Growthink Blog

The One Thing You Still Can't Live Without


Categories:

Interestingly, this one thing is something you can't live without. At least not for long. And how you use it, pay for it, and access it is going to change.

But fortunately, there are some cutting-edge entrepreneurs working wonders on solving the challenges of this one thing.

What is it?

Water.

All around the world water shortages long ago crossed the crisis threshold.

In California. Arizona. New Mexico. Georgia and Florida. The Middle East. China.

Too many years of antiquated public policy, population and economic growth, climate change, and unsustainable agriculture have strained water resources in all of these places to and beyond the breaking point.

The American Entrepreneur to the Rescue

The greater the adversity, the greater the opportunity. And in the dynamic technology landscape of "new water," American entrepreneurs are leading the way.

There are a number of transformational technologies required to solve our world's water issues. Some are currently being developed by start-ups, while others present untapped business opportunities.

What are They?

I would like to invite you to an exclusive opportunity to meet Dr. Yoram Cohen, the Director of the Water Technology Research Center at UCLA and a world-renowned expert on water technology and commercialization.

Dr. Cohen will share with us where the market opportunities in water are now and what technologies and companies are best poised to prosper in the months and years to come.


The Common Thread Between Batman, The Romans & One of Facebook's Angels


Categories:

A fantastic article in Fortune Magazine this month - "The Temptation of Facebook," talks about the early days of the social media giant.

Of most interest is the story of Mr. Peter Thiel investing $500,000 into the company in 2004, at an effective valuation of $4.9 million.

Given that the estimated market value of Facebook is now north of $20 billion - for those doing the math at home, that represents a 1,000x return - a short 6 years later, Thiel's investment surely falls into the category of one of the greatest of all time.

Now, as a passionate Black Swan acolyte, Thiel's investment does not offer us lessons, but it is chock full of wisdom nuggets, like:

1. Run With the Right Crowd.  Thiel is part of the famous PayPal Mafia - former founders of PayPal and their friends that travel in the rarefied Silcon Valley air of next generation Internet ideas and technologies.  Through this professional and personal networks, Thiel sees a lot of deals.  Most of them are duds, but a few are world-beaters. Like Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Digg, Yelp, and Six Apart.

2. Scalability is Next to Godliness. No doubt Thiel's cat-bird seat as CEO of PayPal in the late 1990's allowed him to "get" instantly the scalability power of the Facebook social media model. Yes - tt is painfully obvious in retrospect, but give credit where credit is due.  Thiel acted on what he saw and felt.

Or, to paraphrase Batman, it is not who we are inside that counts, but what we do that defines us.  And makes some of us rich beyond belief.

3.  Get Lucky. In many ways, the new religion of our age is luck.  Books like Outliers, the Black Swan, Fooled by Randomness, and the Age of the Unthinkable profess on it.  Successful technocrati like the PayPal mafia toast to it.  Aspiring entrepreneurs who seek their name in lights pray to it.

And the average man unwilling to step outside of his box gets none of it.

Peter Thiel, in investing in Facebook in 2004, channeled the Romans and their famous ode to luck - "Fortes Fortuna Adiuvat", "Fortune Favors the Bold."

The question, of course, is will you?

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, please click here.


Jeff Bezos Investing in Google: Luck or Foresight?


Categories:

After my column a few months ago regarding Jeff Bezos' now famous (and incredibly profitable) investment into Google in 1998, I was deluged with comments and opinions on this question - was his investment luck or was it foresight?

The backdrop again: In 1998 when Larry Page's and Sergey Brin's Google offices were a Menlo Park, California garage - Bezos invested $250,000 of personal funds into the fledgling search engine.

When Google went public in 2004, that $250,000 investment translated into 3.3 million shares of Google stock. At Google's IPO that represented a stock share position worth over $280 million!

While Bezos does not disclose how many of those shares he still holds, at the current price of Google stock they would represent an investment position of over $1.5 billion.

So was it luck? Or foresight?

In Bezos' words, "There was no business plan.  They had a vision. It was a customer-focused point of view."  And more tellingly he adds, "I just fell in love with Larry and Sergey."

So whether luck or foresight, this is a wow story of the first order.  Lessons learned:

1.    Think Long Term. Even though Google has been the fastest rocket ship growth company in the history of capitalism, it was still SIX YEARS from Bezos' investment in the company to liquidity.

2.    Get In Early. Sure, it would have been great to get into Google at its IPO price of $85/share, especially as the shares are up over 535% since then. But Bezos got in, after adjusting for stock splits, at EIGHT CENTS PER SHARE!

Talk about leverage. That translates to a 112,000 percent increase from investment to IPO, and then if he held onto the shares for another 535% on top of that.

