Network Updates, 16 August 2017
Welcome to our brief, weekly Network News Update. If you would prefer to receive the monthly eBulletin only, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Log into TENx for complete details and RSVP information for all KF events, unless noted.
- August 22, 6-9pm: SF Bay Area Chapter meeting at Mayfield
- September 1: Applications open for Class 23
- September 8: Chicago Chapter breakfast; contact Karen Kerr or her assistant Ceil Espano for details or to RSVP
- September 14: KF Women’s Group breakfast. Hosted by Miriam Rivera (Class 15) at her private residence.
- September 22: NY Regional Chapter breakfast
- September 24 – November 13: Venture Deals online course (free)
- October 5: Defy Ventures visit to California State Prison – Solano
- October 22-27: Modules 2 & 5
Intercontinental Hotel, San Francisco
- December 8: NY Regional Chapter breakfast
- January 21-26, 2018: Modules 3 & 6
Convene, 101 Park Ave., NYC
- International Summit, April 22-27, 2018: Tel Aviv & Jerusalem, ISRAEL
- Xconomy holds up Kauffman Fellows as counterpoint to sexual harassment reports
- Watch Hian Goh (Class 20) in the latest Entrepreneur mini-interview about what makes a great entrepreneur
- Village Capital and Access Ventures issue report from Kauffman Foundation’s “Moonshot” meeting
- Michael Roberts (Class 3) discusses new NEH program to promote Native American language education
- Victor Gutwein‘s (Class 22) firm M25 issues ranking of 50+ Midwestern cities for tech startup success
- Snehal Patel (Class 14) answers 5 questions about MyDoc for Straits Times
- On the move: Liat Aaronson‘s (Class 22) firm merging with Innovation Endeavors; Andras Forgacs‘ (Class 14) Modern Meadow moving to NJ
- Speakers & podcasts: Kevin Lockett (Class 21) to address top Federal Reserve officers; Marcos Polanco (Class 19) on “The Billion Dollar Podcast”; Guy Turner (Class 17) interviewed by The Critical Shift
- Blog Mania! Too many to list here; see full list with links below.
- Job opportunities: (NEW) Village Capital has numerous positions open, in Washington DC & Mexico City; (CONTINUING) Kauffman Foundation seeks a Senior Content Marketing Specialist
Xconomy holds up Kauffman Fellows as Counterpoint to Sexual Harassment Reports
A lengthy Xconomy article, “Kauffman Fellows Take On VC Sexual Harassment, Bench Mentor McClure,” holds up the Kauffman Fellows program and its handling of sexual harassment as “a counterpoint to the recent flurry of news stories” on the topic. The Kauffman Fellows vision statement includes the following:
Kauffman Fellows has a strong commitment to diversity, and actively recruits women and minorities. We believe our community is stronger—and allows us to better serve entrepreneurs—with a multiplicity of viewpoints and backgrounds.
This year’s Class 22 is 35% women, which, as Fellows President Jeff Harbach (Class 16) puts it, is “still not good enough, but it’s well beyond the industry norm.”
The reality of dealing with behavior that is incompatible with this vision is complex, and Kauffman Fellows had to face that complexity head-on when Dave McClure (former Kauffman Mentor), co-founder of 500 Startups, admitted in a blog post that he had made “inappropriate advances” toward multiple women in work-related situations. Questions raised include:
- Should the organization try to monitor the behavior of people who interact with Kauffman Fellows class members?
- How can the program treat a business associate fairly after an accusation of harassment?
- Should Kauffman Fellows intercede for members who report sexual harassment through its discussion channels?
- Should the organization’s code of conduct encourage Fellows to call out sexual harassment or other misbehavior when they see it at work or in their business interactions?
Even KF Board members differ in their approaches. Brad Feld (Mentor Class 20), co-founder of Foundry Group, recently established a “zero tolerance policy” toward sexual harassment at his firm: “The offending party has the opportunity to apologize, own their behavior, and change it going forward. If they don’t, then we are no longer interested in having a relationship with that person.” Susan Mason (Class 2), co-founder of Aligned Partners, on the other hand, doesn’t favor a “one size fits all” rule: “I think that’s an individual decision.”
Either way, “a sea change in public attitudes toward sexual harassment and gender bias” seems to be underway, and Class 22 member Jessica Straus is on the forefront of it. Prior to joining the Program, she helped launch a diversity task force at the NVCA and is now part of the Kauffman Fellows “Inclusion Crew,” a volunteer group that formed to endeavor “to change patterns of behavior that arise when diversity is lacking.” One of their first projects, Jeff says, is “an in-house code of conduct for all Fellows.”
