Week #2

Our first busy week, immediately caused a decrease in blogging time, so time to catch up.

Beatiful weather on the road to the Foundation

Noam Wasserman was our first teacher this week, a Professor from Harvard Business School, talking about the struggles when starting a new venture, and he explained the Rich vs King concept. Are you in for the big bucks, or do you want to stay in control of your own empire? A question that almost no entrepreneur asks himself during a startup, but which will influence almost all of his decisions. Better get to know yourself!

That same evening we found Peter Kurzina, Seniour lecturer at MIT Sloan school of management, at our dinner table. He is a specialist in company’s turn-arounds and crisis management. He gave us a speed class on leadership the following day, sharing his insights in how to be a good leader, and not a manager. Very interesting and useful seminar.

One of the Entrepreneurship initiatives from the Kansas City area organized the Pipeline Innovator of the Year Award event on thursday, which we attended all day. Starting early in the morning with 10 presentations of innovative companies, followed by a 400+ person network drink and dinner, it was quite a long, but good day. I finnally spoke to the CEO of the company where I’ll do my internship, Reggie Chandra, who also won the Innovator of the Year 2010 award. Nice to speak to the guy that I’ll be working with for 3 months.

Builing along the road to the Foundation

We had another busy day scheduled for friday, an intellectual property lecture from Andrew W. Torrance from the University of Kansas, specialized in intellectual property law, and Peter McDermott, intellectual property lawyer and shareholder at Banner & Witcoff Ltd. They gave a very interactive, energetic and informative lecture on the legal side of intellectual property law. We also played a game made by Andrew that simulates the effect of Patents on the speed of innovation and the growth of wealth because of these innovations. Very interesting results, where it seems that the current patent system is hindering innovation and global growth of wealth, in contrast with the believes of most people involved in patents.

On saterday, with a very heavy cat (;-)), we went to the Harry Truman Presidential Library & Museum, where we indulged in the life and decisions of H. Truman during his presidency. He was the vice-president that suddenly had to step up, because the president died, in the middle of the 2nd world war. He decided to drop the atomic bombs on Japan, and he also tried to make rigorous reforms in the american goverment (including medical insurance law) and for the country as a whole. A truly great leader and visionary person.

Panorama view of the park in front of the Nelson-Atkins Museum

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Interesting Stuff II

2nd edition of interesting stuff that I’ve encountered and that maybe is of some use for you too.

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I’ve always learned and believed that growth, whether social, psychological, economic or cultural is something good, something to strive for, but this talk of Tim Jackson gives some wonderful new insights in the role and consequences of growth on us, human beings, and our planet.

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More on Detroit here.

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IbrigdeNetwork is a network started and organized by the Kauffman foundation that makes it easier for universities or research institutes to share their knowledge and working methods. The main goal is to reduce the ‘new invention of the wheel’ in every university when they could also use the knowledge of other univeristies. Currently, due to the Kauffman Foundation’s efforts, there are 5101 members, 13.269 innovations and 123 organizations involved in sharing their knowledge!

So if you are in need of a certain method, invention or are you looking for other solutions for your problems, give it a try at Ibrige Network.

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State of the Union, tuesday 25-01-11

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The Great Stagnation, a new and confronting book about the stagnation of america’s growth. Interesting for anyon who would like to know more about the American economy. However, are all those claims true? Brink Lindsey from Growthology.org argues against some of the claims.

More free days & Ted Zoller

On tuesday we had our first ‘real’ lecture from the CEO of Kauffman, Carl Schramm. Scharmm gave us a very nice and comprehensive introduction to american history and the way entrepreneurship shaped american culture. He also explained what exactly it is theKauffman Foundation is doing and why that is so important. For instance, research of the Kauffman Foundation showed that virtually every new job created in America is due to small (startup) companies, in contrast with the popular believe that it is the large established companies that create jobs.

Wednesday afternoon a snowstorm hits KCMO (slang for Kansas City Missouri), resulting in the cancellation of our shopping trip on thurseday for some reason, so we get the day off. This however gave us the opportunity to prepare the seminar on friday with Ted Zoller (Director & Associate Professor at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill): New Venture Bootcamp.

Very interesting and inspirational seminar, where Ted gave us new insights in doing business, heavily supported by funny stories and anekdotes. Know what you know and know what you don’t know; Networks are openings; think big, start small; seize every opportunity you get; you always have a second chance; dare to jump; are only a few wisdoms he shared extensively with us. He introduced us to his 5M Stochastic Venture Model, Meaning, Market, Money, Model, Management, but most of all, he put us to action. A very usefull seminar indeed!

The cancelled shopping trip was re-scheduled to saterday, where we went to a big Target market, we got us some new food, and a pre-payed contract so that we can call, text and use data, unlimited. My new american number is +1 816 616 9941. We also encountered a promotion for fighting poverty and hunger in a quite unusual way: Angry Birds.

In the evening we went to Mosaic, a club in the Power & Light district got us a table, a 300 dollar bottle of rum and showed those KCMO locals how to party. Tim and David K went on an advanture to nowhere, Stevens girl caused Marijns girl to leave and so in the end everyone ended up safely in our own beds. A great first party night in KC!

First day at the Kauffman Foundation

After 3 days of relaxing, in between the ‘drinking’ sessions, we where picked up this morning to go to the Kauffman Foundation for our first day of entrepreneurial education.

