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innovation DAILY

Here we highlight selected innovation related articles from around the world on a daily basis.  These articles related to innovation and funding for innovative companies, and best practices for innovation based economic development.

I was a huge fan of comic books growing up, but what I always found amusing is that there tended to be certain archetypes of super heroes that would keep showing up. For example - the “simple-minded strong dumb guy” is well represented by the Hulk, The Thing, Collossus, and Mr. Incredible.

As early stage investors will all tell you - the quality of the founders is incredibly important. Some investors have pretty methodical ways to determining the quality of a founder, others go more by gut feel. But I think all investors have some set of entrepreneur “archetypes” that they tend to like, and they gravitate towards entrepreneurs that fit some or many elements of these archetypes.

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When you’re one of the youngest entrepreneurs to ever receive venture capital, inevitably there will be comparisons to a certain wunderkind who was only 20 years old when he convinced VCs to invest in his start-up.

“People start thinking of me as the next Zuckerburg,” said Brian Wong of Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. “I can use that to my advantage.”

At only 19, Wong spills with confidence, even through his iPhone as he dashes around San Francisco to pitch investors. It’s no wonder, since he skipped four grades in school, graduated from college at just 18 and a year later received $200,000 from True Ventures for his new mobile advertising start-up, Kiip.me.

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altFor as many companies that receive rounds of venture money and move to the Bay Area, you would think the land of microchips and tweets is the land of milk and honey. As an individual company navigating the competitive landscape of social media, we’ve found it helpful to buck conventional wisdom, while making monetization a part of our DNA. While I love the Valley and visit almost every month given the thriving ecosystem there, I’ll always come back to New Hope.

New Hope is a small town of 2200 people on the Delaware River in Bucks County, Pennyslvania – about 30 minutes from Princeton, NJ and an hour’s train ride from New York. There is talent here – the chart below shows revenues up dramatically with 64% growth since the start of the year.  We employ 80+ people – most of them local to New Hope. In each of the last four months, we hit a new monthly revenue record for the company while growing uniques 22% and time spent 50% since the start of the year, and I believe New Hope has something to do with it.

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Special to Innovation America by Dr. Janice Presser, CEO, The Gabriel Institute;

One of the dangers of being a good listener is that, well -- you listen. Combine this with a tendency to believe that other people generally know what they are talking about, and you've got the setup for entrepreneurial enervation.

Herein, five of the most off-target ‘truths’ that business experts inflicted on my entrepreneurial soul:

1. If you are working too many hours, you're doing something wrong.

MYTH! The 4-hour workweek? Who's kidding whom? Maybe this is relevant if your goal is near-total retirement or some other 'lifestyle option'. Or perhaps you have created a totally self-service online business, have outsourced the satisfaction of your personal needs, and your ambition is a life of leisure. But if you are a bootstrapping a company, or you want to change the world with your innovation, be prepared to sweat. And besides, if you know how to build a quality team and you have a worthy goal, why would you want to NOT work?

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Bank lending to small businesses is still in the dumpster, and venture capital investment remains way down. But even if times were flush, some entrepreneurs would rather get funding elsewhere. Business owners like Erica Duignan Minnihan and Susan Reiner wouldn't take out a bank loan if President Obama delivered it on a silver platter. They've turned to a capital source often better suited to slow-growing times: friends and family.

According to a University of Michigan study of entrepreneurs, the lion's share of initial start-up capital comes from individual savings, friends and family. Though numbers don't track it, under-the-radar financing may be gaining in this economic climate, according to William Dunkelberg, chief economist for the National Federation of Independent Business. Even among banks that want to fund start-ups, he says, "no one is exactly knocking down their door." If Mom, Dad and the neighbors are a more popular option, it's not because they're a soft touch; it's because they're less likely to demand terms that constrain the way the business develops.

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The Magic Pill of World Class InnovationGoogle, Apple, GE, 3M, Nokia, Procter & Gamble … some of the most recognizable innovative companies in the world. Everyone wants to know, how can they be so innovative? What’s their secret to success, and how can I become as innovative and successful as them?

