If you've been following Doonesbury, you know veteran journalist Rick Redfern was laid off from the Washington Post and has taken up blogging.
If you've been following me, you know I "retired" from the Boulder County Business Report a year ago to launch my brilliant new career as a PR professional and entrepreneur.
And if you've been reading this blog, you know what a struggle that entreprenurial part has been. We've been on the phone and occasionally on the road trying to get 3D Radio in front of the right people to put the greatest radio innovation since the transistor (hyperbole alert -- but what to do you expect from a reborn flack?) onto store shelves.
All that to say when the request went out for folks to blog about the Angel Capital Summit, I could not resist. Like the fictional Redfern, once a newshound always a newshound.
So here's the quick and dirty about the event:
Who: Rockies Venture Club and EKS&H, hosts
What: Angel Capital Summit
When: Friday, Nov. 21, 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Where: Marriott City Center, 1701 California St., Denver, Colo.
Why: Forty entrepreneurs will present their businesses to hundreds of investors. Not just any entrepreneur is allowed to strut their stuff; they are screened, hand-picked and coached prior to making their pitch.
How much: $159; members of ACS Investor and association partners $129; VIP registration $189; Town Hall only $25.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
If you've been following Doonesbury, you know veteran journalist Rick Redfern was laid off from the Washington Post and has taken up blogging.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Sometimes the universe knows more about you than you do.
His first question was "Where are you located?"
"Right down the road in Boulder."
"Oh good. So far I've only heard from people in California." He then proceeded to tell me a tale of love and fate.
In 1995 a man bought his wife a state-of-the-art kiln. She had no use for it and it remained in boxes in the basement for eight years.
In 2003 the couple divorced. They owed the Estes Park potter money, but he accepted the kiln in lieu of payment.
He never made the time to hook it up, and it sat in boxes in his basement for five years.
Then medical bills began to pile up and he needed cash, so one Saturday onto craigslist went the kiln. For a reason he couldn't explain, it was listed in Ventura, Calif. All weekend he took calls from people too far away to economically ship it to. Monday he finally figured out the problem and reposted the ad. I called, we made a deal, and on Tuesday he delivered the boxes "because I need a road trip into Boulder anyway," he explained.
During today's appointment at a local gourmet shop, Oliv You & Me, the owner bought a couple of cruets and one of my signature woven bowls.
The universe is telling me I'm on a roll, or at least a slab roller.
Monday, November 3, 2008
Yesterday my friend Michelle and I went to hear Gloria Steinem speak at the Borders in Longmont. At 74 the longtime political activist looked more fit, exuded more spunk, and had more beautiful hands, than anyone in the SRO audience.
By the time she showed up in Longmont, however, the extensive ballot had already been pondered by her listeners; when she asked for a show of hands of those who had voted early, close to 100 percent of less-than-perfectly manicured right hands fluttered in the air.
This two-year campaign season has seemed like a too-long engagement. You keep on thinking once your wedding day arrives the waiting will finally end, and you'll live happily ever after. But as you calmly accept the gifts as they arrive, thank your friends and family for their good wishes, and shop for your dress and new appliances, you know deep inside the wedding just signals the beginning of a long, and hopefully fruitful, marriage.
I keep on thinking once someone -- anyone -- is elected, the waiting will finally end. The Dow will calm down, the economy will recover, the Iraq war will draw to a close, the foreclosures will stop, and we'll all live happily ever after. I voted last week, and I'm calmly not watching the commercials or the polls. But I know in my gut Election Day won't signal smooth sailing ahead. It will just mean the beginning of a new, and hopefully peaceful and prosperous, administration.
Monday, October 27, 2008
A few months ago I responded to a query on Help a Reporter Out, Peter Shankman's matchmaking service between journalists and sources. Jacqueline Wales, founder of Fearless Fifties, was seeking mother-and-daughter teams to interview for her online radio show Fearlessly Speaking.
I sent in a brief description of my relationship with my mom, Lyn Schwartz, and to my surprise we were chosen as one of the four teams she was to profile in October.