3.    Invest in People. At the time of Bezos' investment, there were a large number of very well-funded and far more successful search engines already on the market. Remember this was 1998 not 1994. Yahoo. Alta Vista. Lycos. Excite. Looksmart. Webcrawler. Infoseek. Inktomi and GoTo to name just a few.

But Bezos was attracted to Page and Brin as people, as technologists, as leaders. And obviously their customer-centric focus really tracked the way that Bezos looks at the world.

4.    Take a Shot. For every Jeff Bezos who invested in Google, there are stories of literally dozens of investors that were presented with the opportunity and did not.

This of course does not mean that the probability of any startup having Google-like success is anything but very low, but it does mean that it is far greater than the ZERO percent likelihood of success of those who don't even try.

5.    Get Lucky. Yes, luck is a key, and sometimes the key, variable in entrepreneurship and business. As opposed to fighting or getting philosophical re this reality, a far better question to ask is, "How can I improve my likelihood of, for lack of a better turn of phrase, getting lucky?"
 
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, please click here.


Entrepreneurs of the World, Unite!


Categories:

Actually, opposites do NOT attract.

Government bureaucracy does not equal economic prosperity.

Centralization of power in Washington does not equal representative democracy.

Regulatory complexity does not equal consumer protection.

Lawyers parasitically feeding off...well, everything does not equal justice.

Senior citizens fighting maniacally for their social security, for their Medicare, for their drugs, in the face of crippling federal budget deficits does not equal paying it forward.

Teachers' unions, fighting school choice and merit-based pay does not equal U.S. competitiveness.

And complaining about any/all of the above does NOT equal doing something about it.

No, if you want to help create good jobs for all of those that want them, if you want to insure a better future for our children, then:

Turn OFF the TV.

Turn down the radio.

Put down the newspaper (though you probably have done that already).

And...

Start A Business. That business idea you've been kicking around for years?  Well, join the 6 million Americans every year (that's 3% of the adult population) and start a NEW business. In addition to pursuing your dreams, you will also be doing more to create jobs than the government ever will. Why? Because 2 out of 3 of all new jobs are created by new and young (less than 5 years old) firms. Click here to learn more.

Grow A Business. If you own or manage an existing business, go for it. Launch that new product. Offer that new service. Try that new marketing strategy. Implement that new software. Apply for that bank loan. If you don't know how, or need inspiration, read Entrepreneur, Inc. and Fast Company Magazines. This list, too.

Invest IN A Business. Supporting good non-profits is great, but even better is to support entrepreneurs while making excellent money doing so. Startup investing has outperformed every major investing class, with IRRs of over 27.3% (click here to learn more). Compare this to the Dow Jones (returned less than 1% annually these last 10 years), or real estate (2%), or the current cash/money market yield (0.7%).

Jay Turo
CEO
Growthink, Inc

Follow me on Twitter
Join my network on LinkedIn


Made In China


Categories:

This Saturday, I took my 2 and 3 year old sons to Toys"R"Us to buy them baseball gloves. A great American tradition to be sure, and with opening day just 2 weeks away, both spring and the national pastime were in the air.

I looked for the American baseball glove names of my youth - Rawlings, Wilson, Easton, Spalding, Cooper.

My boys happily tried on gloves (most much too large for their little hands) to find the perfect fit.

For whatever reason my eye was caught by the fine-print label on one glove and its none too surprising "Made in China" imprint.

My curiousity piqued and my young sons' attention of course being diverted by all of the amazing toys in the store, we started wandering about.

Tonka. Backloaders, dump trucks, bulldozers, and more. Made in China.

Chutes and Ladders. Gnip Gnop. Battleship. Twister. Yahtzee. Risk. Connect Four. Made in China.

The erector sets have evolved impressively from the clunky sets I remembered. Made in China.

Hundreds of Hot Wheel model race cars - beautifully modeled Camaros, Jeeps, Corvettes, and more. Made in China.

On to the figurines and action figures. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tom Brady, Lebron James, Albert Pujols. Staring out lifelike from their boxes and Made in China.

Blond-haired blue-eyed Barbie and Ken. Made in China. GI Joe. Defending our freedoms and Made in China.

Notes To Self

Call me old-fashioned, call me protectionist but it just didn't feel right to buy my sons Chinese - manufactured baseball gloves.

Then thinking practically as a striving parent does, first order of business was to go home and get my boys immediately enrolled in intensive Chinese language instruction because by golly if this is how the world is now then where is it going?

And on this thought I caught myself. I realized I had fallen for the classic mercantilist trap and confused "Made In" with "Value Added."

