Tag: Dell

Going Green is Good for Dell and the Environment

By LAURA LOREK
Reporter with Silicon Hills News

David Lear, executive director of corporate sustainability at Dell, courtesy photo

David Lear, executive director of corporate sustainability at Dell, courtesy photo

It turns out going green is good for Dell and not just in a feel good way.

The company not only has greatly reduced its impact on the environment through recycling and cutting carbon emissions in the last decade, but it has generated profits in the process.

Actor and Filmmaker Adrian Grenier, who serves as Dell’s first Social Good Advocate, said he only agreed to do the job if Dell pledged to do real work with measurable results.

“But also, to be realistic, we’re all business people, as an entrepreneur myself, we don’t want to be Pollyanna about it,” Grenier said. “We want to make sure that we are making money as well as doing good.”

Adrian Grenier, photo courtesy of Dell

Adrian Grenier, photo courtesy of Dell

Grenier spoke Wednesday morning with Dell Chief Marketing Officer Karen Quintos during the keynote presentation at Dell World 2015 at the Austin Convention Center.

Dell has taken 30 million plus pounds of packaging out of the waste stream and also saved more than $50 million in the process, Grenier said.

“To me that’s a win-win not only for the bottom line but also creating human value as well,” he said.

In fact, Dell has a list of 21 goals focused on improvements for the environment, communities and people by 2020, said David Lear, executive director of corporate sustainability at Dell. He sat down for an interview with Silicon Hills News during Dell World to talk about the company’s focus on reducing its impact on the environment.

Last Monday, Lear was at the White House in Washington, D.C. to sign the American Business Act on Climate Pledge. Dell and 80 other companies, including its acquisition target: EMC Corp., have signed the pledge to take action on climate change.

The companies have agreed to reduce emissions by as much as 50 percent, reduce water usage by as much as 80 percent, achieve zero waste-to-landfill, purchase 100 percent renewable energy and pursue zero net deforestation in supply chains.

Those initiatives were already underway at Dell, Lear said. In fact, Dell’s headquarters in Round Rock operates on 100 percent renewable energy. And throughout its company, Dell plans to meet 50 percent of its energy needs through alternative energy sources by 2020. Dell has already hit the 40 percent mark, Lear said.

But Dell wasn’t always as focused on being green as it is now.

In 2003, environmental groups targeted Dell at its annual shareholder meeting in Austin and at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas for its lack of recycling efforts. But instead of ignoring their complaints, Dell invited them to its company headquarters to talk about how it could change, Lear said. Michael Dell had meetings with the environmental activists and took many of their suggestions to heart and changed the company’s business practices as a result. Today, even as a private company, Michael Dell still regularly meets with environmental groups and activists to learn about ways to improve operations, Lear said.

Dell is now the world’s largest technology recycler with programs in 78 countries. The company is more than 71 percent of the way to its goal of recovering two billion pounds of used electronics by 2020.

“I think one of the biggest things we did is instead of shying away from some of the interest groups we invited them in,” Lear said. “That’s really been our theme for a long time.”

The environmental groups are generally a bellwether of the future, Lear said.

“So much of what these interest groups have to say is how we plan our future,” he said.

For example, last year, Dell introduced closed loop recycling. It partnered with Underwriters Lab to get certification on 34 products globally made from recycled plastics. So far, the company has collected 4.2 million pounds of plastics that it has recycled back into new Dell products.

A lot of recycling innovation has come from the way Dell packages its computers, Lear said. The company also partners with startup companies to find innovative solutions to packaging problems.

“Dell is willing to try new things and experiment a little bit to test out a new product,” Lear said. “We partner with small entrepreneurs to prove out there is an industry there for them.”

Dell is now doing a pilot program with Newlight Technologies’ AirCarbon to make plastic bags for its notebook computers made from carbon-captured methane gas-based plastics. The startup essentially turns air pollution into plastics.

“Their waste material could become a primary material for a lot of our plastics,” Lear said.

Wheat straw, which is treated, combined with recycled fibers and turned into boxes for Dell, courtesy photo.

Wheat straw, which is treated, combined with recycled fibers and turned into boxes for Dell, courtesy photo.

Dell is also using wheat straw in many of its cardboard boxes for notebooks being shipped from China. The wheat straw is waste material resulting from the harvesting of wheat. In the past, Chinese farmers burned the straw to get rid of it. Now, instead, Dell picks it up and takes it to a plant for processing. The waste is broken down, treated and mixed with other recycled fibers to create new cardboard boxes. The practice not only relies on recycled materials, but also saves tons of carbon emissions from being emitted into China’s air annually from burning the wheat straw, Lear said.

Wheat straw packaging has reduced our environmental impact, created jobs and it’s cheaper than cardboard, Lear said. Dell has also replaced the foam inserts in its packages with bamboo and mushroom-based products.

Dell demonstrates that social good and sustainability can be profitable practices for any business, Lear said.

“Dell has a passion for making a difference and leaving a legacy,” Lear said.

Editor’s note: Dell has provided sponsorship of Silicon Hills News.

The Cultural Fit Between Dell and EMC

By LAURA LOREK
Reporter with Silicon Hills News

Steve Price, senior vice president of human resources at Dell, courtesy photo.

Steve Price, senior vice president of human resources at Dell, courtesy photo.

During the last seven years, Dell spent $14 billion to acquire more than 30 companies to reinvent itself into an “end to end solutions company.”

“We have developed this real muscle around taking in companies, integrating companies and incubating companies,” said Steve Price, Dell’s senior vice president of human resources. “We have learned a lot from all of that activity. It has reinforced this entrepreneurial culture inside the company.”

And that experience is why, in part, Dell knows its merger with EMC will succeed, Price said during an interview at DellWorld 2015 on Wednesday.

Maybe seven years ago, Dell might not have been prepared to take on an acquisition like data storage giant EMC Corp., but now it’s ready, Price said.

