Tag: University of Texas (Page 1 of 2)

Innovation is Key to the Future of Austin’s Healthcare Industry

Reporter with Silicon Hills News

Panelists Nancy Harvey, entrepreneur in residence at the University of Chicago School of Medicine, Lanham Napier, former CEO at Rackspace and now a partner at BuildGroup, a growth stage VC firm, Mike Millard, executive director of innovation and commercialization at Seton Healthcare Family and Bob Metcalfe, inventor of Ethernet, co-founder at 3Com, partner emeritus at Polaris Partners and now professor of innovation at the University of Texas at Austin.

Panelists Nancy Harvey, entrepreneur in residence at the University of Chicago School of Medicine, Lanham Napier, former CEO at Rackspace and now a partner at BuildGroup, a growth stage VC firm, Mike Millard, executive director of innovation and commercialization at Seton Healthcare Family and Bob Metcalfe, inventor of Ethernet, co-founder at 3Com, partner emeritus at Polaris Partners and now professor of innovation at the University of Texas at Austin.

Austin’s healthcare landscape is poised to change dramatically with the new Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas, said Josh Jones-Dilworth.

Dilworth is a member of The Fifty, a group of Austin residents who have committed to raise $50 million to help finance the new hospital. It is scheduled to open in 2017 and will be across Red River Street from the new Dell Medical School at UT.

The Fifty hosted a panel on “The Future of Care” focused on the venture capital industry, innovation and startups Tuesday afternoon at Athenahealth offices at the Seaholm Power Plant.

“This new ecosystem, if we do it right, is going to throw off a lot of new, interesting, world changing companies,” Dilworth said. “It will create a lot of jobs. It will make Austin a better place to live and do business.”

The new Dell Seton Medical Center at UT, courtesy photo

The new Dell Seton Medical Center at UT, courtesy photo

Seton, part of Ascension, the nation’s largest Catholic and nonprofit hospital system, is investing $245 million to build the Dell Seton Medical Center. The Fifty has pledged to raise another $25 million from the community to match a $25 million donation by the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation.

The goal is to keep healthcare accessible to everyone in Austin no matter what his or her walk of life, Dilworth said.

At the event, Nancy Harvey, entrepreneur in residence at the University of Chicago School of Medicine, served as moderator. The panelists included Mike Millard, executive director of innovation and commercialization at Seton Healthcare Family, Lanham Napier, former CEO at Rackspace and now a partner at BuildGroup, a growth-stage VC fund and Bob Metcalfe, inventor of Ethernet, co-founder at 3Com, partner emeritus at Polaris Partners and now professor of innovation at the University of Texas at Austin.

To start off, Harvey asked the panelists to mention one thing they would like to have in Austin healthcare today.

“I think I would just want one bill,” Millard said. “That’s where my bar is now, just one bill, not 30 pieces of paper every time when you go to the doctor.”

Napier said he wanted to see the doctor within one day of calling for an appointment.

“I would like to find a doctor who thinks his time is less valuable than mine,” Metcalfe said.

The panelists also want the healthcare industry to focus on big problems like prevention and to find cures for cancer, obesity, and diabetes and to focus treatments on personalized medicine tailored to a person’s genome.

“I would like to challenge the Dell Medical School to lower the BMI of the population of Travis County by 10 points to 20 points and that would do a world of good,” Metcalfe said.

The healthcare industry should also make sure it is building innovation into the new system, Metcalfe said.

To encourage innovation, Napier recommended that the artificial intelligence group at UT link to the medical school to use cognitive technologies around diagnostics.

“So much of medicine is diagnostic,” Napier said.

The healthcare industry is slow to change, decision-making is difficult and the major players have a lack of competitive understanding, Millard said.

“So even when you bring in innovation, they are incentivized to do exactly what they have been doing,” he said. “They are not incentivized to compete.”

The progress of science is slow in healthcare and it’s often entangled in bureaucracy, Metcalfe said. But he is optimistic.

“It appears to me that healthcare is about to go through the same transition that information technology went through in the early ’80s,” Metcalfe said.

Medical devices and drugs take a long time to develop because they go through an arduous trial and error process. But that is becoming easier through engineering, Metcalfe said.

“Science is becoming less trial and error and more engineering and I think that is going to compress the development times considerably,” he said.