My mother and I were giddy with excitement but wondered how we'd ever fill the 52 minutes Jacqueline alots for the interviews.
It turned out to not be nearly enough as we told anecdotes and finished each other's sentences.
I had thought that our primary bonding experience was our trip to Israel in 1999. But telling the world about how our relationship has changed and grown over the more than 50 years we've known each other seems to have solidified it further.
Another wonderful aspect of appearing on Fearlessly Speaking is that Jacqueline gave 3D Radio a wonderful plug, going so far as to spell out the URL. She then invited me to pitch our patent portfolio to the listening audience. Nothing quite as satisfying as promoting 3D Radio on the radio.
Fearlessly listen at Fearlessly Speaking.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
I pronounced our prototype "good enough" and performed a demo in public. 3D Radio co-founder and my better half, Mike, along with our CEO for Hire Jim Gutman brought it down to Boulder Open Coffee at The Cup last Tuesday.
It took much deliberation to decide to build a prototype at all. After all, our business model doesn't have a place in it for us build anything. We are an intellectual property development company. We think of great things that people can use to enhance their lives, and we then look for business partners that have the experience to commercialize our ideas.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
I've been a bit of a Luddite when it comes to Twitter. Sure, I signed up for a Twitter ID back in April. But that was way, way after folks had been telling me if I wanted to be taken seriously in the high-tech world I needed to be part of the Twittosphere.
So I broke down and spent the morning at a Twitter boot camp organized by the DaVinci Institute.
Thanks to Deb Frey, Michael Sitarzewski and Rob McNealy for pointing out benefits I hadn't noticed before. I promise to tweet more.
But mini-messaging has never appealed to me. I'm one of those people who never got into IM. I use my cell phone to talk with people, not as an SMS portal. Call me antediluvian -- I like big words.
Friday, October 3, 2008
You remember job fairs: A dusty conference center; you in your dress-for-success best complete with uncomfortable shoes; that ugly portfolio full of resumes printed at Kinkos; the endless shuffle from table to table where corporate boosters boasted about their company's culture and benefits, never about the boring jobs they had to offer.
This kind of creative recruiting fits our entrepreneurial community perfectly. I wish there had been something like this when I was looking for my first post-grad school job.
It's 9:35 p.m. Friday night. Do you know where your blog entry is?
It's only been a week since I made a commitment to document 3D Radio's progress on a weekly basis, but already I'm not sure what to say that will make a difference.
Sure, we accomplished a few things this week. The high point was executing an NDA with a company that approached us a few weeks ago about working together. We also set up an extended "getting to know you" call for next week.
We're hoping this could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship. What makes it most beautiful is that the phone rang on our end when our potential partner got wind of 3D Radio's terrific technology and wanted reach out to us. It was a welcome relief from our outreach efforts.
I spend much of each day in business development mode, dialing lead after lead hoping that someone on the other end will talk with me. Mostly I get voice messaging, sometimes an assistant, and occasionally the target actually answers.
When I do get through to the right person it's invariable a pleasant experience. They always make the time to talk with me, even if it's only for a few minutes. No one has ever been rude or told me to get lost, which I attribute to the genuine smile in my voice I perfected during many years of conducting phone interviews as a reporter.
See, I thought I had nothing to say but just spent 10 minutes typing up the week's highlights. It's just like I always told my students, people who've asked me about the craft of writing, and even other reporters: The sure-fire cure for writer's block is just to sit down and type. Before you know it you're saying something. It might not be profound, but inspiration has very little do with writing. It's mostly stringing one word after another until a message appears.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Although I hate making promises I'm unsure I can keep, my first third quarter resolution is write about 3D Radio at least once a month.
I making this resolution as part of 3D Radio's marketing strategy for the next quarter. But if wasn't for my business coach, Theresa Szczurek, I never would have committed to this tactic.
Now that I think about it, I'm surprised I didn't turn to a business coach sooner. After all I've been meeting my trainer, Bob Nelson, at the gym Wednesdays at 1 p.m. for almost two years.