In one of the largest tech deals ever, Dell announced recently plans to merge with EMC in a $67 billion deal that would add another 70,000 employees and $24 billion in revenue. Dell has $58 billion a year in revenues and 100,000 employees including 12,000 at its headquarters in Round Rock.

“I say you probably give these things a 50/50 hit rate under normal conditions,” Price said. “But we go into this one with a spirit of optimism and excitement for a couple of reasons.”

In the last year, Dell did a culture study inside the company with 50,000 employees voluntarily participating. The study spelled out the top three things that matter most to Dell’s culture. Dell’s relationship with customers ranked number one, a competitive spirit and passion for winning ranked second followed by a drive for results, Price said.

When Dell looked at what was important in EMC’s culture it was the same top three things, Price said.

Price, who has been with Dell for 19 years, has seen the company go through a lot of changes and he has seen it intentionally foster a cultural of innovation and entrepreneurialism.

But it wasn’t always easy, Price said.

During the dot com crash, Dell had its first company layoffs. It was the first setback for a company on rocket-ship growth, Price said. Dell created a lot of wealth, its stock was splitting all the time and it was a darling of Wall Street, but then the slowdown served as a time for reflection, Price said.

In 2001, Dell started to focus on cultivating its culture and the quality of its leadership and the development of its team, Price said.

Dell had this amazing period of growth again, Price said. It lowered pricing, took a bunch of market share worldwide and grew from a $30 billion to a $55 billion company in a five-year period, he said.

In 2008, the financial crisis hit. Dell went through another realignment and began to embark on its journey to become an end-to-end solutions company, Price said.

“Then when Michael took the company private a few years ago this entrepreneurial DNA inside the company was unleashed again,” Price said. “Culturally that’s really powerful.”

As Dell has gone through its acquisitions, it has gained an appreciation for the different cultures of the companies it buys, Price said. It likes their simplicity, direct communications and focus on innovation, he said.

“I think what we learned is it’s not about homogenizing all of these companies and cultures and making them one thing,” Price said. “It’s about identifying and understanding what is unique, specific and special about these various cultures.”

When putting Dell and EMC together, there’s not a tremendous amount of overlap in customers and products, Price said. EMC is strong in the enterprise space and Dell is strong in the medium to small business space. Already, both companies are trying to get commercial agreements in place to begin sales because the opportunity is so great, Price said.

The companies are already familiar with each other, Price said. In 2005, Dell entered into a partnership with EMC. It grew into a $2 billion business over a decade, he said.

“When you think about integration and what gives you a higher probability of success it is the fact that we know them already and they know us,” Price said.

The Dell and EMC merger is expected to close late next summer or early fall, Price said.

Michael Dell’s entrepreneurial instincts and his boldness and risk taking nature are key to the deal, Price said.

“It’s more heavily weighted that we can do this and do it well, than not,” Price said.

At the heart of its culture, Dell has a history of doing things that people said couldn’t be done, Price said.

“They said Michael would never be anything more than a mail order catalog company,” Price said. “He’ll never be in the corporate PC space. Dell is number one in the corporate PC space.”

“Never move into workstations, just not that kind of company,” Price said. “Dell became number one in workstations.”

“Never move into the server space. Just not an enterprise sort of company – became number one in servers,” Price said.

“Never be able to take the company private, got issues with the board, blah, blah, blah, took the company private,” he said. “Never would become an end-to-end solutions company well pretty much overnight we became the world’s number one end-to-end solutions company. Never be able to integrate Dell-EMC, I’m not betting against it.”

Editor’s note: Dell has provided sponsorship of Silicon Hills News

Michael Dell Talks About Taking Risks as a Private Company

By LAURA LOREK
Reporter with Silicon Hills News

IMG_4828The Aspen institute, an educational and policies studies organization based in Washington, D.C., launched Aspen Across America, a series of talks with extraordinary individuals Wednesday night.

The series kicked off at the Blanton Art Museum with a talk between Journalist and world-renowned biography Walter Isaacson and one of Austin’s top tech innovators and entrepreneurs Michael Dell, founder of Dell Computers. The University of Texas at Austin sponsored the event.

“Austin is a hotbed of innovation and high tech development and it has been for more than 30 years and it continues to grow along with our university,” said Gregory Fenves, executive vice president and provost of the University of Texas at Austin.

The Aspen Institute chose Austin to launch its series, in part, because the city reflects “innovation and creativity and the spirit of human potential.”

Dell’s Entrepreneurial Roots

IMG_4819Isaacson’s latest book is The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks created the Digital Revolution.” In his role as a biographer, Isaacson asked Dell to recount his early years as an entrepreneur and his fascination with computers as a young kid growing up in Houston.

In Junior High, Dell got access to a Teletype terminal during his math class. He would stay after school and type in programs. He began to learn about microprocessors from Byte Magazine. And there was a Radio Shack store between his house and the school that he frequented.

When he was 15 he saved enough money to buy an Apple II. He took it apart and he figured out how it worked and how to upgrade it.

In 1981, IBM released its personal computer and at the age of 16, Dell became fascinated with them. He started upgrading the machines and that continued when he entered college.

“I kind of had this side activity while I was going to school of upgrading these machines,” Dell said. “It got in the way of my studies a little bit.”

Around November of 1983, his parents thought he was focusing more on his computer business than his studies. They paid him a surprise visit to his dorm room and they gave him a stern lecture. Dell told his parents he would quit doing the computer business and focus on his studies. That lasted about 10 days.

“I really, really tried hard,” Dell said. “During that 10 days, I decided it wasn’t a hobby or a fun thing, it was actually something I was very, very passionate about and something I wanted to do much, much more. If they hadn’t made me stop I might never have done the company.”

The Beginning of Dell’s Computer Business

Dell incorporated the company about a week before finals. He finished his freshman year as a biology major. Then he dropped out of the University of Texas and founded Dell Computers with $1,000. He relocated the company from his dorm room to a proper office.

