Entrepreneurial Gene

For the last 4 years, I’ve been living and breathing the Lean Startup culture, meeting folks through 8150.co and a vast array of other places. Getting stuff done and selling services through platforms like Fiverr, Mechanical Turk, Upwork. Then I go on another Habitat for Humanity build (It has been awhile, love it). Meet a bunch of great, fellow Americans, making a difference in one family’s lives. We built the house, mission accomplished!

But I look at the family budget. I get to know Tabs, the father of the family, suffering from Diabetes, can’t do the traditional work of a man his age in the village. He has English skills, has a fairly modern Android phone. This guy could do Fiverr! My fellow travelers have no idea what I’m talking about; they don’t know what Fiverr is, can’t see what I see. So I must reach out to my entrepreneurial friends and colleagues. Please give my GoFundMe Campaign a look!

We need:

  • Social Media Love, Likes, and Shares
  • Help Tabs find great service offerings on Fiverr and help marketing them
  • Still, need a few contributions to implement the full plan

I’m also kicking my consulting practice up a notch. Starting to reach out more through LinkedIn. I share a bit of my 30-year experience working with outsourcing teams here in the article: Vendor Assessment with the Joel Test.

Be Brave!

— Andrew Halls

Random things that don’t suck #1

new-diet-tipsA weekly detailed list of things that don’t suck. This week we talk about Notion, Intermittent fasts, the amazing benefits of Sauna use (instead of sweating out shit we did this weekend) and Email marketing.

  1. Notion
    I just started playing with this app. It’s a lot of things. Project management, team management, tasks, file management. It does a pretty decent job at everything but doesn’t replace Slack or Salesforce or Basecamp. It is a great tool for a small business or startup that just needs simple. It also has a web client and a local app you can run on your mac natively.
  2. How to Gather 100,000 Emails in One Week (Includes Successful Templates, Code, Everything You Need)
    This is a little dated but somehow it slipped under my radar. Was a very compelling read and is a must read for anyone who is starting an online based enterprise of any size.
  3. How Sauna Use May Boost Longevity
    I use a Sauna several times a week and whenever I start feeling sick I’ll sit in one for an hour and “burn” away the sickness. Works 90% of the time every-time. There is, of course, a lot of science behind the health benefits of frequent sauna use. Dr. Rhonda Patrick is an amazing researcher and doesn’t play games with claims and sensationalist non-sense.
  4. How Intermittent Fasting Might Help You Live a Longer and Healthier Life
    I don’t put this stuff up without having some experience with it. This diet is excellent and I have seen real results from it. More focus, more energy and strangely enough a lack of hunger. I think it helps if you do this and also practice the Keto Diet (fat based, low carb diet) instead of a Carb based diet because you’ll suffer a lot of mood swings but there is a lot of new research into Intermittent fasts (IF) these days and it’s even being used for Cancer patients going into and out of Chemo.

Suffer the pain of Discipline or suffer the pain of regret.

We talk about Motivations a lot. Too much and we neglect the real driver of progress: Discipline. It’s easy to hear some cool quote about getting things done but then we lose our focus, forget the quote or throw it on the fridge and mediocracy resumes. Discipline is the real power you need to tap into. Discipline resonates as patterns and systems. Here is a decent list of resources to keep you focused. Realize that unless you win the lottery you have to work to get ahead. There are no shortcuts. Note: a lot of these are podcasts which are fantastic mediums to relay knowledge. I really enjoy Tim Ferris’s podcasts. Some are articles.


Videos, etc…

and Finally…learn to meditate. It’s not just for Yogi’s and girls in clipart.

**We’ll keep adding to this list. If you have something to add send it to me directly.


8150 member Taylor Seaton is going to X-Games

taylorOne of our newer members is pivoting in a different way at the X-Games tonight in Aspen. Taylor Seaton, who has an interesting idea for a new tactile interface for judges to record their scores is going to be competing tonight in a non-elimination event against some of the best half pipe skiers in the world. We wish him well.


Show Notes Jan 21st

Tonight we talked about:

Google Webmaster tools
If you have a Gmail account and a website you can login and add your site and get an inside view of how Google handles your indexes, sitemaps, crawler errors and how often google updates your site. It’s like Google Analytics but not as much data about visitors. More about your site’s health.