When it comes to working out I'm pretty motivated. We have a well-equipped home gym with freeweights and a bench, stair machine, treadmill, two stationary bikes, lots of Therabands and assorted Pilates gadgets. Occasionally I'll hang drying laundry on the bench, but Mike and I actually use this equipment several times a week.
Yet I continue to see Bob every week. He pushes and cajoles me, gives me new exercises to try, and at an incredibly fit 72, he inspires me. But most of all he keeps me honest. There's an accountability factor when you have to check in with someone periodically to report your progress.
That's why Weight Watchers has been around for almost 50 years.
Theresa performs the same functions for me as I strive to become the CEO of a major corporation. We have a great arrangement too -- we barter her business acumen for my PR expertise.
As a matter of fact just this morning I wrote some ad copy for her that explains it all:
"If you wanted to attain your best athletic performance you’d hire a coach. Lance Armstrong wouldn’t have won the Tour de France an amazing seven times – and come out of retirement at the age of 37 – without his coach, Chris Carmichael.
"Attaining your best business performance requires the same kind of planning, support and training regimen."
Friday, August 8, 2008
Is it really August already?
3D Radio hasn't really been on hiatus for the month of July, it just feels that way.
Between keeping busy with my day job in PR, discovering that persistent crick in my hip is arthritis, and enjoying the fabulous weather in Boulder, bizdev here at 3D Radio has unfortunately taken a back seat.
Although we haven't done much reaching out, however, we've been doing plenty of soul-searching and getting around to authoring those important documents everyone wants to see and you have to say "in progress."
Our market research documentation had been a jumble of tasks in Outlook, organized only with Getting Things Done software. Now it's a readable paper with usable bullet points. At an adviser's insistence, I bit the bullet and composed an executive summary. Not quite a business plan, but plenty of VCs (not that we're looking for money right now, mind you) say that's quite enough for most executives to read. The three-pager is now with the gang for their comments. I created a sales "funnel" spreadsheet to keep track of all that outreach that was living mostly in Outlook as well.
Getting all these thoughts into prose isn't easy or fun, but as you type you expose a lot of material that was floating under the surface.
So that's our business model! We have more competitors than I thought.
We've been at this for how long?
In this soft market are we really going to be able to meet that goal?
Wow, we've accomplished more than I thought.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
I admit it, it's been weeks since I kept my readers () up to date on the happenings around 3D Radioland.
Although we've been plugging away at attracting business partners, working on our prototype, and just plain keeping our enthusiasm and the buzz going, all three of us have day jobs that demand plenty of attention.
If you'll indulge me, however, I'm going to do what, in my opinion, too many bloggers do -- shamelessly share the minutia of their lives. When I started this blog to chronicle the birth of a company I vowed I wouldn't stoop to personal laundry airing because, damn it, I'm a writer not a diarist.
But I realize at a certain level all these posts have been pretty personal, and no one has complained yet, so here's more.
During the past few weeks I've observed more than once the well-worn aphorism that the more things change the more they remain the same.
Monday evening the lovely gals of BWET gathered for our weekly salon in the back room of The Cup.
People were going around the table talking about how difficult is for them to fit into the techie world because it is so male dominated. Lack of respect, earning less than men for the same work, being in the minority, and so on.
The stories were familiar, as familiar as a bedtime story you heard as a child, told to your charges as a babysitter, rediscovered with your children, and shared with your grandchildren.
But it wasn't a gentle, soporific tale. It was a dreadful deja vu.
Listening to these cute, stylish, Macbook and iPhone toting girls, I could see, hear and smell (well, it might have more mind-altering substances, rather than fresh-roasted free-trade coffee) the discussions I vigorously participated in when I was a hip 20-something, what we called rap sessions and consciousness raising back in the day.
What happened to the all the groundwork laid by these women's mothers, grandmothers, aunts and older sisters? Where did the cultural, political, economic and policy changes we fought for disappear to? Why are young women still frustrated by the same issues (translated, of course, into 21st century terms)?
The experience resonated with something that had happened a few weeks before as I was walking through the physical therapy clinic. A woman called out "Jane!" I didn't respond, but got to work on that stubborn rotator cuff (ain't midlife grand?) Again, "Jane!" I turned around, seeing a peer working on a similar injury.
