Overcoming Obstacles in Entrepreneurship

March 14th, 2016 | Posted by Sarah Jones in Guest Blogs | Member Blog Posts - (Comments Off)

This week on NVTC’s blog: on Feb. 18, the NVTC Small Business and Entrepreneur Committee sponsored a fireside chat entitled “Journey to Success: Overcoming Obstacles in Entrepreneurship.” Nate Miller, an assurance intern at Aronson LLC, shares the top tips from that event, which featured a fireside chat with Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, and Scott Case, the founding CTO of Priceline.com and founding CEO of Startup America. 


On February 18, the NVTC Small Business and Entrepreneur Committee sponsored a fireside chat entitled “Journey to Success: Overcoming Obstacles in Entrepreneurship.” The event was moderated by Gary Shapiro, President and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, who interviewed Scott Case, the founding CTO of Priceline.com and founding CEO of Startup America.

The discussion focused on Case’s experiences throughout his lengthy career as a key member of several startup companies; Case also shared his thoughts on the potential pitfalls startup companies can fall victim to. Some of Case’s key points to attendees included:

  • The time commitment required to be a successful entrepreneur.
  • The importance of creating and expanding connections in a growing area such as the D.C.
  • Overcoming failure repeatedly is a necessary trait to success.
  • The importance of maintaining a valuable network with the appropriate resources.

Case’s entrepreneurial journey started with part time jobs as an assistant for a plumbing company and a well driller, and running a local lawn-mowing business, where he gained an understanding of mastering his trade, servicing customers, and constantly looking for the next opportunity. While attending college at the University of Connecticut, Case spent his free time developing an advanced flight simulator with fellow classmates only to discover that the startup could not generate sales due to a lack of marketing. As a result, a key lesson that Case carries with him to this day is the need to supplement a great product with a sales and marketing team and other supporting functions.

Undeterred, Case shunned more secure employment opportunities to continue working with startups and, following an introduction to Priceline.com Founder Jay Walker a few years later, joined Priceline as the founding CTO. During his tenure, Case’s team at Priceline developed a “name your own price” system in the early days of the internet that allowed the company to grow significantly and successfully undergo an IPO with an initial market capitalization of more than $12 billion. Case attributes his success at Priceline to his understanding of the available technology, as well as the ability to effectively market it and while creating a team willing to try a number of ventures without fear of failure.

Since leaving Priceline in 2000, Case has co-founded or led several other ventures focused on technology, entrepreneurship and philanthropy such as Main Street Genome, Startup America Partnership, Malaria No More, and most recently, Potomac Innovation, a new business travel purchasing company. Case stressed the need for entrepreneurs to remain connected to advisers, financiers, peers and customers if they are to be successful, and noted that incubators, such as 1776 in D.C. and others in startup hubs such as New York City and Silicone Valley, can greatly help a new entrepreneur. Case also stressed the importance of minimizing government regulation to allow new business owners to focus on their core activities, but noted that government can help by listening and responding to entrepreneurs’ needs – such as the recent decision by the city of Nashville, Tennessee to significantly increase its broadband access, which appears to be attracting entrepreneurs to the city.

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Does Big Data Matter?

August 12th, 2015 | Posted by Sarah Jones in Guest Blogs | Uncategorized - (Comments Off)

This week on NVTC’s blog, Caryn Alagno of Synthos Technologies explains that every company is a data company, and every company’s data has hidden insights.


Suspend reality for a moment, and imagine a modern workplace in which the Internet was familiar to and available to just a few highly specialized individuals.

These trained, sought-after professionals were tasked with informing everything from product development to strategic positioning. No one else in the organization understood the possibilities that this mysterious “internet” could provide. Some companies developed entire strategies around it. Others ignored it. It intimidated some. Some thought it “just wasn’t for them.” Debates about its importance persisted.

Sounds crazy, right?

But this is exactly the current state of affairs with regard to large-scale, enterprise data management. Most of us know it as “big data.”

Organizations in nearly every industry are sitting on massive repositories of data that they either don’t know what to do with or haven’t considered activating. Some know precisely what they want to do, but are confused about where to start. In other cases, concerns around everything from security to privacy are paralyzing companies that instead should be mobilizing for a massive shift in the way they do business.

For many, “big data” is either scary or exclusionary. At worst, it’s both; and at best, it’s ignored. But the reality is, big data is neither. It’s more than a buzzword, or a trend or an initiative. It genuinely matters.

Companies in industries like finance and health care were early entrants into the big data space. Billions of securities transactions; where are the patterns that indicate fraud? Thousands of complex compounds; which one is a break-through therapy?

But every company is a data company. And every company’s data has hidden insights.

The same is true of government organizations and nonprofits. Setting aside security for a moment, consider the massive amount of information that organizations like the IRS handle. Each year, the agency processes more than 140 million tax returns. It estimates that it sent out nearly three million fraudulent refunds to con artists last year. The Government Accountability Office says that this form of identity theft has cost tax payers as much as $5.2 billion dollars. In a single year. Others think the number’s much higher. Everyone agrees it’s going to grow – and that it needs to stop.  Criminal activity is the symptom, but poor data management is the disease.