On the Social Media front we demoed:

Social Media queueing. Get all your tweets, facebook posts and linked in posts done in one seating. Just queue up your posts and it will spread the engagement on a schedule so it looks like you have a social media team.

This is a tremendous “add-on” for Buffer. It connects to your Buffer account and will suggest articles and posts that are in your industry so those days of trying to find compelling content for your audience can be accomplished with intelligent suggestions that you can add to your buffer queue.


Growth Hacking:
We covered Product Hunt which is a community driven site that can help launch your site / product / app to stardom.

We also covered sites that will help you get your startup message out to the masses for little cost. Sites like StartupLister, and Betalist are well proven tools to get your message out there on blogs, tech sites and industry specific venues.


Also, check out this cool raspberry Pi kit that has a ton of features.

8150 Shownotes From Thursday, January 8

Yesterday’s meeting was fully packed with a tech presentation from Jamie on NFC chips and a 777 from the founder of Columbian startup clothing design company A Tipico.

Jamie’s presentation explained the basic technology of NFC or Near Field Communication chips, and several of the ways passive chips are used today.  Only Android smartphones currently implement chips standard; Apple products have a ‘beam’ variation and are likely to feature similar technology in the future.

NFC chips are found in items like business cards, payment systems, and other devices such as video game components.  These chips can be programmed and used to automate tasks such as opening apps, all by touching the chip embedded in any various item to ones smartphone.

The founder of A Tipico set out to design affordable and practical clothing that also carries a message.  The A Tipico line features high contrast patterns on exclusive clothing at a practical price point.

The designs are meant to convey the meaning behind identity.  The group had ample ideas for promoting the clothing.  One input was that the area in Columbia where sales will take place is a popular tourist destination, full of potentially high spenders who are likely to be interested in the exclusiveness of the A Tipico line.  Setting up a show room is now a priority for the talented fashion designer-entrepreneur.

We look forward to next week’s meeting at 5:30pm Thursday.



8150 Show Notes from Thursday, September 18

To start yesterday’s 8150 meeting we discussed a few important dates to take into account.


October 9-11 : Startup Weekend @ Montrose.

Ticket prices are $60 for just about everything. You can purchase yours @ http://www.up.co/communities/usa/western-colorado/startup-weekend/7003

September 22: 8150 Pitch to Avon Town Council

This upcoming Tuesday 8150 will be pitching to Avon Town Council for money to fund our very own Startup Weekend! Come show your support if you have the time to stop by!

September 28 – October 2: Denver Startup Week.

This event is the structure and vision that 8150 itself has been shaped around. Brad Feld, writer of Startup Communities and owner of Boulder based company tech-stars, will be speaking on Tuesday, September 9th. To attend that specific presentation register here; http://www.denverstartupweek.org/schedule/1429-brad-and-sean-s-excellent-canadian-adventure . Registration and a schedule of events for the rest of the weeks activities can be accessed @ http://www.denverstartupweek.org/ . The 8150 “meeting” for that Thursday will take place in Denver.


Moving forward, Brad presented the 8150 draft pitch for the Avon Town Council. This proposal that can be no longer that five minutes was discussed as a group as we added some questions and comments. After this quick tune up, the meeting shifted its focus to Steve and his 777 pitch (seven slides, seven minutes, seven minutes of feedback).

Steve’s idea came to him while sitting purgatory, bored on a chairlift. He wanted to design a game that combines universal trail maps with the interaction of something like monopoly. After brainstorming, Steve has created the game “Huck the Mountain”. The pitch was a good time for us to all understand the idea and a valuable chance to for Steve to collect feedback. The next step?.. Time to play the game!


Doug then presented an informational segment about what certain companies did to perpetuate themselves while starting up. Some main takeaways from that presentation are as follows:

“-Use Visual marketing methods (videos, stickers, swag) over text ads
-Don’t let your site be a ghost town. Fake it till you make it. If you can’t fake it then hold parties where people have to install the app or incentivize people to sign up. More points / value for referrals
-Plunder your competitors. Just make sure that your service is better and you keep your message simple and to the point.
-Focus Local over national.”

We wrapped up the meeting per usual with questions and time for everyone to catch up individually!

