Category Archives: Blog

Fore! Velocity Venture Capital’s Entrepreneurial Drive Tees Off

The Serrano Country Club is 18 holes carved out of the El Dorado Hills. It offers stunning views and a par-72, championship course designed by none other than Robert Trent Jones, Jr. And on Monday, July 28, the course will play host Velocity Venture Capital’s Entrepreneurial Drive.
Aimed at shaking up the staid process of pitching investors, the Entrepreneurial Drive is a “Best Ball Scramble” with a twist. As investors hack their way across the course, tech startups are stationed at each green, waiting to deliver a 2-minute pitch of their idea. At the end of that pitch, the investors give the startups a score, then head to the next tee.
This may sound like a gimmicky way to bring startups and potential investors together — and it is — but it’s also an effective one. Pitching for investment dollars is an art form, and the 2-minute time limit and golf-focused investors makes the Entrepreneurial Drive a prime training ground for startups seeking funding. Get an investor interested in the middle of a round and you can pitch your idea in any board room.
The Serrano event is also a part of Velocity Venture’s month long “American Idol meets Shark Tank” contest, which will whittle down the list of companies taking part in this year’s Entrepreneur’s Showcase.
To register for the Entrepreneurial Drive, or to just get more info, hit Velocity Venture Capital’s website

Talking Disruption

 

By Mike Montgomery

I recently moderated a sold-out panel on disruptive tech at Runway, a San Francisco-based accelerator. Runway occupies a massive space next to Twitter on Market Street, home to more than 60 startups focused on, as you would expect, disruptive tech.

My panel consisted of three heavy hitters: Andy Grignon, Will Pryor, and Larry Downes.

Andy Grignon was a member of the team behind the first iPhone. He’s a great storyteller — one story involved the decidedly NSFW nickname Steve Jobs gave him, a nickname Grignon embraced. (If you’re curious what that nickname was, CLICK HERE. Post-Apple, Grignon founded Quake Labs, a startup focused on making simple programming available to the masses.

1st iPHONE

Will Pryor, a senior engineer at Skycatch, was sitting in for CEO Christian Sanz, who was mining — literally and figuratively — for more biz offsite with a new customer in the mining business. Why the mining business? Because Skycatch makes drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which can offer construction managers a safer, and less expensive, way to map, explore and monitor progress. It can also — as attendees of last year’s TechCrunch Disrupt can attest — deliver tacos a la the 2012 hoax you may remember called Tacocopter.

Tacocopter

Larry Downes, my third esteemed panelist, is an ahead-of-the-curve thinker on important tech issues. That description isn’t hyperbole. Downes wrote a book called Unleashing the Killer App, and he wrote it in 1998 — nearly a decade before the iPhone revolutionized our lives with its App Store. His new book, Big Bang Disruption, focuses on strategies for surviving and thriving in the digital era, whether you’re a startup or an incumbent.

Larry Downes

During the panel, Downes shared some of the pearls of his book, including how video games like Pong disrupted the pinball industry much like smartphones led to the downfall of the GPS and camera industries.

Via William Hunter

Via William Hunter

Some brief takeaways from the panel:

Downes told the audience that there are three defining characteristics of disruptive technologies — better, cheaper, more intimate — and how in the past, only two of those characteristics needed to be true. Today, however, all three boxes must be checked. The product, in other words, can’t just be better. It also has to be cheaper (read: free) and connect with consumers in a personal way.

Grignon killed it on the panel. But then, he has a built in advantage — having Apple on his resumé. Given the ongoing fascination with Steve Jobs and anything or anyone he touched along the way, Grignon’s tales of the iPhone development process left everyone yearning for more.

Apple

Looking ahead toward the future, I asked the panel what we’d be talking about 10 years from now if we reconvened to again talk about disruptive tech.  Pryor named embedded tech without hesitation. And he wasn’t just talking about clothing and contact lenses — he instead meant implants within our bodies. That certainly got the audience’s attention.

Also getting the audience’s attention was the question of who would own Uber in the future.  While Grignon thought an IPO was the most likely, Pryor and an audience member both thought Amazon wasn’t out of the realm of possibility.

