Posts Tagged ‘ business opportunities ’

play a game, change the world

Got this a few minutes ago and it passed the ‘will this interest me enough to get me to stop sipping my espresso’ test. I’m seriously intrigued by this gaming-to-learn venue. ‘not entirely sure why

And why I’m posting it here? Companies are often a bit like very large container ships – a little slow to change course. Consultants can come in, charge big bucks, and leave clients with long strategic ‘to-do’ lists all gussied up in PowerPoint decks.


OR, maybe, using games like this can get ideas into heads.

As I say, I’m intrigued.


Mrs Robinson would be whispering “atoms” these days

Atoms, not bits, will make the next great wave of bazillionaires. We’ve been talking about desktop fabrication for years but …the sticking point has always been it’s-still-a-plastic-model-of-something-we-make-with-our-fabricators-not-a-Real-Thing problem. AND, that’s where radically low volume factory runs in China, enabled by CAD plans whipped up somewhere else (and reality verified by desktop fabs) and the near-zero container-transportation costs will make a difference. A big BIG difference.

Do a google search on “Atoms are the next bits”…

mindshare presence and mindshare enhancement for small businesses

A client has asked me to propose how I’d do a “social computing audit” for them — essentially, they want to see (1) how their competitors are using things like blogs and YouTube, or FaceBook and Twitter and (2) what tools or methods *they* might want to adapt.

Something interesting – and unexpected – came up in the research I put into the proposal for that gig. The CEO who’d asked for ‘some thoughts on a proposal’ was politely skeptical about the bottom line value of these new tools. Still – off I went to do some preliminary work.

I found two things. Sure enough, the company had a very scant presence in these new(ish) venues.  And — as minimal as it was — it was *about* par for the course for that particular industry. The surprising thing was that a lion’s share of tweets and blog comments came from a handful of clearly dissatisfied customers!

Bottom line? It’s one thing to monitor how you’re ‘keeping up with’ competitors in terms of online visibility, it’s another to see *what* your online reputation is.

Really big companies know this difference and pay dearly for reputation management — for their company as well as for their c-level execs!

As far as I know (that is to say, as far as 5 minutes on Google searches popped up), the company that does this kind of small-company and (and their senior people) reputation management is a local (Bay Area) firm,   Reputation Defender   ( )

‘might be worth your while to check them out !

Thinking now is SO not the right time to do a start up?

Well, maybe conventional wisdom isn’t the best way to think about this decision. The current (Dec) BusinessWeek publication has just launched its first annual “most intriguing 25 new businesses created in the last year” list.

The list is displayed alphabetically, so you’ll have to do a big of homework to come up with your own persona ranking of these efforts, but the point is this: great companies have often started in tough times.

Things have been tough, and they remain difficult, but there are some glimmers of hope Out There.

This year – 2009 – witnessed 24,500 startups financed by angel investors. Down a whole bunch from a few years earlier, BUT, up 6% from 2008.

Better still, according to estimates from the Center for Venture Research, this coming year should see over 50,000 startups funded by angels.

SO… we can hunker down til people in the streets are singing “Happy Days Are Here Again” or we can do what entrepreneurs do best – take calculated risks.

got equity?

Once upon a time, in a land far far away, there was a brokerage/M&A firm that got a certain kind of phone call, almost every day… “Please, we have money, millions of shimoleans (the unit of money, of course) and we’re looking to invest in companies. Can’t you help us please…?”

Unless you’re fortunate enough to have spent the last twenty months living in a electricity-free and off-the-net yurt in a remote valley, you know this is a world that belies the grim reality of companies getting money these days.

Well, not exactly.

Here at BlueKey Brokerage Mergers & Acquisition – we DO get calls – lots of calls, from people asking us to find them companies to invest in. Private Equity Groups have money, and from what we see — a lot of it.  There’s a current article in The Canadian Business Journal talking about how PEGs are funneling investors’ money.

not as much a SIC group as a center of gravity

I help entrepreneurs buy and sell companies who’s focus is on new- and social-media.

