastic.

Capture your reader’s attention with headlines that

– Clearly and concisely state the article’s purpose

– Use intriguing adjectives

– Communicate the value and ease of the story

In other words, tell your readers upfront that they’ll be getting a lot out of your story with little effort on their part. (For example, my headline This One Smart Habit Can Slash Your Airfare told readers that they could save a lot of money by learning one habit. Tons of value and so simple.)

Twelveskip.com offers this list of eye-catching title templates that will help you develop great headlines.

5. Be visual

Visual content increases engagement. So pair that compelling headline with a striking visual. Always. This is key to capturing reader interest.

Buzzsumo, a content analytics company, found that having at least one image in a Facebook or Twitter post leads to an average of twice as many shares compared to a post without images. A study by content marketer Skyword found a similar correlation between images and engagement, write Kawasaki and Fitzpatrick. “Total views of its clients’ content increased by 94% if a published article contained a relevant photograph or infographic, when compared to articles without an image in the same category,” the co-authors write.

6. Play the numbers game

The more you post, the greater your chances at going viral. Neetzan Zimmerman, who the Wall Street Journal called possibly “the most popular blogger working on the Web today” blogged for Gawker until 2014 and routinely drew the most unique visitors to the popular site. In an interview with HubSpot.com, Zimmerman shared that he posts 10 to 15 times per day. Not every post went viral, but the larger the volume of stories, the greater the chances of one taking off.

And don’t stop once your work is out there. Promote it actively on social media and do so repeatedly on different days at different times so you can capture different audiences. Tailor your posts for the social media platform.

Sure, you may lose some followers who don’t like repeat shares. But Kawasaki and Fitzpatrick found that this practice pays off. “When we decided to test the effect of repetition by sharing four identical posts with four different links to track clicks, we got about 1,300 clicks on the first, roughly the same on the second, 2,300 on the third and 2,700 on the fourth, for a total of 7,600 clicks. Would you be willing to risk complaints about repeated tweets to achieve 5.8 times more clicks?”

7. Play nice with others

Give credit where it’s due by linking to sources you site in your articles. “Links send traffic to the source as an act of gratitude; enable readers to learn more from the source; and increase your visibility and popularity with bloggers and websites,” write Kawasaki and Fitzpatrick.

And keep the gratitude flowing after your work is out there. Thank and retweet those who tweet your content. Follow them back. Retweet and favorite their stories. Offer thoughtful comments. Be engaged.

8. Study your stats

Check out how your stories compare against each other. What works? Why?

Pay attention to the stories that flopped and think about tweaks that could have made them better.

9. Time the release of your stories

Zimmerman recommends posting at 9 a.m. and noon EST. At 9 a.m. you’ll capture workers reluctant to dive into work at the start of the day.

At noon, you’ll capture West Coast workers arriving to the office and East Coast workers on their lunch break.

10. Give the reader a practical takeaway

You’ve written a compelling story with an irresistible headline. Now read over it and make sure it includes practical, actionable takeaways.

A key component of contagious content is getting readers to share content with their friends and followers. And since everyone from journalists and marketers to high school students to your aunt on Facebook is crafting their online brand, readers are more likely to share material that they find useful and makes them look good.

Demonstrate the value of your content, and watch your numbers soar.

Deborah Jian Lee is a journalist, radio producer and author of a forthcoming book about progressive evangelicals (Beacon Press). Follow her @deborahjianlee. Visit her website http://www.deborahjianlee.com.

THE BEST BUSINESS, AND THE WORST

Map: The Best And Worst Countries For Business 2014

Forbes’ annual ranking of the Best Countries for Business grades countries on 11 different metrics, including property rights, innovation, taxes, technology, corruption, freedom (personal, trade and monetary), red tape, investor protection and stock market performance (click here for complete coverage). This year Denmark returns to the top spot, where it ranked three straight years between 2008 and 2010.

We enlisted mapping firm Esri this year to plot the top 25 and bottom 10 countries on an interactive world map that allows users to scan through the countries and access basic economic data by clicking on a country name (see below). Europe dominates the top 25 with more than 70% of the entries. These countries score well almost across board on trade and personal freedom, as well as innovation and corruption. The Asia-Pacific region landed five locales on the list with the U.S. and Canada making up the final components of the top 25. The U.S. ranks No. 18 this year, down four spots from 2013. It is the fifth straight year of declines for the world’s largest economy.

African nations make up 60% of the bottom 10 with high levels of corruption, red tape and taxes registering as major issues. Guinea, which is at the center of the Ebola breakout, brings up the rear at No. 146.

 

China’s stock market goes boom

Fortune

There’s mania in China right now. Stock market mania. It’s a bull market—niu shi— and people are excited.

“It’s still not crazy, not crazy,” said an investment banker working in Beijing, who didn’t want his name used because his bosses don’t like him talking about the crazy stock market. “These days market rises too fast,” he reflected, “but still many of my friends think the market is undervalued in many sectors.”

The rally has been fast and furious. It started this summer when the state-run Xinhua news agency started trumpeting stocks, publishing eight reports over four days about low valuations. Other state media said a strong stock market should reflect a strong China. Right on cue, stocks took off in September and have never looked back. Boosted by an interest rate cut, the Shanghai market is up 25% in just the past month. It closed today at its…

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Two of the key early investors in Tesla have a new fund

Gigaom

Two early backers of electric car company Tesla — Nancy Pfund and Ira Ehrenpreis — are teaming up to invest a new fund, for which they’ve been in the process of raising $300 million, according to a SEC filing as well as sources we’ve spoken with. Dan Primack first reported the filing in his newsletter last Thursday.

