Thursday, May 31, 2007

Carbon Credits Explained

"A carbon credit is a financial instrument at the end of the day. It's a commodity that you trade, you hedge, you forward, you use to meet your obligation of emission reduction."

- Ed Heslop, CEO of Environmental Credit Corporation

In light of "An Invconvenient Truth", rising gas prices and endless media coverage on alternative fuels, we wanted to highlight a recent addition to the collection where Ed Heslop, president of Environmental Credit Corporation defines carbon credits and discusses the rewards and challenges of trading this "commodity".

In addition to Heslop, other entrepreneurs and experts have spoken with eClips about developments within the energy sector. Interested in hearing more? Check out comments from Daniel Goldman and Daniel Kammen as well.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

"My Start-Up Life" - A Review

Ben Casnocha's book, My Start-Up Life: What a (Very) Young CEO Learned on His Journey Through Silicon Valley, is a disarming tale of a startup told by an young entrepreneur who, instead of trumpeting his tale as a tribute to his own genius, shares the real inside story, a rollercoaster of a journey. Ben's story shows the value of being humble enough to ask questions when you don't understand and being determined enough to put one foot in front of the other and build a real business. I especially appreciate the way Ben portrays the crucial role of mentors in his successful business. In addition, Ben clearly understands one thing that often evades entrepreneurs (young and old) : the value proposition of a business must be defined from the customer's point of view. And Ben's story does hinge on what I call the twin devils that plague all entrepreneurs: cash flow and people issues.

The book has interesting discussions of so many practical issues, including how to: teach yourself about finance and accounting, build a board, ask the right questions in a sales pitch, find the right kind of money, pay close attention to detail when presenting, and move a product from small scale to large scale.

It would be tempting to focus on Ben's age (indeed, he is a whiz-kid in every sense of the word), but I think the real value of the story is that it has so much in common with entrepreneurs of all ages. Ben struggled to be a "normal high school kid" in the same way I see many talented entrepreneurs struggle to reconcile their own highly empowered view of life with others who are on more passive tracks. Most of Ben's mistakes are not a function of being young, but a function of being human and therefore fallible at times. His successes are equally disconnected from age and result from an unyielding personal commitment to his passion to make his business work and the desire to hear "yes" instead of "no" from the Universe.

Probably the most compelling part of Ben's story is his description of the product development process. What Ben calls the "long hard slog" is the process of taking Comcate from a piece of software initially created from a an simple sketch sent by a teenaged American to a young programmer working overseas to a consistent product, designed for scale and focused on "good revenue" (money coming from product features that don't require extensive support). The slog is where Ben seems to have learned the critical life lessons that will surely help himpursue his entrepreneurial vision.

Ben's book does have two specific messages that I think are extremely important to high school and college audiences. One of them is to manage your "personal brand." In this You-tube, MySpace, facebook world, young people tend to forget that future recruiters and investors will quickly find the footprints students are leaving in the digital world right now. I would love to see more highschoolers and college students resist the urge to share their most intimate moments with the rest of the world in the name of social networking. The second message is the call to be philanthropic. Entrepreneurship education understandably attracts individuals with ambitious income goals, but many do not understand the power of using that wealth in philanthropic ways.
Ben ends his book with an interesting reading list. We hope in future editions, he'll include a "Listening List" from eClips!

Interested in learning more about the book? Check out the book's website.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Poop To Profit

Today's Sunday New York Times Magazine featured an article on TerraCycle entitled The Worm Turns. In this article, Rob Walker discusses the success that this eco-startup has had and also states that the company is not likely to be a flash in the pan.

eClips has been fortunate enough to track this startup journey from its beginning. Our interviews with Tom Szaky (CEO) and Albe Zakes (company spokesperson) have been able to capture the rewards and challenges of being a young entrepreneur and building a socially responsible comapny.

