Growthink Blog

Startup Outlook from Silicon Valley Bank


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On Friday Silicon Valley Bank released a survey of 375 executives at startup technology companies in the 4 core venture capital investment sectors – Software/Internet, Hardware, Life Science, and Cleantech. Here is what they found:

Tech. Execs. Are Bullish. Two of three of them say that business conditions are better than they were last year, and three out of four expect things to get even better in the next 12 months.  And listen up Washington - 83 percent of them plan to hire in the coming year. Hooray!

And They Believe as I do, that America’s Decline has Been Greatly Exaggerated.  More than three in four of them see America as still the world innovation leader and the BEST place to start and grow a business. 

In fact, the main competitive advantage that these startup executives see for doing business overseas is cost.  On every other measure – quality of employees, the quality of the higher education system, and overall entrepreneurial mindset and culture, among others - the U.S. still comes out on top.

Money Still Makes the World Go Around. The top challenge listed across all respondents was access to financing. While things certainly are improving, these executives rightly believe that the amount of dollars flowing into emerging companies is still way too low. 

The study notes that in 2010, venture capitalists invested $21.8 billion in 3,277 deals, and while this is certainly up from the death spiral period of the 2008-2009 period, it is still much less than the $30 billion average that venture funds were investing annually through most of the past decade.

And Government Just Gets in the Way.   Next to money - and the related challenge of scaling operations for growth - the #1 challenge that startup executives point to is the regulatory / political environment. 

Healthcare company executives in particular expressed deep regulatory exasperation:

“The FDA is by its very design killing innovation and entrepreneurship. Its very charter utterly excludes the notion of fostering development, opting instead for a one-way ratchet that can only lead to longer, more costly development cycles with no improvement in real safety for efficacy.”

“Our outlook is solely dependent on the FDA. We are doing well in Europe, but the processes for the U.S. FDA simply is broken and harming innovation.”

“I am 40 years in this business, and see an FDA approval pathway that will destroy our business, for no reason. I see futile attempts on our company’s part to obtain Chinese monetary support, while we give away our technology.”


In Sum, Startups Still Make the American Business World Go Round.  As its executive summary notes, “High growth small business startups are the principal driver of net new job creation…they are responsible for creating entire new industries — from IT and semiconductors, to biotechnology, to online retailing, social media and cloud computing…”

“They improve our quality of life, by expanding access to information, providing higher quality goods and services, improving health care quality and access, and fostering a more sustainable environment and U.S. energy independence.”

I don’t think any of us could have said it better - the entire survey can and should be read here

Secrets of Startup Investing

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It provides tips and advice for those looking to invest in startups and emerging companies, including:

•    How to Build Portfolios of Positions Efficiently and Rapidly
•    How to Dispassionately Assess Risk
•    How to Understand Private Equity Valuations and Exit Potential
•    And much, much more!!

To download this complimentary report, please click here.

To your success,

Jay Turo


Bechtolsheim, Cuban, Prokhorov, et al.


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The founders of wildly successful companies - with their world-changing impacts and their awe-inspiring wealth creation - receive much well-earned praise and financial rewards for turning their great entrepreneurial visions into reality.

But what about those with 1-2 degrees of separation who also benefit immensely?  Angel investors like Andy Bechtolsheim - who put $100,000 into Google in September 1998, a position now worth more than $1.7 billion. 

Or someone like Mark Cuban, who rode the Internet wave perfectly, to the tune of selling Broadcast.com to Yahoo for $5.9 billion in Yahoo stock. Even better, he had the additional good luck to sell nearly all of that stock near the peak of the Internet bubble.

For that matter, how about Mikhail Prokhorov, now with a fortune estimated at over $18 billion, and other rags to riches stories like his driven by having the right friends at the right time?

Prokhorov as a young man had as his sponsor Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Vladimir Potanin - just as many of Russia’s largest state-owned enterprises were being privatized. 

Prokhorov parlayed this relationship into a controlling interest in the huge Russian nickel business before it became a stand-alone publicly traded company. And he, like Mark Cuban had the additional boon of turning his equity stake into cash at the absolute right moment (and the circumstances of which are high comedy to say the least).

These stories of great luck and fortune are timelessly inspirational for entrepreneurs, investors, and dreamers everywhere.