The business grew in the first nine month to $6 million, Dell said. It grew in the next year to $33 million, he said. It grew about 80 percent per year compounded for eight years and then for the six years after that it grew 60 percent, he said.

Dell’s secret sauce was the way he sold the PCs.

“It was certainly the time of enormous growth in the personal computer industry,” he said. “But what I observed was the way the machines were being sold was inefficient. When we introduced our 286 machine it was twice the performance of the IBM machine and half the price.”

Dell created a new business model and a new way to engage with customers.

At that point, Isaacson pointed out that what Dell has in common with Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates is that they all dropped out of college.

“Was being rebellious and willing to take that big leap an important part what made you who you are?” Isaacson asked.

“It actually didn’t seem like a big risk,” Dell said. “Because at the University of Texas, if you leave for a semester, you can come back. We kind of came to an understanding, my parents and I, that I would take the business into a different phase and if it worked I would keep doing it, and so far, so good.”

At age 27, Dell became the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 company ever. Isaacson asked him what that was like.

“It was fun,” Dell said. “The good news is I wasn’t the first young person in the technology sector. There were others I could look to that had done things like that. We were just focused on growing our business, expanding around the world, tons of opportunity.”

Going Private

Next, Isaacson quizzed Dell about the completion of taking the company private. Dell Computers had been a public company for 25 years and last October it went private.

“How liberating has that been?” Isaacson asked.

“It’s been great,” Dell said. “It really has allowed us to think about the business in a different way. To think about it more in a three year, five year and 10 year horizon. To take on some risks that are harder to take on in a public company. It’s allowed us to go after some investments we’ve been able to go after. “

IMG_4827As a private company, Dell has been able to accelerate its growth rate, gain market share in its various businesses and they are all performing well, Dell said. Now that the company is private it has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in projects that will lower its earnings in the short term but will be great businesses years from now, Dell said. The company has made big investments in Healthcare, Cloud computing, software and cybersecurity.

Dell doesn’t have to respond to a 90-day shot clock any longer. As a publicly traded company, Dell had to report its earnings every 90 days and that led to a short-term focus for the business, Dell said. As a private company, Dell enjoys the benefit of planning for the long term.

The healthcare industry and information technology

The healthcare technology industry holds a lot of promise for Dell, he said.

“You look at the economy, healthcare is consuming a larger and larger portion of the economy but IT has not played the transformative role it has in healthcare as it has in other sectors,” he said.

Healthcare will become more effective, efficient and affordable through the use of data and analytics, Dell said.

“Our whole industry has an incredible amount of computing power that is being made available at lower costs,” he said.

By combining computing power with genomic research, healthcare providers can create targeted therapy for specific types of cancer, Dell said. For example, they can tackle conditions like neuroblastoma, a deadly childhood cancer. And in a very short period of time, they can create a therapy for a patient that would have taken 10 times or 100 times the time and it wouldn’t have been as targeted, Dell said.

Medical imaging is another area that can be tapped into to provide better analysis. Dell stores eight billion medical images for customers. If physicians could access that database easily they might be able to use it to diagnose and treat patients more effectively, he said.

The Data Revolution

The next wave in the digital revolution will be the merger of the information technology and life sciences and healthcare industry, Isaacson said.

That will not be the only wave, Dell said.

“If you think about computing power, its cost is just coming down at a tremendous rate,” he said. “For a few pennies, you can put silicon in any number of devices, machines, gadgets and physical objects. And say you go from having a billion connected devices to 100 billion or a trillion. Now you are creating enormous amounts of data and that data can be used to create better outcomes, better results and improved productivity, efficiency. And again you step back and you look at the world’s unsolved problems whether they be in energy, environment or medicine as we get more computational power I think we’ll address those problems at a faster rate. It’s a very exciting time. “

The data economy will provide the next trillion dollars of growth for Dell’s customers, he said.

Innovation in the Education

Education is another area ripe for disruption and innovation, Isaacson said.

Benjamin Franklin created the one room school in Philadelphia and if he walked into a school today, he’d see a room, about 24 desks and a blackboard in the front, the same thing they had back then, Isaacson said.

“The things that have not changed very much, don’t change very quickly,” Dell said. And that’s K-12 education, he said. But Dell, through the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation are working to improve that in the U.S. and throughout the world by using better data and common measurements.

“You’ve got to have a dashboard, you’ve got to have data to judge outcomes,” he said.

Monopolies aren’t very good at changing, Dell said.

“That’s been a big part of the problem with school districts,” he said.

The Michael and Susan Dell Foundation

Isaacson asked Dell what lessons he has learned in business that applies to philanthropy.

“We’ve certainly learned that data matters,” Dell said. “It’s Ok to experiment and make mistakes. We’ve learned that many philanthropic or charitable organizations have great intentions but their ability to execute don’t match up necessarily. We’ve had a pretty hands on approach in ensuring the results of our grants.”

The Dell Foundation likes to find areas to make a discernable difference in a defined amount of time and then move on to something else, Dell said.

Isaacson pointed out that unequal opportunity among kids in our society seems to be widening and asked Dell what could be done to make opportunities for every kid in America more equal?

That’s not just a question for America, but a question for what’s going on in the world economy, Dell said
“A kid that doesn’t have the 21st century skills in a developed country is going to have a difficult time keeping up,” Dell said. “The education system has had a difficult time keeping up with that requirement. I think this is a big, big challenge.”

How Does Dell Foster Creativity?

During the question and answer session with the audience, one person asked Dell how he keeps his company competitive and creative.

One of the challenges big companies have, as they grow, is that they don’t want to take risks., Dell said.

“Part of my job is to reinsert risk into the company, which means you have to accept some failure,” he said. “If you’re failing over and over again at the same thing, that’s not risk, that’s something else. We consciously take on projects. Think about it this way, you’ve got 10 projects and seven or eight of them work out well and a couple of them don’t work that’s ok.”

But the key is to try new things and experiment, he said.

“As companies grow, they often forget to keep experimenting,” he said. “The reason you got to be a large company is because you took on risk, you accepted failure and you weren’t looking for the perfect solution. We have all kinds of programs and incentives to encourage that.”

