entrepreneurship

Rockstar Entrepreneurs: Beware the Narrative

Post originally appeared on RocNext blog.

Localized small business is the antithesis of vogue; today, the rags to riches entrepreneur—the Open Source American Dream—is what’s trending. 500,000 startups are launched each month in the United States, and popular culture is actively responding.

We see ABC’s Shark Tank. We listen to startup podcasts. We read magazines (and some of us dream of making INC’s annual 30 Under 30 Coolest Entrepreneurs list).

And while the myth of the young adult entrepreneur as the dominant demographic has been busted (over 80% of new entrepreneurs in 2013 were age 35+; 67% were 45+), one cannot deny the impact young entrepreneur success stories are having on other young adults: Mark Zuckerburg, Drew Houston, Jordi Munoz.

Instead of learning guitar, writing music, and starting garage bands, millennials are now learning code, writing software, and starting garage businesses.

This is good, of course.

We want our young people innovating and raising capital. We want our young minds creatively destroying customer pain.

But the rags to riches narrative, left unchecked, can mislead some talented young business men and women down distracted paths, blinding them for many years to more immediate, local opportunities. (more…)

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Snowy Eyes & Ears: My Winter Break Book & Podcast Recommendations

It’s that magical time of year: the snow falls, the semester ends, cookies are everywhere. Best of all, I get to read and listen to non-homework related content! Suck it, Blackboard.

This is my last winter break ever, by the way. I’m finishing school in May. My goals include reading through my book list, catching up on podcasts, and returning to CodeAcademy to learn HTML and CSS. Oh yeah, I’ll also be preparing for a Pompeii-style resume distribution. (Shhh… be very, very quite. It’s job hunting season.) Also, are you hiring?

Sure, this is a big list to get through. How will I do it? A fresh case of Surge soda, will do. Also, you should help me conquer this list, we can be accountability partners. It’ll be like an entertainment support group. It’ll get us through the winter. I’ll bring the Surge.

Books

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The Spy Who Came in From the Cold—John Le Carre

I led off with this book for two reasons: 1) it has “cold” in the title, which relates perfectly to my winter theme and 2) my best friend’s fiancé said it was one of her favorite books. They’re not getting married until April, which gives me plenty of time. If the book sucks, I’ll have to shut down that wedding, Wayne Campbell style.

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Kevin on the Web: High Tech, Small Business & Fringe

This week, you can find my writing at three different online outlets. What the kids call, “the web.”

RocNext: Entrepreneurship, Innovation & Small Business

First, travel to Rochester’s biggest newspaper, the (Gannet owned) Democrat & Chronicle. I’m honored to join their blogging team for RocNext. RocNext is a small business and entrepreneurship blog. My first post is called “Rockstar Entrepreneurs: Beware the Narrative.”

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NEXUS-NY: “Clean Energy”

Next, hop on over to NEXUS-NY for a look at their brand new magazine called “Clean Energy.” I wrote two articles for them and I couldn’t be happier for how the issue came out. My first article is called “Pure Quantum.” In it, I feature a clean tech startup from Cornell who is manipulating and manufacturing quantum dots for the solid state lighting industry. Whew. It’s more interesting than it sounds, I promise! My second article is an interview with Dr. Stanley Whittingham. In the 1970’s, he discovered the technology which led to rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. Both articles, as well as the whole magazine, can be viewed for free here.

Also, I was quite intimidated and stressed writing these dense-ish, high tech articles over summer. Seeing them in print is an accomplishment I won’t soon forget. (more…)

Rapid Recap: 2014 Digital Rochester GREAT Awards

Tonight, some Rochester tech entrepreneurs are feeling really great.

The 2014 GREAT Awards just let out, and what an honor it was to attend, to be surrounded and inspired by successful entrepreneurs, industry leaders, and rising stars. Digital Rochester, a non profit that brings “technology professionals together within the community,” hosts this swanky event every year. Here’s a succinct vision from the GREAT website:

To recognize and celebrate the Greater Rochester community’s entrepreneurial spirit in technological achievement for advancing commerce and resource conservation.

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The official program began with one of the more entertaining (if not best) opening videos I’ve ever seen for a stuffy, prima facie, awards ceremony, “The Fresh Prince to the Future of Technology.”

After some comical chatter, delicious dinner, and tasty tweets (eating and tweeting), the awards ceremony kicked off. There were eight award categories and twenty-four finalists in all.

Here’s a quick list of those who won: 

(more…)

City Whisk, the app that localizes discovery

The following story appears in the current issue of 585 Magazine (July/August ’14).

Jonathan Marcowicz is the first real explorer I’ve ever met.

We sit in a café, sip coffee, and reminisce of travel. He speaks of his past like he’s still there: a heuriger inVenice, a Chopin concert in France, serendipitous nights of intrigue in Versailles. His voice has heart; his eyes tell me all I need to know. And, really, I do know.

I tell him about an Ireland trip that changed my life. About Dingle, where the locals pointed me down a windy dirt road, past roaming sheep and old ruins, a path that led me to a drop-dead gorgeous cliff edging the endless Atlantic Ocean.

“That’s it!” he says. “Exactly.”

To Marcowicz, locals are the secret ingredients for intrepid adventure—a belief he cemented after a New Orleans New Year’s road trip.The more natives he spoke with, the more unique and engaging his expe- rience became. That’s how CityWhisk—a mobile app he cofounded with Marissa McDowell and Stacey Lampell—was born. The app offers travel itineraries from a local perspective and recently won first place in the Existing Civic App category at the 2014 AT&T Rochester Civic App Challenge.

Read more at 585Magazine.com

Smorgasblog—My 200th Post!

Well, well, well. What do we have here? Blog number 200? Watch out, The Simpsons.

Bloggers who post everyday probably hit 200 in their sleep, but for part-time posters like myself, I like to pause and reflect upon arbitrary three-digit milestones.

(Pausing…)

Mmmm. Nice, isn’t it?

(Still pausing…)

*Checks watch*

I think that’s enough pausing.

When I last hit an arbitrary three-digit milestone, I was living in California, working for a music education company, enjoying citrus off the tree, and smiling a lot. Since then, my wife and I have abandoned familiarity in favor of fundamental, paradigm shifting change. We traveled the country and moved to upstate New York; we were attacked by an evil bat in the middle of the night; my face froze off due to something called Polar Vortex; I wrote a play which won an award; we broke veg to eat haggis. It’s been good and bad.

Forward!

And so life goes. Personally, I’m still figuring out what the hell my life is all about–and further, as an extension, what this blog is all about.  (more…)