What's the difference?  Well, for you parents reading out there put it this way - none of you I would surmise want their sons and daughters to grow up and work in a factory (though, of course, it is like all work noble and deserving of praise).

But a LOT of you would be VERY happy if your son or daughter went to work as a product designer for Lego.

In marketing or public relations for Mattel.

In corporate finance at Rawlings.

At the NFL league office.

In post-production on the movie Avatar.

As eco-friendly packaging and shipping designers for Toys"R"Us itself.

These Are the Good Old Days

While it is hard for many to accept, it is beyond clear that America is MUCH wealthier today than it was in the so-called good old days when the U.S.A. was the manufacturing capital of the world.

What's The Point?

Very simply, wealth and power in the modern world is NOT about making things. It is about reconceptualizing them.

Apple. Google. Microsoft. In Apple's famous (and grammatically incorrect) advertising campaign, none of these great American companies actually make anything in the strict sense of the term. But they invest lots and lots of time and money in thinking different about them.

To put it another way, modern wealth and power are NOT in the things themselves. They are in their recipes - the instructions of HOW to make them.

And in making new and better recipes, American entrepreneurs lead the way by miles and miles.

And assuming government stays out of their way, they will continue to do so.

To when my little boys enter the workforce and beyond.


Startup Investing - The Impact of the Stock Market


Categories:

The general misery that the public markets have subjected us all to over the past 12 years - with the Dow Jones, the S & P, and the NASDAQ all trading lower today than they were in 1999, begs the question - how does stock market performance affect startup investing returns?

The answer seems obvious. A falling tide sinks all boats. So goes the public markets, so go the private equity markets, of which startup investing is a subset.

This is best illustrated by the depressing statistic that in the last 12 years there has been more money invested into the venture capital industry than has come out of it. 
A lot of effort for naught.

But in spite of this, and maybe even because of it, startup investing returns over the past decade have been surprisingly, even shockingly good. 

According to data compiled by Thomson Financial and corroborated by eight large studies in the US and the UK over the past three years, average returns for startup investing were in excess of 20% annually this past decade, and over a longer 20-year period, have averaged more than 25% annually.

Why Is This and Will It Continue?

If you step back and think about it for a moment, these high returns make perfect sense. Startup investing is high returning because:

1. As Compensation for Illiquidity.  As the vast majority of startups are privately-held firms, higher returns must be offered as compensation for illiquidity. You can't day-trade startups as you can public stocks. This, of course, is both a good and a bad thing.

2. As Compensation for High Variance.  Startup investing is characterized by a few winners and lots and lots of losers. To incent investors to play this high volatility game, alluring terms and returns must be offered.

3. Small Businesses are Fundamentally More Efficient Allocators of Capital.  The plain but powerful truth is that a startup firm is by FAR the most efficient form of human organization ever devised to allocate time and capital.

And with more efficient allocation of time and capital, higher returns naturally follow.

Pablo Picasso

As Picasso so famously said, "Work is the Ultimate Seduction."

And the most seductive form of work for the best and brightest these days is to start and grow a company.

Best illustration of this - in spite of throwing millions at them, Google has a hard time hanging onto their best engineering talent.

The wonder kids just prefer their own gigs. Always have, always will. And anyone who has spent just a little time with a dynamic entrepreneur knows, they're in it to win it.

And when they do, like Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, the results just take your breath away.
 

Are you in it to win it too? 

Jay Turo
CEO
Growthink, Inc

Follow me on Twitter
Join my network on LinkedIn


"Naked" Replay


Categories:

Because of the overwhelming response to our webinar last week on modern brand lessons from Mr. Tom Hicks of Naked Juice and Dr. Sears Family Essentials fame, Tom has graciously agreed to sit for a live replay of the webinar.

Special Bonus Commentary

The webinar will also feature bonus commentary from Mr. Michael Galef, Former Vice President of Marketing and Sales of Emergen-C, and current Executive Vice President of Marketing and Sales for Dr. Sears.

An Entrepreneurial Team We Love

Dr. Sears Family Essentials - a children's natural foods company inspired and branded by the author of one of the best-selling child-rearing books of all time (The Baby Book) - is a classic "doing good while doing well" business model and opportunity.

On the webinar, Tom and Michael will share their secrets of successful, modern brand-building, including:

- The "Pyramid to Brand Growth" - the interplay between brand-building, community-building, retail partnerships, and innovation

- When and When NOT to place your product in the "Big Boxes" - Wal-Mart, Costco, Target
 
- How to utilize the power of the Internet to quickly and cheaply conduct high-quality consumer research
 
- How to and how NOT to utilize social networking strategies to build brand and product awareness

- And much, much more!