Another solution to better healthcare is to have more corporations partner with the healthcare system to understand the customer better and how to get things done, Millard said.

“A lot of healthcare systems don’t know their customer,” he said.

The panelists talked about the need for cultural change within the healthcare system. For example, instead of spending millions of dollars to create a really nice waiting room, the hospital should be tackling the problem of why it has waiting rooms at all, Millard said.

“You cannot change culture,” Metcalfe said.

“You have to create a separate thing. Leave the old thing over there and eventually they will all die,” Metcalfe said. “And over here is the new thing. This is what happened in the Internet.”

In the ’80s, IBM and AT&T dominated the world with their monopolies. Metcalfe said he had to wait for IBM customers to die because they would not switch over and buy his products as CEO of 3Com.

“I tend to agree,” Millard said. “I often ask people should we just start over. I don’t think you can take these behemoth institutions and make them nimble.”

The other thing that needs to change to encourage innovation in the healthcare industry is to eliminate government regulation, Metcalfe said.

“The Internet developed in a space with a lack of regulations and fierce competition,” he said.

Peter Thiel Says Technology and Science Are Under Attack in the U.S.

Reporter with Silicon Hills News

IMG_4227Society right now has an intense dislike or hatred of all things scientific or technological, said Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal.

To illustrate this, just look at all the movies produced by Hollywood that show technology that doesn’t work, that kills people, that destroys things and that is bad for the world, Thiel said. Movies like Gravity portray space as something scary and unattractive, he said. Other sci-fi movies like Terminator, Avatar, the Elysium, and the Matrix depict a dystopian future.

“In our time, science and technology, is in some sense, the real counter culture in our society,” Thiel said.

While the country has made some progress in the last 40 years, we could do a lot more, Thiel said. For example, we wouldn’t even try, at this point, to declare war on Alzheimer’s, in which one out of three people at age 85 suffers from dementia, he said.

“It seems like a massive crisis,” Thiel said. “There’s sort of a subtle way in which past failure, a history of failure, where if you haven’t succeeded, your expectations about what you can do get commensurately reduced. So we’re in a place where we are very optimistic about computer technology, information technology and we are much more pessimistic about all these other things. And I think it’s important for us to think about how to break this cycle and get back to the future in one way or another.”

Thiel, also co-founder of Palantir and an early investor in Facebook, visited the University of Texas at Austin on Wednesday. He is also founder of the Thiel Fellowship, which provides people under the age of 20 with $100,000 grants and a chance to learn outside of a college setting. Several hundred people turned out to the Lady Bird Johnson Auditorium Wednesday evening to hear Thiel speak about his new book “Zero to One, Notes on Startups, Or How to Build the Future.” UT organizers relocated the event from the AT&T Conference Center to accommodate the crowd. Gregory L. Fenves, UT executive vice president and provost, moderated the event, which was sponsored by the Innovation Center in the Cockrell School of Engineering.

Thiel discussed a lot of the themes and information in his book such as “it is better to risk boldness than triviality, a bad plan is better than no plan, competitive markets destroy profits and sales matters just as much as product.”

He provided a contrarian view on startups and innovation and a worldview of the technology industry.

A successful 21st century will involve both globalization and technology, but as two different trends, Thiel said. China is the paradigm of globalization or of copying things that work and going from 1 to N on a horizontal axis of extensive progress, he said. But technology presents people the ability to go from zero to one on a vertical axis of intensive progress and create something that doesn’t yet exist that can be game changing, Thiel said.

The 19th Century was a period of both tremendous progress and growth of globalization and technology, Thiel said. But after World War I, globalization slowed down even though technology continued to progress, he said. Starting in 1971 with the Kissinger trip to China, globalization began again and has been growing at a ferocious pace ever since, Thiel said.

Technology has been this narrower cone around information technology, Thiel said. And many of the other areas are not as supported such as space travel, supersonic aviation, underwater cities, turning deserts into farmland and forests and other things people talked about 50 years ago, Thiel said.

Today, the world is characterized as developed countries and underdeveloped countries. It’s a pro-globalization and convergence theory that everyone will become much more similar as time progresses.

But that is also an anti-technological dichotomy, he said.

Peter Thiel signing books with Blake Masters, his co-author and former student.

Peter Thiel signing books with Blake Masters, his co-author and former student.