CTO Job opening @ Im Not At Work

If you are looking for work as a CTO this just might be for you! Located in Summit county, ImNotAtWork.com is a marketing website for restaurants and bars that answers questions like “Which restaurants near me are having specials right now?”​ “Where can I find live music tonight?”​ or “Is there an outdoor bar that would be great for Happy Hour today?”

For more information and link to the application go to: https://angel.co/i-m-not-at-work/jobs/81605-cto

The Matrix


Synergy is described as the cooperation of two or more parts to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.  When a goose fly’s by itself, it tends to travel between twenty and thirty miles per hour. A flock of geese traveling in a V formation, however, travels seventy one percent faster.  Much like geese, people in a board room can greatly benefit from the tools and expertise of coworkers.  In fact at 8150 High Altitude Entrepreneurs, using the help and advice of others has proven to be highly effective.

When walking into the 8150 boardroom, one can begin to understand exactly what makes the High Altitude Entrepreneurs such an effective group.  Inside the boardroom, one can expect to find a highly diverse and qualified group of individuals who are dedicated to the start-up community.  At one end of the table, highly experienced Doug Clayton can be seen ticking away on a mac-book.  Doug’s specialty- technology.    Doug is just one tool at 8150, and brings technology expertise.  Many others  contribute unique and valuable information; the board room is a place where entrepreneurs help each other.

To the left of Doug, MBA and attorney Brad Bickerton can be seen helping others curate ideas.  Brad brings highly valuable consulting information to the table, as well as extensive knowledge of law. Brads ‘get it done’ attitude and impressive background make him extremely valuable to 8150. All around the table, individuals offer unique and specialized skill sets.  Because of this, the interactions at 8150 are highly productive.

When a meeting starts, Doug begins what the group calls the Matrix- an often comical yet effective system for keeping track of individual progress.  The Matrix has the name of each individual in one column, with a weekly task in another column.  A third column states either WIN or FAIL based on whether or not that week’s task was accomplished.  Starting at the top and working down the Matrix, it is easy to see why 8150 is so productive. The Matrix holds people accountable.  8150 does not just keep track of progress; however, it also gives entrepreneurs the resources necessary to accomplish their own tasks.

The functionality of 8150 and the Matrix has developed unique social aspects as well.  Mutual respect and teamwork is the recipe for success and cooperation around the board room table.  When there is a ‘FAIL’ on the matrix, one can expect to see friendly teasing. Brad’s sarcasm is waiting around every corner, and cheesy jokes are nothing rare.  All contribute to a positive environment where new ideas are shared and entrepreneurs have every resource they could need in order to be successful. Innovative ideas are curated, and laughs can be heard all around the room.


Your Ideas are useless…still…

I was sitting on a plane today while it was undergoing maintenance for a fuel line electrical issue that was taking over an hour. I knew the flight would be cancelled or we’d get shuffled onto another plane. Fuel and Electrical issues == flight cancelled.

While sitting there I started reading a book I brought just so I looked smarter to my travel mates. Do More Faster by Cohen and Feld. I had read most of the book already but apparently I forgot a lot of it. I recommend this book to everyone. The book is contributor-based with short lessons and stories that are 2-4 pages max. I really appreciate the shortness of it and it’s easy to cherry-pick a much needed lesson.

Enough already..enjoy this:

Trust Me, Your Idea Is Worthless

Earth-shattering and world-changing ideas are a dime a dozen. In fact, that’s being too generous.

I’ve had hundreds of would-be entrepreneurs contact me with great news: They have the next big thing, but they can’t risk telling me (or anyone else) about it until I sign some form of idea insurance, usually a nondisclosure agreement (NDA). Like every other sensible investor on the planet, I decline the request to sign the NDA, forgoing the idea, often to the shock, awe, and dismay of the stunned entrepreneur.

Why do I avoid this conversation? Because entrepreneurs who behave this way clearly overvalue ideas and therefore, almost by definition, undervalue execution. Brainstorming is a risk-free, carefree activity. Entrepreneurship in the literal sense of “undertaking” is not. Strap on your seat belt if you’re signing up for a startup. It’s a high-velocity experience.

If you have a brilliant idea, it’s safe to assume that a few very smart people are working on the same thing, or woking on a different approach to solving the same problem. Just look at the number of travel apps on your iphone or the number of diet and exercise sites on the web for an example of this.