At the same time, they are frustratingly vexing and opaque to turn from descriptive narrative to prescriptive guide.

I.E. – if it were only so simple doing “A,” and then having “B” magically appear.

But of course luck and good fortune - as a whole lot of business philosophers from Nassim Taleb to Malcolm Gladwell to Joshua Ramo have opined - just don’t work that way.

There is, however, a LOT that entrepreneurs can and must do to “let luck in,” and a recent post from author and speaker Stephen Shapiro offers three great ideas to do so:

1.    Grasp the Critical Difference Between the Probability of ANY Good Thing, versus a SPECIFIC good thing, Happening. To illustrate, Shapiro puts a twist on the famous birthday example:

…if you ask the question, “How many people do you need in a room to have a 50 percent chance that two people will have the same birthday?” Some people immediately assume it is half of 367, or roughly 184. While that is a logical guess, it is actually incorrect. In fact, you would only need 23 people. Shocking? Try it some time and see what happens. With just 40 people you will have a nearly 90 percent chance that two individuals will have the same birthday.

Now I’d like you to consider how many people you would need in a room to have a 50 percent chance that two people share a particular birthday? For example, I was born on April 25. How many people would I need to have in a room to have a 50 percent chance that there is another person with my exact birthday? Surprisingly, the number now increases to over 600.


Shapiro’s business point? While specific goals and objectives are great, be careful to not limit the various permutations that a business journey might take to arrive at a desirous destination.

2.    Understand the Difference between The Value of Planning, and being Wed to “A Plan.” Shapiro quotes General and Future President Dwight Eisenhower’s poignant quote that "In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable."

3.    The Great Ones Above All Else, Act. All of the stories of business success are many things, but above all else they are tales of ACTION.

Of writing the code. Of making the investment. Of going to the conference. Of striking up the conversation with that beautiful stranger.

They are tales like those of the man I consider the American of all time - Theodore Roosevelt - famously described by Henry Adams as “more than any other man living within the range of notoriety, showed the singular primitive quality that belongs to ultimate matter--he was pure Act."

Now thinking and being like this does not guarantee that you will become a famous General, or President, or Billionaire, or a successful investor, or build a sellable company.

But the opposite is assured - that without cultivating the mindset of boldness, of action, of positive expectation, one runs the serious risk of, as Roosevelt himself said best, of being “with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.


The "Why" and the "Which"


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My company had its first meeting of its strategic advisory board this past week.

All I can say is wow – I benefited from it in ways that I barely could have imagined when first organized.

Here is what I got out of it:

That Often It is Better to Receive than to Give:  While advisory board members, unlike a formal board, do not have liability nor fiduciary responsibility, their time and energy requirements to participate are significant.

And for most smaller companies, the financial incentives it can offer advisory board members are relatively little compared to the value of board members’ time. 

A good if imperfect analogy is that for many senior executives their involvement with a smaller company advisory board is almost a philanthropic endeavor – where they give of themselves without expectation of direct reward – financial or otherwise. 

Correspondingly, the owners and managers of the small company must approach the sage advice and good energy offered by their advisory board fully in “receiving” mode.

For businesspeople of the mindset of always trading value for value and reciprocal obligation, this is hard. But only by clearing this space can the board’s counsel be best received.

And somewhat counter-intuitively, often only by management fully accepting the “gifts” of its advisors will the board member’s experience be richest.

Begin with the End in Mind: For companies beyond the startup phase, its operating executives are naturally pulled to the shorter-term challenges and realities - this quarter’s revenue and profits, this month’s sales, the challenges and angst of a difficult employee decision, etc.

An advisory board discussion, however, by both its nature and by the kinds of folks attracted to serve on it, naturally pulls to the longer view - to the big questions that all businesses should be regularly asking themselves always but rarely do.

These questions fall into the big categories of “why” and “which.” 

The "why" questions are hopefully embodied in the Company’s mission and its values, and need the regular attention of strategic planning sessions like advisory board meetings to keep them from existing only in “hot air.”

The “which” questions are in many ways the harder ones that an advisory board dynamic can specifically help address. 

You see - ambitious entrepreneurs and executives, especially after they have a little success, are naturally drawn to expanding their sense of their market opportunity, and correspondingly their list of product and service offerings.

