The Path to Find Your Next Big Ideas

bright ideaI recently had the opportunity to chat with Peter Sims, the author of “Little Bets,” at the Social Good Summit. Peter is also a co-founder of Fuse Corps, a social enterprise that partner up with government, mayors, etc. to help tackle the nation’s most pressing problems. This is part of his little bets.

Little bets are a way to explore and develop new possibilities. The idea is to start small experiment to discover big things. You have to go through the process to discover bigger and better ideas. There is no shortcut for that.

For example, comedian Chris Rock would practice (read: experiment) with his lines at small comedy clubs around where he lives – before he uses those lines (that worked) for the big stage.

The same is true with VCs, how they would invest in a number of different companies. Not all companies would succeed (if it works out 100% success ratio, it would be a dream!), however, from the companies they invest one of two would grow big and give multiple times payback to investors.

So before you dive in to the conversation, here are some the things you can learn from this conversation:

  • where Peter finds his inspiration
  • that it’s okay to fail

Continue reading “The Path to Find Your Next Big Ideas”

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Flooding and Impact on Businesses

CLIMATE SKEPTICS need to pay attention here. This man, Richard Han, CEO of Hana Microelectronics talks to CNN how the floods impacting businesses. The water is 2 meter (about 2.18 yards) high and you have to get to the industrial park – by boat!

There’s a correlation between deforestation, climate, rainfall. When we talk about Thailand’s worst flooding in half a century, look at the impact on people and business.

Half a century ago, Thailand was not as populated as today. Probably few manufacturing companies set up shops here.

Now is a different story.

Down the chain line, since the beginning of this month Toyota, Nissan and Honda combined are losing 6,000 units/cars a day! If you add this to the overall Thailand’s exports. And calculate its impact deeper down the chain line – how it impacted their businesses around the world – the  number could be really huge!

Check this out.

South Korean President Talks Green to US Congress

President Barack Obama and Republic of Korea Lee Myung Bak         photo: Pete Souza – White House

Did Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid give hint to South Korean President to speak about green economy to members of congress? The President of South Korea, Lee Myung Bak, who is on a state visit to Washington this week – his speech seems to hit the chord at today’s Joint Session of Congress.

At the session, Lee Myung Bak talks about his country’s emergence to join the economic powerhouses of the world. Transforming itself from one of the poorest to the most dynamic economy. Think about for a sec. You probably know some of the household names here via technology or car, brands like Kia, Samsung, LG, and Hyundai. Those brands originated from Korea and branched out from there.

So. Korea is a small country, with only 48 million people in comparison to the U.S. with 312+ million in population. This is a country that have no natural resources and yet managed to become global top 10 economic power!

It’s very impressive, when you think about how they achieved that position – in just one generation. Why? Because, they prioritized education.  Continue reading “South Korean President Talks Green to US Congress”

A Preview to Social Good Summit 2011

Next week, we will be at the Social Good Summit, a four-day summit hosted by the good guys at Mashable, UN Foundation and  92Y. This is a second year of a four-day event where technologists, influential minds, government officials, and activists will hob nob and come together to find the solutions for the world’s most pressing problems. Problems like education, health, malaria, etc. That and in addition, there will be 8 startups (that are changing the world!) competing for a $10,000 prize in a ‘Startup Challenge.’

The lineup of speakers include Ted Turner, Lance Amstrong, Muhammad Yunus, Pete Cashmore (in case you’ve been hiding in a cave, he’s the founder of Mashable – the most visited side for all things social media), actor Geena Davis, Ami Dar (if you’re looking for non-profit jobs, his site ‘Idealist’ is the go-to source), Scott Harrison (the Charity:Water guy), and many many more. You just have to see it yourself, here.

Continue reading “A Preview to Social Good Summit 2011”

Guangzhou’s (China) Innovative Transportation System

Check out this city of Guangzhou, the economic hub of China’s eastern coast, for its transit systems. In a country that have more than 1 billion people, even a city the size of Guangzhou has population in the 10 to 15 million range that equal population of probably some of the big cities in Asia. It is “the fastest growing city in the fastest growing province in the fastest growing country.”