As a private company, Dell can be bolder and take on more risk, he said.

“The results may be more volatile but that’s the way things happen,” he said. “There’s no such thing as the straight trajectory of a business.”

And the best way to grow is to listen to your customers, Dell said.

“It sounds kind of corny but the best mentors for us have been our customers,” he said. “We just learned the most from our customers.”

One young man asked Dell what advice he would give to young entrepreneurs.

“Experiment,” Dell said. “Don’t be afraid to fail. Just get started. You’ll know more six months after starting. Just start.”

Elizabeth Gore to Join Dell as its Entrepreneur in Residence

Ingrid Vanderveldt (left) with Elizabeth Gore at the Dell Women's Entrepreneur Network conference in Austin in June.  Gore is the new Entrepreneur in Residence at Dell.

Ingrid Vanderveldt (left) with Elizabeth Gore at the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network conference in Austin in June. Gore is the new Entrepreneur in Residence at Dell.

Dell has named Elizabeth Gore with the United Nations Foundation, its next Entrepreneur in Residence.

Dell made the announcement at TechCrunch Disrupt Monday.

Gore, who currently serves as entrepreneur in residence for the United Nations Foundation, will join the company in February of 2015.

Gore will be Dell’s second entrepreneur in residence. Ingrid Vanderveldt held the job until June when she stepped down. Both Gore and Vanderveldt attended the global Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network conference in June in Austin.

At Dell, Gore will provide support for small and medium sized business and help them grow. She will also encourage policies and practices to support entrepreneurship globally.

“It has been an honor to support the causes of the United Nations through working with entrepreneurs to scale innovations that improve lives,” Gore said in a news release. “Technology is the most consistent and reliable force that continues to enable and improve human potential through innovation. Dell’s global footprint and influence will give entrepreneurs the platform to take their solutions to the next level.”

Gore will also remain actively involved with the UN Foundation as a senior fellow and as chair for its Global Entrepreneurs Council.

Michael Dell is also involved with the UN Foundation. This summer, he was appointed as the UN Foundation’s first ever Global Advocate for Entrepreneurship.

“Entrepreneurs have the power to transform our global economy, but they face challenges around access to markets, capital and technology. There is no silver bullet, and a multi-faceted approach to ensure their successes is necessary,” Karen Quintos, Dell senior vice president and chief marketing officer said in a news statement. “Elizabeth’s impressive background, deep expertise working with both public and private sector, make her an ideal fit as Dell’s next EIR. We are thrilled to have her on board, creating positive change for entrepreneurs, and helping to remove the barriers to risk-taking that exist in many cultures.”

Ingrid Vanderveldt Ends Reign as Dell’s First Entrepreneur in Residence

Ingrid Vanderveldt, EIR with Dell and Elizabeth Gore,  Resident Entrepreneur at the United Nations Foundation at DWEN in Austin last week. Photos by Laura Lorek

Ingrid Vanderveldt, EIR with Dell and Elizabeth Gore, Resident Entrepreneur at the United Nations Foundation at DWEN in Austin last week. Photos by Laura Lorek

Ingrid Vanderveldt’s last day as Dell’s Entrepreneur in Residence was Saturday.

“It was a dream come true,” Vanderveldt said. “We more than accomplished what we set out to do to. I’m just so proud of the team and of Dell. Dell has a visionary commitment to women worldwide. It’s just been an honor to be part of it.”

Vanderveldt joins Dell’s EIR advisory board. Dell plans to announce its new EIR in September, Vanderveldt said.

Last week Vanderveldt participated in the first Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network to be held in Austin at the W Hotel and Austin City Limits. It was the fifth global event. Dell has held past events in Turkey, India, China and Brazil. About 200 female entrepreneurs, investors attended the invitation-only event. It’s a three day gathering of women who run companies with more than three million in annual revenue. At that event, Vanderveldt is known for her fabulous after-hours networking parties which feature scotch, music, dancing and hanging out with some of the world’s most powerful women.

IMG_3214Vanderveldt first connected with Dell at the first Dell Womens for Entrepreneurs Network program in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and in September of 2011, she joined the company as its first EIR. At Dell, she helped to create the company’s Center for Entrepreneurship website, which provides access to technology, expertise and capital through programs like the Dell Innovators Credit Fund, Dell Financial Services and Dell Ventures.

Vanderveldt plans to invest in telecommunications and finance companies through her company, Ingrid Vanderveldt LLC and her initiative “Empowering a Billion Women by 2020.” She is also a member of the 2013 United Nation’s Global Entrepreneurship Council.

Dell Sponsored Study Reveals Barriers Facing Female Entrepreneurs

By LAURA LOREK
Founder of Silicon Hills News

Panel of the Gender-GEDI study, sponsored by Dell, at the Dell Women's Entrepreneur Network conference in Austin, photos by Laura Lorek.

Panel on the Gender-GEDI study, sponsored by Dell, at the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network conference in Austin, photos by Laura Lorek.

Men and women do not have equal opportunity when it comes to launching a business today.

In fact, 75 percent of 30 countries surveyed for the second annual Gender Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index, commissioned by Dell, do not meet the basic needs for female entrepreneurs to launch a business.

“If there is a single message it’s that it’s not just a personal choice,” said Ruta Aidis, project director for the Gender-GEDI study. “There are conditions that prevent women from founding high growth businesses.”

Those conditions include lack of access to basic financial resources like a bank account, lack of access to education, technology, networks and the lack of equal legal rights for women, she said.

“It’s not acceptable,” Aidis said. “These are impediments to high performance female entrepreneurship.”

Aidis spoke during a lunchtime media presentation at the Dell Women’s Entrepreneurship Network conference being held at Austin City Limits and the W Hotel in Austin. The invitation-only global conference, which kicked off Sunday and concludes Tuesday, brings together top women business owners to discuss their most pressing business issues and to talk about technology solutions.