This naturally leads to a diffusion of focus, of trying to be all things to all people.  A thoughtful advisory board will challenge management to more clearly define where they are aiming to be 1 year, 3 years hence and beyond, and from this vision where resources and attention should be focused today.

Speak Little, Listen Much: Managers and owners of emerging companies are often also the lead salespeople, the lead “evangelists” for their companies.

As a result, their default mode is to always be selling, always be pied-pipering their incredibly bright futures. 

This is natural and good, but in a strategic planning session it is of equal importance that the challenges, the obstacles, the concerning risk factors be sat and grappled with long and hard. 

Even if, especially if, so doing is buzz-killing and / or depressing.

Why?  Because it is often only in the “low negative” energy state that a certain kind of reflective creativity can flourish, and completely new approaches to solving vexing problems can be discovered.

Brevity is Next to Godliness: Strategic planning sessions in a modern business context should be tightly scheduled to last not more than 2 hours.  After this length of time, diminishing returns starts setting in fast. 

A tight frame also requires all participants to come to the meeting prepared.  And, in turn, that the meeting organizers select the right meeting homework and then plan and moderate the agenda with the proper balance of structure and free-flowing dialogue.

Doing all of the above requires work – a good guide is that for every hour of strategic meeting time there should be 5 hours of planning time by the meeting organizer and at least 2 hours of preparation time by each participant.

Conclusion: Given that the only way to increase the value of a business is to either a) increase its bottom line financials and/or b) to improve its strategic positioning and growth probability, creative planning sessions like advisory board meetings should be a FIRST priority of any responsible manager of a company with ambition.

They are classic Steven Covey, “non-urgent, extremely important” activities. 

Ignore them at your peril, and benefit from them in ways, like I did and will, well beyond reasonable expectation.

Looking for Opportunities Now?

Each year, Growthink reviews hundreds of startup and emerging company opportunities and selects those with the best management teams, market opportunities, and financial prospects.

To learn more about opportunities we are following now, click here.

To your success,

Jay Turo


Genius, Power, and Magic


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Businesses that sell do 5 things very, very well:

#5. They Are Cause, and Not Money, Driven.  Highly valued companies are culturally cohesive and have causes beyond money that motivates them.

Take a look at the famous mission statements below and how these company’s iconic brands align with them:

Google: “To make the world's information universally accessible and useful"

Facebook: “To give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected"

Zappos: “To provide the best customer service possible

Southwest Airlines: “To fly safe, with high frequency, low-cost flights that can get passengers to their destinations on time and often closer to their destination

Disney: “To create happiness by providing the finest in entertainment for people of all ages, everywhere"

An acid test of a business’ “above the line” value is whether or not its mission and brand have similar alignment.

Now if you have neither a brand nor a mission and yet harbor a dream of a business exit, then it is time to get to work.

#4. They Have Valuable Intellectual Property. Companies rich in intellectual property in all its forms – patents, processes, and people – attain purchase offers on factors other than last year’s earnings.

Try this on for size – an analysis of over 300 patents acquired between 2002-2008 found an average price per patent of $383,000!

The lesson is clear - whether you are in a low or high-tech business, ask yourself daily what is proprietary about what you do and how you do it and then work to protect it.

#3. They Communicate VERY Bright Futures. Businesses that sell for high multiples communicate exciting future, profitable growth.

The focus is on the word communicate.  The value of a business can be doubled and tripled and more simply by credibly and excitedly forecasting its growth. 

This is not easy – it requires managers to demonstrate deep understandings of the impact of the big 21st century “macros” – technology and globalization, and the micros, especially how their companies will become learning organizations that adapt and grow as change happens. 

All this translates into a well-developed story that there is gold (and a lot of it!) at the end of their business rainbow.

#2. They Are “Cleanly” Managed and Run. A business, like a great product or service, must be cleanly packaged, neatly wrapped, to attract its highest price.

So if you are selling at a high price, no messy financial statements because of poor accounting, no incomplete or shoddy corporate records because of poor or non-existent legal counsel, and no boring or lacking in credibility “future stories” because of poor exit planning and investment banking advice.

And oh yes, it is very hard to “clean up” a business at the time of sale – to do it right the work must be done in real time and / or started years before a sale is contemplated.