"I'm Caron. Who's Jane?"
"She's a real political go-getter around here," she replied, grimacing with effort.
"And you are?"
There was something about her that seemed familiar, so I blurted out, "Sara Davidson?"
I was right.
Sara Davidson is author of Loose Change, a story of how three women, based on Davidson and her friends, adjust to the tenor of the timultuous 1960s. I barely remember the book, and Davidson has gone onto many more things. But I recall that her protagonists dealt with similar issues to my BWET friends from within a naturally less technical framework.
All I can do is hope these women train their sons and daughters in a way that makes conversations like Monday nights anachronistic when they participate in the equivalent coffee klatsch years from now.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
The other day my friend Lorna and I were talking about our deteriorating brains. As "women of a certain age," we know it goes with the territory to lose some cognitive function. Luckily we are not yet women of another certain age -- the one when you have lost the capacity to even remember the mental symptoms and focus only on the physical ones.
But being of a certain age has its positive cognitive aspects, as I discovered last night during a game of Scrabble with a bunch of Gen Y and Millennial friends.
When Gwen Bell invited to me to BWET (Boulder Women Engaging Tech) meetup, I hesitated because she described it as a place for young women entrepreneurs to get together and chat. But since I am an entrepreneur and devotee of The Cup it was irresistable, I mean irresistible.
After about a half hour of introductions, Gwen announced we'd be playing Scrabble. Since there were 10 of us, I suggested rather than split into two tables that we play with two or three women on a team.
Jamie and I were already sitting side by side at the west side of the square table, so we agreed to partner up. Goldie was more or less at the corner and could go with us or the team on the north side, so she ended up kibbitzing for both teams. But we never needed her help.
I worried about spelling, but as I told Lorna I try to keep my wordplay skills up by playing Scrabble on my Palm. He's quite good at it, knows all the two-letter words, and really keeps me on my toes.
Turns out I had nothing to worry about. Many of the ladies admitted they had never played Scrabble on a board, although many were familiar with Scrabulous, an online game I was unaware of.
Between not knowing the rules or strategy and spelling skills developed using texting instead of textbooks, most of our opponents floundered (did I mean foundered? These are after all entrepreneurs ...). The tightest competition was between Jamie and me and Gwen and Kari, but in the end age won out.
We beat the skorts off those girls.
For photos that at my advanced age I can't figure out how to include in this post, check out Gwen's flickr photostream.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
This morning at the biweekly Boulder Open Coffee Club I was struck by how so many startups are based on a lame premise. I'm talking about your garden-variety Internet or iPhone-only social-networking tool.
Although I occasionally use Twitter I haven't found a need for it. It's inconvenient to check in to let friends know what I'm up to, and often when I do check in it turns out I just missed something cool, like Brad Feld inviting all his followers out for ice cream -- two hours ago. Plus so few people follow me I feel like the kid who's chosen last for the kickball team.
When you ask the founders of these types of startups how they intend to make money, they often don't know. They are so in love with their premise they haven't given the business model much thought.
So as we laggards stood around sipping the dregs of our lattes before going back to face the onslaught of to-do list items, I proposed that if we took the collective intellect of every coffee club entrepreneur and put it toward a socially responsible project -- like developing a car that runs on coffee grounds -- we could do something good for the world and make money, too.
The gang, millennials all, shrugged.
"Why would I go out and buy an fuel-efficient car when my car is only two years old?" one wanted to know.
"Detroit would just stomp on it," another declared.
We baby boomers have our hearts in the right place but in our dotage tend to lack the energy to follow through. Many in the generations that follow us tend to institute socially responsible initiatives into their startups. I'd like to see fewer startups based on popularity contests and more based on those socially responsible initiatives.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
One of the perpetual dilemmas we've had at 3D Radio is prototyping. We have steered away from building them. We simply don't know what the final product will look like because much will depend on who licenses our IP.
