Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I Love Luci

Luci Storelli-Castro gave a wonderful talk at our Rotary Club luncheon today about her year in Ghana as an Ambassadorial Scholar. This was a special treat for me as I have known Luci for many years and I have watched her grow from a young girl to an impressive young woman. Her talk was touching, funny, inspiring and thoughtful.

Luci is a writer, change agent, and soccer player. While in Ghana, she not only studied business at the University in Accra, but also taught 50 first graders, helped four villages drill water wells, and started a soccer team in a Liberian refugee camp. As with many recent college graduates, she is currently "considering her future options." So bleeps, if you run a grad school, accept her... if you run an NGO, hire her... and if you need a writer, recruit her. You won't regret it!
B Good, B Local, B Corp
For those of you lucky enough to live in Fort Collins, please be sure to take in the Rocky Mountain Sustainable Living Fair this weekend. And as icing on the cake, please come see our Sustainable Enterprise Speaker Series on Tuesday Sept 23 at 4 pm featuring Jay and Andrew from B Lab in Clark A 103. Find out how their new ideas are helping leading "B Corp" companies become role models for sustainability. Link

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Monday, September 08, 2008

BOPportunities Abound

Here are 3. Well, maybe two- Y combinator is definitely a long shot. But never say never!

1) Cornell is doing a BOP Narrative contest. Cash prizes for short essays on challenges of implementing innovation in BOP markets. October 5 deadline.

2) The process has started to apply for the Acumen Fund Fellows 2009-2010. This program has been a great experience for past fellows, giving them a year of working with Acumen portfolio companies. Some of their experiences are on the Acumen site. Applications are due October 17.

3) Paul Graham's Y Combinator is accepting applications for new ventures. October 17 deadline. It is also interesting to read how they run the application process.

For those in the SF area, the upcoming Social Capital Markets Conference on Oct 13-15th looks interesting. They have quite a few good panels lined up. For instance, I'd try to see the Monday afternoon sessions on "Democratic Capital" or "Serial Entrepreneurs" (of course they are at the same time) and on Tuesday I'd like to see "Capital Dating," "Design in the Developing World," and Rick Aubry's session on scaling. I will say, that after looking over the line-up, I felt it was a bit short on the entrepreneurial perspective. But I am guessing a lot of entrepreneurs will be in the audience and working the crowd.

In the future, it would be cool to borrow from some of the other industry conferences (e.g., BIO) and provide a more formal setting for entrepreneurs to meet potential funders. It would be cool to have a random process too. If you come to a conference, you have to agree to meet with X number of people, some of whom want to meet with you, while some are random, serendipitous hook ups. (Hey- we are only talking swapping ideas.) Short 10 minute meetings. No up front expectations, other than you will each listen to what the other has to say, and see if you have any ideas to help each other out.

In the upcoming weeks, there will be a few interesting announcements on funding opportunities for BOP ventures. Good to see the growing interest and different approaches that are emerging. I'd love to say you will read about them here first, but my bleeps know this really isn't a blog for keeping up on current developments. Special operations, you know. Got to protect my sources.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Stumps & Seeds

One of my recent chores has been to dig up some stumps in the back of our yard. It has been hot, hard work. Kind of reminded me of some entrepreneurial endeavors.

1. It looked easier up front than it turned out to be.
2. Proper tools help. Maybe draft animals too (but I didn't have any).
3. There are many tangled roots below the surface.
4. It took much longer than expected.
5. Some people observed that it was "stupid" and that someone else could do it better than I.
6. In the end, it felt really good to finish the task.

So, why dig out stumps? Well, to ready ground to plant seeds. See, to get things to grow, you sometimes need to prepare things, make an area more fertile and receptive. Experts have told me that vegetables and berries won't grow very well among old stumps. I have a few ideas for planting seeds as well.

1. Choose varieties well suited to local conditions. Consult with experienced people/experts.
2. Diversity is good ... Monoculture isn't the name of the game.
3. Keep an eye out for weeds and pests that could weaken your garden/culture.
4. Don't overwater or overfertilize. You need deep roots and resiliance. Never know when you might get a dry spell.
5. Transplants are tough to establish and very tender at first. Often better to start things from seed and let them grow.
6. Overall, there is a natural level of growth. Mess with this, and you may kill it, or it may not bear fruit.
7. Sometimes it is fun to experiment with hybrids and cross fertilization. But it doesn't always work, and sometimes the offspring revert.
8. Critters often get the low hanging fruit. And birds the rest. But we keep trying because there is nothing quite like enjoying something you helped grow from the start.