Overvaluing the idea is a red flag., Particularly in the absence of tangible progress. Sure, I miss out on investing in some truly great ideas with this attitude, but that’s ok with me: I don’t invest in ideas. Nor does Warren Buffett. I’ll lose less money than those who do. I can largely control my downside by investing in good people who, even if they fail this go-round, will learn from mistakes and have other fundable ideas (ideas I’d likely have access to as an early supporter). I do not have this advantage when investing with ideas.

One popular startup dictum worth remembering is “One can’t steal ideas, but no one can steal execution or passion.” Put in another light; there is no market for ideas. Think about it for a second: have you tried selling an idea lately? Where wold you go to sell it? Who would buy it? When there is no market, it is usually a very sure sign that there is no value.

Almost any can (and has!) come up with a great idea, but only a skilled entrepreneur can execute it. Skilled in this case doesn’t mean experienced; it means flexible and action-oriented, someone who recognizes that mistakes can often be corrected, but time lost postponing a decision lost forever. Ideas, however necessary, are not sufficient. They are just an entry ticket to play the game.

Don’t shelter and protect your startup like it’s a nest egg. If it’s truly your only viable idea, you won’t have the creativity to adapt when needed (and it will be needed often) in negotiation or responding to competitors and customers. In this case, it’s better to call it quits before you start.

Your idea is probably being worked on by people just as smart as you are.

Focus on where most people balk and delay: exposing it to the real world. If you’re cut out for the ride, this is also where all the rewards and excitement live, right alongside the 800-pound gorillas and cliffside paths.That’s the fun of it.

David didn’t beat Goliath with a whiteboard. Go get amongst it, and prepare to bob and weave.

Check out the book on amazon. A must buy!

VLI Post: Intellectual Relevance

VLI Post at: VailLeadership.org 

This past week a RoundTable group from Vail met for a regularly scheduled meeting, and the topic of “intellectual relevance” came up.  As a self-selected lifestyle, Vail residents choose a moderately paced way of life to create a daily depth of living that I have not found in other areas. The pace is set by the natural boundaries of nature that protect residents from the physical and mental congestion.  The boundaries though can also create norms that inhibit innovation, growth, and knowledge from global sources.

IMG_5398I was invited to a unique experience outside of Vail this week in Evanston, IL held at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern.  This event called “KIN” references the Kellogg Innovation Network, and it hosts delegates from 21 countries that convene each May for this Global Summit.  The theme for 2015, is “Growth for Good.”  This topic is highly relevant for non-profit leaders, social entrepreneurs, and even multi-nationals who are looking to create sustainable practices that will impact us all.




The knowledge from this event ranges from a Board Member of Finland’s Central Bank, Women Social Entrepreneurs from Afghanistan, the Head of Cloud Platforms for Google, the CEO of Indiegogo, and the former Director of Counterterrorism Finance Programs.  This is just a sample of the over 50 speakers and artists contributing to this intellectual foray.


What KIN has done exceptionally well is to stimulate “community” within the attendees of this conference. The goal isn’t to simply “learn,” but rather to find solutions and connections to advance this learning into practice.  Over dinner the 2nd day, I sat with the former CEO of MTV Films who has followed a passion, and recently started a media firm called We are the Mighty, dedicated to the culture of returning veterans.  The way in which he planned and launched this organization was highly relevant to the Intellectual Renaissance we are developing in Vail, CO.


IMG_5404As I sat listening to a post-program concert at the Music Institute of Chicago, it invigorated my passion to bring this Intellectual mindset to a place where community is already centric.  There is definitely a need to leave your primary place of residence to stay relevant in this highly complex intellectual world, but there is also great opportunity to bring this level of intellect to a place where the boundaries of nature could serve as a campus for global growth that encourages the “human connection.”



Why Non-Competes are not allowed at 8150 meetings

As is only natural. Pseudo concerns about contracts end up in my corner. Something to do with being a former practicing lawyer I presume. 

Forgive the rant below, this happens to be an issue that I’m passionate about and requires some explanation as to why the typical way of doing things is not good, right, effective, or appropriate. 

Occasionally people ask about non-competes and non-disclosure agreements, usually before a 777 pitch. 

