A Good Week for My Collaborations

It has been a productive week for me.

First, I launched a new collaboration together with my best friend’s boy, Gary Coker.  Those of you who read this blog know that I am an advocate for youth entrepreneurship.  Well, now I’ve gone all in.  Gary, a sophomore at Canterbury High School, and I are co-founders of a new venture called SCI Guild.

SCI Guild was born to merge science and fun for kids 6 to 15  bring fun to science and science to fun.  “SCI” stands for “Science Creates Intelligence”.  The original idea was (and still is) to create a science based trading card game.  Gary is the TCG expert.  The design of the prototype is well under way.  If you want to hear about the TCG when it is out, go to our site and hit the MailChimp sign up form.

Like a lot of startups, we’ve discovered a way to get started today, without having the TCG completed.  At sciguild.com we’ve started posting science games and science videos.  We’ll continue to add a game and video each week.  And, we have some other ideas for more content.  Go check it out – then tell the kids about it!

Second, my collaboration with Chris Pelz launched a new version of our financial proforma software, My Fast Financials.  We originally put together a very streamlined set of Income Statement, Balance Sheet, and Cash Flow Statement.  The idea was to keep it simple for those startups or growing companies that don’t need thousands of mind boggling schedules and options – and just want a simple set of projected statements that automatically link and balance.

This week we added 2 new products.  The original product was re-labeled My Fast Financials Lite.  For My Fast Financials Pro (which comes in a 3-year or 5-year version), we added some simple schedules for 10 revenue accounts, 10 payroll categories, and 70 expense accounts (10 accounts in each of 7 categories).  We maintain the basic product philosophy of simplicity, but add enough new functionality to satisfy those who crave a bit more detail.  The new products are great for ventures preparing SBA loan applications or commercial bank loan applications.  Tell your friends!

And, the new products were launched with a new website design by Mike Waskiewicz of News Mogul.  Pretty sweet – Mike is a great designer.

I love collaboration!


One More Startup Hub

Paul Graham recently published an essay about why startup hubs work.  Nice essay – well thought out and makes good sense.  A bit more simple model this time than his seminal 2006 essay on how to create a tech startup hub.  It cites two reasons:

  1. An environment where startups are a commonplace accepted activity.
  2. Chance meetings with “people who can help you”.

It’s all about people – both factors are about the number of startup people.

Here’s what this new essay means for us here in not-quite-yet-a-startup-hub Fort Wayne, Indiana.

The essay not only explains why startup hubs work, but it also explains why startups outside of hubs are more difficult.  As Paul says, “Startups in other places are just doing what startups naturally do: fail.”  Ouch.  I know that some will read this and say, “See, don’t bother trying that tech startup in Fort Wayne” or “See, don’t bother trying to grow the tech startup community in Fort Wayne”.

Really?  No thanks!

That is EXACTLY why we have to continue what we are already doing to grow the tech community here.  Remember, if Silicon Valley had adopted that philosophy in the early days, it wouldn’t have developed.  Same for Austin, Boston, Boulder, and NYC.

  • Every new tech startup here in Fort Wayne grows OUR hub.
  • Every successful startup convinces a few more people that startup entrepreneurs are really “OK” or maybe even “cool” – not just “unemployed” as Paul says non-hubs see startup entrepreneurs.

Various people and organizations are working to grow the startup (and tech startup) community here in Fort Wayne.

  • Me, for one.
  • The Innovation Center.
  • The Innovation Center’s BizWiz and Student Venture Lab programs.
  • Ivy Tech and NIIC’s Launch New Venture competition.
  • The University of St. Francis’ Business Plan competition.
  • Huntington University’s Digital Media Arts program.
  • The new kid on the block, Elevate Ventures.

Others are working on making our community a great place for tech entrepreneurs to live and play (to see why that is important, read Paul’s 2006 essay).

  • The Alliance is working on ways to create a cool downtown environment conducive to young entrepreneurs.
  • Nick Arnett is on a quest to find why communities create a great environment for Millenials.  One of the elements of Nick’s model, by the way, is “creating placemaking” – to foster exactly the sort of chance encounters Paul describes.
  • YLNI is mobilizing the young professional community.
  • Craig Crook is mobilizing our creative thinkers around TEDxFortWayne.
  • Calhoun/Wayne, SoCalho, Broadway, and the Arts district are all growing great neighborhoods.
  • Recently Arts United and DID brought Carol Coletta to town to talk about how to create a more vibrant creative community.  More than one person went away inspired and ready

We are not going to stop.  We are not going to send our entrepreneurs to San Francisco.  In fact, for those of you in San Francisco who are tired of the cost of living and the commute – come see us in Fort Wayne and be part of the story of a newly developing startup hub!

Bye, Steve Jobs – Hello, New Young Entrepreneurs

So, by now everyone knows that Steve Jobs has died.  The world is talking about what he accomplished in a remarkable life.

I’d like to focus your attention on not WHAT he and Steve Wozniak did, but WHEN they did it.  Check out this photo.

For the young entrepreneurs here in Fort Wayne, remember that Steve was 21 when Apple was formed.  He and Woz had been dabbling at the Homebrew Club for a couple of years prior to that.

To everyone in NIIC’s Student Venture Lab or BizWiz program, and to every student or young entrepreneur who gets to read this – please take a moment to ask yourself if it is time to either start or double your efforts toward your own venture.

Go be insanely great!