Well, good news! There is a magic pill that will make everyone in your organization creative geniuses, enable your leaders to see into the future, and provide years of innovations that make you a market leader. It’s not magic because it makes things happen instantly, or easily, or inexpensively. It’s magic because it works every time – as long as an organization is willing to put in the effort.

What is this magic pill? It’s called “innovation culture” and it’s the secret behind all innovative organizations. So how do you start to create a magic culture of innovation? At the top, with leadership style. Let’s look at three types of leadership style and the innovation cultures they inspire.

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imageIf you want to know what keeps serial entrepreneurs coming back for more, take a listen to the late Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. On his 90th birthday, Holmes said:

"The riders in a race do not stop short when they reach the goal. There is a little finishing canter before coming to a standstill. There is time to hear the kind voice of friends and to say to one's self: 'The work is done.' But just as one says that, the answer comes: 'The race is over, but the work is never done while the power to work remains.' The canter that brings you to a standstill need not be only coming to rest. It cannot be, while you still live. For to live is to function."

Entrepreneurs are a blessed bunch. They have innate ability to recognize opportunities others cannot see, the chutzpah needed to defy convention and the courage to court failure. Once, that is.

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Michael Jordan was one of the biggest stars of the NBA and is equally as big in the business world. In today's sports-crazed world, athletes like Lebron James and Tony Hawk have quickly become household names. But it's not just their sport that's making them famous.

Athletes are becoming known for their entrepreneurship and savvy business deals — earning more off the playing field than on. From personalized apparel to multimillion dollar investment companies, see why these athletes truly "score" in the business world.

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There I was at another conference in Silicon Valley with another panel on female entrepreneurs, who appeared to be reaching a familiar conclusion: There aren't enough of them.

The moderator, sitting on a stage at Stanford University with six female CEOs, noted dejectedly how hard it was to find six female CEOs. A man sitting up front shouted, "And it's a shame." There were nods and applause and murmurs of agreement.

And it is a shame. But maybe it's a shame we won't live with for much longer. In fact, there are encouraging signs that a new wave of female entrepreneurs is positioning itself to erode the historic gender imbalance in high-tech entrepreneurship.

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During my tech days, I co-authored four software patents. Each cost my startup about $15,000—which seemed like a fortune in those days. I didn’t really expect these to give me any advantage; after all if my competitors had half a brain, they would simply learn all they could from my patent filing and do things better. But I needed to raise financing, and VCs wouldn’t give me the time of day unless I could tell a convincing story about how we, alone, owned the intellectual property for our secret sauce.   We got the financing, and the plaques of the patents looked great in our reception area, so the expense was worth it. But there was definitely no competitive advantage.

Patents make a lot of sense in many industries; they are needed to protect the designs of industrial equipment, pharmaceutical formulations, biotechnology products and methods, biomedical devices, consumer products (toothpaste, shampoo, contact lenses, etc.), advanced materials & composites, and of course, widgets (lighting fixtures & elements, batteries, toys, tools, etc.). But in software these are just nuclear weapons in an arms race. They don’t foster innovation, they inhibit it. That’s because things change rapidly in this industry. Speed and technological obsolescence are the only protections that matter. Fledgling startups have to worry more about some big player or patent troll pulling out a big gun and bankrupting them with a frivolous lawsuit than they do about someone stealing their ideas.

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Did you know that California, home to hundreds of tech companies including some of the world's biggest and most-influential, drags out the process for approving the launch of a new business to almost 250 days, while Texas gets entrepreneurs on their way in only 22 days? If not, don't feel bad—the Governator himself didn't have a clue, either, as you'll see in this video.

If it's true that late is better than never, then perhaps we should feel relieved that after being in office for seven years, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has only just now found out that his state's massive and suffocating bureaucracy is functioning as an immovable impediment for entrepreneurs, as pointed out by Ed Morrissey at HotAir.





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TEL AVIV, Israel—There are some places in the world where water is big business, and Israel, a land of water scarcity, is one of them.

So important is water conservation in Israel, that the issue is discussed everywhere from dinnertime conversation to corporate offices.

Booky Oren, chairman of an Israeli company called Miya, uses his 25 years of business experience to help Israel continue to lead the world in water technology development. Oren was previously chairman of the board of directors of Mekorot, Israel's national water company until 2006.

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