Mike has been more enthusiastic about going this route than me -- must be because he's the engineering brains of the operation while I'm the cautious voice who doesn't want to promise more than we can deliver. Additionally, the equipment we needed is a bit pricey and will require someone skilled in the art of software.
So last week we were on the phone with a potential partner who said they were pretty interested in our technology but were strapped for resources right now. "What can we do to help?" they wanted to know.
"We've kind of been thinking of building a prototype ..." I began, remembering a recent marital "conversation."
"Happy to help," said the company's president. For free. No strings attached. Just for the opportunity to help a startup. This potential partner was offering to be more than a partner -- an enabler. We were overwhelmed by his gracious offer.
The box of electronica arrived on Monday. Mike has decided to take on the task of composing the software, while I wrote the gushing thank-you letter
Sunday, May 4, 2008
During the past couple of weeks I've noticed a real change in my attitude. OK, noticed isn't the right word because I actually made a decision about time management.
The decision? Work on 3D Radio first during the day, then move onto my "day job."
It might not sound like a great breakthrough, but the successes we've had since then prove it was the right thing to do.
For most of 3D Radio's life I worked as a newspaper editor, a job that consumed the bulk of my time and energy. I enjoyed it immensely, but knew that to make our startup fly I needed to devote more time and energy to that.
So when an offer to work part-time doing another communications-heavy job with people I knew and respected at a much higher hourly rate, it was obvious what to do.
The Protestant work ethic in me (yes, even Jews are susceptible) leaped in to do the best damn job I could for my new colleagues. Each morning I'd tackle my projects with enthusiasm.
Satisfied with my progress, I'd turn to 3D Radio. But it was already mid-afternoon. I was running out of creative steam. Those folks on the East Coast I should be connecting with were wrapping up their days. Bike trails beckoned. My pots I drying at the Pottery Lab were probably firm enough to complete and put on the bisque shelf.
The bottom line -- even with our bizdev guy in place we were treading water.
Now we're starting to swim.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
I'm not the CEO of a household-name consumer electronics gotta-have-it device company, yet. So I spend a lot of time drinking a lot of decaf (and the occasional half-caf) with a lot of other CEO wannabes in a lot of our fair city's coffee shops. There's at least two on every block, and very few are Starbucks.
Some people call this networking. Some call them meetings. As in your cell phone rings while you're showing your fellow wannabe the latest widget on your web site, and you answer it with, "Can I call you back? I'm in a meeting."
I calls it like I sees it -- my daily or twice daily or even three times a day constitutional.
Often these get-togethers are a dud. You know everyone in the room, you've heard their story a dozen times, you've opened your contact database to them on more than one occasion.
But sometimes you hit pay dirt.
Boulder Open Coffee Club meets every other Tuesday at the ungodly hour of 8 a.m. (half-caf definitely in order) at a fine establishment called The Cup.
I didn't recognize him at first, because it's probably been a year since we've talked. But he came up to me after all the newbies had introduced themselves and the "cocktail party" segment of the club began. I didn't even recognize his name, but that's not surprising given the mid-life syndrome more and more of us succumb to every day, CRS (can't remember shit).
But once he mentioned his former company's name -- a local consumer electronics firm that has hit the big time -- it all fell into place. "You are somebody I really need to talk to," I cried. "I'm so glad you recognized me."
He gave me his new card with his new 411, and I promised to set up a coffee meeting pronto.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Monday, April 7, 2008
Saturday, April 5, 2008
Or your email gets a reply. You start to feel more like an entrepreneur and less like a telemarketer.
We've been reaching out to potential partners for what seems like an eternity. OK, it's only been about six months, but without positive responses that time seems endless.
But in the last week suddenly we've gotten people on the phone rather their voicemail greetings. Those we've left messages for have called back. Our emails aren't languishing in cyberspace -- the recipient has written back asking for more.
The outcome isn't business, yet, but several conference calls are scheduled for upcoming weeks.
Maybe the stars are coming into alignment for 3D Radio. The sun is in Aries after all, so we maybe we're just feeling more bullish (even if the market isn't).