As for Dave McClure, the Kauffman Fellows leadership decided to remove him from the Kauffman Fellows Network because “the program holds all teachers and mentors to a certain standard.” But Jeff avoids demonizing, pointing out that Dave’s behavior “doesn’t negate the good work he has done” for the Program in the past.
Hian Goh (Class 20) in Latest Entrepreneur Mini-Interview: What Makes a Great Entrepreneur?
Village Capital and Access Ventures Issue Report from Kauffman Foundation’s “Moonshot” Meeting
Village Capital and Access Ventures have released a report titled Zero Barriers Moonshot: Could $1 Trillion Restore the American Dream? It details seven of the ideas that came out of an April meeting, organized by the Kauffman Foundation, dedicated to brainstorming a practical program for stimulating $1 trillion in new investments in 10 years. We have reported previously on Victor Hwang’s (Class 12) Zero Barriers Movement, which works to eliminate hurdles that keep U.S. entrepreneurship a largely white male phenomenon (80% white and 64% male). It’s not just about fairness; it’s about the economic stability of the country, as Victor points out in his introduction to the report: “If people of color started businesses at the same rate as non-minorities do, the US would have more than 1 million [new] businesses and nearly 10 million new jobs.” The April meeting was no pie-in-the-sky exercise in fantasy; the participants were pragmatic people intent on devising concrete solutions that can bring about real change.
The first idea in the report is to do more with what is already available, by providing $10M to 10 cities for each to disburse over a 3-year period into a vetted entrepreneur support organization, including the cost of an “ecosystem quarterback” to drive collaboration.
The second idea is to tackle the problem of increasingly concentrated startup investment—“In the 20 richest metros in America, startup investment has increased 300% over the last 15 years; everywhere else, it’s declined”— with solutions like a “job bond,” described as a “pay-for-success contract where government economic development funds pay back private investors for taking the upfront risk in companies that create new jobs.”
The third idea addresses the conflict between most entrepreneurs’ need for a relatively small investment, and asset firms’ minimum investment thresholds. The solution proposed is for local and regional funds to band together “in a way that provides a pool of capital big enough for large asset managers to invest, but small enough to succeed.”
For the rest of the ideas and a lot more detail on all of them, download the full report (requires free registration).
Michael Roberts (Class 3) Discusses New NEH Program to Promote Native American Language Education
Michael Roberts (Class 3), President of the First Nations Development Institute, spoke with KTOO about a three-year National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) project “to help revitalize Native American languages through language-immersion education programs in a dozen tribal communities.” “Language is highly important to Indian culture and identity,” Michael (who is Tlingit) told Juneau’s public radio station. Yet due to colonization and active suppression, many Native American languages have been lost, and many more are endangered. First Nations and the NEH will each contribute $2M for funding ~15 programs per year “to promote Native language education.”
Proposals will be solicited from tribes. “We are going to open really wide, nationwide,” Michael explains, “asking for folks to come in and get into a highly competitive process.” Most likely to be selected, he says, are proven immersion programs and pre-immersion programs run by people who have already “done a lot of a work on language retention and restoration.” [Related Voice of America article]
Victor Gutwein’s (Class 22) M25 Group Issues “Best of the Midwest” Analysis
M25 Group has released its inaugural edition of Cities: Best of the Midwest, a ranking of Midwestern cities resulting from a data-driven look at how locations across the region compare in their ability to provide the necessary conditions to produce successful tech startups.
Founders want to know where they will have the best access to resources, while cities want to know what they can do to strengthen their business environment and attract more startup activity; this report is M25 Group’s answer. Their analysis included measures of startup activity, access to resources, and economics and demographics to rank 54 cities; the website allows sorting by each of these measures, as well as by overall rank.
“We hope that, through these rankings, we can drive more talent and more capital to cities across the Midwest, enhancing the business environment and growing the startup ecosystem.” Chicago, Minneapolis, and Pittsburgh top the overall rankings; visit the MidwestStartups.com website for the full list.