In 2013, the 25 largest non-profits in America raised more than $30 billion. Their missions range from promoting quality education and financial stability to caring for the sick and feeding the hungry. The same year, a study by the Non-Profit Technology network found that one out of ten of these organizations have no way of tracking how certain “engagement” behaviors (like opening or forwarding an email, or posting messages to social media) correlate with a person’s likelihood to donate time, donate money, or donate more of either. Understanding this connection, and making strategic programming decisions based on what the data shows, is critical to these organizations’ efficacy and longevity.

Making meaningful sense of massive amounts of information matters. Sure, the data is important, but the correlations within it are even more so. The tools that allow people to find connections in the data – and to then make more informed, more impactful decisions – will enable radical shifts in everything from productivity and profitability to innovation and to our very quality of life.

It sounds flowery and poetic, but it is an absolute fact.

Big data matters because of what it has the potential to change. But it also matters because it’s forcing an entirely new conversation about the ways in which we interact with information. Is database technology enough? Where does it fall short? Are search engines enough? Where do they fall short? Are there things about either of these technologies that could form the basis of something entirely different?

Related, who needs to interact with data? What could they do with it, and what would that mean?

Data is an equalizer – when we all have access to it, we all have the potential to use it for good in our respective arenas. Data is also a differentiator – and in the big data game, the winners are those who put data to its most effective use.  If that gets you excited, then there’s never been a better time to be a fan.


 

Caryn Alagno is the EVP of Communications and Marketing at Synthos Technologies, a division of Qbase, LLC. Synthos Technologies is a big data and analytics solution provider whose mission is to build entirely new ways of interacting with information. 

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This week on NVTC’s blog, Ryan Miller of NVTC member company CBRE highlights CBRE’s in-depth analysis of the Country’s Top 50 Markets for tech talent, “Scoring Tech Talent,” and what it means for companies regionally and nationally as strategic decisions are made on how and where to grow. 


Technological advancements continue to overwrite the previous file for how to operate in our personal and professional lives.  To keep up with the rapid pace of change today, companies spanning the spectrum of all industries are making investments to insure that their people, processes and products align with these advancements in an effort to establish and maintain a competitive advantage.

These investments start with “people,” as all innovation emanates from human  creativity, knowledge and expertise.  Accordingly, companies will make a concerted effort to expand in markets where there is the highest concentration of tech talent, and do so in a fashion that caters to the needs and aspirations of the workforce.  Understanding those demographics and the underlying fundamentals of where the tech talent clusters are located – such as market rents, labor costs, infrastructure and cost of living – allows for the development of much more informed hiring, acquisition and overall capital investment and deployment strategies.

In order to more fully understand the fundamentals of the top tech talent markets, CBRE performed a detailed study of metropolitan areas throughout  the United States and has answered some key  questions about tech talent, such as:  What is tech talent?  What do tech talent markets look like?  Why does tech talent cluster?  How does tech talent impact commercial real estate?  The end result is a comprehensive report that lists the top 50 markets throughout the U.S. based upon a multi-dimensional index and provides companies with information to make informed real estate decisions.

The following provides a glimpse into the characteristics that define the components of a top tech talent market:

  • A high degree of education attainment:  nearly 75% of the top 50 markets have an education attainment rate greater than the U.S. average
  • The abundance of Millennials:  those markets with the greatest concentration of millennials and millennial growth.
  • Tech Talent Clustering:  firms located in tech talent clusters have a greater labor pool and benefit from the inherent knowledge transfer within those markets.  This leads to more collaboration, sharing of resources and – in turn – innovation.

TechTalentLaborBreakdown-Large&SmallMarkets2

The connection between tech market characteristics and a company’s real estate strategy is significant.  Specific submarkets, or even specific areas of submarkets, might be significantly more desirable and drive rental rates considerably higher than comparable buildings in the same general area.  This dynamic, combined with labor costs, provides a meaningful perspective into a company’s potential expenses in a top tech talent market.

For example, in the Northern Virginia market, the tech talent has clustered in the Dulles Corridor, and specifically in the Reston Town Center, due to the abundance of amenities, proximity to densely developed housing, a well-designed transportation infrastructure and the existence of other large companies with a significant focus on technology.  Accordingly, rental rates in this subset of the market are markedly higher than comparable buildings that sit just outside of the Reston Town Center boundary.

Building a real estate strategy around tech talent hot spots could prove very successful for companies desiring to attract and retain the best talent that the country has to offer.  With the proper analysis, guidance and diligence, the opportunity to create a distinct competitive advantage could be just around the corner.

To read the comprehensive report, please click here.


Ryan Miller is a member of the CBRE’s Occupier Advisory and Transaction Services Group in the McLean, VA office, where he and his team introduce best-in-class resources and processes to support their clients’ corporate objectives through customized real estate strategies, both regionally and nationally.  Ryan can be contacted at ryan.miller@cbre.com, and you can learn more about the company at:  www.cbre.com .

 

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