Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Holiday Carol - A Few of My Favorite Things

Posted By: George Deeb - 12/20/2011

I thought you would all enjoy a little holiday cheer this time of year. MY FAVORITE THINGS (sung to the holiday tune from The Sound of M...

I thought you would all enjoy a little holiday cheer this time of year.

MY FAVORITE THINGS
(sung to the holiday tune from The Sound of Music)
Collecting on eBay, and tweeting on Twitter
Surfing on iTunes, new music aglitter
Downloading fun apps for iPhone Siri
These are a few of my favorite things

Friending on Facebook, and saving with Groupon
Shopping adventures, at Abe Books and Amazon
Streaming my Netflix on PlayStation 3
These are a few of my favorite things

Watching on YouTube, and E.S.P.N.
Gaming with Zynga, and Words With My Friends
Angry Birds that will fly into most anything
These are a few of my favorite things

When PC's crash
When our stocks fall
When our boards are mad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad
[Repeat All Verses]

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!

For future posts, please follow me at: www.twitter.com/georgedeeb

Monday, December 12, 2011

Lessons from the Lost Decade: Alternative Investing

Posted By: George Deeb - 12/12/2011

The last ten years have not been very good to the average investor or the economy: (i) the stock market has basically traded up and down wit...

The last ten years have not been very good to the average investor or the economy: (i) the stock market has basically traded up and down within a tight range, having 401k plans flat; (ii) the real estate market has been plagued with declining home values and foreclosures; (iii) the banks are paying close to zero interest rates on cash accounts; (iv) college 529 plans have not lived up to expectations, requiring additional deposits to catch them up; (v) unemployment is probably double the reported 9% levels when you include "under employed" persons; (vi) healthcare and education costs continue to skyrocket, while salaries have been basically flat; and (vii) consumers are buried under tons of credit card debt, student loans and upside-down mortgages.  Not a pretty ten years, making it near impossible for the average person to accumulate wealth.  This may be the first generation that will actually be financially worse off than their parents' generation. 

That said, plenty of money was made, by people that knew how to take advantage of these conditions:  hedge fund managers that understood how to deal with risk, day traders playing on the high volatility and venture capitalists who bet on smart entrepreneurs with innovative new products and services.

I am challenging everybody to start to rethink their entire investment strategies.  We can't assume that conditions will be any better in the next decade than their were in the last one.  Especially since conditions could actually get worse with a global economic meltdown or fears of a double dip recession in the U.S.  Frankly, people can no longer retire comfortably at age 65, forcing them to work more years, and tying up jobs that otherwise would have opened for the next generation of workers.  And, we can't simply keep doing the "same old, same old" strategies our parents used to accumulate wealth, as those strategies are outdated, haven't worked in the last decade and may no longer work in future generations.  We must plan ahead, in new and unique ways.

It has gotten to the point that I am modeling what would happen if I liquidate my 401k and college 529 plans (both of which are tied to the broader U.S. stock market which has basically been flat for ten years), and reinvesting them more like a venture capitalist would, into early stage companies that are poised for future growth.  If the average venture capitalist experiences a 35-50% annual return on their investment, even with only 1 of 10 investments hitting it big and several startups going out of business, you can drive a materially higher long term portfolio value in the next ten years, even after paying any 10% early withdrawl penalties or required taxes.

But, venture investing is not for everybody.  Maybe you don't have that level of appetite for risk?  Maybe you are not tied into deal flow for hot startups?  Maybe you are not an accredited investor?  But, if you are open to thinking out of the box, there are plenty of websites out there that can help you get started.  This includes: (i) AngelList, the marketplace for startups and angel investors; (ii) Kickstarter, to find startups looking to crowd fund their business; and (iii) SecondMarket or SharesPost to find shares in later stage businesses, prior to their IPO (although valuations can be pretty rich).  And, don't forget to consider joining the angel investor networks in your town, like Hyde Park Angels, Cornerstone Angels, Heartland Angels and Wildcat Angels in Chicago, which do a good job of vetting quality startups for angel investors.

For future posts, please follow me at:  www.twitter.com/georgedeeb

Friday, December 9, 2011

[VIDEO] George Deeb Teaches Financial Modeling

Posted By: George Deeb - 12/09/2011

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of mentoring the inaugural class of entrepreneurs at Founder Institute Chicago.  Below is a video of t...

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of mentoring the inaugural class of entrepreneurs at Founder Institute Chicago.  Below is a video of the lesson I taught on "Revenues, Costs and Profits".  I thought it would be useful to the Red Rocket Blog readers, as well.

This lesson helps entrepreneurs get started with business planning, revenue modeling and financial projections, in a conservative and credible way that should help startups attract investors.  The lesson provides high level guidance on: (i) how to make money; (ii) how to build a financial model; (iii) how to scale expenses; (iv) how to attract investors; and (v) how to set key metrics for ongoing success.



George Deeb Teaches "Revenues, Costs & Profits" to Founder Institute Class from George Deeb on Vimeo.

I hope you enjoyed this video (despite the bad lighting).  And, if you desire to see more "how to" videos in the future, let me know in the comments field, and I can build some into my editorial calendar.

For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/georgedeeb.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Lessons in Leadership: Mount Everest

Posted By: George Deeb - 12/05/2011

I am a Mount Everest fanatic, as an avid mountain hiker and reader.  I have always been intrigued by the various styles and personalities o...


I am a Mount Everest fanatic, as an avid mountain hiker and reader.  I have always been intrigued by the various styles and personalities of people that would put their lives at risk, in trying to summit Mount Everest.  It certainly takes a special breed of person to willingly enter the Death Zone (much like founders of startups).  In this post, we are going to compare and contrast two different expeditions and management styles: (i) the failed 1924 attempt by George Mallory and Andrew Irvine, organized by  Sir Francis Younghusband; and (ii) the successful first summit attempt in 1953 by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, organized by Sir John Hunt.

After the South Pole was successfully reached by Norwegian explorer, Roald Amundsen, in 1912,  there was only one major objective not yet acheived by explorers: successfully getting to the summit of Mount Everest, the highest point on the planet (at 29,035 feet above sea level) located on the border of Nepal and Tibet in the Himalayas.  And, in the great age of exploration, as empassioned by many great British explorers (e.g., David Livingstone, Robert Falcon Scott, Ernest Shackleton), Britain was determined to get a team to the summit first.

So, in 1921 and 1922, Britain sent two reconnaisance expeditions into the Everest region, both of which included George Mallory.  The expeditions were tasked with mapping a route into uncharted territory (in 1921) and for finding a navigable path to the summit (in 1922).  With such objectives acheived, the British launched their first formal summit attempt in 1924.

The 1924 Expedition is best summarized as an incredible feat for its day (given the inadequate equipment involved), but ended in tragedy with the deaths of four members of the expedition, including George Mallory and Andrew Irvine, who were last seen around 800 feet from the summit  (so close to their objective) before a storm rolled in and they were lost forever.  The 1924 Expedition is well detailed in "The Epic of Mount Everest" by expedition leader, Sir Francis Younghusband.  It very much reads like a romance novel from the great age of exploration, with George Mallory famously saying he wanted to climb Mount Everest "because it is there."

