Silicon Valley Trip – Day 2

The second day of the San Francisco trip began with a sort of déjà-vu: Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ) Ventures invited us back for a meeting with associate Joshua Raffaelli to get a different perspective on the firm’s operations.  After arriving at Menlo Park a half-hour early, we took a detour back to The Sundeck for a cup of coffee before starting our day.   Sitting in The Sundeck dining room with a 270°-view of the surrounding mountains I thought, “This would be a pretty nice day to start every morning.”

After breakfast, we returned to the Millenium Falcon Conference Room at DFJ to meet with Joshua.  He was kind enough to bring us some swag (DFJ pens, notebooks, hats and bags) while he talked about the day-to-day deal-making and due diligence processes of the firm.  The day before we had met with the Don Wood, a Managing Partner at DFJ, who focused more on DFJ investing strategy including its global network of affiliates.

Our next stop was at Garage Tech Ventures—home of startup-guru Guy Kawasaki—in the heart of Palo Alto.  Here we piled into a small conference where a picture hung of the eponymous garage (located just a few blocks away from the Garage Tech Office) where Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard got their start.  Managing Director, Bill Reichert, discussed the firm’s history: how it began as an accelerator and became one of the most important Silicon Valley early stage VC firms of the past decade.

After lunch at Il Fornaio, the group made its way to the NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field.  Incidentally, the research center (which is a retired Navy base) is adjacent to the Googleplex property in Mountain View.  Here we met with Tim Collins, CEO of KleenSpeed: a resident research company at the center which is developing electric racecar technology.  After touring the KleenSpeed facility we met with Lisa Lockyer and several of her colleagues at the NASA Technology Partnerships Office.

Finally, we made our way back to the place where our two-days-in-Silicon-Valley started: the law offices of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati (WSGR) for an attorney panel.  Professor Oglevee, an organizer of the trip, had suggested that we use this opportunity to do a venture capital “term-sheet” workshop.   A term-sheet is the non-binding document signed by an entrepreneur and venture capital firm when entering an investment deal.  Daphne, Alison and Phuong (the attorneys on the panel) gave us each three different term sheet templates and we discussed the differences between them and what to look for when signing one.  As it turns out, the keys are: READ YOUR TERM SHEET and ASK QUESTIONS.

After the panel we had one last chance to thank Jim Terranova, Fisher alumnus and Director of WS investments at WSGR, for organizing the trip and supporting the next generation of buckeye entrepreneurs.  Thanks again Jim!

Reposted from and Fisher Entrepreneurship Association blog.

See more pictures at flickr.


Silicon Valley Trip – Day 1

I’ve spent the past 24 hours in San Francisco and Silicon Valley on an educational trip with the Fisher Entrepreneurship Association visiting venture capitalists.  The trip was hosted by Jim Terranova who runs WS Investments, the VC arm of the Silicon Valley law firm WSGR.

Yesterday’s itinerary included

We’ve got another packed day today, with events including a visit to NASA’s Technology Partnerships Office at the Ames Research Center.

Pictures coming soon…

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TechColumbus Innovation Awards

Last night TechColumbus held its annual Innovation Awards at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.   I got the opportunity to attend as a representative of The Fisher College of Business Center for Entrepreneurship.

The event, attend by more than one-thousand prominent figures in Columbus business, has seen 40% grown since last year.  The primary purpose of the event was to announce and celebrate the finalists and winners of awards in the following categories:

  • Green Innovation
  • Minority Owned Enterprise
  • Outstanding Service
  • Outstanding Product
  • Innovation in Non-Profit Service Delivery
  • Executive of the Year
  • Outstanding Woman in Technology
  • Inventor of the Year
  • Outstanding Start-up Business
  • Outstanding Technology Team
  • Student Innovation Awards

However, the event emceed by 10TV’s Andrea Cambern and Jeff Hogan also included several special guest appearances including one by Resource Interactive Founder and CEO Nancy Kramer.

TechColumbus’ web marketing team made creative use of social networking technology to engage the audience at the Convention Center as well as those that did not attend.  A “tweetpit” was setup next to the stage with three web marketers who live blogged, tweeted, updated facebook and posted live video of backstage interviews with the winners.  A giant display showed a live twitter stream of the Innovation Awards twitter hashtag (#IA09) which the “1100 geeks in a room” drove to a regional trending topic.

It is interesting to see what happens when you encourage the twittersphere to embrace your event.  All the conversation certainly attracted attention from people outside the physical event, but it also gave a voice to people with negative opinions of it.

Congratulations to all the winners and nominees and thanks to the Center for Entrepreneurship and Dave Shaw for the invite.

Reposted from aaron360.


Internal Case Competition

This weekend, Fisher hosted its annual first-year internal case competition.  A case competition is essentially a mini-consulting project.  An actual business situation, as summarized and published by prominent business school publications (e.g. The Harvard Business Review), is presented to a group of students who have a relatively short amount of time to analyze the case, synthesize a recommendation and present and defend it to a panel of judges (representing executives of the company from the case).