Walker's article states that TerraCycle's previous sales projections have been a bit overly optimistic - but it looks as though this year will result in $6 million in sales - which would finally make TerraCycle profitable.

Based on Szaky's following quote to eClips, you could argue that optimism is what he has always been about -
"You have to be able to dream big or you can't get big." - Tom Szaky
We are excited to be able to follow TerraCycle's journey and share their insights with all of you!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Entrepreneurship Is About the Journey

When asked, ”What makes eClips so special?” we sometimes find it hard to give a concise answer.

We could talk about the fact that eClips now has over 8500 digital video clips that are fully transcribed and indexed for easy searchability.

We could mention the 900 themes that group clips into related topics such as
Toot Your Own Horn Without Blowing It
Cash Flow Is More Important Than Your Mother and
Funding a Startup With Bubblegum and Baling Wire

We could highlight the breadth of the collection – with entrepreneurs and experts from industries as varied as agriculture to apparel to hospitality to life sciences to manufacturing to venture capital to waste management.

We could point out that out of the 400 entrepreneurs and experts in the collection, almost 200 are women.

We could discuss our special collections on Young Entrepreneur Stories or Socially Responsible Entrepreneurship

But when it all boils down to one sentence, the best thing that we can say is that our collection illustrates that -

Entrepreneurship is about the journey.

You can read a textbook that teaches you how to understand a balance sheet – but eClips lets you hear Colin Hill, CEO of Gene Network Sciences, state,
“I really understood the technology. I think the disadvantage I had was that I knew very little about a lot of the basic things you are supposed to know in running a business like how to read a balance sheet and how to do deals.”
Creative people in design and performance often see involvement in business as “selling out”. Yet eClips provides the opportunity to hear Rachel Lampert, Director or Kitchen Theatre state,
“When I say that I am entrepreneurial. I am looking for the way to find the means to work as an artist, so for me it is the way to put together a business, company, a life that allows me to do the things that I want to do.”
Students and professionals interested in social responsibility often argue that business is only about making a profit and "entrepreneurship" is a dirty word. eClips brings wisdom from Bena Burda, CEO of Maggie’s Organics who feels commerce and trade can be viable solutions and states,
“Business absolutely is a change agent.”

With over 8500 clips, we could provide almost limitless examples. Interested in learning more? Visit eClips today!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Felix Laboy Discusses Entrepreneurship

"It's a wonderful thing to be your own boss and to make decisions on a daily basis."
- Comment from Felix Laboy in eClips

Felix Laboy is co-founder, President and CEO of E-site Marketing. His company specializes in creating E-business solutions exclusively for the hospitality industry.

Laboy recently spoke at Cornell University as part of the 2006/2007 series of "Conversations with Entrepreneurs" offered by the Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship at Cornell's School of Hotel Administration. During his lecture, he discussed his experience in the hospitality industry and how that expeirence gave him the tools he needed to become and entrepreneur and start his own company.

His main messages are to find your passion, deliver the best service to the customer and learn all you can from each professional experience.

To hear more from Felix Laboy, listen to his comments in eClips.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Thoughts on Innovation

"You have to have a system that rewards innovation which means almost by definition rewarding failure, because you can't innovate and be creative without failing a lot of the time. "

The quote above was made by Howard Morgan, Director at IdeaLab and captured in eClips. IdeaLab is an incubator that was started by Bill Gross 1996 with the goal of creating and operating pioneering technology companies.

An article which appeared in the New York Times on May 7, 2007 entitled "Beam It Down From The Web, Scotty" discussed a new company started at IdeaLab. The company is called "Desktop Factory" and wants to be the first to to deliver a 3-D printer for consumers.

Imagine being able to "print" that lost piece for your child's Lego set or the missing plastic shelf holder for the bookcase you just bought at Ikea! The possibilities are endless but innovation is the key to it all.

To hear more about innovative thinking at IdeaLab, listen to more of Howard Morgan's comments in Howard Morgan, Director at IdeaLab eClips.