15,000 miles, 10 companies and 5 days of discovering the next big thing down under.

I’ve traveled pretty extensively in 2011 and 2012 in my work with startups but the biggest trip is the one I’m currently in the middle of. Helping an accelerator in Adelaide, Australia with their inaugural class, Innovyz Start. Accelerators are tough programs no matter where they are located but some regions and cities have bigger challenges that others. These challenges and opportunities are what brought me to Adelaide. I was pretty confident that the same brilliant companies that I’ve come across in places like San Antonio, Austin, Kansas City, Omaha, Des Moines, Chicago and New Orleans would be in places like Adelaide as well and I wasn’t disappointed. My next few posts will be discussing some of the companies I’ve encountered and the unique things that are occurring in Adelaide that just might be emerging best practices that we should be doing everywhere.

A small tease of the type of companies I’ve met? See the folks below, they are going to change how millions of college students get an education all around the world.


Blame it on Leo

Leo Burnett Picture
Photo credit: Wikipedia, Creative Commons License

Special thanks to Doug Crets who provided a lot of guidance and feedback on this post.

The old folks do the new things so much better.

I’ve been thinking about how there are some fundamentals to good business and good business development, no matter the epoch we are in, including this one. Tech entrepreneurs of today are hyper focused on customer development and building a product that people can use. For Leo Burnett, the founder of global advertising giant Leo Burnett, this made perfect sense.

Incidentally, Leo Burnett had some people at the Big Omaha Conference back in May and I had an opportunity to spend some time with them.

Why? Leo Burnett is one of the original big advertising firms – at one time, and maybe still is the tenth largest in the world — and it was, like its competitor Ogilvy, notorious for the copy-heavy ads that are more like novels now than the flash bang image-led advertising of today. They are responsible for the Marlboro Man and Quaker Oats. What would they be doing at a tech conference like Big Omaha? Or better, why WOULDN’T they be at a conference like Big Omaha.

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Big Data meets Facebook

Big Data meets Facebook

“Big Data” is a term that is quickly getting a rep like the term “social media expert.” Lot’s of smoke and little fire. Notice Technology is a firm that just launched a REAL big data solution called Polygraph that uses the activity streams from Facebook to developer compelling and accurate consumer insights. How does a small company with two folks build a big data solution efficiently? As a PAAS on Azure of course. This is also a great story about entrepreneurship and about how you must let your experiences and customer feedback guide your startup–and that it’s possible to do this without raising millions of dollars.

Learn more about the philosphy of Polygraph at:

The Origins of Polygraph Facebook Data Mining Analytics

Sheer badassery of Kinect

Sheer badassery of Kinect

Kinobi is company that helps people learn from interactive experiences. All powered by Kinect. Impressive stuff and nice pivot from their earlier concepts when I first met them as part of LaunchPad Ignition. Accelerators in smaller regional markets are hard to pull off, LaunchPad Ignition sets a bar for how lean Accelerators can cultivate an ecosystem focused on entrepreneurship and innovation. I expect alot more of us will be hearing about Kinobi soon and their founder, Chapman Snowden.

Creating the Windows 8 user experience

Creating the Windows 8 user experience

Jensen Harris, the Director of Program Management for our User Experience team, authored a post on the Building Windows 8 blog that surfaces the best publically available insights on Windows 8 and the reasoning behind some of the choices we made and why we made them. A great read if you’re a fan of Windows or just a fan of good design thinking.

There are no mistakes, uncorrected, that stay little when you fail address them.

There are no mistakes, uncorrected, that stay little when you fail address them.

I don’t know Scott Thompson but most of what of I’ve seen seems to indicate that he was a competent executive and leader that was willing to make difficult and unpopular choices to get a struggling company back on track. But one slip up, one mistake, which may have seemed like a small one at the time, shows that operating with integrity and honestly matter more than anything else you’re ever going to do publicly or privately.


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