In comparison, we have the 1953 Expedition that got Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay successfully up to the summit and back, with no deaths on the expedition.  It was the culmination of thirteen preceding failed attempts by the British, Americans and Swiss over a thirty year period.  The 1953 Expedition is well detailed in "The Conquest of Mount Everest" by expedition leader, Sir John Hunt.  It very much reads like a military war plan, with detailed logistics on moving all the required people, food and state-of-the-art equipment into the region, and up and down the mountain.  In comparison to the 1924 Expedition, it is pretty self-explanatory which approach worked best.  The British finally acheived their goal, but only after decades of learnings and failures that preceded it.

So, when building your startups, if this lesson has taught us anything, passion by itself will take you a long way.  But, it is not enough to always get you to the finish line.  You need to have good tutelage and wisdom from mentors that have "been there, and done that", who can help you build a better "blue print" than you could build by yourself.  The 1953 Expedition was successful, in large part, due to the learnings and failures of the 1924 and other expeditions that preceded it.  Who are your mentors that can help set your successful path to the summit??

And, secondarily, startup success can only be achieved with a crystal clear vision about what your mission is.  The 1924 Expedition meandered between exploration and scientific research objectives.  And, the 1953 Expedition was solely focused on getting a climbing team successfully up to the summit (and back!!).  So, make sure you and your team are firmly focused on the mission at hand with clearly communicated and agreed upon objectives.

For future posts, please follow me at:  www.twitter.com/georgedeeb

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Lessons in Leadership: Michigan Football

Posted By: George Deeb - 11/29/2011

Michigan Football is the winningest team in college football history, built on deep traditions dating back 132 years and great coaches like ...

Michigan Football is the winningest team in college football history, built on deep traditions dating back 132 years and great coaches like Fielding Yost, Fritz Crisler and Bo Schembechler.  This program has generated 11 national championships, 42 Big Ten championships, 77 All-Americans, 3 Heisman Trophy winners and has attracted over 100,000 fans for every game at Michigan Stadium over the last 42 years.  Michigan Football is an institution, generating millions of dollars in revenue each year, and the expectations are high, year-in and year-out.

Between 1969 to 2006, Michigan Football was most personified by one man, Bo Schembechler, the great U-M coach between 1969-1989 most known for his 10 year war with Woody Hayes, Bo's mentor and head coach at arch enemy Ohio State.  In his first season, Bo turned around a struggling program, knocking off #1 ranked OSU in his first try.  He could do no wrong from there in the eyes of the Michigan faithful.  Bo went on to win 13 conference titles in his 21 years as head coach.  So, it is safe to say, whatever Bo thought, ruled decision making in Michigan Football, for as long as he was around the program (even for the 17 years he lived after coaching).

When Bo became Athletic Director after coaching, he quickly fired Bill Frieder as head baskball coach after it leaked he would become the next coach at Arizona State after the end of the season.  Bo got up to the podium and said "only a Michigan Man will coach a Michigan team", naming assistant coach Steve Fisher the new head coach the day before the NCAA tournament started.  Fisher ended up winning his first six games as head coach, and the National Championship in the process, making Bo that much more "god-like" in Ann Arbor. 

But, that "Michigan Man" quote became a mantra for all future coaching hires within the program.  Bo handed off the coaching reins to his assistant, Gary Moeller, who then was replaced by another Bo assistant, Lloyd Carr, both Michigan Men and direct descendents from Bo.  So, when Lloyd Carr announced his retirement after the 2007 season, the search for the next coach began and most assumed another Michigan Man would be hired.  Then Athletic Director, Bill Martin, after a series of public missteps and a mismanaged recruitment process, announced that Rich Rodriguez, the head coach of a wildly successful West Virginia program, would be the next coach at  Michigan.  Rodriguez was not a Michigan Man, and the first one hired since Bo died in 2006.

Now starts the key lessons that may be relevant to your businesses, which are much better detailed and documented in the new, nicely-written book "Three and Out" by John Bacon, the story of Rich Rodriguez and his failed tunure at Michigan between 2008-2010.  But, I thought it was important you had the above background, to put the below in perspective.

Reaction to Hiring.  Most U-M fans were hoping the hugely successful U-M alum, Les Miles of LSU, was going to get the job, especially since that was erroneously reported by ESPN early in the recruiting process.  After rumors of Les Miles, Kirk Ferentz (Iowa), and Greg Schiano (Rutgers) came and went, Rich Rodriguez felt like a distant fourth choice.  And, to make matters worse, he wasn't a Michigan Man.  Lloyd Carr had preferred his replacement had been one of his assistant coaches, from within the program.  And, when it wasn't, Carr did not make it easy on Rodriguez, as he helped many of his current star players transfer out of the program.  And, many of the Michigan football player alums, publicly voiced their criticism of the hire and did not offer their typical support of the new coach.

Egos and the memories of what Bo would do got in the way, and overshone the repeated successes of Rodriguez throughout his career, who on paper was a very good choice by Bill Martin.  And, the Michigan faithful didn't seem to remember, when Bo was hired (he was an outsider from Miami, Ohio) and when Fielding Yost was hired (he was an outsider, also from West Virginia).  But, for whatever reason, Rodriguez was doomed from day one without internal support for his hiring.

Reaction to First Days on Job.  To make matters worse, Rodriguez had no sense to the numerous deep-seeded traditions of Michigan Football (importance of #1 jersey to best wide receiver, importance of beating OSU, importance of getting to Rose Bowl), making him look even more like an outsider, because he never asked, and was never taught, things that mattered to the program.  And, his style was very much a "do it yourself" style, burying himself in the football building, and not reaching out and networking with the athletic department, university officials, football alumni and the fans themselves.  A style which only works if you are winning, since it is hard to fire the guy you know and like, but easy to fire the guy you never see and know nothing about.

Layer on top of that the fact that U-M promised to pay $2.5MM of Rodriguez's severance payment due to West Virginia at the time he was hired, but the university wouldn't let Rodriguez communicate such agreement publicly.  Which made it look like U-M was "bailing out" Rodriguez from his personal commitments with U-M cash, which was not the case.

Reaction to Performance.  Rodriguez went 3-9 in his first year, marking U-M's first losing season in 40 years and breaking U-M's national leading string of 33 consecutive bowl game appearances.  It didn't matter the team was light on talent for Rodriguez's system and based on early departures (assisted by Lloyd Carr).  And, it didn't matter Rodriguez told his boss it would take 3-4 years to get the program working right.  All that mattered was the U-M faithful, who were leery of his hiring to start, were out for blood. 

To make matters worse, Michigan was investigated by the NCAA for the first time in history, while on Rodriguez's watch.  Michigan was penalized for five major NCAA violations, largely around practicing 6% more time than was allowed by the NCAA (largely during the off season).  Are you kidding?  A disgruntled former player was a whistle-blower on a team that was trying to recover from a 3-9 season.  But, the noose around Rodriguez's neck was getting tighter and tighter.

