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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.

Marissa Evans Last week we grabbed coffee with SAI Startup 2010 finalist Marissa Evans, CEO and Founder of is a crowd-sourced fashion and shopping advice site, where users can upload pictures of their outfits and get instant feedback from others.

As an ambitious Cornell/Harvard Business School alumni with a passion for entrepreneurship, Evans did what many 26-year-olds aren’t willing to do: risk everything and start a company.

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Unleashing Bold InitiativesI have an iPhone. Not the super cool new iPhone, but the recently sullied 3Gs that was once the literal Apple of my eye.

The thing is amazing. It does mail, movies, music, pinball, and a hundred other things that I have apps for that someday I’ll also have a need for.

So one day while I was typing out a quick email (and looking cool) the phone automatically fixed a spelling mistake for me. And when I needed directions to a store I’d been to some time ago, it remembered the address and filled it in. Then it hit me; my phone knows me really really well. Maybe too well.

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I was recently put on the spot at a Technology event and asked how much I would charge for assisting a tech startup in preparing a business plan to secure investment funding.

I answered “it depends”.

A cop-out? Not in my opinion. Why?

Because it depends on where you are in the investment cycle.

If you are seeking early stage seed capital then spending hours (and lots of cash on professional fees) on a detailed business plan will probably turn out to be a waste of time because most investment managers or angel investors will be interested solely in:

  1. the scale of the market opportunity and
  2. the commitment/enthusiasm/experience of you and your team.
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I have an ongoing interest in innovation and the culture around it. I guess that stems from my many years in the software industry. In software, innovation is the life blood of the business. I've written about innovation a few times but as reminder I believe that there are two types of innovation in software, continuous and discontinuous. Continuous innovation is the process that feeds the maintenance stream of traditional software companies. It could also be argued that it feeds the ongoing customer commitment to a subscription based or SaaS software product. Discontinuous innovation is the process by which a "category killer" or disruptive product gets to market. This type of innovation results in a giant leap forward in technology and often has a transformational impact on business. For example, Apple's iTunes software (and marketplace) changed the way people consume music and movies and pushed the person MP3 player into the mainstream. Platform as a service (PaaS) offerings like's and Netsuite's SuiteCloud could be changing the way companies develop and deploy applications (that remains to be seen). On a broader scale Client / Server disrupted the mainframe, the Internet disrupted client / server and the social web is disrupting relationships and business. Continuous innovation is important as a business sustainer but discontinuous innovation is important as a way for companies to leap frog competitors and rapidly gain marketshare and walletshare.

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Dear reader........we apologize for issuing the wrong version of InnovationDAILY  earlier this morning, Monday July 19th. The correct version is attached.

Best regards,

Rich Bendis, Editor and Publisher

three gorgesThe Myth: The filling of the reservoir behind Three Gorges Dam in China changed the rotation of the Earth.

The Evidence: Three Gorges Dam, China crosses the Yangtze River in Hubei province, China. It the world’s largest hydroelectric power station by total capacity, which will be 22,500 MW when completed. When the water level is maximum at 175 meters (574 ft) over sea level (91 meters (299 ft) above river level), the reservoir created by the dam is about 660 kilometers (410 mi) in length and 1.12 kilometers (0.70 mi) in width on average. The total surface area of the reservoir is 1045 square kilometers, and it will will flood a total area of 632 square kilometers, of land.  The reservoir will contain about 39.3 cu km (9.43 cubic miles) of water. That water will weigh more than 39 trillion kilograms (42 billion tons).

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Lots of discussion these days about the changes in the VC industry. Here’s my take:

1. The VC industry grew dramatically as a result of the Internet bubble - Before the Internet  bubble the people who invested in VC funds (called LPs or Limited Partners) put about $50 billion into the industry and by 2001 this had grown precipitously to around $250 billion.

2. But VC is an “illiquid asset” so funds didn’t disappear quickly - In 2000/01 the stock market quickly adjusted punishing investors in the NASDAQ and in individual public technology stocks.  Consumers pulled their money out of these risky investments, but when LPs make commitments to VC funds they make 10-year, legally binding commitments. So as of 2008 total LP commitments were still at nearly $250 billion.

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For many job seekers, the cover letter is an opportunity to sell themselves and differentiate themselves from the rest of the competition. For entrepreneurs, the cover letter is a way to really sell their story and remove any doubt to the potential employer about an entrepreneur’s commitment to someone else’s business.

I will attempt to break down the traditional three paragraph cover letter for entrepreneurs:

First Paragraph: Introduction
In the introduction, this is where you want to first state your entrepreneurial history, the status of your current businesses (because employers want to make sure you aren’t in a “vague” situation – they need to know you are serious about looking for employment), the specific achievements at your business and how they relate to the position you are looking for.

Example: For the past 5 years, I have been the Co-founder and CEO of ABC Co. ABC Co, which was sold to XYZ Co in June of 2010, was a 20 person consulting company specializing in online marketing for small to mid sized businesses. I specifically worked with clients on Search Engine Optimization and feel my 5 years of experience would be an excellent fit for your Manager – SEO position.

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Whether we’re talking about social media, content promotion or basic networking, it’s often advised that small business owners reach out, engage and connect with their “influencers”. But…who are these mythical people we’re supposed to be talking to all the time? What do they look like and where do they hang out? And why does no one ever tell us?

Well, today we will! As a small business owner, there are five types of influencers that you should be aware of and reaching out to on social media. Want to know who they are?

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You might have noticed a story in the last edition of Weekend Entrepreneur Links about the Chilean government's new attempt to attract budding entrepreneurs to the country. In short, they're offering young companies up to $40,000 in grant money in exchange for being willing to spend a few months building their companies in Chile. I think it's an awesome initiative, and here's why:

1. It lets the country sell itself. The idea of the program is that a key early stage, entrepreneurs are spending time in Chile. The bet is that Chile has enough to offer that those entrepreneurs will actually want to invest in Chile as a secondary (or perhaps even primary) business zone. Entrepreneurs will get to meet local officials, and the people who can help with red tape, making the country more appealing as an international starting place. But more than anything else, the entrepreneurs will be living there during an extremely tough but highly romantic period in their organization's life. Living in a place does far more than visiting it as part of a whistle-stop business tour to give people a sense of connection, and Chile is smart to play that.

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As the August 5 deadline approaches for the submission of SBIR/STTR grants, many of you may be still working long nights on your application.  By the way, this deadline stands under the assumption that a continuing resolution (CR) is passed to fund the program beyond July 31 (see for details). We have our fingers crossed here.

Having assisted several investigators in writing and editing SBIR/STTR grant applications (and currently writing one myself), I know how involved the process can be, especially for first-timers. I highly recommend educating yourself by going to an SBIR conference (this year’s is in Oklahoma City,, attending an information session or workshop (offered by numerous universities and incubators), or listening to online seminars, such as those offered at

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