Many case competitions are held as intercollegiate competitions (e.g., the Big 10 Case Competitions) or are sponsored by outside interests and organizations (e.g., the Proctor & Gamble Case Competition and The National Black MBA Association’s Case Competition).  However, Fisher is relatively unique in that it holds its own internal case competition for MBA’s only.  By holding our own competition, we can cost effectively (without travel costs and registration fees) allow everyone that wants to to participate.  Additionally, our internal case competition is used as a sort of audition for the aforementioned intercollegiate competitions.

The case revolved around Microsoft’s place in the internet search industry (from the perspective of September 2008).  We were fortunate that this was a company, industry and product that we were relatively familiar with.  We were given the case on Friday morning at 8:00 AM and were required to submit a finished PowerPoint deck by 8:00 AM on Saturday.  The first teams began their presentations at 8:45.

My first experience with a case competition was a bit unusual.  Due to illness and other unforeseen circumstances our four-person team was reduced to only two.  Despite our best efforts to manage our time, sleep was definitely sacrificed in order to put forth the best product possible.  We did not win, however our efforts were rewarded with a “Best Q&A” award.

I want to thank my teammate, Angela, here for convincing me to compete despite our disadvantage and pushing to put together the best solution possible.

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Fisher Corporate Mentorship Program

This week marked the kickoff of the 2010 Fisher Corporate Mentorship Program.  The program, organized by the Leadership and Professional Development office, goes to great lengths to match over a hundred fist-year MBA with professional mentors working in fields that the students are interested in.  Like all mentorship programs, the participants (both mentor and mentee) get out of this experience as much as they put in.  The program lasts ten months (through October 2010) and as a guideline it is recommended that both parties set aside time to meet every month.

My mentor is David Brownstein a partner in UVG Ltd (a Columbus venture consulting firm), involved with the Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization (TEC) Institute and veteran of the Fisher Corporate Mentorship program.  I got the chance to briefly meet him at the reception hosted at the Blackwell this week.  I’m looking forward to building a relationship with him and learning more about his professional experiences over the coming year.

Reposted from


IF Workshop with Liz Saunders

Innovation Fisher, the brand-new Innovation-oriented student organization, kicked off this quarter with its first ever workshop this past Monday.  The workshop is part of a series hosted by founder Liz Saunders focusing on getting consumers to express their unmet needs.

Although, we did not have time to sufficiently prep and debrief, the IF students were given the opportunity to work through an exercise describing The Past, Present and Future of Business.

Working in groups of 3 or 4, we very quickly sifted through a collection of stimuli—images, title cut-outs from magazines, and stickers—to create a collage describing what we felt The Past, Present and Future of Business looks like.  Towards the end of the session we came back together as an entire group and explained our collages to Liz and the other groups.

During future sessions, we will discuss how to interpret the collages and creation process to get at our unmet needs.

This workshop and others planned for this quarter are part of the Innovation Fisher Certification program.  For more pictures check out the IF flickr stream.

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(Pictures by Dave Shaw and Amar Zumkhawala)

BUS M&L 855 Innovation Practice

After a long blogging hiatus: Welcome to Winter Quarter!  It’s a new decade and a new class schedule—this time with electives.  The first quarter was entirely “core” classes (predetermined foundational courses set for the entire MBA program).  This time around I was able to choose two courses outside of the required core courses.

As part of the Global Innovation and Entrepreneurial Leadership Program this summer, I took a week long “certificate-course” in innovation from Michael Bills.  The course focused on consumer centric innovation practices.  I enjoyed the course so much I decided to come back for the full course—BUS M&L 855 Innovation Practice—this winter.  According to the syllabus

The purpose of this course is to provide students with the opportunity to develop skills, and understanding of, the theory and application of innovation processes and a framework for its commercial application across various types and formats of businesses.

Bills has built a very popular courses since coming to Fisher a year ago.  In fact, the interest has spilled over into a student organization—Innovation Fisher—which is planning an innovation summit—called What IF—this spring.  This past Friday, I visited the Ohio Health Center for Medical Education & Innovation as the first Innovation Fisher site visit.

In addition to Innovation Practice, I’m also taking BUS MHR 825 Entrepreneurship & Business Plan Development—but that’s a story for another post.

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Finals Week and Winter Break

Finally wrapping up my first quarter at Fisher (or at least the first one I spent entirely in Columbus).  This week is finals week.  However, the way things worked out, last week ended up being much more stressful than this.  I had three presentations last week (Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday), as well as a group paper due Wednesday and an individual final paper due Saturday at midnight. (Kudos to one especially dauntless MBA [you know who you are] for starting at 10:30 Saturday morning!)

Compared to that this week was easy—just exams.  No class, no team meetings, no assignments—just exams.  At this point, I have two exams down (Econ and Stats) with only one (Accounting) standing between me and winter break.

Looking forward to break, I’ll be:

Others have much more glamorous plans (e.g. tanning in Florida, skiing in Vail), but I’m just looking forward to relaxing and spending some time at home—and maybe I’ll catch a movie or two.