Although improved, Rodriguez's second year was another losing season at 5-7 (gasp! back to back losing seasons and no bowl game).  And, his third year ended up at 7-6, including three straight losses to archrivals Michigan State and Ohio State, a record breaking worst defense in U-M history and an embarrassing 52-14 Gator Bowl loss to Mississippi.  That was about all that Dave Brandon, the current U-M athletic director, needed to see, before deciding he needed to make a change.  Despite the facts each season was better than the year before, the offense put on record smashing statistics and Rodriguez was convinced 2011 was going to be the breakout year when his system would be running at full steam with his recruited, healthy upper-classmen (which ultimately happened, albeit under a different coach).

Enter Brady Hoke.  Once again the U-M fans were hoping a big name, U-M alum coach like Jim Harbaugh (Stanford) or Les Miles (LSU) would get the job.  But, Brandon felt otherwise, deciding to hire a relatively unknown Brady Hoke from San Diego State, who was a defensive-minded assistant at U-M from 1995-2003 that was intimately familiar with the Michigan ways of doing business, and was clearly a Michigan Man.  Hoke trained under Moeller and Carr, who trained under Bo.  Hoke was raised in Ohio, and knew the importance of beating OSU.  Hoke was enthusiastically embraced by his former players like NFL all-stars Tom Brady, Desmond Howard and Charles Woodson.  Hoke knew the Michigan traditions inside and out, and smartly emphasized them in all his discussions with the media.  And, Brady Hoke knew how to win, as evidenced by his unexpected 10-2 first year results as head coach with players he didn't even recruit for his system.  U-M's defense improved from giving up 35 points a game in 2010 (under Rodriguez) to only 15 points a game in 2011 (top 5 in the country), with largely the same players.  And, Brady Hoke's future is clearly bright in Ann Arbor, bringing in the #1 recruiting class in the country for 2012.  The Michigan faithful are resting easy again.

Key Lessons.  So, the key lessons from this sequence of events: (i) make sure you understand the expectations, traditions and culture of any place before accepting a position; (ii) make sure you embrace your peers and audience, to assist you in acheiving success for yourself; (iii) make sure you manage communications so your desired message is best heard; (iv) make sure you do your homework on the business, to make sure the actual position is what you perceive it to be (e.g., Michigan spent less on football than West Virginia did, despite reputation, and had an "empty nest" of recruits day one); (v) a strong leader never publicly comes across as defeated or disappointed, regardless of the reality (e.g., never sing Josh Groban's "You Raise Me Up" at your annual football bust); (vi) make sure you know your employees' strengths, which can make or break your own success (e.g., defensive coordinator's struggles outweighed head coach's offensive success and ultimately led to his downfall); (vii) make sure your skillsets and styles truly fit the business needs (e.g., don't recruit small Big East players in the monster-size Big Ten); and (viii) most importantly, win early, win big and win repeatedly for continued support from your team and fans.

I feel really bad for Rich Rodriguez .  He is a good coach and a good person that most likely would have done well at Michigan over the long run.  But, without support or patience of the Michigan alumni and athletic department, and due to his early failures detailed above, we'll never know.  The king (Bo) is dead; long live the king (Hoke).

For future posts, please follow me at:  www.twitter.com/georgedeeb

Friday, November 11, 2011

NostraDeebus: Predictions for the Next Decade

Posted By: George Deeb - 11/11/2011

As you are thinking about your business growth, startup opportunities, job moves or otherwise, I thought it would be fun to predict what th...


As you are thinking about your business growth, startup opportunities, job moves or otherwise, I thought it would be fun to predict what the world may look like in ten years so you can focus on winning categories and avoid the losers.  I will either look really smart ten years from now, or really stupid, depending on what really happens.  But, here it goes:

One Global World and Economy. Not only will U.S. companies go overseas at lightspeed, but international companies will enter the U.S. at lightspeed.   As an example, European fashion deals leader, Vente Privee, is just now entering the U.S. to take on Gilt Group and Rue La La in their home market.   And, not to mention, assume most all of the 7BN people in the world today will be online in the next decade, a 5BN person increase from the 2BN people online today, which will continue to fuel meteoric internet growth on a global scale.  This most likely means, we are not that far away from one global currency, one global language and one global stock market in one tightly integrated global economy.  No longer will there be country-specific silos in this new world economy, as evidenced by debt default fears in Greece and Italy, rattling the U.S. stock markets more than ever.

U.S. Unemployment Will Be Worse, Not Better.  As technology continues to improve, it is usually human jobs that get replaced.  And, the current U.S. workforce is not skilled in the heavily demanded skills (e.g., like the tech gurus are in India), making it harder for them to find replacement jobs.  Layer on top of that the fact that seniors can no longer afford to retire at age 65, in order to cover their living expenses, which means these typically vacated positions are staying filled for a longer period of time.  The advice I am giving my kids is get strong technology, strong professional or strong entrepreneurial skills.  Tech will always be in heavy demand with new innovations.  Skilled professionals like doctors will always be in demand.  And, if you cannot find a job in a big company, an entrepreneur can always create their own job.

Most Brick and Mortar Retailers Will Close.  We have already seen Borders, Blockbuster and Tower Records go under, with the move toward digital books, movies and music.  It won't be long before many other retail verticals will soon follow.  As an example, office supply stores like Staples already drive more than 50% of their revenues from their websites.  And, their 20,000 foot stores are only 5,000 productive today, making them financial nooses around their necks.  Not to mention, chains like Best Buy invest heavily in trained salespeople, only to have the customer pick their brain and buy the product cheaper online (waving their smartphones in the salespersons' noses).   The only brick and mortar categories that will survive will be for things like perishables in a grocery store, restaurants, other last minute items you need same day (e.g., prescriptions) or items too expensive to ship.  So, short the retail real estate business, as many chains will go under or move to smaller format showrooms.

Hyper Social, Hyper Mobile, Hyper Local.  We have already seen heavy focus in these areas.  But, imagine it on steriods, where your smartphone is ruling everything, anything and anywhere bringing you real-time recommendations from your personal networks for products and services within 1 mile of where you are standing.  Keep your eye on Zaarly and Groupon Now, who are off to a good start in this space with real-time personalized offers from nearby locations.  And, coupons will be delivered right to your smart phone in real-time as you are walking down the shopping aisle based on products you scan, not via paper coupons in newspapers (which will go out of business).  No longer will you turn to Trip Advisor for hotel reviews or Zagat for restaurant reviews from random strangers, you will turn to your Facebook friends who live in the city you are traveling for hotel and restaurant recommendations from people you know and trust. 

Content Intermediaries Will Not Survive.   Unless they move quickly to evolve into content companies, cable companies like Comcast and Time Warner and online video portals like Netflix and Hulu are in big trouble.  Why?  Because their services will be replaced by the content owners themselves (e.g., Disney, Warner Brothers, Universal), who will simply stream their content through their own websites, or portal sites they build between themselves.  That keeps more monies in the hands of the film studios and TV networks and aggregates customers on their own websites which they can drive additional revenues from advertising.  This is why YouTube is acquiring content companies like Next New Networks, to control their long term destiny with original programming of their own, creating more competition for the traditional studios and more selection than ever for consumers.  Not to mention, the TV and PC will now be cleanly merged into one device, not requiring both a cable connection and an internet connection, putting additional revenue pressure on these providers. 