“When we say that we live in the developed world, we’re are implicitly saying that we are living in that part of the world where nothing new is going to happen, where things are done and finished. And where we should resign ourselves to decades of stagnation and that the younger generation should have lower expectations than their parents,” Thiel said. “I think this is a characterization we would do well to resist powerfully.”

Instead, people need to be asking themselves a different question.

“How do we go about developing the so-called developed world?” Thiel said.

In the question and answer session following his talk, Thiel said he is a bit skeptical of all the buzzwords surrounding startups like the term “disruptive”. His friend Shawn Fanning started Napster, one of the first peer-to-peer file sharing programs and the classic disruptive company, and it was on the cover of Time Magazine one year and the government shut it down the next year.

“The goal you should have, as an entrepreneur, is not to destroy existing things, but to create new things,” he said.

In response to a question about Bitcoin, Thiel said he’s generally in favor of it but wonders whether it will get shut down by the government.

Fear also hampers innovation, Thiel said. It would be nearly impossible to get a polio vaccine approved today, he said. And in the face of climate change, nuclear power plants would prove a better energy source but people are afraid of them, he said.

In response to a question about his major failures in his life, Thiel said he’s had his share of failures and they were quite traumatic at the time.

“I always worry that we exaggerate the significance of failure and we celebrate failure too much,” he said.

At the age of 25, Thiel interviewed for a clerk job with two of the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. They both turned him down. He was devastated at the time. But 10 years later, he was glad he didn’t get the clerk job.

“There is this cult of failure around a lot of entrepreneurs and it’s not clear it’s that helpful,” he said.

He thinks failure is overrated.

He also doesn’t think there is a tech bubble right now.

Michael Dell on the Past, Present and Future of Technology

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.

Rod Canion Recounts How Compaq Fought IBM and Won

Founder of Silicon Hills News

BiAY_NfCYAAsek-A true life David vs. Goliath story played out in the early days of the PC industry-pitting upstart Compaq Computer against industry behemoth IBM Corp.

Rod Canion, co-founder of Compaq, recounted the tale during a conversation Wednesday night with Brett Hurt, Entrepreneur in Residence at the University of Texas. The Longhorn Entrepreneurship Agency sponsored the event as part of its UTEWeek.

In the early days of the PC industry, PCs became open architecture machines because IBM, the number one computer company in the world, put a skunkworks team in Boca Raton, Florida and ordered them to create an IBM PC in one year.

That IBM team created the first IBM PC, which debuted in 1981 based on open architecture including Intel’s microchips and Microsoft’s DOS operating system.

“The point is everything that went into the original IBM PCs was off the shelf,” Canion said.

IBM expected they would sell thousands, Canion said. They sold millions and became the leader in the PC industry.

“The PC, as a product in business, was just starting to catch on,” Canion said.

The must-have software application of the day was VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet that created the driving force that caused PCs to permeate businesses in a short amount of time, he said.

Around that time, Canion and his co-founders left Texas Instruments looking for a product to start a company with because they knew the PC industry would explode creating great opportunity. They wanted to create a rugged, portable PC.

“But it almost died before it started because I had enough experience to know we couldn’t get software adapted to it,” Canion said. He knew VisiCorp would never provide its software to a startup.

That’s when Canion came up with the idea of creating a portable computer that would run software written for the IBM PC. They would create compatible software. In 1982, they put together a four page business plan and a few weeks later they landed venture capital from Kleiner Perkins, Silicon Valley’s premier VC firm.

“In about five weeks, from the conception of the idea to when we started the company, we were off and running,” Canion said.

They thought they would be able to buy an operating system from Microsoft to run on the computer. They found out that was wrong. They figured out a way to take what Microsoft did have and fix the incompatibilities in 12 months so they could run IBM’s software, Canion said.

The sewing-machine sized Compaq portable was the first 100 percent IBM-compatible PC and the first portable one.

BiAg9TnCUAA7u2yIn January of 1983, when Compaq Computer shipped its first PCs, they essentially ran all of the IBM PC software, Canion said. Then the company licensed its modified version of MS-DOS back to Microsoft for it to sell to all of the rest of the industry.

“That’s the point where the industry standard really began,” Canion said.

