Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Stephanie Keller-Bottom of Nokia's Innovent Speaks at Stanford

Stephanie Keller-Bottom, an entrepreneurial thought leader and director of the Innovent Team at Nokia, gave a valuable presentation on commercializing innovations at a 2006 event at Stanford University. Listen to the mp3 file below:

If you have trouble with the flash mp3 player, you can listed to it from the Stanford site or access the mp3 file directly at

Some video clips from her presentation are also available from the Stanford Educator's Corner.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Biodiesel from Algae

Biodiesel got a little more interesting with the news release from Solazyme about their new biodiesel process that converts algae to fuel. Is it a real green energy solution or more hype? The answer lies in the economics. There is a long ways to go still in commercializing this technology, but Chevron is getting on board. If these advances can substantially lower the cost of creating biodiesel, then we could see this go commercial. I welcome approaches that use algae, cellulose, or other biomass besides food crops. Turning food into fuel just doesn't make sense, in my opinion, and the trend of turning corn to ethanol has helped drive up the price of basic grains for millions. Let's find solutions that are earth friendly and people friendly.

Venture Capital: Basic Information for Entrepreneurs

Many new entrepreneurs are interested in understanding venture capital funding for the growth of their business. Some state governments provide information and resources for entrepreneurs seeking help on funding. An outstanding example is the Wisconsin Angel Network. Look at their resource page and listen to presentations on stages of investing and finance marketing. Many other resources are there.

Another resource is N. Humphrey's Venture Capital Guide, published by Gilbert and Tobin (2000). The following information from OzNetLaw is based on Humphrey:
1. What is venture capital?

Venture capital involves funding high growth private start-up companies, particularly in the information technology and e-business industries. Venture capital offers medium term equity finance and does not require regular interest payments. Venture capital can provide a number of value added services include mentoring and the introduction of strategic alliances.

Venture capitalists (high net worth individuals or companies who provide the capital) generally take a minority share in the company and usually do not seek day to day control of a business. They generally appoint a representative to the board of directors and require input and in many cases retain veto rights over key strategic decisions.

2. Stages Of Growth

Venture capitalists categorise companies into four stages of growth:

(a) Stage one—Seed: the business is little more than a concept, the product is in development and the company is concentrating on research and producing a working model or prototype. The founders will fund the business from personal funds, typically requiring between $50,000 to $500,000.

(b) Stage two—Start-up: known as the "Angel round", the concept or products have been developed but the company has no track record and often has not made a profit, thereby making more traditional funding difficult to obtain. This is the riskiest stage for investors. The company needs a large amount of capital (typically between $500,000 to $2 million) but has no reliable indicators of its future success. Many businesses fail during this phase.

(c) Stage three—Expansion: known as the "second round" and may comprise multiple rounds before stage four. The company is fully set up, has usually received some funding and is building a financial track record. The company however, needs further funding (typically between $2 million to $10 million plus) to expand existing operational and marketing capacity. Some companies choose to meet financing needs with traditional bank finance (note that a bank will usually require personal guarantees from directors together with collateral).

(d) Stage four—Mezzanine: known as pre-Initial Public Offering (IPO) funding (typically between $10 million and $50 million and up). Funds are used to prepare for IPO including strategic acquisitions. Mezzanine investors may provide experience in the IPO process; for example, the company is "dressed up" for listing by introducing recognised business people to the board.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Resources for Defensive Publication

Strategies for defensive publication are one of the services we provide our clients. Those interested in defensive publications can learn some of the basics from a useful new blog, Securing Innovation. Take a look at their Short Guide to Defensive Publication. (Hat tip to InventBlog.)

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Tips for Presentations to Venture Capital Firms

Over a FoundRead, there's a good post on pitching your technology to VCs. Valuable guidance. In addition, remember that the real key is preparing. How powerful is your business proposition? What's your reason to believe? How can you protect your business in light of emerging competition? Do you have an intellectual asset story? And that's right - intellectual assets, not just intellectual property. If you don't know the difference and don't have a compelling IA story to tell, get some help (why not Innovationedge?) and become prepared before you waste what may be a one-time opportunity to tell your story.