That’s the short version.  Here’s the fuller story.

Web 2.0 *anything* has been the darling of the popular press for a couple of years now and while it’s frustratingly difficult to pin down, think of all the ways companies are using things like company blogs or wikis, home companies are taking more time (and investing in more infrastructure) to be more responsive to customer needs, and how, increasingly, ‘lightweight’ on-line tools are supplementing what used to be in-house (or on-desk) software packages  (things like the use of Google for market research, like the use of YouTube videos or screencasts for marketing, like the use of Facebook or Twitter to get brands and products in front of more people).

I’m the business broker interested in the companies that are giving everyone the tools and processes to change ways of doing business: all the companies that make these new tools, all the companies that repackage these tools and procedures into services for others to use, for the hardware and software infrastructure that makes these things work, and all the professional services that enable others to change the way they do business by way of all these new tools.

There are no clear boundaries of where these new tools start (or end), but there are areas of expertise that are strongest in the young companies that are making their mark in this world of “Enterprise 2.0”.  

And those are the areas where I help entrepreneurs.


If a picture is worth a thousand words, consider these two:


and …


recasting your company as a ‘smart growth’ venture?

For all companies of course, but perhaps even more so for those in the mid-range, finding (and boasting about) one’s uniqueness, one’s ‘distinctive competencies’ is paramount.

Management consultants – at least some of the edgier ones – have been warming to the ideas of how companies can grow in ways that are less brittle to massive swings of capitalism. 

A poster-child for ‘smart, slow , sustainable growth’ is as close as pointing your browser to — a global marketplace for handmade objects.

Havas – the sixth-largest global advertising and communications group worldwide – makes a boatload of money advising companies on where to place their bets. Their think tank, Havas Media Lab, just released an essay on ideas about smart growth.  (below, text and URL)

‘point is, we can all pick and chose from what that article’s author  Umair Haque suggests about how companies will prosper.  Any *one* of the suggestions can help mid-range companies carve out an important niche.





The Smart Growth Manifesto

10:45 AM Friday January 30, 2009

Obama is stimulating. Davos isdeliberating. C-levels areeliminating. Wall St is recriminating. Welcome to the macropocalypse: no one, it seems, can put the global economy back together again.

It’s time to reboot capitalism. So where do we begin?

Here’s a suggestion for what should be at the top of agenda of every decision-maker across the economy, from Davos, to Obama, toSand Hill Road, to the revolutionaries in tiny garages hatching tomorrow’s Googles: reconceiving growth.


20th century capitalism is eating itself. For the first time since World War II, global growth is forecast to turn negative — and that’s an optimistic forecast, relative to the possibility of a global lost decade.Today’s leaders are plugging dikes, bailing out industries and banks as they fail. Yet, what negative global growth suggests is that the problem is of a different order: that we have reached the boundaries of a kind of growth.

Reigniting growth requires rethinking growth. The question Davos — and most leaders — are asking is: where will tomorrow’s growth come from? Will it result from oil, cleantech, bailouts, China, or Obama? The answer is: none of the above. Tomorrow’s growth won’t come from a person, place, or technology – but from understanding why yesterday’s growth has failed. The same growth models applied to new people, places, and technologies will simply result in the same crises, over and over again. We have to reboot growth: the problem is not what is growing versus what is not, buthow we grow.

20th century growth was dumb. The central, defining lesson of the macropocalypse is that 20th century growth wasn’t built to last. Dumb growth is unsustainable – if the world grows the same way that developed countries did, well, there won’t be a world. Dumb growth is unfair: it’s growth that’s an illusion for many; just ask the American middle class. And, ultimately, perhaps most dangerously, dumb growth is brittle: it falls too easily into collapse, reversing many of yesterday’s gains; just ask Iceland.

21st century economies will be powered by smart growth. Not all growth is created equal. Some kinds of growth are more valuable than others. Where dumb growth is unsustainable, unfair, and brittle, smart growth is sustainable, equitable, and resilient. 