This is the fifth year Dell has hosted the conference. Last, year it was held in Istanbul and previously in New Delhi, Rio de Janeiro and Shanghai. The female business owners in attendance run fast-growth mid-market companies with more than 50 employees and revenues of $3 million or more. They come from 14 countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, India, Mexico, Peru, South Africa, Turkey, U.K. and the U.S.

It’s the second time Dell has collected data on female entrepreneurs around the world. Last year, the Gender-GEDI study examined 17 countries and this year, the study expanded to examine female entrepreneurship trends in 30 countries.

The goal of the study is to help country leaders, policymakers and law-makers help women entrepreneurs succeed by providing them with basic tools, help and resources, said Karen Quintos, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Dell.

Accountability at all levels of a country is needed, Quintos said. Supporting entrepreneurship for women makes economic sense and can help a country financially, she said.

“If a woman can earn an income, 90 percent of what she earns she can plow back into the community,” she said.

Creating an awareness of the plight of female entrepreneurs worldwide helps lead to change, she said.

For the second year in a row, the U.S. topped the list of most favorable conditions for high-growth potential female entrepreneurs followed by Australia. Other top countries included Sweden, France, Germany, Chile, the United Kingdom and Poland.

“The remaining 23 of the 30 countries studied received an overall index score of less than 50 out of 100, indicating that many of the fundamental conditions for high potential female entrepreneurship development are generally lacking in the majority of countries,” according to the study.

One of the best ways to support female entrepreneurs is to tell their stories, said Ingrid Vanderveldt, former Entrepreneur in Residence at Dell.

A lot of women lack self-confidence to launch a business, she said. Providing examples of women who have done it can help others, she said.

BpJVKK-CcAACUh2Dell is putting the spotlight on successful female entrepreneurs at this conference. It also highlights ten successful female entrepreneurs and tells the story of how they overcame obstacles in the Dell commissioned the free e-book “Forget the Glass Ceiling: Build Your Business Without One.”

They study also revealed 14 of the 30 countries do not provide female entrepreneurs with access to financing like bank loans, credit lines, etc. And worldwide women receive a tiny share of venture capital.

The study also found many industries remain male dominated, particularly in the science, technology, engineering and math industries, known as the STEM fields.

It also revealed female startup activity is on the rise in emerging markets.

“Despite being ranked as top performers and characterized by overall favorable business environments, opportunity perception is fairly low in the United States and Europe with less than one third of the female population measured identifying business opportunities,” according to the study. “In Africa, this number reaches 69 percent.”

Dell Selects ihiji and Open Labs of Austin for its Founders Club 50

imgres-6The Dell Center for Entrepreneurs last week announced its first Founders Club 50, an exclusive group of high growth tech startups, including two from Austin.
Dell selected ihiji, which makes remote diagnostic tools for computer networks and Open Labs, a stage lighting and technology company focused on the music industry.
Dell plans to announced its new Founders Club 50 class twice a year and it’s currently accepting application for its fall class.
“The Founders Club 50 is a great opportunity for these start-ups, all of whom are on the verge of reaching the next level of innovation,” Ingrid Vanderveldt, Dell Entrepreneur in Residence, said in a news release. “The program creates a win-win; by serving as a trusted advisor to these companies at this crucial early stage, we hope they will continue to grow with Dell in the future. Dell has always seen the value in fostering innovation and entrepreneurship, and the Founders Club 50 is the natural next step in continuing to help high-growth start-ups expand their networks, find valuable resources and use technology to transform their businesses.”
During the two-year term as Founders Club 50 companies, they receive help from Dell in the areas of sales, technology, access to capital, networking and marketing. When they complete the program, they become Club Alumni. Dell has more than 115 alumni companies including Skyera, CloudFlare, Everloop and Mass Relevance.
Members of Dell’s first class are from 17 states and various industries including analytics, healthcare, enterprise solutions, entertainment, IT and mobile computing.

Michael Dell on the Past, Present and Future of Technology

By LAURA LOREK
Founder of Silicon Hills News

IMG_2865In 1984, Michael Dell dropped out of the University of Texas to found Dell Computers.

“At the time, it didn’t seem like that big of a risk,” Dell said. “I didn’t have anything to lose.”

He saw a really compelling opportunity to launch a company focused on the way computers were being sold and distributed.
He made a deal with his parents that he would go off and do his company for a semester and if it worked, he would keep doing it and if it didn’t, he would go back to school.

Dell spoke Thursday night at the Omni Hotel in a keynote address put on by the UT Longhorn Entrepreneurship Agency as part of its UTEWeek. Brett Hurt, co-founder of BazaarVoice and Entrepreneur in Residence at UT, interviewed him before a packed ballroom of a couple hundred people.

At the beginning of his company, after several months, Dell presented his parents with a financial statement on the company’s performance. He still has that statement.

“For the first nine months, the company had revenues of about $6 million,” Dell said. “It was profitable from day one. It had about a 15 percent operating margin.”

The company had very little expenses, Dell said. The second year, Dell grew to $33 million in revenue. For the first eight years, the company grew 80 percent a year compounded and six years after that it grew at 60 percent a year compounded, he said.

“Put all those numbers together and you get tens of billions of dollars,” Dell said.

The essence was this was the dawn of the microprocessor age, Dell said. He came up with a way to deal with customers that gave the company a competitive advantage – the direct from Dell selling model, he said.

Hurt asked Dell if students should drop out of college to found a company. Hurt said he used Dell as an example of a Longhorn student who saw an opportunity and dropped out to pursue it.

“I get angry letters from parents sometimes,” Dell said. “I have to be a little careful.”

The decision is a personal one and generally a student should know it inside, he said. They shouldn’t have to get a lot of advice, he said.

“If I had gone and asked for advice, people probably would have said you’re nuts, it’ll never work, don’t drop out of school” Dell said. “But I wasn’t motivated by what other people thought.”

Hurt asked Dell what are some of the big ways entrepreneurship has changed since Dell launched his company.