Downes’ response to the Uber question was more thousand-foot, as he pointed out that the beauty of disruptive technology requires taking the “anything can happen” point of view. It was a fitting viewpoint for a panel focused on the constant earthquakes disruptive technology can have on long-established industries.

All in all, the panel discussion was enlightening, challenging, and often hilarious. My thanks to Grignon, Pryor, and Downes for disrupting (sorry, I had to) their busy lives to join me. Oh, and if you’d like to have a drone deliver a copy of Downes’ latest book, CLICK HERE to purchase it.

If you want to sign up for the cool stuff Grignon is making, CLICK HERE.

And if you want a better way to manage a massive construction process (or a taco), CLICK HERE.

 

Mike Montgomery is executive director of CALinnovates.

CALinnovates Advocates for Open Spectrum Auctions

By: Mike Montgomery

CALinnovates submitted this letter to the FCC encouraging the Commission to ensure its upcoming spectrum incentive auction is open to all bidders on equal terms. A process open to all bidders will ensure fairness, competition and increase the likelihood of a successful auction.

The unprecedented rise of mobile broadband — fueled by smartphones and tablets — has led to what has been labeled a “spectrum crunch.” The Commission’s auctions are aimed at alleviating that crunch while at the same time bolstering communications networks for first responders and delivering much-needed revenue to help pay down the Federal Government’s debt.

CALinnovates’ position is that only through an open bidding process can consumers, broadcasters, innovators, and the U.S. government receive the greatest benefit from the incentive auctions.

Thirteen tech industry leaders joined CALinnovates in this call to action, including:

  • Speek’s Danny Boice, conference call disruptor
  • TRAIL’s Josh Bradley, digital literacy advocate
  • Entrepreneur Daniel Brusilovsky, founder of Teens in Tech Labs
  • Conjectur’s co-founder Christopher Roy Correa, mobile loyalty & rewards guru
  • Velocity Venture Capital’s Jack Crawford, investor & Kauffman Fellow
  • Entrepreneur & Thiel Fellow Mark Daniel
  • Stacey Ferreira, Entrepreneur & co-founder of MySocialCloud
  • EdTech Leader & CEO of On Campus Media Scott Krantz
  • Global IT & Cloud Expert Lloyd Marino
  • Disruptive online polling startup founder Taylor Peck of iSideWith.com
  • Kit CEO Michael Perry, builder of an  innovative CRM system
  • Open Gov Advocate and Tech PR Guru Brian Purchia
  • Appallicious Founder & CEO Yo Yoshida, Godfather of the Civic Startup world

Open Data: Embracing 21st Century Economic Development in California

As featured on Government Technology
By: Mike Montgomery and Brian Purchia

We launched an Open Government working group for the State of California earlier this year – with our most recent roundtable at San Francisco-based accelerator Runway last week – to increase collaboration between government and the civic startup community.

This group will benefit people and communities through enhanced services utilizing open data. The benefits to the public, including transparency and reduction in lag time to inquiries are astounding as are the benefits to governmental offices, which include a decrease in paperwork and staff hours on public information requests, for example.

The idea we espouse sounds simple enough, in theory. If government agencies and offices were to institute forward-looking open data policies statewide then the growing industry of civic-focused startups will grow exponentially. These civic entrepreneurs will create new products and platforms that will continue to increase government efficiency, while the reduction in costs to taxpayers will undoubtedly have a net-positive impact on society.

One example is BuildingEye, a civic startup that has created a real-time map with all of the locations that have building permits in the cities in which BuildingEye operates. The San Francisco Entrepreneur in Residence company makes it easier for the public to see what is going to be built in your neighborhood with a click of button. Currently, though, BuildingEye only works in a handful of cities that have opened their data.

At our second open data roundtable hosted at San Francisco-based accelerator Runway last week, we charted a roadmap to bring new policies to unlock civic innovation. While the geographic boundaries of our goals are limited to city, county and state agencies within California, what we accomplish can be shared and borrowed by municipalities across the country as a blueprint for collaboration between tech, government and its inhabitants.

To continue reading, Click Here.