#1. They Are Lucky. Entrepreneurs and executives that build sellable companies embrace the role of luck in business success.

They cultivate a mindset of positive expectation – a firm and abiding belief that they will either find a way or make one. 

Goethe said it best:

Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now."

So how about you?


The "American Idol" Theory of Business is Just Plain Wrong


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The elephant in the room when it comes to entrepreneurship and small business is FAILURE.

The statistics are only debated to their degree but not their overall thrust –  a very small percentage of businesses ever become meaningfully profitable and a smaller percentage still are ever sold for a meaningful price.

In other words, the vast majority of businesses – by objective, financial measures – fail.

Even worse, a lot them fail badly –never achieving even one dollar in revenue and / or go so deeply in the hole that they have significant and negative financial spillover effects.

Like business and personal bankruptcies and investors losing all of their money. 

In a word, business failure is traumatic. Now it is not the kind of trauma that survivors of war and natural disasters experience, but in the world of work it can be about as bad as it gets.

Yet…Americans today are starting businesses at a greater rate than at any time in the last 15 years. 3% of the U.S. adult population annually start one, and a multiple of that dream about doing so.

So what gives?

Well, in a previous column I offered the financial view, namely that the rewards of a business sale are so great and life-changing that having any probability of their occurrence make the grave financial risks of business - building more than worth taking.

This I call the “American Idol” theory of entrepreneurship and small business….:)

But this, at best, only explains half of the story. 

No, there is something else going on here, and new research regarding of all things – Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, points to what it is.

Ground-breaking research, done by among-others Dr. Richard Tedeschi of the University of North Carolina, shows that strong, negative experiences like war and natural disasters are NOT as scarring as once thought.


In fact, the exact opposite is true. Statistically, most survivors of traumatic experiences – think prisoners-of-war and tsunami victims – come out of them stronger and on most measures, out-perform those in their peer groups unaffected by the awful events.

All I can say is wow.

Now everyday all of us should count our blessings dozens of times as “there but for fortune go I’ and offer nothing but great compassion and empathy for those suffering trauma, especially when it comes through no fault of their own.

But we also should take significant solace and inspiration from the rest of the story.

Life, as it does, goes on. And according to the latest research, the old adage is true of that which does not kill you REALLY does make you stronger.

Now it would not be proper to equate a business failure with the physical and emotional traumas experienced by survivors of war and disaster, but entrepreneurs and executives can and should draw important wisdom from them.

Such as if you “fail” at this particular business, you won’t be broken and scarred forever.

And that professional and entrepreneurial growth is a participatory sport – learned only by doing and trying and striving and not by watching and fretting and waiting.

And then there are the related ideas of diversification and iteration. 

Such as, in business, it is almost always far better to have four business “failures” and ONE success than it is to go zero for zero.

For the entrepreneur this does not necessarily mean running multiple businesses concurrently, but it does mean that the business strategy should be iterative and testing based. Successful internet companies get this intuitively – see Amazon and eBay and thousands of others - and you should too.

As for investors, they should take advantage of the incredible opportunity that the modern financial system offers to back multiple entrepreneurial companies, and not just one or a handful.

With the average return of the private equity investing asset class in some cases being over 27% annually (Right Side Capital), the odds are strongly in your favor if you both invest right and diversify properly.

So entrepreneurs and investors get in the game!

Failure is no way near as bad as advertised and if approached with the right spirit and strategy, it can truly be the ultimate blessing in disguise.


The New Boom


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America is getting its risk-taking mojo back.

Driven by the return to normalcy in the stock market, at long-last signs of life in the residential and commercial real estate markets, and most excitingly by veritable boom-time conditions in “Web 3.0”  technologies like social networking, mobile gaming, and interactive advertising, in 2011 new fortunes and legends are being made.

Thankfully, this boom is fundamentally different from the one that drove the NASDAQ to dizzying heights in the late 90’s, or the “Web 2.0” social networking hype of 2006-2007. Here’s why:

1.    Individual Investors, NOT Venture Capitalists, are Leading the Charge. So-called “super angels” – wealthy, technology-savvy high net worth individual investors - and NOT traditional venture capitalists, are now the preferred funding source for the most dynamic entrepreneurs in the hottest technology sectors.