Now the infrastructure and resources like startup labs and incubators make it a lot easier for entrepreneurs to launch a company, Dell said.

“The great thing we have in this country is we have a culture that accepts and embraces risk,” Dell said.

Job creation in the economy come from new and emerging businesses, Dell said.

The U.S. culture treats failure in a way that causes people to want to continue pursuing ventures, Dell said. That culture of risk taking is a huge competitive advantage for the U.S., he said.

Hurt asked Dell what advice he would give his 17-year-old self if he could go back in time. Dell said he would have learned more about management and building teams.

Dell took one class at UT focused on business: macroeconomics. He learned to buy low and sell high. He was a biology major. And he was only in school for a year.

“A lot of it was learning by making mistakes and experimenting,” Dell said.

When an entrepreneur does something that has never been done a naïve perspective or a different perspective is often where breakthroughs come from, Dell said. If you know too much, it’s not helpful, he said.

“I think there are things you can learn from experience but when you are doing something that has never been done before it’s more response time, thinking on your feet, agility that have a higher premium than necessarily experience,” Dell said.

In the world today, the rate of change is accelerating in all industries because of technology, Dell said. That’s creating new opportunities, he said. This is where people with new perspectives, they tend to be younger, bring new ideas, he said.

Hurt asked Dell why he took the company private last year. Dell completed a $25 billion buyout to take the company private last October.

“We were a public company for 25 years,” Dell said. “The stock appreciated 13,500 percent during that time.”

About six or seven years ago, Dell started changing its business from products to solutions, software and services, he said.

It began investing in different areas to provide more solutions to its customers, Dell said. The company made a number of acquisitions.

Dell wanted to focus on more long term planning, he said.

“Our decision making is simplified greatly,” Dell said. “It’s kind of like it was when we started the company…It allows us to dedicate our energy to our customers.”

Dell refers to itself as “the world’s largest startup.”

Since going private, Dell is incubating new businesses and crowdsourcing ideas, Dell said. It’s working with customers in new ways, he said. It launched a venture fund and it has all kinds of resources for entrepreneurs, he said. Cloud, mobile, social and cyber security are all key areas of focus for the company, Dell said.

Another trend Dell is excited about is in data applications. A huge opportunity exists in data analytics, particularly in industries like healthcare, Dell said. Dell has seven billion images in its medical archive, he said. What’s interesting is when Dell layers predictive analytics on top of that archive and can provide information to doctors around the world, he said.

Hurt asked Dell about the role the city has played in Dell’s success. Dell said Austin has been a wonderful place to grow his company. He has hired a lot of people out of the University of Texas. Today, Austin is still great, he said. UT is one of the main things that attracts people to move here, he said.

“There really hasn’t been a better time to be alive in the world,” Dell said. “This is a fantastic place. It’s hard to imagine a better place to be.”

Hurt said there’s quite a bit of pessimism out there about entrepreneurship.

“There’s always whiners and complainers, but screw them,” Dell said.

Dell has done a lot to make Austin a better place for all of its citizens. Last year, the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation donated $60 million to create the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin. Dell joked that it was the closest he would come to becoming a doctor. He went to UT to study biology with the intention of pursuing a medical degree.

During a question and answer session with the audience, Dell recounted his first job as a dishwasher in a Chinese restaurant at the age of 12 in Houston, his hometown. He soon got promoted to water boy and then assistant maitre d. He then got hired away by a Mexican restaurant. He later worked in a store that sold jewelry, stamps and coins and when he got his driver’s license at 16, Dell worked for the now defunct Houston Post delivering newspapers.

“I think those early job experiences are unbelievably valuable,” Dell said. They taught him a lot of lessons.

Another audience member asked Dell about mistakes he made early on.

Dell recounted how he didn’t know the company needed an Federal Communications Commission approval to sell computers. The FCC shut the company down. They had to scramble to get an FCC approval, he said.

“That was certainly a pretty major crisis at the time,” Dell said.

In the late 1980s, Dell had a problem with inventory management. The company ended up learning a lot about inventory management, he said. But it was a near fatal experience at the time, he said.

In fact, in the first three or four years, Dell could have gone out of business five or ten times, Dell said.

“Fortunately they weren’t big enough mistakes to put the company out of business,” Dell said.

Dell’s Ingrid Vanderveldt on Six Trends Shaping Entrepreneurs in 2014

By INGRID VANDERVELDT
Dell’s Entrepreneur in Residence
Special Contribution to Silicon Hills News

Ingrid-Vanderveldt-2013B-copy-200x147We’re seeing more entrepreneurial activity in the U.S. than ever before – a result of factors including low cost of entry for startups, increased availability of funding for early-stage startups, and valuations for successful startups hitting an all-time high. With the New Year upon us, it’s the time we all start thinking about how this year will be different than last and what trends will have the largest impact on the entrepreneurial community in 2014. Some of my top predictions are as follows:

1. Social media space continues to grow ever-crowded. While not a new trend, social media has fully matured as a channel, with 73 percent of adults in the U.S. using at least one platform and 42 percent using multiple social networking sites. Every company needs a comprehensive, customer-driven marketing and communications strategy, and in 2014, that means knowing where your customers are and finding ways to have meaningful and personalized interactions. Over the last year, Pinterest became wildly popular among women and surpassed Twitter in total users, while new applications such as Snapchat stole attention from Facebook among the teen market.
Although the decline in Facebook usage among teens may be over-hyped, the truth is that all users, teens and adults alike, are using multiple platforms to suit their needs – LinkedIn for professional networking, Pinterest for social bookmarking, Instagram for photo-sharing, etc. With so many platforms, it’s important to have a strategy that doesn’t put all your eggs in one basket. Pay attention to demographics and make sure you are where your customers are. Entrepreneurs should also look to leverage their own personal and professional social networking activities to build their brand while integrating social across their enterprise. Also, consider taking a page out of Dell’s book by leveraging the passion, talent and networks of your employees by starting an employee advocacy program.