Long Live Open Source, the Cloud and SaaS.  The cost of launching a website 10 years ago was $5MM, and today a new site can be launched for $50K thanks to open source, the cloud and SaaS technologies.  Expect these types of innovations to accelerate for everything and anything, from hardware/software needs to various human services.  No longer will you need to buy a new drill from Home Depot, sites will allow you to locate and borrow one from your neighbor.  No longer will you engage one home building architect, you will have 100 designs from 100 architects competing for your project.  No longer will you buy electricity from monopolistic ComEd, you will have 100 electricity providers to choose from.  Any human service, will be available in mass and on the cheap.  Any assets or software needed, will be sourced cheaper via crowd-based competition or outsourced to a third party cloud or SaaS service.  This is not good news for traditional hardware and software manufacturers.

We Will Finally Make a Dent on Energy.  As fuel prices rise and alternative electric vehicle technologies and infrastructure improve, people will finally afford and get more comfortable with making the switch off of petroleum based transportation.  Instead of pulling into your local Shell station for a fill up, you will pull into your local grocery store for a high-speed battery recharge while doing your shopping.  And, more affordable solar technologies will start to play a much greater role in heating and powering homes and businesses.  As an example, there is one company that is trying to replace petroleum based asphalt roads with solar panel roads that will produce enough energy to power the entire planet.

Same Old, Same Old in Education.  Sad to say, I don't expect material improvements in our education system in the next decade.  Our schools are still teaching kids the same subject matter as they were 50 years ago, much of which is not relevant for this generation of jobs.  And, schools are not focused on ages 0-5, where 80% of brain development is already set in stone by the time a student starts kindergarten.  And, nobody has figured out how to make getting your PHD in engineering as exciting to students as becoming the next starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears.  Which means, we will continue to train foreign students in our prestigious universities, for them to go back to their home countries to compete against us.  Wish some smart entrepreneurs or governmental reform could fix these problems!!

Same Broken Healthcare System.  There are so many inefficiencies in the healthcare system it makes my stomach turn.  Major reforms are needed in malpractice claim caps, to lower malpractice insurance premiums, to lower fees charged by doctors.  Major integration of disparate patient data systems are needed to avoid duplicative medical testing costs (although some progress is being made to this regard, but not fast enough).  Power needs to shift from the health insurance companies, back to the patients and their doctors, to keep costs down, get the best service and attract the next generation of doctors where they can actually make a good living again.  Obamacare and a bankrupt Medicare will continue to put additional strains on an already broken system.  That said, I am always bullish on biotech, pharmaceutical and life science investments that take medical innovations to the next level.  Especially, given the overall aging of the U.S. population, with Baby Boomers now entering their senior years.

For future posts, please follow me at:  www.twitter.com/georgedeeb

Monday, November 7, 2011

Lesson #104: Manage Expectations & Exceed Them

Posted By: George Deeb - 11/07/2011

Nothing is more annoying than somebody promising to do something, and then not doing it.  That could be the task itself, the scope of the ta...

Nothing is more annoying than somebody promising to do something, and then not doing it.  That could be the task itself, the scope of the task or the timing of the task.  People can't effectively do their jobs, if they are sitting around waiting for something from you, or if they are making business decisions based on your inflated forecasts.  And, more importantly, nothing hurts your personal credibility more than not living up to expectations. 

So, never make a promise that you cannot back up.  If you tell somebody you are going to get the project done, get it done.  If you tell them it will be done by December 31st, have it done by December 15th and pleasantly surprise them.  Don't have it done by January 31st, having them wondering why the project is over a month late.  If you tell someone you are going to drive $1MM in revenues from the program, drive $1.2MM, and exceed expectations and build your credibility.  Don't drive $750K in revenues and come up with a million excuses why you fell short of expectations.

So, the moral of the story: build in cushions in terms of deadlines and scope when making promises or forecasts, and exceed those expectations wherever you can.  That will show your business partners you are not only a person of your word that can be counted on, but that you have a solid grasp on your business in terms of getting your team to beat deadlines, drive revenues or cut expenses in excess of forecast.

And, worth mentioning, never tell somebody you are going to do something, if you have absolutely no intention of doing it (just to get that person off your back or to avoid an awkward situation).  Hit that awkward situation head on, with honesty about your intentions and a logical rationale why you are not moving forward as planned.  The other party will better appreciate your being honest with them, instead of feeling you are blowing them off.

If the three drivers of real estate success are location, location, location.  The three drivers of startup success are credibility, credibility, credibility.  So, be sure to not disappoint, in order to attract the best employees, partners and investors for your business.

For future posts, please follow me at:  www.twitter.com/georgedeeb

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Lesson #103: The Evolving Venture Capital Market

Posted By: George Deeb - 10/27/2011

Boy, how times have changed for the venture capital market in the last decade, following the dot com bust of 2000.  Here are a few of the ov...

Boy, how times have changed for the venture capital market in the last decade, following the dot com bust of 2000.  Here are a few of the overriding trends and facts (according to the NVCA):

-  The number of VC firms has fallen from 2,316 in 2000 to 750 in 2010
-  The mix of VC firms has polarized away from the middle (Series A & B), and towards early (seed) and later stage (Series C & D).
-  The amount of venture capital dollars raised fell from $40BN in 2007 (for 200 funds) to $10BN in 2010 (for 120 funds)
-  Although fund raising is increasing again, with venture funds raising $8BN in the first half of 2011
-  But, $6BN of which (78%) was raised by only 7 firms, raising $900MM each on average (to focus on later stage opportunities)
-  The good news is VC activity is picking up in 2011, with $8.4BN of venture investments made in the first half of 2011 (up 29% over last year)
-  With the majority of such investments largely going into consumer internet deals, up 2x over last year

So, what is driving these trends in the VC market:

-  The overall economic and financial market woes have made investors more cautious, so tougher for VC firms to raise new capital (only the creme-de-la-creme firms surviving).
-  The exit opportunities for VC portfolio companiess have become more limited--much tougher to IPO companies for big paydays at big multiples
-  Therefore, VC fund returns no longer wildly outperform the broader market (S&P 500) averages, where the risk is a lot less
-  Angel investors are better organizing themselves via regional investor networks (e.g., Hyde Park Angels in Chicago) or via global sites like AngelList, now competing with VC firms and filling the void left by the VC funds who exited the market
-  Entrepreneurs have access to more mentorship by seasoned veterans than ever before, through organized regional acceletors like Tech Stars, Y Combinator, 500 Startups, Founder Institute and Excelerate Labs acting like "startup assembly lines".
-  The costs of starting a tech startup has fallen dramatically with open source and cloud solutions (e.g., from $5MM per startup in 2000 to $50K per startup today, with techies more easily founding and funding their own businesses)
-  Therefore rapidly accelerating the number of startups in the market
-  Which are all trying to benefit from the rapid explosion of people online (from 100MM in 2000 to 2BN today).
- So, traditional VC firms are being forced to play many more earlier-stage seed deals to have a seat at the table, and hopefully get later stage financing opportunities (which is not their strength)