Short Answer: No we will not allow and non-compete at an 8150 hosted event – ever. 

Long Answer: 

1) NDAs are directly against our culture at 8150 which puts inclusiveness, collaboration, and community first; 

2) Non-competes are almost completely unenforceable, by function of Colorado State Law, and even harder to enforce for someone who is not an executive member of an organization. In my experience 90% of non-competes are not valid contracts;

3) They stifle innovation (see Brad Feld’s Startup Communities somewhere in chapter 4); 

4) There are integrity issues involved with seeing an idea and “stealing it.” The result would be social exclusion from our community. While this is not legal recourse, I’ve consistently been surprised by how effective the social structure of entrepreneurship works;

5) [Perceived] competitors are usually too busy to steal ideas and frequently want to work together. Both competitive startups and established businesses are usually doing everything they can to launch or fix their product and then gain clients based on what they are currently doing. It is unlikely they have the 1) assets, 2) resources, or 3) desire to expand in a new way (they need all three). I shit you not this happens way more than you would expect. (See: the book “Zero to One” – PayPal was created when Peter Theil and Elon Musk had lunch together even though they were both on the verge of launching essentially the same product);

6) Generally the best thing for a company is for the word to get out, even pre-launch when you are vulnerable, having a group free to discuss with their network is incredibly helpful;

7) If people sign enough NDAs they will be prevented from talking about anything. What if you pitch a social network for Rock Climbers idea to me and I sign an NDA before hand. Then in 18 months someone pitches a social network for Hummel Doll collectors to me. Am I prevented from talking about when I know about social networks to the Hummel Doll collectors because I have an NDA for social networking?

8) Entrepreneurial activities normally work too fast for NDAs to stay relevant. Your idea is as good as it is before it launches, that is when you get real market data and start making changes and pivots.  

9) It is execution that is the differentiator, not the idea. If you can make it work then it doesn’t matter how hard someone tries to steal or replicate, you will simply crush them. If you can not then you will fail quickly. 

I could go on. In the end it is your call. 

But hey, what do I know?

Reminder of 8150’s goals and philosophy – Startup Communities Brad Feld

The quote from the end of Startup Communities:

“My favorite thing about startups is that they don’t require anyone’s permission. Great entrepreneurs just start doing things. These are the same entrepreneurs who can be the leaders of their startup community. They just do things, like many of the people you’ve read about in this book.

Although it’s a long, challenging journey to create and maintain a startup community, no permission is needed. Startup communities exist all over the United States and the world. Some are already vibrant and durable; others are nascent.

Hopefully this book has given you lots of ideas and inspiration to help take your startup community to the next level. Remember, it’s a long-term journey, so be patient and persistent. As Yoda once told Luke, “Do or do not, there is no try.”

Feld, Brad (2012-09-06). Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City (pp. 187-188). Wiley. Kindle Edition.

80/20 clients and employees – lessons of the Pareto principle

Pareto Vilfredo

The Pareto principle is essentially the 80/20 rule. 80 percent of your X comes from 20% of your Y.  Usually this is considered as 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your clients.  However, this principle works for a wider variety of issues.

Today at the co-working space one of the website designers was talked into firing a client. The crux of the issue was the amount of time and emotional energy spent. She was spending 80% of her time and emotional energy on one client. It almost does not matter how much difficult clients bring to the table, they almost always should be fired. Anyone who has managed a team knows the same holds true with employes.

With the free time and energy that you get from ridding yourself of this this client or employee you will replace them.

My personal experience with this came from the first employee that I straight-up fired.  In my time with The Assist Group & at that time I had pretty much complete control over my team. Except I was not allowed to straight fire someone.

Here is the setup. I was 27 years old. The only one in the company who could do the work, talk to clients, and report to upper management. I was in control of a division that brought in 80% of the revenue. I had a team of about 12, and revenue of about $8mm/yr (growing at a 30-50% rate, which means you are always logistically behind).

I was probably the oldest person on my team. And there was only one other man on the team (lots of older as well as XY chromosome types in the company just not in my division).

There are a bunch of reasons for this, including my personal belief that for a job that required 100% on the job training, and was complicated and fast paced, you should be hiring young people with light behind their eyes. For whatever reasons usually people who came to the door were women.