Pfund joined JPMorgan in the mid-1980s, and later founded DBL Investors, which was a spin-out of JPMorgan’s Bay Area Equity Fund I. DBL stands for “double bottom line,” and the firm has been one of the very few over the past few years that has been really successful when it comes to investing in cleantech companies.

Investor Nancy Pfund getting into her Model S at the Tesla factory on the day of the launch of the Model S. Investor Nancy Pfund getting into her Model S at the Tesla factory on the day of the launch of the Model S. Image courtesy of Gigaom/Katie Fehrenbacher

The fund invested in Tesla (back in 2006), solar installer SolarCity…

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Inside a NYC museum’s radical $81 million reboot

Fortune

Caroline Baumann, the director of New York City’s newly-refurbished and reimagined Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, says she never wants to hear, “Cooper what?” again. And after overseeing an $81 million transformation into a cutting-edge digital showcase that melds three centuries worth of technology and art, she may not have to.

The Cooper Hewitt, perhaps best known in decades past for the Victorian era opulence of the 113-year-old Andrew Carnegie mansion it calls home, is now basking in the global fascination with the marriages of form and function that catapulted companies like Apple [fortune-stock symbol=”AAPL”]to success. Long lines for museum exhibitions and education programs several years ago made a 60 percent expansion of the gallery space a necessity, Cooper Hewitt officials said.

The three-year renovation that followed ended up doing more than that: Cooper Hewitt has been widely praised by critics for pioneering participatory visitor experiences and immersion in…

View original post 900 more words

It’s not always about balance

Surviving Grad School

When I was talking with a friend recently about our start-up, we were discussing a bunch of items that need to get done. And how would we manage to do them all? I replied something about balance, and my friend, rightfully so, said no, it’s not balance, that’s not the right word. Which lead me to think about this more afterwards.

We often talk about the work-life balance. Or, in the case of the start-up and grad school, I’ve been talking/thinking about the work-work balance (there’s no time for life). And the problem about always thinking of tasks in terms of balance, is that the idea of balance is predicated on the fact that you can give or take from both sides of the equation. You give up life time to do work, or vice versa. However, many tasks that we have to “balance” don’t allow us to do that.

View original post 408 more words

What we read about deep learning is just the tip of the iceberg

Gigaom

The artificial intelligence technique known as deep learning is white hot right now, as we have noted numerous times before. It’s powering many of the advances in computer vision, voice recognition and text analysis at companies including Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Baidu, and has been the technological foundation of many startups (some of which were acquired before even releasing a product). As far as machine learning goes, these public successes receive a lot of media attention.

But they’re only the public face of a field that appears to be growing like mad beneath the surface. So much research is happening at places that are not large web companies, and even most of the large web companies’ work goes unreported. Big breakthroughs and ImageNet records get the attention, but there’s progress being made all the time.

Just recently, for example, Google’s DeepMind team reported on initial efforts to build algorithm-creating systems

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The innovations that could improve our world, assorted thoughts for rethinking terror and a pair of year-end accolades

TED Blog

In Brief JR redo JR’s signature eyes—this time of Eric Garner—proceed the Millions March in New York. Photo: JR/Instagram

TEDsters have been busy, as always, during the last two weeks. Below, just a few of the members of our global community with news to share.

Innovations poised to make a difference. Our friends over at Mashable created an excellent roundup of “14 innovations that improved the world in 2014.” It includes several innovations shared in TED Talks—like Manu Prakash’s 50-cent folding microscope, Miguel Nicolelis’ mind-controlled robotic exoskeleton, Mark Kendall’s needle-free vaccine patch, and Andrew Bastawrous’ smart-phone eye exam. 

It’s about time for overtime. Many Americans do get paid for the hours of overtime they put in at work. Nick Hanauer, the self-proclaimed 0.01 percent-er, writes a piece for PBS Newshour about how this lack of overtime pay is severely hindering progress for the American middle…

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Russia raises rates in emergency move as rouble collapses

Fortune

(REUTERS) – Russia’s central bank raised its key interest rate to 17 percent from 10.5 percent early Tuesday in an emergency move to halt a collapse in the rouble as oil prices decline and the country’s sanctions-hit economy slides toward recession.

The rouble strengthened sharply after the decision, recouping some of its heavy losses on Monday, when the currency staged its largest one-day fall since 1998.

Russia has raised the key rate a total of 11.5 percentage points this year amid market turmoil linked to the Ukrainecrisis, and such a high rate will likely further choke economic growth.

“This decision is aimed at limiting substantially increased rouble depreciation risks and inflation risks,” the central bank said in a statement.

The outlook for Russia’s economy has darkened considerably since the summer as capital flight has soared due to broad-based risk aversion to Russian assets and sanctions restricting Russian companies’ access to…

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VC Strategies for Additive Manufacturing: #3 Innovating Internally – Corporate Venture Capital

I fully concur.

Manufacturing Disruption

After examining the Full Stack and Reinventing the Hardware Startup, Manufacturing Disruption continues to explore emerging venture capital opportunities in the additive manufacturing space by taking a look inside traditional manufacturing companies.  A number of large companies, such as Lockheed Martin and GE Aviation, are already embracing the technology, but countless others are still waiting.  

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