Saturday, April 26, 2008

Are Men From Mars and Women From Venus In The Business Environment?

My real life experience has told me that each gender has a different way of falling in love. My education convinced me that male and female brains develop and behave differently. To realize and understand the basic differences between how men and women think and behave is important not just if you are in the dating game, but also in the busienss environment – hire the right people, improve teamwork, and develop the right strategies.

1) “Web thinking” and “step thinking”
Some research findings suggest that on average, women gather more data, consider the context, are intuitive, have a sympathizing mind and think more long-term – we can call it "web thinking". Men, on the other hand, are more focused, think linearly, focus on rules and the short-term - "step thinking". Men are more analytical; women are better long-term planners. The long-term thinking of women makes them better investors.

2) Collaborate or compete
Listen to this clip from Amy Millman, President of Springboard Enterprises. According to Millman, girls are more collaborative whereas boys are more competitive: girls play to build good relationships and boys play to place value on things.

3) Who is stronger in networking?
Catherine Khan works at L'Oreal and is currently the Marketing Manager for the Garnier Nutritioniste product line. In this clip, she states that women are not as strong at networking as men. You might tend to disagree with her but Catherine believes that women are not so strong as men in networking because men try to help each other while women see networking as building false friendships.

4) Men are more spread out
Julie McPeek is a co-founder of Provisor Marketing. In this clip, she states that men and women have different body language in the corporate environment. When it comes to body language, Julie found that men are more open in their body language and they are much more likely to be “spread out on a chair instead of sitting with their arms crossed which women do so much.”

Whether you agree with the above statements or not, you can always log onto eClips and compare different thoughts from men and women in the business world and the role of women in today’s business arena.

By Rui Zhang

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Making a Bunch of Green by Going Green

So being that today is Earth Day, I thought it would probably be a good idea to write about something that has to do with the environment. The problem is I have always had some degree of reservation when placing entrepreneurship and environmentalism in the same sentence. It’s not that entrepreneurs can’t uphold environmental principles or help reduce pollution or any other dilemma. It’s simply the intense difference in image and meaning surrounding the two concepts. Often people will say that going green should be an altruistic thing that you do for the earth and for future generations. The concept of making a profit while doing so is often associated with greed or inefficiency.

Yet, I would say that making a profit while simultaneously bettering the environment is something that should be respected, and perhaps even promoted in the coming years. And entrepreneurs who innovate in this manner may soon become leaders of the environmental movement.

Take James Poss of Needham, Massachusetts for example. He invented the BigBelly trash can and started Seahorse Power Co. to advance his product. The BigBelly trash can is similar to any other trash can except it uses solar energy to compress trash when the trash can gets too full. This means that people can pile more trash into their trash bins, which in turn means that trash collection frequency is drastically reduced. As the number of diesel-burning garbage trucks decreases, the amount of fuel burned by these trucks decreases as well. Moreover Poss’ Device has put him in places of influence on a national level—the U.S. Forest Service and the Borough of Queens are both clients.

Other entrepreneurs such as Professor Daniel Kammen tend to focus more on the research and innovation end of entrepreneurship. Kammen, a professor at UC Berkley and Cornell alumnus, developed a UV tube for light bulbs that saves energy and cuts down on costs. Although Kammen had the opportunity to plunge fully into growing a company, he chose to stay in the innovative phase so that he can contribute more to the current knowledge of sustainable energy. (Click here to listen to eClips content from Kammen)

While entrepreneurs like Poss and Kammen have different goals and priorities, it is clear that such entrepreneurs are jumping into the market very rapidly. The Center for Small Business and the Environment (CSBE) said clean-tech startups accounted for 6.4 percent of all North American venture investments in 2003. And this number is only going to keep climbing in the coming years. Clearly, environmentalism is becoming a global issue. Look to entrepreneurs to lead the way.

Allen Miller

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Introducing eClips Asia: Bridging Cornell and Asia

Started by a group of Cornell students in 2007, eClips Asia provides video clips of interviews of entrepreneurs and corporate executives from Asia and is part of eClips Collection. The main purpose of eClips Asia is to enable people to share their expertise and knowledge in doing business in Asia. The eClips Asia team is composed of four student representatives: Chi Fan Johnson Cheng, Rui Zhang, Amanda Mingsze Chan, and Hong Shing Johnson Cheng.