2. Marrying profits with purpose. Launching and maintaining a successful business is no longer just about the bottom line. We’re seeing more and more companies building sustainability and a vision beyond profits into their cultures from day one, and attracting customers and top talent in the process. Tesla may be a car company but its vision is to “expedite the move from a mine-and-burn hydrocarbon economy towards a solar electric economy.” Warby Parker may sell fashionable eyewear, but the B Corp aspires to “do good in the world” for its “employees, customers, community and the environment.”
I joined Dell because I believe in its vision of technology powering human potential. Supporting entrepreneurs and empowering women in business are key tenets to who Dell is as a company. Just one example of this is the Pay it Forward initiative Dell launched last year, setting a goal to track support for one million women entrepreneurs by the end of 2015.

3. It’s no longer a question of Silicon Valley or Silicon Alley. While the Valley is still seen as the epicenter of the startup universe by many, opportunity is becoming more geographically dispersed than ever before. Cities including Austin, Tennessee, Denver, New Orleans, and Detroit are all cultivating their own startup ecosystems and the number of startups founded outside of traditional entrepreneurship hubs is growing significantly. This trend is being supported by large national initiatives such as Google’s Tech Hubs and the White House’s Startup America Partnership, along with local efforts by cities across the U.S.
For entrepreneurs, the hunt for financing and top talent may make the Bay Area appear attractive but think twice before jumping on flight and heading straight to Sand Hill Road. Not only are there benefits to being a big fish in a small pond, but the competitive advantage of regional economies should also be a factor in your decision-making process. Silicon Valley may still be the right place for you if you’re in enterprise technology, as might New York City if you’re launching a media-focused startup, but know your industry and do your research as new hotbeds of innovation are emerging worldwide, and it may be easier to break through the clutter and get noticed in a less saturated market.

4. Alternative forms of payment and digital currency move into the mainstream. PayPal launched in 1999 as the first mainstream online money transfer service, creating new opportunities for merchants and entrepreneurs on the web. 10 years later, Square’s card reader made it exceptionally easy for just about anyone to accept physical credit cards at their point of sale. In 2013, a formerly obscure cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, took to the mainstream evolving into a multi-billion dollar ecosystem recognized by hedge funds and Congress. With Bitcoin BitPay processing over $100,000,000 in transactions, Bitcoins were used to purchase spots on Virgin Galactic flights to space, Lamborghinis, and OKCupid credits.
These alternate forms of payment are offering businesses a compelling way to expand their customer base, reduce per transaction costs and improve user experience. With the pace of innovation in financial transactions increasing and the desire for frictionless transactions on the rise, startups, especially those involved in e-commerce, will need to familiarize themselves with alternative currencies and payment methods. While accepting mobile payments or embracing digital currency may not be the right fit for your business, 2014 might be the right time to figure out your policy and ensure you’re taking the appropriate security measures if you do decide to try out new technology.

5. It’s time to think twice before you IPO. The nimbleness and passion that got your startup where it is today can be difficult to sustain under the watchful eyes of shareholders. Going public has been shown to zap innovation and foster short-term thinking by measuring success in quarterly earnings rather than taking the long-view.
If there’s a lesson to be learned from Michael Dell’s battle to bring Dell private in 2013, it’s that stockholders require an intense focus on short-term gains, which can sometimes be counterproductive to the long-term viability of a company. Entrepreneurs thinking about going public should take note. Will fewer companies go public in 2014 than in previous years? Probably not, but they should definitely weigh the pros and cons more carefully.

6. Women are rising to the top. Not a new trend, but, in 2014, I believe the rate at which women are taking leadership positions and “owning their potential” is going to grow at rates we can’t even fathom. For example, just yesterday it was announced that the first female law firm just opened in Saudi Arabia – something that would’ve been unheard of just 12 months ago!
With public/private partnerships such as Dell’s work with the UN Foundation, we are now in a position to create change for women on a global scale and this year we’ll continue to see increased collaboration between governments, international organizations, the private sector, and individual stakeholders to positively impact female entrepreneurship worldwide.

Ingrid Vanderveldt is an entrepreneur, investor and media personality connecting entrepreneurs to corporations. Ingrid is leveraging her business, policy and media initiatives to “Empower a Billion Women by 2020” to help provide women with tools, technology & resources. As Dell’s first Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR), Ingrid serves as the bridge from the “outside, in” connecting the entrepreneur community to the expansive resources the Fortune 50 company. Ingrid created and oversees the $100M Dell Innovators Credit Fund and The Dell Center for Entrepreneurs. In 2012, Ingrid helped architect The Federal EIR Bill with Senator Mary Landreau (LA) and Representative Mike Honda (CA), and is currently working on legislation with State Senators to bring out a State-wide EIR bill in 2013. She is also the co-founder of The Billionaire Girls Club, is a Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network Member and serves on the UN Foundation Global Entrepreneurs Council.

How to Get Dell Ventures to Invest in Your Startup

Jim Lussier, managing director of Dell Ventures, photo courtesy of Dell

Jim Lussier, managing director of Dell Ventures, photo courtesy of Dell

Dell Ventures, the investment arm of Dell, has announced a new $300 million Strategic Innovation Venture Fund.
The goal of the venture fund is to find the next Michael Dell, said Jim Lussier, managing director of Dell Ventures.
The fund will invest in early-to-growth stage companies, particularly targeting storage, cloud computing, big data, next generation data center, security and mobility.
Dell has invested in one seed stage company. It will invest in Series A, B, C and even D rounds.
The latest fund builds on the $60 million Dell Fluid Data Storage Fund announced last year.
Silicon Hills News sat down last Friday at Dell World with Lussier to ask questions about the new venture fund.
“We’ve already made investments so today is just to announce the expansion of our focus and the capital to do it,” Lussier said.