That’s when a large number of computer companies began to run all the same software, Canion said. By 1987, IBM, Compaq and about a dozen other strong brands in the compatible arena accounted for 75 percent of the PC industry. Apple had been relegated to a niche.

“This powerful industry standard had really taken hold,” Canion said.

IBM didn’t like the idea. They came out with a proprietary product, PS2 and they offered their competitors the ability to buy a license by paying 5 percent of royalties. Dell and others began to buy licenses from IBM to the PS2. But Compaq didn’t give up.

Nine months later, they came up a competitive advanced architecture to IBM that would run all of the old software. Canion said they knew if it was IBM vs. Compaq they would still lose.

“IBM’s brand was too strong,” he said.

Instead, Compaq put together an alliance with Microsoft, Intel and HP to compete against IBM. Compaq was going to give its technology to all of the other companies. Eventually, they got seven other companies to sign on and became known as the gang of nine. By September, they held a press conference, and by then they had gotten 80 companies behind the new standard, essentially the whole industry everyone but IBM and Apple behind the Open standard, Canion said.

Four years later, Compaq passed IBM to become the industry leader in PC sales. But more importantly, the company got an open architecture PC standard adopted that led to lower prices and more consumer choice, Canion said.

A few years later, Compaq passed the $1 billion mark in annual revenue, the first company to hit that milestone so quickly.

Canion provides more details on Compaq’s challenge to IBM in his new book “Open: How Compaq Ended IBM’s PC Domination and Helped Invent Modern Computing.” He signed copies of the book following his talk.

Bubbles, Unicorns, Outliers and Innovation in Silicon Valley and Austin

Founder of Silicon Hills News

IMG_2628When the Facebooks and Twitters of the world are soaring everyone thinks of Silicon Valley as a glorious place, said Bill Gurley, general partner of Benchmark Capital.
“But when that changes people go away very, very fast,” Gurley said. “They scatter like the lights coming on in a room.”
He tells people they should be investing in Silicon Valley when no one else is. That’s how they get phenomenal returns, Gurley said. They also need to develop long-term relationships, he said.
“I think it’s important for people to understand how cyclical things are,” Gurley said.
He spoke Thursday afternoon on a panel of experts discussing trends and emerging technologies during the second annual University of Texas in Silicon Valley event at the Sharon Heights Golf and Country Club on Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park.
Another panelist, Mike Maples Jr., partner in Floodgate Ventures, thinks this decade is going to be as pivotal in innovation as the 1970s were. In the 2000s, the cost of starting a company collapsed, he said. That created an opening for a new class of venture firms, he said.
“Innovation is becoming democratized,” Maples said.
Bob Metcalfe, professor of innovation at the University of Texas at Austin and the inventor of the Ethernet, is worried there’s a bubble in the startup world going on now.
“I do think one of the reasons the business is cyclical is because we take on risk very marginally and there’s a lot of mimicry,” Gurley said.
IMG_2629For example, in 2012, Workday went public and immediately started trading at 15 times forward revenue even though half the revenue is services and they’re burning $30 million to $40 million a year, Gurley said.
That triggers a discussion in every software as a service boardroom around Silicon Valley about whether the companies are pushing hard enough and going far enough, Gurley said. “So you go raise more money and you build up the sales and marketing line items and you burn more.”
“And so the collective burn of the SAS companies in Silicon Valley must be in the billions right now if you could add them all up,” Gurley said. “Another way to think about this, which I wrote about recently, is the number of people employed in Silicon Valley in money losing companies is at an all time high now.”
The last time it was that high was in 1999, Gurley said.
“There is inherent risk in that,” Gurley said. “If we hit any kind of speed bump you won’t be able to get those companies into a position where they can be sustainable without very catastrophic events.”
Twitter is an example of this trend. It’s unprofitable.
“No one is sacrificing growth for profitability right now,” Gurley said. The markets are rewarding companies for that, he said.