Upper management made it clear to me that this ratio of a) young and b) women need to be changed. To this end, when the next employee was hired management literally forced me to choose my third choice, a 40 yr old women who had been ‘in the industry’ for 20 years.

(Tangent:  ‘In the industry’ is a very bad hiring criteria that a new product can have, all too frequently they do not know how to change and are always struggling with the fast paced, no SOPs, and need to stay ahead of the mental curve while being behind on the ever increasing work load (see Harvard Business Review–How to spot talent (hint: Talent is overrated).

Being part of my nature, I gave her every benefit of the doubt. But I knew before day 30 that she was not a fit. I told upper management this, and they responded that I hadn’t given her enough time. I will not get into the issues with having people on a different floor (literally) and in a different department having control over hiring or firing.

Now comes a personal high point of my career. After about 6 weeks two of my employees set a meeting on the upstairs floor. Not a typical event for a meeting called by employees with no stated agenda. The two gals who called the meeting flat out told me that the elder (relatively) lady had to go. This was a personal victory because it meant that my team members were comfortable enough to call this kind of meeting. Whatever I did (good hiring, good management, not sparing the rod, or just luck…what do I know?) created a good team.

This meeting gave me the ammunition to actually fire the lady. I went to HR, I got her last paycheck, and just went into it. Honestly, it was hard to do. However, the moment she was gone there was a collective sigh of relief. The surprise benefit was that over the next 6 weeks my team grew closer together, more efficient, more work was done than normal and, by the time we found a replacement, we had lost almost nothing (admittedly this violates my tips on hiring post).

How does this related back to Pareto? Tangentially at best. Hopefully the ratio of pouring too much energy into the wrong place is more clear. The lesson, the amount of time and energy applied to this lady was closer to the 80% of my management effort, even though she was worth less than 20% of the work.

But hey, what do I know?

<This post is heavily related to my Some Tips on Hiring &  The story of Sharon posts on my old bickerton.tips blog>

TechCrunch Disrupt vs. Innovation vs. Technology vs. Entrepreneurship – A definitional exploration

Forgive my lawyerly ways, but I think proper definitions put proper context on what we do.

My current chaffing comes from the differences in the words Disrupt, Innovate, Technology and Entrepreneurship.

I know a blog about definitions sounds incredibly boring, but try to take a step back after reading this and ask what your hopes, dreams, goals, and endeavors are trying to do. This is a fundamental in my step 2 rant about ONLY DOING THINGS THAT INCREASE YOUR LIKELIHOOD TO SUCCEED.


Disruptive Technologies, by definition takes a well established way of doing something, and completely changes it. For instance, when we had something to say we used to talk on the phone to one person and/or get a group of people together to listen in mass, now we talk in 140 character texts through Twitter. Creating a super cool new construction material is not disruptive.

The benefits of disruption are, if your way of disruption is the winner (not Myspace), literally billions of dollars (Microsoft). But it is also incredibly hard. First and foremost, convincing someone to switch is very hard. Rules of thumb are 1) Educating a market is the most expensive form of marketing and 2) you have to be perceived to be 10x better than the current method for second degree marketing efforts to become viable (Second degree is where people use your service though none of your marketing has ever reached them directly).

Usually disruption comes in the form of a big, simple idea. How we communicate (Twitter), how we do accounting (Medici’s), how we purchase household goods (Amazon Prime).

Innovation and Technology are actually synonymous, at least in definition. They both simply mean a new way of doing things. Tech-nology actually means “a new way” and has nothing to do with computers. An advanced technology simply means a new, more sophisticated, way of doing something. The benefits of this are that the market is already established and all you have to do is let the market know you exist and work to take market share.

Entrepreneurship is a derivative of the verb ‘to enter.’  You need nothing new or original, other than you entering the market. Every single new restaurant is by definition entrepreneurial.

So what seems right to you? Where do you fit? If you cannot stand the way something is done to you want to be a little bit better, or do you want to completely change the way people go about doing something?

But hey, what do I know?

Ravens and MailBox Money

At the Thursday meeting last week, we discussed disruptive technologies and what we could do in the Vail Valley. We threw around a couple ideas, but really got stuck on the whole ski school thing. The bottom line is that, sometimes, the legal system will shut down new entrants into a market. In fact, the government is allowed to give out monopolies.