Q. Where does the initial $60 million storage fund stand, has all the money been invested?

A. No. The plan with the initial $60 million storage fund was to invest over 18 months to 36 months and we’re well on our way to reaching the target with the number of investments. And we always reserve a significant portion of the fund for follow on investments. The startups are really early stage. It may be two, four or six years before they achieve liquidity and we want to be there for these startups all the way through. So we have some capital remaining in that allocation to support those startups. And then we have additional fresh capital for all these new areas.

Q. Have 14 companies received funding so far?

A. Yes, and there’s even more than that. We’ve closed more and we’re announcing even more.

Q. How is the $300 million fund carved up?

A. We have some guidelines. But we don’t have hard specific allocations for each area. We want to have some flexibility as opportunities unfold to invest in all these areas. There may be a new area that unfolds that we may add to this. I think the main point is we’ve got $300 million to invest in innovation that’s strategic to Dell that will help our customers and help entrepreneurs to be more successful.

Q. Does the fund invest globally?

A. Primarily in the U.S. We’re open to investments anywhere in the world. We are primarily focused in the U.S. with investment teams in Austin and Silicon Valley. We also have some venture funds that we’ve invested in emerging markets like China and Russia and other areas that gives us eyes and ears into those markets.

Q. What’s the initial range for investment deals?

A. Our average investment is $3 million to $5 million. But we’ve got a lot of flexibility in our model and we can range from anywhere from $2 million or less to $15 million or more. We’ve done less. We’ve done more. So we’re investing in early to growth stage companies. We invest in everything from pre-revenue to companies that have a $5 million, $10 million or more run rate.

Q. How does a startup approach Dell Ventures? Is there an online application?

A. It’s almost like approaching any other VC. The best way to approach us is through a warm introduction. That can be from someone in a business unit at Dell. It can be through someone in the VC community. It can be through your own personal network. We do have a website and there is a contact there. Business plans can be submitted that way. But the best way is through a personal, warm introduction, as opposed to an email over the transit.

Q. What happens once Dell invests in a company?

A. Generally, our model is to co-invest with other financial and strategic investors. We can lead rounds. We prefer to join an existing syndicate. We tend to go on the board as an observer. We become your advocate inside and outside Dell as that board observer. We involve the business units that are appropriate so that information that is helpful to the startup is communicated within the business unit. Proprietary information is held confidential.

Q. Is the Dell Venture Fund part of Dell’s acquisition strategy?

A. It’s a complement to our M&A strategy. We will invest in companies to learn, to support a commercial partnership that we’re doing. Down the road we may acquire that company but it’s not a prerequisite.

Q. Does Dell have a formal startup program for entrepreneurs?

A. The programs we have for entrepreneurs are the Dell Founders Club, which provides networking opportunities and access. We’ve got the Dell Innovators Credit Fund where Dell Venture backed companies can secure financing for products and services on good terms.

Q. Where is the pipeline of investment deals coming from? Are you getting a lot from Austin?

A. I think it’s pretty evenly represented in where the venture investment is. Some of the latest statistics I’ve seen say 40 percent of all venture investment is done in Northern California and another 10 percent in Southern California. So probably half the deals we’re seeing are in California. The East Coast probably represents another 25 percent between New York and Boston. Austin is in there. It’s a healthy and growing percentage. Healthy and growing single digit percentage. We do see a number of interesting companies coming from Austin. It seems like it’s a really vibrant entrepreneurial area for us.

Q. Has Dell invested in any Austin or Central Texas startups? Can you name them? Do you disclose them?

A. We’ve got a number of deals we’re looking at from Austin. We will disclose the deals on a case by case basis. We’ve invested in two already and there will be another on Monday. There will be selective disclosure when it’s in a company’s best interest to disclose. Sometimes they want to disclose it or sometimes they don’t. We, for our own reasons, might not want to show our hand to the whole world.

Q. Is Dell looking at consumer facing investments?

A. Yes, we are, opportunistically. We announced those six focus areas but it’s in our interest to remain open and flexible and opportunistic and we do see deal flow in and around consumer facing technologies. We’re focused elsewhere but we do see deal flow in that area.

Q. Are you seeing quality deals or are you seeing deals that reflect the 2000 era of the Dot Com bubble?

A. I’d like to think we would invest in only quality deals. I’ve been involved in venture investing since 2000 and there’s always a mix of quality teams with disruptive ideas and great business plans combined with some ideas that are less compelling. And, as you know, we’ll look at 100 companies before we’ll fund one and so we’re very selective. I don’t see a huge difference. I think it’s always been that way.

Q. What advice would you give to entrepreneurs?

A. Know your market. Understand the customer needs. Make sure you’re solving a big problem, a real problem. Work hard to get the right people around your idea.

Q. What mistakes do entrepreneurs make when they are pitching to you?

A. They need to build for the long-term. You want to build a company to eventually IPO. Not every company will get there. But if you build with that mind, you may get some opportunities along the way and you may get an offer that you can’t pass up. If you build it to sell it, you may sub-optimize opportunities. I think some entrepreneurs are overly obsessed with valuations. It’s important to create a valuation that is good for the company and the employees you are yet to hire and good for the investors and creates an opportunity to explore an up round in the future. I think another thing is to be capital efficient. Make as much progress as you can before you talk to us. Take as much risk out of the idea as possible on your own resources and through family and friends. That way you’ll maximize your chances of getting funding in the first place and on more attractive terms.

Q. What kind of stake does Dell take in a company it invests in?

A. We want to own enough of the company for it to be important to us and for it to be important to the company. It will vary depending on the situation.

Q. How is going private going to impact Dell Ventures?

A. Whether public or private, my marching orders have been to do more, invest more, go faster and this $300 million fund is evidence of our intent to actually accelerate our investment pace and to make more bets and bolder bets going forward.

Q. Anything else that you would like to add or make a point of that I have not asked you about?

A. It’s an exciting time to be at Dell. This is a team effort between the business units, our corporate office, the CTO, the Dell Ventures team as well as the VCs and all the entrepreneurs we’ve worked with. We’re really excited about what we’ve been able to build so far and we’re very optimistic about the future.

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