Pictured above from the right: Professor Deborah Streeter, Manuel Lora, Chi Fan Johnson Cheng, Rui Zhang, Amanda MingSze Chan, Hong Shing Johnson Cheng, and Jamie Kalousdian. Photo taken by Jon Reis

eClips Asia’s pilot project was completed in December of 2007, when three interviews were conducted in Hong Kong. During the winter break, our team went to Hong Kong and interviewed two senior managing directors: John Lee and K.L. Wong at Merrill Lynch and entrepreneur Donna Ho from Physical.

In the spring semester of 2008, our team continued to obtain Asia-related content for the eClips collection. We conducted several interviews with distinguished leaders from a variety of industries including John Nesheim, an engineer and veteran of Silicon Valley and Canice Chan: an attorney with 20 years of experience in transactional matters in North American, European, Chinese, and other Asian companies.

In the coming summer of 2008, we are planning to conduct five to eight interviews in China, Singapore, and Malaysia . The eClips Asia team expects to visit top chief executive officers and business leaders and interview them on business practices in Asia, as well as seek their input on ethics and global leadership.

The eClips Asia project has provided us with wonderful opportunities for experiential learning while enabling us to gather advice on business practies and ethics in a diverse cultural context that can be disseminated through eClips website. We are very grateful to everyone from eClips who has helped and supported us!

By Rui Zhang

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Matt Ackerson's Big Idea Is A Winner

Cornell University's 'Big Idea' business competition just announced that Cornell University Senior Matt Ackerson was the first-place winner for his Web site, After considering entries from 150 applicants, ten finalists were chosen to present three-minute synopses of their business ideas to a standing-room-only crowd in Statler Hall's Beck Center on April 11, 2008 during the annual Entrepreneurship @ Cornell Celebration. is a Web site that offers college students downloadable coupons for discounts at local businesses. The site caters to budget-conscious college students, who can print free coupons and redeem them in Ithaca stores or restaurants for discounts or free items. Participating businesses pay either for each coupon printed from the Web site or a fixed annual fee to win new customers.

In addition to Ackerson who serves as founder and CEO, Scrimple's management team includes Angeline Stuma '09, director of marketing for Scrimple; Natalia Avalos '07, director of sales for Scrimple; Sylvia Ng '08, assistant director of marketing for Scrimple; and Kerry Motelson '08, director of operations for Scrimple.

eClips had the opportunity to interview Ackerson about the challenges of being a student entrepreneur and discusses the background, funding and growth of Scrimple. Click on the video below to hear Ackerson discuss the importance of havingthe right people on board at the start...

To read more about Ackerson's win, click here to access the Cornell Chronicle article.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Social Entrepreneurs: The Hidden Profits

Social Entrepreneurship is a strain of entrepreneurship that has been gaining attention as of late. Traditionally, social entrepreneurship was often thought of as charity or volunteer work done by non-profit organizations or private individuals. While social entrepreneurship does often take this form, it is important to realize that social entrepreneurs go through much of the same process as other entrepreneurs. In fact, the classification of a social entrepreneurial endeavor as simply a “charity” hides the many similarities between social entrepreneurship and business entrepreneurship.

A few years ago my friend Nick Batter, currently a senior at Harvard University, went on a volunteer summer relief trip to Sri Lanka. The nation had just been devastated by the historic tsunami and Nick figured he’d travel with a large group like the Red Cross or UNICEF to help the relief efforts. Yet, he was advised that these large organizations were inefficient and had a very difficult time getting access to the hardest hit parts of the island. So Nick decided he would get a bunch of friends together, raise some money and use the money to oversee the implementation of sustainable projects that would better the village communities damaged by the catastrophic tsunami.

That was the summer of 2005. Now, three years later, Nick and his group of friends are in charge of a non-profit organization named Sri Lankan Aid. Their growth has been absolutely tremendous. From an initial budget of 25 cents, they have grown to close to $20,000 per summer trip. 100% of there money goes towards building facilities that village communities in Sri Lanka desperately need. This includes classrooms, orphanage wings, water pumps, village centers and many other things. They have also created a film documentary of their progress known as Lions and Tigers, which is set to be released in late 2008. Sri Lankan Aid has been recognized by Congressional members and by the former President of Sri Lanka. Each year the non-profit grows in size, and I feel honored to know these guys.

The primary reason why I bring up Nick is because he is a perfect example of what I consider to be a social entrepreneur. Social entrepreneurs, like business entrepreneurs, identify and try to resolve specific problems. Of course, their problems tend to have social or humanitarian connections, but they address the problems in similar manners. On the results side, social entrepreneurs tend to measure their success in terms of the magnitude of their impact on society rather than the amount of money they make. In that sense, being a social entrepreneur has profits far more valuable than silver and gold.

eClips has a growing collection of stories from social entrepreneurs. You also might want to check out the clips we have in the "Social Entrepreneur - Defined" theme or in the "Transfering Social Values To A Business Model" theme...


eClips Get Entrepreneurial!

