Raymond Luk, entrepreneur and founder of the start-up accelerator Year One Labs, has launched a new mobile app that helps start-ups keep in touch with their investors.
“Every angel investor has had this experience,” Luk explains. “You have this weird, awkward scenario where you’re sending an e-mail, asking, ‘Hey, are you still in business?’” This mostly happens when a start-up leaves an accelerator program, and the frenzy of running a company distracts the founders from touching base with their investors.
Luk’s app – named Hockeystick after the hoped-for revenue curve of a newly launched company — gives entrepreneurs a simplified, customizable one-page form to fill out periodically. The form tracks revenues and expenses, and it offers a customized set of legal disclosures and other resources for entrepreneurs in the areas they need help in.
Hockeystick – which is available from Luk’s company Scalability Inc. — then sends the form to investors who need to see it, and archives it in a secure space. The app also sends out e-mails to remind founders to keep up with reporting.
Luk’s service should prove especially useful now in the crowdfunding world, where entrepreneurs find themselves funded not by just a few big investors, but by many small investors, and now must struggle to keep them all updated. “When you’re a big company, you’ve got a department for everything,” says Luk. “When you’re a small company, you are the department of everything.”
The Hockeystick platform is already in service across the Global Accelerator Network and at accelerators funded by the Business Development Bank of Canada.
Source: The Globe and Mail
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology will expand its accelerator program for student entrepreneurs by adding six teams from overseas that will come to the U.S. this summer to try to launch start-ups alongside the local students in the program. The additional teams have been pooled from Russia, Turkey, Canada, Germany, Scotland and China; they will join eight local teams, each which will have at least one current MIT student, recent grad, or even the occasional dropout.
The program, dubbed the Global Founders’ Skill Accelerator, aims to help all 14 teams develop a marketable product or service to launch a successful start-up. Each team is eligible for $20,000 in funding and will receive mentoring and tutelage from successful entrepreneurs and MIT faculty.
To show full support for student entrepreneurship, the university has decided to take no ownership stake in any of the teams after the program ends. “We don’t want them to leave MIT because they didn’t feel like they had enough support here to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams,” says Bill Aulet, managing director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, who will oversee the accelerator.
According to Edward Crawley, an MIT professor on leave, extending the program to include international students is an important step in terms of boosting entrepreneurship in places that could use it. “There really is a way we do this [in the U.S.] that is more intense and aggressive than in a lot of other countries,” says Crawley. “Working in an environment where the system is running well will give them a sense of how to go back to where they’re from and help the system run better. They really are going to have their eyes opened.”
Source: The Boston Globe
Virtually every tech transfer office has scores of promising innovations needing partners and licensees to bring them to the marketplace. Yet many TTOs don’t have a single dedicated marketing professional to help bring these innovations to light. To make matters worse, while technology managers are well-versed in the technical details of a particular innovation, they often lack the marketing skills and know-how to tell the innovation’s story effectively. The bottom line for TTOs is that a dearth of marketing muscle and expertise means too many technologies do not gain the attention of investors or corporate developers.
The good news is that marketing skills can be taught, practiced, and perfected. And making an investment in these skill sets will pay huge dividends for your TTO in its ability to tell a compelling story about your innovations and attract the licensees, investors, entrepreneurs, and partners you need. That’s why we’re inviting you and your staff to this how-to, focused webinar workshop that will teach you to apply customer-centric marketing writing techniques and effectively convey your innovation’s true value. Join our seasoned technology marketing experts on May 15th for Marketing Writing Workshop for Tech Transfer Professionals. This interactive, how-to workshop with three marketing professionals focuses exclusively on the marketing needs of tech transfer offices. It will give you the tools and guidance you need to make a dramatic improvement in your marketing ability — and your TTO’s ability to tell compelling stories around its technologies. For complete details and to register, CLICK HERE.
ALSO COMING SOON:
- Thursday, May 30: Beyond Internships: Creating a Student-Based Workforce in Your TTO
- Thursday, June 13: Commercializing Mobile Apps: Effective Management of Legal Threats and Challenges
Tech transfer group MRC Technology, the commercialization arm of the UK’s Medical Research Council, has announced it will become the first organization to host the ENTENTE Professional Exchange Program, an initiative to bolster tech transfer in universities, hospitals and other research institutions throughout Europe.
TTOs participating in the ENTENTE program will be able to consult with MRC about business culture and commercialization; they will also be set up for potential collaborations with MRC in the future.
According to Mike Johnson, director of corporate partnerships at MRC, the ENTENTE program “opens up and adds strength to the TTO network, which ultimately will bring new medicines to patients faster.”