Who is Tom Hicks?

Tom Hicks is uniquely credentialed to lead this brand-building discussion for the best reason of them all - he has done it before.

Before Dr. Sears, Tom was President of Naked Juice and led their growth from $80 million to $200 million in revenues and a sale to PepsiCo in 2007 for 30 times earnings.
 
And he was Co-Founder and President of Fantasia Fresh Juice - leading them from startup to $15 million in sales in 3 years.  And he is a former sales and marketing executive at both Frito-Lay and Proctor & Gamble.
 
Quite simply, Tom gets what works and what doesn't work when it comes to launching and growing consumer products brands.

Best regards, and look forward to your attendance and feedback.

Jay Turo
CEO
Growthink, Inc

Follow me on Twitter
Join my network on LinkedIn


In Spite of Avatar, The Movie Business is Dead


Categories:

Nothing is more important to U.S. consumers than their entertainment choices, but are movies and broadcast TV even relevant  in the new world of entertainment?

Or will the convergence of content, internet, mobile applications, games and social media be the onrushing asteroids that will soon destroy the movie dinosaurs?

Is it a 3-year fad, or will new technologies like 3-D keep going to the movies from being relegated to the dustbin of history like Vaudeville, the afternoon newspaper, the evening news, the variety show, and the compact-disc?

Has the U.S. movie box office - traditionally the holy grail of movie industry metrics -- become increasingly irrelevant?

What is the future of Pay-Per-View/Video-on-Demand (PPV and VOD)?

Video-on-demand alone is estimated to grow from a $1.1 billion dollar business this year to $5 billion by 2012, taking market share away from DVD retailers and intensifying the carriers' ambition to bid for the best (and first run) titles.

How about Internet Video?

Annual U.S. revenues from internet video services spanning user-generated content to television shows and movies will exceed $7 billion this year.

And this business is becoming LESS advertising driven -- transitioning from today's model of more than 85% of revenue being ad-based to less than 60% and trending down with the balance being generated by content payments, either for one-time viewings or via subscriptions.  

What do these new realities mean for the content creators of new media and for traditional studios, filmmakers, producers, and distributors?

What is the future for good-old fashioned DVD rentals and sales?

Get The Answers

I am very excited to share with you the opportunity to meet the Managing Director of Growthink's new media and entertainment practice, Mr. Lee Muhl.

Lee, quite simply, has forgotten WAY more about the entertainment business than most of will ever know (see his biography below).  
 
And he has graciously agreed to give us the answers to the above questions, which winning business models to run with, which losers to run from, and much, much more!

Best regards, and look forward to your attendance and feedback.

Jay Turo
CEO
Growthink, Inc
Follow me on Twitter
Join my network on LinkedIn


Biography of Mr. Lee Muhl, Managing Director, Growthink's New Media and Entertainment Practice

Lee Muhl heads Growthink's entertainment-media vertical, encompassing the making and distribution of films, television programming, games, new media content and numerous related distribution platforms, technologies and methodologies including theatrical exhibition, DVD, PPV-VOD, mobile applications, internet/IPTV, and a variety of new content modalities (digital theater conversion, advertainment, infotainment, advergaming), and related investment, banking and funding issues.

To date, Lee has overseen the successful conclusion of more than 100 Growthink engagements for funding plans and sophisticated media financial models, including film projects ranging from the production of numerous independent films and major studio productions to scores of angel and seed development fundings - overall, production funds generated are well in excess of $100MM.

Originally trained in transactional entertainment law and the representation of above-line talent, Lee worked with a number of well-known writer-director-producers in both traditional studio/network deals and in arranging non-studio financing for independent film production including such classics as Bladerunner.  In 1999, Lee joined the Silicon Valley new media content contingent as an Internet-company CEO, and has since founded two innovative Los Angeles media companies. With Growthink, Lee has continued his deep involvement with film, digital media, content delivery protocols, gaming technologies and sports initiatives.

A former partner in two leading Los Angeles media law firms, Lee holds a J.D. from the UCLA School of Law where he also served as Chief Comment Editor of the UCLA Law Review, and earned his B.A. in History from UCLA. He is a current member of the California State Bar, and the Hollywood Writers Guild.

 


You, Me, and a "Naked" CEO


Categories:

As is well-reported, childhood obesity in America is an epidemic. According to multiple studies by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, by the American Diabetes Association, and by the American Academy of Child Psychiatry, close to 33% of American children are now classified as clinically obese.

In addition to the massive additional burden to the U.S. healthcare system this will cause, childhood obesity is a moral crisis. Quite simply, we are letting down the next generation of Americans. And we can and will do better.