Centers of Innovation

Silicon Valley, Austin and Israel have been so successful as tech centers because they have a fundamentally different belief system in place, said Greg Horowitt, co-founder and managing director of T2 Venture Capital and the author of “The Rainforest: the Secret to Building the Next Silicon Valley.”
One of the beliefs is in the concept of paying it forward, Horowitt said.
“The fact is we have to take care of each other,” he said. “There has to be a sense of yes it’s important to compete, but you also have to collaborate.”
There has to be a sense of a paradox of innovation, Horowitt said. That is only accepted once it’s imitated, he said. It’s hard to spot innovation because there’s no pattern recognition when something is completely new, he said. The bubbles happen when entrepreneurs get caught up in the imitation, he said.
“And so what we have to do is we have to be able to support the crazies,” Horowitt said. “We have to allow them to experiment and be creative. We have to allow people to fail and take the risks and we don’t punish them for doing that.”
The most successful tech centers have created systems in which knowledge and ideas flow freely, Horowitt said. He cited, as an example, author Matt Ridley’s book: Rational Optimism in which Ridley defines innovation as ideas having sex.
“When I read that I knew my job is to promote promiscuity,” he said.

Cultivating risk-tasking environments

The kind of environment that promotes risk-taking leads to rewards, Maples said. At Stanford University, the roots came from the gold rush, Maples said. Its professors encourage students to drop out and try out their ideas, he said.
“The thing I’ve seen in Silicon Valley is why don’t you just try it,” Maples said. “That’s the kind of atmosphere that is going to cause you to find the next rock of gold or create the next Google.”
In Silicon Valley, there is a tiny fraction of outliers who pursue counter-intuitive exponential ideas, Maples said. “Most of them fail. But when they work, they are spectacular. The crazy exponential idea out here gets encouraged and has an outlet. The crazy exponential idea in Austin, which I hope will change someday, but it tends to have mentors, advisors and people around it that say you’re trying to be a vitamin not a pain killer. You’re not solving the customer problem.”
Innovators in Silicon Valley like Sergey Brin and Larry Page, co-founders of Google, and Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and SpaceX, don’t think that way, Maples said.
“That’s the X factor that Silicon Valley has,” he said.
Part of that is volume, Gurley said.
“Every smart and dumb version of every idea gets tried,” Maples said.

In search of Unicorns and Thunder Lizards

The size of undergraduate ideas is very small at the University of Texas at Austin, Metcalfe said.
“We’ve got to do a Unicorn in Austin pretty soon,” Metcalfe said. “That’s in my performance appraisal. I have to deliver some Unicorns.”
Unicorns are startups that hit $1 billion in valuation. Maples calls them Thunder Lizards.
Austin also needs more catalysts to help grow its ecosystem. Dell hasn’t created as many startups in Austin as some of the successful technology companies in Silicon Valley, according to the panelists.
The research university, in this case the University of Texas at Austin, is the driver in the innovation ecosystem, Metcalfe said.
There’s a bubble in social, mobile and cloud, Metcalfe said.
But Maples thinks more opportunity lies in the mobile industry because young people rely on their mobile phones more than cars. His 19-year-old daughter doesn’t have a driver’s license. He investigated and found out many teenagers no longer get their driver’s license. They rely on their phone for freedom that cars once provided, he said. So he thinks there’s a lot more opportunity developing for social, mobile and local apps for the mobile phone.
He thinks there are going to be companies worth more than $100 billion that put mobile first.
Gurley said a lot more of the population is becoming urban.
The democratization of innovation will lead to more diverse tech entrepreneurs creating companies regardless of their geography, Maples said.
In Austin, the new Dell Medical School will spark more innovation and startups in the life sciences and biotechnology industries, said Metcalfe. He often tells his students: “The world’s most important problems will not be solved by yet another website.”

UT Researchers Make Biofuel from Yeast and Sugar

images-5Biofuel researchers have figured out how to make fuel from switchgrass, algae, corn, soy, canola oil, plants and paper.
All of those biofuels are tough to scale to meet the demands of filling up millions of gas tanks on a daily basis.
But now the innovative researchers at the University of Texas at Austin’s Cockrell School of Engineering have developed a new type of biofuel or renewable energy source.
It’s fuel from genetically engineered yeast cells and ordinary table sugar. The combination creates oil and fats, “known as lipids, that can be used in place of petroleum-derived products,” according to a news release.
“You can take the lipids formed and theoretically use it to power a car,” UT Assistant Professor Hal Alper said in a news release. He and his team of students have dubbed the concoction “a renewable version of sweet crude.” They published their research on Jan. 20 in Nature Communications.
Alper believes their invention could scale to meet the marketplace’s growing demand for alternative fuels.