Karine Baudin, ENTENTE Coordinator, says of MRC: “Their willingness to share knowledge, expertise and time is an example of true professionalism and reinforces our joint desire to move healthcare forward. We hope this is the first step in a long term, sustainable initiative.”
Johnson adds, “We are very pleased to be contributing to this program. MRC Technology has a wealth of in-house expertise and has achieved considerable project success. We look forward to passing on our experience.”
Source: Select Science
A new tech transfer institute is opening in Alberta, Canada that will help researchers and students from any campus in the province take their innovations to market. So far unnamed, the institute will spin off new companies, help diversify the economy and generate revenue for campuses and businesses. Funding for the institute will come from three of four government research agencies under the Alberta Innovates banner; this year funding will surpass $160 million.
“It has to be a win, win, win,” says Advanced Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk. “Private sector needs the professors, but also there must be value for the institution and the individual researchers. The benefits have to be shared three ways in this kind of public-private partnership.” Royalties streams from the institute’s activities could help fund the budgets of post-secondary institutions in the future, he added.
As seems typical for research funding schemes in Canada, however, the plans for the commercialization hub have drawn sharp criticism. Some of the region’s researchers are skeptical about the new institute, fearful that it might come “at the expense of other programs or at the expense of pure or basic research,” says legislator Rachel Notley.
Donna Wilson, head of the U of Alberta Faculty Association, says the commercial partnerships the institute is designed to engender come with serious conflicts of interest, and clear rules and transparency surrounding those potential conflicts would be needed to protect researchers.
According to Wilson, the government would be wiser to spend its money supporting independent, university-based research – which has taken big hits in recent budgets. “Is this why we were cut by $147 million, so the government could go ahead with this stand-alone research institute?” she asked.
Lukaszuk said the institute will provide a much-needed forum where academics from different campus can come together. Currently, co-operation is limited because campuses compete for research grants. He said the government’s vision for the institute is that it will evolve into something similar to the world-renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Source: Calgary Herald
Martin Zwilling of the entrepreneurial blog Startup Professional Musings recently posted advice for founders seeking “the right start-up mentor.” One thing many start-ups don’t consider, Zwilling notes, is that a good relationship with a mentor means putting in some effort of one’s own, “both in nurturing the relationship, and really listening, without being defensive, to advice given.” Here are Zwilling’s seven tips for finding and utilizing the right mentor:
- Set clear objectives for yourself in your business growth: Think about what areas you need the most help with before seeking a mentor. If you are having trouble with marketing, for example, a successful financial executive probably isn’t the right mentor for you.
- Work, study, and practice continually to solidify the guidance: Show your mentor that you’re willing to learn and grow quickly; don’t make excuses or waste time.
- Don’t ask for too much time or make a nuisance of yourself: Good mentors are often busy, so ask them for small, focused blocks of time to meet privately, and be prepared with real issues to discuss.
- When you meet with a mentor, you should lead the discussion: “Your mentor should not be driving your business,” Zwilling says. You should come with your own agenda and seek specific insights, while still pressing your mentor for broader or related implications.
- Remember the difference between a mentor, a friend, and a coach: Unlike a friend, a mentor only tells you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. And unlike a coach, a mentor helps you through specific trials, not the whole business.
- On a regular basis, send a note to communicate progress and current tasks: Let your mentor know not only that you are taking his or her advice, but that it is working. According to Zwilling, “there is nothing that makes a mentor more open to helping you.”
- Keep the relationship positive and productive: If you find yourself stuck with an unresponsive or uncommunicative mentor, back out immediately. Also know that most mentors have a status in industry that could help you as well as hurt you, so don’t antagonize them.
Source: Startup Professionals Musings
Dr. Jochen Schroeder, a researcher at the University of Sydney, has developed a computer programmable optical filter that can shape light in highly sophisticated ways.
The Australian company Finisar has picked up Dr. Schroeder’s invention and attached it to an existing Finisar programmable optical processor called the WaveShaper. The new technology gives each processing chip multiple output circuits, thus creating reconfigurable light outputs.
“The new technology is particularly useful for researchers and developers of optical communication systems,” says Dr. Schroeder, “as it enables more thorough system testing as well as reduced development time for optical components and systems.”
Professor Ben Eggleton, director of where Schroeder’s lab, calls the novel filter “an example of incredibly insightful optical physics.” He adds: “This sort of successful technology transfer creates wealth in Sydney, which is incredibly important for both researchers and high tech industry here.” The original WaveShaper was also the result of a collaboration between Finisar and U Sydney.