The reasons for this start with the fact that most VC’s are suffering from that awful business curse that they look for in industries ripe for new entrants – legacy costs.

Quite simply, VCs have lost so much money for so long that they can only dig themselves out with massive investment wins. This in turn requires them to put very large sums of money to work in companies with huge - as in multi-billion dollar - potential exits.

But the modern technology world is just not built for this model of investing. Readily accessible, off-the shelf, open-source development tools COMBINED with the ability to launch a product extremely cheaply via creative social marketing makes it easy to build a big-time technology company these days without a lot of money.

The result? Most of the highest ROI opportunities we see need just a little money – sometimes just a few hundred thousand dollars or less – to “ignite” their business models.

Our favorites? Entrepreneurs that identify over-looked market needs, and then utilized out-of-the box creativity to inexpensively develop and market products and services that address those needs.

And oh yes, our real, favorite entrepreneurs are doing all this, AND are lucky, lucky, lucky to boot.

Straightforward, but of course not easy. But in a world of historically low interest rates, significant inflation risk and of a public stock market still trading on mostly a 10-year flat run, it is by far the best game in town.

2.    Foreigners, More Than Ever, Are Investing Heavily in U.S. Technology Companies.  Best evidenced by the Russian investment firm Digital Sky Technologies and their investments in Facebook, Zynga, and Groupon, foreign investors more than ever before are placing bets on early-stage U.S. technology companies. This is driven by a number of factors, not the least of which is that the relative liquidity in the world has shifted RADICALLY away from the U.S. to the rest of the world.

As importantly, because of the rise of global social networking - Facebook now has 300 million non-U.S. members – overseas investors can now connect faster and more transparently with deals and entrepreneurs than ever before.

And these investors feel that they can be higher value-added. Both in terms of outsourced development assistance and because the very act of their investing serves as the kind of high-profile validation that used to be the domain of only the most prestigious venture capital firms.

3.    A Quick and Early Exit is By Far the Desired Outcome for Both the Entrepreneur and the Investor. The dirty little secret of modern business, best articulated by Scott Shane in his brilliant book, “The Illusions of Entrepreneurship,” that the real money in entrepreneurship is made in SELLING a company, not running it.

Venture capitalist Basil Peters describes this best as the Early Exit, “Today, the optimum financial strategy for most technology entrepreneurs is to raise money from angels and plan for an early exit to a large company in just a few years for under $30 million."

So look for companies with quick and early exit potential and with the smartest angels and foreign investors behind them, and you too can be a winner in this new boom.

Looking for Opportunities Now?

Each year, Growthink reviews hundreds of startup and emerging company opportunities and selects those with the best management teams, market opportunities, and financial prospects.

To learn more about opportunities we are following now, click here.

To your success,

Jay Turo

--
Jay Turo
CEO
Growthink


Is The American Dream Really Just a Mirage?


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In spite of the so-called business media’s fixation on tales of America’s demise, U.S. entrepreneurial activity is at its highest point in 15 years, with over 550,000 new businesses created each month in this country!

Never have so many owed so much to so few. America’s entrepreneurs are ambitious leaders – courageously pursuing growth opportunities, and assuming accountability for the inherent risks and outcomes.

They are hard at work worldwide at startups and at small and middle market companies across this great land.

Quite simply, they are – in true Horatio Alger spirit – fast in pursuit of the American Dream.

But Is This Dream a Mirage?


Well, while it is well known that over 90% of businesses fail within 10 years, what is lesser known is that the typical entrepreneur earns less money, has worse benefits, works more hours, and has more stress – including losing sleep and getting in more conflicts with their spouses and others - compared to those that work for someone else,

But it gets worse – even when most entrepreneurs grow their businesses to a point of seeming strong success - $1 million, $5 million, $10 million in revenues and more - most of them still don’t realize their personal and financial dreams.

They work too much, have too much stress, not enough time with loved ones, and not enough money (and the up to 50% federal and state tax rates don’t help matters, of course).

Yet…

There are over 930,000 “pentamillionaires” – individuals with personal net worths of greater than $5 million - in the United States today.

And more than 80% of these fortunate few were / are entrepreneurs who founded a business AND then SOLD that business.

You see, the often misunderstood, but simple reality of entrepreneurship is that SELLING a business, not running one, is where REAL wealth is made.

