OK, you probably already knew that, but wanted to get that straight.
I spend most of my time working on Higher One, hanging with family or sleeping. Whenever I’m not doing those things and I want to express my curiosity, love of learning, or another passion, I may take the blogosphere.
Although I may touch on things informed by my experience as an founder, officer or board member of various organizations, I am not speaking on behalf of any of them here. When a project is in the early stages (like MakeHaven), I may blog about it. As an project gets wings, I’ll touch on it less. As the larger the organization or company, the more they have resources and teams to speak for themselves and control of other channels.
Now that we’re clear on that, back to your regularly scheduled programming.
I enjoyed seeing Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute present at Yale on Wednessday. I doubt he said anything new but great to hear that he speaks as he writes: dense and dripping with encyclopedic knowledge of his subject.
And unlike others, he does not frame a trade-off between people’s desire for a better life and the rest of the natural world’s health. Rather the vision is of positive environmentalism rooted in economics and engineering. A well-grounded belief that by thoughtful application of design we can improve our quality of life while using less resources: Abundance by Design.
Two points particularly stuck with me:
One, you do not have to agree on motives to agree on outcomes and solutions. If you want to move from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy to reduce climate weirding or to make money, you can get aboard. And he does a good job explaining the tremendous market opportunity ($5trillion NPV) and lower risks (environmental, health, national security, etc.) of pursuing the switch.
Two, the set of changes he lays out to get us off fossil fuels by 2050 requires little in the way of government action. That’s really good news as I’m not sure if/when we will have that in the US.
Looks like the state innovation system RFP is being pushed back to a later date. I would guess that respondents wanted more time and the state purchasing process is probably presenting some challenges. I applaud the efforts to pursue a flexible and collaborative process. I can only imagine the challenges of fitting that into the state’s purchasing process which is likely filled with rules meant to prevent fraud and waste by inserting competition and removing personal judgement. (Reminds me of Philip K Howard’s theory of how to improve government by re-introducing judgement – what do you think?)
Here is the notice that was emailed out from the state today.
While one part of the state is encouraging private creation of accelerator programs (and providing some matching funds for the first few years), another part of the state is doing it now. In the last week or so, Connecticut Innovations has announced the TechStart Fund for student or early stage technology companies. I’m excited we’re going to be neighbors in Science Park.
I talked to Luke Weinstein (one of the mentors) and got the scoop. I love the speed with which this is coming together!
It’s a 10 week accelerator program with $25,000 in non-recourse loan to the company (CI does not get any ownership in the company or require any personal guarantee for paying the loan back). At least half the team is expected to participate in New Haven fulltime during the program which starts in early March.
If you’re interested, act fast as the deadline to apply is Feb 22.
He does a great job articulating something I’ve been trying to describe to my friends for some time.
There are new key trends that I see emerging in education enabled by advancing technology: namely decentralization and gamification. By understanding these trends, it is much easier to imagine why we won’t need teachers or why we can free up today’s teachers to be mentors and coaches. Software can free teachers to have more human relationships by giving them the time to be guidance counselors and friends to young kids instead of being lecturers who talk at them. This last possibility is very important—in addition to learning, schools enable critical social development for children through teacher student relationships and interacting with other children—classrooms of peers and teachers provide much more than math lessons. And by freeing up teachers’ time, technology can lead to increased social development rather than less as many assume.
Do you buy it? If not, why won’t it work?
And how long will it take for us to get there? My bet: by the time the first iPhone baby enters high school, we’ll be seeing a lot more adoption. By then, the parents will have grown up with computers and the students will have grown up with smartphones. Let’s hope the teachers and administrators are ready.
Still digging through this myself but wanted to share the draft RFQ from the State of Connecticut. What do you think?
“The State of Connecticut is working with entrepreneurs, economic development organizations and institutions to build a world-class system of support for innovation and entrepreneurship. Over the last six months members of Connecticut’s innovation community collaborated to design a framework for this system, which will involve a matrix of organizations and both public and private investment. Before releasing the official Request for Qualifications (RFQ), the State would like input on this Draft RFQ. Please review this document and send all comments and critique to email@example.com by 5pm, January 13.”
Wondering what was happening with the $5mil/yr funding for the State of Connecitcut (via DECD and CI) to fund building the startup ecosystem? Matt Nemerson, Kip Bergstrom held a couple of update meetings building on the earlier meetings. The deck is below for those that weren’t able to make the meeting.