As expected, the whole first day was filled with introduction, loads and loads of information about the program and the surrounding area and off course a tour through the building. For the next 5 weeks we will be almost living in the Kauffman labs, a seperate part of the foundation, focussed on catalyzing entrepreneurship. This space is furnished quite luxuriously with ample space for conversation, relaxation, presentation and off course workshops, as can be seen on the foto’s.

We also had a breefing from Cory Olsen, the typical american security officer: Fat, a bit short, wearing a bullet-proof vest (indoors! oh yes), large belt with all sorts of ‘important’ stuff on it. Very funny. A short selection of words he used: Becoming a target, vulnerable, predators (about homeless people…), having a predatory lifestyle. To finish off with the information that someone got killed a few weeks ago, very close to the foundation. Yeah, welcome in America! All in all it was quite a confrontation that there is a fairly large part of Kansas City where you simply should not go to, at the risk of getting assaulted, robbed or even killed in the process. You read and hear about it on tv, but to actually being told not to go somewhere, and pointed out an area of a map that the security officers call ‘The no-man’s land’ is shocking.

The rest of the afternoon is filled with organizing some minor things, and doing some research for my internship and for my new company. Oh and I should not forget to read 2 (!) books tonight, the author of both is the CEO of the Kauffman Foundation and he will be our first presenter tomorrow.

Day 1 and 2

Friday night, 4:15, Rough wake-up from a very nice dream… Oh wait, today is the day!

5:20, schiphol airport (thanks Mathijs!), no problems at check in, so time for coffee and some breakfast at Starbucks. 6:00, through customs, last kiss from my girlfriend ( 😦 ) and heading for the KLM business lounge. There I find Marijn Berk, fellow scholar at Kauffman, who owns for some reason a Gold card for the KLM business lounge. This will turn out to be a very, very nice situation for the rest of the trip. So, in the lounge are free drinks and breakfast, nice large chairs and internet, perfect for waiting until we can check in.

(Oh, this is a long post, but also the longest of all, so don’t worry, the rest will be better)

At around 8 o’clock we have lift-off from schiphol and we head west to the country of unlimited possibilities (:-S)! About 7 hours later, we land at Detroit airport, only to disover that we are plane nr. 3 in the last 1o min, meaning that we have around 300 people in front of us at customs. Normaly this would be no problem, but with our 1.5 hour transfer time we got a bit nervous. And rightfully so, once we cleared customs, our plane already left, so we could be placed on hold for the 15:25 flight to Kansas and we could be checked in for the 19:30 flight. Luckily for me, Marijn waved with his gold card again at the SkyTeam business lounge, and suddenly we could be checked in for the flight at 15:25! So once again we saw the enormous task of waiting in a lounge with free everything. After getting some sort of lunch, followed by a good wine, and on the side some chips with wiskey and gin the waiting could begin. Quite a nice way to spend your time, I have to say.

The flight to Kansas was fast and comfortable again, however, going to the lavatory in such a small airplane is simply not possible if you are longere then 1.20. On the route to Kansas we also discoverd David Koper on the plane, also following the Kauffman scholarship. Arriving at the Fairfield Inn for the first night, we were greeted by the rest of the group, Tim Rutten, David Gernaat, Loet Rammelsberg, Omid Majipour, Steven Lammertink and Jeroen van Duffelen.

A quick shower and a free ride to a restaurant area later, we where in the Irish pub, trying to get us some beers, but strangly that was more difficult than we expected. We had to go back to the door, explain to the waiter that we wanted a drink, no dinner, so that he could assign us a place in the bar where we could stand. But not sit, or would we like to sit?, no we could stand. Strange… Ordering a beer also means that we all had to show our passport, cause we, handsome as we are, look way under 21 :S. Then we ordered a budweiser, but got some belgian beer.

Dinner was served at the Tomfooleries, together with some large beers, budweiser this time. I selected a large burger as you are suppost to do, and got exactly that. A large burger, with in total 1/8th of a pickle as vegetables :). Loet and Tim made sure we had a constant supply of beer, the conversation reached an all time low (yes, already on the first day…) and suddenly we had 9 margerita’s in front of us (something with happy hour). Then asking for the bill gave us a new surprise, the waitress actually made a coupon where she already seperated exactly what each of us had for dinner and drinks. Really great solution for groups where everyone pays for himself. The total damage for me was only 23 dollar, so for 4 drinks, dinner and a margerita quite a good deal I figured.

Day 2

Waking up at 4:58 in the morning, with a really bad feeling, made me so glad for the time difference. Second time awake was 9:30, perfectly awake and feeling good! After a breakfast with some very strange sausage wrapped in a pancake with really awfull meat sauce, I figured that loosing those calories would be a good idea. So I did a workout on a spinning bicycle, got showered and packed my suitcase for the trip to the Residence Inn Country Plaza Marriot.

After we pulled Marijn from his bed and the bus discovered its second gear again (it was sort of broke, but not always), we arrived at our location where we would be staying for the next 5 weeks. Very nice and spaceous (how do you write that???) rooms, in the center of the country club Plaza area. We got a short introduction and intro to the progam from Nancy Walker, one of the program managers.

The rest of the day was filled with visiting the apple store, eating a sandwich (with at least a cm of chicken on it, topped off with bacon and sauce…, uploading foto’s and writing this blog. We ended the evening with dinner in The Cheesecake Factory (yes, from the Big Bang Theory). I only had a salade…

Beers in an Irish Pub made me decide to start a company, Marijn and David, thanks for that!

So, all in all a very pleasant start of the scholarship!