Now sure, selling a business has gotten tougher than ever – tightening credit markets means less money available to finance acquisitions and the very fact of more businesses out there means more businesses for sale.

And in spite of our increasingly fast economy, it is actually taking LONGER to sell a business than ever.

In 1978, the average time it took to sell a business was 57 days. Today, it is over 270 days!

And it gets worse - only 17% of listed businesses EVER actually sell.

Phew.

So what is one to do?

Well, first of all take solace in the fact that in America and around the world every month literally thousands of businesses sell for millions and millions of dollar.

And then put your plan together.

Jay Turo
CEO
Growthink


What do Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, and Tony Hsieh Have in Common?


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The fundamental challenge of modern business is finding that right balance between tactics and strategy, between execution and innovation, between management and entrepreneurship.

Typically, as companies grow and age, they naturally become more tactical, more execution - focused.

In contrast, the “tabula rasa” of startups has traditionally been the best milieu for out-of-the-box strategy and innovation to thrive.

Now in the old days, businesses could do okay by being very good at just one of these. Big businesses could sustain profitable franchises for years by leveraging their resource advantages to keep smaller competitors out and margins high.

As for startups, pre Global Internet, it was easy to stay in the “idea bubble.” Investors were more patient and it often just wasn’t that obvious if your team and technology had the right stuff. Time was on your side.

But no longer. Businesses must now be either good at it all or they perish.

This is mostly stressful, but do remember that while standards are so much higher now, so are the rewards. One has only to look at Facebook and Groupon’s multi-billion dollar valuations or Twitters 190 million+ users after just a few short years in business to see this.

And luckily, there is an easy shorthand to separate the company wheat from the chaff.

It is the simple idea that business PEOPLE must be all of these things too. And superstar companies are simply ones where lots and lots of superstar people work.

Find the superstar people, and the money will follow.

So who are these people? Well, in another context last week I laid them out in my “Walk Like an Egyptian” post:

-    Critical thinking and problem solving
-    Collaboration across networks and leading by influence
-    Agility and adaptability
-    Initiative and entrepreneurship
-    Effective oral and written communication
-    Accessing and analyzing information
-    Curiosity and imagination

To this, let me add one more: Ambition.

Now I am not talking about the garden variety get good grades, go to a nice college, start a small business, complain about taxes and regulation and how hard it all is type ambition. In this multi-billion person, highly educated, hard-working world of ours, that just doesn’t cut it.

No, the ambition I am talking about is one that burns so deep and hot that it is deeply dysfunctional. An ambition that usually translates for sure into an insane, other-worldly work ethic, but one that goes beyond that.

It is an ambition that is channeled daily into ongoing personal and professional improvement and learning.

An ambition that leads to goals beyond the realistically possible. Like Steve Jobs leading Apple into the music business, or Richard Branson Virgin into airlines, or Tony Hsieh with Zappos putting his life and considerable fortune on the line, for of all things, to sell shoes online.

This kind of ambition is the unifying force. It demands that everything be done right – strategy, tactics, innovation, execution, entrepreneurship, management.

Find this kind of ambition – channeled to ethical, capitalistic ends – and back it.

And you and the world will be better for it.

Looking for Opportunities Now?

Each year, Growthink reviews hundreds of startup and emerging company opportunities and selects those with the best management teams, market opportunities, and financial prospects.

To learn more about opportunities we are following now, click here.

To your success,

Jay Turo

--
Jay Turo
CEO
Growthink


Walk Like an Egyptian


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“Courage is not the Absence of Fear, but the Mastery of It.”
                                                                   -    Mark Twain

The transfixing images from Liberation Square in Cairo this past week connect with that deepest, most sensitive piece of all of us that wants to believe, that needs to believe that the future will be better than the past and it is in our power to make it so.

As with most acts of out-of-the-box thinking and courage, the Egyptian freedom fighters are mostly young and disproportionately well-educated.

And while the concept of Tunisia and Egypt being ‘Twitter” revolutions is over-stated, it is true that easy media connectivity has greatly accelerated organized action on long-held social and political discontents.

It is this speed and momentum that is most exhilarating. In a matter of days, a corrupt power structure in place for over 30 years has been brought to its knees.

