Archive for September, 2012

Starting a Non-Profit

Posted: September 23, 2012 by Chuck Matthews in Non-Profit, Social Entrepreneurship, Startup

“The great aim of education is not knowledge, but action.”

— Herbert Spencer, British Philosopher

Thinking about starting a not-for-profit venture?   Perhaps you are thinking of starting an education or education-related start-up?  It is a very timely topic given the focus on the role that entrepreneurs can play on the social entrepreneurship front as well as the on-going debate on how to fix problems with education.  For example, the business of education is one of the most challenging and perplexing endeavors on the planet.  It involves multiple stakeholders, volatile emotions, and no easy answers.  The keepers of big data tell us that spending per pupil has gone steadily up while student performance overall continues to erode.

As if that weren’t enough of a challenge, when it comes to starting a venture in the education related field, the debate also extends to the public policy arena and politics, where politicians and business leaders are often at odds on how to define and address the problems.  Of course, education is more than just another business model (no matter how many times we call parents, students, and potential employers customers, they are not), but even a non-profit needs to have a monetization model to sustain its ability to offers its services beyond the here and now.  Let’s take a look at what it takes to start a not-for-profit in the education field.

Multiple Stakeholders, Multiple Styles

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Conventional Wisdom

Posted: September 16, 2012 by Bill Cunningham in Ecosystem, Innovation, Leadership, Startup

Five Cincinnati startups participated in the Huffington Post’s Entrepreneurial Expo over the last two weeks as part of Arianna Huffington’s initiative to focus on What’s Working: A Bipartisan Search For Solutions To The Jobs Crisis.  According to Ms. Huffington, the initiative embraced the “two necessarily partisan events — the Republican convention in Tampa and the Democratic convention in Charlotte -­ as powerful platforms for presenting a fundamentally bipartisan issue: what we the people can do to accelerate job creation and fill job openings.”

The luncheon panels, hosted by NBC’s Tom Brokaw included celebrities like Jeff Case — CEO of Startup America, Andrew Yang – CEO of Venture for America, Walter Isaacson – CEO of the Aspen Institute and author of Steve Jobs biography to discuss how to amplify and proliferate the great works entrepreneurs are achieving in this effort. America has many models that create jobs and work well.

Study after study shows that employment growth comes from the small business and startup sector. Intuitively, entrepreneurs start companies because of their creativity, innovation and passion to build great products and great companies. This results in great companies needing great employees with high passion who will have great jobs .

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Innovate or Evaporate?

Posted: September 9, 2012 by Rashmi Assundani in Ecosystem, People, Planning, Startup

Innovate or evaporate – this seems to be the new mantra for sustaining businesses. Given the high failure rate of entrepreneurial activity, entrepreneurs naturally ask  ‘How do I continue to innovate so I don’t evaporate?’ Constant innovation depends on access to information and ideas, and the access to information and ideas depend upon the entrepreneur’s ability to network.

In my mind, networking has become a clichéd term which ranges from meeting people in parties to having a Facebook and LinkedIn account. It can be an exhausting exercise as also a resource intensive one. When I was little, I would hear my entrepreneur father tell me networking requires energy, time and money.  For an entrepreneur, all these resources – time, money and energy, are precious and also limited. The obvious question would then be: How can an entrepreneur network with greater efficiency and effectiveness? Should I network with my ‘close and deep’ contacts or should I spread my wings? Where should I expend my resources?

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Our Growing Ecosystem

Posted: September 2, 2012 by Eileen Weisenbach Keller in Ecosystem, Innovation

When do skinny moms, back hair, bedsores, designated drivers, soccer games, star wars and childhood diabetes become elements of the same ecosystem? When entrepreneurs who live and work in the Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati region identify each of them as opportunities and compete in Cincinnati Innovates!

Although the analogy is fitting, I hesitate to use the term ecosystem as it is becoming a much over-used word. Although becoming worn from use, the term is not maligned because it is often, as in this case, the perfect word to describe a unique situation.

The concepts mentioned, from skinny moms to star wars, are the foundations for a variety of companies that apparently have nothing in common. The founders of these ventures haven’t collaborated with one another, they have not been coached by the same incubator or accelerator, and chances are they really don’t know one another at all. Yet, the founders and their new ventures have become pieces of a robust ecosystem. They are “organisms”, if you will, in an environment that is systematically interacting and becoming healthier over time.

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