So, what does this all mean for the startup entrepreneur:

-  It has never been easier or more affordable to startup a new business
-  Although that creates a lot of clutter in the startup market with the good, the bad and the the ugly competing for capital and consumer attention
-  Pick an industry that is currently attractive to investors, and launch a business model that is unique, scalable and defensible to attract capital and break through the clutter
-  There are plenty of seed investors and mentors to be found, but from entirely new sources than before (e.g., angel networks and accelerators instead of venture partners), although competition is fierce to get into these programs given their success (leverage your networks to get in).
-  Many of the traditional Series A & B investors from the dot com boom days have either exited the market, or are forced to play seed-stage deals or have raised bigger funds and are now focused on later stage Series C & D deals
-  So, do your homework before calling on these funds (e.g., $1BN funds too big to get their attention, $250MM funds most likely doing seed deals just to stay competitive with angel networks)
-  Make sure you raise capital from financial partners that ultimately: (i) share your business vision and personality fit; (ii) have true expertise in your industry and stage of business; and (iii) can help you finance your way all the way through profitability, either through their own fund or via partner funds.

For future posts, please follow me at: www.twitter.com/georgedeeb

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Lesson #102: Protect Your Equity and Control Post-Financings

Posted By: George Deeb - 10/18/2011

The other day, I was speaking with the founder of a recently-funded startup business.  Her founding stake had been diluted down below 20%, b...

The other day, I was speaking with the founder of a recently-funded startup business.  Her founding stake had been diluted down below 20%, based on a financing of under $1MM.  This 20% stake was now subject to a four-year vesting period by the new investors (with a one-year cliff vesting period before she earned anything), instead of being free and clear.  She was replaced as CEO by a friend of the investor, who she didn't think was doing a great job or listening to her to input.  She had no voice on the board of directors, with all seats held by the new investors and new CEO.  And, now, she had to make the god-awful decision of staying with the business she founded (in a disgruntled kind of way), or walking away with no equity in the business she founded, and the disappointment she lost control of her business post a very small financing and not being able to participate in raising her "baby".

What a horrible situation to be in.  My immediate reaction was: (i) you should have gotten solid legal advice prior to executing any arrangement where you would lose control of the business--and that means from your personal lawyer, not the company's lawyer, whose job is to protect the company's shareholders (not you); and (ii) it is not worth crying over "spilt milk" at this point--what is done is done.  Your #1 goal is to make sure your equity value has the best chance of becoming valuable some day, most-likely by recruiting the best CEO leadership you can find to replace the current CEO not doing his job very well (with no ego that you need the CEO reins back--as there is a reason the current investors thought they needed to replace you).  But, if the current investors/board do not agree with you that the current CEO needs to be replaced, I would cut your losses and move on to your next gig (with valuable real-world lessons for next time), regardless of how painful and emotional that may be as the founder of the company (as you can't work in a relationship where there is no mutual respect).

I share this story with you, so you don't repeat the same mistakes made by this young, first-time CEO who didn't know any better about how best to structure deals like this.  In any scenario where you are taking in new money, do your best to: (i) get good legal advice for yourself (not the company); (ii) keep a board seat; (iii) where you can, make sure your shares are not subject to a vesting period (it is your company for crying out loud); and (iv) never give up more than 49% in your first round of professional financing.  And, as for (iii) above, there are ways to give investors the protections they want, without four year vesting periods that have you losing 100% of your equity if you quit at anytime in the first year (e.g., multiple classes of stock, founder floor stake).

What this feels like to me is the investors basically saw a good business idea, but didn't think the skills of the founder were valuable to the team.  And, they basically communicated that to the new CEO, who made life miserable on the founder to the point of her wanting to quit, and the investors basically "stole" the company.  Although, the investors may tell a different story (whom I haven't spoken with), so take everything with a grain of salt.  Always remember, professional investors may have long term objectives that are different than your own, and you need to protect yourself in all scenarios (good times and bad times).   Never look at the world through rose-colored glasses, when structuring complex deals where the odds of downside, far exceed the odds of upside.

For future posts, please follow me at:  www.twitter.com/georgedeeb

Thursday, September 29, 2011

101 Startup Lessons--An Entrepreneur's Handbook

Posted By: George Deeb - 9/29/2011

What started out as an unknown editorial adventure back in March 2011 (launching the Red Rocket blog), has resulted in my writing 101 St...


What started out as an unknown editorial adventure back in March 2011 (launching the Red Rocket blog), has resulted in my writing 101 Startup Lessons--An Entrepreneur's Handbook for executives of aspiring startups.  This is my small contribution back to the startup ecosystem which has treated me so well over the years.  Keep this list handy, as your future business needs arise.  And, thanks for forwarding this list to your entrepreneurial friends that you think may also benefit from such lessons.

Below are the original 101 Startup Lessons, plus following lessons I have written since then, sorted by major business topic:

STRATEGY

Lesson #1: Drivers of Success for Startups. Do I Have a Good Idea?

Lesson #7: Key Components for Writing a Business Plan

Lesson #11: Considering Incubators or Accelerators for Your Startup

Lesson #12: How to Structure Your Board of Directors or Advisory Board

Lesson #17: Pitfalls to Avoid When Joining Someone Else's Startup

Lesson #19: How to Identify Your Competition

Lesson #37: The Plusses and Minuses of Franchising

Lesson #38: Things to Consider When Buying a Business

Lesson #43: Examples of Barriers to Entry For Your Business

Lesson #45: Find a Business Mentor or Business Coach

Lesson #63: Determining Exit Options for Your Startup

Lesson #64: How to Find Buyers for Your Business

Lesson #65: How to Structure the Sale of Your Business

Lesson #81: Considerations for Global Expansion

Lesson #96: Vertical vs. Horizontal Growth Options

Lesson #100: The Definitive Checklist for Startup Success

Lesson #110:  When to Drive Growth vs. Profits

Lesson #112:  Startup Ideation

Lesson #118:  Market Research for Startups

Lesson #121:  Designing an Omni-Channel Business

Lesson #128:  Try to Kill Your Startup Before You Start

Lesson #145:  Issues to Consider Before Selling to Big Companies

Lesson #149:  Can't Attract Venture Capital?  Buy a Business with Private Equity!

Lesson #151:  How to Start a Business

Lesson #164:  Is Your Startup Building a "Vitamin" or a "Pain Killer"?

Lesson #167:  The Unlucky 13 Reasons Startups Fail

Lesson #168:  Start Thinking Globally Now -- 3.5BN People Are Waiting!!

Lesson #170:  What's More Important?  Your Product or Proof-of-Concept??