As for the momentum, it is no accident that in the past 50 years more than 65 formerly despotic regimes have progressed to “civil” societies – with reasonably fair and democratic elections, and freedom of the press and assembly.

And while despots still have those age-old tools of repression – secret police, wonton arrests in the night, torture – their days are numbered.

Why? Well, the Egyptian regime’s attempted and failed crackdown on both media coverage and social connectivity illustrates the increasing impossibility of “keeping a lid” on things.

This is not because of any great upward evolution of basic human wiring, which still remains a combustible mix of win-win idealism and violent, zero-sum fight or flight.

No, it is far easier and more sustainable than that.

In the end, freedom for all is the almost certain future because it is economically unsustainable for it to be otherwise.

Quite simply, free societies are wealthy societies and unfree societies are not.

Now many of you reading this are about to pop off and shout that China has $2.5 trillion in foreign currency reserves so what about that – i.e. China is wealthy and unfree.

But au contraire!

The history of China’s rise coincides exactly with the liberalization of its society.

As for those remaining very stiff shackles on Chinese life? Well, it is a massive testament to the entrepreneurship and work ethic of the Chinese people that they are prospering in spite of these shackles and in no way because of them.

But not for long. The entropic pressures are too great, the aspirations of young people too profound, and most urgently, the demands of the modern economy too fundamental for freedom to not ring everywhere, and much sooner than most of us can even dream.

You see, because of Google and Facebook and Twitter, et al, we have progressed far beyond an information economy.

We now live in a global, idea economy.

And who will the winners be in this new economy?  In his excellent book “The Global Achievement Gap,” author Tony Wagner flags seven crucial skills to look for:

-    Critical thinking and problem solving
-    Collaboration across networks and leading by influence
-    Agility and adaptability
-    Initiative and entrepreneurship
-    Effective oral and written communication
-    Accessing and analyzing information
-    Curiosity and imagination

As a father of 3 and 4 year old boys, just reading this list gives me goose bumps. Both for my sons and because I know that parents worldwide want this for their children too.

AND the children want to be like this, too - just watch them play if you have any doubt!

It is young people with qualities like this that are changing Egypt.

AND it is people of all ages all around the world with qualities like this that are driving and leading our modern, global economy.

And everyday in everyway it just gets more so.

And we’re all better for it.

Now I am going to Walk Like an Egyptian.

Looking for Opportunities Now?

Each year, Growthink reviews hundreds of startup and emerging company opportunities and selects those with the best management teams, market opportunities, and financial prospects.

To learn more about opportunities we are following now, click here.

To your success,

Jay Turo

--
Jay Turo
CEO
Growthink


Feedback on Growthink’s Webinar on the Future of Interactive Advertising


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“Great session! Very interesting! Thank you!”

                    - David V.


“Good format with discussion conversation versus a presenter just talking to the screen.  Very easy and fun to listen to.  Good slides being very simple and easy to read. Slides provided easy path to follow conversation in knowing what direction presentation was going.”

                    - Joel W.

Thanks for putting together knowledgeable, well-paced presentation. It must be a lot of work but the final presentation demonstrates polish & smarts. Much appreciated!
                   
                    - Nathaniel W.

Great webinar. It was informative.  I enjoyed hearing the perspectives of the various presenters and their responses to the questions posed.

                    - Chuck N.

Very well done!

                    - Deborah J.

The info presented in the beginning about the ad business models you like and how customers are behaving and responding was invaluable.  Absolutely fantastic; I'm eager to see the slides and use the info to frame conversations with clients.  Great strategic value.

                    - Antoinette N.   

Excellent webinar - provided a good education about the online media landscape. Kudos to Growthink for organizing this.

                    - Manuel G.

Great hour! Wonderful to have a few different voices. I would love to hear more about what you do.

                    - Megan M.

That was one damned good webcast today.

                    - Mike W.

Smart, wide- ranging perspective on the ad-tech market.

                    - Nathaniel W.

This presentation made me want to learn more about the Web 2.0 marketing solutions/referrals that Growthink offers their clients.

                    - Chris M.

I felt the webinar offered valuable insights with respect to direction within the tech sector and would like to stay abreast of developments utilizing you as a resource.

                    - Michael S.

Link to webinar recording here: http://www.growthink.com/content/webinar-are-facebook-and-groupon-bubbles-waiting-burst


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