On Thursday, April 10, 2008, Professor Deborah Streeter annoucned that the eClips collection had been licensed to eClipsNet, LLC.

eClipsNet will provide a personalized workspace, centered around the eClips collection, where entrepreneurs and business leaders can generate, organize and develop ideas while learning through the experiences and journeys of other professionals.

The eClips collection, which now numbers close to 11,000 clips, was created by Deborah Streeter, Kirsten Barker and Jamie Kalousdian with the assistance of IT professionals at Cornell University's Mann Library. eClipsNet, LLC was founded by the team of Streeter, Barker and Kalousdian along with Kensa Group, LLC.

Click here to read the press release.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Family Business - Where Family Is Always Before Business

eClips was at Babson College this Monday to interview Lee Man Tat and several distinguished members of the Lee Kum Kee group - an enterprise which produces and distributes several renowned ethnic Chinese food brands. eClips Media Production Manager Jamie Kalousdian, supporter of "eClips Asia", Johnson Chi Fan Cheng, and I met the group on Tuesday and we captured some valuable insight from Lee family’s business.

(Pictured above: eClips Media Production Manager, Jamie Kalousdian with Lee Kum Kee executives)

Lee Kum Kee is the industry leader in production and distribution of authentic Chinese sauces. The organization was started as a family business in 1888. With over 100 years of history, Lee Kum Kee’s family passed down the business and developed the best Chinese sauces for different people around the world. Lee Man Tat took over the role as chairman in 1972 and built a renowned brand of ethnic Chinese enterprise which marked a new chapter of this reputable business. In recognition of his skill, he was recently inducted into the Babson College Academy of Distringuished Entrepreneurs.

During his interview with eClips, Lee Man Tat shared his ideas on managing a successful family business. To him, family is always before business. A business can only thrive when the family members are in harmony. We were surprised to learn that the Lee family established a family court with its own family constitutions to resolve family conflicts, because to him, problems arise when the family members are in conflict with each other. When Mr Lee was asked what makes him proud of most during his years of managing the enterprise, he told us nothing moves him more than the fact that he has been happily married with his wife Choi May Ling for 54 years. Mr Lee kept emphasizing that to see his children happily married and his grandchildren growing up healthily were the major driving forces for his business.

Lee Man Tat encourages his children to focus on education and acquire some work experiences with other enterprises before working for the family business. He firmly believes that when the entire family work together with the same goals in minde, the family business blossoms.

We will be posting the interview with Lee Man Tat in the next week and will provide a link to his comments here. In the meantime, click here to see some clips on the challenges facing family businesses.

By Rui Zhang

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

So You've Got An Idea

From speaking to friends and other students on campus, I’ve been impressed by the growing number of people who are interested in becoming entrepreneurs. The days of landing that safe and secure job at IBM are gone as more people are willing to enter the riskier but more exciting arena of entrepreneurship. Yet of all the people I’ve spoken with, only a select few have actually tinkered with starting a business. Still fewer have run a successful enterprise for a sizeable period of time.

I think that one of the hardest things for students who want to become entrepreneurs is moving from a concept or idea towards the creation of a startup. Often, students have a good idea and dream of the possibilities of that idea. But the excitement and passion behind the idea is never utilized to turn the idea into reality. While it’s true that the road to becoming an entrepreneur is generally long and narrow, I’m surprised that more people don’t give it a try.

At eClips, we have a lot of video clips devoted to educating entrepreneurs on what they can do to take that active step towards starting a business. Below is a list of 5 things you can do to get started today.

1) Figure out exactly why you want to become an entrepreneur. Do you dream of becoming rich? Do you want to have the independence of being your own boss? Do you simply enjoy innovating? Get your motives nailed down.

2)Completely map out your idea. What is your product or service? Who is your target market? How will you generate revenue? What is your business model?

3)Surround yourself with people who will add real value to your business. This includes finding a solid management team and an experienced board of advisors. This need not be very formal per say, but having others to help you out will broaden your pool of knowledge and make your chances of success higher.

4)Market your product and service to as many people as possible. This includes current clients, possible clients and even investors. You need not spend a lot of money here if you are creative and resourceful. What really matters is that you get your name out there.

5)Be persistent and take risks. It’s not always going to be easy, and you’re going to have to sacrifice a lot. But if you want to win big; you need to play big.

Hopefully, this is enough to get started. Once again eClips has tons of relevant information, so don’t hesitate to browse the site.