 

March Member Update: IP Networks, SXSW & Connected Cities

 

From the Desk of Executive Director Mike Montgomery:

An all-IP future is no longer such a distant possibility.  Last week, AT&T announced that it would hold test trials to transition wire centers to all-IP services in two communities: one rural (Carbon Hill, Alabama) and one suburban (Kings Point, Florida).  Just three months into 2014, our nation is truly embracing the idea of ‘out with the old and in with the new.’  Our communications infrastructure has long been reliant on centuries-old technology.  The time has come to upgrade these antiquated networks to a network that provides consumers with far more options for their communications needs.   As my friend Larry Downes and his co-author Paul Nunes write in their book Big Bang Disruption, “The transition to digital networks [would] significantly counter the obstacles that keep 20 percent of American adults from joining the Internet.”  For that reason alone, we’d be crazy not to embrace these next-gen all-broadband networks.  It’s good for consumers, both existing and potential, across the country.

We’re traveling the state to help our members make progress on the issues that matter most.  Don’t hesitate to reach out should there be a roadblock CALinnovates can help remove for your company to experience the growth and success you’re striving for in Q1 and beyond.


Upcoming Events:

SXSW Immigration Happy Hour with Steve Case

March 9, 2014 | Austin, TX

 
Mobile Margaritas Hosted by Mobile Future
March 9, 2014 | Austin, TX

Join DC-based Mobile Future for SXSW for Mobile Margaritas, a meet-up with other mobile leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs.  


News You Can Use:

All-IP Beta Test Markets Announced
CALinnovates,
February 28, 2014

CALinnovates has long been a strong proponent of a modernization of our nation’s communications infrastructure, and last week marked another important step down this critical path. Earlier this year, I called the transition “the beginning of the next great digital transformation in our nation’s history.” …

True Peer-to-Peer Rideshare Now a Reality
Daily Kos,
February 28, 2014

Sidecar announced last week that it is looking to take a big bite out of its competitors by launching the first true peer-to-peer marketplace in the rideshare industry.  Co-founder and CEO Sunil Paul says Sidecar’s new marketplace “will give riders the power to choose…

The Tale of Three Connected Cities
TechZulu, March 3, 2014
By: Mike Montgomery

When it comes to major technological projects like building out Wi-Fi networks, it’s wise to turn to the experts in order to better serve citizens.

Case in point: Los Angeles, which is issuing an RFP for private industry to build out a citywide Wi-Fi network. The winning company will not only be tasked with the design and build out of the network, but maintaining and upgrading that network into the future. This necessary ongoing investment, as the experiment in Riverside has shown us, is where the majority of project pitfalls reside…

In this Issue:


From the Desk of Executive Director Mike Montgomery


Upcoming Events


News You Can Use


Member Spotlight


Member Spotlight…

SeeClickFix

If you haven’t downloaded the SeeClickFix app on your iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, or Blackberry, now’s the time. Founded by Ben Berkowitz and Kam Lasater, SeeClickFix is a communications platform for citizens to report non-emergency issues. Governments also use the platform to track, manage, and reply — ultimately making communities better through transparency, collaboration, and cooperation. It’s free on the app store of your choice.



@CALinnovates /CALinnovates CALinnovates

When Andreesen Talks, People Listen

Marc Andreessen, the biggest name in venture capital, has been on a roll lately lighting up Twitter and blogging like never before.

Andreessen, the founder of Netscape, has achieved cult-like status in Silicon Valley and, perhaps, the country for his multiple billion-dollar exits as an entrepreneur and the investments his firm Andreessen Horowitz made in startups like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Skype. He’s a rock star not only in the tech industry, but in the world of business.

So when Andreessen shares his thoughts, we’d all be smart to pay attention. As case in point, a recent post on the firm’s website by Andreessen examines the role of timing when it comes to investing in innovation.

The post, which is profound in its grasp of the tech marketplace, reflects on Apple’s Newton — a precursor to the iPad — and why it failed in the marketplace

Read the full article on Daily Kos

Immigration & Innovation Happy Hour with Steve Case at SXSW

True Peer-to-Peer Rideshare Now a Reality

Larry Downes and Paul Nunes, authors of the seminal book Big Bang Disruption, which details how to strategically navigate our digital world, wrote that every industry is ripe for disruption, even an industry that is currently disrupting another industry. For example: ridesharing.