With the kind of population like they have, the city have to offer an integrated transportation system. They’ve got too. Traffic jams is common problems in many of cities in Asia. The streets there are not like here, which is wide and have 4-6 lanes. Over there, you’ll be lucky to find cities that have more than 4 lanes.

Guangzhou

What Happened to Made in USA Products?

Businesses of all sizes should look into this, because it represents opportunities. When the U.S. Air Force couldn’t meet its “Buy American” requirement, that should be a sign for opportunities – for those who’s ready to take the risks. 

The Federal Register, the journal of record for the U.S. government, is not known as an exciting read. A notice in the Mar. 21 issue, though, has caused a stir. It briefly described how the U.S. Air Force, hoping to use stimulus funds to build homes at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska, said it couldn’t meet the “Buy American” requirement for the products it needed, including screws, ceiling fans, light fixtures, towel rings, shower rods, and handrail brackets. “Extensive market research and thorough investigation of the domestic manufacturing landscape” showed these items were made almost exclusively in China, according to the notice. The Air Force got a waiver on buying American for 37 items.

The episode does not definitively prove that certain products are no longer made in the U.S. It’s also worth noting that America’s manufacturing base remains the world’s largest and that it is helping to power the current recovery. Yet the Air Force’s frustrating search, which was highlighted in the blog of economist Michael Mandel, reinforces the fear that American manufacturing risks irrevocable decline. A paper published last year by Joel Yudken, a founder of consultants High Road Strategies, notes that over 57,000 factories disappeared from 1999 to 2009. The study, commissioned by the AFL-CIO Industrial Union Council, said that imports command an increasing share of the market.

 

(emphasis added)

via Business Week

 

Huge Procurement Dollar for Small & Minority Biz (in Maryland): Interview with Jerry Godwin

The other week I had the opportunity to have Jerry Godwin, Business Development Specialist with Wheaton (Maryland) Business Innovation Center as guest on my program – Ecotwist. In this interview, we talked about a whole range of issues from the innovation hub that the county offers to State’s procurement dollar for small and minority businesses. (Podcast of interview is below).

Innovation Hub

There are 5 business innovation network within the county based on location and industry: Shady Grove (biotech), Silver Spring (IT and software development), Wheaton (professional services), Rockville (international and tech companies), Germantown (biotech and life cycle companies).

There are two reasons why you’d be interested in participating in some sort of incubation: 1) Typically you pay below market rate for space provided. 2) The county provides broad technical assistance for CEOs and their staffs with close to 60 seminars a year. Some are 1 hour long, some are 2-3 hours long.

Currently there are over 180 companies in the county’s incubators network. The objective is, within about 3 years with the kind of environment created, Jerry says “with the technical training and synergies,” they expect that these companies will outgrow its space.

More than 90 companies have outgrown their spaces and move into commercial space. About 94 of these companies still in business, considering the failure rate of business the first year is about north of 85%. So that’s a pretty darn good success ratio. About 100 of companies under their portfolio have graduated from the program. They created 2500 jobs. Use 500,000 sf of commercial space. And bring $500 million of capital infusion back into the county.

The county provides financial and tax incentives for small businesses from new jobs tax credit, enhance new jobs tax credit to enterprise zone tax credit.

Montgomery county procurement

Jerry also said that there’s a big push in procurement dollar for small and minority businesses, which is part of the county’s Local Small Business Reserve Program.

All County departments’ is required to contract a minimum of 20 percent of annual solicitations to small businesses. The solicitations are reserved for vendors registered with the Local Small Business Reserve Program. The dollar amount is around $35 million for FY 2010.

For a business to participate in the procurement, it’s a 2 step process:

  1. Register as vendor with Montgomery County at http://mcipcc.net
  2. Register with Local Small Business Reserve Program at http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/lsbrp

You can also visit Montgomery County Economic Development, for more details.

There’s more that we covered in our interview. Check out the podcast of “Doing Business Locally: Interview with Jerry Godwin.”