Blackboard Acquires Austin-based MyEdu

screen-shot-2012-10-10-at-1-37-54-amBlackboard announced Wednesday that is has acquired MyEdu, an Austin-based educational site tailored to college students.
The Washington, D.C.-based Blackboard did not disclose the terms of the acquisition.
MyEdu, founded in 2008, focuses on helping students create a study plan geared to the career they wish to pursue. It’s like LinkedIn for college students. The site helps them create “professional profiles” to find jobs and internships.
MyEdu has helped one million students at more than 800 schools, according to a news release.
“Everyone is looking for ways to help more students obtain degrees more quickly,” Jay Bhatt, CEO of Blackboard said in a news release. “MyEdu has created user-friendly tools that help students succeed and create a stronger connection between higher education and the workforce. MyEdu is highly complementary to our current solution set and will help us drive more value and a higher quality experience for learners and enable new paths to support student goals. This strengthens the focus we have on learner success, which is a big priority for us going forward.”
MyEdu has partnerships with the University of Texas, the University of Louisiana and other institutions.
The company, which has 20 employees, has raised more than $20 million in venture funding, with the majority coming from Bain Capital Ventures, according to its Crunchbase profile.

Tips on Pitching Billionaire Mark Cuban

Founder of Silicon Hills News

At Longhorn Startup Demo Day last week, Bob Metcalfe, inventor of Ethernet, co-founder of 3Com and professor of innovation at UT, interviewed Billionaire Mark Cuban, co-founder of Broadcast.com and owner of the Dallas Mavericks. Cuban also stars on the popular TV show Shark Tank on ABC. This is some of the advice he gave on pitching him.

1. Know Your History. “The biggest error I see in startups that pitch to me is no sense of history” – Not everything is in Google. Companies fail and their servers are no longer online, Cuban said. He gets pitched from entrepreneurs who do not know that their idea has been tried before and failed. He suggests entrepreneurs put their idea in search engines with the word “fail” after it and see what comes up. He also suggests they talk to people who have been around and find out what they know and dig deeper than Google to find out as much information as possible. Cuban said it’s OK if you pitch a deal that has failed before, but just make sure you don’t make the same mistakes and you know how to make it work.

2. Know Your Product and Market Better Than Anyone Else. Cuban looks for “someone who knows their industry cold. Knows their product cold.”

IMG_21323. What’s Special About Your Startup? “I always look to see what’s the special sauce,” Cuban said. They have to have something that differentiates them from everyone else. They need a “special sauce” that sets them apart from the competition. Superlatives don’t benefit the entrepreneur, Cuban said. Anything that ends in “er” or “est” like cheaper, fastest, better – are big red flags because the competition isn’t going to go away, Cuban said. They’ll just improve on their product. “I try to find entrepreneurs that aren’t lying to themselves and that’s very difficult.”

4. Don’t Ask for too Much. He doesn’t invest in deals that require $300 million in venture capital to succeed. His shares get diluted and the founders spend too much time just looking for capital.

5. Work Hard. He likes pitches from hard-working entrepreneurs. “You’ve got to grind, grind and grind” says Cuban. Entrepreneurs only fail because of lack of effort and brains.

IMG_21396. Don’t be a Copy Cat. Everyone thinks the Internet is new. But bits are bits, Cuban said. The servers that YouTube uses are no different than the servers that Comcast uses. If 10,000 people are distributing something on YouTube, why do you want to be 10,001, he said. I try to look where people aren’t looking. I try to look where people think it’s archaic or wrong, he said. That’s why he put his movies made for Magnolia, his production company, on video on demand. For example, he thinks video on demand is growing much faster than Internet viewing of video. It’s going to grow even faster as the satellite and cable companies get their user interface perfected, Cuban said.

7. What’s the best way to pitch him? Send him an email to mcuban@gmail.com. He will at least glance through the first paragraph of them all. He is very quick on the delete button. But he has invested $10 million in companies he discovered through email and at least $6 million of that are entrepreneurs he has never met.

8. Don’t pitch him directly, if you want to be on Shark Tank. If he knows anything about the financial elements of your company, he has to recuse himself from the deal on Shark Tank.