Snehal Patel (Class 14) Answers 5 Questions about MyDoc in Straits Times
Snehal Patel (Class 14), co-founder at MyDoc, was interviewed by Straits Times for “5 Questions with … MyDoc.” The Singapore-based regional digital health firm was founded in 2012, says Snehal, to simplify outpatient care. “Our directive was to bring all actors in the healthcare ecosystem [onto] a common platform to make things easier for patients.” But a common platform by itself is not enough. His team works to “automate, shorten, and simplify” everywhere they can, and does so based on data. In one example, they noticed that when companies offer free health screenings, “less than 10% of employees who were screened actually follow up with the results.” So MyDoc began offering online consultations, allowing employees to skip the time-consuming appointment scheduling and in-person visit to their doctors. Using a video call or sending a message through the electronic system resulted in a 60-85% follow-up rate.
Ultimately, Snehal believes, “the most important thing to consumers is not money or convenience, but trust.” MyDoc tracks user activity in real-time, which enables them to meet the demand for healthcare providers as it occurs—and thus to maximize the patient experience. Trust is also important when working with healthcare providers, and MyDoc’s approach has been to “work in sync with the industry, rather than against it,” by leveraging existing processes and converting “basic procedures like doctor consultations to our online platform.” This cooperative approach has paid off as big healthcare firms are enticed by MyDoc’s “unique insights on linking with clients more efficiently” that enable them to go digital quickly.
And the company is clearly succeeding, with 10% monthly growth over the past year and more than 100 partner companies. Snehal says their edge is “being able to scale seamlessly. Technology-wise, it is a straightforward cloud-based system to add on services as needed.” Over the next two years they plan to invest almost $3M in expanding into neighboring markets like China, India, and Thailand—and they’re already at work there building the necessary relationships.
On the move:
- Liat Aaronson‘s (Class 22) firm, Marker LLC, has merged with Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors and will retain the Innovation Endeavors name, with offices in New York, Silicon Valley, and Herzliya, Israel. The two firms have worked together since 2013. [Firm’s announcement]
- Andras Forgacs‘ (Class 14) firm Modern Meadow has made its choice: it will be relocating and expanding in New Jersey (not Long Island, its other suitor). The firm will take over the former drugmaker Hoffmann-LaRoche’s offices in Nutley, NJ, and plans to expand to 260+ employees in the next 3 years. New Jersey’s offer of $32 million in state tax credits over the next 10 years was the deciding factor. [North Jersey article] [Newsday article]
Speakers & Podcasts
- Kevin Lockett (Class 21) will deliver the keynote address—”How to Play to Win in a Competitive and Risky Environment”— to the top 100 officers from a 7-state region of the Federal Reserve Bank on August 30.
- Marcos Polanco (Class 19) was interviewed by Kim Komando in “The Billion Dollar Podcast: Success Secrets from Today’s Top Tech Innovators – Part 2”
- Guy Turner (Class 17) was interviewed by The Critical Shift
- Praveen Sahay (Class 8), “Tesla and the Transformation of Electric Cars”
- Ezra Galston (Class 18), “On Being Early and Being Right,” arguing that investors in professional industries and financial markets should look at how college-aged kids spend their time.
- Brian Jacobs (Mentor Class 11), “Launching Neurodiversity at Your Company – Get the Benefits of Differently-abled Employees in Your Workplace,” a follow-up to his May VentureBeat article, “Software Firms Are Actively Seeking ‘Neurodiverse’ Employees.”
- Zheng Huang (Class 20), “An Alternative Path for Peace in the Korean Peninsula“
- Bill Tobin (KF Faculty), “Don’t Worry, You’re Just a Snake That’s Growing Into Its New Skin…“
- Derek Bittar (Class 19) has two new posts: “The Capitalization Party: How to Build the Perfect Cap Table?” and “The Universal Startup Language: Should Every Entrepreneur Speak Fluent English?“
- Rob Kornblum (Class 4), “Founders, Hustle Is BS.” Rob is also featured in the video interview series “Reinvent Your Career” (requires free registration).
- Marcos Polanco (Class 19), “Them: ‘We have limited funds for the new dev to continue our app, so need fixed-price.’“
- Marlon Nichols (Class 18), “In Residence,” announcing a new Cross Culture Ventures program.
- Antonio Osio Tovar (Class 20), “The Startup Within: Ten Life Lessons After Visiting the Startup Nation”
- (NEW) Village Capital has numerous open positions: Director of Business Development, Agriculture Practice Lead, and Director of Finance & Operations (Washington, D.C.); Intern (Mexico City). Read the full descriptions online.
- (CONTINUING) Kauffman Foundation seeks a Senior Content Marketing Specialst; full details online.
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