Ridesharing has caught fire in the U.S. Want to catch a ride in an open seat in someone’s private vehicle?  It’s as simple as tapping your smartphone app.

Competition is alive and well in the rideshare industry.  In alphabetical order, the three dominant players in the game are Lyft, Sidecar and UberX.  Each differentiates itself in its own unique way.  I frequently use all three services.

Read the full article on Daily Kos

A Tale of Three Cutting-Edge Cities

“The road to failure is often paved with good intentions,” famed writer Samuel Johnson might have said.

Just ask Riverside, California. Back in 2006, the city set out to build a municipal Wi-Fi network for its citizens. But a severe lack of interest from customers prompted the city’s original communications partner to pull away from the project.  The city scrambled to find resources to build and maintain the network, ultimately costing residents more than $700,000 per year for a network to live up to the hype.  the Wi-Fi network never even reached two-thirds of the population and has been described as obsolete.

In other words, the good intentions from Riverside officials have resulted in a costly, and failed, experiment on the taxpayer’s dime.

Read the full article on Tech Zulu

All-IP Beta Test Markets Announced

AT&T announced its intentions to conduct beta tests to transition consumers to Internet Protocol networks (aka the IP Transition) in Alabama and Florida. We are thrilled for Carbon Hill, Alabama and West Delray Beach, Florida as the potential first two all-IP test cities in America. Perhaps in a few years we may refer to Carbon Hill as Silicon Hill, the next new hotbed of digital innovation.

As you know, CALinnovates has long been a strong proponent of a modernization of our nation’s communications infrastructure, and today marks another important step down this critical path. Earlier this year, I called the transition “the beginning of the next great digital transformation in our nation’s history.” Well, these beta tests are the next phase of the transition, as it’s important to make the transition in a smart way that protects key core values such as universal connectivity, consumer protection, network reliability and public safety.

I had a chance to talk to a few of our members about today’s news, and I think you’ll find their insights illuminating.

Jack Crawford, general partner at Velocity Venture Capital, told me that this announcement gives him great hope for the future of his industry and the nation as a whole. He believes IP connectivity will give his portfolio companies even greater reach, while helping consumers thrive.

“The dream of universal connectivity through next-gen networks will prove to be a huge boon for the economy. I’ve long said private investment in infrastructure will drive the next great wave of economic prosperity in our nation. Startups will have access to more customers with high-speed connections. Consumers will have increased and faster access to the world around them. This movement will create increased opportunities in education, job creation and personal enjoyment for the masses.”

Lloyd Marino, an IT and cloud expert and the founder of Avetta Global, says the transition to IP networks will effectively shrink the world, creating opportunities for people no matter where they live or work that don’t currently exist today to the extent they could:

“The networks of the future will make the world a smaller place, allowing people to be anywhere in the world instantaneously, in high-definition, transacting business, telecommuting, and taking advantage of high-speed connectivity no matter where they live, whether rural or urban. These test trials will deliver findings that will benefit everyone in every industry. I’m thrilled.”

Daniel Brusilovsky, an executive at Ribbon, shares his entrepreneurial perspective:

“It’s incredibly important to do beta tests to really learn what these networks can do and what they can handle. As more and more consumers are getting smartphones and using applications like Skype, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and more, we need our networks to be able to support the technology community’s growing demand for data.”

As FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel commented just a few months ago, “To get outside the box, government needs to do more work in the sandbox.” These beta tests in Alabama and Florida represent the sandbox in which the IP transition will carefully and progressively occur using real world conditions, but under the FCC’s watchful eye to ensure a smooth and efficient consumer transition. It’s the same sort of thinking that the tech industry has long embraced, and it’s about time we brought this tech-driven approach to upgrading our nation’s network infrastructure.

I’m looking forward to working hand-in-hand with the FCC, the business community and consumers to make sure we get the opportunity to experience and enjoy a connected future.

CALinnovates will continue to track this item and keep you informed along the way.

- Mike