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The Snowball Good thing I've got all of break to read this
The Snowball Good thing I've got all of break to read this

Xavier University College Entrepreneurship Conference

Last week I took a day off of classes and headed down to Cincinnati for Ohio’s Only Statewide College Entrepreneurship & Ethics Conference and Competition (I think the name needs to be changed to…something you can remember).  The conference was attended by graduate and undergraduate business and entrepreneurship students from several Ohio/Kentucky Colleges including: Ohio State – Fisher COB, Xavier – Williams COB, Bowling Green and Northern Kentucky – Haile COB.  There were three components to the conference: a keynote addresses, breakout sessions (which took the form of lectures and/or forums) and a small business simulation.

Here were some of the highlights:

  • Computer business simulation that required our team (four other Fisher Students and me) to run a coffee: setting pricing, ordering inventory, advertising, and hiring and firing.
  • Breakout session reviewing the concepts behind Kim and Mauborgne’s book Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant.
  • Breakout session presented by Dr. Chris Manolis on Entrepreneurial Marketing.
  • Breakout session presented by Dr. Ravi Chinta titled Model Business: A Tool for Business Plan Evaluation.  Here, he described a 23-dimension rubric he used as a venture capitalist to evaluate a business plans—however it can also be reverse-engineered a give an entrepreneur a few things to think about when writing a business plan.
  • Keynote Address by Pete Hensler, President of RC2 a toy and infant/toddler products company that licenses and sells John Deere, Disney, and Tommy the Tank Engine toys.  The primary takeaways were to keep a global context (RC2 does much of its manufacturing in China, but has recently turned to the country as a new market for its products) as well as list of ten question that he asks himself everyday to keep him focused.  Also, he ended his speech with this video…definitely worth a watch.

Reposted from


Ohio State – Michigan 2009

On the eve of one of the greatest sports rivalries of all time, the Ohio State vs. Michigan football game (which will be played tomorrow, Saturday, Nov 21 at 12:00 PM in Ann Arbor), I thought I’d share a few facts for the uninitiated about the game and the surrounding traditions.

  • The Thursday night before the game, Ohio State students jump in Mirror Lake on the Ohio State Campus for good luck

  • The Dead Shembechlers are a Columbus punk band that fight the “liberal Wolverine media” by performing original pro-OSU and anti-UM music the week leading up to the game
  • Ohio State players receive a gold pin shaped like a pair of football pants when they win
Gold Pants
Gold Pants
  • The game is always the last regular season game for the two schools
  • Michigan leads the series (of 105 consecutive seasons) 57-42-6
  • Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez’s record in the series is 0-1
  • Ohio State Coach Jim Tressel’s record in the series is 7-1
  • The last time Michigan won the game was in 2003—2189 days ago!  And to help put this in perspective, I’ve attached a chain email that helps bring you back.

The last time Michigan beat Ohio State in football was November 22, 2003

On that date:

  • “The Da Vinci Code” had come out earlier that year. Not the movie. The book.
  • Saddam Hussein was still at large.
  • Outkast had a big hit with “Hey Ya”.
  • Theatergoers anxiously awaited the release of “Lord of the Rings: Return of the King”, one month later.
  • “Elf” was the top film that weekend.
  • The European Union had 15 members instead of 27.
  • The world had known the name “Steve Bartman” for about five weeks.
  • The last “missing” episode of the recently-cancelled Fox cartoon “Family Guy” had been aired two weeks prior.
  • Barack Obama was in the Illinois state legislature, and Sarah Palin was the chairperson of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.
  • None of us had seen Britney Spears naked yet, and it was still an appealing concept.
  • LeBron James had been playing pro basketball for three weeks. .
  • The CIA would still contend that Iraq had WMDs for several more months.
  • The two defending NFL conference champions were the Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
  • A child who is in kindergarten today was born.
  • This ( is what an iPod looked like.
  • Avenue Q and Wicked had just opened on Broadway. Arrested Development’s first season had premiered several weeks earlier.
  • New episodes of “Friends” were being aired.
  • GMail and Flickr were still months away from Beta release.
  • Howard Dean’s “scream” was about two months away.
  • The minimum wage was $5.15 an hour.
  • You could still buy a new Oldsmobile.
  • Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan were still alive.
  • Tyrone Willingham had another year at Notre Dame.
  • Urban Meyer was in his first year coaching… at Utah.
  • The NFL’s New England Patriots had a trio of rising-star assistant coaches who were expected to go on to great success in head coaching jobs: Charlie Weis, Romeo Crennel and Eric Mangini.
  • Terrelle Pryor was in middle school.
  • Rich Rodriguez would be the Big East Coach of the Year.
  • John L. Smith would be the Big Ten Coach of the Year. Related: 8 Big Ten teams have changed head coaches since then.
  • Notre Dame was on a 40-year winning streak against Navy.
  • Michigan had the longest active streak of bowl game appearances.
  • No Michigan team had ever lost more than seven games in a season.
  • No Michigan team had failed to win back-to-back games at least once in a season since 1962.
  • Every fifth year senior had left Michigan with at least one win against OSU.
  • And finally…
  • The last time Michigan beat Ohio State was November 22, 2003. Nine weeks later, Facebook was founded

Reposted from