Is My Idea Worthy of a Startup

Today I had the privilege of discussing with a group of researchers, students, professors, and technology commercialization professionals a subject titled, "Can My Innovation Become a Startup?"  As a conversation starter, I put together the following slides. Product vs Feature - Is the innovation a product or a feature? A Product has a shorter less complicated path to monetization since it had fewer interdependencies than a feature. Product - A product provides sufficient value on its own to be used by an end-user. It stands-alone on its own merits. Feature - A feature enhances a product and can't stand on its own. As an example, car brakes stop a car...

Startup Business Plan

Corporate Governance Requirements For Angel Investors

Angel Investing is inherently risky. Startups, in general, aren't for the weak at heart. It is even more perilous when investing with minimal leverage that comes with a small investment of $25 - $50 thousand. Over a 10 year period, I made 7 investments that returned 180 percent. Over the same period of time, the S&P returned 250 percent. Yes, I took 50 times the risk to get a fraction of the return. How could I have improved the returns? I should have insisted that companies followed certain corporate governance norms. And if I didn't have the leverage to dictate good governance, I should have invested alongside someone who had the power to mandate good corporate governance terms. Let's look at my investments to illustrate what I mean? Winners With Responsible Leadership Social Tables - Great Management Team, Frequent Credible Business Status, and Financial Reporting and Regular Board Supervision Veenome - Great Founder, Frequent Credible Business Status and regular investor conference calls seeking input. Sideways With Responsible Leadership TalkLocal - Great Management Team, Frequent Credible Business Status, and Financial Reporting and regular investor conference calls seeking input. Winners With Leadership Issues none Losers With Leadership Issues SpotFlux - Not sure, I invested...

Marcus Bullock – A Real Startup Founder and Ex-Con

Marcus Bullock is the real deal. The deck is stacked against him from achieving anything of note. Yes, this man, conquered the odds and has built a life of value. I often write about the phony startup founders and future convicts. The conman and clowns of DCTech. Today I'd like to go the other way, with a real man, the real deal who has sinned and paid for his sins and today is working to change the world. Marcus Bullock is an activist for criminal justice reform. He's a man who spends his time giving back to the community by teaching entrepreneurship to the incarcerated. This man started a home contracting business and hires ex-cons. He gives them the chance to live productive lives. Ex-convicts with purpose and careers have lower rates of recidivism. Marcus's company Flikshop fills a critical need to help incarcerated citizens keep in touch with their families. These are the kind of connections that give people hope and the motivation to leave prison and never return. I'm proud to call this man a friend and an inspiration. Watch Marcus's Ted Talk and learn how he as a 15-year-old made a monumental mistake and yet didn't let that define him. See...

In with Amify and Out with Trustify

Remember back a few years ago, when Trustify was a thing? Back then Danny Boice and Jennifer Mellon were spending their investor's money like drunken sailors. With big fanfare and much press, these two crooks announced their big office opening on the 8th floor of 201 12th St. South in Crystal City. Then all of a sudden, the companies phones were turned off and one day, people showed up for work and the locks were changed. Trustify was evicted for non-payment. Boice, Mellon and the company were sued by their Landlord, JBG Smith and smith was awarded $263,477.21 by the courts. If you aren't up to date on the Trustify Debacle, it's a long story. Trustify was a start-up that got lots of local and national hype for being the next Uber. It was the Uber of Private Investigators because just like Uber, a thing that users use multiple times a month, everyone needs a private eye two or three times a week. This company raised $20 million dollars and cheated investors out of all that money. Founders Jen Mellon and Danny Boice did not try to build a legitimate business. They built a company that looked shiny, allows them to...

Arlington County and Culpeper Garden $12K Pitch Contest

Arlington County Economic Development and Culpeper Gardens, a seniors living housing company, are holding a Pitch Contest called the Innovation in Healthy Aging Challenge with applications to pitch due by October 11, 2019. The contest is targeted to companies that have products that improve the health, mobility, and quality of life for senior citizens like me. The sponsors describe the contest as a unique competition to provide funding and pilot program opportunities for innovative companies and technologies focused on improving the lives of low-income seniors. The announcement states that three companies will be selected to pilot their products and receive $12 thousand in funding. The contest is open to companies of all stages from startup seed to established companies from anywhere in the world. You can apply to compete in the Healthy Aging Challenge with this link. The Schedule for the contest. Application Submission Deadline - October 11, 2019 Contestant Selection Notification - November 4, 2019 Pitch Contest and Award - November 18, 2019 While I'm usually against pitch contests that are just vanity gong-show Jersey Shore-ish trash. This contest is an exception. It is for a good cause and $12,000 for 3 winners is not chump change!      ...

Washington Post Readers Dump on LifeFuels

The Tom Heath Washington Post Article The Washington Post's Thomas Heath is a good guy. He writes puff, feel-good pieces for the Post's Business Section. He's written about a bunch of clients, a bunch of good people. He's had a miss or two, for instance when he offered positive coverage to now-bankrupt Ponzi Scheme., Trustify. A company and two founders, Danny Boice and Jennifer Mellon facing multiple fraud and embezzlement charges (BTW, The Washington Post had to close the comment section because the comments against Boice were scathing). Tom is usually a cheerleader and yet in a recent post about one of DC's most embarrassing startups, LifeFuels, he's not so Rah Rah. In a Friday the 13th article about Jonathon Perrelli and LifeFuels titled, "This water bottle knows how much you’ve had to drink — and it tells your phone," he's a little skeptical. Thomas gives Perrelli, a noted embellisher of the truth the benefit of the doubt in a few instances...

Falfurrias Capital Partners acquires majority interest in DCTech company Industry Dive

Congratulations to the co-founders, CEO Sean Griffey (pictured above), CRO Ryan Willumson, CTO Eli Dickinson and the entire Industry Dive team, the best little company that DCInno never heard of. Industry Dive announced today that Falfurrias Capital Partners acquired a majority stake in the DC-based company. According to the company,  Industry Dive, "provides premium business news, original analysis, and other information products and services to more than 7 million executives across 19 industry verticals ranging from banking and supply chain to retail and waste." Founded 7 years ago, in 2012, Industry Dive started with a $900 thousand capital infusion by the founders and a small group of local Angels. Angels contributed $400 thousand in an initial seed round. That round was followed by another $250 thousand in equity and $250 thousand in convertible debt. The Washington Business Journal reported 2018 revenues as "roughly $22 million." The company's acquisition press release states, "Industry Dive's three-year growth rate of 348% placed the company in the top half of the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 and earned it a ranking as the 13th fastest-growing media company on the 2019 Inc. 5000 list. The company also has been recognized three years in a row as a top workplace by the Washington Post, and has...

Is Jonathon Perrelli’s LifeFuels About To Become a Company?

(Updated 5:51 PM August 29, 2019) Hallelujah, Jonathon Perrelli! Yes! Yes! Yesssssssss! It's happy days for LifeFuels investors. According to an article first reported by Andy Medici in the  Washington Business Journal, Jonathon Perrelli's, LifeFuels will be shipping product at some yet to be identified mythical time in the not so distant near future like perhaps some time on some unspecified day this September...