Entrepreneurial Insights from Dr. T of National Instruments

Photo courtesy of 1 Semester Startup

James Truchard couldn’t find a job that he liked so he created one.
That’s what the co-founder, known as Dr. T, president and CEO of National Instruments, said last week during an interview with Bob Metcalfe, University of Texas professor of innovation and coinventor of Ethernet and cofounder of 3Com.
Unlike some of today’s technology billionaires by the name of Bill, Michael and Mark, both Truchard and Metcalfe finished college and obtained PhDs before becoming entrepreneurs.
Metcalfe interviewed Truchard at 1 Semester Startup Demo Day last Thursday evening in the Lady Bird Johnson auditorium at the LBJ Library and Museum. Metcalfe said Truchard played a huge role in convincing him to move to Austin from Boston more than a year ago.
Metcalfe quizzed Truchard on his background. He was born and raised in Austin County. Neither of his parents had a college degree. He received his bachelors and masters degrees in physics and a PhD in electrical engineering from UT. And in 1976, he cofounded National Instruments, in his garage in Austin with Bill Nowlin and Jeff Kodosky. The company makes test equipment and software including LabVIEW, a graphical development program. The company just reported revenue of $262 million for the first quarter of 2012, up 10 percent from a year ago and a profit of $18.6 million. It had revenue of more than $1 billion in 2011.
“I was always determined to be successful, I never thought of any other option,” Truchard said.
Truchard didn’t have a business plan when he started National Instruments.
“We just started working,” he said.
They also never sought out venture capital. Instead, they secured a $10,000 bank loan and they ran the company by bootstrapping operations.
Truchard also read hundreds of books on entrepreneurs including Crossing the Chasm and Thriving on Chaos. He also consulted with the IC2 Institute at UT.
“Keep as much of your capital to yourself as possible.” Truchard advised the crowd of student entrepreneurs. He also told them to make sure they have a good idea and to find as many mentors as possible. And great technology is at the base of innovation.
And nothing beats dumb luck, he said. “Don’t exclude it.”
Truchard took National Instruments public in 1995 to offer liquidity to its employees, not because they needed to raise money.
The company culture was born when National Instruments started, Truchard said. He tries to make the company a fun place to work and focuses on cultivating a leadership culture as the company grows. The company regularly makes it on Forbes’ best places to work lists.
In response to a question from a student about how he communicates the company vision to 6,200 employees.
“Well, I’m very repetitive,” Truchard said.
To share his ideas, Truchard has used 1,500 slides throughout the years in presentations to employees. His employees took all of those slides, shrunk them and then they made a portrait of him out them and presented to him as a gift.

At Longhorn Startup Camp, UT Students found Clay.io, a platform for games

Austin Hallock and Joe Vennix, both juniors at the University of Texas majoring in computer science, have founded Clay.io, a platform for HTML5 games.
Their startup is based at the Longhorn Startup Camp, a 30,000 square foot building at 1616 Guadalupe St., which has housed 27 student run companies during the Spring Semester. Bob Metcalfe, professor of innovation at UT, secured the space, which also served as an incubator for ten 1 Semester Startup companies. Its goal is to foster student entrepreneurship and collaboration among startups.
Clay.io is a marketplace for HTML5 games.
“The beauty of HTML5 games is they’re completely cross-platform, meaning they’ll work on mobile, as well as desktop, without having to port the game,” Hallock said. “We want to take advantage of that, and act as the app store for those games.”
Clay.io also offers an Application Programming Interface, a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications known as an API, for developers to add game features. “With just a few lines of code, developers can add leaderboards, achievements, payment processing, user login, social integration with Facebook and Twitter, screenshots, and a few more features,” Hallock said.
Clay.io has released three games so far including Word Wars, which is like the popular game Boggle. People compete against others in real time.
“Since it’s an HTML5 game, it will work on your phone or tablet just as well as on your desktop,” Hallock said. “It’s gotten a great reception so far, and even made it to the front page of Hacker News.”
The other two games are Slime Volley and Falldown.
Clay.io differentiates itself from competitors like GameSalad, another game platform developer which sprung out of UT, because they’re more focused on enhancing games that can use any engine.
“There are dozens of HTML5 game engines out there so we plugin to all of the open ones and add in our extra features,” Hallock said. “If they were to open their marketplace up to other game engines then we would be competitors.”

« Older posts

© 2024 SiliconHills

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