Lesson #176: How to Filter Conflicting Advice from Multiple Mentors

Lesson #180:  How Retailers Can Combat Showrooming

Lesson #195:  Entrepreneurs Speak Out on What They Would Have Done Differently

Lesson #200:  Startup Success Equals Strategy AND Execution

Lesson #207:  Big Companies That Embrace Intrapreneurship Will Thrive

Lesson #212:  How to Roll-Out Your Local Business, Market-By-Market

Lesson #218:  You Don't Know, What You Don't Know

Lesson #221:  The Internet of Things is Coming, Hang On to Your Hats!!

Lesson #225:  The Potential Pitfalls from Mergers & Acquisitions

Lesson #227:  How to Run a Strategic Planning Process

Lesson #231:  The War Between Driving Growth and Profitability

Lesson #234:  Setting Mergers & Acquisitions Goals

Lesson #235:  How to Take Your Business Global

Lesson #238:  Continue to Innovate Your Products . . . Or, Die a Slow Death!!

Lesson #245:  You Cannot Cut Your Way to Growth

Lesson #246:  Buying a Business is Hard Work!!

Lesson #251:  U.S. Ecommerce Companies, Beware The Looming Overseas Guillotine

Lesson #253: You Can't Expand, While Your House is on Fire!!

Lesson #258:  How to Roll-Up Several Companies Into One

Lesson #260:  Where to Find Businesses for Sale

[VIDEO]  George Deeb Discusses Consistent Problems Across Startups

GENERAL BUSINESS

Lesson #3: The Importance of Timing & Luck for Your Startup

Lesson #8: Startups Require Flexibility to Optimize Business Model

Lesson #28: Expect the Unexpected -- Always Have a Cushion

Lesson #29: No Matter How Bad it Gets, Persistence Wins

Lesson #31: The Power of a Pivot -- Thinking Out of the Box

Lesson #39: The Art of Negotiation

Lesson #40: Focus! Focus! Focus! Build One Business at a Time.

Lesson #47: The Importance of Networking

Lesson #50: Do What You Love!! Passion Drives Success.

Lesson #71: Launch Fast! Fail Fast!

Lesson #85: Tap Into Your Local Startup Ecosystem

Lesson #86: Perception Often Outshines Reality

Lesson #87: The Art of Decision Making

Lesson #90: Proper Business Etiquette for Startups

Lesson #92: Building Your Personal Brand

Lesson #104:  Manage Expectations & Exceed Them

Lesson #114:  "Driven to Win" vs. "Fear of Failure"

Lesson #122:  Setting Key Milestones for Your Startup

Lesson #135:  Why Big Companies Struggle with Innovation

Lesson #160:  Don't Be Overly Infatuated With Your Own Startup Idea

Lesson #182:  Doing the "Smoke and Mirrors" Dance

Lesson #184:  Does Age Matter for Entrepreneurial Success?

Lesson #192:  Combat Management By Committee & Analysis Paralysis

Lesson #193:  The Best Medicine For Your Business -- A Fresh Set of Eyes!!

Lesson #201:  What is An Entrepreneur?  The Ultimate Definition

Lesson #215:  Stop Cherry Coating Your True Opinion

Lesson #224:  When to Take Off the Gloves With Competitors

Lesson #228:  Beware of Joining a Family Business

Lesson #237:  The Hockey Stick Principles of Growth

Lesson #257:  The 9 Types of Leadership

Lesson #261:  Leadership 101--Narrow Your Say-Do Gap

Lesson #263:  Having Laser-Focus Increases Odds of Success

MARKETING

Lesson #6: Structuring Strategic Partnerships for Your Startup

Lesson #20: Setting Product & Pricing Strategy for Your Startup

Lesson #21: Setting a Sales & Marketing Plan for Your Startup

Lesson #22: How to Calculate ROI on Your Marketing Spend

Lesson #23: How to Design Effective Advertising Copy & Creatives

Lesson #24: How to Choose a Name for Your Startup

Lesson #44: The Importance of Blogging

Lesson #48: Trade Show Strategies for Startups

Lesson #52: Viral Marketing Via Social Media

Lesson #53: Search Engine Marketing Strategies

Lesson #54: Incorporate Video Into Your Marketing Efforts

Lesson #68: Mobile Apps & Location-Based Services

Lesson #69: The Marketing Power of Free Publicity

Lesson #72: The 10 Basics of Website Design

Lesson #74: Brand Building for Your Startup

Lesson #77: The Basics of Email Marketing

Lesson #79: Determining Customer Lifetime Value

Lesson #88: The Basics of Online Display Ads

Lesson #95: The Basics of Telemarketing

Lesson #99: The Basics of Direct Mail Marketing

Lesson #107: Social Media Analytics & ROI

Lesson #120: Plan Ahead for Proof-of-Concept Marketing

Lesson #131: How to Design a Logo & Tagline

Lesson #137: The Basic Drivers of E-commerce Growth

Lesson #142: The Power of Content Marketing--A Red Rocket Case Study

Lesson #158:  Understand Your Brand Positioning (An Al Jazeera Case Study)

Lesson #162:  The Benefits of Contributing Content to Other Sites (vs. Your Own Blog)

Lesson #169:  Budget for Startup Marketing from Day One

Lesson #171:  The Basics of B2B Marketing

Lesson #174:  Growth Hacking--Marketing for Startups

Lesson #178:  Predictive Social Analytics

Lesson #185:  B2B Marketing Mix & Budget Benchmarks

Lesson #186:  Marketing Automation Tools

Lesson #189:  How to Price Your Software Technology

Lesson #191:  Targeted Marketing Has Never Been Easier, Especially in Social Networks

Lesson #202:  Writing a Book is Hard.  Writing Your Second Book is Harder!!

Lesson #211:  The Importance of First Impressions--A Red Rocket Case Study

Lesson #214:  The Basics of Programmatic Advertising

Lesson #229:  Marketing Tactics Evolve as You Scale--A Big Ass Case Study

Lesson #242:  Top 50 Content Marketing Strategies

Lesson #244:  Stop Selling the "What", Start Selling the "Why"

Lesson #252:  Marketing ROI--The Metric That Matters Most

Lesson #254: Managing For Meteoric Growth--A Home Chef Case Study

Lessons in Marketing: Super Bowl 2012

Lessons in Marketing: Grammy Awards 2013

Chicago's Top Marketing Agencies for Startups

VIDEO:  George Deeb Teaches "Branding & Marketing" for Startups

SALES

Lesson #21: Setting a Sales & Marketing Plan for Your Startup

Lesson #25: How to Structure Your Sales Team & Procedures

Lesson #26: Designing Sales Incentives to Motivate Your Sales Team

Lesson #98: Securing a Government Contract

Lesson #127: How to Screen Salesperson Candidates

Lesson #129: "Productize" Your Business for Maximum Efficiency

Lesson #130: Driving Sales Requires Driving Key Metrics

Lesson #141: How to Pitch Business Development Partners

Lesson #143: Upselling, Cross-Selling and Freemium Techniques

Lesson #144: Remove All Friction From Your Sales Process

Lesson #161:  Create an "Everyone Sells" Culture

Lesson #187:  The 1,024 Types of Salespeople.  Hire the Right Ones!