I did not notice any major changes to the plan – except the timeline is pushed later to fully operational in Q3 2012. The level of detail has increased in particular, the specifics of the goals and the budget are included. Interesting to see the goals include companies growing revenue in addition to jobs. Nice to hear the expressed desire is to be more agile than the typical government program with continuous information and collaboration along the way. (Along these lines, I suggested publishing a draft of the RFP for input before formal release.)
Biggest question on my mind is if it is the right timing to start an accelerator or incubator if that is what is on TV and popular right now.
David Fischer continues to offer ideas for different approaches that might attract a lot more national attention. Admittedly, this may be more difficult to get through a political process, but could have a real impact. For example, what if New Haven or the state offered a home buyers program? If you are an entrepreneur that has raised x money (or if we could identify/verify success in the past and desire to start another company – not easy I’m sure), then you get matching funds to buy a house. It can be forgivable loan over 5 years if you make it your primary residence or similar. No way to build the ecosystem like stocking more of the type you want. Definitely interesting.
What do you think of the plan? Any suggestions for improvement?
Since I got excited and joined the effort to create a maker or hackerspace in New Haven, there has been a lot of activity. Here’s a quick breakdown in case you are just tuning in:
Lost of Discussion. We’re up to 34 members on the listserv. (Hope you’ll join, too.) I think there have been 3 or 4 meetings and a growing number of people getting involved. There is definitely excitement about moving forward.
Various Visions. With the excitement comes various different visions for what this maker/hackerspace should be and do. From “for the members by the members” vision of basically putting our garage projects into one clubhouse to a TechShop 10,000+ sq ft with heavy equipment. And lots of debate if the goal should be to drive economic development directly (by say providing a place for startups to make prototypes) or indirectly by increasingly the cool factor of town, attracting interesting people and building a creative community. More specifically Kam laid out a phased approach (start now and start small at 15 people paying $50/month each). Alan put together a whitepaper with his BIG vision which includes shop, lap, conference room, classes and yes the kitchen sink. Rob put together a budget for something that looks to be in between.
Survey. John has taken the approach of asking the community for input on what the vision should be. Here’s a survey that asks what do you want and what would you actually use? Preliminary results are posted online. (If you haven’t taken the survey yet, please don’t read the results yet.)
Locations. We’ve been taking about the right location. Should it be downtown? Large? Small to start? Some of us took a tour of potential locations and and JR took a bunch of photos along the way. That was fun!
Picking a Name. Once we have a name, it is easier to get the legal stuff squared away and start further promotion. Incorporation or even accepting money or other donations will be easier with a name. So, I’ve been promoting the idea of picking a name sooner rather than later. There has been much brainstorming on the topic. It has been argued that “hacker” is still a misunderstood term with only a negative connotation. Others don’t like “make” as they feel it is limiting. I personally like things that people know how to spell, can search for on the web and that explains something about the subject without unnecessarily limiting you. (Read up on tips on naming startups if you’re interested in the subject.) Therefore, I favor MakeHaven. It’s clear you make things here, it is a safe place and related to New Haven. Hits a lot of the checkboxes.
Please share your thoughts below or on the listserv. And share your tools here.
Hartford Courant columnist Rick Green emailed me a few days ago to talk about YEI and entrepreneurship in New Haven. I wanted to share my thoughts here since I didn’t get a chance to talk to him before he ran his article this weekend.
Here are some of the other items of note in the local startup ecosystem. I’m sure I’m not mentioning them all as I put this together quickly, so feel free to add in the comments section.
New Haven Founders: We’re making strides in building the community. The quote from the article is: “But Casey, Rotholtz and Harrison also talk of the importance of creating a local culture of entrepreneurs and the importance of bringing young people with ideas together.” We have 70+ founders in our informal New Haven founders group. Bob and Kate have attended and building good community. Zach, you’re welcome, too.
Plenty of Startups. There are quite a few startups in the area and growing. If you know of more, please add them to my list of New Have startups. And if you think the list should be longer, let’s starup another company
Startup Weekend New Haven. Great energy and attendance at the Startup Weekend last weekend two weeks ago. Check out my recap if you’re interested in more.
Tech Fun. An increasing amount of tech fun including Hackathon @ Yale, HackHaven, HackYale, and the Ruby Meeup. I hear from people everywhere that good engineers are hard to find. Not sure that is different here or else where?
Work Space: If you’re looking for flexible lease terms for startups at an early stage, check out the Grove, CTech and The Bourse. CTech has been quite full and the vibe at the Grove is amazing. The Bourse is beautiful and tons of space although haven’t been in a while.
Universities: Like the activity on-campuses like YES (including the recent pitch competition), YEI as mentioned in the article and the Quinnipiac Entrepreneurial Institute. I hear University of New Haven is working on relater matres although I’m less familiar.