I’ll write more on that later but, as happens, I was driving with my friend Brent the other day discussing these things and he told me the following story about one of the more innovative but least disruptive ways of making money I’ve ever heard.

Brent told me a story about someone he knew back in college. This bloke whom I’ll call….Jake, was working on a masters degree and his thesis involved ravens (possibly crows). What Jake learned was that ravens were more clever as scavengers than he thought.

Here is what Jake did, he trained a raven from birth to pick up shinny round things and place them in a box, for the reward of a peanut. The result, the bird learned to pick up coins for food (also washers, and other round shinny things). Neat little trick, no?

But here is the real result. When Jake released this ONE BIRD into the wild, not only did it continue to forage for coins, but other birds saw the behavior and mimicked it!

For sum total of about $400 in change a week! (AKA, $20k/yr of non-taxable income).

Talk about MailBox Money.

(Mail Box money that comes to you with little or not extra work usually by maintaining ownership in a company or process that no longer requires personal effort this give you financial freedom to be creative in your endeavors).

So where is Brad’s little rant or lesson to share? This is a genuine combination play of two very old processes, picking up change & bird training, however it was the insight to combine the two that makes this new. It is NOT disruptive, it is innovative but more importantly it is valuable enough on its own to make it worth its time.

So as news organizations continue to love the concept and term ‘disruptive’ I suggest that we continue to work towards our goals, and that does not have to be disruptive at all.

But hey, what do I know?


Back to Basics: Intellectual Property (e.g. Patents) Overview

Back To Basics: Overview of Intellectual Property

Generally there are 4 types of intellectual property: patents, copyright, trademark, and trade-secrets. Each cover a different thing, happen in a different way, and last for a different period of time.

Patents: Cover inventions. The definition of invention is too much to explain here. You don’t have protection until the US patent office gives you a patent. There was a recent change in the laws, the result is that the first to file has rights to the invention.

Copyright: Covers art stuff. Pictures, sculptures, written works (including programming code), occurs when the thing is created. If it was created after 1978 it lasts for 75 years after the creators death (thank you Disney family lobbyists).

Trademark: Covers things like your company or product/service name. There are other things, like the color that Tiffany uses on all its boxes.

In the U.S., trademark rights arise from use, not registration.  This means, that you can own non-registered “common law rights” without ever obtaining a registration.  BUT, if you rely on federal application/registration, then that grants you presumptive nationwide rights (not just in the location where you use the mark).

For metaphorical types: I say trademark follows the orphans and widows test. Say I send my metaphorical grandma to the store to pick up an XYZ. She is at the shelf and sees XYZ and ABC and can’t tell which one is which. One of these is violating trademark.

Trade Secrets: Are simply too complicated for this article. If you wonder about these it’ll take an attorney and hour to explain. Some of you know I was involved in a major lawsuit in a company I have an equity stake in. Cost a ton in fees, but was ultimately – economically – worth it.

A little more discussion:

For those interested, there is a benefit to society if people can protect their hard work, and make money off it, without having to keep it secret. So we created a law that helps someone sell their work, without fear of losing to copycats. This was created way back in 1776 with our Constitution. Those founding father’s sure knew what was up!

In the fast paced world of entrepreneurship and the internet, spending time on these devices has somewhat gone out of fashion.

Patents take too long to get, usually the market/product that you are trying to protect has moved past your patent by the time it is filed and approved. They also cost a lot of money. Another reason they are going out of fashion in the entrepreneurial world is because the new ‘open source’ movement has moved from programming to physical items. This is partly lead by some friends of mine, Nathan and Alicia Seidle, who are known for starting Sparkfun Electronics.

Copyright can help with artwork and protect’s programming code. The problem is that using an alternative method to get to the same result is generally allowed. Say Rich Staats uses PHP to code an awesome website, and Doug Clayton uses dot-net to do essentially the same thing. As long as the code is different they can both do it.

Trademark still works pretty well, and comes into place for free, though, registration is cheap, easy, and helpful. If you are a huge company this is a big deal.

Anything further would extend past the quick overview look I’m trying to give in ‘Back to Basics’.

But hey, what do I know?