But more likely is we're getting better at pitching. I know I'm spending more time putting together initial packages and trying to make that deck more interesting, interactive and funny. I'm not taking the gatekeepers' attempts to keep us out like insurmountable obstacles.
Persistence, timing, confidence -- who knows how to explain our breakthrough.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
It's 4:30 p.m. Do you know where your work day went?
Not much of it wound up being spent on promoting 3D Radio, I'm afraid.
Two health-care-related appointments took up a good part of the day. It wasn't only dealing with the actual practitioners -- X-ray tech, physical therapist, massage therapist (truly therapeutic, painful, and covered by insurance) -- that ate up my day. Paperwork, transportation, errands along the way, stop-and-chats, nature and coffee breaks. Before I knew it it was 3, but I'm finally back home with my hand in a bowl of popcorn staring at my to-do list and about to get down to business . . .
. . . when the phone rings. Someone to help with a login problem I had been having with the Boulder TechBootstrap wiki. She walked me through the issue, which didn't help. Then as she futzed with the admin controls, I multitasked by opening the file at the top of my to-do list to clean it up. Many interruptions to try this, check the inbox for a new password, etc. No way to concentrate.
Eventually we resolved one issue only to discover it was an Internet Explorer bug. The workaround -- login with Firefox. OK. I'll do that later, after I get some work done.
Back to editing the file and writing captions for the artwork so I can get the package to the publisher. I'm just about to attach everything to an email . . .
. . . when the phone rings. Someone I've been playing phone tag with is ready to set a date for a meeting. We try to agree to a time, but of course he's in the car without his calendar handy so we set a tentative time, which will require more phone tag to set in stone.
So what am I doing? Am I checking off anything else on that dang to-do list? No, this is the fruit of today's endeavors . . .
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Someone finally commented on my blog, or so an email told me.
When I logged on to my web site, it was gone. Dead, deceased -- nothing left but a few error messages saying the problem was on line 204 of some godforsaken file I didn't write and had no idea how to find and fix.
This was the outcome of the fancy schmancy blog software recommended by my web host. I had gone to the trouble of downloading the program (going the "act locally, blog globally" approach), configuring the damn thing, uploading a few graphics and actually getting around to write a couple of entries.
A call to my web host, which normally has excellent customer service, didn't help. See, they don't support the software you download to your site, even though they make it super easy to do so by having a link right in your cpanel. "You'll have to ask your web master to clean that up, ma'am," was all he said.
Of course, I'm the web master. But I'm not real techie, I just play one for the sake of 3D Radio. So I've decided to go the SaaS route and let Blogger worry about such things rather than trying to fake any knowledge of coding.
If you want to know more about 3D Radio, our technology that will revolutionize your radio listening check it out at 3dradio.com.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
I finally got around to sending out that darn press release about our new patent. Should be hitting the wire just about the same time as this entry. Whew!
You wouldn’t think it would be so difficult for me to get the word out. After all, until 3D Radio takes off I’m spending most days as a PR flack. Crafting precise messaging, wordsmithing press releases, nudging press contacts — it’s all in a day’s work. For my clients.
What’s holding me back is certainly not writer’s block.
I’ve been writing from Day 1 – bad adolescent poetry followed by bad 20-something poetry until I hit my stride as a 30-plus nontraditional college student with a lot of papers to write. The professors kept on giving me As, and eventually I began to understand my writing wasn’t so bad. In fact it was really good. I was able to publish quite a few papers in academic journals and book chapters.
Some time during grad school I realized writing was my calling, and everything I’ve done since then has involved plenty of prose, from freelance reporting to teaching to high-tech consulting to my last full-time gig as a newspaper editor.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Welcome to 3D Radio’s blog! Finally! Although I’ve been a professional writer for more years than I care to count, this is my first attempt at blogging, so you’ll have to bear with me.
Yesterday was an important day for 3D Radio. Our second patent, little 7,343,141, was awarded March 11 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. We believe in close spacing of our “kids,” so it was a happy day all around. Our first, 7,171,174, was awarded Jan. 30, 2007. We’re so proud of our intellectual property family.