Lesson #190:  Selling Stories, Not Products

Lesson #194:  Operations & Sales Must Be Tied to the Hip (Break Down Silos)

Lesson #198:  Support Your Sales Teams

Lesson #208:  Five Sales Pitfalls Today, That Can Hurt You Long Term

Lesson #209:  Which Selling Techinique is Best for Your Business?

Lesson #210:  Need a Salesperson?  Recruit Three!

Lesson #216:  Provide Multiple "Wins" Throughout the Customer Lifecycle

Lesson #223:  Ten Things You Need to Know When Responding to RFPs

Lesson #230:  Evolve From Selling "Widgets" to "Wisdom"

Lesson #241:  Successful Selling Only Begins With the Sale

Lesson #248:  Sales Not Closing?  Know When to Panic!

Lesson #256: 10 Universal Truths Every Salesperson Needs to Know

FINANCE

Lesson #61: Set Up Proper Accounting Controls

Lesson #67: Managing Accounts Payable & Accounts Receivable

Lesson #78: How to Build a Budget

Lesson #105: Run a Sensitivity Analysis on Your Projections

Lesson #108: How to Determine Your Revenue Model

Lesson #113: State Tax Credits & Programs for Startups

Lesson #132: Design a Recurring Revenue Model

Lesson #133: How to Avoid Paying Taxes on Startup Investments

Lesson #136: Save Taxes with "Profits Interests" vs. "Stock Options"

Lesson #139: How to Calculate Equity Split Between Founders in Startups

Lesson #146: Pitfalls Around Earnouts (and Why They Rarely Payout)

Lesson #179:  Reduce Customer Churn to Accelerate Revenues

Lesson #219:  Stock Option & Incentive Plans for Startups

VIDEO: George Deeb Teaches Financial Modeling

FUND RAISING

Lesson #4: How to Raise Capital for Your Startup

Lesson #5: Finding Angel Investors for Your Startup

Lesson #10: How Best to Approach VC's or Angel Investors

Lesson #27: How VC's Define a Backable Management Team

Lesson #32: How to Value Your Startup Business

Lesson #49: How to Get a Loan, or Not!!

Lesson #66: Preparing for a Due Diligence Process

Lesson #97: Securing a Small Business Grant

Lesson #102:  Protect Your Equity & Control Post Financings

Lesson #103:  The Evolving Venture Capital Market

Lesson #109:  Financing With Equity vs. Debt vs. Convertibles

Lesson #111:  Crowdfunding Startups

Lesson #115:  When to Trade Equity for Services

Lesson #116:  Seed Investment Terms & Trends

Lesson #119:  How to Screen Venture Capitalists

Lesson #123:  Crowdfunding Details Starting to Emerge

Lesson #124:  Vesting of Founder's Stock

Lesson #125:  How to Bootstrap Your Startup

Lesson #126:  What Startups Need to Secure a Bank Loan

Lesson #138:  Why VC's Bias Technology Startups

Lesson #140:  How to Build a Bridge to a 10x Return for VC's

Lesson #147:  Avoid "The Death Zone" for Venture Capital

Lesson #148:  How to Research Industry Valuation Multiples

Lesson #149: Can't Attract Venture Capital? Buy a Business with Private Equity!

Lesson #152:  The Importance of a "Clean" Capitalization Table for Investors

Lesson #173:  Corporate Venture Capital Funds, Accelerators & Incubators

Lesson #199:  Seed Investment Terms Trending More Founder-Friendly

Lesson #206:  The 4 M's of Evaluating Startups

Lesson #213:  The Birth of Crowdfunding Agencies

Lesson #220:  Venture Debt Financing, a Hybrid Between Debt and Equity

Lesson #226:  What Exactly is Venture Capital?

Lesson #233:  Key Red Flags for Startup Investors

Lesson #239:  Manage Towards Valuation Step-Ups

Lesson #243:  What is Your Digital Business REALLY Worth?

Lesson #255:  Crowdfunding Works--Monies Raised, Jobs Created

Lesson #262:  A Venture Capital Playbook Over Time

Lesson #264: Financing Mergers & Acquisitions

Chicago Venture Capital Firms & Angel Networks

Chicago Family Investment Offices

Chicago Private Equity Firms

VIDEO:  George Deeb Teaches How to Pitch VC's

VIDEO:  George Deeb Teaches Fundraising for Startups

VIDEO:  George Deeb Discusses How VC's Evaluate Startups with Nick Moran

HUMAN RESOURCES

Lesson #2: Building The Right Team for Your Startup

Lesson #9: Spreading Equity to Key Employees & Partners

Lesson #13: Creating the Right Culture for Your Startup

Lesson #14: The Role of a Startup CEO

Lesson #15: Hands-On vs. Hands-Off Management of Startups

Lesson #16: The Plusses & Minuses of Virtual Employees

Lesson #18: The Right Work-Life Balance for a Startup

Lesson #30: When to Hire Employees vs. Contractors vs. Crowdsources

Lesson #34: How Best to Recruit Employees For Your Startup

Lesson #35: How to Read Resumes & Screen Employee Candidates

Lesson #42: Is Working With Family Members a Good Idea?

Lesson #51: No Public Displays of Rejection

Lesson #55: Creating a Healthy Office Environment

Lesson #58: How to Determine Employee Compensation

Lesson #59: Determining Employee Benefits for Your Startup

Lesson #60: Importance of Employee Handbooks

Lesson #75: How to Implement Layoffs

Lesson #76: How to Implement an Employee Change

Lesson #83: Startup Roles & Responsibilities

Lesson #93: Make Your Employees Feel Appreciated

Lesson #106:  Succession Planning

Lesson #127:  How to Screen Salesperson Candidates

Lesson #153:  Healthcare Benefits Decisions for Startups (Post Obamacare)

Lesson #156:  How to Find a Co-Founder for Your Startup

Lesson #157:  Consider Sharing Part-Time Executives Between Startups

Lesson #159:  Never Stop Recruiting (Even If No Current Openings)

Lesson #163:  Should a Startup Offer Employee Benefits

Lesson #165:  The 4 Types of Entrepreneurs. Which Type Are You?

Lesson #166:  Is Entrepreneurship Learned, or Wired Into Your DNA?

Lesson #175:  In-House Teams or Outsourced Services for Startups?

Lesson #181:  Should You Quit Your Full-Time Job Before Launching a Startup?

Lesson #188:  When Picking a Startup to Join, Focus on the Company (Not the Role)

Lesson #196:  The CEO's Role Must Evolve Between Early Stage and Growth Stage Companies

Lesson #210:  Need a Salesperson?  Recruit Three!

Lesson #217:  Millennials Wreaking Havoc on Employers, or Vice Versa??!!

Lesson #219:  Stock Option & Incentive Plans for Startups

Lesson #222:  Measuring Your Company's Culture Can Pay Big Dividends

Lesson #247:  The Key Drivers of Company Culture

Lesson #249:  Executive Compensation Benchmarks for Growth-Stage Companies

Lesson #250:  Personality Testing On The Rise, But Why?