On a separate note, don’t forget that this weekend is Entrepreneruship @ Cornell Celebration. This is a great opportunity to network with other entrepreneurs or just learn something new.


Friday, April 04, 2008

Really Young Entrepreneurs Who Will Inspire You

Did you ever imagine starting your business at the age of 9? I read an article today about a British kid, Jake Lunn, who founded his company "Nautical Napkins" when he was 9 years old. He is one of the youngest entrepreneurs to receive recognition in the UK.

Jake is a sailing enthusiast and dreams of buying a super yacht. He came up with the idea of making personalized linen nautical napkins embossed with the boats' names during a trip in Sweden with his family. He learned to use the machine that prints onto napkins and has been receiving orders via his Nautical Napkins website. With the help from his parents, he has been running the company for almost two years and recently earned an innovation award from Broadband4Devon.

After reading the story, I did a little research on young entrepreneurs and I came across similar stories in the US, India, China, France and almost everywhere in the world. Young Entrepreneurs of America (YEA) awarded the 11 year-old Jason O’Neill “Young Entrepreneur of the Year” in 2007 for creating Pencil Bugs.

It seems that the world is encouraging entrepreneurial development at an ever younger age. With online orders made easy, it becomes ever more convenient and feasible to launch a creative business plan and carry it through.

I hope my post can serve as an inspiration or motivation to you if you are planning to start up your own business. Interested in reading more about other Young Entrepreneurs? Check out the eClips Young Entrepreneur Collection...though the entrepreneurs in this group are at least old enough to drive!

By Rui Zhang

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Update on Paul Polak

For the past 25 years, Paul Polak has wondered about two questions: What makes poor people poor? And what can they do about their poverty?

In working towards the answers, Polak founded the organization, International Development Enterprises. IDE is a different kind of non-profit organization which is dedicated to ending poverty in the developing world not through handouts, but by helping poor farmers invest in their own success.

In 2007, Polak took his mission a step further when he founded D-Rev. This organization's goal is to design affordable technology for dollar-a day customers and developing markets where they can be sold profitably and sustainably at a fair market price. The mission is to help the 90% of the world that lives at the "Base of the Pyramid" to work their way out of poverty.

On February 28, 2008, Polak released his book entitled "Out of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail". Hailed by The Economist as a "wise and engaging new book", Polak tells why traditional poverty eradication programs have fallen so short, and how he and his organization developed an alternative approach that has succeeded in lifting 17 million people out of poverty.

Polak plans to begin a book tour soon - but in the meantime, if you want to hear his thoughts, check out eClips' most recent interview with Paul Polak.

You can also check out NPR's recent interview with Polak entitled Tackling Global Poverty His Own Way

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Lessons Learned

Being a young entrepreneur has many advantages. Students generally have fewer financial obligations and are able to take more risks. In addition, students often have more opportunities that stem from being in the university environment. Such opportunities include access to knowledgeable professors and relationships with other intelligent students. But today, I’d like to talk about several of the problems related to being a young entrepreneur.

Let’s turn back the pages of Cornell history to 1994 and examine a case of particular relevance to Cornell. That year two computer science students named Stephan Paternot and Todd Krizelman founded a primitive social networking site that would later be known as The company was an instant success and in 1998 it attracted a lot of attention by posting the largest IPO gains of any company in history up to that date. At the age of 23, Paternot and Krizelman were valued at $100 million each.

Yet the fame and success these youths acquired soon attracted a lot of criticism from the media. In 1999, CNN filmed Paternot dancing on a table with model Jennifer Medley in a Manhattan night club saying, “Got the girl. Got the money. Now I'm ready to live a disgusting, frivolous life.” Unfortunately, things did not stay so perfect for Paternot. 1999 was the year of the dot com bust and shares of dropped from a high of $97 to less than a dime. The two young entrepreneurs lost all of their money and faded out of the spotlight. The following year, Paternot and Krizelman were forced out of the company—a sad ending to a story-book beginning.

Tales like these of young entrepreneurs experiencing massive failures are all too common. And when it happens, the ending is never good. There is just something to be said about age and the experience that comes with it. It’s simply not enough to just have the technical talent or the strong work ethic to make a startup succeed. Often you need the wisdom of those who have already done what you have done. So finding the right mentor—whether it be a faculty advisor or a parent or a close friend—is essential to navigating the unfamiliar territory of entrepreneurship and enterprise.

Interested in hearing more about mentoring? Check out the eClips theme where Entrepreneurs Discuss the Role of Mentors

Allen Miller