And like almost all of the great problems and challenges of the 21st century, the solutions to it will be found not by government nor even by well-meaning non-profits, but by savvy and hard-working entrepreneurs.

An Entrepreneurial Team We Love

Dr. Sears Family Essentials - a children's natural foods company inspired and branded by the author of one of the best-selling child-rearing books of all time (The Baby Book) - is a classic "doing good while doing well" business model and opportunity.

They provide children a foundation of lifelong health via offering exceptional and exceptionally well-marketed functional food and beverages, and supplements.

And guess what? As the company helps more and more kids eat better, it will grow its revenues and profits very, very fast. 

This, folks, is the classic entrepreneurial win - win. 

Meet the CEO

I am very excited to share with you the opportunity to meet the CEO of Dr. Sears - Mr. Tom Hicks.  

Tom is uniquely credentialed to both lead Dr. Sears and to advise on the factors that separate the successful consumer products company from the unsuccessful.

Why?  Because he has done it before. 

Before Dr. Sears, Tom was President of Naked Juice and led their growth from $80 million to $200 million in revenues and a sale to PepsiCo in 2007 for 30 times earnings.
 
And he was Co-Founder and President of Fantasia Fresh Juice - leading them from startup to $15 million in sales in 3 years.  And he is a former sales and marketing executive at both Frito-Lay and Proctor & Gamble.
 
Quite simply, Tom gets what works and what doesn't work when it comes to launching and growing consumer products brands.

And we're VERY excited to have him share his wisdom with us regarding:

- When and When NOT to place your product in the "Big Boxes" - Wal-Mart, Costco, Target

- How to utilize the power of the Internet to quickly and cheaply conduct high-quality consumer research

- How to and how NOT to utilize social networking strategies to build brand and product awareness

- And perhaps most excitingly, Tom will share his "pyramid to brand growth" - the interplay between brand-building, community-building, retail partnerships, and innovation

Best regards, and look forward to your attendance and feedback.
--
Jay Turo
CEO
Growthink, Inc  
Follow me on Twitter
Join my network on LinkedIn

P.S. I know too many otherwise intelligent businessmen and women who have been listening to all of the negative drivel that passes as business news out there. 

Invest time out in your day to learn from someone who is doing something about a big problem facing our country and not just talking about it.  


Medical Device M&A Activity Up 154%


Categories:

Medtronic. Cardinal Health. Guidant. Becton, Dickinson. St. Jude Medical. Hospira. Fresenius. Varian Medical.

All of these medical device manufacturers had greater than ONE BILLION DOLLARS in sales last year.

Sector Funding Activity Remains Strong

While overall venture investment is down substantially, funding in the medical device sector remains strong.

For the fourth quarter of 2009, venture capital investments into medical device companies increased 13 percent in dollars and 18 percent in deals (quarter over quarter), with over $719 million in fresh capital invested into 87 deals.

Amazingly, investments in biotechnology and medical device companies accounted for 34 percent of all venture capital dollars invested in 2009.

Merger and Acquisition Activity Also Vibrant

Are there exits happening in the sector - even in this tough economy? You bet your life there is.

Sector merger and acquisition activity leaped by 154% in the third quarter of 2009 to $5.6 billion, and the trend-line for 2010 is strong. 

Some sample 2009 deals:

* Danahers acquiring Analytical Technologies for $650 million
* Thermo Fisher acquiring B.R.A.H.M.S. for $470 million
* Abbott Laboratories acquiring Evalve for $410 million
* Nipro Corp acquiring Home Diagnostics for $190 million
* Quidel Corp. acquiring Diagnostic HYBRIDS for $130 million

Who Will Be Next?


Syndicate content

Most Popular
New Videos

"Business Plan
SHORT-CUT"

If you want to raise capital, then you need a professional business plan. This video shows you how to finish your business plan in 1 day.

CLICK HERE
to watch the video.

"The TRUTH About
Venture Capital"

Most entrepreneurs fail to raise venture capital because they make a really BIG mistake when approaching investors. And on the other hand, the entrepreneurs who get funding all have one thing in common. What makes the difference?

CLICK HERE
to watch the video.

"Brand NEW
Money Source?"

The Internet has created great opportunities for entrepreneurs. Most recently, a new online funding phenomenon allows you to quickly raise money to start your business.

CLICK HERE
to watch the video.

"Old-School Leadership
is DEAD"

"Barking orders" and other forms of intimidating followers to get things done just doesn't work any more. So how do you lead your company to success in the 21st century?

CLICK HERE
to watch the video.

Blog Authors

Jay Turo

Dave Lavinsky