Lesson #254:  Managing For Meteoric Growth--A Home Chef Case Study

Lesson #259:  With Human Talent, You Get What You Pay For

VIDEO:  George Deeb Teaches Startups How to Build Team and Advisors

OPERATIONS & ADMINISTRATION

Lesson #33: The Importance of Customer Service

Lesson #41: Security Considerations for Your Startup

Lesson #56: Frequent Legal Questions of Startups

Lesson #62: Insurance Protection for Startups

Lesson #70: Protect Your Intellectual Property

Lesson #73: Consumer Usability Testing

Lesson #80: Pitfalls to Avoid When "Reeling in the Whale"

Lesson #82: Project Management & Prioritization

Lesson #129:  "Productize" Your Business for Maximum Efficiency

Lesson #134:  Where to Best Locate Your Startup

Lesson #183:  The Top 12 Reasons to Protect Your Trademarks

Lesson #194:  Operations & Sales Must Be Tied to the Hip (Break Down Silos)

Lesson #205:  Setting Up Your Back-Office Functions

Lesson #236:  E-commerce Fulfillment Strategies

Lesson #240:  Document Your Processes, Before They Walk Out the Door!!

Lesson #254:  Managing for Meteoric Growth--A Home Chef Case Study

Customer Service Case Study:  Had Your Identity Stolen?  Hope Thief Didn't Buy Verizon!!

Customer Service Case Study:  Avoid Disneyland at All Costs!!

Customer Service Case Study:  BCBS are Criminals!!

Customer Service Case Study:  My Wacky Website Weekend!!

TECHNOLOGY AND R&D

Lesson #36: Picking the Best Technology for Your Web Startup

Lesson #117:  Legal Considerations When Using Open Source Software

Lesson #150:  Responsive Web Design for Multiple Devices

Lesson #155:  Best E-commerce Platforms for Small Business

Lesson #172:  Don't Finalize Your Tech Development Plan, Until You Involve Marketing

Lesson #189:  How to Price Your Software Technology

Lesson #197:  R&D and Sales Must Be Tied at the Hip (Break Down Silos Part 2)

Lesson #232:  Do You Own the Copyright to Your Own Technology?

[VIDEO]  George Deeb Teaches Product Development for Startups

Chicago's Top Web & Mobile Design and Development Agencies

CASE STUDIES

Lesson #84: Lady Gaga--An Entrepreneurial Case Study

Lesson #89: Startup Lessons from Scrabble

Lesson #91: My Entrepreneurial Heroes

Lesson #94: Netflix--A User Experience Meltdown

Lesson #154:  Entrepreneurial Lessons from Breaking Bad

Lesson #177:  Entrepreneurial Lessons from the Game of Monopoly

Lessons in Leadership:  Michigan Football

Lessons in Leadership:  Mount Everest

Lessons in Leadership:  The Race for the South Pole

Lessons in Leadership:  Tim Tebow

Lessons in Leadership:  Joe Paterno

Lessons in Entrepreneurship:  StyleSeek Case Study

Lessons in Entrepreneurship:  Emerson Spartz

Lessons in Entrepreneurship:  My Son's Kindergarten Class

Lessons in Entrepreneurship:  Pebble's $10MM Raise Via Kickstarter

Lessons in Entrepreneurship:  Moneyball (Big Data in Baseball)

Lessons in Entrepreneurship:  Skylanders (Upselling on Steroids)

Lessons in Entrepreneurship:  Rocket Internet (Copy Catting)

Business Lessons from NBC's "The Sound of Music Live"

OTHER

Lesson #46: 23 Motivational Quotes for Entrepreneurs

Lesson #57: Required Reading for Startup Entrepreneurs

Lesson #101: The Plusses & Minuses of Entrepreneurship

Lesson #203:  Top Startup Blogs and Bloggers

Lesson #204:  Startup Accelerators by Industry

My Life's Annoyances Which May Stimulate Startup Ideas

Howard Tullman's Acceptance Speech at Chicago Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame

Lessons From the Lost Decade: Alternative Investing

Nostradeebus:  Predictions for the Next Decade

Key Digital Investment Themes in 2012

Chicago's Best Lawyers for Startups

Best Startups of 2012

Best Startups of 2013

Digital Trends for 2013

Great Stories of Survival--Motivational Reading for Startup Entrepreneurs

VIDEO:  George Deeb Presents "The Birth of the Startup Excubator" at Techweek Chicago 2014

Best Startups of 2014

VIDEO: George Deeb Evangelizes Tech Coding for Core K-12 Curriculum

Best Startups of 2015

VIDEO: George Deeb Talks Startup Marketing, Hot Chicago Startups & Coding in Schools with Tasty Trade

Is Anybody Else Worried About Our Future?

Chicago's Startup Accelerators, Incubators & Co-Working Spaces

[BRACKETOLOGY]  Elon Musk Voted Best CEO

Best Startups of 2016

A Successful Career--But My Best is Yet to Come!

CONTRIBUTIONS TO OTHER SITES

The End of Startup Incubators?  Enter the Era of Startup "Excubators". (in Startup Beat)

New York or Chicago for Startups? MentorMob Compares Both. (in Forbes)

Comparing 'Shark Tank' To Venture Capital Reality (in Forbes)

Out With MBA's--In With Masters in Entrepreneurship (in Forbes)

Why Too Many Startups Run Out of Money Too Fast (in Entrepreneur)

Chicago's Startup Scene Is On Fire (in Forbes)

Make Sure to Research Before Choosing Crowdfunding (in Wall Street Journal)

Top Digital Trends for 2014 (in Forbes)

Comparing Startup Ecosystems:  The Midwest vs. Silicon Valley (in Forbes)

My Commencement Address to 2014 Graduates (in Forbes)

6 Tips for Keeping Your Store Relevant to Online Shoppers (in Entrepreneur)

K-12 Curriculum Needs a Major Overhaul to Develop Entrepreneurship Skills (in Entrepreneur)

The Top 20 Digital Trends of  2015 (in Forbes)

You Get the Talent That You Pay For (in Entrepreneur)

Leadership 101: Narrow Your Say-Do Gap (in Entrepreneur)

Focusing Like a Laser Will Increase Odds of Success (in Entrepreneur)

Building a Hard-Working Team Starts With You (in Entrepreneur)

GUEST POSTS FROM OTHER AUTHORS

How to Think About Startup Models & Strategies (by Guy Turner)

The New Reality of Venture Capital (by Joe Dwyer)

Busting the Lean-Startup Myth (by Howard Tullman)

Thoughts on Chicago's Growing Tech Scene, and How to Improve It Over Time (by Jeff Carter)

Your Startup is Not About You!! (by Mark Achler)

Top 50 Content Marketing Strategies (by Andy Crestodina)

What is Your Digital Business REALLY Worth? (by Jock Purtle)


For future posts, please follow me at:  www.twitter.com/georgedeeb

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