Here are the four pillars of smart growth – for economies, communities, and corporations:

1. Outcomes, not income. Dumb growth is about incomes – are we richer today than we were yesterday? Smart growth is about people, and how much better or worse off they are – not merely how much junk an economy can churn out. Smart growth measures people’s outcomes – not just their incomes. Are people healthier, fitter, smarter, happier? Economics that measure financial numbers, we’ve learned the hard way, often fail to be meaningful, except to the quants among us. It is tangible human outcomes that are the arbiters of authentic value creation.

2. Connections, not transactions. Dumb growth looks at what’s flowing through the pipes of the global economy: the volume of trade. Smart growth looks at how pipes are formed, and why some pipes matter more than others: the quality of connections. It doesn’t just look at transactions at the global, regional, or national level — how much world trade has grown, for example — but looks at how local and global relationships power invention and innovation. Without Silicon Valley’s relationships powering the development of personal computing and the internet, for example, the volume of trade between Taiwan, Japan, and China, would be a fraction of what it is. Smart growth seeks to amplify connection and community — because the goal isn’t just to trade, but to co-create and collaborate.

3. People, not product. The next time you hear an old dude talking about “product”, let him know the 20th century ended a decade ago. Smart growth isn’t driven by pushing product, but by the skill, dedication, and creativity of people. What’s the difference? Everything. Globalization driven by McJobs deskilling the world, versus globalization driven by entrepreneurship, venture economies, and radical innovation. People not product means a renewed focus on labour mobility, human capital investment, labour market standards, and labour market efficiency. Smart growth isn’t powered by capital dully seeking the lowest-cost labour — but by giving labour the power to seek the capital with they can create, invent, and innovate the most.

4. Creativity, not productivity. Uh-oh: Creativity is an economic four-letter word. Why? Because it’s hard to measure, manage, and model. So economists focus on productivity instead — and the result is dumb growth. Smart growth focuses on economic creativity – because creativity is what let us know that competition is creating new value, instead of just shifting old value around. What is economic creativity? How many new industries, markets, categories, and segments an economy can consistently create. Think China’s gonna save the world? Think again: it’s economically productive, but it’s far from economically creative. Smart growth is creative — not merely productive.

Here’s a final point — and a question.

Smart economies are driven by smart growth. The four pillars of smart growth are design principles for next-generation economies. 20th century economies are limited to unsustainable, unfair, brittle, dumb growth. Smart growth is more sustainable, equitable, and resilient.

Capitalism 2.0 cannot be powered by growth.1.0: that’s why the race for smart growth is inevitable. The economic pressure — the potential for value creation, in a world being ripped apart by value destruction — is simply too great.

Can you build a business powered by smart growth? The four pillars of smart growth aren’t just design principles for next-generation economies: they’re also design principles for next-generation businesses. Already, tomorrow’s radical innovators don’t accept yesterday’s toxic, tired consensus. Revolutionaries like Apple, Threadless, Etsy, Whole Foods, American Apparel, and Google are already reinventing better ways to grow – from the grass-roots up.

Yesterday’s incumbents are beginning to fail en masse, while these revolutionaries remain resilient. Why? As our research at the Lab suggests, getting smart is a better choice than staying dumb: smart growth results in more creativity, innovation, effectiveness, and power than dumb growth.

For now, fire away in the comments with questions, examples, or criticisms. Which other companies are seeking smart growth? Is your organization building any of the pillars of smart growth? Are there countries or cities that are pockets of smart growth? 

* * *


author’s bio:Umair Haque is Director of the Havas Media Lab, a new kind of strategic advisor that helps investors, entrepreneurs, and firms experiment with, craft, and drive radical management, business model, and strategic innovation.

Prior to Havas, Umair founded Bubblegeneration, an agenda-setting advisory boutique that helped shape the strategies of investors, entrepreneurs, and blue chip companies across media and consumer industries. Bubblegeneration’s work has been recognized by publications like Wired, The Red Herring, Business 2.0, and BusinessWeek, and in Chris Anderson’s Long Tail, to which Umair was a contributor.