Wednesday, November 7, 2007

This Week's Meanderings -- So Far

I was at Web Innovator's Group last night .... big crowd, as usual ... really surprising how many of the folks who get up to explain their companies can't do it in a way that is either:

    A) comprehensible, or

    B) enthusiastic

(That applies mostly to the "Side Dish" ancillary presenters, not the "Main Dish" demo-ers.)

My favorite concept of the evening was, a site that makes it easy for anyone to create an online store containing an inventory of items they like. It looks like it's much easier to build a "Lemonade stand" than it is to set up an account with's affiliate program, which allows you to sell Amazon products. And many retailers still aren't hip to the idea of affiliates, so there's big potential for Lemonade to develop a big base of affiliates, and bring new retailers on board. Affiliates get paid a commission on any sales they generate, and can also earn bigger "bounties," for instance when they deliver a new customer to a company like AT&T. (The whole concept harkens back a bit to BeFree, one of the Web's first third-party operators of affiliate programs. But that was Web 1.0.)

The favorite entrepreneur of the night was Steven Bao. Bao is a sophomore at Wellesley High School who has created Student Concourse, a site that helps students manage all the school assignments they're working on, and collaborate with their classmates. He got a warm round of applause when he got up to explain what he's doing, and afterward, at his demo table, he was fielding questions like a pro. (Carolyn Johnson included Bao in this Globe story about young entrepreneurs.)

This morning, the Globe held one of its occasional small business breakfasts. We heard some great war stories from Rich Doyle, co-founder of Harpoon Brewery (in their early days, they decided to self-distribute, since no distributor wanted to carry their product) and Ian Lane Davis, founder of Mad Doc Software. Ian is the sole owner of the company ... which never took venture capital funding ... and today has 100 employees. He mentioned that they're now working on a version of "Bully" for the Xbox 360, a game originally developed by Rockstar Games, and several other projects he couldn't talk about.

Tomorrow is Future Forward in Weston. I'm told it's sold-out this year, and that there's a pretty substantial waiting list, so it should be a fun day...

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Friday, November 2, 2007

Breakfast Next Wednesday at the Globe

The Globe is holding a breakfast next Wednesday, November 7th, titled "Building a Successful Small Business." It's a fun group of speakers, and you're invited:

    - Joe Burkett, CFO of Cafco Construction Management will give a short talk (Cafco was the Boston Chamber of Commerce's Small Business of the Year for 2007)

    Then we'll have a panel with Joe, plus:

    - Ian Lane Davis, CEO of the video game company Mad Doc Software (the Chamber's Entrepreneur of the Year), and

    - Rich Doyle, CEO of Harpoon Brewery

I'll be moderating the panel. We'll talk about some of the challenges each of these companies have confronted as they've grown.

Event starts at 8 AM and will wrap up by 9:45. To RSVP, just e-mail

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